Citizens—Pls. Awaken; Authorities—Pls. Enforce

As we throw caution to the wind, masks n sanitisers to the bin, wash our hands off washing, and distance ourselves from keeping the distance—Covid mutates, multiplies, mocks, and murders.

And we are in senseless slumber—even as the sinister shuns the shadows, sits on our shoulder, and stings—sensing our stupidity.

images: pixabay

coronavirus-bannerskeletons & corona

Beauty With An Ugly Underbelly—

Has Guwahati Become A Spit-City?

Anxious and cautious—I tread Guwahati streets and footpaths as if performing breakdance—but   fail to avoid landmines of grey grease, purple phlegm, and many-splendoured spit. I salute the artistes from the “Salivadorian School”—who paint the city in myriad hues and shades with their spit and sputum. 

Perhaps no other city has embraced spitting the way we have! Whether Guwahati has become a Spit-Hati, a Spit-City, a Spittoon? The contrast is incongruous—a city so beautiful, yet so filthy—a beauty rendered with an ugly underbelly.

Prime Minister Sri Modi mentioned this national pass-time in Mann Ki Baat. So rampant is the spitting obsession in Guwahati that the Chief Minister Sri Himanta Biswa Sarma, while inaugurating the new flyover, appealed to the citizens not to spoil it with spit. Some shameless people lost no time in creating ugly spit-patterns on the flyover and its artistic paintings.

Why blame? Besides pandering to our artistic cravings, spit comes in handy to manage the mundane—licking stamps, counting currency, and turning pages. Damn the hygiene, kill the aesthetics, murder the environment.

The poor spit while walking, the rich spit out from fancy cars. We are spot on when we spit, and spoilt for choices—pavements, parks, pillars, posts, or pits. Apathetic and immune, it is perfectly normal to spit and be spitted upon. Nonchalant, we take spit in our stride—literally and metaphorically—and carry it home. Hats off to our stoicism, we cope up with the outpourings from the sundry orifices with equanimity. We let out a peculiarly sheepish laugh to salute the free spirit of the fellow spitting on us from the bus window.

Why Spitting Must Stop

But it is no laughing matter. Public spitting is disgusting, dirty, and dangerous. It offends our senses, spoils our surroundings, and spreads disease. Spitting pollutes natural ecosystems of air, water, and land—degrading environment.

It affects aesthetics, turns off tourists, and shows state and its people in poor light. Spitting depletes the already scarce time, money, and medical resources. It is reported that Indian Railways spends Rs. 1,200 crores and oceanful of water every year to remove the spit stains from the tracks, platforms, and coaches.

Health Hazard

Spitting is a huge health hazard. It spreads Covid. It also spreads TB, hepatitis, viral meningitis, cytomegalovirus, etc. Researchers say that the spit droplets containing Corona virus can spread to a radius up to 27 feet. The pathogens remain in the air as well as on surfaces for several hours. 

We are a country of 140 crore people. Even if we take that 50% of the people spit in public—it is 70 crore people spreading dread and disease—daily. It’s mind boggling. 

Psychology Of Spitting

Many people believe saliva is a harmful waste and they must throw it out as soon as the body produces it. People also spit out of sheer habit, even unconsciously. According to WHO advisory, chewing smokeless tobacco (khaini, zarda, gutka, paan and paan masala with tobacco) and areca nut (supari) increase saliva production and enhance the urge to spit repeatedly.

Spitting—especially on the face—is an extraordinary instrument for expressing disgust, disrespect, contempt, anger, and hatred. The spitters also use it to show their superiority, power, and masculinity. 

Superstitions And Spoil Sports

Greeks practised ‘Ritual Spitting’ and ‘Spitting Thrice’ to ward off evil spirits. The Masai tribals of Kenya spit in their hands before shaking hands with others to show respect. Till recent past, the kings, the queens, the rich, and the famous in India, Europe, and US—used exquisite spittoons to deposit their royal spit. Westerners are quite sporting about spitting, and engage in spitting competitions such as ‘cherry pit spitting’ in Michigan, ‘cricket spitting’ at Purdue University in Indiana, and ‘olive pit spitting’ in Israel. 

