Monday, August 15, 2016


 His name was KC Balakrishna--KC for short. My best friend in school days, probably at an age where my son is right now. I think we shared every damn thing. School gang fights--he would be my side. Lunchtime, we would share food. Comics, Yes. We probably got beaten up by the same school bully, got punished together at the same time by a strict teacher, etc. In the school pic over the years we stood side by side. But there was just one instance where my friendly instinct got over-ridden, and I let him down.

And the reason for that was a piece of chocolate. Cadbury's 5 star chocolate. I just loved it. And a good bar cost a few rupees. I had saved up the amount over a few weeks leading up to August 15th. The plan was to finish the Independence day celebrations in the school, then get the 5 star bar and walk home munching the delicious chocolate.

So the day arrives, the drill and flag hoisting and singing is done, and we're off home. KC comes running to me. In the sweltering heat of August, an icecream vendor is doing brisk business in the school premises. KC doesn't have money but knows that I do. He perhaps needs 50 paise or something, for a small icecandy bar. 'Get me one,' he says.

That's the most horrible lie that I utter. 'I don't have money,' I say, even as my heart sinks. He is disappointed but more than his crestfallen face, I remember the conflict raging inside me. I'm torn between my love for the favorite chocolate, and the urge to give away the money so that he could enjoy his ice-cream. 'Hogli bidu,' he says and departs. I have my chocolate bar, and I walk home eating it, but the chocolate doesn't taste that good. It tastes bitter. KC's dissapointed face haunts me with every bite I take.

The incident was soon forgotten and we were back as usual. Then, as we shifted to a new house, I changed schools. Went back once to see my old friends...and then, it was a yawning gap of 8 years before I met KC...just once. And we got pulled away in our own tidal currents of life.

Independence day celebrations today...and KC comes up from memory. His disappointment and my guilty bites off the chocolate bar. I love the bar to this day. Wondering...where is he now? Does he remember this incident the way I do? It's strange, the way people reside in us, as a part of our memory, our being. Or the way a part of us remains in all those we come across.

Saturday, August 13, 2016


 had this colleague....we both joined my first IT company on the same day. He was, in one word, 'irreverent'. A kind of don't care person. There were shitty bosses who bullied us, and we would squirm uncomfortably. Not this fellow....he was just cool around them, as if their bossyness didn't affect him one bit. It was interesting to see how he gave no shit to their pressure tactics. Or say, there's this girl who thinks she's a super-charmer and tries to act funny, and everyone's going gaga...and this fellow...he would talk to her as if she were a nobody, and put her in her place. I would think, Wow!
He carried the same attitude everywhere, dealing with people on the road as if they were lesser mortals. His fearlessness was kinda inspirational to me because I would be awkward showing rudeness to a stranger. I would wonder how he could do this. I wanted to learn it. And if there was a small function in the office cafeteria, this guy would coolly walk on the stage, grab the mike and sing a lovely song...and then engage the audience asking which other song they wanted to listen to. He was totally in his skin, super cool and comfortable, in front of an audience
He had, however, one mortal fear...and when I realised what it was, I was dumbstruck. He was petrified of Dogs! Terribly scared and shivering to the bones. Sometimes I would drop him off on my bike, and say, there's a small Pomeranian puppy at a distance...and this guy would start trembling and squirming from a mile away. He would be on tenterhooks until we passed by that dog! " I was bitten by a dog when I was a kid," he would explain. And then would go on at length at how people die of rabies and how life is uncertain etc etc. I would laugh at this irrational fear of his--maybe because I never feared dogs--and I would think, this guy is super confident of so many things that make me anxious, yet here he is, mortally scared of something which I'm totally comfortable with!!!
I unfailingly remember him whenever I contemplate 'fear'. This fear...any fear, I think it holds a key. What we're scared of, what makes us tremble, what gives us sleepless nights, what stops us in our tracks and dictates our also carries something, some message, something unresolved deep in our marrow and cells. The usual thing we do is to push it away and pretend it isn't there until it shows up in our face, and then we have no option but to start shivering and see how we can escape it. We carry it throughout our lives, sometimes, not bothering to resolve it and get to the other side, and see what paradise(or hell) it leads to.
Everyone's fear is different, maybe because everyone's story in their cells is different. But I have no doubt, with my own triumphs over a few small fears, that this Fear---is a beautiful doorway to a more enriching and rewarding existence, right in this moment.
And the only way to claim such an enriching experience, is to step right in the direction of the fear...not away from it.