An Old Man by the Window


Paatttt!! came the sound as doors banged loudly against their respective frames. The plant pots, kept on the railing of balconies of nearby houses, couldn’t pull their weight against it’s ferocity and got shattered as they tried to resist it. It seemed to have an intoxicating effect on trees, they waved as if possessed. It was hard to tell whether they were dancing or playing it’s puppet. A stroke of bright light flashed in the sky, creating a day that lasted no longer than a second. Usually, it spoke in thunders but it was mostly silent that night. The dark of the night made it even more ominous.

An old man, sitting in a corner of his silent room, was watching it through his window. At 90, life had taken away much of his rigor and left him physically weak and fragile. Sitting in that chair or lying in his bed were the only activities that made up most his day. Having lost the energy and will to carry himself around he was dependent on others for almost every task. Even though it agonized him there was little he could do about it. Old age does that to one’s spirit.

For him it wasn’t just a gust of wind but a reminder of days when he was as strong and fierce. It reminded him of the time when he could take on whatever challenges life threw his way. The time when he lost his father at an early age of 19. The time when he didn’t have enough money to even pump up his bicycle tires. The time when he left his hometown, along with his mother and Rs. 500 as his sole inheritance, in search of work. The time when he embarked on a journey to create a legacy for his future generations. But little did he knew that no one can win against life and time.

Though he was sitting alone in that dimly lit room on that thunderous night, he never felt lonely. Not until that night. He was missing his wife. He was used to her presence. How could he not, she was always by his side, taking care of his tiniest of needs. She kept him company. He wasn’t just missing her, he was concerned for her well-being. She was in the hospital, for the first time in many years. Though she was strong and took good care of herself, age didn’t spare her either. The day before she had a mishap and suffered a major fracture. Even in that condition, she was worried about him. Worried that he was upset because of her condition. Worried that he wouldn’t be able to get by without her. Such was their love.

On any other night, the old man would have ignored the thunder and enjoyed the cool breeze. That night the wind seemed to mimic the turmoil within him. It roared when he lamented, it shattered pots when he felt lonely, banged doors when he cursed his helplessness and waved trees when he missed her. That night the wind was a puppet of his feelings.

Choice: That’s All We Got!

When was the last time you made a decision because you wanted to make it? Because you wanted to have something or do something in your life even though the world advised against it. By world I mean parents, spouse, family, friends, neighbors, co-workers etc.

Why is it that people who never took an ounce of risk in their life want you to not take it? Why do they think that their line-of thought must be what you should follow? Sure they might be your well-wishers and they don’t want you to get hurt but why must they say that their path is the right path? Why does your willingness to get hurt or to take that risk must not be considered? Aren’t they in someway seeking the validation of their choices by forcing them upon you?

What’s wrong if a man willingly decides to quit his job and take care of household chores while the wife willingly decides to work? Why should we frown upon that? Yes, they’re not conforming to the expectations of the society but if it’s working for them, why the hell should society get in the way? What if you want to be the part of a different society, the one that shares your philosophy of life? Isn’t that the whole concept of being in a society? Of course, as with many other concepts, the concept of society too has been mutilated and transformed into this ugly phenomenon where the aim is to do better than your neighbor. Whatever happened to love thy neighbor.

I believe that there’s no harm in living your life the way you do, as long as that’s what you want. You want to lead a risk averse life, that’s fine. You want to do a job, take a job. You want to earn money, go and make it happen. You want to dive from a cliff, just jump already. Everything is fine as long as that’s what you want to do. Being stuck at some place when all you want to be some place else, that’s not fine but unfortunately that’s too on you. You’re in a particular situation because you chose to be in it.

You got married because your parents thought it’s the right time, three years down the line you realize your marriage isn’t working anymore. Who will you blame? Listen to the “society“, and they won’t let you get out of it either. What will you do? Continue to suffer? Whatever is it that you decide, remember one thing and remember it all your life, IT. WAS. YOUR. CHOICE. You have nobody else to blame but yourself.

Stop doubting yourself. Stop comparing your achievements, your misery with that of others. Make a promise to yourself that no matter what you choose you’ll put yourself first. At the end you the day, your prime loyalty lies with you.