In India, many mothers spray spit on children uttering ‘thoo thoo’ to protect them from ‘buri nazar’ (evil spirits). The rural folks spit on minor wounds for healing. People in the Hindi heartland use many imaginative idioms and metaphors such as ‘thookta hun tum pe’ (I have nothing but contempt for you), ‘thook kar chatna’ (to go back on one’s words), and ‘thook bilona’ (to speak too much).

The Laws

Covid came in handy for the government of India to enforce the Disaster Management Act, 2005. It made spitting in public places punishable with a fine or imprisonment or both. Spitting in public places is also an offence under the Guwahati Municipal Corporation Act, 1971. Guwahati Municipal Corporation(GMC) has recently announced a cash award for reporting public spitting, and requested citizen’s participation in keeping the city clean. It can do much more.

The Spit Free Street

Making laws is not enough. We need effective enforcement and monitoring. Installing CCTVs and deploying flying squads will help in catching the culprits. Government must be strict in imposing ban on sale and consumption of gutka, paan masala, tobacco, etc.

Curbing spitting habit requires change in public attitudes, behavior, and choices. Persuasive tactics, rather than coercion and control through stringent laws and blanket bans, will yield better results. Spitting can be tackled if a mass awareness campaign—akin to a crusade—is launched and sustained till it is wiped out. This must become the city and state priority. 

Covid has given an opportunity to put this problem on radar, and to bring an end to it. It is now or never. Speaking only about masks, hand wash, and maintaining distance—and not cautioning about spitting—is like closing three windows but leaving the fourth open for the evil to enter.

We can teach spitting etiquettes through grassroot campaigns and participation of citizens. “No Spitting” signposts will warn people. Advertisements on auto-rickshaws, taxis, and buses will create a buzz. Social media campaigns will have a wide reach and awaken netizens. When ‘Swatch Bharat Mission’ was launched, children taught the elders to not to litter—these kids can do wonders in the war against spitting. 

People listen to religious, community, and political leaders for right or wrong reasons—their words will have the required impact. Artists, sports persons, film stars, teachers, press, and the medical fraternity can lend tremendous support.

The awareness campaigns have to target both—those who spit, and those who don’t. Involving non-spitters is the most effective ant-spit strategy. Imagine 70 crore non-spitters persuading 70 crore spitters—each one stopping one. 

Our City Our Character

I write this because I love my city, and wonder—can we ever hope to remove the perpetual spots which stain our life, time, and place? And I write with screaming sarcasm, hoping to awaken citizens from their stupor. Can we all spit on spit—so we don’t have to exclaim ‘Oh shit, spit’—at every step.

We can continue to split over spit, or be in splits over it; drown in spituphoria, or rise in spitcstacy. But think—people’s habits define a city’s character, and what is a city—if not its people.

I recently visited my hometown Guwahati. The rampant spitting was so much in face, I had to spit out my disgust, ‘dos’, and ‘don’ts’. “G Plus” carried my sentiments in the published article below:

G Plus Spitting Article Image

When Hospitals Become The Disease.

Needed health sector regulator with teeth… Now.

14 years-old Prashant was in Delhi’s Batra Hospital for treatment of typhoid in April 2006. His condition worsened and he died in May. Prashant’s family alleged that he became brain dead in April itself, but the hospital did not inform and put “brain dead” boy on ventilator without family’s consent. The moment family ran out of funds, the hospital stopped ventilation. (timesofindia.indiatimes.com-24.06.2021).

There are hundreds of such hospital horror stories reported in the media. Besides ‘Covid Pandemic’, ‘Rape’, and ‘Murder’—the deafening headlines scream:

  • “Covid positive infant dies at hospital doorstep, mother cries for help” (indiatoday.in: 28.4.21);
  • “After Fortis, Medanta hospital in Gurgaon charges massive Rs. 16 lakh; 7-year-old dies” (financialexpress.com: 24.11.2017);
  • “5 year stay and a Rs. 6 cr. Bill: Bangaluru woman’s family blames hospital for her vegetative state” (News18: 30.1.2021)

“Hospitals have become a big industry instead of discharging their responsibilities to provide succour to distressed patients”—lamented Supreme Court (Times of India: July 20, 2021).

