[ Asok Pillai ]
My elder brother and I reunited after 15 years of estrangement, at our father’s funeral, on 9 December, 2021. Together we lit our late father’s pyre, circling it clockwise, our heads tonsured, except for the ‘choti’ my brother had, and I keep my head shaved anyway.
(I’ll write about my father, but there’s a different time and place for that.)
These days we catch up on each other on the phone quite often, my brother and I. He lives in our house in a village in Assam, not too far from Bhalukpong.
We talk about a lot of things, and we talk about a lot of people. We know who from where by now, and together we’re stronger. It is something I am grateful to god for.
Speaking of god, I am a Hindu by birth, but I don’t worship any particular god. All I see is a blue sky in my mind’s eye when I think of god. Nevertheless, I am convinced that the universe – thinks; that there is such a thing as karma, and perhaps character is destiny. Time shall reveal all the patterns.
People worship idols and photographs and holy books, but not me. I don’t see but feel god (blue sky) when I pray to god to make it all come true this time, for god’s own sake, if not mine.
Please be fair enough to give me my fistful of glory because you have already punished me far worse than I deserved for my sins – that’s what I say to god.
I need a miracle. Make it happen.
-And then I awoke, bleary-eyed, my brows knit, turned and reached for my mobile phone.
It was 7:54 in the morning. Another Wednesday, all to myself.
On Wednesdays I switch off from journalism and concentrate on the television, preferably watching a live cricket match. Or I might take a long afternoon nap, whatever I want to do.
Even so, I have my dinner and ‘go to bed’ by 8 pm on Wednesdays, because that way I have more time to write.
There are occasions when my mind freezes over when I shift gear, because the day’s work has sapped my energy and I’m too tired to think. But what can one do? I am the kind of guy who thinks that if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. Otherwise, what’s the point?
So, there is this tension of opposites – the aforesaid mind-freeze – that I experience while writing fiction, which is another thing I have been dabbling in for a long time.
I’m still in the planning stage of a long-term plan. Having kind of figured out the way god operates, I’m guessing there’s no point even making plans, because it doesn’t matter what I want.
Therefore, I pray to god but I don’t beg for anything.
I demand redemption.
I have gone vegan, following my father’s demise. I have no interest in meat, fish, or eggs anymore. Therefore I refrained from passing any comment on social media about the whole ‘beef’ affair that had rocked the ICR in July. I remained silent because it’s none of my business anymore.
I was a major beef eater once, but I had to quit it because of high blood pressure and a heart condition. I’m still unsure whether my veganism is permanent or just a phase. But I’m taking it seriously.
Not that even vegetables are safe these days, I’m told. I have no concrete evidence of this myself, but a friend of mine told me that he once passed by a vegetable field in a certain part of West Kameng district, and was overwhelmed by the smell of pesticide, vermicide, weedicide, fungicide and all the cides that had been mixed, stirred and poured wholesale over the crops. If you are eating such vegetables, you are basically poisoning yourself.
Then again, there are so many other ways to die.
What amazes me is, even as I write, some kid my son’s age has died just now somewhere in the world, and I – a bald middle-aged loner with no claim to fame – am still alive. Surely there’s a reason for it?
Actually, there had better be a reason for it because right now I have no idea as to how I am serving god’s or my own interests. In other words, what’s next, dear blue sky?