Thursday, February 25, 2010

An ache without any balm

By John Cheeran
I never prepared so delicious a meal such as this night.
After all, this feast is in my honour.
As glasses clink in the raised hands
I can feel the stab of shattered shards in my heart.
I poured a little of my blood, still left after all these years of recriminations, to the sauce.
It tastes great, a kind man remarked with that rare parting of lips.
Beloved, you don’t know the taste of my blood, after all these years?
What do you know of me?
An ache without any balm, a cheek without colour
A breath without life, a look without vision
You, in your feigned innocence, know nothing of these.
I was the easy picking.
I was the lamb who waited for the butcher’s knife with no taste of life and love, before or since.
Now, can you see that glint of ingratitude in my eyes, as
I serve and play the perfect host to your unsuspecting but scrutinizing eyes and palates?
If only I could drink from wells other than you
I would have dissolved
I would have merged in muddy rivers
reeking of slush, sweat, rum and dreams
As lights dim during this night,
This anniversary of primal conquest,
Can you recognize the silhouette of rebel and a dreamer
That still prays for deliverance
From you as well as your kindness that kicks me in absent hours?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A poem for indescribable silence

By John Cheeran
Where are you?
Why this deepening silence?
Every time, I hear a footfall in the corridors of my heart, I think of you.
I know your call will come, that sunshine laughter and timbre of sweetness, sweetened by distance and time.
Days are dreary without you.
Within you I can sense currents of joy and sadness coursing through as clock ticks to the mundane chores.
Morning coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner, grunts, chidings, a glance of disapproval, an unshed tear and a rare of moment of understanding. Of being poles apart. Like the scarred hearts of a man and woman.
A five course meal, was that the way you marked another millstone? Ah, that extra dose of salt in sambhar almost brought tears to my stomach.
Here I chew on stolen conversations
Vows are easy to be broken as you know by now;
but I will not, but wait till dawn breaks out in the East
So I go on in silence, thinking of you, only of you,
only of you, and only of you.
And search for you in the lengthening shadows around me,
in other voices and faces that stream through
the morning, noon and evening of my consciousness.

When Sachin Tendulkar goes beyond his boundaries

By John Cheeran
Sachin Tendulkar has become the first cricketer in the history of one-day internationals to score a double century. Who would have thought that the Indian master would go beyond this boundary too, during the longest autumn an international cricketer can ever have?
I, forever a critic of Tendulkar’s ways at the wicket, especially in recent years, have never doubted his stroke-making abilities. It was more a question of his power to stay at the crease, with a string of injuries and other slights thrown at him, including those barbs from that guardian of Marathi Manoos, Bal Thackeray, making his comfort zone shrink at an alarming rate. The fact that Tendulkar has crossed this milestone in an era of Twenty20 shows how young he remains at heart. His appetite for runs remains intact as that of a schoolboy cricketer when he used to pad up for Shardashram School.
Tendulkar has had excellent company in this Indian team when it comes to scoring runs quickly. These days it is no affront to the great cricketer when one timorously points out that Virender Sehwag is the most aggressive cricketer the game has ever seen. In the last 12 months, Tendulkar has reinvented himself and the freedom with which he has batted at Gwalior on Wednesday and earlier against Australians at Hyderabad makes one nostalgic about the way Sunil Gavaskar played his final one-dayers, including that brilliant hundred against Kiwis in the 1987 World Cup.
On any other day one would have dared to talk about the benign nature of the pitch at Gwalior and the ease and brutality with which Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni clobbered the South African bowlers to the exasperation of a nation waiting for Tendulkar to run for that single to complete his unbeaten 200. Or, the inconsequential nature of one more one-day series being played out there for the benefit of brand managers.
No, not on this Wednesday, at least.
Yet, one suspect that after 20 years of top-notch cricket, there still remains a few more Khwaishs for this modern batting great. Scoring a Test triple hundred and winning the World Cup for his country could figure among that list. May be we will never know being the intensely private person that Tendulkar is.

Monday, February 15, 2010

My Name is Terror

By John Cheeran
The blast on Saturday night in Pune is a reminder of how inadequate our security system has become. We bemoan inept administration and policing every time lives are lost in the most inhuman manner possible much in the manner of one cursing another inexplicable loss by our national cricket team.
If a day goes without a terror attack in India, the credit should go to your luck. The government does little for you. It’s a government that failed to protect parliament and let militants take a rubber boat to Mumbai.
Terror in India will be combated only when we learn to appreciate the worth of life itself. For us, as long as terror happens in someone else’s backyard that is fine. Such smugness was shattered during the 26/11 attacks but things have been gone back to the square one.
A nation is silly indeed when media and a large chunk of literate society are agitated over the release of a rather inane movie of a rather inane actor. Let’s terror is a 24x7 reality. Vigilance does not end with the second show at midnight.
Instead of My Name is Khan, it’s time you said My Name is Terror. For an average Indian, there are not many choices left with. He has been browbeaten by improvised explosive devices as well as the incompetence of political leadership. Who wants to talk with Pakistan? Who wants to have Pakistani cricketers in the Indian Premier League? Pakistan is a place you send your worst enemy on an all-paid vacation. It is important to love thy neighbour but there are times when you got to shut all your windows and doors when you have a dirty bastard living next to you.
For home minister P Chidambaram and external affairs minister SM Krishna, without any Punjabi baggage to carry around, taking hard decisions on Pakistan should have been easy. In south of India, no one cares if Pakistan gets deleted or not from the global map. But our political leadership still waffles in sentiments and, in turn, we get stabbed in Mumbai, Pune and elsewhere.
My name has been changed. My Name Is Terror.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Players survive as India sinks to the guns of South Africa

