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Hi, this is somebody who has taken the quieter by-lane to be happy. The hustle and bustle of the big, booming main street was too intimidating. Passing through the quieter by-lane I intend to reach a solitary path, laid out just for me, to reach my destiny, to be happy primarily, and enjoy the fruits of being happy.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Sowing the seeds of a new world post Corona


As the Corona epidemic puts up a painful pause over the globe, life and living gets redefined in sweet-sour ways. The worldwide figure is close to 1.5 million with 75000 deaths. There are tears of loss as people lose their near and dear ones. Sadly, most of the deceased are not getting the farewell they deserve. New York, the city of dreams is the worst affected with around 7000 deaths so far. Pushed against the wall, the authorities are mulling over still sadder option of mass burial. It seems nothing short of a third world war, with Homo-sapiens on the one side and Mother Nature on the other.  
We humans live on hope. We have this awareness of being hopeful. As a derivative of hope, we can search and contrive—even in the bleakest of situations—the moments of celebrations as well. Fighting like an ill-equipped army pitted against a far superior and stealthy force, doctors and nurses are holding the fort for one common humanity. We have many martyrs from our front ranks.
People and medical staff give an applauding farewell to the recovered patients as they leave the hospitals. They are the proof of this wonderful human system. Its natural ability to preserve the life force in it even though our best healthcare labs haven’t been able to manufacture an antidote. This system is endlessly miraculous. The more we learn, the lesser it appears. It has a mystical sovereignty. We can hardly decipher what it has to say on this. In gratitude, people salute the inherent immunity, which is churning out its own resistance in the absence of any man-made antibiotics.
It’s a gloomy picture. Many European counties have 100,000 plus cases. PM Boris Johnson of the UK is in the ICU. The leader fighting against Corona has been seriously wounded. Let’s pray he recovers to start fighting again! Death figures is scarily mounting. The US with 374,000 plus cases and more than 10000 deaths has requested the anti-malarial drug from India. PM Modi is helpless. He cannot export the only apparent solution so far against the virus. Heart says one thing, mind says the other. It’s a see-saw conflict.
Conspiracy theories are circulating as a natural corollary to any kind of disaster. In the UK, people have attacked 5G towers. A word is doing the rounds that the current pandemic is the result of the decreased immunity due to 5G radiation. China, the robotic businessman, ever eager to add to Yuans in its kitty, is now, expertly negotiating trillions of dollars worth Huwei 5G technology in lieu of medical supplies. Majority of the common people see a Chinese hand in the current situations. The governments may have their protocols so may not say it directly, but masses appear to be pretty much convinced about it.    
Against a common threat, the human society is portraying both mundane and not so mundane reactions, either for the good, or for the bad. In the gardens of the gated colonies, with people stacked up on floors above floors, the policemen are once again doing all they can do. They aren’t just the stern gatekeepers who have locked people up with the entire countries being turned into mass prisons. In the gardens of gated colonies, the cops, in gym track-pants and T-shirts, gyrate to the acrobatic exercise beats and lead the people in doing some physical workout. Peering over their balconies and windows, the people catch up the strains of optimism and start exercising. It’s better to muster up strength against the enemy peering over the walls.
Let there be world-level philanthropists, goody-goody doers and charity messiah, that doesn’t intimidate and deter this slight built man from doing all he can do for the cause of humanity. The cyclist crusader has a rickety cycle decorated with Corona warning and safety messages. The cycle carrier behind has a big pot full of his cooking to feed the hungry. He dons a mask, a pair of gloves, his clothes are poor but cleaned with confidence and dignity. As he pedals ahead on the mission, the humanity takes one huge step against the invisible enemy. This is the beginning of our victory and Corona’s defeat.
Trump may have prioritized economy over people while delaying the imposition of lockdown, here in this resource-crunched country, the government sees only up to a point where lives can be saved. The economy is for the people, not vice versa. Do you get the message Mr. President? In the semi-desert district of Rajasthan, the principle of humanism is being taken one step ahead. The district administration is doing its level best to get animal fodder delivered to 300 villages. Cattle are almost family members in an agrarian economy. It shows the district administrators have decided to fight till the end.
Much to be happy about these positive developments, still the sour strains will keep pouring in as can be expected during such critical times. In a sleepy, green mountain village of Himachal Pradesh, the people show how far the feeling of insecurity, panic and fear has sunk in. It is creeping up the mountains. It’s intimidating the pure air. A woman from the village works as a nurse. She has been a steely front-line warrior woman against the virus and is granted recuperating leave for a few days at the village. The villagers but get scared and deny her entry into the village, scared that she may carry the bug to them. The district administration has to fight the people to help her enter her house. With such unwelcoming gesture, I have hardly any doubts about the villagers’ behavior during her stay here. Such social challenges are as grave as the deaths occurring due to the deadly virus.
In Sagar, MP, the priests of all religions in India walk shoulder to shoulder to defeat the common enemy. In their secular and accepting enthusiasm, they cutely break the social distancing norm by the way. But melting of inter-religious aloofness and discrimination is too big a prize for a little threat of Corona infection. Behind them masked policeman walk in marching symmetry maintaining a safe distance from each other. Let’s hope Corona gets scared by this show of solidarity. The society has to give a secular, humanist punch. Otherwise, Corona will bug minds also apart from bodies.
On the streets of Hyderabad, the police carries out a road show. A beautiful mix of ‘matter of fact passing the message’, a show of strength along with an icing on the cake in the form of a sense of aesthetics. A lovely concoction! The bike riders wear Corona helmets, the evil-spiked ball. There is a four member column of horse-mounted policemen with a steely resolve of going to war. Foot-soldiers march carrying glaring placards and banners about the Dos and Donts in the face of the epidemic. The music tempo blares rhythmic beats to mellow down the typical policing frigidity. It looks half admonishing and half celebratory.
Dear brothers and sisters, many a marriage have been postponed for some better sunny day. Not too many people seem eager to start their conjugal duties in such a depressive environment. Those who still itch to jump into the bed, do it almost stealthily, as due to the lockdown rules one cannot have congregations and ceremonies. There are instances where the bride and groom take hurried circles around the holy fire, their faces covered with masks and just 5,6 people witnessing the occasion.
Now, something about the most worrisome aspect of Corona, especially in India: communal consequences of Corona. Already there is a lot of polar ice kind of coldness between Hindus and Muslims in India, the roots going back to the partition time slaughters and even before when Muslims ruled the country for almost 1000 years. Currently, it is a massive political tool for all the major political parties. The religious differentials are so glaring that it is always like a livewire ready to give a blast.
Of course, the triggering agents are very few on both sides. But once the trigger is pushed, it lets out a cascading effect, aided and abetted by rumors and hearsay to take masses in the middle in its wake. The stony knots in the rigid communal hearts of a few Tabligi jamatis have landed in the communal cauldron. It has splashed the boiling waters on many a few simple minds both among the Hindus and Muslims. With around 4000 active cases, and a third of these being directly related to the Markaz congregation in Delhi, the entire country is seething with anger. Even to the most secular minds this high percentage is too much to pass it off as mere chance happening. The figure tell a glaring story and people have every right to cook up their conspiracy theories. Majority of the Hindus now believe that it has been a well-planned bio-terrorism by the Jamatis who deliberately took the virus to every nook corner of the country to teach the Hindus a lesson. Almost everyone is believing that it has been deliberately to put the country down to its knees.
In Muslim majority areas of South Haryana, dozens of absconding and Corona positive Jamatis have been traced after much boil and toil. The state government has been forced to seal the entire areas where these Corona carriers are supposed to have moved. Under such massive sealing measures, the common Muslims are bound to feel offended and a feeling of discrimination and alienation creep in already insecure minds. In the countryside, people see any skull cap as a potential Corona terrorist. I think the communal consequences of Corona will be the worst in India.  
