Apologies first, Congratulations later

Stand outside my college gate for a day and watch the traffic. In a few hours you would have spotted a few Audis, maybe a couple of Range Rovers, definitely a dozen or so BMWs and Mercedes Benz luxury sedans. You’d think in a country like this, there should at least be some who can afford to spare a few bottles of water. O.P. Jaisha fainted after the Women’s 42km marathon in the Rio Olympics. Why? Because a country that sent a couple dozen officials in Business Class flights to display their ugly faces at the Olympics couldn’t afford to put a few water bottles at their stands every 2km. How much would that cost? Let’s say she needs a can of Red Bull (I honestly don’t know what they drink, but I’m taking a random overpriced energy drink here) and a bottle of water at each pit stop; that’d amount to around 140 INR. Let’s say there are 20 pit stops she could take refreshments from, that’ll amount to 2800 INR. I have seen ladies here spending 10,000 INR on something they wear once and throw away. 2800 INR is what a middle class Indian would pay for a watch from Flipkart, a pair of Vincent Chase frames from Lenskart or a pair of sneakers from Amazon. Excuse us for thinking that India can afford to buy their athletes water. WATER! It’s not as if they treat them with any dignity or respect once the atheletes are back on home turf. It’s common knowledge that all the major league teams in India, be it of any sport, are all made up of half-assed players who are there only because their uncle/second cousin/brother-in-law/some distant relative has political connections and wants them to get a sports scholarship to go and study abroad; “Beta INGLAAND mein padte hein” (He studies in England). Me and my friends personally know exceptionally talented sportsmen who were rejected by government sports organisations because they lacked the necessary political connections, the money or the corrupt mindset expected of any Indian in any government position. Dipa Karmakar trained on a vault assembled from parts of an old scooter. But c’mon, if we can’t even afford water for one person then forget gym equipment, that’s just asking for too much isn’t it? *Looks around at all the loaded businessmen and millionaire politicians*; yup, we’re just too poor.

Dipa’s coach has told us of the conspiracies, so have thousands of Indian athletes and their coaches, all of which only come to surface every four years at this time of year; for 15 days, people care, or at least talk about the issue. Then it’s back to forgetting that sports exist, back to googling the best entrance coaching class for your kid who’s obviously meant to sit on his ass and code all day, working for a pittance for some American corporation that’ll suck his soul out but he’ll be too busy to notice because he’ll be living the American Dream in Silicon Valley. Let’s face it, sports? Seriously? Why that when you can live a comfortable life, have a 9 to 5 job, a gold digging wife and 5 brats (because obviously 1.3 billion Indians aren’t enough). We have people with brains to work out highly complex algorithms and build technologies for other nations but when it comes to putting a bottle of water on a table so that our fellow countryman won’t have to finish the race on the verge of death, we’re stumped.
I’m sorry O.P. Jaisha, about the water. I’m as much a part of the problem as are the other 1 billion or so people who claim to support you but have never actually done anything about it. I’m sorry Dipa, for not having thought of crowdfunding quality gym equipment for talented people like you, because we all know the government would never bother. I’m sorry to all the athletes and sportsmen who go through so much, get hurt and beaten to the ground by their own country and yet still brave everything to represent it. I would never have the strength to do what you do. Thank you for teaching us a poignant lesson. Seeing how we treat you, even 2 medals are more than enough.

Drowning

I’ve become another object spewing and absorbing facts in the Internet of Things, big data replacing big macs, colossal volumes of 1s and 0s orchestrated with precision to form images with no meaning, sounds with no soul, stories with no heart; I’m surrounded by facts and figures, my mind rolled up in a giant infinite newspaper of sorts without the smell of freshly pressed recycled paper or the lingering grayish color on my fingers to look forward to. I want to sudo erase, enter, breathe and then think without needing a cyberoam portal to be my walking stick in this maze of information. I don’t want to be able to write research papers on the ocean and the atmosphere without having to step outside of my cloistered, too brightly lit room that’s chained to the internet.

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Stained Mind Strained Heart

I get it, you need your space; I’ll give you voids like the ones in my heart that you haven’t quite filled. I don’t think you ever will.

I get it, you need silence; I’ll reciprocate yours because blabber doesn’t count as actual talk.

I get it, you need distance; I hope the thousand miles we put between us are enough. I’ll stop trying to meet you because I know you wouldn’t try so why should I.

