The Despised Heaven

Oh dear lord, spare me from this misery,

For all the miseries you have put me through

Seems paltry before this affliction

I find no strength in any Holy Scripture or rosary.

 

My life seeks no more, all my hopes are far gone

The poison of revenge is seeping through my veins

But faith in God  is all that remains

This world pleases me no more,

This world has nothing to offer me anymore.

 

This despised war for power and supremacy

Has taken away enough lives and souls

Has pitted brother against brother,

Has burned this heaven into ashes,

And all this for – Salvation, killing one’s own

For a spot next to the Lord – funny or foolish you may call

A joke indeed, a joke of the lives of people, a joke of a faith

People around here are not people anymore but mere wraith

 

The nights I slaved, the seas I braved, the life I craved

All has come to this very moment, washed up

He lay as innocent as he ever was, waiting to be woken up

But only to wake up somewhere else away from us.

 

Oh dear lord, as I hold the cold lifeless body of my child

In your holy shrine, show me your kingdom

Show me the kingdom you said that you built here

Show me the love you speaketh of, show me the compassion you believe in

For all I see around me is hate, anger, greed and lust.

For all I see around me is fire, blood and tears

For all I see around me is not love or hope

But evil seeds of revenge and angst.

Oh dear lord spare me from this misery.

Spare me from this despised heaven.

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Mera Bharat Mahan – Incredible India. Part 2

Succumbing to the pressure put by the media and opposition, the government took actions. A 3 member investigation team was appointed to investigate this case and I was to assist them. With them came 3 luxury cars just to get them from their air conditioned hotel rooms in the city to my town 30 miles away.

It’s been weeks already, the suspect would have cleared the international borders if possible. The next one month was a complete circus show in the name of investigation. The 3 investigators struggled to get the case somewhere. No witnesses, no clues and no idea what to do. Numerous people were interrogated in an attempt to find a witness, all of which failed miserably.

One night as I lay in my bed tossing and turning, a knock landed on my quarter’s door. I wasn’t sure if it was a knock or something else. It was one single uncertain knock. Although with a little fear I opened the door just to find a piece of folded paper. It said

“Find the culprit soon or pay the price with your life. Life for another life. We shall take yours.”

A cold shiver ran through my spines. My head whirled. When I regained my senses I turned around to grab my belongings and leave the place for good and explain later. While stuffing things into my bag a photograph fell. It was my family. They all stood there with all smiles and grins. I looked at my sister, what would have I expected from the Police if something dreadful like this were to happen to her and I revisited my oath “ I shall devote my life to my society…”

The next day I was informed that the investigation team will be gone for few days. But I wasn’t going to let it affect me. As a part of daily routine I went to meet the mother to furnish her with the details of the case as ordered by my superior. For the first time I saw her without tears in her eyes. I stood in front of her as she looked at me. The stare was different that day. It was not the usual helpless stare. I saw anger and frustration in her eyes. There was fire in her eyes and I was consumed by that fire. I did not utter a word. I simply turned and walked to my vehicle and during those couple of minutes all I could think was how I had failed my society and how I ended up being a part of this rotten system.

With new energy, I started the case afresh. I pulled out all the files and reports relating to the case. As I read the reports I came across many things and then it rose upon me that the entire world is a sham.

“She wasn’t a genuine girl. She always used to come and go at odd hours. My son has seen her roam around with some boy in the town. This is how such girls shall end.” this was a statement given by one of her neighbors and also one of the torchbearers of a protest staged by a local resident association demanding justice. The reports were a clear proof that the team including myself has never shown any sincerity during the investigation. There were many areas that we had completely ignored and I decided to start dusting it up one by one.

3 days had gone by and I waiting for some finger prints reports from the forensic lab when the special investigation team comes back with a suspect. Some laborer lad whose name had neither been mentioned in the reports nor have I seen this person anywhere close to my jurisdiction.

I was shocked and infuriated. This was highly unethical and had gone way too much. Justice is being denied for her soul, for her mother. I along with my reports met the investigation team only to be laughed off.

Announcements were made, and in a short while our smart brilliant investigators were seated in front of mic in a room filled with press personnel. Questions and praises were showered which was met by brilliant answers and humble acceptance. I stood near the sideline and watched these people making a mockery out of the entire legal system.


