Monday, 21 March 2016

Living in a ghost house

Apparently, I have been staying in a ghost house. I did not know. My roommates did not know. The owner, the neighbours, or other loving people around either did not know or did not reveal that there was a possibility for us to meet a post-human if we were staying at this house.
All of these became significant only during the last week of our stay at this place. Thanks to corporate greed driven climate change that gifted us a troublesome heat filled summer, and thanks to unplanned house construction that gave us a lot of light and little of wind during the day time, we were living in a ho-hum incinerator. This heat led to a lot of problems among us like increase in night rides and lack of sleep, which further led to increase in consumption of junk food, resulting in an increased production of flatus, further increasing the pace of climate change, we decided that enough is enough, and started looking for a house with better ventilation and less heat.
It did not take us much time to find a house, like it and start dreaming it as our next rented abode. The landholder was a gentleman and the lady was also nice, and we decided that we would move out by the end of this month. This was in the beginning of March, when heat had started affecting our lives as much as the other heat affected us in our adolescence.
For the past 6 months we have been staying here as happy roommates. Ashi, BC, Diego and Me. Four people who have lived four different lives and experienced different people in different places had as diverse opinions as four people could have. There were conservatives among us, like BC, whose views were totally different from mine, and the other two people’s opinions were in between ours. This was a good setup as all discussions ended up in debates and all of us got to know that our own experiences and opinions aren’t the only opinions available.
Coming from a protected unwalled liberal zoological garden of a university, it was easy for me to discard the opinions in the other side as fringe and not worthy of noticing. Then after college, when I had to join the society as it is known, I had to meet much more people who made me doubt that I was the fringe one. As we found each other as roommates here, I got to understand that the opinions and political stances were as diverse as the number of people we get to meet. But this did not stop me from my college given habit of sidelining those extreme views.  But I realized soon that this was not the case as I was faced with my inability to answer pointed questions from the side. I started to listening to BC in order to grasp what goes into their mind, and inevitably failed.
What do I know about religion and spirituality? Nothing. I only have the atheistic rhetorics that I have been using all my college life. He had the religious rhetoric that he used all his life. He was not religious, I should point out. But the rhetorics seldom were dissimilar to those given by a staunch believer. He would look down upon my lack of spirituality and I would look down upon his interest in it.
I knew that he would gel well with the neighbours, with as strong belief in being conservative as he has. Even the neighbouring kids came to our house and sensed negativity in this house. I joked it was because of me being filled with negative non spirituality and they just laughed.   
In the 6 months that we were roommates, all of us had our happiness, sadness, non emotions, emotions, frustrations, interferences, let downs, celebrations and little nothings all of which we either enjoyed or survived. Dreams, nightmares, reality, and fantasy came into our conversation as we discussed our future plans and past coincidences as we lived through day by day.
We noticed strange coincidences and correlations like how when BC goes out, it inevitably rains, if it is in the monsoon season. When the water supply guy fails to come to our house, if and only if Ashi calls him and asks him, or scold him will he bring water to our doorstep. That Diego with his non local accent, could get anything from the neighbours, and would inevitably get beaten up in one stationary or another one day. I fail to keep my head straight when drunk was something that I found out when I was living here.
Life passed by fast and then summer came. We realized how difficult it was going to be in the first few days of summer. Ashi shifted to his own house due to lack of sleep. BC failed to sleep well and started taking short walks at night. When asleep, he started dreaming that people are attacking him, or killing him. To not have to face the heat, I dragged one of them for rides every single night. All these frustrations started affecting Diego too.
One day BC filled up around 10 buckets of water and watered the terrace in order for it to cool down and give us colder wind when we put on the fan. It did not work. Taking bath right before sleeping did not work too as we remained sleepless, but a bit fresher. Heads became heavier. Pockets became lighter. Dreams became nightmares. Debates became wild. None of us made sense to any of us anymore.
Then one day, when we were walking around, we saw a board which said a house was available on rent. It did not take us much time to decide that it was a good option. We called our landlady and told her that we would be moving by the end of March as the heat was unbearable. She laughed. We had thought that this would be an unexpected blow for her as she was not that well off. Her laughing made us a bit relieved and much less guilty.
We gave the new landlord two month’s rent as advance and made it official. Prospective renters came to the house, looked around and went back. It became a routine for about 2 weeks. Then suddenly it stopped. We wondered why, but did not bother much to think about the reasons. We were going to start living in the new house in less than a week. It was exciting.
One day, when I was going out, I met our neighbor uncle. I smiled, and he smiled back. And as my bike was moving, he asked, “ Can I ask you something?” I nodded politely. He asked, “ Why are you moving out?”
“Heat.” , I said.
“There is nothing else, right?”
Thinking that he would have felt bad about something he thought he had done, I said reassuringly, “No. Just the heat.”
“ You don’t hear or see someone walking around at night, do you?”
“No. Why?”
“What about nightmares?”
I said no to even that, and then asked why he was asking all these.
“The thing is,” he said, “someone I know asked me to ask you why you were moving all of a sudden. None of the renters here have stayed as long as you people have. All of them have said some story like this or the other.” I laughed, and said we had experienced nothing like that as I went.
I told Diego all these as I returned. He shared the laugh. But then I started thinking, why didn’t they tell us if they had already known it. It also made sense why the children could sense the negativity. When you hear something, it was easy to spot it, especially when they are children. Then I told that we should tell BC and it would be a fun to watch. We decided to see whether he would spot some negativity, or that he would see nightmares, or if he would see someone at night walking around.
I was not present when Diego told BC about what the neighbor guy had said. I asked what his reply was. “Check if him, or someone close to him, are renting this house in the future. I believe he is creating this story in order to avoid prospective renters.”
I hope I will be able to leave the ghost of my judging present in this ghost house.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