At the Kanpur medical facility, where the Markaz Corona suspects are quarantined, they are on the path of Jehad. They have misbehaved with female medical staff. They are seen spitting around, threatening to infect all and sundry. In Lucknow, a few absconding Jamatis are caught hiding in a crowded bazaar adjoining the army cantonment. There are daily reports of law enforcement tracing down the Jamatis who have gone underground. No wonder, most of the Hindus see it as a well planned ploy to spread Corona throughout the country. It may be true, it may be not. The problem is, in both scenarios only a tiny group is involved, but the entire Muslim population is being put under a scanner now. In reaction, even the common Muslims are reacting. They are refusing to cooperate with quarantine teams. They are insisting to do group namaaz just to prove that they have every right to practice their religion. In such circumstances, all the epidemic time restrictions appear like Government of India is targeting them. Well, that’s what the communalists want. In Kannauj, 40-50 namaazis are caught gathered for group namaaz. It’s good for faith, but not for health. The government is forced to restrict all religious ceremonies across all religions to ward off the community spread of the virus. When the police teams reach the place, they are attacked with bricks and stones gathered on the top floor. I think all the hard core Mullahs who are putting the lives of common Muslims under risk by taking such rigid stance should be sprayed with chlorine mixed waters till the virus of communal hate vanishes from their hearts. Corona on skin is less lethal than the communal virus in hearts and minds.
The entire country is glued to news these days where you hear only and only the tales of Corona. All these communal strains of Corona are infesting the commoners’ minds far and wide. Hindus and Muslims usually stand very cold and detached from each other. In my village, there are some migrant Muslim laborers and a few Muslim families who stay in fruit farms having taken them on yearly rent from the local farmers. They are under scanner now. The villagers are in panic and suddenly some rumor starts that some Muslims have seen in the streets at midnight. Then you hear that they are hiding some Corona positive Jamati who is still untraced. You can very well imagine the condition of a few dozen Muslims among thousands of Hindus. These common people are the ones who are at the maximum risk of communal violence. But then if things turn communal it helps all political parties. One party gets advantage from one group, the other from the other group. So Corona may not have much of political leverage, the communal consequences of Corona definitely possess immense significance. The only antidote possible so far to stop the scourge of Corona, social distancing, is further aggravating the sense of alienation among the Muslims and a sense of irritable aloofness is creeping among them. And if it flares up, who will lose the most? These will be the innocent Hindus in Muslim majority areas and innocent Muslims in Hindu majority areas. The real rascals on both sides hardly pay any price.
On a positive note, in Bhagalpur Bihar, three poor sisters, almost dying of hunger, call the PMO. The rasping sands of Corona have eaten away the famed Indian administrative apathy. Within half hour of their call, they are the much relieved recipients of big packets of food and even new clothes. All the wings of administration are actually functioning the way they should normally. They are in fact justifying their salaries—many of them—for the first time in their careers. As they say, even misfortune comes with positives.
PM Modi is an expert in the art of rallying people behind him for a cause. He has requested people to switch off electric lights between 9 to 9:09 PM on April 5 and light lamps and candles as a Prakash Parva to create a feeling of unity among the countrymen to wage a battle against Corona and be ready to make some individual sacrifices. Quite surprisingly, people really listen to the PM and follow also as he patronly tells them. Lighting the lamp is OK, but you cannot expect the tempo to stay within the somber boundaries of the symbolism of a humble lamp to fight the darkness. People have to have their cannons also to ward off the evil, and remind the unpolluted skies that see we are down but not out. Be ready for our banging exhaust fumes when we come out again. So the leftover firecrackers from Diwali light up the sky and boom-boom go the blast, letting off huge plumes of smoke and airy vibrations shaking the steady wick of oil lamps. Here they won’t listen to even the honorable PM. His political opponents, though, have to condemn the move at all costs, even if it sounds without any rhyme or reason. Muslims again will see it as a majoritarian Hindu way of fighting. The PM has to engineer some Muslim ways of fight also, so that they don’t feel as alienated as they do now.
The celebrities are under the risk of getting redundant under the lockdown stage. On the lesser exciting stage of life, all and sundry, from the strongest to the poorest, appear more or less the same. So the outgoing free-birds are doing their level best to stay in the minds and hearts of their fans from their drawing rooms by sending videos. Vicky Kaushal is seen cleaning his fan. I hope his image doesn’t get cleaned from the hearts of his fans. Or to make it more positive, let his fans start cleaning the dirt of insensitivity and ignorance from their minds and hearts.
As one gets into the corner, move onto the back foot, you get few extra hard punches, if destiny has decided to light a few more stars twinkling across your nervous system. So the poor elders, those very same reprimanding and shrieking bullies, have been made to do shit-ups and sulk like little errant idiots by the mother of all, the grand mama, Mother Nature. Now children, with their innocent selves, are closer and dearer to the grand mama. So now children have also run into the grown-up whiplashing fray. My nephew Nevaan, 20 days short of his fourth birthday, is using the fear psychosis prevalent around to get his parents scared and get away with his treat, the same and very same cartoon channel.
They are in the balcony, trying to put some online-dispatched homework into his little brain. He finds them not so confident in their bullying these days. Caged parrots as they are! He has parroted the common symptoms that are being narrated all around the globe. He can feel that these intimidating elders are much scared of something that they say gives fever and cold. So here goes the little manipulator, using his resources expertly in the changed circumstances: ‘Mummy I think I have fever, feeling cold, and my nose is running!’ he drops the bomb. ‘Let’s not stay in the balcony. Come inside, I feel sleepy, not well. Switch on the TV. May be I won’t feel the fever then!’ Little does he realize, he has been jumping like the naughtiest ape-kid in African jungles till the very moment when the study session started! Oofs, poor elders cornered like never before.
With most of former apes not jumping on the stage of life, the earth appears to be resting after ages. Seismologists have confirmed that earth’s crust is vibrating far less than earlier. It has gone almost into sleep. In the absence of our drama, everything seems to have gone into rejuvenation. Let’s make such civilizational pause mandatory over the globe after regular intervals to allow Mother Nature heal and save it from a burnout.
Are the weapons of destruction and nuclear stockpiles helpful now? The US has shortage of medical equipment and medicines. The boundaries and differentials of international politics have melted and all we see is a group of scared Homo-sapiens, suffering in the very same way and seeking the very same solution. Shouldn’t we realize and remember this even after the worst is over? In the moments of pause, we can calculate the costs of our virtual animosities and insecurities, our limitless defense expenditures, our stockpiling of weapons which turn obsolete and redundant in the face of any danger that challenges us as a common humanity. These murderous weapons are relevant only in cases where only a portion of humanity is engaged in confrontation on the basis of differentials contrived by our mind, which creates hypothetical values to satisfy our individual and group ego.
There being no solution for the common challenge so far, the medics are giving hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug in treating Corona patients. The US President has requested PM Modi, his dear friend, for urgent supplies of this drug. Unfortunately, things are tragically falling apart in the US. Now, PM Modi, afraid of things going out of control in his own house, has said ‘no’ to the request. I think as of now just apprehending that this stock may be needed in future in India is quite unwarranted. It is simply abiding by the age old rules, strictly created by the boundaries and walls of one-upmanship. As of now, there is one sufferer: humans across the globe. Let’s pause the national differentials for the time being and use our resources collectively! A patient, wherever he/she may be in need the medicine now, should be given priority as a citizen of earth, an earthling, the basic identity all of us share on this little planet. We need not stockpile medicines for future patients, while many die presently without them. Those who are dying in any country have a first right to the medicine irrespective of political and boundary divisions. This is the time for sowing the seeds of a collective spirit, a global community. Let’s make it a better world!

