ARC

A little bit of everything


Month: July, 2005

Antithesis

In your eyes
I see the tears
Of a love struggling
To find a foothold
On the cold crags
Of my frozen feelings

These words flowed
Like fresh honey
These words purred
Like a snuggling cat
Once upon a time

Some things never change
My solitude
My melancholia
Partners in crime

Strewn
All around me
Are fragments of hope
Scarred and burnt

Eternal
My love
Fleeting
Your smile

                                                                        Perhaps
                                                                        I’m to blame
                                                                        But remember
                                                                        You are not clean
                                                                        You are not a saint
                                                                        Either

                                                                        Don’t waste
                                                                        Your breath
                                                                        Cursing me
                                                                        As you said
                                                                        I’m not worth it

                                                                        Go ahead
                                                                        Blame me
                                                                        For everything
                                                                        You were so good
                                                                        At that anyway

                                                                        Perhaps you forgot
                                                                        The heavy silence I got
                                                                        From you
                                                                        When I had opened
                                                                        My heart
                                                                        For you, twice?

                                                                        My silence
                                                                        Was not
                                                                        Of my own
                                                                        Making

                                                                        You
                                                                        Like many others
                                                                        Refused
                                                                        To cross
                                                                        The doorstep

Your words came
Like the sea
Drowning me
In questions of
What if?

And now the dreams
Can be burnt
In one big bonfire
As farewell signs

Sometime, somewhere
When someone whispers
Look around
It might be me

Somewhere
We will live
And dream
About a love
Left to dry out
In the harsh glare
Of our indifference

Silence
Reigns supreme
Gloating over
Our still-born dreams

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Indian Life Sciences

In its latest issue, the science journal Nature has produced a special Outlook section on the current state of science, and in particular life science research in India. The articles are uniformly well-written and objective with very little of the usual condescension shown by Western scientific establishments towards Indian science. Together, they give us an insight into how research is done in India and the many problems plaguing it. From a scientific culture which frowns upon independent thinking and instead rewards conformity and obedience to the lack of accountability and appropriate funding, from the lack of proper regulatory frameworks for critical areas like stem cell research and human clinical trials to the heart-warming stories of a handful of research institutes leading the way in life sciences the issues are many.

To name a few; India is still way behind in research spending as a percentage of GDP even when compared to other developing countries like China, Brazil or South Korea. Ayurveda is another crucial area where India is sitting on a goldmine of traditional medicine that could be a potential source for new drugs if only the traditional knowledge is subjected to rigorous scientific analysis. The education system also needs to be upgraded and revamped. The present emphasis on only the theoretical aspects of science should be changed and equal emphasis needs to be placed on the experimental aspects, which are what makes a good scientist in the long run. This is one crucial area, I feel, where science graduates from India in general are behind their Western counterparts. I am a product of the Indian scientific education and have experienced first-hand the deficiencies of the existing system. Most of the crucial experiments in Genetics and Molecular Biology were either demonstrated to us or worse only described. We rarely had hands-on experience over techniques which would be considered standard laboratory work elsewhere and this was in a central university where the standard is much much higher compared to state universities!

But do not despair yet. Things are slowly but surely moving ahead in the right direction. The success of independent research institutes like National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, National Centre for Cell Science, Pune and few others is reason enough to hope for more change. Scientists from these institutes regularly publish in high-impact, peer-reviewed international journals and their numbers are steadily increasing from year to year. Start-up biotech companies like Biocon, Avesthagen and established pharma companies like Dr. Reddy’s, and Ranbaxy are also growing in strength and stature. All that India needs now is good support and direction from the government in terms of funding, less bureaucratic hurdles, and last but not the least, for a critical mass of life-scientists to develop to give research the right push. This could usher in the next revolution, for after IT it might just be the turn of BT!

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Thesis

Dew drops
Line your lips
I lick them off
Tasting the smile
Underneath

—–

The rose blooms
In your eyes
And fills me
With the fragrance
Of your soft skin

——

I open
My mouth
And speak
Your name
Aloud
And
Hear my
Heart beat
Faster

—–

My fingers
Moving along
Your curves
Finding, feeling
Love’s many shapes

—–

The sun shines
In my eyes
And in the
Bright blankness
I see you looking
At me
With a slow smile
Forming a single dimple

—–

My eyes-
Mirrors of love
Swirling with
Fragments of you

—–

All the thrills of life
if distilled will not fill
my eyes with enough
tears to cry for a love
lost without you

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Dalit Blinded in Bihar

The state of lawlessness in Bihar seems to have no bounds when one reads this. I wonder if India needs nuclear weapons and a seat in the Security Council when some basic human rights of her citizens cannot be protected.

