Tag Archive: Random thoughts

My mother always says, “It would be difficult growing up, but you must.”

“Don’t Grow up … There are too many rules and restrictions” –   Hugh Hefner

“It was then that I declared, resolved, and determined that I would never under any circumstances be a politician, much less a grocer; that I would stop right there, remain as I was–and so I did; for many years I not only stayed the same size but clung to the same attire.”

Oskar Matzerath, the protagonist of Gunter Grass’ The Tin Drum recounts his third birthday when he decided to “stop right there”- in that moment of time and space, in that year. Oskar willingly stops himself from growing above the age of three. His unwillingness to grow during the times when losing innocence was vital for survival justifies his resolution.

We too, like Oskar, have moments of personal insights when we wish we could keep the day to ourselves and stop where we are. The feeling gets stronger with every passing year and often a part of us resolves not to grow. While we confront every next birthday that marks another year gone, we choose not to keep track of numbers anymore. B’days become redundant, uninvited, burdensome.

Growing up is difficult, I agree with mother, but why “must” we grow? Can we not seize a part of ourselves, and keep it entirely to our own?  And as we keep losing ourselves in the process of ‘growth’, can’t be become less careless about things we have and want to have?

Time grows; and grows fast. In the moment of (in)decisiveness of growing and not willing to grow, we are huddled into the mechanical process, often losing track of ourselves. As we grow, years appear to shrink and days pass by like a freight train. When I was a kid, every single day seemed a thousand years long; every year, a light year apart. Every moment offered a life altering vision, every experience was life itself, and every other person appeared to gift something irreplaceable. Every day was a birthday.

Sometimes, while sitting on my favorite childhood bench, carelessly observing the surroundings with overburdened eyes and reading the daily newspaper, I suddenly hear the chirping of birds and the distant dog barks, the rattling of kitchen utensils, unexpected chuckles of my grandmother, and the sound of a silent wind, and for a moment, I am in the time which I thought to have left far behind,  I am a child patiently imbibing the world around me, listening to the careless sounds, at peace with myself and the world.

Such fraction of moments, which get rarer with age, are life altering; they bring upon a realization that time is stagnant, and so is the world, and we are growing up, and growth is taking away everything that was once beautiful. In that moment of time travel, I want to be like Oskar- stay where I am; seize time and care no more about losing it; retaining innocent vision and watch the world outgrowing its apparel.

With another birthday, I am not sure whether to take heed of my mother’s advice and resist my irresistible passion for immobility or succumb to my world that refuses to grow beyond this year.

B’day Poems

This poem is dedicated to a friend. It is not often we meet people who bring us closer to ourselves and make us realize that we lost innocence while we were busy growing up.

The realization made me yearn for past, for the times when we were keen on becoming, instead of rigidly being; times when the only wars were that of palate; times when every event was the shade of multicolors; times when we were ignorant about  the marathons of time; times when mathematics of reason could be won over by rhetoric of poesy; times when we chased dreams and dreams chased us; times when broken hearts could be mended with an innocent smile; times when we sincerely believed that heroes outlast witches and dragons; and all stories have a happy ending, if at all, stories end.

I live that life again in this poem with a hope that I live that life again, always. Thanks.

I wish I were a little girl again
to grow up
wear make up
drape Draupadi’s sari,
and become,

I wish I were a little girl again
over ice cream
chocolate bars
lacy pink frocks
and stains
on them

I wish I were a little girl again
about occasions
birthdays, meetings, departures
smiles and tears
like circus clowns
of our village

I wish I were a little girl again
away from teachers
evening vespers
the boy next bench
whose book
I lost

I wish I were a little girl again
birthday sweets
friends with whom
I broke up over
sharpened pencils

I wish I were a little girl again
off dreamlessly
over the morning bench
In the classroom
thoughts themselves
were sleeping pills

I wish I were a little girl again
Only With bruised knees
Cane marks
A casual hit

I wish I were a little girl again
poems about
fairies, dwarfs, Prince Charming
And the Witch
at the end.


via Mehran Qureshi’s blog  BARQ

God to Man:


You have your desire and
I have my desire.
My desire shall reign.
But if you surrender yourself to my desire,
I shall bestow upon you your desire.
But if you oppose my desire,
Then I shall tire you of your desire,
And ultimately,
My desire shall reign.

This post by Mehran Qureshi set me thinking. The quotation appears in an Islamic text Hadith e Qudsi , a compilation of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (words of God ‘expressed in Muhammad’s words’*). No literature, I think, expresses the contrast of free will and determinism so well.

When making sense of the world in and around us, we are bound to confront the dilemma of essence and existence, of free will and determinism, of active struggle and passive submission and we are left questioning “In His will is our peace, Is it?”.

“Teach us to sit still / Even among these rocks, / Our peace in His will” Thomas Stearns Eliot resonates the age old wisdom in the poem Ash Wednesday quoting Dante from the Inferno, “In His will is our peace”. The Hamletian ambiguity whether “to be or not to be” seems to reach a resolution here. For Dante it is indeed “nobler in the mind to suffer”. The Hindu scriptures and hymns echo a similar understanding of our day-to-day indecisiveness and reach an unambiguous solution: “jahi vidhi raakhe raam, taahi vidhi rahiye”.

