Great Expectations

No matter what you do,
they are never going to be happy with what you do.
Out on a journey to perpetually disappoint them
You cross one milestone that they set
and they would expect you to cross one more
that they would set again
because you can be better
than what you are
always.

No matter what you do
No matter how different you are
No matter how much that means to you
No matter how much you value
if it isn’t something that they value
then your life
your talent
your so-called potential
is a waste.
In your head, you have learnt so much
In your head, you have grown so much
In your head, you think
you are happy.
In their head, they think
you are just selfish
and so damn ungrateful.

Yeah sure there’s still some struggle
there’s still some hustle
Sure there is indeed some more learning and unlearning to do
but you are happy to tussle
in between whatever little you have
whatever little that will grow
because you nourish it
you cherish it
you love it
that you have the space to be you
to create your own destinations
to choose your own dreams
and when you grow older
you’d know
that you have nothing to regret because you listened to your heart.
“But your heart is too young”
They’d say
“Your brain is blind”
They’d say
Who are you to argue?
With people who came decades before you?
With the people who created you?
Sure they’d know more about your life
than you do yourself
Either “You don’t know your own potential.”
(Someone ban the word potential please)
Or “You don’t know the world”
Or both.

How bloody irresponsible!
According to them, you have not done enough
Always throwing away opportunities
to tread through roads
that no one takes –
You call that an adventure,
They call it stupidity.
No one takes those roads
because they lead to nowhere, duh!
They have had enough.
No more.
You can do so much better.
Here try some hardcore and ridiculously competitive
tried & tested options
to prove your worth
(because they dreamt of themselves once and couldn’t live it)
and finally, be respectable.
Sure they want to bring out the best in us
and a bit of pressure
turns carbon into diamonds.
A bit too much pressure
makes things explode too.
But fine, a risk worth taking, right?
Why did we grow up to have our own voice?
When we really didn’t have any choice?
Why do we create humans but not robots as our progenies?
How can they be so sure that the decisions we take for our own
lives would be a regret
just because they don’t match with theirs?

We would have aligned with you if we could
Life would have been so much simpler that way
But this same two decades of generation gap
has given us a pair of eyes
that sees the world in a different way
that inspires us to live in a different way.
Is it too much to ask to navigate through our own lives
Find our own way, right or wrong
Find our own peace, short-lived or long,
Is it too much for them to see that
We are happy, really we are okay?
With all our glaring ordinariness
we can still be a bit extraordinary in between.
But if you argue, you are left to guilt trip
For not abiding by the principle of great obedience.
God we hope we could inherit your dreams and beliefs
instead of your genes
But sadly, we ended up growing our own
And if we get to live everything
Everything that we dreamt and envisioned
We would still fall short of their expectations
Because we couldn’t/wouldn’t crack that exam that they wanted us to crack,
Do what they wanted us to do.
Now we are forever worthless no matter what we try
No matter what the rest of the world says
No matter what we say
Our lives are forever ruined
Because it didn’t turn out to be how they wanted it to be.

And we’d feel terrible
because we are terrible.
Tell me, how is that fair?

***

To my unborn child

Who may never be born,

Because first of all I will need a sperm donor

Whom I could call my husband

And you could call your father

But your mother is a bit crazy 

Harbouring many popular

unpopular opinions

Like men, for example,

who she finds pretty disappointing

as prospective life partners

and she wonders why and how this tradition even lasted so long.

Out of love?

Or out of fear?

They say there’s nothing worse than dying alone

Several lifetimes might not be enough to atone

So, many of us rush to start our families,

To chase our happily ever afters 

Knowing perfectly that it’s not always that happy afterwards

How can I say stuff like this?

Questioning the fundamentals of every damn society

Me, your mother,

A privileged little 

Unapologetic

Ungrateful 

Bitch.

Perhaps I am not even qualified to be a parent

Although I know 

If you were to really exist

My child

I would love you till my last breath

My new purpose,

My new reason,

My new strength,

Oh how beautiful you would be!

Even when you frown at me

Even when you are this rebellious teenager

Who I am struggling to understand

(But conveniently stereotyping)

“Mom! You are cute but that’s so 90’s!”

“Mom! You are getting old!”

I was born with a womb

I am biologically wired to create you

To love you

To nourish you

To raise you

I was born with a womb

Like my only real purpose 

Was to bring you on this planet

And propagate my genes ahead

Like it is for most of the animals 

Most of whom we have killed already

Because we care for our children 

But other children 

And other organisms don’t matter.

