Mind Your Language

I studied in an “English medium” school run by Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha in Tamilnadu. One fine day, goons from a political party forcibly entered the school (the security guard was an emaciated fifty-year old, but when faced with such a bunch of brainless boobs, neither age nor physique would have mattered), threatened teachers and students in classrooms, and smeared all the Hindi they saw with black paint. Ironically, the same black color that was used to erase a language is now being used to play bigoted regional politics.

The National Education Policy, NEP, with its recommendations on the use of Indian languages (and mother tongue) has opened up whatever is the Indian equivalent of Pandora’s box. In an age where the radius of a rosogolla (or its spelling) could divide people, it is not surprising that this aspect of the NEP has become the Indian equivalent of Moses parting the sea, dividing people into two camps: one, those who think that education in English is necessary because all programming languages use English, and two, those who think that education in regional languages is necessary because, well, look at Germany and Japan.

In my first year of engineering, when I got interested in computers and programming (I had no prior exposure to them, coming from a Biology background), the one who initially taught me had studied in a Tamil medium. It would be a more interesting exercise to identify people who have an aptitude for logical thinking, creating something new, and even breaking down complex processes into simple tasks, than associating an exercise like programming with a natural language. The other trope about programming and languages that keeps recurring is Sanskrit being the most suitable language for computer programming (and for artificial intelligence), usually prompting the other side to retort, “Why are programming languages not written in Sanskrit then?”

The paper which started it all is titled “Knowledge Representation in Sanskrit and Artificial Intelligence” by Rick Briggs (then at NASA Ames Research Center). It was published in 1985 in the AI Magazine, and is a very interesting and insightful read (download it from here) that can actually lead to smarter arguments from both sides. So, yes, we can aim for creating a programming language, say, अजगर, but that would hardly make someone who has no affinity to programming perform better. The issue, at least in programming, is not the natural language, and I believe that what makes a good programmer is something else.

If I had the Indian equivalent of a dollar every time I heard about some successful (read developed) countries which do not use English, more so after Muthu became a rage in Japan, I would have enough to retire somewhere in the Indian equivalent of Switzerland. It is pounded down our throats with a consistent regularity without even once considering the complexities of comparing very different countries with very different histories and demographies, and further, without even once considering the fact that many schools, especially government ones, use the state language as the medium even today. Usually, the ones pounding this are the ones who have studied in English medium and are in some successful professional position, and their arguments usually revolve more around culture than livelihood (we tend to project our regrets on our children, and sometimes, on our society – more on this below).

English undoubtedly creates a divide between urban and rural societies, and fosters a cultural elitism that is more ingrained than we think (but then, so does a burger). Now, couple this with better opportunities (simply put, more money) in urban areas than rural ones – this is not necessarily a problem unique to our country, but we may have it in a more dire form. Many who do not know English, or who have not studied propah English, go through struggles that are very real, and these struggles mostly continue throughout the life like some painful scar. When they have to decide on a school for their children, what do you think they would choose? Culture or livelihood?

Do you see a problem with the question itself? Why should culture and livelihood be mutually exclusive? I don’t know the answer to this, but this is a fundamental issue. Instead of simply comparing ourselves with Japan and Germany, perhaps we should delve deeper into how culture and livelihood are entwined in these countries. If language were the only parameter, why not also look at other countries where the medium of education is the local language, but they have not been as successful. I am sure we can find more examples in this category than Japan and Germany.

The argument for local languages is that it would ensure an appreciation (and subsequently, perpetuation) of the local culture, although this is true only if we assume that all aspects of culture are inextricably linked to language (any thoughts on this?). I would agree with this to the extent that I cannot appreciate the literature in Gujarati or Kannada or Tamil or Sanskrit by reading the translations. I always have a regret that I have not read Meghani or Bhyrappa or Kalki or Dinkar (although some, I would start reading now with my limited knowledge of Gujarati, Hindi, and Tamil).

