LazyEye, Telegraph Calcutta

A few rather dangerous folks

There is no cause for worry now. There was. It was such a near thing. But we have it all under control now. Worry you not. You are in good hands. Sturdy hands. Hands that can turn unsparing when need arises, when you and your well-being is put to risk. Raise your hands, you who feel at risk, there must be millions, we know. Such are the times we live in. Raise your hands, let us have a look. Feeling threatened? Good thing. The better thing is we are here. We shall take care of you. The more you feel threatened, the more we shall rise to protect. Now look around you, see for yourself. The threat looms everywhere. Can’t see it? In that case let us help you. With a little assistance you will begin to see the threat and feel scared. And that is when we shall come to protect you.

So raise your hands again, those that are afraid, and those that would like to be, so that they may begin to feel more protected and safe. When it is the coldest is when it is possible to feel the most warmly cosy and snuggled. Think of snuggling in the heat. Bah! And likewise, when the peril is at its peak is when you can really sense the worth and value of being protected.

So here. Here is what you should be afraid of. And here is how we are protecting you.

Consider this most alarming specimen. He has charm. He has popularity. He has a following. People listen to him. Can you tell what a deep danger that constitutes? People listen to him. They actually do. They even take risks, personal risks, to turn out to vote for him. And most often their votes make him win. In an election!! Tauba! He can lure people, this man has macabre powers, he is actually, watchamacallit? A Democrat. Drat! My, my. Maiyya re maiyyya! Can’t have such people floating about.

What if he is able to make friends and influence people again? What if he has read Dale Carnegie and absorbed it? What if he… No no, let’s not even get there. Let’s not contemplate what dangers he might bring to bear upon us. Let’s just put an end to it, naa rahega baans, naa bajega besuraa! We mean to say, you know, we cannot afford to have a pied piper kind of bloke floating about free, playing his charming tunes of democracy. Off to the gaol! And to make things doubly sure, we have put his father in too. This man is a chancy charmer himself, imagine his pop. Woh to isska baap hoga! We bundled him in too. Just so. You know. We should be sure. No more of this.

We take prisoners. We are good and fair people. We do not believe in taking no prisoners. We take them. We take as many as we feel the need to. You have to be, and feel, protected, you see.

There is that other one, for instance. Her father’s daughter. How do they say it in this language? Daiddi’sGurrl or some such thing, pardon my English. She is her father’s daughter, her real father’s real daughter. And she fancies herself. She prefers radical colours, colours like you know how greenery looks like, what’s that colour called, I forget. But that colour, the colour that greenery is. Greenery! It would remind you of jungles and all that lurks about in jungles. She was such. A jungle creature in radical jungle colours. We tried and tested her out, we tried reforming her, remember we must be gentle and patient with ladies. We gave her time and opportunity. But eventually, we had to command her to the dungeons. We got her too. It has been said that they have their constituency. Well. But we have our own constituency.

The wolf cried sheep
And promptly turned to weep
But then it bared its teeth
And revealed what lay beneath.

LazyEye, Telegraph Calcutta

Knight Kursi and his curled tail

We have tails. Did you not know? Okay. We aren’t meant to know everything. That’s perfectly understandable. The mad or the deranged will never agree they are mad or deranged. Paagal ho kya? Bigots may not know they are bigots. Or illiterates that they are being illiterate. And whenever did a villain see a villain in their own self? Adolf was only enriching the human race, giving it the purest form. What happened as a collateral to that process was, achchha, chhodo kal ki baatein, kal ki baat purani. But naye daur mein, the story that is being scripted is also the same old story but the writers of that story will not agree that they are writing or rewriting that same old story and that it is a horrific one. They never will. They never do.

You may not know, but there are more wisdoms than you would like to admit around you. An old saying goes in some languishing tongue from some forsaken part of this neighbourhood: Appan maath ke tetar kekro sujhaai chhai? Does anyone see the bump on their own forehead? Tough. Unless you put a mirror to yourself. And we know just how forbidding and unwelcome a task we find that one. Take pretenders. Do pretenders realise they are pretending? Everybody can see they are pretending, but they may not know. Or scheming folks who think nobody realises how scheming they are. They have so many schemes there is eventually no place to store them and they have to throw those schemes out. Everybody can see. Those discarded schemes. Or the discarded schemes that may be recalled for use again. All of that is understandable. All of that happens. But people know. And some folks think that others do not know, that they can go on being scheming and nobody will think it is but a scheme.