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A Strange Kiss

The night rolled away powered by our flights of fancy. We were outside the city on a small hill. The Zinian’s alu-boats could be seen far above us ferrying important members of their entourage for a night out in the glittering city that glowed behind our backs. I looked at her sitting by my side lost in contemplation of the crystal sand at her feet. I brushed away the dark hair falling into her eyes. She did not turn. I don’t think she even felt my fingers.

We had to come to a decision soon. For the thing between us would not be a secret for long. Most importantly, our actions would have grave repercussions that could and would concern a hundred planets in the multi-verse. It was not just about simple and pure love. It was also about big words like inter-life relations, space-culture dynamics and other arcane jargon.

She was still an enigma to me. From the time my eyes fell on her in Tulot’s hybrid party I’ve been fascinated by her inscrutable looks. She had the looks of a goddess but the face of a diplomat. We got talking soon. I did not find out her true nature until much later. But how does that matter? For the first time I found someone with whom I could discuss my inner dreams without that person secretly laughing at my naïve notions. Three thousand years of human development and still we hunger for the old basics; love, companionship and emotional bonding. She had a resolve and intelligence within her that could have propelled her to great fame in the known inti-verse. Strangely, she was not in the least bit interested in that. She was the exact opposite of me in that respect. As far back as I can remember I’ve wanted to be famous. I’ve always desired for people to talk about me, to recognize me from a distance as I walked down the virtual boulevards of Semperi City, or when I took a weekend break in the brilliant blue waters of Hintenia’s famous never-ending oceans. It was a hunger that had been driving me mad with frustration. But being with her soothed the raging fires of my twisted ambition. I had never felt more at peace with myself.

“Do you want to talk about it?�?, I asked her. She shook her head gently. I sighed silently. She had been difficult that way, refusing to discuss our situation, even though more than me she knew how difficult it would be for us once everything came out into the open. I let her drift back to wherever she had been mentally. I suddenly started. Perhaps she was consulting the RCI. She trusted that…that thing too much in spite of knowing that I did not like it. What would the RCI say? Would it agree to mediate on our behalf in front of the Global Bureau? I snorted at that. The RCI was notorious for its cunning, almost like a bio-human many said.

She got up suddenly and nodded at me. It was time to go back. I got up and brushed the sand off my clothes and looked at her. We stared at each other trying to divine our respective thoughts. Her eyes were wet with some deep emotion. Was I right? What had that hulking monster advised her? All of a sudden she pulled me to her and kissed me full on my mouth. A deep, deep metallic kiss. I could taste her cold tears in my mouth. Her lips melting and her tongue searching for mine with some desperation. Her hands gripping my head with a fierce determination. I had never been kissed like that before. She let me go as suddenly as she had pulled me. She turned towards the city and started walking without a backward glance. Confusion was stalking my thoughts and nothing seemed to make sense. Perhaps, there would be time for words later. I shrugged and set off after her.

Tell me can a man ever fall so utterly and madly in love with a robot?

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Electric Dreams

I celebrate life
In electric dreams

Jumping over elemental mountains
Swimming under DNA fountains

Serendipity beckons
With a nod
Of her electronic head

“Let us praise blind vision
Let us raise atomic fission�?

A procession
Of gods and demi-gods
Like broken lightning rods

In the dark
Withdrawn stimuli
Lead the way
To the neighborhood park

A smell
Of metallic urine
And soft shit

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Surreal Mind-Gaps

Yesterday, or to be accurate in the wee hours of this morning, for the first time in his life he experienced gaps in his memory. Huge chunks just went missing. No idea what he had done or how he had got to a particular place. It all started at a lab mate’s house warming party with mixing beer and vodka. About two measures of vodka gulped straight. The process was to first put this horrible orange powder in your mouth and then take a swig of the vodka, allow it to mix with the powder and then swallow it. After about an hour of this insane gulping he started reeling from the effects of so much alcohol in his system.

What followed then was purely surreal. Surreal as he looked back now. Not then. For then he was in a zone. For in the next instant he found himself on the stairs going down. He couldn’t remember when he took the conscious decision to leave the party. He did not even say bye to anyone. Later, he remembered that he had even left behind his jacket and umbrella. Much later he was told that he had puked all over the stairs.

The next thing he remembers is walking on a road. He knows not how he got there. He knows not what road it was. All he remembers is walking, walking in the general direction of his home wherever that was. He remembers crossing the road once. He knows not for what reason. He remembers puking a little into the bushes once or twice along the way. He remembers thinking about flagging down a taxi even though he had no money in his wallet. But for some unknown reason he did not follow up that thought. All he did was walk. He does not know for how long he walked. He did not even know the time even though he had a watch. Then suddenly he was in a road tunnel. Cars were zooming past him doing 80 kmph or so. He can’t recall how he got into that tunnel. Perhaps he did not know where he was walking, although it was in the general direction of his home. He was on a narrow pavement-sort-of-thing to the side of the road. After a few minutes the tunnel ended. He saw that he was walking on a thin strip of clear pavement not encroached by the road side shrubs. And the cars were still whizzing past. Not many but at regular intervals.

