Notes from the Heaven – I

I am a sick man. I’m an ungrateful man. An immoral man. Alive, I craved for meaning so much that I couldn’t live to see it. I didn’t believe that heaven existed but I wanted to belong there for eternity. Never had an ounce of faith in God, still I prayed to escape unscathed from my sins. My stint on earth had been substantially consumed by the guilt of a death that I hadn’t caused. Undeservedly, for some reason, I’m in heaven and I have mixed feelings about this place. This notes is a biased, judgmental and abject account of my forlorn life.

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Man stands alone by Jason Hochman

How I came about to this place, the reasons (maybe it was random) and the details had been eclipsed by the sheer excitement of this dream coming true. It still feels like a fantasy world of sorts. Sometimes, I await the moment that would wake me up from this dream but it doesn’t arrive. I had always reckoned heaven was a fictional realm made up to ooze the stupid, to make us behave with the pretence of a happy afterlife. I was wrong. It is real! I could even have made friends with a God (there are plenty of them here) if I paid any attention but I’ve never been the kind to do something for no gain. You concede superiority and respect a person only when you envy, fear or desire something. What’s there to fear; I will not die even if you cut me into a million pieces. The wish and will of every individual are equal in here and they rarely go unrealized. But I walked up to one of the Gods and offered to worship him if he performed a miracle. Perhaps If I saw something more absurd and pointless than my cruel existence manifest in front of my very own eyes, I might get some respite that I was a part of an ulterior master plan that I couldn’t fathom just yet. He imposed that I must believe with unwavering faith, only then will I be able to see him move mountains, perform miracles and how in the blink of an eye, he unites the sky and the sea. I’ve struggled with faith throughout my life. Once when I was a child (I remember this distinctly to this day), I trotted along the neighbor’s garden on the lookout for the most beautiful flower. It was supposed to be a parting gift to my mother. But despite my efforts, I couldn’t find the perfect one, they all were a little flawed. So, I sought help of the gardener and he offered me an ugly withering white rose insisting that it was the most beautiful of the lot. I was perplexed. Do I take his word and accept it, however ugly it may seem, because I’ve put my faith in him? Surely he knows about flowers more than I do but how do I know that he has my best interest in his mind and why should he? If I let him tell me what’s beautiful and ugly, I’ll be a subservient blind person having no regard for my own judgement. How will I be able to live with myself, acting under someone else’s terms even if they were unseemly to me? And If I don’t accept his proposal, I have this choice to make that I cannot decide upon with certainty and hence, will forever reproach my inability to live on my own. Since then, I only ever revered power, not people. Show me beforehand your immense strength, then I will believe that you can move mountains. And If I find a superior, more powerful and benign God, promising something better and more beautiful, I will ignore you and devote myself to him, prostate in front of the almighty and feign sanctity. Heaven is the ultimate place of freedom where one can be free of Gods. You don’t need to worship here. If there’s nothing to gain from it, why would anyone worship a damn thing? Gods would become obsolete if everyone was content. Perhaps that is the reason for the inevitable suffering on earth, so that they can have us praying to them perpetually in vain, in false hopes of liberation from pain? It is absurd how people here still hold them in high regard forgetting that if they were the cause of our happiness and elation, they at least allowed our suffering and bereavement too. Imagine how stupid it would seem, to worship and devote your life to a fellow human being for no apparent reason or worse, for causing inexorable misery!

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I had the privilege of witnessing my degrading dead body become bare bones. On top of those ugly disfigured bones, I’ve seen a true miracle happen for the very first time. The leftovers of a person like me, who had never looked after anything but himself, harbored life into something as unselfish and beautiful as a sapling. I teared up looking at that precious little thing grow. As long as I can cry, I’ll remain human; unlike everyone else who are incredibly kind, composed and defunct. It seems like there’s a tacit rule that if you sin in heaven, you’ll be put into hell. Whether it’s true or not, it certainly bothered people enough to not live. Knowing very well that words and thoughts can hurt, they don’t listen or talk to one another. They go on about their business, smiling at others, ever conscious of being good, walking in well-trodden paths and living in tested bubbles. There’s not a smell of tear drop, not a hint of despondency. Everyone is well and truly happy, living alone at peace. But what good is it? What good is peace if it can’t share grief? One may strive for an ideal world without grief, a world full of happiness but then what does being happy mean when the very notion becomes meaningless? You may be laughing at me, that even now, after salvation, I still think like a pathetic and muddle headed human, driven by greed and hunger. Make fun of me, but also enlighten me, what is the purpose of all the struggle and scampering, or lack thereof, if there’s nothing to lose and achieve? Craving for something is creating purpose for yourself; for in that very attempt at fulfilling those desires lies the essence of life. Man must covet. The only other way is to think that mere breathing is living.