All hospitals are not guilty. But, when a strong health sector regulator is absent, the culprits remain unpunished. The rot continues and spreads.

State Of Affairs—Hospital  Or Hotspots Of Wrongdoings?

Many hospitals exploit by extending hospital stay for no reason. They shift patients to ICU, or put them on ventilators when not required. They hold patients or dead bodies hostage over payment issues. It’s akin to—skin the body, devour the flesh, then force the skeleton to give away its bones.

Many hospitals force doctors to prescribe unnecessary hospitalization, tests, and surgeries, and charge huge sums for these. Such hospitals don’t inform patients about their rights, line of treatment, or cost.

This institutionalised robbery ruins lives and shatters dreams. A fly caught in the spider’s web, the patient gets entangled in permanent poverty.

The Covid crisis of 2020 has proved how rotten the hospital system has become and how deep-rooted is the problem. There was nation-wide hue and cry about the products, processes, and prices related to Covid testing and treatment in the hospitals—a grim and gory story of organised loot.

 Affairs Of The State—Inadequate Laws, Implementing Agencies, and Budgets

Under pressure from public and media, authorities promise action against erring hospitals. But as seen in Covid cases last year, they issue mere warnings. This is as effective as putting band-aid on a fracture. Hospitals remain immune because both the regulating agencies and the laws are weak.

There are laws such as The Clinical Establishments Act, The Consumer Protection Act, and The Nursing Homes Act. But most states are not strict in implementing these laws.

There are governance bodies such as State Medical Councils (SMCs), Indian Medical Association (IMA), and National Medical Commission (NMC). But it is rare that these cancel an erring doctor’s or hospital’s registration, or take other legal action. These bodies exist to serve the hospitals and doctors. The Consumer Courts are not effective–they take long time in delivering judgments and lack expertise in health related technical matters.

According to Global Burden of Disease Study 2016, India ranked 145 out of 180 countries on access to healthcare. Ranking at 179th out of 189 countries, India has one of the lowest public healthcare budgets. According to Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD), the government healthcare spending in India was 1.3% of GDP in 2018. Compared to this, the average was 7.6% for OECD countries and 3.6% for other countries.

In 2021 India has increased the healthcare budget by 137%. This is in line with the “National Health Policy-2017” (NHP) target of 2.5% of GDP by 2025. But is too low considering the health sector’s numerous needs as well as multiple malpractices.

Remedy—Health Sector Reforms And A Powerful Regulator

Given the pathetic situation, the government has to usher in health sector reforms on priority as it has done in agriculture, labour, and education. The remedy lies in a comprehensive health law. And the states must be strict in implementing it in private as well as government hospitals. If states don’t enforce health laws, bringing healthcare under Concurrent List of Constitution is an option.

Government can create competition for private hospitals by building AIIMS-like health institutions in every state. These will become the first choice for patients, doctors, and other health workers.

If hospitals act in illegal and unfair manner, the government has the power to suspend or cancel their licences. Other measures are to impose exemplary financial penalties, and name and shame them. Government can force hospitals to have patient grievance cells for speedy redressal.

It is crucial to have a hospital monitoring and evaluation system based on their track record of ethical operations. Setting up Medical Tribunals and appointing Health Ombudsmen will give speedy justice to patients.

To put these reforms in place, a strong health sector regulator with punitive powers is a must. Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has reformed the insurance sector to a great extent. Other examples are: Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) and Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI). The government can take a cue from the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF)-2004 created by the National Health Service (NHS), U.K.

In India, regulatory enforcement is critical because patients themselves finance either the entire or a large portion of the treatment cost. Also, not everyone has medical insurance, and the insurance doesn’t cover every medical problem.

Section 14.2 of the NHP emphasises the necessity to regulate the clinical establishments. It also recommends setting up of an empowered medical tribunal for quick justice to patients. In Section 28, the NHP recognises that “A policy is only as good as its implementation”. It provides for a robust independent mechanism to ensure adherence by public and private hospitals.