That’s how my love is

Selfless for you

And selfish for the rest of the world.

How wonderful it would be to hold your tiny body

In my arms

As I marvel at your beautiful face

My heart swelling and swelling with love

How would it feel to feel you in my womb

My placenta;

Your first bed

Your first food source

Your first-ever plastic supply.

It terrifies me 

to bring you into the world 

where all I see is concrete and more concrete

where the real jungle disappears

Too bad trees don’t make money

Only oxygen,

Which is great 

but not better than the digits in my bank account

And so what if the air has less O2 

And more dust, and more CO, and SO and CO2?

And so what if the world is burning 

And burning?

And we ignore it 

Because thinking about it is depressing

Because our most pressing 

problems just magically disappear

if we just turn a blind eye.

Tell me

How do I bring you into a world

That’s dying?

where the ocean is choking with plastics

And the river is choking with chemicals

where habitats have turned into hell?

You expect me to have faith?

Where do I put my faith?

God is dead. 

Humanity is dead.

Or at least in a coma.

I am not strong enough my child,

Perhaps I could fight for you

I could give you all my love

But I would also give you my genes

With a history of cancer

Or heart disease

Or mental illness. 

And the trans fat

And the artificial hormones

And the antibiotics

And the pesticides 

and the microplastics in the food I eat

don’t help the cause.

How do I bring you into a world

where we know so much

but are still so ignorant?

Where we talk of compassion

and still be so careless?

Where the greed still wins

Despite knowing how it leads to eventual defeat?

Where people are running and escaping

To a faraway picturesque island or a continent or a fantasy

Hoping that their lives would be better there.

But would it?

Our entire home is on fire

Or submerged underwater

Maybe not yours today

Because you are wealthy

But it will be tomorrow

And I can’t blindfold myself 

And do what we have been doing for ages

Because that’s what we have been doing for ages

Without questioning.

Your mother thinks too much

Perhaps your mother is paranoid

I am sorry I am not hopeful

They tell me I don’t have to save the world

Like it’s not mine to save

Anyway it’s too huge and complicated

My only responsibility is to survive

And settle 

And bring you

In a world that I am not proud of.

It’s not that bad though,

they tell me,

There’s still some beauty

That is left for you and me to enjoy

There is still space for us all

And who knows there could be a miracle

That somehow we will get our home back

But who exactly is bringing that back?

Most of us are too busy

To loot from what’s left

Or continue hoarding and hoarding

Not caring if nothing remains.

So I have decided to be selfish too

That my life is mine

And just mine

Not yours

Not his

Not theirs

But mine

And that would be the end of it. 

***

How (not) to be an Engineer

To become an Engineer,
you become a rat first.

Then you become a robot
you try to learn from the great minds of the past
Newton, Einstein, Maxwell, Heisenberg
you try to learn all the fancy concepts
chemical bonds, optics, mechanics, electricity
theories after theories,
equations after equations…
if you are lucky,
if you are the selected few,
who instinctively knew,
you may dream of being a human again.

Two years of struggle;
They will lie it’s the hardest you will ever go through
no TV, no cable, no internet
your friends – your books, your pens,
your daily practice sheets
then the D day comes
with its gigantic stamp
You, to score 130 are smart
you, to score 129 are dumb
unless you have a quota,
in that case, you will do just fine.

Congratulations, you’ve somehow made it.
You have officially entered paradise.

Really?
No.

The two years you spent preparing for a “good ” engineering college,
they forgot to tell you what an engineer is
four years you are going to learn engineering
they will again forget to tell you what an engineer is.

Semesters after semesters,
as you get introduced to new theories, new formulae, and new ways of life
there is Laplace transformation,
and there is your transformation too-
a drastic one
red eyes, and long hair,
you listen to Pink Floyd now
you write poetries on a breezy day
dream of love and loss and romance
and meanwhile they blame you for your “wrong” habits,
for your slipping grades,
for your stupid questions,
for your stupid silence,
for your lack of respect,
for everything that is wrong with your life,
and everything that is wrong with their lives too.
But they can’t be blamed for the most important thing they forgot to teach
the most important thing that the internet and books can’t teach
empathy, motivation, inspiration, a dream.

No, No, No,
too easy to blame it on the system
too easy to blame it on them
so you blame it on yourself
convince yourself you are not worth it-
there’s always that one student;
who kills himself or definitely tries to,
convinced that he is not good enough,
convinced that he is not worthy to live.
You ignore all these.