One writes about writing

So that writing three pages a day one was thinking about is not happening. How many days has one been doing this, people might wonder. This is the first day. And for a first day, this is a bad one, and one knows that one doesn’t have to tell anybody this. But one sees something positive there too. Tomorrow is not going to be a bad first day. At best, it can be a bad second day and one cannot think about any bad second days which are worse than bad first days. And that might not make as much sense as when written as it had when it was not a clear idea in one’s head. One knows that it is a bad sentence construction but they chooses to ignore it. But chuck it. It doesn’t matter. What one has to do is write. Write mechanically. Write for oneself. Write for people who have asked one to write whenever one doesn’t. Not quite a lot, one knows. But there are those ego boosters in one’s life. One thinks they are enough as of now.
One decides to write about a conversation they had with their mother. One puts it down on paper.
“Just today, when I was thinking about doing something like this, my mother called me up and said to me, “ Write something in between your work. It does not need to be that great or anything. Just write something often. Don’t lose writing.” And I agreed. She is a sensible woman. She knows really well that great writings won’t come from the thoughts brooding inside my head for a long long time. And I was glad that she understood that. And I was glad that she made me accept this idea of writing something often. And then it made me realize that I should make it a little bit more mechanical.  People might be wondering why something so “magical”, “beautiful”, and “divine” should be made mechanical. Those tags that come along with writing are precisely the reason why I have to make my writing mechanical. I am not a writer, I have understood. I cannot go behind magic, beauty or divinity, and create something out of apparent nothings like how a spider casts a web, how journalists manufacture controversies, or how a vermillion pasted stone of today becomes a temple with 500 years of history tomorrow. I am nothing when compared to these marvels of the world as we know it.
And I know it. They are living beings who enjoy constructing magic, beauty, and divinity through their words, and word order manipulations. These tags boost them. What it does to me is quite the opposite. It pressurizes me. It makes me want to write something better than what I am already writing. And when what I am already writing is something I detest reading, it makes it so much easier to not write than do.
That is why I stopped writing.”