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The Blind Man’s Meal – Pablo Picasso

I’ve heard on earth that Heaven is nothing but pure ecstasy. “Nothing but” is a tricky phrase gentlemen; one would forget the meaning of a thing without its counterpart. A term universally attached with everything loses its meaning. How can you do the right thing if there’s no wrong? What does goodness mean when everyone’s good? Likewise, Man can’t be happy all the time even if he wanted to. By not being unhappy from time to time, he would forget that he’s happy, for happiness is all about credibility. I’ve had a fine start to life in heaven. I found my favorite music & movies, had delicious food, lived with fine ladies and indulged myself in poker for years that I would have been a millionaire if this had been earth. But in endless time, one can only desire so much. I ran out of things to want few decades ago, now I have nothing to keep fighting for. There’s no path ahead. Being stranded in the middle of a road, wandering around with nowhere to go, losing every sense of control, is the worst thing that can happen. Despair has crept in like a parasite and shook me with fury. All the happiness I have clung on to, slipped away from the grip of my hands like fine sand, and turned into spite and cynicism. I am alone, living in my thoughts, despite being accompanied and treated well by good people. I resent them all. I resent how false nobility keeps them eternally happy. Their kindness makes me weak, unscrupulous and miserable. I scab picked my scars to see if I can feel a tinge of pain but even that wasn’t possible as my flesh had become dinner to worms. There is nothing I could do that would change this feeling of incompetence. It is driving me to extreme madness. If there’s any hope for me, it is in pain. To regain that credibility of living is to suffer again. Gentlemen, I beg you! Make fun of me. Offend me. Kick me until I start wailing in pain, until I scramble before your feet and bleat like a sheep, begging for mercy. I’m sick of their generosity and play acting. I’m sick of this wretched place.

You may be thinking “what a mad idiot! He can’t be content with what he has”. You think that in my position, you would do much better. I am an idiot, but this is what living in heaven does to you, it makes a moron out of any sane soul. It entices with desire for more, and one day, you will live to hate it or become part of the blind herd and stop living. Either way, soon you’ll realize that you’re nothing but another worthless piece, just playing around, fooling yourself in this vast universe; you are as insignificant as a persistent rock enduring a multitude of seasons, only for a storm to come around and put an end to its watch. In my case, there’s no real end. I dwell in the dreams of grandeur whilst waiting for a storm to take me home. Look at what this place reduced me into! What can be worse than realizing there’s no control and meaning to your life? Heaven is an emotional slaughter house. And I wanted to belong here, I wanted happiness all my life and that is exactly what I have got. Suffering seemed like such an undesirable thing. Who would like to break up after conceiving a little film in mind, living what’s left of life with your love? Who wants to live long enough to see that very person die? Suffering is excruciating! It’s such a terrible thing to happen for anyone but the bitter truth is that suffering gives meaning to one’s life. One must suffer to understand a human being. Gentlemen, I don’t have any morbid fascination with bereavement; I had been there at a tender age and I had been equally terrified of it. I wouldn’t accept it so much that I stopped living. If you suffered, I think you would understand me. Nevertheless, I feel the need to tell my story, for you to empathize with my disposition. Words can hurt where swords can’t travel. I’ve been numb for too long. All I need now is to feel some pain, the pain of remembering that you yourself and the world you live in, are not what you want them to be.

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Book review : The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Fyodor Dostoevsky’s last novel, The Brothers Karamazov, is an epic tale of patricide that grapples with questions about religion, love, depravity, god, freewill and morality. It is a vehicle for Dostoevsky, disguised as a courtroom drama and murder mystery, to explore these themes that are fundamental to the human way of living.