There is still nothing wrong with our education system of course.
You continue mugging up theories
that you vomit later on the answer sheets,
That somehow tells you whether you are an engineer or not.
But was it not about understanding how nature works?
Was it not about building cool creative stuff?
Was it not about being an artist of machines?
We were supposed to help humanity
and all we learnt was
to make money the fastest way.
At best.
Chasing numbers after numbers,
Chasing milestones after milestones,
Where was love?
I only saw desperation
I only saw insecurity.

And next thing you know
is that there are some lame ass people
from some lame-ass companies judging you
whether you are good enough to be exploited.

Two results:
some people see through your bullshit and tell you to fuck off right away
some people see through your bullshit and tell you to fuck off after you are hired.

It’s a cause for celebration
Welcome to paradise.

Really?
No, welcome to corporate slavery.

Where you would wonder why politics wasn’t taught in your foundational course,
where you would wonder why you wake up at all,
mornings after mornings,
weeks after weeks,
months after months,
for your work to be done, and your efforts to be ignored eventually.
Grey roads & grey cubicles & grey screens,
the client who doesn’t stop complaining,
and the manager who doesn’t stop explaining,
And you are surviving to save a few digits in your bank account
while the company’s soaring profits suck your soul away.
That’s what your education has come down to,
making rich people richer, and poor people poorer,
while you frantically swim somewhere in between.
Ignoring everything that is going on in the world, in your life
because who has time for that? Who has energy for that?
Keep swimming, keep running.
And don’t you forget you are still a rat.

I am not an engineer anymore,
just a degree holder
(for which I didn’t even get any graduation)
They say
‘God! you are such a cliche.’
The best you can do with your degree now is
to cut them into small pieces
and make roaches out of them.
Actually, that’s not the best thing I can do,
the best thing I can do is to roll the whole thing and kill cockroaches
and say that I use my degree to kill cockroaches.
‘Is that a metaphor?’ you ask. ‘You obviously mean the cockroaches of the society, right?’
No, cockroaches. Actual cockroaches.
I’d like to crush them with this symbolic representation of my education.
Just like my degree crushed me,
my confidence, my esteem, my self-worth.

‘But hey,
By the way,
Why did you want to be an Engineer anyway?’
I don’t know my friends thought it was cool,
my parents thought that it was the future,
it wasn’t though
it was their convenience
and mine too.
I became an engineer
because there was nothing else I could do
too smart to be an artist
too impatient to be a doctor
too ignorant to be a lawyer
And then I failed.
They tell me it’s because I didn’t study
I agree.
But it’s not the exams I am talking about.
It’s not the grades I am talking about,
but my identity attached to these numbers,
All my milestones turned out to be mirages!
There’s no end to the race –
it’s just an ego-centric survival technique,
a sham, a delusion but very much real.
There’s always something you need to do
to keep up your status quo,
and if you try to escape,
you will question your own sanity. 
Maybe I will move on.
Maybe I won’t.
Maybe all the stupid conditioning will wear off.
Maybe it won’t.
And maybe they will realise-
that they are educators, mentors, and role models,
not mere lecturers
or judgmental parrots asking us to repeat what they have been repeating
for ages without a single question
Maybe someday they will finally ask
What the fuck are we teaching our youth anyway?

Or maybe, most probably, they won’t.
But will you?

*

Nature’s most common poetry

We spend our lives chasing things that only last for a short period of time. When that short period of time ends we continue chasing the same things in new forms.

But the question doesn’t vanish with your continued negligence – The most absurd question with no apparent answer – Why are you here?

These set of virtues; to be able to see, touch, feel, hear, respond, interact, understand, modify, calculate, read, write – what have we done with that? All these exceptional abilities don’t seem that exceptional among seven billion other creatures who are capable of doing it too, many of them much better. Where does 1 stand before 7,000,000,000?

Where does the drop stand before an ocean?

But maybe numbers don’t mean much. Does the drop know that it’s beautiful on its own too? Does the drop know better than to compare itself to the ocean? Does the drop know that the other drops are not competitors but collaborators?

So do it. Don’t just keep on chasing things that you know are ephemeral. Even if you didn’t score that high in SATs, even if you don’t work for Google, even if you didn’t go to Stanford, remember that these are not your standards, these are THEIR standards. They will tell you oh-so-politely that you don’t matter. You are not intelligent enough. You are not creative enough. You are not experienced enough. Don’t let that bother you. Don’t fall for fake social diagnosis. Take a deep breath and ask yourself, “Was your life really about all this?”