Everybody, for instance, has a tail as I said right at the beginning, but very few understand that. We came from those that had tails: the baanars, look them up. They preceded us. We came from them. Their essence hasn’t entirely died in us, their essence remains embedded in our bones and our blood and sometimes that makes us behave in the ways of the tailed ones. They had tails. In time, we lost those tails but not entirely. We have tail ends. We have tail bones. We cannot see them, but we do have them. Sometimes when those tail ends hurt we know they are within us, tail ends. Tail bones, they are called. They are what support us when we are ensconced on the throne. They also make the ends of that thing which some have and some do not. That thing is called the spine. The spine is a, well, good thing and a bad thing. When you can keep it upright, you can point to it and say, look, I have a spine and an upright one. When you cannot keep it upright, well, it may turn out to be a more useful thing than you think: a spine that is not a spine but a user-friendly thing. Just look at me, the successful one. I have a spine, and I use it well. I bend it when it suits me and I in fact do not even keep it with myself most of the time. My spine I have embedded at the back of my chair and that is what makes my chair a throne. What the keeping of the throne requires my spine does; it can bend this way, it can bend that way, it can swing backwards, it can stoop forwards, whatever’s required. A tail hangs by it, of course, but it is not a tail I tell. Most folks do not tell their tails. But remember we do have tails; try feeling the end of it someday. Especially if you sit on a throne, because you know everybody can see you and you know the tail’s there and it must be kept from being told.

Those that sit here 

Should know and fear

My spine like a sword 

Embedded in my throne I wear.

LazyEye, Telegraph Calcutta

Bijli Lagi toh main kya karoon

Some things are pre-ordained. Like bad things. Horrible things. Things you wouldn’t expect would happen to you, or around you. Hobei. I mean Cupid was Cupid but was given the shape of a cherub that could engage in no Cupid-like things. You know what I mean? And Godi was meant to have a lap but all that happened in that lap was lapdogs. Can you imagine! Pity the OtherOnes of the canine species. But never mind. Never pity the

OtherOnes. They don’t take kindly to any of that. They seek the pity but provided it, they will snarl and snap. I speak from experience, don’t even try going there. Never mind. And sorry. But to return to where we were before the OtherOnes of the canines distracted us: Things happen. They are meant to be. Hoy. I have said this before. Hoy. Relax. You cannot prevent what is to happen from happening. It’s written. Written in.

In fact most things are. In fact of fact it is tough to think of things that are not pre-ordained. They come written, in the secret language of lines on the palm. Not sure anyone can read them right, but the inability to read them right cannot mean the prophecies do not lie scripted there in all their detail, day, date, time etcetera etcetera. Look at the lines on this palm. Try and read. Such a labyrinth of myriad things, happened, happening and about to happen. Seems like a forbidding circuit almost, touch a line, or a wire so imagined, and the whole thing will short-circuit somewhere and set itself aflame. No wonder what was said was said. As a matter of fact, it was not said, it was commanded: Press the extensions of your palm so hard, it will send out currents. What’s that finger for? That crooked one? Jab it in, make sure you jab it in. And once you’ve jabbed it in, the current will flow, and it will electrocute. That is what the extensions of the palm are for. To kill. Press. Throttle. Kill. That’s what the circuitry of the palm tells you. That is its destiny. That is what is written in. Make a choice, people, kill! You’d have merely made a choice on a button, the killing as a result would merely be collateral consequence. Go ahead.

But why? There are many reasons not to endorse, I have always felt this. The prime reason not to endorse is who does one endorse? This dunce or that dunce? And what does one endorse? What this dunce says? Or what that dunce says? Eventually it all comes down to that, choosing between this dunce and that dunce. So why choose at all? Why make a dunce of yourself, which you are anyhow? Every dunce brays a promise; every dunce seeks a vote. We endorse this dunce, then we endorse another and in the process we go on being dunces. Agree?

Well, I don’t much care. That’s what I have learnt too — don’t care. Do what you have to, say what you have to, the consequences will be what they have to be. Don’t bother what others say.

If you bother what the others say and be guided by that, you will not be yourself. You might as well become the other. Why bother being yourself if you have to bother about the other? Or being the other?