Writing is a tedious process. More often than not, one only sees how they could have improved their writing when they see their own writing. When what one writes is on a topic that they wouldn’t want to read, even if it was written by the greatest ever writer ever lived (Sidin Vadukut), that becomes a problem.  One wouldn’t feel like writing. One would lose confidence. One would just sit and jabber about how good one’s writing was before thinking happened. And one wouldn’t  try changing the approach.
Until something shakes one up and forces gently to write. And then one tries to write and realizes that nothing inspires them anymore. Finding inspiration from mundane things becomes futile. One starts to decide that writing is no more a possible interest for them. Then the gentle force asks one to try again and this time, or the next time, or the time after that one tries so as not to make the gentle force feel bad. And one writes about writing.
Writing is not one’s primary interest or anything. As a topic, it must have been covered by most of the people who write. When people lack inspiration, they write about writing, one has heard, which is why one didn’t want to write about the topic. One doesn’t want themselves to be known as one that has no inspiration left in them. One does not want to realize that rather. So one puts of writing about writing, in order for them to not churn out idiotic sentence sequences which has writing about writing in them. One thinks about what else to write than about writing. One decides to write about putting off of the writing and decides against that thinking about how the sentence was formed in their head.
That is when one decides to chuck waiting for the imagination elixir that helps them write about life, breath, and other addictions. When one takes a conscious decision to write mechanically, one’s cynical part smirks, and the other part smiles back to them, and ask them to wait.
The cynic waits and sees writing happening and remembers  how when Sheldon Cooper told Leonard that he made some tea, and the things that followed. That Leonard said he did not want tea, that Cooper replied that he made tea only for himself and that Leonard asked why Cooper would tell that to him and Coopers reply that it was a conversation starter and as they were conversing, it was a good one at that. The cynic laughs at all these thoughts and in the mean time writing continues.
One doesn’t know if what is being written should make any sense to a reader X, who is nonexistent at the time of writing. Even though one projects a few faces reading what is being written, as the faces do not seem interested in the way it is written, one decides to chuck the sense part.
One just wants three pages to be written. Times New Roman, size 12, 1.5 line spacing, the usual that one is familiar of. One does not want to edit what they have written as they know that it is going to be increasingly tiring job as writing has not happened to one in a long time.
What one is writing now is enema to the constipated brain that gives it brain farts instead of thoughts. One just hopes that this would end such struggles, if not in the short run, surely in the long run.
One hopes to keep on writing more and even though the writings are going to be forced and mechanical, they hope that they do not continue writing about writing, which would be the worst thing one can think of during this exercise. One also hopes that one realizes how stupid it is to write in third person when first person makes much more sense. One’s one other hope is that one would realize someday that using third person instead of first person is as narcissistic as the normal sane usage.

One bids bye.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

ഒരു പേരിനേക്കുറിച്ച്

കൂനനുറുമ്പ് പോലരിച്ചുകയറുന്ന വാക്കുകളിൽ ഒരിക്കൽ പോലുമവളുടെ പേരവിചാരിതമായെഴുതാനായിട്ടില്ല.അടുത്തതെഴുതുന്നതവളുടെ പേരാകുമെന്ന പ്രതീക്ഷയൊരിക്കലും കൈവെടിയാനാവാത്തതിനാലാവാം. ആ പേരെന്റെ സ്വന്തം കൈപ്പടയിലെഴുതിക്കണ്ടാലടുത്ത വാക്കതിനെ നിഷ്പ്രഭമാക്കണമെന്ന ശാഠ്യമെപ്പൊഴോ മനസ്സിൽ കയറിക്കൂടിയതിനാലാവാം. ആ പേരിൽ ജീവിച്ചപ്പേരിന്നർത്ഥതലങ്ങൾ പതിന്മടങ്ങ് വർദ്ധിപ്പിച്ചൊരുവളേക്കുറിച്ചെഴുതാൻ തുനിയുമ്പോളതിന് സംഭവിച്ചേക്കാവുന്ന നഷ്ടങ്ങളേക്കുറിച്ചോർത്തുമാവാം.
മഞ്ഞറിഞ്ഞുരുകും പോലെ ആകാശമിടിയുമാറ് പെയ്യും മഴ പോലെ കാറ്റിന്റെ താളത്തിലൊഴുകും കവിത പോലൊന്നെഴുതാനറിയില്ലെന്നറിവുമാകാം ഉള്ളിൽ കിടന്നു പുളഞ്ഞിട്ടുമാപേര് പേനയാലൊരിക്കലും എഴുതാനാകാത്തത്.

