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What of misfortune I talk about
Love and death are part of the same prime,
that inhabits the tribes of the world to route,
desolation and hunger,
to each’s locale,
and accord a living record,
to a solemn soul listening to life in umpteen types
Thus love engulfed the mind with sacred fire of knowledge,
foregoing the algae and to pick up the domains,
which time put up as its fancies to talk to the humans,
and I venture to listen to time to say,
nothing ever would exist but the dust of the universe
Almost a hundred years
Yet the poem remains intractable
A chiaroscuro for the poet
For us the Holy Grail
Over intellectualism lead us astray
Let us see it the way the poet did—
A vast stretch of Waste Land
A string of paradoxes
A hyacinth girl and the typist home
Tiresias and Madame Sosostris
Two drowned Phoenicians sailors
One redeemed, the other condemned
The famous allusions and thunder
Are sorts of hedging
To keep the Dog at bay
Lest he tear it up to pieces
Manna woke up from the exhausting slumber and saw him still sleeping, his face utterly calm. She loved him the most when he slept, but then who does not love people when they are sleeping. It probably is the only time they are at peace with themselves and the entire world. Awake, Manna was caught in a whirlpool of emotions. She felt grounded but broken at the same time. A soul shredded into pieces, each piece letting out a melancholic sigh. Today could be the last day. It has to be. At least, for the time being. Stretching her legs, Manna decided to lie down, close to him for a few more minutes. The last few minutes are always important, she reminded herself. They are to be meticulously designed for a perfect closure. She laid down and immediately his warm breath kissed her cheeks. She, her eyes wide open, deeply inhaled the scent, which lingered around him since the time they met. It was something, which only she could sense when he was around. What scent was it? She tried to recollect. Was it the smell of blueberries? It could be. She has always liked them. Or did he smell the way her old books smelled when they were pulled out of the shelves? Rustic and rueful? She did not know. Anyways, she loved it.
Thinking about love, Manna felt her heart twitching in a sharp pain. Her love was never on his list. He admired her for her wits, adored her body, and was crazily in love with the fact that she was his best friend. However, it ended there. How can something like this, end like this, like nowhere? Without going beyond? She never understood. Manna tried asking him once and he seemed disinterested.
“Manna, this is the way I am. It is an articulation of my upbringing. I have never learned to put my emotions on display, be it love or agony. They do not bother me anymore. I feel detached from them. Or indifferent, if that makes sense to you”.
He finished and looked at her, hope glimmering in his deep brown eyes, that she understands his position. She certainly did not. And she did not want to. His excuses, explanations would seriously undermine the reverence she felt for this relationship, she feared. She holds this relationship special, sacred, close to her soul, irrespective of what people tell her, advise her. Manna consoled herself. Not every relationship is meant to thrive, end on a perfect note. She was annoyed at the fact that humankind is hardwired for complex lives. Nothing runs simple in our brains. When she thought she would cry again, Manna hugged him tightly. He, though only half conscious, slightly smiled and planted a brief kiss on her forehead. Closing her eyes, she imagined being the blood serenely flowing in his body, kissing every corner it, invading every space he owned, manipulating his heart, so that only she remained in every memory of his. Manna got up. Before another uncontrollable stream of tears rolls down, she has to leave this place. Forever. There is nothing like forever. She corrected herself. Just like there are no beginnings or endings, there is nothing like forever. Nothing is forever, no one is forever. She has finally acknowledged the impermanence as the only permanent thing in life. Too late though. Manna changed her clothes and collected her belongings. He knew yesterday would be the last; yet, he has gracefully accepted the situation and has agreed to let her go. Manna felt envious. How could he do that and she could not? Yesterday, during the final conversation they had, he remained totally poised and in a voice deep with gratitude told her he loved her but he respected her decision too. For a split second, Manna thought she saw his soul. A soul, despite its bleeding wounds, warm and compassionate and Manna realized she would be back. She did not know when. Or how. Or in what form. Nevertheless, she knew, she belonged there, to his soul.
“I know, you are going on a vacation, Manna. Come back one day”.
He said in a mischievous tone.
Putting on her shoes, Manna smiled. She discerned the fact that deep down, she is in love with the intricate designs of life, its twists, and turns, its contrasting colours and bleakness. He was still sleeping. Manna stood at the door, her eyes resting on him intensely. She waved a silent goodbye, stepped out into the scorching summer heat melting at once, and was carried away by the winds.