The Economic Survey 2020-21 too recommended a healthcare regulator considering that:

(a) the bulk of healthcare delivery in India is through the private sector, and

(b) whereas the treatment is very costly in the private hospitals, its quality is not very different from the government hospitals.

The Road Ahead

We are at the end of 2021 but the government is yet to create the regulatory set-up based on its policy framed way back in 2017. There is dishonourable monetization of disease, disability, and dignity. An independent regulator with powers of exemplary punishment is the answer.

Health is a very basic need. It has a multiplier impact on citizens’ well-being and nation’s development. Human greed doesn’t care for decency in dealings or for health and life. The government must not allow malpractices in hospitals. We need a regulator with teeth and the power to bite… We need it now.

The edited version of this article was published in The Assam Tribune on 19th November, 2021, as below:

AT Mast 2When Hospital Become The Disease-Narendra Sarawgi-19.11.21

Do Nice People Finish Last?

Do nice people finish last?

It seems so. Being good, fair, and decent to others—we end up being bad, unfair, and indecent to ourselves. If we are good, people take us for granted—they push, pull, and impose. It works at a subliminal level and expresses itself in overt and covert commands and controls.

At home, at work, in public places, or in social situations, nice people suffer. You don’t break the cinema ques and traffic rules, but others do—you end up not getting the ticket and getting stuck in a jam. We offer a seat to the elderly, but others usurp ours.

Does it cost us anything to be socially sensitive, nuanced, and not embarrass people—can’t we avoid laughing or looking deep into their eyes when they commit a faux pas?

This raises questions about the civility of the people from an ancient civilization—about our character and ethos.

This brings us to another question—what happens to the rare breed of nice people surrounded by the unthoughtful, unconcerned, uncooperative majority?

We often see that goodness doesn’t pay. But life is not all about transactions. Call it courtesy or one’s methods and manners—it’s the innate decency in one’s character. What counts is the way we think, behave, and live when no one is looking. It’s the difference between being pseudo-nice on social media vs being nice in real life—when there is none to send us ‘likes’. The choices we make affect the choices of others.

Nice guys, at times, finish last… Still, it’s nice to be nice.

Pic: How light n lit up I felt when i met someone nice yesterday

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Crazy Cozy Corners

I am crazy about cozy corners.

In Sujangarh home, I spent hours sitting in a cute little window. While devouring boondiya-bhujiya* in its lap, I was spell-bound by street’s sights, sounds, and smells– foaming camels, fighting dogs, and farting horses.

In Guwahati home, I captured a small low-height room in the middle of stairs (‘duchhati’) and was quick to name it “Niru’s Nest”, lest someone else lay claim to it. This was my nest during college and university days and nights, though I laid no eggs here. Friends frequented it, parents avoided it. Here I taught ‘Break-Even Analysis’ to Bimal Patni ; and here I learnt about break-heart stories of many.  Though we still have to go up to it, today it is a ‘godown’.

In Bangalore home, I made a tiny heaven surrounded by books. Here I could see, smell, touch, and feel books… I lived with books—some which I read long ago, few which I have read over and over again, and some I am yet to open. This flirting is life-long, the charm and the romance remain undiminished.

My love affair with cozy indoors—such as captivating coupes in trains—continues. If I find none, I create one. June 2021—I found myself back in Guwahati, and I lost no time in carving a niche Study in the ground floor drawing room. The wooden contraption—which supported the wash-basin in my parent’s bathroom—became my work-table. The massive painting –which Bapuji* had insisted upon buying in Bangalore—gives relief to my laptop-tired eyes but agitates my tranquil nerves. The curves of the long abandoned ebony- black ‘Film-Fair’ lady and the recently grown grass-green plant on my desk compete with each other—my  imagination runs riot.

This love for small indoors contrasts with my love for vast outdoors—the abundant nature—the sprawling seas and meadows; the rising mountains and trees; the endless horizon and skies; the infinite space and time…

This puts me to a thought—confined in their cozy captivity, the heart can be limitlessly large and the mind can be immeasurably big.

*Boondiya-Bhujiya: Sweet & sour Indian snacks; * Bapuji: Father

Pics: Foaming Camel; Door to Niru’s Nest; The one with painting says it all.