Surely, there’s a possibility we may never find it. But the answer must be in the attempt. This experience of how you came, and how you felt and how you went again – Nature’s most common poetry – this experience of being a part of it itself is quite amazing on its own. The world is large and you are small but it doesn’t matter. What matters more is to know that the world is huge and you are tiny and it seems that it could have very well existed without you and yet you are here.

Pause, and let that sink in.

It’s 11:30 P.M.

It’s 11:30 P.M. And this night is perfect. The wind is just amazing. Moon is at its best and the Street lights! Oh these jewels! Roads are generally not the boasting type but even they can’t help but flaunt them off. Oh what a beautiful night it is! La belle nuit! But you know who’s ruining this  beauty? Not a who actually – A what.

I, I walking alone, I walking alone and I am a woman.

What am I doing here this late? Of course, I shouldn’t be here!  Am I nuts or what?There’s a rule woman! “Men only” – You don’t break it!

And what if I do? What  if I do? What does that make me? A catcalling material? A stalking material? A raping material?

Of course, it does.

It’s 11:30  P.M. I think I have seen you pass by before. I think I marked your presence when you honked at the empty road before. I hold your interest, I see. But is this how you try to impress people? I am sorry to tell you that it doesn’t work that way. I am quite opposite of impressed right now. I am angry. Why are you doing this? Just because I am walking alone at night? Just because I am a woman? Does that not make me a human? Does that just make me a random insignificant creature to insult? Would it have helped if I was dressed in a different way? Maybe saree? Maybe burkha? Maybe the toilet paper rolled over me like a mummy? Would you have just passed by and not done these random acts of kindness then?

It’s 11:30 P.M and I think we need to sit and talk. Don’t be shy, come on! Let me unravel the mysteries of  workings of your brain tonight. What do you want? What do you not?Do you not like us taking a casual stroll in our own locality? Do you not like us minding our own business? Do you not like us feeling safe and secure in our own city? Is it just your right not ours? What do you think, darling? Do you think it is a great act of benevolence to try to scare the shit out of people who have done nothing to bother you?

I like how you disrespect me. I like your high spirits and over confidence. I like how you judge me entirely based on my gender. Come on, man! Speak up! Honking is not a language, you do know that right?

I am resisting not shouting at you. I am resisting ignoring you.  I am resisting not to put up a fight. I don’t know kung fu after all. I don’t have a gun. I don’t know if I can defend myself but I want to speak to you. I want to pour my heart to you.  I won’t though fearing that it will all backfire. If walking is a crime for you, then you might have a hard time adjusting to me talking. What a shame! What a shame I can’t tell you how I feel! What a shame I can’t make you feel as unsafe as you make me feel. What a shame I can’t make your mother worried sick over the fact that you are going to come home late or you are travelling alone. What a shame I can’t make you text dozens of people that you have reached home once you do. What a shame I can’t make you dread this beautiful night! I see that you live here too. I see that this place is your home too. What a shame that I can’t make it a hell for you as well!

All I can do right now is to not speak. Not shout. Not react.

Ignore. Ignore. Ignore.

And pray that I am back at my place safe. Because if I am not, god forbid, if I am not…then how stupid will that be of me. It was 11:30 P.M at night, they will say, what was she doing that late? It was 11:30 P.M. for fuck sake, they will say, she was asking for it. Man! She was asking for it.

CHEERS TO THE DEMONS

I wrote this poem under a blaze of fury three years back. I cried, I swore and I cursed how unfair this world was…

Three years and nothing has changed. Three years from now, nothing will change. In this world. In you. Or in me. Nothing at all will ever change.

I do not want to sound like a pessimist and I do not want to ramble like a mad man (though that is what exactly I am doing right now) but I just fail to understand how and why such people exist at all. I fail to understand that why do I have to pay for the fact that I am a woman? What wrong did that ever do?

Anyway…

Cheers to the race that doesn’t have a heart,
No reasons, no morals, no souls, no scruples,
But piles of lies, tons of deeds, all perfectly unabashed and splendidly aghast.
 
Cheers to their courage to walk unhesitantly in the crowd,
To stand with a stride and to converse with a pride,
And just in case their secrets revealed, to their dignified admittance clear and loud.
 
Cheers to their score that keep augmenting every day,
To their pleasures, to their amusement emerging from despair,
To their delight, to their bliss, to their ability to rejoice every time one cries in pain and dismay.
 