I get it, you need me to trust; I’ll give you the unwavering faith that you think you’ve earned. Maybe one day you actually will.

I get it, you don’t need me. I’ll drift away across the rivers and the roads, place a few voids along another thousand miles, another wall of silence and a veil of distrust between us.

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I’m emotionally attached to my calculator.

I’ve forgotten how much I paid for it but I guess it was around $20 because I remember asking my mother for $30; I wanted extra pocket money to have donuts for the rest of the week. Who knew I’d become so attached to this tiny gray computing beast? It saw me through everything, from Singapore to Kerala to Guajarat; even Malaysia and Australia scattered intermittently. It must have chuckled wisely at my struggle to understand exponentials for it had been born with the knowledge of e; felt amused at all those lame jokes I’d crack about Mdm ‘wobbly’ Yeoh, our oversized Lit teacher in Secondary one, shook its head in disapproval at our hooliganism, watched over me and Nadiah; her calculator and mine were probably best friends too till the friendship was painfully cut short. I’d forget to take it out of my bag on Saturdays, on my way to Benedemeer Primary with KitKat, Vicky, Nish and Yana (not their real names).
It’s seen me hop from one crush to the other, my teenage hormones cooking up childish thoughts of High School Musical-esque romances with every cute guy in class. It’s witnessed the change of my piano teacher, from the young, pretty and airheaded Ms Jolynne to the middle-aged-but-so-worn-out-she-looks-fifty Ms Wong. It’s heard my Kingsburg, the Steinway and Sons at Ms Wong’s place and my Kawai. It’s heard me fight with my mom when I didn’t want to practice or when I couldn’t drag myself to Ms Wong’s class because I knew she’d pick on how my wrists would lift up when I played the scales (‘like an octopus!’) and on how emotionless my Sonatas felt (‘feeel the song in your veins!’). It’s heard me fumble through Mendelssohn and Chopin, heard me play Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum a thousand times because it was the fastest piece I knew and I’d show it off to my friends. It’s seen me flit through malls, through shops like Popular and MiniToons, Roxy and Ripcurl, fawning over cute and even cuter stationery pouches to house it in, from kawaii Japanese ones to oversized branded ones.
It had a break of around four years when we migrated to Kerala. It’s watched me go through a kind of hell that I didn’t know existed. Then Surat; college began and it was working on a daily basis, enduring my fingers constantly punching and probing, questioning and commanding it. It’s seen the highs and the lows, literally and figuratively. It’s seen my every effort,waited patiently in my Smiggle pouch everytime I tried, failed and cried. Vacations, birthdays, it was always there. Its final trip was in my suitcase to Goa; at least it died in a happy place. I was unaware of its passing till I came back to college, when I took it out one day, a quantum mechanics problem requiring its talents. It was unresponsive. I took it to the watch shop across the road to get the battery replaced. The amazing thing about my calculator was that I’d never once in eight long years replaced it battery, a 1.5V AAA that served me loyally till its last breath. The cause of death was internal bleeding; the heart (battery) had lost too much blood, which had then spilled over to the organs (circuitry). Although we cleaned out the inside and tried a heart transplant, it was clear that it was beyond all points of recovery. Here is the apology it deserves:

To my calci,
You’ve been a great friend, one of the best companions I’ve had. I’ve taken your patience and your silent demeanour for granted way too long. It took me your death to realize how awesome you were. I won’t insult your memory by replacing your place with one of those cheap models like the fx-82MS with no natural textbook display. I’m planning to get the fx-991ES plus. It displays the way you do, its body is more sophisticated, one of your pedigree. I’m sure you’d approve of it being part of your lineage. The loss of my phones have never saddened me this deeply, though they held images, videos, music and messages that were of sentimental value. You stored nothing but calculus functions and the value of the constants I’d saved in you. I hope you are happy wherever you are. Your intelligence and your hardwork and your calculative nature will always be remembered.
With love
-your mathematically inadept owner

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Serendipity

In the darkness
I did not lose my way
fewer lights to follow
but I lost myself

Could it be serendipity
that brought the rain,
walked me to your door
red bricks yellow lights

Soaking shivering cold
inside was another dimension
the smells so voluptous
the warmth so embracing

In the light
I did not find my way
surrounded by reality
I found myself

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Panjim