Story of Our Stories

“I am me”—I shout from the rooftops. But am I? Since everyone claims to be himself, I am no different.

Somebody, everybody, or nobody—we are all storytellers. We tell stories about others and about ourselves. And we colour those stories, we paint pictures—as we want or imagine. Whereas we can’t twist others’ stories beyond a point, we have a field day with our own.

The narcissist in me loves myself. I repeatedly tell myself and others about myself. And I put chosen stories within my story—to showcase what I wish to. This creates ‘me’ I want to see and to be seen. This imaginary ‘me’ takes over the real me, my life, times, and relationships.

Layer upon layer, we weave fantasies to display an identity that is phoney and false—at least in parts. We select or discard the realities, the essentials, and the history which have shaped us. Our subjective interpretations and biases change our person, persona, and personality.

We become the stories we keep repeating about ourselves to ourselves and to others. How we project ourselves in our stories could be very different from what we are. It’s easy to convince and deceive ourselves that the situations and people have forced us to be what we are not.  

Becoming crafty while crafting our stories, we plant prejudices and embed distortions. We ask our stories to tell us what we wish to hear. As we believe in the make believe, we become what we pretend. So we make the stories or stories make us? These stories coax, cajole and compel us to think, believe, and act in the way we portray our characters in these stories. 

At times we make stories of others our own. We become other people—living a vicarious life of sham and show. As Oscar Wilde wrote: ‘’Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.’’

How do we overcome illusions and delusions? How do we quit living in paradoxes and frameworks of fakery? We can begin by telling our genuine story to ourselves. Telling others is optional, for others sense our truth sooner or later. To twist Huxley’s words—there are things said and things unsaid, and in between are the doors of perception. The world knows the story of our stories.

Image: ClipcartKey

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इंतज़ार—इंतज़ार का…और चाय Intezaar—Intezaar ka… aur Chai

जिंदगी  जब  चाय  की  एक  प्याली से  दूसरी  तक  सिमट आती  है,

छोटी  होती  है, पर बहुत  लम्बी  हो  जाती  है…

अलसाई  चाहतें  चुस्कियों  में  तलाशती  हैं  चुस्तियाँ,

बेबाक  बेफिक्री नहीं, रह  जाती  हैं  सिर्फ  मायूसियां…

चाय  की  बिखरती  भीनी  भाप  में  भीगे  कुछ  सवालात  हैं,

कुछ  कश्मकश, कशिश, कुछ  ख्वाब  ख़यालात  हैं…

चाय  के  ऊफान सी  हैं  उफ  ये  ऊफनती  उल्झनें,

परेशान  हूँ, पीता  हूँ  मैं  उसे  या  वो  पीती  है  मुझे…

चाय  से  सने  सूने  सपनों  में  कोई  शामिल  नहीं  होता,

बेइंतहा  इंतज़ार, और  इंतज़ार  का  इंतज़ार  है  रहता…

 Intezaar—Intezaar ka… aur Chai

Jindagi jab chai ki ek pyali se doosari  tak simat aati hai,

Choti hoti hai, par bahut lambi ho jaati hai…

Alsai chahten chuskiyon me talasti hain chustiyan,

Bebak befikri nahee, rah jaati hain sirf maayusiyan…

Chai ki bikharti bhini bhaap me bhhege kuch sawalat hain,

Kuch kashmakash, kashish, kuch khwab, khayalat hain…

Chai ke ufaan si hai uf ye ufanti uljhanen,

Pareshan hun, Peeta hun main use ya wo peeti hai mujhe…

Chai se sane soone lamhon me koi giraft nahee hota

Beintehaa intezaar, aur Intezaar ka Intezar hai rahta…

Image: Clay Banks–unsplash

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Human or Humanoid? Who Am I and Am I Me?

How do I know who am I and am I me? Usernames, passwords, passwords for passwords, and passwords for remembering passwords have usurped my identity. The OTPs—one time passwords—make me look like an all time fool. But I console myself that my enemy has a constantly constipated look, not finding any password even for passing the wind. As I can’t bypass, and pass out many a times living by the leave of passwords, I wonder whether I will need a password to pass away.