കുറച്ച് സ്വരങ്ങളിൽ പല വ്യഞ്ജനങ്ങൾ ചേരുമ്പോളിത്രയും  ഭാരമെവിടെയും പാടില്ല. ആ ഭാരത്തിൽ തകർന്നടിഞ്ഞില്ലാതാവുന്ന മറ്റു പേരുകളുടെ, മറ്റു വാക്കുകളുടെ, ആ പേരിൽ കൊള്ളാനൊക്കാതെ പോയ മറ്റക്ഷരങ്ങളുടെ ശാപത്താലാവാം ആ പേരൊരിക്കലും എഴുതാനാകാഞ്ഞത്.

ആ പേരിന്റെ പേരിൽ എഴുതാതെ പോയ എഴുത്തുകളും കഥകളും കവിതകളും, പുതുതായി വാങ്ങിയ പേനകൊണ്ടപ്പേരെഴുതാൻ വിറച്ച ദിനങ്ങളുമൊരിക്കലപ്പേരവിചാരിതമായി കടലാസിൽ കടന്നു കൂടുന്നത് കാണുമ്പോളെന്തിനിതിനുവേണ്ടി അത്രയും അവസരങ്ങളില്ലാതാക്കിയെന്ന് ചോദിക്കും. ആ വിചാരണയുടെ ഭാരം താങ്ങാവുന്നൊരെഴുത്തുകാരും എന്നിൽ ജനിക്കാത്തത് കൊണ്ടാകാമിന്നേ വരെ ആ പേരെഴുതാനാകാതെ പോയത്.

ഒരിക്കലാ പേരിന് വിലയില്ലാതാകും. ആ പേരെഴുതാനുള്ള ആഗ്രഹവും അവസരവും ഭാരവും. ഒരിക്കലും എഴുതാതിരുന്ന ആ പേരവിടെക്കാണുമ്പോൾ മഞ്ഞുറക്കും. ചാറ്റൽമഴ പെയ്യും. നിറങ്ങളൊന്നിക്കും. ഭാരം തിരികേ വരും. അന്നാപേരെന്നിൽ വരുത്തിവച്ചതോർത്തതിനേ പേന കൊണ്ട് വെട്ടക്കുത്തി മുറിവേൽപ്പിച്ചില്ലാതാക്കും. രക്തം പൊടിയില്ല. മറ്റാർക്കും വേദനിക്കില്ല. അന്നാ പേരെന്നിൽ മരിക്കും. ആ പേരവിടെ മറക്കും.

കടലാസിലെ യുദ്ധക്കളത്തിൽ ഒളിഞ്ഞിരുന്നില്ലാതായ പേര്  ഒരിക്കലും എഴുതപ്പെട്ടില്ലെന്ന് വാക്കുകളും അക്ഷരങ്ങളും ധരിക്കും. ഇതൊന്നുമറിയാതെ അവളേക്കുറേപേരാപേര് വിളിക്കും.


Tuesday, 22 December 2015


എഴുത്ത് നിർത്തിയിട്ടില്ലെന്ന് സ്വയം ഉറപ്പിക്കാനായി
അന്നെഴുതിയ കവിത ഇന്ന് വായിക്കുമ്പോൾ
അതിലെ കൃത്രിമത്വം എണ്ണിപ്പറഞ്ഞ് മുഖത്തടിക്കും
മനസ്സിൽ തട്ടാതെ എഴുതിയ വാക്കുകൾ.

പുഴപോലൊഴുകി തിരയായടിക്കാൻ
ഞാനന്ന് കൂട്ടമായെഴുതിയ വാഗ്സമൂഹങ്ങൾ
സ്വയം പിരിഞ്ഞു വന്ന്
ഇങ്ങനെ കൂട്ടിയാൽ ഞങ്ങൾ കൂടില്ലെന്ന്
സമരം ചെയ്യുമ്പോൾ
അവരേ കേൾക്കാതെ കടുമ്പിടിത്തം പിടിച്ച്
ഇല്ലാത്ത ഒഴുക്കുണ്ടെന്ന് അവരോട് പറയുവാൻ
പാടു പെടും ഞാൻ.

