Impressions 'n Expressions

Location: Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India

The permanent temptation of life is to confuse dreams with reality. The permanent defeat of life is when dreams are surrendered to reality.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


The reflection of the sunlight that caressed the gentle undulating waters of the backwaters and the almost still palm trees that served as a lush green backdrop, evoked in me a desire to capture it on a canvas with firm broad strokes of dark grey and murky green and all other hues that fall in between. Closing my eyes, I set to erase and recapture impressions that appeared and dissolved, merging psychedelic colours with hazy imagination. There was a sense of uneasy languidness in the air.

A deep and healthy dose of nicotine brought me back to the sounds of passing vehicles behind me in the distance and it also dawned on me that there was hardly any breeze. The sun was really bright and warm on my face. Flicking the cigarette away, I got up to stretch my legs and walked on the sunburned grass wondering of all the place, why did it have to be this place. Even as I wondered I knew it was me who suggested the place and also that this place was indeed a special place.

It was a beautiful warm day. The cool breeze kept the heat away. We looked across at the palm tree swaying across the water and listened to the sounds of the water slapping against the stony embankment that I was lying down on, with my head on her lap, still savouring the sweetness of her kiss, the warmth of her lips and awakening of a distant primal instinct. I chose this place as it was kind of isolated from the prying eyes of the world and all I wanted was to be alone with her. It had taken less than a minute of an adventurous, surreptitious and extremely serendipitous encounter within the confines of a dark kitchenette, touching distance away from a hundred others, to light the spark of desire. Thereafter feelings struggled to lay dormant. A taste of the forbidden...and desire subsumed us. Today, here besides the gentle lapping of the backwaters, a new journey was beginning and it promised me everything and more.

She was supposed to be here half an hour ago. I lit another cigarette, as I wondered what was keeping her. Today she would be coming. She had no choice as I had none either. With nothing else to do, I looked around to see where I had left my bag and to check if I had taken the two books I had wanted her to read. The bag contained the two books and a matchbox. I looked at the books and wondered if she would like it, or if she would even accept it. I smiled at the realization that though she drew the line at the putrid Harlequin series or M&B's, she still dug Nicholas Sparks, Robert James Waller, MLTR and the Bee Gees. Now I don’t want to sound like I hate them, it’s just that I was never into mush. I liked it yes, but only if it were happening in my life. I was a helpless romantic in my life and I realized it only after she came into my life and opened the doors to a world that showed me ecstatic joy and inexorable pain. Love was not just another emotion, it was the only emotion.

"Today I am taking a leave, so that we can go and celebrate anyway you want to" I told her as we walked towards the bus stop.

There was a squeal of surprise, before she took my hand in hers and looked up to me and said "Thank you so very much".

I saw in her eyes something that I will never forget. So much happiness is a crime, I remember telling her.

"I just want to take as much as I can here and now...I really don’t know about tomorrow. All I know is I am so very happy now." She said, her fingers twirling into mine.

I snapped out of the reverie, just as well...because I sensed rather than saw her come behind me. I turned, looked at her and smiled as I held out my hand. She took my hand and propped herself couple of feet away from me. We didn’t talk anything for a few minutes. In a short while we would be doing all the talking for a lifetime...but until then we just looked at each other and around us, oblivious to the fact that afternoon sun was as warm as it ever was this summer and the air was dry and humid.

My heart was racing as I reached for another cigarette and lit it, allowing the match stick to burn itself out before I flicked it away. She looked sad and vulnerable and there was a hint of moisture in her liquid eyes, but I was probably imagining things. I just looked at her and wished I was somewhere else now, anywhere except here. She looked away for a couple of seconds and then turned to look at me again. There were small beads of sweat just above her upper lips and a stray hair had somehow managed to perch itself on her cute slightly upturned nose. She lifted a well manicured hand to reach out for my hand, and for a moment I hoped, but even as her damp fingers found mine, I knew that this was a new beginning, and I had to find my strength.

Friday, January 19, 2007

I will remember you, friend

The year 2007 has started picking momentum, stories of the New Year’s Eve parties have been told and re-told and no one even remembers anything...or cares to, already the year has a faded appearance to it. There has not been that earth shattering moment of epiphany where I thought that the New Year would bring me clarity as to my purpose in life...New Year resolutions have passed into the dustbins of fading memory and the endless path of rut and apathy welcomes me to its brooding familiarity.