I could have gone ahead with my investigation and maybe even ended up nabbing the real brat but these monsters wouldn’t ever let the truth destroy their image and reliability. They would trample me under their bureaucrat boots and crush me with ease. I could have used my freedom of speech and could have come out with the truth using the media but isn’t the entire world a sham. Later I came to know from one of the guys in the top that the laborer lad was the government’s idea to put all this to sleep. Elections are round the corner isn’t it. I decided to let it all go but every night when I try to sleep, I see her helpless eyes staring into the space, those eyes which I saw that night as she lay unconscious on the road with half of her clothes torn and drenched in her own blood. The person who brought this misery to her must be watching all this and thanking his lucky stars.

I saw the mother for one more time, she did not see me, but I saw her well enough to see the same fire in her eyes. It hadn’t died and it wasn’t going to die until true justice was served.

As the curtain falls for this entire drama, everyone is going to go home happy except me. I am still burning in that mother’s fire and I want to liberate myself from it. I believe that I too am responsible for all this that has happened. Our society is just a blame game where no one is ready to take up the responsibility. The blame keeps on shifting from person to person until it falls upon someone incapable of responding. Hence in all such cases the blame falls upon the helpless victim fallen prey to brutal acts.

Like I mentioned earlier, in order to liberate myself from my guilt and due to lack of interest in being a part of this rotten system, Sir, I would like to put forward my resignation as the Sub-inspector of Police for your acceptance.

I believe that you shall take this matter into consideration with all importance and seriousness required.

Thanking you,

Yours faithfully

….

Mera Bharat Mahan – Incredible India. Part 1

I looked at her sitting there anxiously, her eyes filled with hope and mouthing prayers. I cursed all my superiors for having given me the responsibility to break the dreaded news to her.
The silence in the scarcely lit hallway was broken as the sound of my boots echoed. The news hasn’t been out yet. Not long before the press bombard this hospital with their insensitive questions and their demonic thirst for capturing the most out of this mother’s grief like a pack of wolves waiting to rip apart the helpless prey.

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As soon as I neared her she jumped on her feet. I don’t know if it was the expression on my face or was it because I had my cap in my hand, she read the unfortunate news I was there to deliver, even without me having to utter a single word. She dropped the phone and pair of spectacles that she had clutched onto until that moment. She fell onto the chair sending a loud noise across the hallway.  All I could do was place my arms around her as I would have done to my mother if she was under such pain ( I pray with all my might that my mother never comes across such pain). I could not find words that would even suffice as mere consolation.
As a son of an average factory foreman I have never had big dreams unlike my father. He dreamt a lot about me, but that dream did not have luxury cars or a glass cabin office or I in a high end suit, all it had was me in Indian Army uniform. It was on my 4th birthday my father announces that we were leaving for Sri Lanka soon. My father’s factory was opening a new factory there and he was required to go there. Like any other middle class Indian family, the family follows where the father goes. We stayed in Sri Lanka until my father retired. I had just completed my graduation when I returned to India. A young man filled with determination to turn out to be something in life. But in a desperate attempt to be a good son to my father, even though I had to overcome all the facts and numbers and reasons my heart had placed in front of me and my mother’s tears, I signed up for the army selection

Fortunately or unfortunately owing to some eyesight complications the Indian Army declared that I was physically unfit to join. My father was shattered. I remember the disappointment in my father’s eyes. And he knew it wasn’t my fault and there was nothing we could do about it. Until that day all I wanted was to do something for myself and my family. But that day changed me, that day I decided to devote my life to my society. The next few months was rigorous mental and physical training to crack the Sub-inspector of Police test. The results were out and all my hard work was fruitful.