ഞാനെന്ന വാക്കെന്നെ നോക്കി
നീ ഞാനല്ലെന്ന് പറയുമ്പോൾ
നിങ്ങളൊക്കെ ഞാനാണെന്നും
ഞാൻ നിങ്ങളൊക്കെയാണെന്നും
മാറി മാറി പറഞ്ഞ്
അവരെ ആശ്വസിപ്പിക്കാനെന്നവണ്ണം
സ്വയം ആശ്വസിപ്പിക്കണം.

അന്നതിന് കഴിയാതെ വന്നാൽ
അന്നെഴുതണം ഇതു വരെ എഴുതാത്ത
ഉള്ളിൽ തട്ടിയ വാക്കുകൾ.

അന്നവരോട് നിങ്ങളില്ലെങ്കിൽ ഞാനില്ലെന്ന്
പരാജയം സമ്മതിച്ച്
അവരോടെനിക്കായി സ്വയമെഴുതാൻ പറയണം.

വാക്കുകളുടെ ഒരു കൂട്ടം മാത്രമാണ്
ഈ എഴുതുന്നയാളെന്ന്
സ്വയം മനസ്സിലാക്കാൻ
വാക്കുകൾ ഉപയോഗിച്ച് ചിന്തിക്കണം.
ആ ചിന്തയതാണെന്ന്
അവരറിഞ്ഞ ശേഷമെഴുതിയാലവർ
സമരം ചെയ്യില്ലായിരിക്കും.


Sunday, 20 December 2015


Sun rises.
The editor marks the columns.
Printer sets.
They name her.
They need a name.
A name that is unique.
To stand the test of time.

What's there in a name?
A name decides everything.
A name points out whether
we should grieve or look aside.
A name is a proper noun
that separates people.

if Damini dies, it's somebody
we don't know of.
If Nirbhaya dies,
she is from a different belief.
If Amanat dies,
she does not speak
the language I speak.

But she should possess a name.

Nirbhaya shouldn't win.
Who names anyone Amanat?
It's a bad name.
Let them name her Damini.
Let them.

The reader reads, comments.
It shouldn't have happened.
But it did.
It should not happen again.
But it will.
We are imbeciles.
All of us are me.

The reader reads, comments.
It's good that she died
Now we can peacefully hang the motherfuckers
Without changing the motherfucking law

It's good that she died
It would have been difficult to live.

It's good that she died.
It's good that it is her, not me.

It's good that she died.
It's all good.

Somebody brings a graph paper.
Takes a news paper,
plots a graph.
She becomes the new point
in that graph.
We become the lowest point
of the low points.

The Girl's dead body-
A new point
in the rape graph.

Somebody sells that newspaper.
The graph points
wraps peanuts.

The girl's dead body-
A new peanut wrapper.

They draw a new graph.
Of all the peanut wrappers ever.
The big news. The small news.
The Delhi. The Non-Delhi.
The Candle. The Mask.
The Dress code.
The Moral Compass.
The poems.
The critics.
The us.
The others.
THe mothers.
THe motherchods
The Bhaiyyas.
The behens.
The bhenchods.
THe graph paper.
The infograph.
THe graphs of graphs.
The photographs.
The change.
The lack.
The past.
The future.

Sun rises.
The editor marks new spaces.
Somebody sets.

Namakaran- Naming ceremony


Friday, 11 December 2015

Identity (card)

 “Amma, please give my identity card… fast… or else I’ll miss my school bus.” I said. She came running with the card.

Forgetting the identity card was now almost a daily routine. Just like brushing or bathing or reading the news. I forgot it daily.

I disliked my identity card as much as I liked chocolate. It always made me remember of the bad day when that ugly photo was taken. The day was one among the worst. It started with missing of the school bus. The day was not smooth in the class also. I had a fistfight with my classmate. The teacher also caught me singing during the class time. That was a very bad day. To make it worse, the photo was taken.

Everything happened as usual that day. I forgot the identity card. Amma said the same routine bye. I traveled in the same school bus. I reached the same school, which I studied. The same teachers came to teach. The bells rang according to the timetable. We had lunch during lunch break. We talked, we walked, we fought, as usual. Everything was unusually usual, till the last period got over.

The bell rang. We got out of the class to go home. But this was not usual. I was walking alone. My friends had all made me alone. I didn’t know what I had done. Actually I did not do anything special that day. But they had made me alone. I was surprised.