Ma

What new things I have learnt in 2020? Well, I have learnt that whatever we assume to know loses its meaning altogether in the face of the death of a near and dear one. My mother left her body on 27th of January. And all my deeply felt spiritual experiences, feelings, realizations, knowledge and information seem to have lost their meanings. All and everything seems to possess a theoretical, bookish relevance and stale meaning.
On top of everything you get into the clutches of ‘meaninglessness’. Meaninglessness may hold the key to the secret. I understand and feel what it may mean by being shaken by the feeling of not belonging or losing life’s meaning suddenly. It's not a sin to try to create meaning and inculcate a sense of belonging as human beings. These are important tools for the spirits in their bodily form to evolve to the next level. But again even with this realization, I feel lost in the face of tragedy and my own words appear absolutely hypothetical. If someone is in a position to nurture and tolerate the feeling of not belonging and tolerate meaninglessness, it shows her highly evolved spiritual self.
I am gutted. Death is inevitable. But the way it happened has hit me really hard. I was on my spiritual quest. My mother is a holy soul and in this body she has earned heartfelt appreciation for her conduct by almost everyone who knows her. An active woman. Always doing something or the other with a pure heart. Presently hadn't any serious issues. At 2:45 at night her suffering call tore through my sleeping self. I ran. And within minutes she breathed her last in my arms. My yells. My desperate attempts to resuscitate and breathe life into her mouth. My futile attempts to carry her to the hospital in the wee hours, all this hit me so hard in the guts that my system seems to have collapsed. I was almost in a semi meditation state with my efforts. This happening seems like I have been hit hard on my head while in sleep.
I have to fulfill my duties and offer my deepest prayers for the smooth, painless flow of my mother's journey beyond this body form. All said, I have sad tears of gratitude for her for having led an active and happy life both in mind and body. Let this beautiful journey lead to a better destination for her consciousness in the journey ahead.
The hammer strike was terrible in the wee hours of that cold night. It shattered my little world. Pieces scattered around, I went numb. Lifelong we try to make. It just needs one unexpected strike to break. In a Cosmos where cosmic explosions create holes that can accommodate 13 Milky way sized galaxies, do I even stand justified in putting questions like "Why" and "How"? I couldn't move. Almost dead to the flux of events around. The biggest goal thinkable was to Crawl. So started crawling with my soul suffering the aftermaths of the strike and body almost giving up in its wake. After crawling, standing up was the goal. So I stood up slowly as acceptance crept in. My unsteady steps changed to a steadier walk as I felt gratitude and love towards what I had lost in that terrible strike, my most valuable one, my mother. My tears of pain and suffering turned into holy waters of acknowledgement, love and gratitude for being born from her womb. My sewn lips parted with a faintest smile for her well-meant pure life. My cries changed into a prayer for her journey ahead in the next dimension. I walk now, aiming to jog sometimes, and may be run further on, with her love in my heart and her blood in my veins. Travel safe Ma!