Shanti lifted the folds of her sari, tucked them in her waist and hurriedly ascended the flight of stairs to the first floor. She rang the doorbell, pushed the partially opened door and headed straight towards the kitchen. “Ma’am,” she called out.
Malini was on the roof terrace of their two-storey building, cutting some stems of flowers that she had planted in several large flowerpots. She heard the doorbell ring and Shanti’s loud voice calling out to her. She came down through the narrow stairs slowly and entered her house through the door which Shanti had left fully open. “You’re late today,” she said.
“Actually Ma’am…” Shanti tried to give an explanation but Malini interrupted, instructing her to carry on with the regular household chores because she knew that some sort of excuse would blurt out as usual.
“Ma’am,” Shanti called out again after sometime. “I need your help once more,” she said in a pleading tone, as she washed the utensils kept in the sink.
Malini understood that she needed money in advance. “What’s the matter, Shanti?” she asked.
“A proposal has come for Rupa and I will arrange her marriage at an earliest possible date,” she replied in a serious tone. Rupa was her only daughter who recently took admission in a college.
“That’s nice, but why do you want to hurry?” Malini asked, placing a crystal flower vase decked with colourful gladioli in the centre of the dining table.
“In fact, I don’t want to take any risk, Ma’am,” she replied.
“What kind of risk? You should let Rupa complete her graduation,” Malini advised.
After finishing her work in the kitchen, Shanti went towards the grilled balcony to get the broom that was lying in a corner. She picked it up and entered the living room. “Ma’am, can you kindly lend me twenty thousand rupees for Rupa’s marriage?” she made a request.
“Alright, I’ll help you. So, the pressure must be from the bridegroom’s side I guess,” Malini said, as she flipped off the fan switch and began to open the windows of the room one after another.
Shanti shook her head. “No Ma’am, nothing like that.” She took a deep breath. “I don’t want the same mistake to happen again,” she mumbled.
“What do you mean?” Malini asked, hearing her faint words though.
Shanti’s eyes became moist. “Ma’am…” her lips quivered.
Malini understood that she wanted to tell something. “Yes?”
“Ma’am, Rita’s fault made me lost faith,” she said in a low voice.
“Who’s Rita?” Malini asked, looking straight into her eyes.
“She is my elder daughter, Ma’am.” Shanti could hardly speak.
“What! But you told me that Rupa is your only daughter,” Malini said, perplexed.
“Not only to you Ma’am, but to everyone after I disowned her,” Shanti said, trying to hold back her tears.
“Oh! But why did you have to do that?” Malini asked anxiously.
“It is a bitter episode of my life, Ma’am,” Shanti said, covering her face with her hands.
Malini did not know whether she should ask any other questions further but simultaneously she wanted to know what happened between Shanti and Rita and what could be the reason behind the disownment.
“Ma’am, you have never refused me whenever I was in need of money. I should not have kept lying to you at least, by saying that Rupa is my only daughter. I am sorry,” Shanti said after a while, with feelings of guilt. She continued, “Today, I will tell you the truth and about the trauma that I had to go through.”
She sat down and began to narrate the distressing chapter of her life.
Decades ago, Shanti’s husband died in an accident. Her two daughters, who were five years apart in age, were very young then and hence she had to work hard to make a living. She took up part-time jobs in many houses so that she could send Rita and Rupa to a school. As they grew up, she made them efficient in cooking, embroidery and doing all the household work as well.
In due course of time, a suitable proposal came for her elder daughter and with her consent, Shanti made plans for the wedding. She borrowed money from all the houses where she worked and promised to return the cash gradually, by accepting only half of her earnings from the following month.
All the necessary arrangements were almost ready, but on the day prior to marriage, Rita eloped. Not even once did she give a hint to her mother or her sister that she was in love with a boy from their neighbourhood.
Shanti was in utter dismay. She did not know what to do. Rupa was dumbstruck. She began to weep. “Don’t shed tears for that selfish one!” Shanti shouted in rage. “Neither did she care to think about me and nor about your future. She had evidently seen how much effort I had put into the preparations and managed everything all alone with my hard-earned money, yet she kept quiet all along. If she wanted to get married to that particular boy, then she should have told me the day itself when I had asked for her consent. Why would I disagree to her choice? Now, what shall I say to the bridegroom and his parents? And how shall I face the guests whom I had invited?”