By John Cheeran
A Test match that began so well for India, when it claimed two South African wickets for six runs, including that of skipper Graeme Smith, has gone so awfully wrong in the remaining sessions that host is licking its wounds.
What went wrong for India?
Was it the inclusion of Wriddhiman Saha who made his debut as a specialist batsman? Poor Saha, for all you know this may be the end of the road for the youngster.
India lost by an innings and six runs in Nagpur largely because of its batting failure. It's an oft-repeated story; where some of the protagonists make run but not good enough to shore up the side. Yes, we can again rave about the skills of Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar and their centuries.
Look at South Africa. Hashim Amla and Jack Kallis set up the match for their side by playing really, really big knocks. That's the essential difference in approach by the two sides and one that separates the winner from the loser and No.1 from No.2.
May be no Test team would have been able to avoid the kind of collapse that India suffered in the first innings. But, then, again efficient sides redeem themselves playing their second innings with purpose. Think Australia. That did not happen in India's case.
Would things have been panned out differently had Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman been part of the squad? I really don't know. In a sense, that is pointless.
But the point is that apart from Sehwag and Tendulkar none really played his part in India's both innings. Gautam Gambhir failed in both innings but none wants to blame him because he has had such a wonderful run in recent times. Subramaniam Badarinath survives thanks to his half-century. Murali Vijay survives as he hung around in the second innings. MS Dhoni survives since he is the hottest brand and the captain of the side.
But half-measures would not help you to become the No.1 side in international cricket.
In the circus that has cricket become there is nothing called ALL IS LOST. You forget and move on. There is Kolkota and then there is another match.
Selectors have made the changes and brought in Suresh Raina, S Sreesanth and Dinesh Karthick. Will these changes eventually reflect in the composition of the playing XI?
Do all these matter, when we are waiting for the IPL curtain to go up?

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Anna Kareninas in our day and time

To understand love one should make a mistake and then correct it, said the princess Betsy.
Even after marriage? said the ambassador’s wife archly.
It’s never too late to mend, said the attaché, quoting the English proverb.
Exactly, chimed in Betsy. “One has to make mistakes and correct them. What do you think? she asked, addressing Anna, who with a scarcely discernible resolute smile was listening to this conversation.
“I think,” replied Anna, toying with the glove she had pulled off, “I think…if it’s true that there are as many minds as there are heads, then there are as many kind of love as there are hearts.” – Anna Karenina

By John Cheeran
Spread over two weeks, I finally finished re-reading Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. My heart goes out to Anna, who followed her own heart, but in the end could not handle the tremors of her mind.
“The candle, by the light of which she had been reading the book filled with anxieties, deceptions, grief and evil, flared up with a brighter light, lit up for her all that had before been dark, crackled, began to flicker and went out for ever.”
Tolstoy began writing Anna Karenina on March 18, 1873 and finished it by July 1877. 133 years later, the emotional universe the Russian master chronicled remains relevant to you and me. That’s why we call it as a classic.
Are there any Annas out there amidst us?
It matters to recall that Anna defied the mores and culture of her society by moving out of a marriage that did not let her be herself. But, then, in the end she failed to handle the societal pressures. I, for one, would blame Vronsky for not understanding Anna’s concerns—of a heart that was torn between that of a mother and lover. Anna, definitely, deserved better from the free bird Vronsky. Vronsky was not prepared to surrender his freedom, whereas Anna had surrendered her whole being at the altar of her love. It’s a pity that Vronsky failed to hear the undercurrents of Anna’s mind. How does it matter then that he went on a suicidal mission to Serbia?
In contemporary Russia, and elsewhere, Anna would not have hurled herself in front of an onrushing train. Society would not have treated Anna as a fallen woman and much of her worries would have been unwarranted. Vronsky, or not, Anna would have been able to live her life on her own terms, though love would have helped.
But how true such an assessment would be in a place like India, more specifically, in Kerala? I’m being told that society still stifles and preys on a woman who follows her heart. Walking out of marriages is becoming common, but not easy. To be single is to invite ridicule. Alas, there are only a few Vronskys out there. For man, a single woman represents an opportunity for sex without any strings.
On the other hand we have too many Dollys and Kittys. Keeping up appearances and wallowing in shallow pleasures, they have turned into the guardian angles of the institution of marriage and morality.
With such hollow men and women being the custodians of what is right and wrong, modern-day Annas are conditioned not to follow their hearts.
Be that as it may, it may come as a surprise that Kerala does not lack in suicides. But I wonder how many of them were a result of listening to their hearts.
To want is not a crime in itself.
But to know one’s own mind and heart seems to be the unpardonable crime that an individual can commit in our day and time.

From Anna Karenina

All happy families resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

Then someone should invent a way of inoculating love like a vaccination.

Do this for me, never say such words to me and let us be good friends. These were her words but her eyes said something very different

I ask only one thing. I ask the right to hope and suffer as I do now. But if even that’s impossible command me to disappear, and I will do it. Only don’t change anything. Leave everything as it is.

Karenin was being confronted with life.
John Cheeran at Blogged