Melting ice-blocks and bear hugs during Corona-bombarded times

As you go within and start having a discourse with your real self, satsang, a tiny lamp starts shining, and many a disillusion simply disappear. You taste the nectar of mystical peace. You feel like you have hit the ultimate jackpot. You feel like you are blessed with the most valuable wealth. Unlike the other forms of wealth we are acquainted with, we don’t want to cling onto it and hide it from others. You just feel like sharing it. There is hardly any option. The knot gets loosened and you feel floating on a higher plane of existence. From this elevation, you see the world below, watch it in totality. The complete picture erases the erroneous spots born of the lower fragmented view when you saw dead-ends even in the little streets. Now you see the beautiful pattern of the maze. The riddle vanishes, simply because there wasn’t any.
The kind, old, simple-hearted retired teacher is almost double of my age. ‘My eyes start overflowing with tears whenever I hear, read, do or see something about dharma!’ I remember him telling me a few months back. He came to convey his condolences on the occasion of my mother’s departure for her further journey. We had a long talk about the issue of life and death. I remember tears of acceptance, compassion, love and joy in his eyes. Now the other day, he calls me over phone. I am humbled by his words. Torrential waters of his compassionate self eat away big chunks of my remaining ego. I myself get tears in my eyes.
‘Sant ji, you are an enlightened soul! Please be my spiritual guide!’ his words are drenched with the fluidity of emotions. I now recall the tears in his kind, old eyes when we had met the last time.
I am humbled beyond words. The surge of my emotions is the only answer to him. ‘You have already your guru in you Master ji, your soul, the real you!’ I somehow manage.
He has raised me to the vaults of heavens, but I feel belittled to the micro size of dust speck around anybody’s shoes on earth. I then add value to his devotion and honeyed mellowness by adding my own surrendering words of devotion. I speak like a student speaks to his teacher. I give him full respect. By the end of our discussion, we have learnt a lot about life and beyond. Most importantly, I have salvaged my right to pay him unqualified respect as an elder.  
In the same vein, I should mention a hardworking farmer in his 70s. He has been a karmayogi, and has toiled like a brute throughout his life. Now the hard-worked soil, irrigated with his sweat beads, has started to sprout forth flowers, the fragrant colors of divinity, of mystical messages.
‘My eyes flow like rivers as I read about the stories of saints and their pious deeds!’ I he tells me. He looks very expectantly, with the eagerness of a child, trying to know a bit more about the reason for the same from a supposedly ‘educated’ guy like me.
‘It’s a very auspicious sign Uncle!’ humbled again, I begin my modest discourse. ‘The river has started to flow. The heat and light of love beyond the self has started to melt the frigid icy mountain of ego, fear and self-identity. Your awareness is expanding. Ego is like an ice-block, rigid, knotted, imprisoned and unmoving. One’s awareness is constricted in a hard knot. As the merciful rays of divine beneficence start falling on it, it melts. A river gushes forth. These tears, this salty water, are the stream of your melting ego, the enlargement of your awareness. Your consciousness is expanding. It will flow, acquire more space and taste more of life and living. Keep journeying uncle, the heat and light will further uplift you to the endless expanses of airy travels. The river will further expand to airy free swirls as the water molecules will further lose their fluid watery grip to evaporate and turn to air. It means further expansion, more extension of awareness to the maximum limit to merge one with everything. From a frigid clod of egoistic ice to a free floating molecule in the airy sea. Well, that’s the journey. You are in an amazing state Uncle, feel blessed with this flow, this fluidity, for this is what takes you to the next stage of evolution. The basic element in air, water and ice remains the same. Just that molecular structural arrangement changes!’ here I have to stop as I feel that now I am getting bitten by the bug of bookish knowledge about molecular structure and all. His eyes are streaming with happy, graceful tears, a proof that my little effort at interpreting it has found a sweet home in his simple farming mind. Moreover, heart has its own logic to perceive reality. It can beat the best of super-brains.
He is overwhelmed. For a moment, I get panicked he may touch my feet. Thankfully, Uncle avoids the catastrophe. My head is itching to get a fatherly blessing from his rough hands and I adopt the meek look of a child ready to receive his blessings. But then he finds me too learned and supposedly wise to put his hand on my head. I am deprived of blessings by a holy soul. But we shouldn’t forget, between the surrendering touch of feet and the blessings on the head, there lies the vast and sacrosanct temple of heart, where all and sundry meet on the same plane of being the very same poor, little souls searching for the ultimate peace and joy. We two seekers of the truth meet in that temple, and inevitably the temple’s sole ritual, i.e., a bear hug, follows with effortless ease. Fuck Corona idiot! It cannot enter such pure temples, where hugs are life-saving even during the Corona-bombarded times.

Friday, April 3, 2020

A sweet-sour saga during Corona times


The worldwide figure of Corona infected people has crossed one million. More than 50,000 people have fallen victim to the virus. America alone has more than a quarter millions infections. Health service workers are protesting against the lack of medical facilities and personal protection equipment. There is shortage of ventilators, masks and gloves in America. Doctors are forced to use the same mask for days on end. Can you believe it? These are the scenes usually stalking the humanity in poor countries. Corona appears to have melted all differences across the globe. Let’s accept the force of temporariness and avoid the mistake of taking things for guaranteed! This much of collective sense will smoothen the path after this testing phase is over.   
   
Things are getting stretched between two extremes. You have people worshipping doctors like warrior gods against the deadly enemy. Then you have frustrated mobs attacking lady doctors doing their routine testing in suspected Corona case households. People are decorating the poor sweepers and municipal cleaners like grooms by putting flower and rupee garlands around their neck. Then you have Markaz Maulanas, who have been quarantined to save their own and others’ lives, misbehaving and even flashing in front of female medics. Can you believe it? NSA has been slammed against these people. They deserve it. It is nothing short of sedition against the country.

To make it more serious, a little group of mischief-mongers among the Muslims is doing the dirty trick of flaring the people’s emotions. While 99% of the Muslims are right there in the mainstream of our common pains and collective happiness, the little rascally group is trying its level best to turn the situation communal. You have the video of a blinded jihadist brave heart rubbing currency notes against his sneezy nose and proclaiming that it’s Allah’s scourge against the kafirs for their sins. What a moron! This Corona hardly knows whether it’s a Muslim or a Hindu cell.

As you have the Markaz Maulvis flouting all norms and almost deliberately spreading the virus, you have heart-melting pictures of a haggard old farmer wearing mask while riding his bullock cart. Well, nothing too newsworthy about it. Love for life is the primary instinct. To make it a remarkable affair, even the pair of bullocks pulling the cart have their muzzles covered under green masks. It’s a lovely picture of having compassion and love for life during these testing times.