Shanti screamed angrily in such a manner that one by one, soon the neighbours gathered to enquire what was going on in her house. They tried to console her but Shanti just could not control her frustration. She continued yelling, “Everybody come and see the consequence of my affection towards my offspring. I raised her with great care and never did let her feel the absence of a father, but still I fell short of my expectations.”
Rupa went and hugged her mother. After a long time, tears rolled down from Shanti’s eyes. She wiped them quickly and said in a stern voice, “Henceforth, only Rupa is my daughter and I disown that wretched girl who betrayed me. Listen all of you, from now on, no one should ask me about her.”
Hearing Shanti’s words, there was commotion among the people present there. They expressed their sympathy for her and concurrently rebuked Rita for leaving her mother in a state of shock and heart-broken.
The crowd dispersed eventually and the news of Rita’s elopement spread wide. With immense discomfort, Shanti set out to the bridegroom’s house to inform them about the shameful incident and to seek their forgiveness. They were equally shocked to hear the disgraceful fact and thus humiliated Shanti to a great extent, as they also dreaded facing embarrassment from people.
Shanti returned home with much disappointment. She sat still in the verandah. The harsh words said to her by the bridegroom’s parents kept coming in her thoughts. Bit by bit, her wrath towards Rita began to increase.
Rupa felt unhappy seeing her grief-stricken mother. She came and sat beside her. “Mummy,” she said and held Shanti’s hands. “Please calm down. I can comprehend how you’re feeling but nothing can be done which has already happened. You have to acknowledge the circumstances anyway. It won’t be easy for you I know, but try and forgive her…”
“No, I will never forgive her. Don’t keep pursuing me,” Shanti interrupted adamantly. She continued, “You are still young and so you are not able to understand the agony of a mother. I know, it would be tough for anyone else too, to accept such a situation.” Then, shaking her forefinger, she asserted, “Mark my words. The one who hurts a parent will also get hurt one day, sooner or later.”
“Mummy, I hope your words would not turn out to be a curse. I know that she will not get your blessings because what she has done is a big blunder indeed. But she is your daughter after all and I wish you shall not keep holding a grudge against her forever.” Rupa tried to pacify her mother.
Malini felt sad hearing the account. “Don’t worry, Shanti. Everything will go well this time,” she said, giving her a cup of tea and a sandwich.
Shanti heaved a long sigh. “After a very long period of time, I have spoken about this topic,” she said slowly. “Believe me Ma’am, my heart feels much lighter now.”
Malini smiled at her. “God bless you and your daughters! Have faith in Him always,” she said.
It was a very happy moment for Birendra and Mamta Negi. They were going to have a child soon; their first. Soon the news broke in the family and a gush of advices started flowing.
“Drink Kesar-Milk for a fair child”…. “Eat for two people”…. “Keep garlic in your purse every time you step out of the house”….
And Mamta Negi did follow most of the things as she saw no harm in those, especially “Eating for two” and “Kesar-milk”.
“Who wouldn’t want a healthy, fair-child?” She reasoned with herself. As time flew, she gained a considerable amount of weight. Everyone teased her if she was carrying twins or a big fat baby in there. But Doctors scolded her for eating mindlessly. Her blood-pressure shot up as she progressed in her pregnancy and her blood-sugar was always on the brink. As the time baby’s ninth month in the womb started, she had to undergo a caesarean section. The baby’s heartbeat was fluctuating beyond margins and doctors did not want to take any risk.
The delivery was smooth. Not even once the doctors had to face any complication. As soon as the baby was out, the heartbeat became normal. It was a hard day for Mamta, she bore a lot of stress and all she wanted now was to hold her beautiful, healthy baby in her arms.
“Congratulations! It’s a boy.” The doctor smiled through her mask.
Mamta could not control her tears of ecstasy and whispered a silent prayer but she had to stop unfinished when she noticed a little commotion in the labor-room. The nurse took her baby out leaving her perplexed.
“It’s okay we well give you your baby after some time. We will have to keep him in NICU for some time.”
The Doctor gauged horror in Mamta’s eyes, thus added quickly, “Oh there is nothing to worry! It’s just that the baby’s weight is little on a lower range and keeping him in NICU is just a precautionary measure.”
