Friday, June 22, 2018

Metamorphosis

One morning I dreamt that I had become a leopard.

Nothing surprising in it, as such, because it happened a few days after I read Kafka's Metamorphosis. The fact that Kafka imagined himself as an insect and I, as a leopard, must speak volumes about where we see ourselves. Not just any leopard, mind you, a man-eating kind, no less. I have no idea where that came from. (No doubt thanks to Corbett's Man-eaters of Kumaon, except that those were tigers.) Surely dream analysts would go berserk trying to decipher that one. I see a lot of fingers pointed at my ego.

As is usual in dreams, I could see myself - the leopard - from the outside as though my mind (in any case, my eyes) were suspended in the air. As though the dream were a video game where I had chosen my character as a leopard - I could see it as well as control it.

I watch myself prowling around the room. Round and round. Here and there. From this corner to that. The room has two doors and a window. One opens out to the balcony and the other to the rest of the house.

I'm restless.

I'm confined. Yet I am free. The doors are open. I don't go out. I go to their edge and peer out. I take in nature through my senses. From a distance.

A man-eater. Could be dangerous if let out.

My mind roams the jungles of my past. An ancient memory of unrestrained freedom. A fading image.

No one has imprisoned me, though.

I have confined myself.

I'm comfortable. I have everything I need. Even freedom in limited quantities. A cage, with an outlet. Breathing space. Walking space. Sighing space.

The leopard is a human, restricted by her own mind.

Prowling the wilderness of my dreams.


Sunday, June 3, 2018

My book of stories - now in Paperback!

Shadows of the Past and other stories
A wise person once said, "Coincidences do happen, that's why they have a name."
Sometimes these coincidences stop us on our tracks and make us wonder, “Was that really just a coincidence – or did the hand of Destiny strike ever so gently?” We call them ‘eerie’ or ‘uncanny’, or ‘miracles’ or ‘stroke of luck’ or ‘fate’.

Shadows of the Past” takes you to the crossroads where coincidence meets luck, miracle meets destiny, on the thin line between the strange and the eerie. Perhaps those incidents are mere coincidences, and there is nothing inexplicable about them.

I leave you to judge.


Reviews

"Engaging narrative. Author handles the plot well. Every story has a twist and keeps reader engrossed." - Pradeep on Amazon

"The stories were engaging, and the narration, simple. The eagerness to know what the twist might be keeps the pages turning." - Vinay Leo on Goodreads

"Really enjoyed reading the collection of short stories. My favorites being Rosa and awaiting August. The writing was simple to understand and pleasant." - Tejus on Amazon

"Each story manage to grip the reader and makes him want to read the rest. I liked the fact that no two story was similar, either in treatment or subject." - Anoop on Goodreads



What are you waiting for?? 

Purchase paperback edition from:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.in/Shadows-Past-Jeena-R-Papaadi/dp/9387649369/ (Also available from Amazon international stores)

Infibeam: https://www.infibeam.com/Books/shadows-past-jeena-r-papaadi/9789387649361.html

Flipkart: https://www.flipkart.com/shadows-of-the-past/p/itmf5jshqpyftw7x


If you are an ebook reader, you can find the book on Amazon Kindlehttps://www.amazon.in/Shadows-Past-Jeena-R-Papaadi-ebook/dp/B01L2JURE6/


Add the book to your shelves at Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40239056-shadows-of-the-past


Before you go...

... please remember to rate and review the book once you have read it, on the website where you purchased it from, as well as on Goodreads.


And while we're on the topic, check out my other books: https://www.amazon.in/Jeena-R.-Papaadi/e/B005HG4HMY/

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

I've given up being myself...