When it comes to education, however, nothing prevents a zealous state government to include agenda-driven literature in a local language. It’s happening since decades, and it will continue in the future. I still remember how our Tamil textbook included, out of all the available chapters in Kamba Rāmāyaṇam, the one where Vāli curses Rāma for killing him. (Even the English textbook had one story by Khushwant Singh titled The Mark of Vishnu and the other by Jayanta Mohapatra titled The Trunk of Ganesha, and we also had a poem by Yeats, The Ballad of Father Gilligan – read them to understand what I am talking about.)

Essentially, there is a need for deeper understanding on the impact of languages on different aspects of our lives, our society, our community, and our nation as a whole. Ultimately, our objective is the same, for we all want to rise as tall as the Indian equivalent – no, scrap that – we all want to rise as tall as the Himalayas.

Untwisting Threads

One of my earliest threads on Twitter was a response to the TOTO (Topic Of Temporary Outrage) of the earlier days on Rahul Gandhi being an expert on the Gita and the Upanishads. The thread found its way into OpIndia and also, subsequently, into the first chapter of my book, Twisted Threads.  The thread, however, that initiated the journey towards more satirical threads and the book was a response to another TOTO, that the Amarnath cave was discovered by a Muslim shepherd, Buta Malik, as tweeted by Dia Mirza (she deleted it later). The character, Abdul Malik, became a recurring one in threads about politics, journalism, activism, culture, and religion. The threads on Abdul Malik spawned a host of other recurring characters such as his four wives, the better four-fifths, the journalists Green Ghost and Pat Riot, the politicians White Beard and Torn Kurta (no prizes for guessing any of them), and the Jinn, who he frees from an old lamp, and who goes full saffron and turns against him. Eventually, other characters such as Peter Subramani and Eeny, Meeny, Miney, and Moh, evolved as a reflection and a response to more specific topics such as religious conversion and liberal subversion, and crisscrossed with the other threads (which is why the book is called Twisted Threads).

In some ways, the first few years of the Narendra Modi era were relatively simple, at least for me. I am obviously not suggesting that politics was simple then, but my foray into politics started only around early 2014 on Twitter. In those days, Twitter was still simple, with trending hashtags such as #ReplaceMovieNamesWithCoffee, and “social media influencers” had a field day promoting whatever they were paid for. The levels of viciousness that infest Twitter today were missing then, but looking back, those who are spreading viciousness today were spreading lies back then – so it all starts from there.

A possible reason for this is that the rise of Narendra Modi in 2014 made many of his opponents jittery that he would come after them with full force. The first few years, therefore, induced a subdued response from them such as how expensive his clothes are and how bigoted those he follows are. Gradually, they realized that Narendra Modi had his sights set on other things, such as meeting world leaders and sharing his Sunday thoughts, and as for his ministers, most were unimaginably rootless and toothless. Around 2018, therefore, when it became clear that they have nothing to fear, his opponents – political, ideological, and even comical, became more vocal, more vicious, more brash, and further, the elections were not too far away. The two-part satire on liberal conversations that I had written goes from a sombre tone in 2016, titled So It Goes, to a more upbeat one in 2018 with the title Winds of Change.

The opportunity to write Twisted Threads, therefore, came at the right time as the threads wove around simple political themes such as Narendra Modi’s ascent and the rise of the BJP, and Rahul Gandhi’s hopes of becoming the next PM, a hope that was, and still is, nurtured by the Idea of India coterie. The other theme was on religion, inextricably linked to politics and power, especially religious conversions that happen through the well-oiled machinery of Christian evangelists, the fragmented existence of Hindu groups, and to some extent, the role of all the three pillars of our constitutional democracy – legislature, executive, judiciary, in their treatment of different religions through the framework of constitutional secularism. It is for this reason that Twisted Threads has the tagline “A Satire on Power, Politics, and Pollution”, the last one referring to the judgement on banning crackers during Diwali.