The emphasis on merging one’s will to the higher entity, to succumb to one’s circumstances rather than rage against them seems a coward thought at first. What comes of it might not be happiness, sure, but neither can it be called peace. Are happiness and peace, then, only the product of battles fought against destiny and won over or they are the results of a life that is left unquestioned? Whatever answers we get to our own questions, the question remains.

When I first read (15 years back) a popular Tao saying**, appeared in a daily editorial- “Those who flow as life flows, need no other force, they feel no wear, they feel no tear, They need no mending, no repair”- I assumed it mocked passive submission to one’s fate or what else is life without struggle, I thought.  Life was yet to be. For with time, I realized passive submission was much more difficult an act than practicing free will, I learned that “to do nothing is not a passive state. It is the highest activity of which soul is capable, the deliberate and sustained effort of the soul to suffer, in the sense of allow, all that God may will to effect upon it.” (Thomas Stearns Eliot, Murder in the Cathedral)

* According to as-Sayyid ash-Sharif al-Jurjani, the Hadith Qudsi differ from the Qur’an in that the former were revealed in a dream or through revelation and are “expressed in Muhammad’s words”, whereas the latter are the “direct words of God”.

**Though the quotation in reference to Taoist philosophy has an entirely different context and interpretation.

I Keep a Journal. I began writing one when I was pretty young. Don’t quite remember the year. But that wasn’t a regular thing with me. In fact I soon realized that I wasn’t the diary writing material. Updating it everyday was one huge task and even today; I just can’t get myself to doing one thing for a long period of time. I always realize the futility of the task even before it takes any considerable shape. Now, I know I am possibly born with that trait and if old habits die hard, congenital ones are immortal.

That’s why when I read my entries the other day they sound to me utter trash. I often have the urge to flush it right away. I never did it but once. One evening I heard a rumor going round the hostel. “There’s a real nasty girl in the room at the end of the corridor. You’ll go crazy if you hear her story, what a…” a friend hushed to me when I asked what the matter is. Her room mates had sneaked her diary and the truth was out, whatever it was.

That night I shred every paper of my pink colored diary. It had a tiny lock which I kept as a souvenir. Today when I sit back and think about its content, I feel so distant from that person who was so scared to spill her secrets, of what? homesickness, praying god to give her hair like Rapunzel when she wakes up next morning, wishing the school to catch fire so that she’s called home, to turn into a little girl and realize that all this was a dream.

That’s the beauty of keeping a journal; you can read your thoughts after a period of time and see how at every next phase in life you have grown from what you were. Better or worst, for me, is still a matter of comprehension.

Journal Keeping has its fun. But I never like reading my past entries. Today when I read them I see how posts over the years gradually shift from personal to impersonal, from transient understanding of issues to much deeper and complex visions, from outburst to creative writing.

There were a lot many things journal keeping did not offer me, so I gave it up for good and one day suddenly, poetry came to me. Poetry writing is a very strange experience, very unlike journal writing. Now I know if I hadn’t left journal writing, I would never have written poetry.

Poetry writing is an automated process, a semi conscious event. It takes life from unknown impulses which come as a spark. It is a sudden flash when an amalgam of varied emotions comes to play which had not found a form yet. It is when images conjure up writing themselves. Journal writing doesn’t offer that. It becomes less of a creative writing as we put our feelings in primary form. We write what we think, feel and perceive. While poetry is much more than simply jotting down our perceptions, it is when our experiences ripen over time; our understanding of an event takes a different hue, takes a color of all other events in our life and surroundings and becomes an amalgamation of different images, experiences, taking a shape of its own.

Journal Keeping doesn’t allow experiences to ripen; it becomes a record of transient feelings over which we grow as time passes, while poetry takes a much complex and variant form that takes different meanings with every reading, years over years. Journal writing is something we make happen to ourselves, poetry happens to us.

© Copyright, Tina Rathore.

Call me Ozon Nokobi
no! call me Ozon Bron
just call me Ozon
don’t call me at all.

I may be God you fear
so much you revere
or i may be a devil
singing for you a prayer.

Do not call me your friend
your secrets my heart can’t bear
or a stranger-

Please don’t take away my life
from pieces i repair.

Ozon Nokobi, Ozon Bron
Nokobi. Bron. Ozon
I wear so many names.
Ask them if they wear me
for attire’s all i care.

Perhaps don’t ask them
i’ll tell you a better story.

There was a man
Ozon Nokobi
who called for other men
remembered strangers, forgotten friends
you and me, may be.

He said he’s giving them life
who have ceased to be.
not from cemetries, tapered coffins
flesh now fire.
But from what
we have ceased to be
what we could have been.

Life he gave, life he took
from scraps he mended pieces
shaping in a whole
calling it Ozon Nokobi.

© Copyright, Tina Rathore.

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