Mamta could not believe what the Doctor was telling her. How could that possibly be? She did eat for two! All the time she thought that her increasing weight was courtesy her baby! The doctor explained her that because of her high BP, the fetus was not getting enough blood supply and that could be the reason of his low weight.
She waited to meet her son eagerly. After a few torturous hours, the nurse brought her son in and she held her arms out in profound happiness to finally embrace her baby. Her eyebrows pitched up but then she had to contain herself. The baby in her arms was nowhere closer to the image that she had in her mind, he was really small, wrinkled and purplish in complexion. She caressed his soft cheek lovingly and pledged to take care of him now.
After a couple of days, Birendra and Mamta Negi brought their first-born home. They named him Shakti, hoping him to grow to be a strong man. But as of now, little Shakti was weak and delicate. Mamta wanted to feed him properly but for no apparent reason, she was not having proper feed for the baby. When other kids were growing rapidly with chubby cheeks, little Shakti maintained his own pace.
Mamta was getting desperate, and as soon as she got a signal from the Doctor to top feed her son, she turned into a mother with a mission. The little baby would throw up after being overfed but then she would clean him and feed him again, fearing the loss of nutrition. And, she could see the results. The complexion was still dark but the cheeks became chubby and got chubbier, little frail hands developed dimples on elbows and his weight was finally at par of those other babies his age.
The mission continued beyond the toddler stage, with forcing half a chapatti, half a glass of milk more as Shakti grew. Soon came a time when Mamta stopped finding clothes for Shakti at the Kid’s section. She would buy him pants at the Men’s section and then alter the length as per his height. Shakti started growing big both vertically and horizontally. When other kids his age would run and play incessantly, he would stop mid-way panting hard.
Mamta was worried again. She took him to the Doctor and what he declared, shocked them both. Shakti had become obese. Mamta had to portion his diet and Shakti was confused, he loved eating and his mother who used to lovingly feed him another big piece of cake was now restricting him to even have a proper meal. The confusion made him a rebel. He would not eat in front of his mother but then sneak in the night and attack the kitchen.
In spite of Mamta’s focused efforts, Shakti did not reduce in size. He was okay with what he was and did not even bother about names and comments that he would receive from other children. They would make fun of his size, laugh ridiculously every time he tore his trousers from crotch while playing cricket but not even once it troubled him, in fact he would laugh with them every time they did that. He found encouragement in making people laugh, even if that was at his own expense. Never had he realized what he was missing, until he came to an age when he noticed girls ignoring him. He was witty, intelligent and charming he thought, all the teachers loved him in the school but what could be the reason that none of the girls paid attention to him anymore? That day he looked closely at himself in the mirror.
It was a hot afternoon, he returned home after school. His mother called him to come quickly for the lunch but he ran to his parents’ room and after locking the door, took a good look at his face and body in his mother’s dressing-table. For the first time he paid attention to his outer self. He saw his dark face with a darker line of immature moustache over his lips; his cheeks were full and bouncy, sinking his eyes deeper in their sockets, his chest looked like it belonged to a young girl and his stomach was awfully bulging out. Disgust took over him as he saw his dark body drenching in sweat, revealing the hidden flabs.
Warm tears rolled down his cheeks, anger engulfed him and when he took another glance of his image, he was confirmed, he abhorred his body. He had to correct what was wrong with him. Fat, dark and moustache could not go together. He picked his father’s razor and after giving himself multiple cuts, he got rid of his moustache. Complexion he could not do much about, but fat yeah, fat he was going to lose, forever!
He came out of his parents’ room only to lock himself again in his room. His mother cried, pleaded but he did not listen to her. Hours passed, he started feeling sick, but this time with hunger. He swore to have just one chapatti and stop. Determined, he came out of the room and asked for food. Mamta wiped tears from her face and happily served her son a big plate full of six ghee-smeared chapattis, big bowls of dal, curry and chicken and a small bowl of steamy rice. His son’s favorite sweet was served in a separate bowl.
Shakti looked at the mouth watering food. He started eating his meal slowly but then his pace increased and then before he could stop himself, he devoured every last bite that could be eaten on his plate. Only after licking his fingers he realized the blunder he had committed. His stomach felt happy but his conscience not. Silently he came back to his room, cursing his will-power. Impatiently the guilt increased as he searched on the Google for the calories he had just consumed.