The book dwelt on the political period from 2014 to 2017, and in that sense, has a very “topical” treatment. One of the criticisms of the book, and there were many, was that it could not be understood without the knowledge of what goes on in Twitter. A sequel that many still demand, therefore, becomes more challenging if it remains within the narrow boundaries of TOTOs on Twitter. Even if I have written fewer threads after 2018, due to the more sinister hues that current events took on, and also due to more personal reasons, there are still enough threads to write a sequel. Yet, that would be one more “topical” book, to be forgotten in a few weeks, or a few months at the most.

In fact, I had started writing a sequel and abandoned it because of this reason (and later, started writing a story on contemporary politics, and abandoned that as well). Over the last few years, I have also been interested in the more fundamental aspects of our history and our culture, how politics and constitutional democracy shape our world. So, there is a story that is currently twisting and turning inside my head, less topical and more diverse, a part of which has been in the draft as chapters. I am fervently trying not to abandon that as well.

If you are still looking to buy Twisted Threads, despite my own assessment here, you can buy it from Amazon or Notion Press.

[Guest Blog] Lib Conversations, by Bhavesh Kansara

dynastycrooks

Mitron,

I am sure you have seen him twisting his threads on Twitter (@kansaratva), in a way only he can. A master of satire so tickling that you can only compare Bhaveshbhai to himself. The true Gujarati “dheekra” from Chennai…

You know well that I am supposed to do some sort of introduction for the guest blogger and his topic. But what do I say about a man as twisted as he is?

Okay, how about this : I can share with you one of the ways he explained how he writes satire. Look at a scene and try to imagine it through the eyes of something else; an inanimate object, perhaps even an animal or a bird. The example he gave me was of the water crisis in Chennai. Everyone knows that people are suffering. But what if there were two crows talking about the water crisis in the…

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The Rebirth of Shila

“Whew!” exclaimed the stone with relief, a large one on which were carved, aeons ago, verses praising the Gods. Its neighbor, a much larger stone, joined in. “You are finally free, my old friend!”

Someone had just removed the huge board which was nailed to the stone. The board had said, “CHAPPAL STAND. 1 Re ONLY!”

“I feel like being reborn, Shila,” said the stone. “I haven’t seen the Sun in decades, and ouch! I can still feel the nails!”

“I can imagine, Parvat,” said Shila.

“What has happened now?”

“It all started when they sold the gold.”

“They sold the gold?” asked an astonished Parvat.

“It was many moons ago,” said Shila with sadness. “The air turned foul, the temple was closed, the priests were abandoned, the kingdom had no money, and all that was left was the temple gold.”

Parvat felt cold, and if stones could throw up instead of being thrown, he would have.

“This has not happen since thousands of years, not once since the sacred chisels breathed life into us,” said Parvat.

The stones believed that they were created lifeless. When the skilled hands of pious craftsmen chiseled divine forms, stories, and verses, they were breathed with life.

Shila remembered her birth vividly, every movement of the chisel a new breath, a chip here, a ridge there, and gradually, the Gods themselves were surfacing from the hands of Man.

“Do you remember those days?” she asked, though she knew that their memories were carved in stone.

Parvat remembered too, the skillful curves of letters that formed words, words that formed verses, verses in the praise of the Gods.

“I was his favorite, I think,” he reminisced. “I could never forget the twinkle in his eyes and the sweat on his face when he brought me to life.”

“We have been attacked in the past, Parvat,” said Shila wistfully. “The priests had to hide the Gods, and many lives were lost.”

By lives, Shila was talking about their own. The stones believed that they ceased to exist once the divine craft engraved on them disappeared, broken or erased.

“Many of our friends are dead,” said Parvat. “By the rending of foul hammers, mostly, but also by the gnawing of hasty winds and angry rains.”

Shila remembered the plight of Parvat, a board nailed on him for years. She said ruefully, “Many also succumbed to the Apathy of Men.”

“Apathy,” asked Parvat, “or is it something more?”

“What, if not apathy, makes someone murder us stones even in the name of renovation, erasing the life-sustaining carvings on our friends?”

The wind swooshed through the large banyan tree standing majestically at a distance, teasing the hanging roots.

“Roots,” said Parvat, as if his thoughts had carried him to a different world.