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The Forest of Life

I don’t believe I can save someone’s life. Ever. I can prolong it by a few years but I certainly can’t save it. How can I save something from the inevitable? Not even Gods, if they exist, have that kind of power. It’s the nature’s law. What is born must die.

Besides, what is the point in saving something as meaningless as life? Don’t get confused. I am neither negating the concept of life nor I am against it. I am merely saying that life, inherently, is meaningless. Think about it for a moment.

Life has various other forms. It can be an ant, an elephant, a fish, a sandalwood tree etc. What is the meaning of their life? What purpose are they serving on earth? Do they even have one?

Tough questions to answer but they are misleading. Even if we try to answer them, we’d find an answer that is inclined with human psychology. We may interpret many things from their lives but ultimately what we’re trying to answer is how their life is meaningful to us, humans.

That Napoleon found inspiration in a spider proves this. The spider was merely going about it’s daily activities, it didn’t teach him that lesson. It was Napoleon who observed what it was doing and drew some meaning out of it. Why are we obsessed with finding meaning in each and everything, anyway? Why is it hard for us to accept that like other forms of life, our life has no inherent meaning? Why do we see things even when there’s nothing to see? Stagnant water is just that, stagnant water, why then we look for a life lesson in it?

It’s all in the mind. And it is capable of doing things. Look around, you’ll find yourself surrounded by the wonders human mind is capable of creating. Read history, you’ll know the blunders human mind is capable of committing. Visit a prison, you’ll be repelled by the brutality human mind is capable of performing. Fascinating, isn’t it!

If one were to believe media reports, human mind is going rogue. More and more everyday. Studies from around the world have shown that actions performed by humans are literally, killing the nature. The question arises then, why would nature create something that is capable of destroying it? Allow me to answer it by another question, why would humans create something (Artificial Intelligence) that we fear would destroy us one day? The answer is simple. Because we can. Because we have that kind of power and we love to play God.

Who are we then to say that humans aren’t just another experiment of nature? It created us because it could. It created and destroyed dinosaurs because it could. Why do we want to believe that some unworldly power is responsible for our creation? Isn’t that wishful thinking!

Too many questions and very few answers. Or maybe we already know the answers but aren’t willing to accept them because they seem ludicrous.

A word of advise, if you’re happy with your life the way it is don’t think about these questions. Forget that you even read this post. Close the tab and be done with it. Because if you tread ahead on this line of thought, sooner or later you’ll realize everything around you is nothing but a well crafted illusion.


Cover Source: DeviantArt

Birth Me, Birth Me Not!

Birth. Bringing a new life into this world. Creates a beautiful imagery in the mind, doesn’t it? Of course, why shouldn’t it. Over the years our scriptures, our literature and our media have glorified this process to such an extent that at just a mention of the term, birth, our mind gets flooded with images of cute little babies. We feel something holy has happened. We celebrate. We rejoice for the new life that has just stepped into this world.

But hold on! Let’s pause for a second, clear our minds of that beautiful imagery and observe.

A child born in 1920s, in Germany. Born to a Jewish family, he inherits the title. Come the great World War II, he’s executed (or rather exterminated) by the Nazis.

A child born in 1920s, in Germany. Born to a non-Jewish family. Come the great World War II, he goes through life just fine, save for troubles caused by the war.

A child born in 2000s, somewhere in India. It’s a girl. Soon after her birth she gets ‘executed’ by her family because she’s a girl.

A child born in 2000s, somewhere in India. It’s a girl. Her family is open minded, loving and caring. She goes on to live a wonderful life.

A child born in 2010s, in Cameroon/Chad/Nigeria.  Few years later, he gets killed by Boko Haram, apparently for no fault of his.

A child born in 2010s, in the USA/UK. Goes through life without the any major hurdles. “Third world problems” are a news item to him, nothing more.

A child born in 2015, to a poverty stricken family. He’s headed for a tough life. He might not even get a chance to experience most of the beautiful things of this planet.

A child born in 2015, to a rich family. His future is most likely secure. Will probably go on a world tour and have a nice time.

What did you observe in the above eight scenarios ? What’s the common factor?