Cheers to their shamelessness, cheers to their sins,
Cheers to their disrespect for fellow human beings,
Cheers to the vanished humanity in their souls,
To the way their conscience has drifted in black hole,
And cheers to their skill of turning hearts into stones,
To their abhorring thoughts and to the way they never atone,
Cheers to the way, in this world, they sustain,
Cheers to those monsters, cheers to those beasts, cheers to those incredible demons again.

The Invisibility cloak

“How did you get this?” She enquired (not) looking at my invisibility cloak with her coveted and infatuated eyes. I sat speechless, surprised at her choice – How did I get it? I don’t know. I don’t remember.
“How did you get it?” She asked again, more curious now.

The greed and admiration in her eyes caused an unexplained agony in my heart.

“You seem utterly fascinated by it? You want it?”

“Want it?” She exclaimed. “Hell yeah! I want it!” And then she went on to how she would use it; How she would blend right in and no one would ever know, how she would run freely, oblivious of the eyes and voices around, how she would observe and never be observed, how she would be anyone she wants in her own little world. It would be amazing, she said. It would be the greatest thing, she said.

Her naivety stabbed jealousy in my heart and her ignorance made me chuckle. How did I get the invisibility cloak though? Oh! I remember! I did not get the invisibility cloak. I made it. I casted a spell weaved out of colloquial speech and vernacular thoughts. I dyed my cloak with the rainbow colors of society. I washed it in the buckets full of dreams and fairy-tale fantasies and squeezed them right through it. I dried it under the sunlight of approvals and normalcy. I sewed it with the delicate soft threads of comfort and advantages. I ironed out the wrinkles and creases with the heat of conformity as well as frequent genocide of idiosyncrasies.

“You like it? You can take it.” I said.

“Really? You sure?”

Am I sure? Of course, I am sure. I don’t want it. In fact, I loathe it. I am tired of wearing this depressing thing! And your admiration! Jeez! It doesn’t make even a bit of sense to me! How can you be so fascinated by this? What’s wrong with being seen after all? When there is nothing to hide why do you need this cloak? Once you start wearing this, you can never take it off! Why do you want to spend your whole life peeking through this deception? This cowardice? This great doleful irony?

“Yes, you can take it. It is yours now.”

And anyway, I have already started making myself a new one.

About manipulating and getting manipulated

I guess this is one of those days when I just hate everything. I go and find refuge in my playlists, find some company with some of those overplayed songs, feel good about nothing and just waste my whole day. Of course, then “self- worth” ghost that always keeps hovering around me squeaks in her pathetic little voice – “You waste your day anyway be it your bad mood day or a good mood day, so don’t blame it on the day, it’s you pathetic person! It’s you!

Wow. Was I not upset enough?

I don’t even want to bitch about this ghost. It’s tiring. She doesn’t deserve my attention, let alone a whole blog post.

However, the truth is she already has too much of my attention. Yeah. And I don’t think I can spare anymore. I am already hanging on a thin thread. I don’t need more tension and the stress.

Anyway, it’s a bad day. I have to talk about something even more not-happy!

And so here it goes-

It suddenly strikes me now that all I have ever done in my life is to get manipulated. Actually, my whole life is a result of manipulation. And I am not just a victim. I have manipulated others as well.

It’s like a tradition; we get manipulated. We manipulate others. If we are not good at it then we spend an enormous amount of money to learn to manipulate someone. We get manipulated even if we are aware of the very fact. We get manipulated even when the thought doesn’t even remotely cross our minds. We manipulate others in quite similar ways. God, it’s a vicious cycle!

World needs to stop for a moment.

And I need to remember when was the last time that I had an original idea which was free of other people opinions.

Original idea? What is originality anyway?

You know manipulation isn’t as bad as it sounds. We have learnt to live with it. The advertisements, the newspaper, the parents, the friends, the teachers. They are not bad? Come on parents? Sometimes, it all works out for the best. Maybe even the bestest thing in your life can be a result of a hard core brainwash. But at the same time, doesn’t it all begin to feel so pointless? Why do we need someone to wash our brains? Can’t we think on our own?

We need some serious answers. We don’t need opinions.

Do we?

Do we?

Maybe the truth, the real answers are too harsh to bear and hence we just leave ourselves in the hands of others. And all we get in our lives are opinions.

Yeah, this is me consoling myself.

So, am I trying to say that we don’t need answers?

I want myself to think that. Yes.

Oh! Boy! I am back to square one. It’s true isn’t it? Ignorance is bliss.

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