“What?” asked a surprised Shila.

“Well, lack of roots.”

“What are you saying?”

“Do you remember the kings of old?”

“Yes.”

“Well,” said Parvat, “they knew the traditions.”

“So?”

“The traditions have faded, like carvings in rain.”

“Come now,” said Shila, “they still exist.”

“Sure,” said Parvat, “but don’t you realize? The modern laws have replaced the traditions for years. Traditions exist, but they are secondary.”

Shila was lost in thoughts. “So, the modern laws,” she asked, “are not based on the traditions?”

“Hammer and nails!” exclaimed Parvat.

“Nothing is sacred anymore then,” said a despondent Shila.

“Nothing, Shila,” said Parvat.

“Do you think that we could be saved, that the traditions could be saved, that the temples could be saved?”

Parvat listened to the chirping of sparrows from the banyan tree, and their feathers shone like gold in the afternoon Sun.

“So, the gold is gone,” said Parvat. “We are all that remain.”

“The Gods inside should save us,” said Shila, her voice pleading with tenuous hope. “They always have.”

“Yes, they have.”

“Do these men have no hearts?” cried Shila.

“Do these men have no guts?” asked Parvat.

Suddenly, there was a menacing noise from a machine.

“No!” cried Shila, when she realized what was happening. “Leave him alone! Leave Parvat alone, you ROOTLESS BEASTS!”

No one could hear her. The machine erased the verses clean, and the men nailed a bigger board on Parvat.

“CENTER FOR MULTICULTURAL ARTS” announced the board in large letters.

Below that was written, in equally large letters, “MINISTRY OF HUMAN RESOURCES (MoHRE)”.

Shila could no longer cry or scream, not even talk. The sparrows too, stopped chirping, for the tree was felled too.

The Pursuit of Mediocrity*

A typical day would start with waking up groggily trying to remember what happened the previous night, ambling down the bedroom towards the window, swooshing back the heavy curtains, and getting shocked by the brightness of the late morning Sun. “$^@%!” After that, opening the refrigerator aimlessly and finding it almost empty. “&%#@!” A moment later, switching on the TV and browsing the shows one after the other. “#&^%@&^%#$!”

If this is not how a typical day starts, then I would be curious to know what would explain the sheer level of mediocrity that one finds in stand-up comedies nowadays, at least from the ones who are thrust upon us as if they were the veritable experts and this is some high art. I am sure that out there, somewhere in this world instead of a parallel one, are stand-up comedians who are provocative, irreverent, rebellious, boisterous, but also, the reason for writing this article, somewhat intelligent and actually funny. Do you know anyone like that?

We know about their staid arguments on freedom of expression, and how it is also the freedom to offend, but that justification carries as much conviction as a statement from the Chinese media on Tibet. After all, when considering the freedom to grovel an apology, and the freedom to avoid a disjointed head, the remaining choice is not exactly rocket science. We know about their platitudinous claims that their art is showing a mirror to the oppressing majority, a mirror to the ruling government, because if not them, then who? If only politicians, journalists, activists, directors, actors, authors, poets, musicians, singers, painters, economists, and assorted artists joined them to show the mirror, they would not have to stand up all by themselves.

What exactly do their sponsors and promoters, who want to convince us on every digital platform that these are the very best, find in them to spend a portion of the billion that they have set aside? Do the promoters look at their audition tapes to find out whether their saffron allergy is superficial or spasmodic, and then decide whether they would be promoted on a local newspaper or on Netflix? Why, with all that can be talked about in this whole wide world, does the comedy, if that is what they want to call it, revolve around, for example, bovine micturition? I am not here to talk about equivalences, such as why ridicule bovine micturition but not divine parturition, for equivalences never work in an asymmetric world. Ironically, the more the asymmetry, the greater the equivalence – so the moment you are tempted to use an equivalence, stop yourself and ask what asymmetry is being hidden from you. Equivalence only leads to distortion of already dubious moral high grounds, such as secularism.