But what is this all about? This public introspection in print? Why? What has triggered this? If this is introspection why is it not silent and private? Why is it being played out in public, distributed about from home to home this Sunday? Why this exhibitionism? Thinking? Do it by yourself, quietly. Don’t pour it out in the open, like raita. But raita is what this is all about, this poison we want to serve out as a delectable dish. Have a taste of it. And while you do so,

Listen ye folks on the park

If you insist on keeping it blocked

Let me not keep you in the dark

You will soon come to be shocked.

LazyEye, Telegraph Calcutta

You, the people, are anti-national

Kyon? Hai naa sahi? But if you disagree tell me how so. Please explain to me. I am interested. I wish to know. How so? How so are you not anti-national? You lot? You infidels. But now, that is heresy, a heretic word to use: Infidels. But what do we do? We need to have a word for Infidels that we do not yet have. Please. Do you not understand where I am coming from? Okay. One day you will. And one day I shall have a word for it. A pure sanskari word, worry you not.

Meantime. Meantime. Meantime, this:

Which nation? Which people? Who do you think we are? Where do you think we live? Where have we come from? May we ask? And who are you to question? Who are you to ask? Where did you come from? Where do you belong? Which nation? Which people? Which agreement? What are you agreed upon that you seek our agreement? And licence? Who authorised you? So are you now questioning those that authorised you to question in the first place? That authority you may not possess, you know. We are the People; you are the elected. We are not changeable. You are changeable. You are dumpable. Every five years or so. Every fewer years or so. What do you think? What would you know? About who we are? About who you are?

Do you know who you are? Tell us. No, first tell us. Do please. Because you are asking who we are. Let us know who you are. To even ask who we are. What gives you the right? What deprives us of the right? Are these good questions? Tell us. Because we need to know. Who are you? Who are you to ask? Do you even know my mother? Were you even born when she was? Do you have the right? What gave you that right? Who gave you that right? The vote? That vote? That vote which is changeable every five years or less? So you get our vote and you get to question who we are? Hah!

But it does not seem to matter to you, does it? You will still question the unquestionable. Hai naa? You have the majority. Majority? Really? But you do not. Look across the street. Get a sense of where you are and with how many. There are folks here. They are not sheep. People. You know. People? You know what people are? You know what people can do? You should know. You are a consequence of what the People can do. You can become a consequence of what the People can undo.

Where we are today, there was no land, or place to be, do you know? But how would you? Know of the Tethys? It was a sea. Where we are was a sea. It was called the Tethys. Then things moved. The sea, the earth underneath it. Spaces receded and spaces were created. And there came to be stretches of land and streaks of water, which we came to know as rivers. And the rivers flowed and the rivers fed and that is how some of us came to be. But wherefrom? Would you know? Tell us. Give us a Postcode. Provide us an address we can post you a letter where you came from. Provide. Dikhaao Kagaz.

You are not who we are. We read the Preamble. We wave the Tricolour. We sing the song that we have forever sung under the Tricolour. We have rejoiced in all of the above. We will rejoice even more. We will meet. We will gather. We will congregate. We will sing. We will shout. We will cry.

This is our soil.
This is our air and our sky.
This is our land.
This is the land of we came from.
In truth, we all came from Africa. We are all Lucy’s children. Would you even know?
Whatever comes we shall see

Let’s just be and we shall say

Whatever is will of course be

But issue is tum kaun ho bey?


The Ravens Call on Roosters

Caa! Caa! CAA! CAAAAAA! Kaun haaaa? That sound. That piercing call. That untimely, unseemly monosyllabic poke. Why? What’s the matter? Why now? This sound? That’s sharking into me? And ourselves? And the body of the politic? And each and every part of it? CAAAAAAA! Not a good sound, but it’s rising from everywhere, evoking a writhing sigh. Why?

Wake up! Listen! Come to your senses, time to, about time. Where have you been? In the age of cockadoodledoooo? That’s not the wake up call any more? The chickens have all been had. Killed. Stripped. Skinned. Gone into the tandoori and the tandoori all gone down the gullets. There’s no chickens here anymore to be had. The era of the chickens is over. Don’t be chicken. Are you chicken? Are you chickening? There. No. Please don’t be chicken. Chickens are the stuff to slaughter. And then to butcher, piece by piece, twelve, Sir, or sixteen? Gizzard, or no? And the neck? Wrung and limp and lifeless? Would you like that? The wrung neck? Of the chicken? They are things to rub and marinate, with this or that, red chillies and pepper, or honey and garlic, choose what you will. But chicken? Terrible end. Don’t be chicken. Although it is reasonable that you may be feeling like one at the moment, a chicken on the run, about to be wrung.