He started feeling ashamed of himself, his lack of will-power to stop when needed and laden with mortification he rushed toward the bathroom to throw up everything he had eaten. He tried, subtly, then loudly but food was happy in his tummy. Enraged, he put his finger inside his mouth and scratched the throat. This time he succeeded.
Next day when his mother served him breakfast he knew that a heavy heart could not be made happy no matter how hard he tried. So he chose to opt for a happy heart than a happy stomach. He started avoiding eating and when forced, he knew how to get rid of the calories consumed.
Gradually he started losing weight; the girls started finding him attractive. The jokes sounded funnier when they are heard from a lean, tall dark guy. But this time too he did know when to stop. His weight loss lead him to emaciation, but the good part was, he could still find his share of girls drooling over him.
Today when he goes on the stage and starts his act with the line, “I was dark, I was fat and I had a moustache…” the audience rolls in to peals of laughter. Another dig at fairness products and people go mad. Apparently, his dark, bony face and close to skeleton structure enhance the humor he wishes to bring in his jokes.
He is one of the successful stand-up comedians in the country. He is brilliant at making people laugh at his expense. It’s all shallow he knows. But at least he is happy for he now knows that he is at par with the society he lives in.
The day goes off…
They are still working…
The night goes off…
They are still working…
They spent their whole life…
In only defending defending defending…
They sacrificed their life…
By leaving their wife…
They leave their home…
To protect our home…
They wait eagerly…
To meet their family…
They leave their sleep…
Without any weep…
The life goes off…
They are still working…
They kill their enemy at the battle ground…
But they hugged each other when they met at an inn…
They have no party…
After any victory…
ONLY A SALUTE…
FROM THE WHOLE COUNTRY…
The life goes off…
They are still working..
History of women’s life and their struggles for freedom has witnessed innumerable ups and downs by now since time immemorial from being an equal partner to being a subservient slave. In the current situation, when in advanced countries women in general enjoy enviable equal opportunities and respect, there are growing countries like India where a lot of violence and stumbling blocks are popping up here and there against them alongside their march towards empowerment. In a time when several feministic terms have become cliché, what women have to do now more than never before is to come out more forcefully and explore all walks of life.
The present unrest in India against women is a sign that the enemy is in panic. The sudden rise of women in different aspects of life in the last decades has culminated and triggered the panic button. Now women have to be careful. They should not panic and go back; rather they have to come forward to explore newer avenues that they have not conquered yet. Especially they have to step into the avenues of power. Today politics and entrepreneurship are the main areas of power and the world is controlled by politicians and entrepreneurs. By spreading their wings in these two areas, women can write a new script. Women, your monster is agitated, this is the time, go protect yourself.
The world was seriously discussing about the data leakage from facebook recently. Do such a data can make changes in a society? Quoting the words of Cristopher Wylei the whistleblower who worked with the Cambridge University academia revealed details about the data breaching “. . . . You’re playing with the entire country. You are playing with the psycology of an entire nation, without their consent or awareness. . . . . You are playing with the context of democratic process of an entire nation.”
Cambridge analytica is a UK based political consultancy firm, work through a number of strategic processes for the success in electoral process. Alexander Nix is the CEO of the political firm. They were the master mind behind the election campaign of Donald Trump, Brexit campaign etc. The reports says that the Cambride Analytica sold data of about fifty million facebook users for favouring Donald Trump in US election. Cambridge Analytica was owned by billionaire Robert Mercer and headed at the time by Trump’s key advisor Steve Bannon. They use information of the users without any permission. They collected information through a website ‘thisisyourdigitallife’ developed by Aleksandr Kogen of Cambridge University through his company Global Science Research. In assosiation with Cambridge Analytica, Aleksandr Kogen paid thousands of users to take a test for academic purpose.
The data breaching was noticed by facebook in 2015, but failed to alert and protect the data of its 50million users. The Cambridge analytica was not only collected the data of the one who used the website of GSR, but also their friends. The facebook platform policy allows the collection of friends data only to improve the user experience. But the Cambridge analytica misused this policy. The recent discussions araised only when the facebook announced the suspension of Cambridge Analytica.
The reports suggest that the CA played crucial rule in Brexit in assosiation with the Leave. EU group. Arron Banks the co-founder of Leave. EU, in his book wrote that they hired Cambridge Analytica a company that uses “big data and vast psycographics”. Alexander Nix CEO of CA also wrote in campaign magazine that they are working for leave. EU as per the reports of Reuters.