Are there not topics that can be lampooned and satirized without the need to invoke the Constitution? How bad is your comedy that you have to invoke the Constitution anyway? Could we not have one on the sad life of a rice bag as it changes hands; or a hebdomadal series on the final thoughts of goats as they bleed, I mean, bleat slowly; or the meaningless lyrics in songs written by dubious atheists; or the secret loves, or lives, of directors whose sons love to show around places to foreigners; or the travails of stand-up comedians in a land where they can be made to disappear like a blob of butter in a Surti omelet, if the idea is to make the comedy a tad darker?

A part of the blame also lies with the trigger-happy audience that guffaws and applauds at every mite of mediocrity. It is possible that half of them are drunk on more and more rounds, and the other half is drunk on dubious moral high grounds, such as secularism. However, it is just more likely that we have a fairly low threshold for accepting what we get instead of demanding something much better. I once attended an informal stand-up act where the opening line of the comedian was asking how many of us were from Bangalore, and when he found out that about half of us were, proceeded to talk about traffic jams. I was glad that I had not paid any money myself to listen to someone from Bangalore talk about traffic jams. I mean, what is Twitter for? If, instead of Bangalore, had we said Chennai, I am sure he would have talked about the auto drivers and danced in a lungi. I must say that this was still funny compared to what passes off as comedy from the more well-known characters who pop up everywhere nowadays like pimples on a hormonal teenager. I have rarely seen such levels of creativity except with politicians, journalists, activists, directors, actors, authors, poets, musicians, singers, painters, economists, and assorted artists who work hard in showing the mirror to the oppressing majority, to the ruling government.

The pursuit of such mediocrity, both by the torchbearers of this high art, whatever the meaning of high that we want to take, and those who support them, is baffling, to say the least. The mediocrity is only exacerbated by the single-minded hatred to anything saffron which, until now, they were able to wear like a crown on their bloated heads, strutting around the stage like a half-drunk pigeon that is paid to think that it is a peacock. Crowns, however, make for bad armors.

* The article was first published on the “My Voice” forum of OpIndia. The link for the article, and the tweet from @MyVoiceOpIndia mentioning the article are here:

https://myvoice.opindia.com/2020/07/the-pursuit-of-mediocrity/

 

The Social Media Dilemma

A few months earlier, I disabled my Facebook account. Beyond birthday wishes, family photos, and intrusive videos recommended by Facebook, I could find nothing much happening. A few posts and poems that I had shared had hardly received any likes, and I realized that it is a different world altogether. In hindsight, I am surprised I waited so long to close the account.

A week back, I took a break from Twitter with an intention to leave it altogether. The decision to quit Twitter, even temporarily, was not easy as it was a love affair of five-odd years, unlike Facebook, which was more a forced conversation over tepid coffee. From limericks and poems, the journey had included stories and threads which eventually found their way into my debut book, Twisted Threads. The publication of the book also was made possible only because of Twitter.

The decision to quit Twitter was hovering in my mind for several months, although the reason was less to do with the abject bias of Twitter, the perpetual outrage and arguments over even trivial issues, the confounded conversations within coteries, or the ever-decreasing signal-to-noise ratio. I have come to accept these as typical, or even stereotypical, idiosyncrasies of specific groups: the left-leaning ecosystem operates in certain predictable ways, and the mass of loosely interconnected egos that define the other group, the non-left, also operate in certain predictable ways.

The lockdown, which kept extending like a hyperelastic ribbon, made me reach out to Twitter even more, so much that I would be just browsing the timeline while watching a web series late in the night because the lockdown had tossed the sleeping cycle out of the ground. Twitter, which started as a way to escape from the real life, and later became a part of the real life, was becoming a way to escape from the real life once again. An addiction that was unhealthy, like gulping down fizzy drinks or gorging on burgers and fries.

Yet, there was the lure of retweets and likes, the pleasure of replies and quotes, the relish of trolling someone with a show of wit, the anticipation of the follower count to increase, all built over many years. Just abandon them, like leaving the society or the city that I have lived in for years, where I have made so many friends and built many relationships? Well, I thought, at least take a long vacation, which is ironical at a time when travel is still forbidden.