As the novel begins, the narrator, a self- proclaimed writer and local of the town, spoils the plot straight away by revealing that Fyodor Pavlovich gets murdered later on. He is judgmental, biased and very outspoken. At times, he refuses to explain the details, withholds vital information, then goes on to explain seemingly unimportant things to great extent and even apologizes for his terrible narration (anything but). It makes the story feel all the more interesting and real because reality is every bit as subjective and biased, Isn’t it ? You never really know a mind that isn’t yours.

The story telling, plotting and the anticipation building up to the trail are impeccable but the standout feature is the large ensemble of characters; dramatized, understandable and conflicted people crafted with staggering amount of psychological depth. Dostoevsky digs deep into the human soul and articulates the complicated states of human mind with nuance and ease. The main characters i.e. the three brothers (Dmitry, Ivan, and Alyosha) and their father (Fyodor Pavlovich), each has their own beliefs and a different outlook of life. They act as a moral landscape for the most complex of philosophical & theological questions that are examined throughout, in a realistic setting.

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Image source : Real estate of Alice Neel

The novel is enriched with debates, monologues, sudden melodramatic outbursts and heart wrenching confessions. These moments and the implicit dialogue laced with intricate details, paint delicately well, the irrationality of emotions, dangers of immortality and the inevitability of human suffering.

I must say though, it is not an easy read. The first few chapters take sweet time to set up and the narration is ragged. It is very long, incredibly complex, slow paced (the first half at least) and difficult to follow unless one pays utmost attention. There are a lot of long pauses where nothing happens plot wise. Some segments are graphic and very disturbing. Having said that, it is in these pauses, these unsettling and brutally honest conversations where Dostoevsky works his magic. He interweaves different, often contrasting ideologies, slips them into his characters’ traits effortlessly and juxtaposes them in form of discussions with devils from dreams, monks and even with Christ at a point. The result of these clashes of opinion, beliefs and moral standpoints, are stunning, intelligent and visceral arguments (the grand inquisitor for example) about life’s profound questions (faith vs doubt, god vs evil) that constantly surprise and horrify in their relevance and painstaking realism. There are quite a few chapters in which every sentence pleads the brain to think, every page demands to be read again. It becomes too much at a point and one can’t help but take a pause, marvel at what has unfolded. I’ve never had a written word impact me so much.

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Image source : Real estate of Alice Neel

For a novel filled with serious and dark themes, it is surprisingly witty and cruelly humorous. The joke is more often than not, a reflection of the then Russian culture, a caution on the dangers of political & Utopian ideological inclinations influencing the late 19th century Russia. In this family story, one can detect the traces of basic elements that formed the modern society and the essence of Russian life. It is said that at a time when faith began to falter in the country, this book was a war on reason.

This is Dostoevsky’s biggest book and is widely regarded as his best work. It’s a shame that the 2nd part couldn’t see the light of day (It is intended as a two-part series). However, it remains the crown jewel of the sea of diamonds, from a person who truly understood human mind and articulated it so well with his deft storytelling. Hopefully, it stays relevant and would be just as popular for posterity. I think it does because it strips away everything superfluous about us and deals with the stuff that is at the core of what haunts and makes us human.

A Hovel of Dreams

I built it from trash on an island. Whether it was earth or some other world, I wasn’t to know. All I could see, faraway, was a blue sky melting into endless water. An impression that I was at the center of one huge bubble, plagued my mind. The ocean is calm and ever moving. Life had never seemed so still. This silence is as scary as it is beautiful. Just then, out of blue, a fierce lightning struck, and it took a mere three seconds to wipe out a tree’s existence.

Truth can be shocking to realize up-close. One day certainly, a lightning of some other form will strike and take me away. So much of what I am, and what I experience is ephemeral; does existence mean anything? I was glad that it rained all night. The sound of those raindrops on the rooftop, felt like the world was giving me a round of applause, for being alive. In that moment I learned that creation lends itself purpose and meaning.

I offered every living thing shelter, by the firelight that burned like my desire to matter. I have always feared snakes’ venom and the guile of foxes but even they pale in comparison with human contempt. Proving me true, humans insisted that we all gamble and make merry on a night when the sky was too teary to witness our greedy act of self-indulgence. You see, fate is as fickle as a floating feather; its course changes with the slightest of touches.