How the people are influenced by social media campaigns. The US presidential election gives the answer. Each and every media strongly believed that Hilary Clinton will become the president of USA. Every exitpolls also told the same. The whole world shocked when Donald Trump became the president. Later reports came out about strong social media campaigns took place during the election time.
Facebook is not just a social media platform. A facebook page is fair enough to determine the attitude, Social behaviour, and political attitude of an individual. In majority of the democratic nations atleast 20-40% people are not politically active or not part of any political party. This section of people is the decision makers in every election process. In India the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party had got the vote of 30%.
The main agenda of Cambridge analytica is to analyse huge amount of user data through behavioural sceinces and select the most persuadable ones. If a person who has no active political activity or interest to political party is always encountering with the news of a particular political person, it slowly will develop a pro attitude to that person. The news came infront of that person may or may not be true. But slowly he starts believing that what they hear is true. A repeated lie becomes the truth.
Democracy is the process selecting the rulers themselves. As per the definition democracy is “for the people, by the people and of the people”. If any external force persuade a citizen to choose a particular candidate then how the institution of democracy survive? Every media do the function of persuation. But the persuation through a written or audio visual media is different from the personalised persuation in a social website. We do not get enough time to check the credibility of the piece of information we are encountered with. So we start believe them slowly.
The importance of facebook as a marketing tool increased these days. A single click on any advertisement will results in the flooding of similar products in your notification wall. Apart from this we may click to various links like see how you look after 20 years, who is your real friend, who is your secret crush and so on. It is surely time passing and funny. But each time we click on such a website we unknowingly give an unknown site to see and analyse our avtivities, friends etc. The objective of facebook behind such permission is to increase the user experience.
Recently the University of Cambridge came out with a research ‘computers using digital foot prints are better judges of personality’. As per that report ‘based on facebook likes computers can judge personality traits better than family, Friends or even partners.’
We all think that facebook is our personal space where we can share our thoughts, Ideas and see what we want to see. Facebook is always trying to increase the user experience by checking the activities of each user. Apart from facebook, many websites who advertise in facebook collect our data and friend’s data by a single click. It’s better to remain alert in every virtual media. We are living in a world were a person with a smart device can control the universal persuation. From jasmine revolution to the CA we can draw a number of similar examples. Your privacy is not longer private.
It is early morning and two men are standing in a barren field. They are wearing some dirty, cheap clothes. One of them is holding a loaded revolver, full of lead-copper bullets. Some distance from them lay the dead body of a man. Crows have flocked the cadaver, cutting through his clothes to get to his flesh. His camouflaged dress reveals that he’s a soldier.
“He is an Indian” one of the men shouts in local dialect, observing the color of the dead man’s dress. His sound reveals panic with what this means. “You shot an Indian soldier you fool” he growls at the other one.
“I didn’t knew he was an Indian. If he was, why did he shoot at us? Killed at-least 40 people in my village” the other one says, angry and surprised at this revelation.
“I don’t know. We need to ditch this gun…”
The other than disassembles his Do It Yourself revolver, and throws all components as far as he can, and in opposite directions…
Promptly the two men run away, leaving an Indian soldier on the Indian soil, waiting for the army to find his corpse, before the crows reduce it to bones. His eyes are wide open, as if he was searching for something in the sky. His fingers are clasped, as if in pain, or as if in faith. His mouth is open, as if he was trying to call someone before he died…
Few hours back…
Lt. Cdr. Mannu breathes heavily. Martha has recognized that he’s suffocating, as she had before.
“Menooo, Oxygen is 25% normal, 45% adverse”. She speaks in a calm, composed tone, with a hint of compassion and concern.
“Your body oxygen is going down at 2%, and body temperature is going up at 4%. Relax Menooo. Can you relax?” She asks, in a composed tone.
“Still can’t pronounce my name, eh Martha?” Mannu is thinking. “Insensitive robot”, a defiant smirk occupies his lips for an instant, and then escapes the next one, before Martha could sense it. He feels too weak to react physically. Martha continues to speak, asking him to relax, but Mannu knows he cannot resist. He doesn’t feel any better. He wants to press open the flask, to feel the warm air on his face. He feels suffocated, he is tempted to puke.