So, here I am, blogging my thoughts about Twitter. I have been trying out a few other social media platforms, mostly perfunctorily, I must say. I am not talking about the larger ones such as Instagram, which I find even more fake than Facebook, and a user experience that makes even amateur apps look good. One of the first that I had tried was Gab, still touted as the better alternative to Twitter, but I found out early that it would become an echo-chamber. Gab did have some nifty features, and I believe it is still doing fine, but I have not used it much beyond the initial interest.

Gutrgoo was another early venture, made in India, that sadly vanished. I am not sure what happened, but I believe that lack of a good app could have been one of the reasons, and also, there was no good reason for people, in general, to consider an alternative to Twitter despite the many issues that plague it (or it plagues us with). I have never been very optimistic about an alternative to Twitter, because there is no point in reinventing what Twitter did – flatten the social media world.

When I tried out Inditoot around that time I found the idea of “instances”, local social media groups, interacting with each other novel, impressive, and more akin to how real groups would work on the ground. The website was slick, the TweetDeck-like interface with dashboards was convenient on a web browser, but there was always the issue of a good app. While Inditoot could be accessed from apps meant for Mastodon, they were far from being robust. Also, Mastodon got infested with trolls faster than you could say “liberal” and Inditoot also was closed down. Inditoot has now been relaunched on a different server, with a much better user interface (on the web), but an app remains elusive.

In the last few weeks I have tried three made-in-India social media platforms, all new. The first is Opined, which looks promising with its idea of circles and threads, but the website is still annoyingly slow, the user experience is confusing, and the app doesn’t allow logging in if you have registered (from the website) through your Google or Facebook account. The second is Koo, an app-only platform with the app actually quite well-made and fast, which is only available in Indian languages (so, no English). When I used it first, the app supported Hindi, Telugu, and Kannada, and support for other languages was in the pipeline. I liked the app, for there was a very different category of users (most of them were life coaches and motivational speakers, for whatever reasons) – it was like I jumped into a rather different world. The user interface, however, is a little cluttered, and the notifications became annoying very fast, despite options to regulate them. The third, which has been more in the news, is Elyments, which is also an app-only platform. The app is clunky with a slow response, and the user experience needs a significant upgrade, especially the confusion between following someone and subscribing to someone. The only app that I am looking forward to is Squeaks, the launch of which is about a month away. On a side note, it is surprising how many of the names indicate, directly or indirectly, that they are alternatives to Twitter (such as Gutrgoo, Koo, Inditoot, and Squeaks).

I know, these are early days for all the apps, and I am sure that they would become much better over time. The reigning burst of motivation, due partly to “Digital Atmanirbhar Bharat”, is creating a proliferation of social media platforms, which is great. I am also, however, surprised how much the lack of performance and user experience is a consistent issue with our social media platforms – the inexperience clearly shows.

I have felt myself sometimes frustrated using these social media platforms – the experience is like leaving the bustling city life where you are used to endless conversations to some idyllic village where you hardly meet anyone for days on end. I am tempted to go back to the city life, but convince myself that staring at the starry sky is good for my mental health. Will one of them becoming a bustling city? All we can do is wait and watch.

Well, here I am, as I said, blogging my thoughts. Even if I do not meet someone here, I know that I can at least meet my old self once in a while.

Stand Upright with Warrior’s Stance

In times that test our wills and nerves,
When darkness spreads and fortune swerves;
Let’s shun that cloak that’s put to sleep,
The strength within, the valor deep!

So, stand upright, with warrior’s stance,
And rend the air with roaring chants!
Bhārat, we are! Bhārat, we pray!
Bhārat, we breathe! Bhārat, we stay!

The foes are out, with fangs and claws,
Their forked tongues wagging sans a pause;
Their hammers lie in rusted mud,
Their sickles red with lust of blood.

They rip open the fault-lines old,
Their pockets filled with dragon’s gold;
The golden sands of eastern lands,
They worship with their upturned hands.