Where - and how - did I get lost?
Look, I tried to blend in.
I did not wish to, I fought my inner urge, but I did.
I did all that they wished me to. Well, almost.
Yet they caught on to the little things I missed.
And they remembered things from the past.
Things I wanted to forget.
And they dragged it all before me - I did not know how to react.
The stuff they did not drag - hung before our eyes, the elephant in the room.
I was not armed with details from their past. I never cared.
No, society isn't forgiving. They aren't kind.
They're mocking. They revel in it. They thrive in it. They rejoice in it.
And God, what long-lasting memory they have!
If you do not fit in, they tarnish you - with a smile.
Oh, that winning smile!
But I swallowed my discomfort.
I tried to smile and pretend it did not matter.
I even joked, for God's sake.
I had to go through this. It was only a matter of a few hours.
If they can survive, so can I.
But I didn't.
I did put up a good fight, but I lost.
It came out - my fury, a glimpse of it, in my eyes, in my impatient gesture.
In an unintentional slash of my words.
I took a deep breath and turned away.
This was not me. I could not do this.
And when my back was turned, they all trickled away. And I was left all alone, stunned.
Where had I gone wrong?
Why was it so much easier for them?
Later, much later, when it all came back in full force, I decided... I cannot be myself. It was a lost battle.
It was not worth while.
It was draining.
It was lonesome.
They were never going to give up. They will hound me for years. For as long as I live.
Better I put on a show than not. At least to give them less ammunition.
It was easier to give up and follow the rules. Even if it killed me or drove me insane.
It was possible to learn the ropes.
Then I would arm myself - with their past. Yes, I would play nasty.
It was easier to (pretend to) become one of them than try to be me.
Who cares, either way?

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Talker

He just loves to talk. That isn't the first impression you get of him, though. He may come across as funny or efficient or friendly or a variety of things. Talkative is probably the last thing to occur to you - it comes over a period of time. It clicks one fine morning not when he is talking to you, but when you watch him attack someone else. Just talking and talking and talking. Flick, swoosh, snip, destroy!

You tell yourself, he loves the sound of his own voice. Then you begin to realise it is not that simple. He enjoys the reaction he gets - naturally that's when people perform: before an admiring audience. Not before someone who doesn't give a hoot.

You react to the way he speaks - it isn't new, but it is still fresh. It is not unfamiliar but it is exciting. His choice of words promises an extensive knowledge of the language, over and above yours. His gestures talk almost as much as he does.

You nod eagerly, you listen carefully to the ring of his voice, you observe the flow of his hand and you widen your eyes.

Then one day the spell breaks. Words tumbling over, hands flitting left to right, taking shapes, no longer hold any charm. You go through the motions - being polite, nodding, smiling, rolling your eyes, that sort of thing. But all you hear is yak-yak-yak... the more polite you pretend to be, the more you wish to die. The next time you see him approach, you bury your head into your book, and dive into your own world.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Back to the Past

​I went back
To my past
To change my life,
To find you again,​​
To keep you close...

I returned
To the day I lost you
But I lost you anyway

The day I met you 
I tried to keep away
But I met you anyway

The days in between
To change our destiny
I changed everything

But no matter how I tried
No matter 
How many more times 
I returned to the past
Everything just 
Remained the same.

I found you 
And I lost you again 
A million times...

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Greek God, Wave Rider

He flew over the waves... up, over, down and up again. With a rough swerve, he came back down, then up, and down again to where he started.

Looking like a Greek God, I thought, though I have never come across one. If only he had long hair to blow against the wind - in slow motion. But his spikes refused to budge.

He was beautiful in his skill, gliding smooth, flirting with perfection.

Yet he did not seem happy. His eyes, piercing, pale blue, wore the tortured look of Daniel Radcliffe about to face Voldemort.

Perhaps his performance did not meet his standards. Perhaps it did, and he did not wish to express his glee. Perhaps he wasn't used to.

Perhaps... he was an introvert. When he first came in, he had given a gentle nod and the suggestion of a smile. No Hello.

When someone clapped at his perfect finish, his eyes softened, merely registering mild pleasure. He didn't whoop or grin. That's who he was. He wasn't covering up. He wasn't pretending. He was in his own world, battling his own demons.

I could tell he was an artist. Yes - that explains the discontent in his eyes; the look of being forever haunted. Forever miserable. Any measure of success is immediately replaced by the pain of the next quest.

When I left, I knew I would never see him again. Because that was how the world worked. So many of us, walking past, crossing paths, locking eyes, and forgetting the next instant. And sometimes, remembering that brief encounter for a lifetime.

Like the man who painted clouds. The world rushed past, hurrying home to roost, but we stood there, looking up, admiring the perfect monsoon skies, blue and white and grey and breathtaking, and shared the joy. A few stolen moments. Then we parted. Never to meet again.

Some joys in life come and go while we are the least prepared, and they leave behind a fragrance so rich, so intense that we hold on to it for a million years, in our journey past the floods, through the desert, into the wasteland.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Won or Lost

I set a deadline 

For myself.

I didn't meet it.

So I cheated

And made it look

As though I had.