“Mannu, can you hear me?” operator speaks in a voice eerily similar to Mannu’s mother. “Son, relax. Take long breaths. Everything will be ok.”
“Twinkal twinkal little star, how I wonder what you are” operator recites nursery rhymes softly, in Mannu’s ears, in an attempt to calm him down. And even though, it’s a blatantly conspicuous attempt, it does calm him down. Mannu is transported to his childhood. He sees his nursery teacher, AnuWadhwa mam, and imagines himself looking up at her. He almost wishes that she does not look back. It pains a little; “you disappoint me”, she had said to him. But how beautiful she looks, just like a mother does. She is singing the rhyme and asking him to repeat it after her. Mannu repeats it after her, slowly, softly. As he recites the poem, he also calms down. His breathing returns to normal, body heat goes down.
“Twinkal twinkal…” operator continues in Mannu’s mother’s voice. Mannu’s eyes slowly get uncluttered. He gradually unclenches his fists, unholds the flask button.
“Alright, shut-up” Mannu says. Martha switches herself off. The operator also disconnects from Mannu’s node.
Mannu is in a squatting position, he closes his eyes. Things are almost back to normal. He can slowly let go of the memories: AnuWadhwa mam, Nysa-his digital teacher, his mother. Nysa slowly switches off in his mind, shrinking its humanobot form till it vanishes. Mannu’s breathing returns to normal.
He can hear faint noises from the sky, sounds of men and women moaning, speaking ecstatically in an alien language; these are advertisements being broadcasted by sales-bots, the last mile salesmen. These flying saucers project 3-dimentional ads, with the sky as their screen. They also carry an inventory of the products, mostly light weight items targeted specifically towards the rural populace where they are mostly centered. And to complete the transaction, they can accept digital payment on the point of sales, thus bridging the gap between advertisement and retailing, and earning their designation as a Salesmen. From its orgasmic tone, Mannu can make out that the advertisement currently being featured is related to some sex-related product, perhaps a pill, a condom or a sex-toy. Regulations regarding sexuality in television have become lax and, if they can prove relevance to their products, advertisers can show much more than just a couple holding hands. Mannu feels a lust to see it. However, the next moment a different ad starts playing, some high-end mobile phones this time.
The only other sound Mannu hears is the loud cries of his comrades, from other side of the camp. Only cries, no blast; the worse kind of death. These are biological weapons, 10 million antimatter viruses in each bomb. 100 viruses can devour an entire body in 15 seconds. They’re working on a shorter digestion cycle, so that the enemy dies with lesser pain, as per the UNFWUC Pakistan protocol on humane Inter-country warfare. Mannu’s father had laughed out loud one day, surprising everyone, upon reading about this protocol in the newspaper.
“They used to regulate on peace. Now they are regulating on war” He had said with a careless chuckle.
The antimatter viruses are increasing in number in Mannu’s vicinity, his AI (Artificial Intelligence) pal continuously updates his subconscious mind. The titanium alloy layer on his suit protects him, at-least for now. It hampers their consumption rate to 10-4cm per hour. This means that it’ll take them one year to eat away the one centimeter alloy layer on his suit.
The viruses are a recent phenomenon. Developed by a team of scientists working with R&D division of Google in the peaceful Switzerland, the original intent of these viruses was as a “permanent solution to electronic waste”, or at-least that’s what the Google press release had claimed, five years back:
“Scientist with Google’s newly created life sciences R&D team have discovered a new breed of intelligent viruses which feed on silicon and plastics. These single cell protozoans (a species of microorganisms) do not need oxygen to survive. They have been demonstrated to be capable enough to identify and move into inter-atomic cavities and derive energy from the movement of successive atoms. These organisms have shown special in-situ inclination towards ABS, polycarbonates (plastic types used in computers) and silicon. The researcher team says that this inclination could most probably be because of the higher inter-molecular space in plastics, but added that more research is needed to reveal the real causes behind their action…”
“cause behind their actions” Mannu had felt amused reading this last bit. “actions…”, as if they’re humans, who can choose their actions and suffer the consequences. No, these little bastards had no choice.
A year later, this is exactly what Google’s team found out. The only reason these viruses were seemingly devouring into plastics and silicon was because they had only been exposed to computer waste, which were predominantly comprised of silicon metals and alloys. It was only when the organisms were brought out of labs, that people became aware of their true potential. The superfast anaerobic digestive system of these things consumed an entire chimpanzee and converted it into some forms of energy, predominantly heat. “Eat, burn, die, and no shit!” a meme associated with them had become viral on the internet.