The seemingly overworked PM again addresses the nation, for the fourth time in two weeks. People appear to pay heed to his words. He carries a moral power and speaks with honest conviction, which melts many a careless heart. The night is dark. He has exhorted the people to wage a war as the soldiers of light on the night of April 5 at 9 PM. He has asked people to switch off all bulbs and light up diyas, candles and even mobile torches as a symbol of mass support against the dark period. Such symbolic moments go a long way in sowing the concrete seeds of substantial action against the pandemic.

Isn’t it surprising that we can survive on the basic minimum, just at a tiny fraction of all the food, wealth, cars and consumer items we have ended up pooling and cramming to the ceilings in our households as well as in our minds! I think this is the time to realize the fine line separating need from greed.

The soldiers meant to defend borders are running community kitchens. The most flamboyant fashion houses, whose one weirdest most flimsy dress goes into building a momentum of millions of dollars, are working on making doctor coats and other medical clothing. Stadiums where million dollar players would kick the ball into the netting are being changed into quarantine shelters. Thousands of mammoth metallic birds, which boom across the skies, scaring all the lesser birds, have gone silent. It’s the time to reflect and go into acceptance of some hard facts and wrong choices.

Amid all the horrific tales of the Corona pandemic, the non-human part of nature finds it eerily quiet. On the spookily silent roads, a herd of mountain goats climbs down from the surrounding mountains and does a cautious goat parade on the smooth tarred road. Their hoofs clanking with a strange tip-tapping music, playing like a drum beat to finish the parade before the owners of the road come rushing down again in the mad race.

The spring sun is smiling with full brilliance. In my courtyard, the potted plants have happy healthy flowers. We may have lost our smiles for the time being, but the flowers try to put up a lesson. There have been storms, quite powerful ones, during the recent weeks, but the flowers haven’t lost their spirit. They continue blooming. Lesson for us! Of course, we will overcome the odds. It would be best if we emerge as a positively changed species once the dark night is over.

A purple sunbird is feeding on the nectar. It’s a little story of balanced give and take. No greed involved. Hovering over the flowers, it gathers its late morning breakfast. The flowers are getting their kissing pollinators in return. Under the late spring’s harsh sunlight, its glossy black color gives metallic blue iridescence. The little foot-soldier of Mother Nature with its down-curved bill is busy in its duty to survive and fulfill its role in the larger scheme. Its rapid ringing notes send a message of happiness and contentment. I stand mesmerized. My restful happy look doesn’t create panic ripples in the air around. It goes on with its job on the flowers just three feet away. I am transfixed. I feel honored to be there in the selfless arena of Mother Nature not as an intruder, but as a respectful spectator.
    
Somewhere in India, in the oddly silent and uncrowded premises of a gated colony, a cobra lays claim on a bit of life and living on the abandoned stage. Don't panic and don't get offended. The roads are empty and the vehicles are free for a ride. He wants to go for a joyride! The people staring from balconies and by their gates are scared. It has got into the headlamp guard of a scooty. It lops out its tongue, sensing the danger running through the human blood in the form of panic hormones. People are making videos from a safe distance. A snake catcher pries open the covering. And there it pops out. Its hood taut, ready to take on the entire group of people around. It hisses and sways with confidence. It has to create fear. It’s hardly interested in wasting its precious venom on something it cannot eat to survive. However, our inherent fears turn us blind to its mock threats, taking it as an assault on humanity. No wonder, mobs run to kill a snake with the wildest enthusiasm. Thank God, there is a snake catcher on the scene. Moreover, the humanity is on the backfoot right now and they don’t seem too eager to get it killed.

How I wish it showed its majestic hood at our place! In this episode, he has graced Bhopal where my sister stays. It’s adventurous to look at its typical Cobra fearlessness. Its instincts to stand face to face against all odds. A symbol of Lord Shiva's destructive attributes, which are as important as the forces of creation. A beautiful creature! I once remember walking outside my village. There it came, the majestic black shiny cobra. They say it's very confident. And why won't it be!? It will not change its path. It raised its hood from a little distance. I marveled at its confidence and majesty. I gracefully backed out, looking at it, lost in its sweeping powers to hiss furiously for survival.

Faraway in the Amazon forests, a Jaguar pounces on a crocodile basking under the sun on a sand bar in a river flood plain. If at all you can't help being predatory, then try messing up with a bigger rascal than you! If you engage with a bigger villain than yourself, without trampling the world of feebler hearts than you, and tame and trample the idiot, even the biggest moralists will hardly have anything to condemn you for your bloodied ways. Beyond the equation of right or wrong, on the impartial raw stage of life and living, the gutsy predator fights the huge reptile right there in its own territory and earns its meal in a fair and square way. Probably, it bravely walks on the tightrope of life and death with equal probability for each every second, every moment.

In the desert state of Rajasthan, around a public fountain a mother monkey trains her little son in the art of becoming a man. Water basin is a narrow rectangular diving pool. A tall aesthetically done, decorative, stone-worked column overlooks the narrow diving pool. The little monkey has to dive to join the league of prestige and manly entitlements. It hesitates. The pool below is quite narrow and height is quite daunting for its small frame. Mismanage your jump and there can be severe injuries or even death. The mother but pushes from behind. The little coma of hesitation is deleted by her to write the success story of her upbringing her kids with a fine balance of maternal care and hard teachership. All we need is a push from behind by the mother to conquer our fears and take on life and be a man of character, the trophy of her tapasya!

In the tropical grasslands somewhere, with spring air singing the songs of love and passion, the marvelous game of life and living unfolds. The grass is tall. The black shiny widowbird has to jump higher and higher to beat all rivals. Its long tail is swaying as its insignia of manhood. She watches from a high branch. Keep hopping and hopping. High jumps and the ability to last till the end when there is no rival left are the formula of success to sow the seeds of propagation from their individual end. And the hero nearly draws out the last out of his strength to dive into the pools of ecstasy later on. The field is left for him to gather his fruits in the form of her reciprocation to his passion. Keep jumping, keep jumping. Catch her attention! Persistence is the success mantra! Jump higher than the rest! Give your best. Tire yourself out. If nothing else, your aching, exhausted body will fetch you the grandest of sleep at night!