Within couple of hours police forces were summoned to control the public and media gathering outside the hospital. Reporters were already there with their paraphernalia like Queen’s noble knights up for a merciless battle. They were on their toes leaning against the barricade with their tags around their necks waving bunch of papers screaming at everyone on the other side. Following the reporters came my superiors, Superintendent of Police, Director General of Police and list goes on. On the first signs of dawn the leaders started pouring in, both the ruling and the opposition. I was out helping my force maintain the cordon. It was then I was called up by the opposition leader. Although as per the protocol it was not necessary for a civil servant to present himself before the leader of the opposition when summoned but I decided to show up respecting his age and experience. He was seated in a special guest room. He sat in a cushioned seat surrounded by few of my superiors and many of his followers. There were vague murmurs until I stepped in. I grabbed everyone’s attention quite soon. Among all those stares I caught the leader’s stare. My stomach turned, my lungs felt heavy, there was a lump in my throat and sweat beads rolled down by my eyebrow. I struggled to maintain my composure. I stood upright and asked him if there was something that I could do.“Yes, you could have. You could have saved that life!” he said rather dramatically pointing at the ICU where the body was still kept. Nothing in me except the rolling beads of sweat moved. “How do you explain this Mr. Inspector?” I badly wanted to let him know that he did not have the authority to talk to me in that tone but I kept my manners intact. “Sir, it occurred at late night in a deserted area. We reached the spot as soon as we got the information and took the necessary steps to get her adequate medical attention. We have also taken a case…” before I could finish a young leader shot at me “Against whom?”. His voice roared and everyone for a moment looked a little shocked but came back to normalcy when they figured that their leader was fine with the youth’s action. “Sir, the investigation is ongoing. We have already passed the information to all nearby police stations. We are also questioning the nearby residents for any sort of witnesses.”

“Same old song huh Sub-inspector?” the leader spat with complete disgust.

Soon like an angel, a man entered the room and whispered something into the leader’s ears. He shook his head in complete inference. He slowly got up and everyone in the room followed him. He stopped in front of me, looked right into my eyes and in his deep hoarse voice he said “I shall take your case some other day.” The entire opposition squad left and I still stood there frozen.

It was Christmas for the Media. News cable networks conducted debates, open discussions with an expert panel of sociologists and psychologists. Newspapers printed whole two sheets for this wretched incident. The entire nation fumed in anger, soon protests were staged. Political parties, their youth wings, non-political organizations, neighborhood organizations who ever wanted to be famous came out on the streets with placards and banners. I just couldn’t digest the fact that all this commotion due to something that happened in my jurisdiction. Some place people didn’t even know that existed few weeks ago.

As the media and opposition joined hands in putting immense pressure on the government, we were the ones who bore the brunt of it.

Me and my superiors were constantly summoned and harassed by the concerned authorities and elected representatives for the next few weeks. In one entire month that I have been in service in this station never have I ever thought for once that I would have to deal with such a heinous crime. Yes, it is my shortcoming that I couldn’t stop it from happening but with 5 police officials and one rusty decades old Police vehicle there was only little that I could have done.

Rain

He frowned and stared down into the city. The newspaper crumbled under his clutch. The report said “Rather cloudy across the region with heavy, showery rains.” The clouds got darker as they stood right above the busy city. He hated when it rained, the entire city would turn upside down. The roads got filled up and the city got dirty. His brand new BMW would get all dirty.

This came in the worst possible time for him, he had a high profile meeting today and he had to be impressive. The thought of his ARMANI suit getting wet made him frown even more. He immediately rang up his secretary and ordered her to ensure that the security was out with an umbrella waiting for him. He dressed up and slid into his BMW grumbling. Just as he had expected the roads were filled up, and the traffic was just intolerable. ‘The only thing makes the city look like one is the tall buildings and the pretty cars in the traffic but apart from these, this place is like a wretched village.’ he thought aloud. He sat there right in between honking cars all around and all he could do was curse the rain.

Quite far from him, in a deserted backward village a 9 year old girl ran with joy and happiness. She couldn’t wait to tell this to her mother, she knew it would make her happy. Her baby brother was playing with stones right outside their tiny house. Their house had only one room which was divided by a small piece of old cloth. The other side of the cloth was the kitchen. She dashed into the kitchen where her mother was cooking something with her baby sister on her hands. “Maa, it is going to rain!! There are dark clouds all over the village! It is going to rain!” she screamed with excitement as she held onto her mother. But without even the slightest sign of happiness she said “Where is your brother? Go and get him!” She left the kitchen with her head hung down in despair. She was confused, she had heard her pray to God a million times to bless her with a shower. Deep inside the lady’s heart, she was jumping with happiness and joy just like her daughter was a while ago.

She took the broom and all other cleaning paraphernalia and set out to work. She wasn’t a sweeper, she would have been more than happy if she was a sweeper. She was in charge of cleaning the ‘dry’ toilets of many houses in the village. The village people did not have normal toilets that functioned with a flush instead they have dry toilets and these had to be cleaned every day. This was her job, not because she chose to do it but she was ‘supposed’ to do it. She belonged to the caste who traditionally have been doing this odd job from ages, just because they are considered the lowest in the caste system. This job was hereditary. She is, what we call them in the city, a manual scavenger.