It was a big bang news at the time. Watching the electronic waste getting vanished in thin air in a matter of minutes left the viewers in awe.
“Where does it go, damn it?” Mannu saw himself ask one day, half rhetorically.
Rumors were always in the air, and within a few months, Google setup its new division, Google Defense. And the second product, after Google Eye off-course (erstwhile Google Maps, which now offered classified information as well and which was no more free. Instead it was charged so heavily that only few governments or ultra-wealthy people could afford it, mostly for defense related strategic purpose), was biological weapons. They called it traceless bomb. Everyone else called it anti-matter, perhaps a little too much inspired from Dan Brown’s novels.
Mannu is sitting in squatting position.
“Drinking water, please” he requests Martha.
“One minute please.” Martha says while she switches on the filter. It pumps up the water filtered from Mannu’s piss and delivers it in Mannu’s mouth. Mannu can’t help but make a sour face as the water drenches his tongue and the inside of his mouth.
“It’s piss for god’s sake” he thinks even as he knows that Martha can sense his disgust from the curve of his face and his physical expression. Mannu wants to curse Martha, for no apparent reason, so that she realizes, and the world realizes, that he’s frustrated, from not knowing whether to hate her or love her, to be suspicious of or to embrace Artificial Intelligence; for if he were to embrace her, wouldn’t it be almost like turning his back on his sister? He tries not to think about his sister; it confuses him. He doesn’t know what’s right and what’s wrong.
Mannu is resting his tired body and aching lungs, when for a moment he hears a faint sound, a light whistle, which gets louder the same instant. The AI pal senses deep fear from Mannu’s pulses…
In that single instant many things happen. His subconscious mind becomes aware of a known mortal danger, and the same moment it orders ‘someone’ to ‘press air-boosters’. The command occurs naturally, a result of many hours spent training the subconscious, becoming aware of its nuanced personality, controlling it through various techniques, and internalizing the key-words that can trigger specific actions. It has to be a part of the reflex action, as most often there is not enough time for the active mind to participate. Hence subconscious has to be very specific, the AI pal has to understand reasonably well if the command was a Dead order or a Random order . This one is a Dead-as-hell Order. Thus the very same instant that the command is given, that ‘someone’, Mannu’s Artificial Intelligence pal, presses open the nitro-boosters. The next second a jet of dormant oxy-nitride under high pressure blasts out from his suit and thrusts him up in the air, like a football. The same moment, a bomb explodes at the exact spot where Mannu was resting.
2 Dead order is a fictional army command which the person intends for it to be executed while fully knowing its consequences. Random order is a fictional command which is given by a human without being fully cognizant of the consequences. “Damn! I wish I was dead” is a Random order which will not be executed by the AI pal.
Essence of life – A book review on Debashis Barah’s Wisdom Capsules from the Diary of the Visionary of Truth by Mahesh Krishnan, TrivandrumMay 16th, 2018
Wisdom Capsules from the Diary of the Visionary of Truth belongs to the category of self-help books. But unlike the run-of-the-mill books that belong to the category, this book is not about any shortcuts or step-by-step approach to success. Rather, this book gives light to the path taken by the Visionary of Truth and gives a peek into his diary. There are no offers and no quick fixes. But this book is sure to stay by your reading list with its unique vision of the world and human experience. As I was reading, I had this strange thought that the Visionary of Truth is none other than the Author himself.
The book can be read in any order and motivation is not the ingredient but the end result. The author has understood the very essence and fabric of life. The clarity of vision, once assimilated would inspire and motivate us to a better living. But this process of being at peace with oneself and the world might take years. This book might just offer a clearer path to that state of existence.
The author, Debashis Barah, has imbibed years of experience and has given us a book to guide us for the years and many varied experiences ahead. The easy-to-read language and the ability to navigate to different parts of the book add to the uniqueness of the book. This book is one to read and RE-read at different junctures of our living. I am sure that at each instance the experience would be different. For a book that states on the outset that there are no easy solutions, this book has many pearls of wisdom to grab and keep.
(The book is available in print/eBook format in Amazon/Flipkart/Kindle. For more details, please visit the author website: www.capsulewisdom.in)