In the luscious green and buxom serenity of a Papua New Guinea forest, the Bowerbird's grand performance takes place beyond any disturbance and ripples from the human society. It’s beautiful bird with blue beak, yellow eyes having dark pupils, dazzling red throat and head, and shiny yellow black-fringed wings. A little feathery bouquet of multiple colors. Love is in the air. It dilates its pupils. It starts with an introductory jarring chirp of its overflowing passion and confidently begins the show. He puts up a mesmerizing show. The princess to be wooed is spell bound. Look into my eyes he says and deliciously dilates his pupils like a mischievous wizard. The feathered hypnotizer lets out wheezy weird calls and waves his wings like a brave matador's cape. She is transfixed. The show is so eye-catching. She can’t help it anymore. Her interest is aroused with a sweet feminine surrender. She drops him a hint. Picks a wild berry in her beak and drops it on the ground. It’s a bouquet of love, her reciprocation. He picks up the bouquet and continues with the rhythmic steps which soon progress into a foreplay. He head-butts her bosom. Intimacy builds up. It’s the opportune time to take the experience to its peak. The rival but arrives at the worst possible time. What a loss. The lovemaking moment is lost like a shape of clouds disappears on the infinite blue of the vast sky canvas. O thou crestfallen lovebirds, never lose hope. Disappointments are written large everywhere, especially with love. Give your best, like him, woo your woman to the core of your soul, and leave the rest to destiny. Sometimes things don't work even if there is consent written largely in her eyes. Keep flying. Keep smiling. Don't lose heart. Maybe you haven't yet come across your soul mate!

In an African jungle hut, an Orangutan is sawing off tree boughs like we humans saw logs. She is totally wild. The saw dust flies as she expertly saws it off, using her legs to steady the log. She manages to make smart pieces. O thou pausing humans, give them some more time to make their own huts. They are entitled to this support because you have been through this stage earlier.

Now tell me, with so much of life and living still going on with majestic ease, will Mother Nature be that merciless to keep we humans away from such bliss for too long? It certainly will not! We have been put into quarantine just as a mild punitive assignment to mind our behavior.



Thursday, April 2, 2020

Prepare for the next stage of your individual battle!

The Markaz Maulana has gone into hiding after spreading mischief and sowing the seeds of suspicion against the minority. Can you believe people still take their words when they proclaim: ‘Corona doesn’t spread in Masjids!’ It’s good to have unqualified and unconditional faith. But even the object of one’s faith would like some common sense among the followers. When they say that crowds in Masjids are safe from Corona, it’s as foolish to proclaim that you won’t be killed if you jump in front of a speeding truck. Allah loves you, but expects you to be loving and careful also, apart from having unconditional faith in Him.

Almost all the Muslims in India are peace loving citizens. Still there is a significant chunk who have been brainwashed in the name of faith to wage Jihad against the so-called non-believers. If they can destroy their bodies with suicide vests, the prospect of carrying Corona, where there is a big chance of survival of the self as well in comparison to the explosives, the prospect of offering their services as the live-agents of Corona are very much high. One can never rule this out.

Thousands had gathered at the Nizamuddin congregation. They have now spread into all four directions of the country. Many are still hiding and not coming forth for testing and isolation. The government has been hard-pressed to track their footprints in the chaotic well-beaten paths of populous India, making it very difficult to trace these virus carriers. You can expect Hindus to be offended. And out of the millions of offended Hindus, a few overzealous ones, having vested communal interests, may rake up the communal fire. Who will suffer? Of course, the poor, innocent commoners in the fold of Islam. The real culprits are too smart and shady and manage to sneak out. The communal consequences of the Corona pandemic can be really catastrophic in India.

The people are debating about the options of mass testing or isolation. Mass testing has worked in South Korea. But we should not forget, they are small countries with manageable population. There are hardly any social challenges put forth on the basis of caste, class, creed or religion. India is a mammoth society, always sitting on the Pandora box of countless differences ready to flare up at the slightest instigation. We have slum areas which have more population than the entire capitals of medium-sized countries. So we are hard-pressed when it comes to manage Corona like South Korea did.

Ideally, mass testing and complete lockdown are the best options against a virus that has no vaccination. Unfortunately, India hardly has any option in this regard. Our best chance lies in complete lock-down and keep pushing the deadline of community spread for as long as possible, allowing more and more time for mass awareness to sink into the roots of the individual conscience. There will be a community spread. There is hardly any doubt about it. But we can postpone that and break the momentum for exponential growth as witnessed in Western countries. Let there be a case anywhere and just clamp down on the locality and focus on the entire area with more strict measures. These are minor check-dams against the Tsunami. Of course, testing rates will go up as more and more focus is diverted to these relatively high risk areas. All we can do beyond is to hope for people’s cooperation in following the lockdown rules and then keep waging their daily battles to stay happy and healthy indoors.

Measures like changing railway coaches into quarantines centers are very practical. We have one of the largest railway networks in the world. These definitely have high prospects against the pandemic as mobile field hospitals.

As people like you and we are waging our individual battles against the pandemic by compromising on our freedoms, economic and social interests, the time and pause should be thoroughly utilized in preparing for the second stage of the fight. Right now we are fighting from our little posts, from the security of our houses. We have lot of choices. We have many safety sets defined by our four walls and our freedom to choose regarding what to do and what not to do. The individual safety manual during the lockdown has been repeated countless times till now. I think all of us can recall it with more clarity than any other theological or common interest book. The manual for personal isolation, the rules of individual hygiene, the rules of dos and donts. Recheck it if you haven’t done even till now!
However, what after the fight comes out in the open at the next stage? There is hardly any possibility that we will have a vaccine against Corona within the next one year. And no country can afford to shut down completely for that amount of time. It means we will have to come out to survive. Presently, it’s like a family patriarch or matriarch has stocked food and economic means for the emergency one or two months, so it is easier to fight from the safety of one’s house. But when the food is spent and you are forced to come out to wage another battle of socio-economic survival, and you still don’t have any vaccine, there will be equal chance of anyone getting infected anywhere in the world? What will you do?