In the bus also nobody came to talk. This was against the daily routine of having the daily review. Even my classmates did not bother to come to me. The surprise gave way to tension.

The bus stopped at my stop. I got down and started walking towards my home. Something was there within my left shoes, other than my leg, which irritated me. That was unusual. That evening everything was unusual. I did not bother to look into my shoe, as I didn’t want more surprises. I continued walking.

My neighbor gave me a weird look as if I was a stranger. I asked, “ Sudev, why are you staring? Haven’t you seen me before?” He did not respond.

I reached my home. I touched the calling bell. It gave its usual Ding-dong. My mother opened the door. I was about to enter when she prevented by asking, “ Hey lad, who are you? Are you Jishnu’s friend?” I thought, “ Is she making fun of me? Why is she talking like this? Or has my face changed?” I looked at the mirror in my bike. I did not have any change. I had the same face, which I had in the morning. The nervousness increased along with misery.

I stood there still waiting for my father to come. I wished to tell him about the day. He came. When he saw me, he said, “Go home child. Your parents will be waiting for you. Are you Jishnu’s friend? If yes tell me where he is.”

I was shocked. No one was identifying me. Even my parents- the people who gave me an identity. They had forgotten me. No… impossible. No parents can ever forget their child.

But they have forgotten me… no… it is just that I have lost my identity! I did not know what to do. I stood there thinking for some time. I got an idea at last. Show my identity card. For my parents to recognize me. To show my identity!

But it was missing. Yes… the card was lost along with my identity. Or is it that I lost my identity along with the card”? I was confused.

The thing that I detested most was of great use if it was there.

But it was missing. So I started walking from my home. I did not know where the next destination was. But I continued walking. The thing inside my left shoe was irritating. I threw away the shoe. It did not go far. It just traveled a few feet distance. A white paper like thing was the irritator. Yes… it was the lost identity card.

The bell rang. We got out of the class to go home. All my friends walked with me towards the school bus. We walked and talked and fought. In the bus, they all talked to me as if we were meeting after years. Nothing irritated my leg. Sudev did not wear that weird look. We talked a lot that day. Mom did not stop me while entering the home. Father asked all about the day. I felt as if they were all caring me a lot. The usual usualness spread all around.

I got back the identity card. The identity was also back. The photo in the card wore the best smile of the world…


Sunday, 6 December 2015

The old man, the kid, the mom, and the sea

The sea is vast. It has too many waves, they said. But he knew. It is just a single wave. Too long. Too vast for a human to understand the simple fact. Look at the sea. Look at those waves. Aren't they joined? Yes, they are. Too many waves reach the shore in a single stretch. Hasn't anybody noticed this yet? The wave is as long as the shore. Longer, for the same wave reaches all the shores in the world.
And some shores are known for the violent high waves they make during high tide and some are pleasant for the people to have fun. They are different part of the same wave. Don't they know that no human is happy, or sad forever. Aren't those the part of the same wave? Why can't they see this? Yeah... they are too busy building boundaries. He smiled that he got to know this at least today while gazing the waves hit his legs. But no. He did not regret those days he spent counting the waves. Well... that was the only thing he had to do in the retired life he selected for himself.

Pran did not know why he had come to the sea. It was the first time in his memories that he had seen the  water continuously moving without him having to throw stones in it. He wondered if the big boat he saw had anything to do with the giant waves getting ready to take him away. But he had heard a father asking his child to stand crossing  the waves so that the wave couldn't take him. He stood that way. and he enjoyed the wave hitting him.

He looked around. No... his mom was not around. His mom had asked him not to go far. He didn't know how far is the far mom had told. He could see the ice-cream man who gave him the ice cream with the money mom had given him to buy it. Mom and Pran sat near him and Mom had asked Pran to come back fast after he bought ice cream. He bought the ice cream and went near the sea.