Negotiating the maze of passwords transports me to the secret world of deciphering complex codes—and I live my adolescent fantasy of Sherlock Holmes’ cloak and dagger life. Attired in his trademark hat and overcoat, and smoke oozing from the curvaceous pipe, I follow the fugitives in the foggy eerie nights in London’s dark slippery streets shrouded in sinister shadows. Life is spooky—Corona or no Corona.

The toll-free number too takes its toll—“Please wait, you are in the queue… Kripaya intezaar karen, aap katar main hain…”. After waiting for the Godot, when I get connected—I am coaxed into playing a numbers game. For a 3 years old seeking electronic adventure—pushing 1 till 9 and hearing humourless recording over n over again could be thrilling. For me—having pushed luck all my life—it is the endgame. “For English push 1, Hindi me jankaari ke liye 2 dabayen”—whispers a melodiously morbid and monotonous voice. Whatever number I push, I hear what I don’t want to. I go on fishing from 1 to 9 till eternity—only to get disconnected. I repeat the cycle with sadistic pleasure yearning to hear—“Ab aap apna aur saamne wali ka gala dabayen… Now strangulate yourself and the woman at the other end”(men always put women in the firing line). Customer delight or customer fright? It’s death—digit by digit. One resigns, reclines, n recites:

“उम्र ए दराज़ मांग कर लायी थी चार दिन, 

दो आरजू में कट गए, दो  इंतज़ार में…”*

(I begged four days from life, 

Two I lost in longing, two in waiting…)

*Couplet by Seemab Akbarabadi

 While Corona kills—the sinners and the saintly, the gadfly and the godly—all are perpetually online. Appropriate all the inappropriate Apps—these are abundant and free. Tweet taunts and tantrums or face-off on Facebook; be an instant hit on Insta by posting the latest pics in bikini with a bunny or do Zumba on Zoom; endlessly forward ‘gyaan’ on WhatsApp making friends n foes writhe, wince n weep or be a darling dude on YouTube—you never lack social media choices. First these ‘apes’ tempt n lure, then they coax n cajole. Coercion from the likes of ‘WhatsApe’ apart, we continue to fall and remain in their trap for FOMO—fear of missing out. We can’t shake these monkeys off our backs.

Even emotions are electronic. Emojis express it all—anger or anxiety, love or lie, smirk or smile. Forget the back-slapping bonhomie—one can go hug a pillar.

The unescapable World Wide Web, Goggle’s googlies, and the machines on our palms, laps and desks manipulate us to download miracles, mischiefs n miseries without measure. WWW answers all our Whats Whys n Whos whenever we plunge into this unfathomable ocean. We wish to find one tiny pearl of wisdom, and it places millions on our palms—we don’t know where to begin and where to end. The plethora of goodies so confuse n confound that one leaves the humongous store without robbing it.

Bored with your life on this earth and on the web? You can live it up in an online “Second Life”. Then there is the Dark Web, which offers you A to Z of the ugly and the illegal—from arms and drugs to thugs. You are a nut case to enter it, and a gone case once into it.

The email story is astounding. We don’t talk or walk, we email—children email parents sitting in the same room, colleagues email each other from adjacent cubicles. We are so scared of others and ourselves that we put everything on instant electronic record. Hail email—it won’t fail, has a trailing tail.

As Ambani urges us to “Karlo Duniya Muthhi Me”—hold the world in your palm, and we ‘rely’ upon him to “Jio” (live) a life of ‘mobile’ dreams, life for most remains a static nightmare.

The binary life—can we ever escape its tentacles? Can we live a life of our own ever again? Digital life is relentlessly marketed and sold to us where we must have it all, else we are nothing. A perfect 1 or 0—everything in-between is meaningless, mundane, and oh…so middle-class.

Caught between being a human and a humanoid, I ask myself—who am I and am I me?

Image: pxfuel.com

social media internet-pxfuel.com

SILENT MUSINGS IN SOLITUDE…As I give more Life to Time and more Time to Life.

Solitude had spread its shadow, and I had slumped into sweet slumber. Rising, I see subtle changes—my spirit soars, my style shines.