You hardly have a choice about controlling the externals in this case. All you can do is to strengthen your immunity, forge your framework of holistic health, the sum total of your mental, physical and emotional health. Start preparing for that well in advance. All of us do have some idea about how to be mentally, physically and emotionally strong. Churn out your own individual survival kit. There is hardly any specific set of rules about that. Your inner self will guide you for that. We have commonalities to strengthen our physical selves, but we do have different emotional and mental needs to boost up our systems. Work out your holistic health plan while you have the option of staying within the safe premises of your house. Don’t postpone it. For you surely have to come out, right there on the broad stage of life, where there will be equal possibility of anyone getting infected anywhere in the world. The only vaccine as of now is how much aware we are and what we do to strength our ramparts for the second stage of war in the open battlefield.

Right now it’s like guerilla warfare. The next stage will be an open battlefield. There the stronger will survive and the weak may perish. It’s never too late. All of us have our strengths. Build upon that. Cut down on the weaknesses. Who knows it may come out as a happier and healthier world after this crisis is over!

Of little smiles and big pains!

Newspaper, electronic media and social media are now hijacked by the Corona thing. The situation is definitely serious. If developed countries having far better infrastructure, medical facilities, robust economies and sparse population are suffering so terribly, imagine what would happen to India if the epidemic reaches the third stage of community transfer. It must be already in that state. We are but trying our level best to believe that it is still the second stage. The entire country is looking at the numbers of confirmed cases with bated breath and a feeling of dread. The game winning has reversed. With cases shooting off into hundreds of thousands in the US and the Europe, it is about the least numbers that signifies success now. Government of India appears helplessly trying to strengthen feeble coastal embankments while the massive Tsunami reaches towards the coast.

To be a real patriot now all you have to do is to do absolutely nothing. You just sit at home and quell your desire to roam free in the mad race. Earlier, being a patriot required you to sacrifice your blood, vanquish the enemy, do this, do that, all doing, doing and still doing as much possible. Now, all you have to do is to absolutely nothing, and you win more odds in favor of your life. The government is in fact acknowledging you as a try patriot and nation builder if you agree to stay home.  

Criminal negligence and utter insensitivity for a joint humanity are the breaches in the fort work being set up against the Corona assault. Nothing sort of treason, I tell you. While the Indian PM has been pleading to the masses to stay indoors and in isolation, people try to sneak out like hen from their coop. In Nizamuddin, Delhi, a congregation of about 2000 evangelical Islamic preachers, Tabligi zamaat, flouted all humanistic and legal norms to stay in a building, which looks like a gaol market under the present situation. Here they shared communal kitchen and engaged in religious discourse. I respect their enthusiasm for serving the cause of Islam. But, isn’t being sensitive enough to follow instructions to help avoid the spreading of the epidemic also serving the cause of Allah?

The Maulvis then shot off into different corners of the country like live bio-grenades to infect people. They may not have done it deliberately, but the task is nothing short of bio-terrorism and they look like suicide bombers—carrying the corona vests tied to their cells-if we calculate the risks they have spread in terms of community transfer. Zeal for faith is one thing. But equally important is the consideration of safety of the people. If your love for your God doesn’t turn you sensitive and considerate enough to respect the value of life over all, including those of other faiths, then there is high time you go into self-introspection and learn the real meaning of the religious tenets you have been mindlessly cramming for centuries. The offender Maulvis should be traced, quarantined and penalized by forcing them into a bit of secular education meant to turn a person more loving and caring. Given their fright for anything outside the scope of Islam, I think they will find it even worse than being sent to the gallows. So it will be an ample punishment for the errant soldiers of faith.

Given this rampant breach of safety norms by the Maulvis, already there are communal interpretations of the incident. They must not have done it deliberately, only being turned stone deaf to the PM’s teary appeals to follow the norms as clarion calls of the champions of Islam buzzed through their neurons, but the common people are only capable to interpret it as a deliberate effort. Already the rumor machine is working faster than Corona. In the countryside people are saying that escaped champions of Jihad are rubbing their saliva at gate and door latches to punish as many kafirs as possible. The situation turning communal is the worst we can expect at the moment. Gods of all faiths please save us as one common species, the poor self-fucking Homo-sapiens!

Evil Corona seems to tear apart our social fabric apart from our bodies. There are instances of house owners asking their medical staff tenants to vacate their properties, fearing the angels fighting in the front-line against the devil will bring Corona to their threshold. Worse still, there are heartbreaking episodes of panicked crowds chasing away doctors who go for testing and asking the suspects to go into quarantine. If you self-shoot your own front-line soldiers in the fight, it’s nothing short of collective suicide.

The conduct of police during the crisis has won my heart. They are going out of all their routine calls of service and doing everything they can do. After duty hours, lady cops are sewing sanitary masks, cooking, serving food. The families of the cops are helping their valiant soldier by doing all they can do to contribute to the cause. Still there is ample of goodness left to defeat the hellish virus. People are setting up community kitchens and making arrangements for the homeless to stay indoors at community centers.

People seem to be discovering new terms of being human. That seems to be the only icing on the cake. A municipal garbage collector, clad in his poor sanitary worker’s green jacket, his weapons against the invisible enemy being just a mask, his feet in tattered slippers, slowly pulling his rickshaw cart of garbage dump, is showered with flowers by the people clapping, cheering and applauding from their balconies. He looks up. His faceless persona lights up with a newfound pride. For the first time he is visible. Earlier even the stray dogs were more visible. He has tears of pride in his eyes. People shout their loads of gratitude. He pulls his rickety cart with renewed strength.

There are many who are so restless that they can’t bear the ignominy of staying indoors for so long and would slip out like errant kids. The police catches them. Now the severe most punishment for the restless types is to force them into the art of restfulness, Yoga. The police lines them up, right there in the middle of the deserted road and they are sternly taught to do Yoga. Given their stiffness of bodies and frigidity of uncaring, inconsiderate heart, they seem to have undergone the Yoga torture for the first time in life. They would prefer even hard leather work on their bums in order to avoid this Yoga torture. Well, police knows to hit where it hurts the most!