No one else knew

Of my act 

Nor of my target.

So essentially

I set the goal,

I failed,

I cheated,

So I won.

Did I win or lose?


Thursday, March 15, 2018

The truth about telling lies

It is so very easy to tell lies. Try it. 

Children learn it at an early age. When they are little they blurt everything out, but at a certain age, they figure out that a lie might just save them a little punishment - if no one discovers it is a lie. 

A lot of complications ensue - a lie rescues them from immediate danger; but then the "truth will out" and cause damage. Is the lie to blame or is it the fault of the truth?

Then there are the adults. 

We, the adults, like to think that honesty is for weaklings. For kids. We are not bound by such little bonds. 

We can decide when to lie; when to be truthful. When to be partially truthful. 

Partial truths - they are the real saviours. What would we have done if the concept of half-truths did not exist! A little grey sprinkled over the black and the white. 

Lies that we pretend are to "protect the ones we love", what we call "harmless lies", "white lies"...

Lies to avoid confrontation. "If I speak about this, she is going to be mad. Let me keep it to myself."

"I never lied. I just did not tell you. That's all. That's not a lie. No, that's not. That is not. That is not."

"I did not tell you, because I didn't want you to worry." 

A lie demands another lie to justify its existence - a lie to vindicate another. 

A lie inspires a lie. "He is lying to me. Why should I tell him the truth, EVER?" 

"If I have nothing to lie about, let me create something. Just to get even."

"Next time, I will make it a point to NOT tell him what exactly happened."


A lie is a heavy burden to carry. A pile of lies is even heavier. So we find someone to unload the truth upon. Then the lie becomes dark and vile... because now you have lied to the person who matters, and revealed the truth to someone who doesn't.

Then you close your eyes and pretend that This is Life... 

Friday, February 23, 2018

When failure is success

On my tombstone
Let it be inscribed that
I tried.
Because I did.
To the very end.
That I failed
Does not matter.
Because it doesn't.
I followed
Where my whims led
And so I have
Found success.

Friday, February 9, 2018

She

​​​She co​​nfounds me. Strange, because she had seemed simple and straightforward when I first met her, all those years ago.

In fact, she was the first person to come forward when I stepped into the new environment. The others, with friendly smiles, stayed behind, promising themselves that they will make friends with me "in due course".

I accepted her, and was grateful for her companionship. When I saw others mock her, I realised there was more to her than I suspected.

I was right. And in the years that followed, I would see her, hear from her, and ​more often, ​hear ​​about her. Everyone was delighted to talk about her - because there was so much to laugh at. I confess I fell in with them too, for some years. Until one incident opened my eyes to who she really was.

​And as though a switch was flicked on, it ​became clear ​to me why she behaved as she did, where she stood right now, and what had brought her there.​ ​Some ​part ​of her attitude was ​deeply ​ingrained in her, some of it came from her upbringing, but most of it was thanks to the lack of support from the people around her.

After that, I could only feel a dull ache when I heard them speak of her, ​​hear​​tlessly​. I could do nothing without falling into their trap myself. Yes, I was - I am - too weak to speak out and support her. ​Perhaps one of these days...

She behave​s​ like a child often, laughing and talking and getting ​upset at little things. Then all of a sudden she bec​omes an adult, managing the house, juggling several things, taking care of herself as well as the others​ with an obsession that was mildly unsettling​.​ Sometimes she sulks, and I fear she knows what's going on, and I feel her depression.​

I don't think anyone spare​s a thought for her unless it ​i​s to ​spread nice, ​fresh, ​juicy gossip​ about her​. Which is probably why she chose to take up the most insane (​​seemingly) tasks, piling up her plate with things to do all day and night ​- ​to keep her​self​ from thinking and worrying. And she turned to God with a kind of ​zeal that was borderline alarming.​

For the longest time, I believed that she did not know she was being laughed at. She behaved well with the others, friendly, concerned, involved.​ If I were in her place, I would have withdrawn and put on an ice cold front​ ​to demonstrate my disapproval. ​​But she would go on and on, and ​I would ​wonder if she was putting on a show for our benefit, or she actually didn't know that her audience was gathering material to laugh the moment her back was turned.