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Her daughter was right, the clouds burst and it started to shower profusely. Her heart was filled with contentment. For her rain meant purification, for her rain was a boon, a gift of God, sometimes rain itself is the God for her. She walked in the rain enjoying every single drop of it. Completely drenched in the rain, she reached the houses where half of her job had already been done by the rain. Without much complains and protests she went on to do her job with a smile in her face.

Manual Scavenging is a grievous job still existing in many parts India including cities and backward villages. In the cities, men are tied and roped down into sewage to clean them up. Many have lost their lives due to suffocation while doing this dreadful job. In the villages, dry toilets still continues to prevail over flush toilets and people of the lower caste are forced to take up the job of cleaning these toilets.

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The people from this caste are not given any other jobs in the village other than this. They are seen as untouchables. They have to get their own glasses to drink tea from any tea stall in the village. They are not permitted entry to any of the temples. Not even haircuts are given to them in any of the saloons in the village. We are not talking about pre-independence India here, it’s the 21st century India. All though the constitution of the country have set rules against such acts, the governments who have been in rule have failed to ensure strict implementation of the same. It is very disturbing to know that human beings are forced to do such odd jobs only because of the villagers are being ignorant to sanitary advancements.

 

Empty space.

The parathwala was done for the day and was cleaning up the place just before he shut it. He sat in the bus stop watching him clean up. The silence around filled his empty heart.  The memories of that place killed him quicker than the cigarette he was smoking. The thought of a life without her presence weakened his soul. He stared into the sky and blew the smoke out. As the dark smoke cleared up, he caught the moon staring at him. He smiled at it thinking about a story he would always tell her.

It was a full moon night, so were many nights when he was with her. They would always look at it together. Today he sat there staring at it alone. Unknowingly he reached out for her hands but all he found was an empty space beside him.

Moon fell in love with our Earth. Of course you can’t blame the moon, Earth was unique. There might be queens and princesses but Moon liked Earth the most because Earth wasn’t like everyone else. There was something about Earth that always attracted the Moon. Earth became the centre of Moon’s life. But as fate has it, they were meant to be apart forever. So, all Moon can do is watch Earth from far and dream that one day a miracle would happen and they would get to be together. But that won’t be the end of Moon’s miseries, there will come the Sun and the beautiful Earth will shine in the Sun’s brightness. The same brightness that will shadow the Moon. But the moon will never give up, every night moon would come out and admire the beauty of the earth. When he was done, she would laugh at him and he would fall in love with her all over again.

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He never knew that it would be the last time he will be seeing her. Every night before he went to sleep a tiny part of him hoped that maybe tomorrow he would be able to see her again but it never happened. And now he has run out of time, and still she never returned.

Far away, she sat next to her window staring at the full moon, smiling about the story he always used to tell her and she reached out for his hands but all she found was empty space beside her.

Drowning yourself away…

The eight year old wept looking at his father’s disfigured body wrapped in whites. His father was his hero, but lately it all went wrong for him. He still hasn’t figured out what had happened to his family. For the past several weeks no one has laughed or even smiled in his family. The nights haven’t been peaceful like before. His house wasn’t the best place he knew anymore. It was screams and cries that had replaced the laughter; the nights were dreaded and his house was shadowed by pain and fear. He just stood there with watering eyes not knowing what to do and not realizing what was up for him next.

She screamed and cried in agony. The pain was excruciating and her world was collapsing around her. The soil beneath her was swept away by a wave of unfortunate play of fate. All the tears that she had shed for him weren’t just enough. Now he had presented her with something that she can cry on for the rest of her life. The hands in her shoulders failed to console her, the soothing words that flowed from everywhere did not even reach her ears. All she could think of the memories with him. The good times and the hard times. Somewhere she found herself responsible for what happened to him. And yet all she could do is scream and cry beside him.

She held her small weeping brother, with wet eyes she looked at her mother in deep pain and agony. She knew things were bad for them but she didn’t see this was to happen. Her father was strong, wasn’t he? He had tried this before and it was she who saved him. How could he leave them? How could he take such a decision so fast? Somewhere she also found herself responsible for this. She looked at her father and cried.

