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It was just Another Night…(Short Story)

August 13, 2013 Leave a comment

balconyHazy charcoal silhouettes painted the view from my tiny balcony as I gazed deep into nothingness. It was just any other night; cold, dark and silent. It was way past bedtime; just about time the nocturnal bingers considered returning home. I have been standing here, struggling, for a long time. Days whizzed past like lights on a speeding metro; I could only gaze and watch them flow: hazy, opaque and in trammel. Nights were a burden that I could not avoid. I feel old, really old and this is going to be a long bitter night.

I miss the time when Vienna made me feel young. It was like those impish high-school days when hope and smile never seem leave an arms distance. Long barefoot walks in the Stadtpark, the lazy swirl of Riesenrad, those unceasing discussions on art and music at the café Demel near Hofburg place or just being lost in the silence of a moonlit Danube.

How can I not miss them?
How do I let it go, the feeling of being alive, the feeling of being in love? It made me feel young; she ensured I stayed that way all along.

The hot end of Marlboro made me jump as it traded my dream with the dark canvas of night, devoid of color and life. I fiddled my pockets for another one. Was it the fifth? The ashtray suggests it is ninth; I have to give up smoking; do I really need to… and I lit it.

It has been more than two years since I met Eva and I am drawn to her every time with the same passion as I felt the first time I saw her at the gallery. Like a painting etched in dull canvas she was a stark contrast to the white plastered walls of the gallery. My eyes could not savor enough of her tawny hair curled to unruly perfection. She was clad in blue denim and a white tee and was intensely gazing at one my wares on the wall. She was an artist, a student; embroidered in red was the symbol ] a [ resting unambiguously on her sleeve, a  logo of akademie der bildenden künste, a prestigious fine arts academy in Vienna,  and then she turned. Her dark brown eyes, sparking through the clear glasses caught me off guard; she smiled; I shivered.

The night was getting colder; I can feel the numbness of my fingers as I held on to the glass of scotch. I watched some teens singing in the street…, something in German which I could not pick. One of them looked at me standing like a ghost on the first floor balcony and lifted his hand in a friendly salute and I returned the gesture unconsciously. My hand twitched on the glass as I woke them from their icy stupor as I watched them waddle away into the night. Why do all good things come to an end..?

Eva was twenty four when I first met her and I was lugging myself into my forties and waltzing around Europe trying to sell my wares. I have a studio in Weiden in Vienna given to me by an old friend who would rent it to me for a canvas a year. He would not take money from me and I would not want to rent free, so that was our middle path. It was big enough for me to double up as a working studio and a cozy residence. I enjoyed its loneliness, its silence, but that was before she came into my life.

In the beginning we discussed art, she loved talking and I loved watching her talk. It was perfect. Later her conversations were more discursive and would wander all around. Impressionism, Fauvism, existentialism and then suddenly we would be talking of Bavarian beers. We were indefatigable in talking and days never seemed enough hours to finish a discussion. There was a certain pleasure in accepting defeat to her cogent reasoning. We would walk the first district watching tourists and their awed expressions or just go to the hills in the north for a quieter Sundays. We did nothing special in particular, but whatever we did together felt special. We were not defined by love, love defined us; it made life look simpler, easier and worth the effort to drag it through the chores of existence. A sense of good feeling prevailed. I wanted to grow with her, as Dag once said, firmer, simpler, quieter, warmer.

The silence of the night was eerie; it made my thoughts sound louder…as if coming out of an unruly megaphone. I walked in to my studio and dribbled to a mounted canvas; it stared at me blank, devoid of life. I want to draw to distract, to stop my head screaming to do something, I have no clue what but wait for the sun to raise and wash away the darkness. I started to wash the canvas with paint but the brush seems to have a mind of its own and why is it so heavy?

It was last summer when Eve moved into the studio. It was always too big for me, and way too lonely. She hardly changed anything in the studio, except a closet changing it ownership, but everything seemed different. Like a freshly painted canvas coming alive after the last swash of paint. The candles, were a nice touch, so was her presence. I needed no reason to smile other than watch her cuddle in my arms. Everything was suddenly warm even those cold Austrian winters and wines gave life a new meaning.

The colors were growing darker than I want them to be on the canvas, I was painting without a reason, without an outcome. The darkness was receding in the background and the warm light of the sun tried to wrap the distant skies. It is beautiful. But I hated it. It made me irritable, made me angry. I was helpless and it made me clinch deep inside.