​​The​ truth​ is clear to me now: ​​​she is each one of us.​ But a magnified, louder​, uncontained​ version. ​We know what she is, why she is, and what she endures. ​​Because we're there too: putting on a show, clutching at crazy ideas to keep ourselves alive, struggling to keep ourselves from falling into the abyss of loneliness and meaninglessness. We laugh because we find in her what we conceal in ourselves. She is all of us. We try to hide ​who we are. She doesn't. So we laugh at her. Mercilessly.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Finding Dreamland

The room is empty-ish. There aren't a lot of furniture; but there are people walking back and forth. I think it's my house - though I have never set my eyes on it before. We're on the top floor. Who are these people? I don't seem worried. I mean, I am me; but I am also an observer, outside. I don't exactly know what I am thinking. Or I have forgotten it upon waking. I think I see myself from outside. I am not sure. Is it a feeling? Or does it mean something? Being outside and inside at the same time?

James Franco strolls in from one end, as cool as you please (now where did he spring from? something I watched recently, no doubt) and says a line I have heard him deliver before, with that ever familiar crinkled-eyes smile. And then he's gone. People just talk and laugh like they never do in this side of life. There is no connection between anything. There was a sighting of an old heart throb. A fleeting image, but one that stayed.

I come down (or watch myself come down) the staircase and the building grows into a rocky valley with a waterfall nearby. Very green surroundings (yes, it isn't black and white). Right out of a painting. I am not surprised; no one else seems to be either. Everything seems natural; everything is real - the odd appearances and disappearances and transformations are nothing to be concerned about. Maybe the transformation was smooth; it is just that I remember it in jerks and jumps.

It didn't occur to me at that time, but days later, it comes to me: I used to know a house in the top floor where furniture was scarce, with a staircase outside. It never morphed into a waterfall, though. Not that I knew of.

I have gone to sleep in this world and woken up in a different world, like an avatar in Pandora, where everything is different, and science as we know it doesn't apply all the time. That's why there are no surprises. It is as expected. It's our entry to the alternate universe. Through the looking glass? We aren't back here. Only our shell is. We're over there. Light years away. Sometimes I wake up into a nightmare. Perfectly natural.

In fact, when I go to bed (here) in a few hours, I will wake up in that world and say to myself - What a weird dream! I was sitting at a table with something on my lap and punching it with my fingers and calling myself a writer (ha! ha!) Oh, there was a funny word - 'blog'. I guess I made it up myself. What a strange world, where waterfalls don't grow out of buildings and James Franco doesn't wander in from one end or vanish at the other...!

Which one of these is real?

I think I'm going nuts.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Prison

​I've built my prison
Brick by brick
Cutting off branches,
Burning bridges,
Turning a deaf ear,
Shutting my eyes.

A window I've left
For the sun and the wind;
I peer through the hole
At the sliver of the sky
Across which strolls
A slice of the moon.

The visitors thinned​.​
The calls diminished.
What right have I
To complain of ​fate:
I'd asked for this,
I got what I wished.

From their memories
I've now vanished.
From their lives
I've been erased.
I got what I asked
For I'd asked for this.


Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Restless Mind

Where does this restlessness stem from, and why does it not go away?

A constant state of discontent, the feeling of having left tasks undone, the shadow of a deadline over my head; no matter how much I run towards my goal, it continues to remain at an arm's length. One more step, just one more. Just one more thing to do before I can stop.

Why are we never satisfied? Never at peace?

What next? What next? The tiresome search, the incessant longing, the evolving ambitions.

Am I stuck here with no apparent escape, forever struggling to break free, torn between burning desires and fear of change? Every year I find something new, hoping that it is my deliverance. Every year it passes and I'm left behind. Hope – the damnedest thing!

Is it something to do with age, or the fact of, in all likelihood, being closer to the end than the beginning? The fear that time is running out, and will be gone before I can figure things out? Are we supposed to figure Life out at all?

Among the many things I dreamed of at different stages of life, even my so-called achievements lost their sheen soon enough, because new quests and hunger took their place. In spite of everything, are we expected to leave, feeling unsatisfied, incomplete, failed, at the end, because of that one unfinished task?

Why is it that every day the exasperating questions Where am I ? What am I doing? Why am I here? keep pounding inside, giving no peace? Will a person who has found her raison d'être be really content? Or will there be one final incomplete thing for her to be sorry about?

When will my search for the me-shaped hole in the universe be complete? And what if I never find it? And if I ever do get there, wherever there is, will I be satisfied? At peace? Or will I pry myself loose and go wandering again?