“He did it, brother. He left us.” the man heard this from the other end of the line. He sat there with a shattered heart. The man who tried to save him from the clutches of the wicked countryside spirits. The man who took him beyond the seas to an entire new world. The man who helped him built a new dream and restore faith in himself.

A call from him the day before played in her mind. He had thanked her and her family for trying to provide him with a new life. He thanked them for being there for him. And he even said goodbye to them all.

Years back he joined a company overseas and over the years he moved on ahead. He left for a better company, and life just seemed so beautiful. Decent money was pouring in and family back home was just happy. But one tiny bit of him was rotten. His love for alcohol. Alcohol was the villain in his story. The villain who successfully wrote a tragic end to his story. The story which could have been bright and inspirational. The story where he was with his wife and his sweet little kids.

Over sometime alcohol took complete control of him. No one knows why or where it all began. But everyone gathered there has very well realised that it has ended. He did try to come back to his life. He took efforts, he took baby steps towards sobriety, rehabilitation and medicines. But it all failed. Alcohol was just too strong for his mind. The magical poison just wouldn’t leave him of its hold. His actions were dictated by alcohol. He was slowly losing himself. Every morning he woke up with guilt and as the day went by he would again start craving for it to drown his fears and worries. His mind left from his control. He hit his wife, and even almost killed her. His children feared him. They left him and wouldn’t come back. Everyone looked at him with disgust and hopelessness. He might have found no reason to live anymore. He had burnt his own world and he has nowhere to go now. The only place that he thought would end all his woes and sorrows was the railway track. One early morning waking up with extreme guilt and hopelessness he decided to wrap it once for all. Leaving behind the two small children and a grief stricken wife, he left the world in a rather cruel and cold manner. He did not just kill himself but he killed the wife’s hope and faith on him, he killed the little child’s belief that his father is a hero, he killed his daughter’s hopes of a better world and good times ahead.

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Alcohol could drown your pains or could induce happiness in you but we all must realize that all what alcohol gives is short lived except for our actions and words influenced by it. The moment you let alcohol take control of your life, is the moment your downfall begins. Alcoholism not only takes your life but takes lives of those dependent on you.

The wall that fate built.

# A high end luxurious car pulls by. It shines brightly like a ball hung on a Christmas tree. A chubby little boy steps out engrossed in swiping profusely on his phone while he took a big gulp from the can. The man in white and white shuts the door and follows the boy to the mall. She looks at him with dreamy eyes. She wipes off the sweat, carries her small sister and goes back to selling balloons. Little had she known that the fate had already built a wall for her!

#She watched them hug and kiss passionately. Their faces filled with emotions. He was back from war. She waited patiently for her turn. She could hug and kiss but she knew that she wouldn’t get any of those back. She watched them bring her husband in a box with the flag. She held her daughter tight and fought her tears. She knew she had to be stronger than the wall that the fate had built.

#He hugged her tight, close to his heart, for one last time. Anger and love. All the love for his daughter and all the anger for that god damn psycho who shot her down as she sat helplessly in her classroom. He lived rest of his life in suffocation within the wall. Suffocated by the anger, love and helplessness.

#He had gone to office that morning kissing her. She sat there staring at the coffin not knowing whom to curse – the fire or the fate. For the first time she questioned her dad’s decision to be a fire-fighter. For the first time she wished he wasn’t one. For the first time she saw the dreaded wall.

#Every morning he woke up early just to get his hands on the first copy of the newspaper. Just to be the first one to know that the missing aircraft was found and all its passengers were safe. Just to be the first one to know that his mother was alive. But his strength wasn’t strong enough to break the wretched wall.

#He looked at her and she faked a smile. They waved each other goodbye and logged off. It’s been a while since she had gone. She was stuck in a faraway land and was waiting to get back to him. He was waiting to hold her in his arms again. But both of them knew they were never going to meet again because they know the wall had already been built.

Fate is really a funny thing. Some say “There is nothing called fate as such! We make our fate!” but I certainly believe in it. It exists and it’s dreadful (not always). All along our life fate builds such walls stopping us from moving ahead. So what shall we do when we meet such walls? We gather all our strength, have some faith in ourselves and try to break the wall. And that is the only way to move on in your life.
“Fate is never fair. You are caught in a current much stronger than you are; struggle against it and you’ll drown not just yourself but those who try to save you. Swim with it and you’ll survive.”
Cassandra Clare, City of Ashes.