Quite. Right. A chicken’s not the bird to be at the moment. A raven is. The shroud of darkness, floating about, calling Caa, CAA, CAAAAAA!

They’d taken over our skies, these darkened wings and their clouds. These darkened wings and their shadows. These darkened wings and their flap that reek of something vile and acrid that will drop on you and suddenly you will no longer be you but something that even you cannot recognise. They will swoop. They will pick. They will tear. They will snap. They will do what they are wont to do to prey. They will prey on prey. They will pick flesh off bone. They will tear into tendon. They will snap your joints. They will leave you dead. Or gone. Have you ever noticed birds of prey overhead? Or what they do when they find what to prey on? They keep circling. And circling. They keep boring. And boring. They locate. They identify. Then, with a siren whoop and a deft swivel, they lock onto target. CAAA! Curse. Cursed. Banished. Marinated in the alphabets — NPR, NRC — and skewered. Roasted. Over a bonfire of papers. Your own papers. The papers that you thought you would wrap around yourself; the papers you thought would insulate you. Those papers, they will stoke the fires you will burn in and be gone.

But Papers can also save you. Get that piece of Paper. You are flesh. You are blood. You are bone. You are soul. Your are consciousness. You are a being. You accept space. You breathe in. You breathe out. You sense. You feel. You see. You talk. You are a shape. You are of a height. You are of a girth. You are weight. You are. You have a mother. Someone gathered you. You have a history, written into your genes that any qualified person can read and interpret. Nobody is denying that. Nobody can. You are. You are here. But do you have papers? Your flesh is worth nothing if you have no papers. Are you anything without papers? CAAAA! CAAAAAAA!! You are being announced. You are now bidden. The rooster’s been assigned the job, and he has to mimic the Raven, for a Raven it is that calls the shots. CAA!! This is the palace of the Throne of Papers, what do you bring to it? No Papers? Be gone!

Oh please afford me now

A barren stretch of sand

Abrogation it is, and how

The new law of this land


Main ye soch kar apne dar se utha tha

There were a fair few thoughts and musings darting about there, at that point. At that moment I got up and I thought I should go. If for no other reason, to merely alter position, from a stasis of sorts to a little moving and shaking of things — feet, ankles, shins, knees, the connector bones and tendons. Is cartilage involved too? I wonder, such a supple and succulent thing. Cartilage, I mean. Anyhow, when those things move, they carry other things along, all of those things that come attached, a whole construct as big as a being begins to move. That is how we have been made, a collection of connected parts condemned to unison.

Try keeping your belly behind when you go out for a walk, if only to lighten things and be able to impart swiftness to your feet. But what would be the point of it? It’s to slash that belly that most folks go out walking, what a waste to leave it behind gathering fat and whatever else there may be on the bed? Or imagine leaving your head behind and walking off with merely your fancy wig stuffed in your pocket? But what would be the point of that either? If your head’s been left behind, what worth would be the weight of that wig? Who’d you be trying to convince about anything? That you have a thick and handsome mop of hair? But no head to plop it on?

But the strangest things happen. And that is the strange thing about strange things; they too come to happen. Sometimes body parts leave other body parts and wander off, without feet or ankles or knees or bones or tendons. Without cartilage. Without many more body parts. But one of them will suddenly and for no apparent reason, get up and leave.

The eyes leave, and begin to gaze on faraway things, vistas never before visited, locales nobody has ever showed you and you have never seen, dreams that are a shudder to dream — like dreaming that two fellows have arrived from somewhere and taken a billion people by the scruff of their necks; they are laughing and most of those being gagged are laughing too because they believe they are merely being paid attention around their necks. Such unreal, horrific dreams.

Or the heart flaps away, like a butterfly, silently, while the rest of the body remains idle. It floats and swims and then is slapped by a gust and it is either hurried back or is irreparably broken.