Think on it a bit.

The common factor here is that these children were born and their destiny was tied to their neck at that moment, by Birth. Of course, I have taken a very minute sample from a large population, and there will be exceptions too, but tell me this had you been born in a different time, at a different place, to a different couple would your life, your dreams, your ambitions be same as they are now? Most likely not.

If the outcome of one’s life is dependent so much on various factors related to one’s birth, then why is it taken so lightly? Why such a critical factor is only glorified and not criticized? Why, if taking a life without one’s consent is considered crime, then giving life, where one can’t provide a consent, is so liberalized?

Life is a symbol of hope. But, to some extent, birth does decides it’s nature.

Note to the reader: If you have a views/opinions on this topic. I would love to hear them. You can leave a comment or mail me at mailme [at] udaymittal [dot] com

Anne Frank: Dear Kitty

Annelies Marie Frank. I am jealous of you. Of course, one, who knows your story, would wonder why and what am I jealous of. On the contrary, one might say that it should be the other way round. Little did they know that that’s exactly why I am jealous of you. Because with you, there would be no other way round.

The time in which you lived and the place where you were born, had they been different, the world, and more specifically I, wouldn’t have known Anne Frank. Your sixteen years in this world taught you things that I, having lived a decade longer and still counting,  am still struggling to come to terms with. If anything, the more I read about you the more I realize that life, as we live it, is a mere illusion. For some it’s heaven, for some it’s hell and for some, like you, it’s a heaven in hell.

What is required to make a person happy? Of course, you know the answer but billions and billions of us, the current unhappy occupants of this world, are still having a hard time. How can it be so simple, we wonder. You know they have reality TV shows these days where 12-14 people are locked inside a house, much bigger and luxurious than your hiding, for 90 days. The challenge is same as yours, to survive (in the show). Yet they fall, one at a time. For some reason they can’t rise above their petty ego issues and narcissism. I guess it does take a World War to force the ego and narcissism out of one’s self.

The life of today has everything one could imagine, yet it seems pale in comparison to yours. Partly, because it was handed to us on a silver plate and we never had the misfortune of a war taking it all away. It’s almost comic to observe, how a devastating and destructive thing as war can shift one’s perspective on life to a gentler one. A wise person has rightly said, the value of things taken for granted is only realized when they are taken away or rather snatched away mercilessly, as in your case.

Oh! Anne Frank, what a pleasure it would have been to live with you in those troubling times, to know you beyond the pages of your diary.

Life is a Sophie’s Choice

I’ve never been one to express myself freely in the spoken word, so I’ve been told. Considering that I haven’t been able to convey how I feel or what I want, to those around me, there must be some truth to it.

Around six months back I left my job in the hope of living life on my own terms, in the hope of having the ultimate freedom to do what I want without giving any explanation to anyone, in the hope of discovering on my own what to do and what not to do. Little did I know that I would still be a prisoner just in a different prison.

I’ve spent many winters on this planet yet I haven’t seen a single snow flake in person. I don’t know what it feels like to experience the life that thrives in the depth of water. I don’t know what a cherry Coke tastes like. 71% of the Earth is covered with water yet I don’t know how to survive in it. I’ve only heard or read about the beauty of Italy and France. I am largely unfamiliar with the works of William Shakespeare and Dante Alighieri. Will I ever get to do all this?

I seem to have been living in an oblivion of some kind where death appeared to be a distant star. In reality, I’ll be lucky if I get to spend another day because I don’t know when the hourglass of my time runs out of sand. If to you I appear to be philosophical, you obviously seem to know when your time will be up, please be kind and let me know mine.

If there’s no certainty of how much time I’ve got wouldn’t it be logical to do things I really want to do, first. This is where I am stuck. I am stuck because, like most things in life, each of those things require money. I am stuck because I know that with time my list of to do things would grow and that no matter how much money I make it’ll never be enough. I am stuck because there’ll always be the grasshopper’s conundrum. To live in the present or save for the [uncertain] future, a Sophie’s Choice that I must decide.

20 years of my life I spent going through the “official” process of getting educated yet I don’t know what to choose. For the first raises the question what if I live and, the other, what if I die?