They cross their hearts and sing with grace,
And crucify the nation’s pace;
For years, they’ve trampled on and on,
How tough is it to find a pawn?

It’s time we say: this is enough;
It’s time to make decisions tough;
It’s time to kick their lies to ground,
And beat their treacherous acts unsound.

The way forward, the history warns:
An uphill climb with paths of thorns;
The history, that they’d tried to hide,
Also tells us that we survived!

On rivers have we composed tales,
We’ve crossed the seas, unfurled our sails;
The mountain chains that speak to skies,
Abode of Gods and sages wise!

Cities that once rivaled the best,
With temples that, by Gods, are blest;
And stones that sing the songs of yore,
From hoary hills to endless shores!

Swords and shields and axes wide,
With crimson marks of Gods applied!
At sunrise when the conchs blew,
The hearts were filled with valor true!

On distant stars we’ve set our sights,
We’ll reach again those lofty heights;
Let’s shun that stupor, tempting sleep,
And light that fire in sinews deep!

So, stand upright, with warrior’s stance,
And rend the air with roaring chants!
Bhārat, we are! Bhārat, we bow!
Bhārat, we fight! Bhārat, we vow!

(March on! March on! The winds now turn,
Like Surya’s steeds at dawn return;
March on! March on! With mind that’s calm,
Jai Bhavāni! Jai Shri Rām!!)

What Lies Asleep in Distraught Eyes

We add one more,
To tally high;
A gruesome score,
A depressed sigh!

The wounds are deep,
And deep are lies;
What lies asleep,
In distraught eyes?

The splattered blood,
Now lifeless clots;
Just stains on mud,
And fading spots!

The gashes scream,
A thousand cries;
Will that redeem,
The listless eyes?

The breathless bones,
Now broken, bare,
Like splintered stones;
A tale they share!

“Alone, I fell,
But will you rise?
My final spell,
For torpid eyes!

“Supine, I lie,
Supine, are you!
Supine, we die,
Supine, we rue!”

The embers burn,
Under blue skies;
Will they now learn,
Those rootless eyes?

In flowing streams,
The ashes glide;
Like broken dreams,
And fallen pride!

To seas they reach,
Like severed ties;
Will this then teach,
Shortsighted eyes?

Second to None: The Dream to Soar

A nation young, when sky was blue,
The blue of hope, with dreams so new;
The sky beckoned the hearts to soar,
“You take the leap, I wait for you!”

A nation young, with hurdles old;
A million mouths, on land was gold;
And yet the dream to conquer space,
A burning spark, so bright and bold!

“Second to none,” the great man said,
He looked at stars, held high his head,
With little steps, forward and back,
The spark, like festive hues, had spread!

The first, a tribute to our yore,
A little craft, like dreams, did soar,
The smiles in tear-laden eyes,
Promised us that there will be more!

The sky, a hope; the space, a friend;
In fits and starts, we did ascend;
For hopes and friends may go astray,
Yet, forward, star-ward, on we went!

The Moon, with silver beams so bright,
Whispered through space his next invite:
Escape the gravity that binds,
And see my soul, cratered and white!

Women and men with twinkling eyes,
With souls of steel and heads so wise,
Got down to work and one fine day,
A “Namaste” from lunar skies!

Beyond the Moon lay inky space,
A boundless night in starry daze;
Near, there hung, the planet red,
Yet so far was its tempting haze!

“Could we?” they asked with eyes so wide!
“Why not?!” said they, “Its time we tried!”
What could hinder the march of dreams,
When sparks, undying, burn inside?

Women and men with passion deep,
A mission stern, challenges steep;
A battle against time and space,
A tale of days and nights sans sleep!

At last the red rays shone so near,
As waited we, our hearts with fear;
And then like colors bursting forth,
We swelled with pride, our eyes in tears!

Someday, when old, in rain-drenched park,
We’ll tell our kids, “Don’t fear the dark!”
The tales of those who conquered space,
With stubborn dreams and golden sparks!