All this would have been par, 'cause I have this innate ability to ignore and recede into the shell that I call life, but for a very traumatic incident that affected the very core of my being in away nothing has...for a very long time.

Srinivasan Sreedharan joined our SQA team 9 months back. He was a CA turned ISO auditor and now he was a part of the SQA team. It took me some time to warm up to him and I kept my polite distance, but accorded him all the help required for him to feel comfortable. Over time I got to interact with him more and got to understand him better. Somehow I believed that he found me to be most comfortable within the team. I used to rib him a lot and tease him about a lot of stuff...but I was never critical of his work or his abilities to cope up with the paradigm shift in job profile. I mean from an ISO auditor for manufacturing companies to driving quality initiatives in a software organization is not very easy, especially if you come from a non computer background. Gradually he warmed up to me and we got to talking about where he came from and the kind of person he was. He always told me that this job was important to him and would put in extra effort to try and learn as much as was possible, this I guess was due to his understanding that though he may have been good at what he was doing earlier, this was entirely different, and though quality was not considered to be of paramount importance to our client, we had to do our part in the rigmarole that we were playing.

Anyways, last friday, the 12th of January, before we split for the weekend we went to the Irani cafe near our office and had a tea along with Meci - this was our usual practice. We talked for a while and as usual I teased him about a few stuffs including his driving skills and his inability to get angry...I mean there was nothing profound or anything, but it was all in a spirit of camaraderie. After finishing our smoke and paying up we bid goodbyes and happy weekend and pongals and left on our own separate ways, not knowing that, this was the last time I will be seeing him alive.

Sreedharan passed away due to a massive cardiac arrest early morning at around 5 am on monday the 15th.

It was all the more tragic 'cause according to his friends and himself, this was turning out to be the best phase of his career and life. He had been thru a lot in life. Sreedhar's demise was more than a shock, 'cause sometimes we don’t have words to express the feelings that go thru our mind. This particular incident was traumatic on the realization that, he has left behind him a wife and a mom-in-law who have no ways to fend for themselves. Sridhar was looking at doing something this year so that they will have a wonderful future ahead of them.

I remember him telling us about his plans and what all he planned to do this year so that he can give his wife and himself a decent future. He was just beginning to see the light at the end of a long dark tunnel and he was very happy now.

I remember him telling me about his married life and his sadness at not having a kid. He said that in his horoscope, it was mentioned that he would have a kid only in the 14th year of his marriage and this was his 14th year...and he was looking forward to it, though he kidded that when you have the energy and time you don’t have the money and now when life is really looking to be alright there is no energy.

I remember that he carried a snap of his wife in his purse...a black and white photo frayed at the edges, which I later came to know was the first time he saw of his wife. It dawned on me, how much he must be attached to his wife and it felt beautiful that in a world that has bastards like me there were beautiful people too. I felt happy for him...I felt really happy for him when I realized that with all the problems I had, it is funny how it seems minor when compared with somebody else's problem. It was funny how he got himself to confide some of these things to me. For the past few days, I cannot stop thinking about him and what a lousy stack of hand life had dealt him. He was not a bad person in any sense of the word...just that he didn’t get the right breaks. I feel so very sad and even now as I went thru his personal effects at work, I couldn't stop my eyes welling up.

It is ironic that the day before he passed away he had got a complete medical check up done and he was certified normal.

I don’t know if it is this incident, I realize now that life is neither beautiful...nor a bitch. It is easy deluding ourselves and say that life is beautiful and we should only look at the bright side and stuff like that. But what of those with no bright sides... or silver linings or light at the end of tunnels. Life may not be beautiful, but I consider myself lucky to be where I am now. I may not be the happiest, the wealthiest, the strongest, tallest, smartest and so on. But I am sure there are so many out there who would be wishing to be where I am now given a chance... so many of those with no dreams, no desires, no needs, except to sustain and survive...exist.

I have been incredibly lucky and it is upon me to do something more with my life, create a meaning to my existence. I believe that we have all got to do our part in the way we think right and in the manner we think right, everything else is left to chance. We are in control of only a miniscule percentage of our daily life....the rest is dependent on a lot of factors beyond our control, we can call it whatever name we want, destiny, fate, luck or even God's will, but at the end of the day you pick your cards from the stack that has already been dealt.

Srinivasan Sreedharan was just 42 years old...that’s way too young to die…way too young.

I will remember your shy smile, friend.