We should have been married. It would have made her happy. I think so. She never mentioned it, we never talked about it. It was unnecessary. But it seems so right…today, when I see her draped in wires, trying to hold on to a life that would never be the same

She loved to cycle and spring made it ever more pleasant thing to do. Vienna was a cyclists dream. It was designed for the enthusiast. She made the morning breakfast and left a note that she will be back in time for the evening plans. I slept as she left the flat.

She never kept her promise and I have not slept ever since.

A call from the hospital went unanswered as I kept my phone on silent mode, lest it should disturb my precious tranquility. Late evening I answered the door to the call of an officer who came to tell that she met an accident and is at the hospital. I was disturbed by his imperturbable calmness of manner, but not worried; the cops told me she fell of her cycle… how bad can that be?

They did not mention that she hurt her head and will never recover from her induced coma and she never did. It’s been eight years since I read her note on the table, I see her every day with the hope that she will return home. An occasional twitch sends a spasm of hope but it passes away as spasms always do…ever so quickly.

I have to say my final good bye one morning, and let her sleep. Wires can only keep you alive but they do not bless you with life. All wires have to stop one day and tomorrow morning…is it today. They are going to stop those wires from fueling a life that has long gone away and another which will never be the same again. I wish this was an endless night.

The Dance

December 22, 2012 1 comment

My daughter loves Disney, and she is currently obsessed with two things:  “Pink” and “Princesses”. She is two and half years and she just started to appreciate the magic of  fairy tales. Well my Ipad, which has been hijacked from me and Disney seem to be doing a good job keeping her entertained .I wanted to tell her a story my self just as well as they both do, and this is the first attempt at creating that. After some muddled attempts with hand puppets and pseudo ventriloquism I finally decided to do it with stop motion animation. Since sketching is out of question it was easy to decide that i was going to photograph.

I took her dolls; a makeshift background and shot around 250 shots, making slight adjustments to the each one and compiled a one minute video. While it is a very shoddy job, it is just a POC and my daughter is pretty pleased.

I hope to do a small episode with a little more story, so wish me luck

Who was The Laughing Buddha

October 16, 2012 2 comments

Laughing buddha artEveryone must have seen the statue of “Laughing Buddha”. He is also called as the “Happy Man”. I have a few of these idols and some of these have been with me for a very long time. It never occurred to me to figure out the significance of the idol. I always thought it was Gautam Buddha and wondered why it was so different from the other serine images and idols of Gautam Buddha. Just the other day a friend posted a reference and I was compelled to do some reading and found out.

It was a pleasant shock to realize that Laughing Buddha is not a Gautam Buddha at all, but an eccentric Chinese Ch’an (Zen) monk who lived in china, Circa 907 AD during the Liang dynasty. He was a native of Fenghua, and his Buddhist name was Qieci literally meaning “Promise this“.

He is also referred to as Hotei or Pu-Tai and is best known as the “jolly Laughing Buddha”. In China, he is also known as the Loving or Friendly One. Hotei is a significant part of Buddhist and Shinto culture and is regarded as an incarnation of the bodhisattva who will be Maitreya (the Future Buddha). His large protruding stomach and jolly smile have given him the common designation “Laughing Buddha” and he is regarded as a true Zen master.

Like all legends of yester years Hotei has a great inspirational story. While I am not sure if this has any historical authenticity but it still is a very good read.

The legend says: The jolly saint would travel from place to place in search of wisdom and spread the zen philosophy.laughing buddha art Where ever he went he attracted curious eyes; he was a funny looking man with a big belly and an even bigger smile on his face. He would go to a town square and wait for people to gather, which was never a difficult thing for him.

Hotei would then distribute sweets and small toys to all children who had gathered around him. When the euphoria of gifts and presents died down, he would slowly keep his bag down, look to the sky and just start laughing. He would continue to laugh and not care if others joined him. Soon, his laughter would turn contagious and all who had gathered would begin to laugh. In some time the whole town would begin to laugh thanks to the mysterious monk. After sometime he would pick the bag, which he had kept down, smile to all, and go to the next town. It is said that he did the same thing in every town he visited. It was the only thing he did. It was his way of bringing enlightenment to people, hence his name the laughing Buddha.

The term buddha means “one who is awake”, connoting one who has awakened into enlightenment. Over the history of Buddhism, there have been several notable figures who would come to be remembered as, and referred to as, buddhas. Later followers of the Chan school would come to teach that all beings possess Buddha nature within them, and are already enlightened, but have yet to realize it. This teaching would continue into Zen. ……Wikipedia

The legend continues that he would rarely speak and one occasion when he was asked to describe why he does what he did, he said

Giving Sweets to Children:

 laughing buddha with kids sculptureIt symbolizes that more you give, more you get. He referred to it as the “Joy of Gifting”. The children represent the qualities that one is born with and the qualities that we should all cherish; living in present, cheerful, without ego, without prejudice and un-judgmental. I term it “return to innocence”; a blissful state of life where every day is a day of learning and something to look forward to.