The old man saw the boy he just saw a bit far away had come a few feet closer to his feet. "The boy must have been left alone by the parents", he thought. His parents too had forgotten him once in the sea. He too had the physique of  the boy he saw. And he guess he was of the same age. about 5. He had heard his father ask his elder brother not to go too far away. He thought that was a warning only for brother and not for him. And he had walked the way the sea had shown him. They had found him after an hour and were afraid about the fact that he was not at all afraid. And it then stroke him that the sea had shown him the way even then. And the decision to travel in the ship and the decision to propose the girl in the same shore were the second and third ways the sea showed him. And he was happy that the sea was right. He wanted his children to learn from the sea and he had taken them to sea at least once a month till they started planning outing for themselves. He did not stop coming to the sea even then. "He was married to the sea, it seems." His wife used to joke about him. He doubted if it was true. It might have been. But sea hadn't provided him with kids anyway. The one who bore his kids wasn't near him anymore.He remembered how sad he was to see her ashes go into the depth of the sea. But that did not bring tears to his eyes. He smiled.

"I thought you were smiling at me." said Pran. "Oh, I was, little boy. Tell me your name." "I'm Pran." "And how old are you?" "Five and a half. But I will be six next month. My birthday is on 25th." "Ohh.. that's great. Where's your dad? Why are you here all alone?" "He did not come here. But my mom is sitting near that ice cream uncle." Pran told the old man. "Are you alone here?" "Yeah boy. Nobody came with me." "Ohh... I forgot to ask. You are not a Muslim, are you?" "No. But is that a problem?" "I don't know. Mom told Muslims are bad and not to speak with them. So you Hindu?" "No. But you should tell me how can you understand a Muslim by looking at them?" "They are bad, right?  They should look cruel. With sharp teeth and red eyes." "Have you seen any Muslims yet?" "No. But Mom say Imran is Muslim. He is my best friend. He gives me his bat to play with. His mom gives me tea to drink. He is not a Muslim. I'm sure." "If he is Muslim, are they bad?" "No. Imran can't be bad. He is my friend. Hari uncle, who give us meat looks like a Muslim. But mom say he is Hindu because he comes to temple" "So you don't know who is Muslim or a Hindu. Or a Christian for that matter. Nothing is written on the face. All look same. Right? Your mom is wrong. Muslims are good. If there are bad Muslims there are too many bad Hindus too. But don't call them Hindus or Muslims. They are bad people. Not bad hindu or bad Muslim." "Okay. But why did you say so?" "I said what I see. You will also see this." "My mom can also see. But she told me something else." "Did you see the boat?" "Yes." "Did you see it when you were far from the shore?" "No. I didn't look there at that time." "If your Mom didn't look at the boat and say that there is no boat will you believe?" "No. I can see it." "Precisely. You know what to do now. Tell her that Muslims are good and that people are bad. Will you?" "No. Mom said she is always right." "That is a different right. She is right as in left-right-left. we are right as in right or wrong."

They saw his mom approaching them. "Pran, where did you just go? Shouldn't you tell me before you go anywhere?" "You won't allow me mama. I didn't know I was moving. I saw this Grandpa and was talking to him." "Oh. Good." "Thank you uncle.", Pran's mom told the old man. And she told Pran, "Won't you tell Grandpa bye? We are going." "See you tomorrow, Grandpa.I like you. You know too many things."
The old man smiled. He knew the boy was not to return anytime soon. He had seen it all.
"Mom," Pran asked mom, "can I go back and ask that Grandpa one more doubt?" "What is your doubt?" "You told the God we saw in the tv ad was a model, right?" "Yeah. He too had a long beard like this granda. Is this grandpa the original of the model God?" "No. He is also human. Like you and me." "Yeah I forgot to tell you. He said you are wrong. Muslims are also humans. Like you and me. Cruel people are not Muslims. They are just cruel people. Is he right, mom?" "He is right." "Mom... how does God really look, then?" "We have photos in our Pooja room. God looks like them." "So are there too many gods?" "No. Just one. They are different forms of the same God." "Ok Mom. You sure Grandpa is not a form of God like them?" "I don't know. Ask him when you see him next time."

The old man looked at the waves. He named one a Hindu wave, another a Muslim wave, another a Christian wave and so on. He saw them clash individually. He then saw them join together. All waves were one and he smiled at how he saw them as individual waves. He failed to recognize which was which. The sun was ready to set and the old man got ready to go. Waves kept on hitting the shore. He saw people count the waves. He walked away to his home.