It is very unfair how a single ill-thought decision can turn one’s world upside down, I didn’t want to be alone. Memory conjures an abridged and biased documentary. Perhaps for reasons I couldn’t fathom, it felt like distant memory, not a recent dream. The real nightmare though, began after I woke up. To realize how much of what I do daily is a choreographed horse race. Sometimes, I envy the stillness of an ocean and the meandering course of a floating feather. But to survive, it is necessary that I gamble and win.

As a boy, I was in awe of fireflies. It fascinated me how they looked like tiny shining stars that twinkled in the dark to spread light. I kept chasing after them, insensible to the woes of my surrounding world; a blessing. Now, I worry, even about things from my dreams. Humans must have claimed my hovel. Turn trash into a castle or dust into a beautiful planet, they come after you, these feeble things in flocks, to try and claim everything until they die, for the emptiest of reasons. If past was a non-human record keeper, the history would be about the gruesome tales of human barbarianism. About how often we take things for granted as if the world bows on its knees to us: the greatest species.

Life presents enough mysteries for one human life. It’s hard to build a house of cards when you know it’s going to fall apart like that tree and everything else. It’s even harder to witness it happen. If I go back tonight, find my little hovel in a similar predicament to this planet, do I stay and fight or do I walk away? If I know life, why do I keep wondering that God never speaks to me when I’m not asleep?

The titanic sank because it hit an iceberg. The earth breathes as if it’s suffering from a carcinogenic disease. Everyday a bird that I once drove out of my lawn, doesn’t return. How many icebergs do we need to hit before we understand that we are axing the very tree that shelters us? How much of a damage is deemed irreparable?

I am afraid that one day my mind will lose interest in this world before the body dies. That I would not care about the mysteries anymore. I grew up believing that God made us in his image, but it doesn’t take much to see the truth if one pays attention. Maybe we made his visage after us so as to not feel guilty of our atrocities. There is nothing holy about being a human. It’s just an ironic story we told ourselves. At humanity’s finest days, we’re metaphors for the good in the world that is broken.

Human * Enmity = Death / War.

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I see desolate faces and floating despair
Eyes longing for a ray of sunshine, hoping fates will realign
Walking on broken bones and smithereens of dreams
I can already see darkness eclipsing the next 50 years.

Every morning starts with bombing houses, killing humans
The bleeding drops of red flooding the boulevard
We go through the daily race with empty smiles
And hopes of, one day, painting the world with happiness.

Not so long ago, my life was a blossoming rose
All those infernal horns, Reduced me into a victim of thorns
There’s blood on my toes, perhaps it isn’t enough
Battle drank it all in a sip; taking lives in one vehement sniff.

What if time stops one day, breath leaves me away
There’s no tomorrow. Will people share my sorrow?
Where will I belong? Will my love carry on?
How bad can it possibly be? These thoughts are suffocating me.

Daughter’s waiting for the day I come home
To celebrate that day, my happy rebirth day!
Where did it go wrong? It’s been so long!
Let me go back, Let me go home.

May be there’s a song for the ones that survive
While I like to escape from this mangled landscape,
go back to my town with all these victorious fables
And if there’s no one around, I must have let them down
that haunting sense of shame, would kill me one last time.

one day, the battle field will be filled with cattle again
The lands which sunk in blood, will be green with grass again
People will celebrate and start dancing to music again
But Life will never be the same; wars leave scars
some mend with time, some latch on to your heart.

 

 

SOLILOQUY OF A CAGED BIRD

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WHAT I TOLD A CAGED BIRD

I see what they think of you
A little avian that delights human mind
do they not see? That their pleasure is a corollary of your pain
You wonder how I understand?
Come see my world.

They fetter you with benevolence
Turned you into a showcase of spectacle
Deprived you of choice and filched your voice
You’re one of the few friends I have left
But I want you to leave; go all out for freedom.

Freedom too has a silver lining
It comes at a cost, you may feel unwanted and lost
when the hope is hanging loose, try to find a way back in
These are your choices, make your mark.

WHAT THE CAGED BIRD TOLD ME

I like the person they want me to be
Then I realize it’s a version I can never be
They ask so much; I can’t upset them
All I do is sit in a cage and try to sing their song.

I made my choice, I broke out of the cage
Breathing fortitude, I’m learning about life
I tried making friends, but couldn’t figure out
Who is a friend and who is a sham
So, I befriended silence.