Medical staffs are getting infected. God forbid if the soldiers of the war against the Corona start deserting the field. In Italy, Spain, France, UK and America things are moving to an unprecedented chaos. In Spain, with medical facilities falling short, they are forced to give ventilator to younger people instead of the old patients who might have lesser chance of survival. Patients are lying in the corridors just like they do in poor third world countries. Corona has eaten away all globe-shaking issue of nationality, economic wars, military rivalries and strategic game-planning. It’s just one little species fighting for survival. Hope the feeling of unity in the fight against Corona continues even after this episode is over. We will need it more and more in future because challenges will be global in future instead of being local, regional and national like in the past. This acceptance will do us the best favor we can do to ourselves.

Medical experts say, and there are statistics to prove it also, the males are more vulnerable to Covid-19. Their behavioral aspects of smoking, drinking and other indiscipline in life leave their immunity on the lesser side in comparison to females. There are social, biological and behavioral reasons for that. Males are predominantly responsible for the things having gone wrong on this planet. So by hitting males more than females, Mother Nature is passing a message: Let there be higher participation of females in planning and running the affairs of this world. Their greater role in running the world will turn it into a better world I swear!

Corona is doing some sort of reverse engineering. Poor people, who are yoked in the rough and gruff of life, are sitting idle and washing their hands regularly. They will have the best shiny versions of their poor peoples’ hands. They will have softer, shinier hands! The rich and privileged on the other hand have to do all their household chores, so their hands will acquire rough avatar. Limitless are the somersaults of fate: a king can turn a beggar and a beggar may become a king. So never ever commit the mistake of taking anything for granted. Things are simply in a flux. 
  
Imran Khan gives a lot of human rights lectures about India. Right now, during this Corona crisis, when people have become suddenly jobless, they push out poor Hindu and Sikh families from the queues waiting for ration and food. Pakistan is an officially Islamic country. They can do it as per their constitution and religious priority, but as per the holy laws of Koran, there can’t be a bigger sin than discriminating against people on such grounds and deprive them of even a little meal. It has turned out to be one of the worst places on earth, I tell you. Muslims of India should feel thankful to Allah for being Indian citizens.

With abundance of consumerist supplies drying up from the globe, people should learn and hone the art of surviving on the basic minimum, just for need, not for greed. As you have more time with your children, tell them the story how Mother Earth was raped. Be frank in your acceptance of mass blunders of the current and past generations. Make them understand the value of sustainability. Confess. Set up an example to them about living a joyful life instead of an unhappy wealthy one. That will be your contribution: Churning out a valiant next gen soldier of sustainability to protect future. Laugh more, play games as per the suitability of your house, tell them stories, spend quality time. Misfortune comes with the prospects of new seeds and saplings after the storm is over. Use it properly, or be prepared for bigger ones in future.

All of us anywhere over the planet stand equal chances of being caught on the wrong foot by the Corona army. So, only preventive measures aren’t sufficient. Don’t just spend all your energy in panic washing of hands and getting locked up behind seven locks, go for curative ones also. Strengthen your immunity. All of us are net-doctors with plethora of knowledge and tips on the internet. Do everything possible to upscale your immunity including balanced diet, exercises, Yoga and meditation. Try to be a robust joyful soldier. Make your armor sturdier so that you can withstand the Corona arrows now and other bugs stalking in the roadside bushes as you again go out once this particular bug is vanquished.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

A Corona-raided game

As people fight their individual battles of killing Corona from their hands by washing, washing and washing, peeling layers after layers of their skin in the chase after the enemy hidden in the pores, leaving them slim and delicate handed, the war appears to have turned further in favor of Corona. All of us are soft-handed soldiers now.
I realize this and make it a point to play badminton regularly. I still remember uncle’s diving shot, so try his unorthodox instruction to be a champion shuttler and a better soldier against rascal Corona. The game is such a fun though. The late evening silence is ruffled by slow breeze, which makes the game of badminton far more interesting and tricky in an open yard. Whenever there is a shuttle to my far right, forcing myself to remember the instruction, and firmly keeping my resolve to fight Corona, I try to dive. All I manage is a sideways gallop like a springbuck and hit it with so much of self-harming sadistic relish. It gives titillating sensation to hit it like this, so exhilarating that you even forget about the foul-toothed grin of the Corona soldiers peeping from the yard boundary.
The sight of my sideways springbuck jump must be really funny, as my niece bursts out giggling every time I turn a champion sideways-galloping springbuck. Apart from the self-driven reward of having been able to hit it like this, I usually get smashing returns almost hitting my nose as I recover after the effort. Moral of the story: it’s better to try predatory pounces like that of tigers. You stand a better chance in the game. Also, the bastard Corona will find a tiger more daunting than a cowardly springbuck. But the addiction is injurious primarily. And I continue with relish.
As the late evening moves towards a shy twilight, a dragonfly appears offended against the flying shuttle. It appears to chase it like a heat-seeking missile hell bent upon shooting it down. It tries a few attacking sorties. It swerves around from the branches nearby and whirrs about the escaping enemy object like a US Blackhawk helicopter. It has to give up finally. The target is too big for it.
During one of my sideways springbuck shots, the shuttle goes really high in the sky. It nearly hits the rudder of a huge-plumed peacock taking a struggling, buttock-bursting low flight over the yard having jumped, almost like it was going to commit suicide, from the neighboring roof. The micro-climate of the yard turned windy, given the massive feather fan going bamboozling overhead. A peacock storm! Possibly the airy dynamics avoids a hit at the flying ship’s rudder. It’s a criminal offense to hit a peacock. We are saved of the crime.
As the twilight builds up, making the game even more exciting among the murky mix of light and dark, the moon’s shy coquettish crescent and Venus’ passionate glare, like a crazy love couple, look down with dazzling brilliance. What a lovely spectator couple of our game! We try to lift the level of our game since we have such august people in the audience.
The bats come out and flutter overhead as the spoilers of the game. Bastardly, sleazy nocturnal witches! Their zigzag flutters appear ill-intentioned. A few small ones scurry around a few times, almost with no effect either to the players or the shuttle. But then a huge one arrives as a bullying criminal. Possibly it has fallen in love with the cutie shuttle. Chases it like a stalker. It comes so close to my niece’s racket that she shrieks with fear and takes to her heels. The hooligan has stopped the game. We should not forget that bats carry Corona virus. Probably, the Corona army riding in their hawkish drone is guiding it to spoil our game. Corona has a right to stop the game. It has already stopped the world of we humans. Rest of the non-human part of the world still moves as earlier, or even better.