Confined in shrunken spaces, I have found soul’s landscape is vast and expands forever. Sitting in silence, I have looked at myself—barebones and naked. I was never a saint and will never be—but feel more evolved when less involved. Oh, I am changing, yet never—though short-changed time and again.

Now I laugh often, cry more, complain little, and speak less. I am writing a bit and reading a bit more; I rest in the arms of music, lose myself in the lap of nature, and play with my perceptions—I have always had love affairs with these stunning beauties, now I lust.

Full of faults and failures, but with fewer presumptions and prejudices—I now judge less and try to understand more. Now I search less for motives, and look more for compulsions behind behaviours. I guess I am growing, but am sure about my ego—it is diminishing. Though much more intense, I am now nuanced.

I am more at peace being less cynical, less critical; and happier being more content, more accepting of myself and others—as I am and as they are—with idiosyncrasies and imperfections, wrinkles and warts. Now I am better at tolerating the rituals I hate, braggadocio that I despise, and stupidity which I abhor; but I still shun sham, sophistry and sarcasm with contempt and disgust.

I have forgiven those who betrayed me, though can never forget their treachery—tormenting wounds run deep and traumatising scars remain raw. Memories live within me forever, for my soul sucks and soaks deep—every bit, every drop, every ounce—be it nectar, be it poison.

I understand it is unnecessary to have all the knowledge in the world; it is fine to possess less; and it is OK to stand second or third or even last in life’s lines. I had never found fault with frugality, now I see abundance in it—yet paradoxically, the hedonist in me seeks the small little pleasures life tempts with.

I had always missed my family and friends, now I realise nothing and no one is more important. Feelings are heavy and moist remembering those I have lost, and light and joyous thinking of those I have. The naughty twinkle in my eyes shines brighter at the slightest prospect of back-slapping bonhomie with friends—over beer or tea or nothing. Unabashed, I hug in my thoughts those whom I love but dare not reveal; and I hug openly with my eyes and arms—all those whom I love and can flaunt.

Deep within I know it does not matter to miss out on many, but how important it is to hold on to a few who matter; and even as I extract more from life, I now give more of myself to such men and women.

Now I have less of many which were more, and more of some that were less.

I realise it is awesome to love and be loved, it is indispensable to have integrity, and imperative not to break the trust—ever.

I hear my thoughts echoing in these beautiful words of Pablo Neruda:

“…And we must pass through solitude and difficulty, isolation and silence in order to reach forth to the enchanted place where we can dance our clumsy dance and sing our sorrowful song — but in this dance or in this song there are fulfilled the most ancient rites of our conscience in the awareness of being human….”

As my wondering thoughts flow into wandering feelings, my words whisper :

I am more human, more humane, and more of myself n me…

As I give more life to time and more time to life.

Image: Keegan Houser/Unsplash.com

Solitude

Let’s Salute These Soldiers

The culprit lurks in the shadows, hides in nooks n corners, and is airborne. The vile is invisible, but surrounds us. This scoundrel neither selects nor surprises. The devil doesn’t discriminate. It can attack any and all. The enemy is within n without. The rogue infects most, kills many. Humans have given it a nice name—Corona.

And while petty among the politicians politicise and even bright among the bureaucrats bungle—the doctors and other health workers, seen and unseen, continue to wage relentless war against this dreaded enemy to save us. They don’t trumpet the tales of their toil, nor do they sing songs of their sacrifices. These warriors fight sans fanfare—often without the right gear, equipment, and medicines. Working day n night against heavy odds and without complaints, they risk their lives… Many die too.

Our defence forces fight to protect the nation and citizens. Harried n harassed, the health warriors—doctors, nurses, para-medics, lab technicians, ambulance drivers, administrative & support staff, volunteers, and many others unnoticed n unseen—fight for our health and lives. In both the cases—many a time—it’s fight till the end.

Let’s not belittle them. Let’s not take them for granted. It’s easy to sit in comfortable drawing rooms, be nonchalant, and declare—“it’s their duty, they get paid for it”. Truth is, they go much beyond the call of their duty.

Let’s salute these soldiers.

Image: Ashkan Forouzani, unsplash.com

doctor & Corona