The Bag:

The bag represented the burden of human existence. The problems that we love to accumulate. We live in a self-created illusion of difficult life. He illustrates it by pointing out, we are great at giving advice and solutions to deal with a difficult situation as long as the problem does not belong to us. But the same creativity is lost if it happens to be our own problem; we simply don’t seem to find any solution.

laughing buddha with a bundel sculptureDropping of the Bag:

The monk’s symbolic act of dropping the bag is part of a more significant Zen philosophy. It represents separation from burden, disassociation from your problem and looking at it from the eyes of an outsider and then attempting to solve the problem and getting on with life. It also represents the overall Zen and East Asian Philosophy of detachment of your soul from the limitations of your human senses and look at the reality with the objective eyes of your soul.

The laughter: hotei laughing buddha sculpture with hands up

It is an act of mocking the problem at hand and looking at the insignificance of it in the overall scheme of things. It is an act of acknowledging that life is a beautiful bouquet of roses but with prickly thorns. Problems are going to stay with us as long as we live, so why brood over it when good times just around the corner. It is also an act of prayer, thanking God for making your life beautiful and an act of acknowledging bigger problems of people around you. So stay happy and get yourself through the rough patch of life

Picking of the Bag:

In the final act of the monk, he picks up the bag to signify that the burden is always part of you, live with it rather than abandon it. Learn from it and use the knowledge to help other with the same problem and move on in life. It also signifies that if we are able to detach from the problem and look at it objectively the problem ceases to be heavy and suddenly becomes very manageable

The contagious laughter:

Finally the contagious laughter signifies that “being happy” philosophy is as contagious as laughter. It can also be interpreted as one cannot bring happiness in people around them just by being unhappy with his or her own life.

I am not sure if story is a true fact, or even less sure if Hotei ever said any of the above but like all legends it is a good story. It propagates living a happy life and emphasizes that being happy can make this world a better place. That message in itself is worth to think about. So stay happy folks!!

Song of a Mute Piper

June 7, 2012 2 comments

The young couple love each other and have been in love for five years. They have their plan and dreams for a near future and the distant future.  In sudden change of fate one of them is about to die and their dreams about to shatter, only one of them, the one about to die, knows about the impending gloom. This is the song of the Mute Piper

Song of a Mute Piper

How do I sing a song unheard?
I have no art in the spoken word.
She is a painting stuck close to my heart
and I but a lame painter, with no art.

The innocence of dawn that you are,
gracing the austere sky, lone star.
Soft glow of radiance on thy chaste face,
aureate than the glow of a regal mace.

Was thy sculptor, Skilled at chisel?
Blameless art in morning drizzle
or is it just depth of your clarion eyes?
Moored there my heart dwells, mute, until it dies.

Thy love for me, an endless sky
oft wonder…in vain, reason why
the endless passion of a maid in love
my heart numb, silent coo of an emerald dove

The gentle caress, the soft hand
enchantment of a magic wand.
Endless hours of silence, nay the rumbling streams
nonchalant banter, locked hands, weaving dreams.

Beats my heart for that sanguine smile
thought of walk along the aisle
in thy happiness does my soul rest
my life… chirpy bird in a cozy nest
Was i lord of amaranth’s time,
grace thy world, with a single chime
want no more but thou my angelic bride
need no more, but tranquil warmth of your side.

BUT…

Dreams are streams that end in the number sea,
and life, a bound scroll, no redwood tree,
I look in mirror to a somber haze…
just a little more in this world, to graze.
A little more may be to a druids grace
but it is an end of a reckless race
how do i let you know, Oh…my patent soul
that i reached the far end of my scroll

Can rant of my heart, stop thy fear
Can i watch those eyes so dear
Can I abjure a promise i once made
plea of a torment soul, about to fade
that i shall live by you and make you smile
last vow made, walking the rangy aisle
How do i sing a song unheard,
I have not art in the spoken word

Gloomy skies, fading dusk, my life
would it sing from a long mute fife,
with pitiless time sparse and much to do
regret not i, a breath, i once had you.

Here I stand amid the silent roar,
alone on a tormented shore;
the simple broken beads of my aureate band.
I watch them flow, away, from my hand…

Categories: Poetry, Short Stories Tags: ,

Life as is…

April 4, 2012 4 comments

Life As is……..