Or the brains toddle away, with or without that mop of hair, not caring whether a wig was in order, and begin engaging in imaginations. You’ve been static, the brain’s gone on some autonomous wander, striking conversations with back-of-the-brain ideas and folks, strange folks with whom you’d never imagine a meeting much less a conversation. Folks like BlondieDuck. Or HarHarGodi. Or OmitBlah. Or BoringBlondson. Or BiwiYahoo. Or TabiyatAurDoJaan. Or LaaDeMirPutIn. Or ImDim. Or, if you are beginning to miss him dearly in this list, ElevenTingMing, also known as Chini. How sweet! Can you imagine the nonsensical things the brain gets up to when it leaves you there and drives off on its own? But strange things happen, that is what they are meant for. Like you wake up and look up at the dawn and see a black sun rising, and everything is swathed in a light of darkness. Or you may think it is spring and rush into a garden and see ash blooming all around, and leaves the texture of dust.
Phullan de rang kaale
Surkh gulaaban de mausam vich

This season of crimson roses
The flowers have all turned black;
This season of ominous poses
Your shadows are keeping your track.


So that nobody can be somebody

Who’s to tell who or what this thing that feels like some part of someone is? Who’s to tell what this thing is? Tough to tell, I do know, but essential to tell. Whose voice is this? I can only wonder, for I come knowing nothing, nothing at all. I do not even know what or where I come from. No, alas no. But I know I have a voice. I can hear it. You can hear it. You can, can’t you? Please do not mind too much if I seek assurance. I am such a thing. I have become such a thing. I have been turned into such a thing. I need assurance. Even to know that I am, whatever it is that I am. I am not sure. But I am. I am something. It is not that I am nothing, although I can see that I am sought to be driven to being that: Nothing. But I am not that, not yet. I am not there yet, not yet. I have a faceless face. I have a nameless name. I have a non-descript description. It’s all written there, in what’s now illegible. But so what? I am so weary of everything, no less of wondering and waffling about who I might be. So pardon me if I may just quote a bit of the past on this, something akin, perhaps: “…And thank heavens there’s somebody heeding that call with all the urgency and innovation it requires, laying out the road ahead, picking out the pitfalls.

What would have become of us if we hadn’t been recently alerted to the rife and fatal perils of termites? Nobody bothered warning us all this while what an apocalyptic end termites have been plotting. We are teetering on a hollowed out precipice and nobody told us. Such were the reckless botch-ups of the epoch justly called NothingHappened. All through NothingHappened, termites happened, and they were allowed to continue happening. As their nomenclature vaguely suggests, termites terminate. We were being voraciously had. But since we have given unto ourselves TheBossOfAllThings, he’s given unto us reason to feel secure. He’s let out the war cry: Exterminate before they terminate. This is nothing to scoff at. We should feel indebted we are now sagaciously helmed. Examine the scholarship and thought, not to speak of the milk of national interest that began to flow circa 2014, that has gone into raising this lifesaver alarm. Examine termites. Their names are petrifying enough. Cratomastotermitidae. Mastotermitidae. Archotermopsidae. Hodotermitidae. Stolotermitidae. Kalotermitidae. Archeorhinotermitidae. Stylotermitidae. Rhinotermitidae. Serritermitidae. Termitidae. Imagine running into one or any in a dark alley. Plundered to the bone, Ram naam satya hai. It gets worse. They come in 3,016 species. And that’s how far we know. A few hundred more termite varieties remain beyond our grasp. They are Jurassic or Triassic of origin, whatever that might mean; Hollywood tells us that can be unimaginably old and terrifying. We know social and anti-social behaviour. This lot conforms to an altogether alien behavioural tendency — they are eusocial, a matrix so arcane we have no understanding of it. It gets even worse. Termites organise themselves into armies, male and female. Armies. And these armies are so resilient and invasive, so tough to control, the best zoos in the world have refused to host them. But that’s how they’ve come to colonise every landmass on our planet other than Antarctica. And the way science is exploding frontiers, it’s quite certain it will discover an Antarctic termite soon, genetically kitted out in white thermals, breathing brimstone to neutralise polar frost. Termites are not a hazard to us alone, they are a global jeopardy. And it was down to one man to flag this menace to humanity. Is there more proof required to confirm we are now blessed with a world-class leader?”

So. There. Me. Or what there is of me. If there is such a thing.
But do tell me something
Just one question, not a few;
You who think yourself akin to some king;
Tell me, by way of interest, just who be you?