Suddenly, a car pulled up by his side. It was a police car. Was he doing something wrong? Walking on highways is illegal there. But until one of the police officers told him it had not even registered in his zonked brain that he was on a highway. They asked what he was doing there at such a wee hour. He told them that he had kinda lost his way. One of them asked him if he was drunk. He said no. They asked him to get into the car. They asked for his passport. He did not have it. It was at home. So he gave them his student id card instead. Was he scared? Not really. He was in a place where emotions did not register at all. After driving for what seemed like a short while they stopped the car and asked him to get out. One of them wanted to administer a breathalyzer test. He actually took out the instrument and was in the process of opening what looked like the plug you keep in your mouth and blow into. He then remembers feeling some vague sort of trepidation. What if the test results were off the charts? What would they do then? He remembers one of the officer’s laughing at him too as he went about this process. That police officer kept repeating that he wanted him to “blow for freedom�?. But again he did not feel anything. Feelings were still far away. Perhaps still at the party place he had left. They would need some time to catch up. Fortunately, the officer driving was not interested in the test. They asked him to go home and left. He looked around. He recognized the place where he was. He was about one or two kms from home. He did not notice how they had got him there. The route they had taken had not registered at all. And there was light. It was dawn. He looked at his watch for the first time in hours. It was 5 am. He had been walking for at least three hours. To his side above perhaps the first tram of the day passed on the fly-over. As if echoing the slowly brightening day the mists covering his brain also started lifting. He started walking and reached home in about 20 mins.

He crashed on the bed and slept for about 7 hours. He awoke to the slow tempo of a jackhammer performing a solo in his head. The symphony had not started yet. This was only the entrée. He discovered that he had slept half-naked. Another first in a longtime. The rest of the day was pure agony. The agony of a woozy head and screwed up stomach. He ate some cornflakes with milk hoping that it would settle his stomach. But things got worse. The food gave him a high. Must have been the glucose. He felt even sicker. His stomach wanted to throw all its contents out but the mind was stopping it. He promised himself that he would not touch alcohol ever again, although he knew that he would be drinking by the end of the following week. He closed his eyes and cursed life, the universe and everything.

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Disparate Dreams

It’s your breath
That gives shape
To the love lining
My falling tear drops

——-

Silence pours
Out of my palms
An offering of peace
To my distant goddess

——

You spoke and went
Leaving me there
To sift through the sands
For your vented words

——

Two full stops
And yet
My heart beats
The familiar rhythm

——-

Your mouth
Wraps around my words
Rolling them around
Like fresh green grapes

——–

I thought I felt
You yesterday
In a thought that
Kissed my lonely lips

——-

I woke up
And thought of you
Sitting in a chair
Covered by
My blanket of love

——–

It is evening
And I await
Your call-
My evening star

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Les Morts

They came in their machines and ate us. They fed on our brains, inserting their squeaky clean protrusions at the base of the head and sucking out the grey matter. They left the white matter alone for some reason. No, no they only wanted the stuff that drove us, made us think, made us love, made us hate, the stuff which made us humans. We called them ‘les morts’, the dead ones.

I think I’m the last one left. I haven’t met anyone else in years. I’ve hidden out for long in the forgotten corners, living on scraps and wild roots. But I knew it was a futile struggle from the start. How can one man stand up against their inhuman single-mindedness? This is the job I had set myself to do. To record the passing of our species. Something that kept me alive until now, running and hiding, running and hiding from their horrible sounds.

Yes, yes that is something that drives me mad. That utter, utter horror of a sound they make. It makes me lose grip over reality. It is a like worm digging into your brain, inch by inch, slowly but steadily. Oh…the sheer mental torture of it. I cannot stand it anymore. I cannot run anymore. There is nowhere to run to. Everything is empty. This whole planet is one vast graveyard of the brain-dead. Not a thing moves except for them. Not a sound anywhere except for their wordless whispers.

I don’t know if anyone will ever read this. The last testament of mankind. A message in a bottle for a whole species. But I wanted to do this. To leave a record of our passing. We were good weren’t we in spite of all the havoc we wreaked? We were after all human, not like them, not like them. There they come. I can hear that sound again. It is like a heartbeat speeded up mechanically and played back in reverse in high pitch. Words cannot describe what that sound can do to a mind. I wanted this to be a comprehensive record of our existence and all I could come up with is this disconnected rambling of a mind on the edge. I failed. We failed. They have won. Game over.

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