Life so curt, it would seem to pass,
the flowing sand in an hour-glass.
Like the promise of a day-dream,
a bubble in a nimble stream,
I try to hold, but I never can,
my little tyke, oft you ran.

Rope your fiery pace I did try,
you wouldn’t stop, I sorrowed why?
Blooming years but of so short length,

all those years and my fading strength,
As friends and kin leave my sunset bay,
I have but nothing more to say.

With my heart weak wet and ceding
wish me leave, as I lived speeding.

Sunil Varma

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The Pup and Me!

January 23, 2012 4 comments

Yes! You Can

January 10, 2012 4 comments

There are three kinds of stories in the world. The ones that make you laugh, but these last the least. We forget them as quickly as we read them. Then there are those that make you smile. We pass these on to friends and kin, to spread the smile around. But once in a while, you would come across a story that would make even the most stony-eyes brim with tears. These are the stories that would cling on to your soul and remain there, till the time you close your eyes for one last time. The effect of these stories is exemplified when they are stories of people who live around us and lead lives similar to us. Stories from real life.They make you see world in a new light and force you to think. These stories will lend us an experience so profound that it may alter the way you want to lead the rest of your life.

The Story of Hoyt Pair is one such story that I came across by pure accident but it makes me heavy every time I read it. But it is a story of story of hope, courage and to working real hard for what you believe and most importantly love. I want you to read it, to experience emotional euphoria it brings along with it.

Watch the video and then go on to read the story behind it..

Rick was once asked, if he could give his father one thing, what would it be? Rick responded, “The thing I’d most like is for my dad to sit in the chair and I would push him for once.”

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It was Winchester, Massachusetts, 1962, an unruly umbilical cord wrapped around the neck of an unborn child; chocking him off vital oxygen became the first struggle of life for Rick Hoyt. Against all odds of survival Rick made it to this world. The lack of vital oxygen for those precious moments before birth had left permanent scars on his neonatal brain, rendering him incapable of leading life as we see it.

The doctors told Ricks parents, Dick and Judy Hoyt, that the brain damage is permanent and Rick would be a in a vegetative state for the rest of his life. They recommend that Rick be institutionalized, for there was no hope of recovery and no chance for him to lead a normal life. Dick Hoyt was in no mood to accept the doctor’s prognosis and this started the beginning of Dick and Judy’s quest for Rick’s inclusion in community, sports, education and one day, the workplace.

There was something about Rick’s ability to fight, in the ensuing years he was able to communicate to his parents with his expressive eyes and Dick and Judy did their very best trying to provide him education. Rick was able to learn basic words and alphabets. But with the aim to integrate Rick in to public school system, Dick and Judy had to prove Rick’s intellect and a way for Rick to communicate on his own.

Rick finally received a way to express himself in 1972, thanks to a skilled group of engineers at Tufts University and an interactive computer. This computer consisted of a cursor being used to highlight every letter of the alphabet. Once the letter Rick wanted was highlighted, he was able to select it by just a simple tap with his head against a head piece attached to his wheelchair.

Rick surprised everyone with his first words. Instead of saying, “Hi, Mom,” or “Hi, Dad,” Rick’s first “spoken” words were: “Go, Bruins!” The Boston Bruins were in the Stanley Cup finals that season. It was clear from that moment on, that Rick loved sports and followed the game just like anyone else.

This is not a story of Rick as it sounds until now. It is story of Rick and his dad and it all started In the spring of 1977 about 2 years after Rick started public school one of his classmates was paralyzed in an accident and a five mile benefit run was being organized. That night Rick told his father “Dad, I want to do that”

For Dick, who never ran a mile in length, running with his son in the wheelchair was a challenge. Still, he tried. He agreed to push his son all the five miles; they came next to the last but still managed to finish the race. But what changed Dick’s life forever were a simple set of words that made a whole lot of difference for him

That Night Rick said, “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not handicapped.”

That sentence marked the beginning of a father son phenomenon, and a beginning of what would become over 1,000 races completed, including marathons, duathlons and triathlons (6 of them being Iron-man competitions). Also adding to their list of achievements, Dick and Rick biked and ran across the U.S. in 1992, completing a full 3,735 miles in 45 days. They are now popularly known as Team Hoyt.

After high school, Rick attended Boston University, and he graduated with a degree in Special Education in 1993. Dick retired in 1995 as a Lt. Colonel from the Air National Guard, after serving his country for 37 years and they have been running marathon after all these years. In 2009 Boston Marathon was officially Team Hoyt’s 1000th race and Dick is 70 in 2011 and they are still running. They continue to tour across the country and address a varied audience to deliver one message Yes! You Can.

This is a story of hope, courage and to work hard for what you believe in.

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