Now I just sit alone
Staring at the sky in the dark,
Counting stars and thinking about my story arc
Wishing life to be lot simpler than it is
I don’t know why. Sometimes, this world overwhelms me.

Perception and Dreams: The Nature of our Reality

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It was a cold, bleak night and I was walking down the street heading home. The area was desolate and the street lights were dimly lit. The wind felt lifeless. Something about the weather made me feel uncomfortable. I was half way to home when I noticed that a person had been following me all the way. He was a tall, muscular person with pale complexion. His face was buried in a brown hoodie and he had eyes of a Vulture, focused on just one thing, me. I glanced at him for a second, he met my eyes with a malign stare. My blood ran cold. I was not ready to confront him, I was too scared. So, I started sprinting as hard as I can. I almost threw him off my trail; then I heard a voice shout my name. I instantly knew who he was. Sometimes we think we can just snub the things that we don’t want to be in our life, the dark side of light. But like an echo, they always come back. That voice had always been there in my mind, like a bone in my body growing as I do, whose presence I comfortably chose to forget, but the pain of the past wounds made me remember. I was running away from the obvious all this time. It was my voice and this person was a part of myself that I chose to ignore.”

Abstract feelings, blurred visions, some real life characters, some strange aliens and not always a perfect ending, we all have experienced these in our dreams. We turn into superheroes, confront devils, marry our crushes and also we get scared,  be terrified by our greatest fears, get glimpses of our most dreaded things coming true. We wake up and say “It’s just a dream. No big deal “and get-on with life.

I think there’s more to dreams than just that. They are a medium to tap into a new dimension of our human nature. It’s a pathway to the subconscious, a story written by the conscience.  A scrying mirror to see part of our personalities that we cherish or chose to ignore. It’s a world of infinite possibilities without a reckoning and what we do in that world says all about the kind of people we are, the ugly and the beautiful.

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Dreams are not so different from Reality after all. We think that dreams are crazy and full of absurdity but life is at least as absurd as dreams. Only, in a different kind of way.

We are taught that murder is wrong but only if a human is murdered. Serial killers are bad, but hunting is a sportWe don’t imprison a mother for her child’s sins and yet some people see it fit to blame God for Man’s atrocities. “

What is more preposterous than these notions and rules we abide by in real life? May be we are living out our life in between 10 pm and 6 am of a person’s deep slumber from another ‘real’ world. What if life as it is, Is just one dream and we wake up one day (May be when we die) and tell ourselves “It’s just a dream. No big deal” and get on with our real lives. We wouldn’t remember the entire thing anyway, just flashes.

All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream”                                                                                                                                            – Edgar Allen Poe

The similarities between Reality and Dreams are uncanny. Perhaps it’s because they are connected at their core by one thing that makes us different, Perception. Perception is the lens through which we experience the world. What we see through these lenses is not always objectively true. At times, Preconceptions look like observations. One person’s red may be another person’s blue. We don’t see things for what they are, we see them for what we are. I wonder, would anything still look beautiful if the entire world is blind?

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Our reality is just as biased as our dreams. Likewise dreams, our vision and understanding depends on our own thoughts and persona more so than what we see. The same applies for all our ways of interaction. Perception is our fundamental flaw. Our human hamartia.

We all know so little about one another. We embrace a shadow and love a dream.”                                                                                                                                     – Hjalmar Söderberg

If an idea, a thought or a notion can change our reality, then what is real and what is an illusion? Is life just a dream? If it is, what does it all mean? Does our life inherently defy understanding?

May be my reality is someone’s dream and my dream is another person’s reality.

Possibly, even yours.

An Unplastic Plea

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Plastic, tonnes of plastic
It persists, we are at sea with it.
dumping all that in, ocean becomes a mega bin.
It travels through, spreading debris
birthing a continent, in the heart of sea.

What did the sea fish do?
Our neglect becomes their bane
our laxity begets their pain
The Dolphins die, the fish cry
the gills of the shark fail, we don’t seem to care

It’s a sin. In the end, we don’t win
the monster eating the sea, will reach the land of thee
the oceans bleed, it’s time we concede

We thought in unison, plastic was a benison
what was once right, is now a blight
Nature is losing it’s vigor, our posterity deserves better
it’s time we take a call or nothing will be left for all.