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Notes to Self on Nov. 14

                                          Pic courtesy: Manish K Singh.
It always works. The desire to run away. To fly. To dance when the music plays. To jump when there is achievement. To cry when there is nothing to cry about. To always, always seek catharsis. Catharsis is a dangerous word. Its pursuit leads to evil, forbidden pleasures, to unexplained crimes.
Often, when I wonder why I was even born, I think about catharsis. There is an unrealised potential that lies sulking within and needs an audience, perhaps. Because there is little in achievement that addresses it, I think about catharsis. Someday, it will come visiting and ground me so that I never run away again.
Until then, I run.
I run away on the tracks on my mind where there is music and perfect health, symmetry in the beauty of my plans, and stamina. I compete and often supersede my own expectations. I am tireless.
Last night, I loaded music on my phone to realise some of the running. It's a fantasy as much as it is a reality. It stays on the mind, and it prods. Is Murakami right when he relates running to all things positive, to an exercise that opens a world of possibilities? Will that set of possibilities also include catharsis?
What leads to Catharsis? I am chasing it. Unintentionally, and now that I am writing about it, actively. What can get me catharis and why do I even need it? What is it that makes the heart ache so much? Why cant I just be happy, because there are enough reasons to be happy?
On conventional days, others' measure of happiness are all mine - I want to settle down and present an example of being an example of exemplary grace and sacrifice. On days that define me, I do not want to set an example - I just want to live. Live without being judged, limited in roles, chained in duties. There is so much in the world to tie me down; too little to set me free. Yet, the mind is free and it guides life.
Where is life going? Where it's going is a dark tract of land that I can't see from where I stand. Someday, there will be light to preview it. But I don't wait for it. I am walking towards it, too eager to discover what lies there. But all discoveries are disappointing; they expose the grand mysteries of life and divest us of curiosity. At least, in the short run. I don't want to discover - exploration sounds like a better thing to do. May be, I would.
I often wonder if this particular day in November would stop any of that in the coming years. Would it, because it adds more years to my frame? Have I felt any different over the years? Why does it not address the longing for catharsis, of all things? But I love this day - it sounds exotic, and stays my most original claim to being exotic.
With this claim, I traverse literature, diverse universes, multiple assumptions to make sense of my own being. I read Plath and I aspire to die like her. I read Angelou and I find her within me. I read Eliot and often wish to cut a tragic figure. I read Shakespeare and I find him too grand, yet too close to my expectations in love. I find impossible echoes of self in decadent voices; I keep going back to `Wuthering Heights' for a feverish pitch at impossible loves in the kingdom of my mind.
``Are you in love?''
I was asked once. I smiled. I have always been in love. Without a man. With a man. Strange things have happened. Miracles and tragedies - they have walked hand in hand. How do I explain? What is love? Courage to embrace love as it happens or security of comfort? What is love - staying hungry or feeding each other? What is love - protecting or setting each other free? These are questions that have always stayed but happy spells of belonging have solved much of the dilemmas. Yet, it hasn't addressed catharsis. Heart still travels through the quicksilver desert of aspirations. I love the gold that sand dunes wear, and I wish they would fix my restless feet in a grave of comfortable addictions someday. May be, I shouldn't seek so much because my prayers are answered. Especially when I pray in love.


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वो बुलाता है मुझे
आओ पल्लो, वो बुलाता है
उसकी आवाज़ समंदर चीर के
दिल के कल तक आती है
मैं नदिया सा उमड़ती हूँ, थोड़ा हिचकती हूँ
वो फिर बुलाता है - आओ पल्लो
आओ, संम्भल के आना, इस दौर की गलियों में मुड़ो
तो ज़रा देख के मुड़ना
कीचड़ जैसे अपमान हैं, फिसल न जाना
वो कह देंगे तुम्हें बेअकल,
तुम डर मत जाना.
तुम धीमा चलना, ज़माने की रफ़्तार तेज़ है
वो भागते हैं आंधी सा, पर बंध जाते हैं अतीत में
तुम आगे देखना, देखो सर ऊंचा रखना
इस अन्धकार में देखना ज़रूरी है
ज़रूरी है आशा भी, तुम दीपक लेकर आना
पाँव तले धरती है, तुम ओस की बूँद सा बरसना
थोड़ा थोड़ा देना जीवन, थोड़ा थोड़ा सपने देखना
बड़ी क्रांति किसे चाहिए, थोड़े थोड़े से घड़ा भरता है,
पल्लो, जब तुम्हारे सपने धरती से बड़े हो जाएँ
तो डरना, बहुत डरना पर अभी आओ,
 धरती पे आसमान जैसा धीरज रखकर
आ जाओ.
वो बहुत इलज़ाम लगते हैं पर तुमने किसका लहू पिया है
क्रांति के नाम पे लहू सामान धरती मिलेगी सफर में,
सदियों से उनके दाग उन्हें डरा नहीं सके
पर तुम डरना, बेशक डरना
ये भविष्य की अतीत पर जीत है -
तुम्हारा आना, डूबते हुए सूरज जैसा उनकी मतधारा को
नए भारत का ह्रदय दिखाना।
कई बार लगता…


If I were ink,
I would have fallen
on your white shirt -
in dots as big
as the tip of the nib.
would you still have thought
i were just a colour,
worth a scribble,
a useless reason for a bath?

Life at the LSE

LSE. (c) P.S.

In the long queue outside the Wrights bar at lunch hour every day, an overwhelming sense of equality grips me. It is here that I stand in unison with many to avail the benefits of scholarship: a jelly-filled dough nut for 60 pence and a steaming can of hot chocolate for another 60. Let truth be told: on any given day, this is the best I can afford for lunch on days I choose not to cook. In the inviting lunch joints on Kingsway next to the LSE, a modest lunch pack usually comes for 5 pounds. That counts to 500 in the currency of my country. I still haven’t stopped calculating every time I look at a menu. Almost always, I turn away and walk back to the Wrights Bar. The people at the Bar know me by face now – a hard-earned recognition in the middle of the madness of college life; an unintended happiness in a city where everyone’s time, including mine, comes at a premium.
Sometimes, I share a treat with a friend and classmate from A…