Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Where is the Hindu Intellectual?

My idea of religion is borderline-atheism. In today’s India, it is very down-market to be talking about religion. Customs and traditions unnerve me. There seems to be no logic in continuing to do things the way they have been done for centuries, simply because that is how we have been doing them, for centuries. Still, there are places I would not want to go and touch. Modernism today has two problems, one, it tries to change benign symbols which identify a people merely for the sake of change. Just as “This is how we have been always doing it” is not an argument to continue with a thing. On the flip side, that can also not be an argument to oppose it. Secondly, there is such a surge of fake righteousness that the real meat of any movement is lost in the noise.

Those who control the narrative, claim to be the weakest and are the first to cry victim-hood. It is a common trend. So you pelt stone, hold the state to ransom, out of your free-will (you can very well chose not to), on cops and soldiers, who do not have a choice, but to be where they are, and when retaliated, cry victim. You are a journalist, you control the media. When you decide to write non-sense, out of stupidity or some evil design (your desperation and stubbornness to stay stupid would point to latter) the media offers space with wide circulation to you. When holes are plucked into your manufactured narrative by a common citizen, who also reads your paper/watches your show, and thereby is a customer of yours, you attack with vengeance. It is now getting so common that I felt I should write. There is an angry, almost violent reporting of slapping and thrashing of people under the fancy term of Cow-vigilantism. Just imagine, in a nation of 125 Crore people, where murders and rapes do happen routinely, we are outraged, angry and revolted by some people getting thrashed. Even the politician whose party members and supporters have been charged by worse physical abuse by their own better half, pretend to be shocked as if they have not scene worse violence in all their life. A rape right in the heart of Delhi is under-reported or unreported, while a man, claiming to be “hounded” by autorikshaw-driver becomes a prime-time debate. If you have read some book on how to write non-fiction, and if you believe the capabilities of our journalists, you will know how the same rules which can be used to make the same story have impact, and when not used, deliberately, can make the story tame and meaningless. I will cover that game in another post. Right now, this is about the Right to pray and Sabrimala debate.

There is some kind of concerted effort to equate small portions of Hindu faith with violent fanaticism of other religions. Christianity went through dark ages, but Renaissance rescued it to a great extent. Words of Christ was no longer absolute and could be evaluated, analyzed and judged. A religion to evolve, need so escape spiritual dictatorship. Hinduism has always been a fluid religion. People who have tried to hold the flowing brook of Hindu faith to ransom, thereby muddying the waters, were either ridiculed or defeated by Hindus themselves. The key reason, in my view, was that Hinduism has always been a very private, very personal religion. It has never been a political religion. So, if you are a good Hindu, faith promised you a good, happy and contented life. It never proposed you a Hindu kingdom, even in the days of rule of Hindu kings. It never wanted you to fight for a Hindu kingdom, which superseded your regional loyalties. Even the stories from ancient times will not speak positive about fanatics (rare if any) in Hinduism- you have a greedy Pandit, the arrogant Brahmin. Eventually, the stories will have them humbled. God will be on the side of truth and reason. Hinduism has not been driven by the desire to establish the kingdom and therefore never was a political tool. It was always spiritual and has always been evolving. It was always a search for the truth, no word was perfect, nothing was unchallenged. For Dvait (Duality), there was advait (Universality), for Dasya Bhakti (worship as a servant), there was Sakhya Bhakti (worship as a friend). Hinduism floated from one extreme to other and you test it with your logic and follow. There was never a messenger who brought in a revelation, which you either follow, or bend, transform to fit in to. There were no scripture demanding surrender of reason, else your well-being would be doubtful. You can simply forego a principle and pick another. Nothing impacted your Hinduism, made you a lesser Hindu, or an unbeliever.

A religion, as supple, as flexible as Hinduism, doesn’t need its followers to protect and defend it. But that has also been undoing of Hinduism. As the battle of supremacy unfolds, among Abrahaminic religions, Hindus watch awestruck what is unfolding about them. They saw it similarly when Hinduism shrunk across the South East Asia and eventually contracted primarily to only one nation. And we are only talking of nations with Hindu population, not even Hindu nation. If we talk about the former, there is none. There is much about political, expansionist religions, which Hindus do not understand. We try to find a balance, a foolish balance. The arguments of absurdity goes like-  so what ISIS wants to establish a monotheist empire across the world, the taxi driver harassed the guy (supposedly) in Mumbai, because he carried a bag made of Cow leather. "Harassed", and on the other hand, we have missiles, stoning, killing of hundreds every other day, and an attempt to establish a foolish equivalence is undertaken. Some Hindus who try to imitate the orthodox religion- no one can question my Guru, These Muslims, and this and that, are trying to imitate those they are trying to fight, and that is even more pathetic. We need to identify clearly the defining features of being a Hindu and not be apologetic about it. Debate, spiritualism, philosophic honesty are the hallmark of Hinduism, not militancy and orthodoxy. We need to inculcate these and not back out. Unfortunately, by default or by design, very few Right Wing debaters called in for debate on TV channels inspire any confidence to me. Very few are well-read in Hindu philosophy, let alone the thoughts of any other religion. To me it seems, it is by design. On twitter, one would find many handles which are extremely well-educated, exceptionally erudite, they never find space in main stream media.

 This Right-to-Pray is one such attempt of making so much noise about a non-issue. The opponents of Right to Pray say the women are not allowed because the presiding deity is celibate man. A celibate, a brahmachari, is supposed to stay away from women of certain age. Similar was the case of Shani. These stories may or may not be true. But the people who are shouting at the top of their lungs that these beliefs are untrue, would happily go around wishing Merry Christmas, come December and be considerate to those who go fasting on Ramadan, for what they believed happened centuries back during some battle. It is a faulty argument on either side for those fighting for right-to-pray and wanting to force their way into the temple, trampling over the faith of the believers. If you believe in God, why would you want to go in when you know He doesn't want you; If you do not believe in the God, why go at all? I personally have no reason to believe (borderline atheist, remember) but then I have no reason to sit in the judgment of those who believe. Till the date, they walk to my place, my home, my work place and tell me, that Lord Ayappan has descended here and I need to live in a certain way to accommodate him, I would rather let them be. The world has lost the most out of this tendency to control, to create uniformity out of diversity. 

The courts which object to multiple Hindu festivals, feigns ignorance when Beef festivals are organized in full media glare in states where Beef sale is banned. The logic given is that Cow slaughter is banned but beef eating is not. I wonder if the lordships in our exalted courts believe that the beef distributed in these freedom-to-eat festivals was prepared out of cattle which voluntarily sacrificed their lives by means of euthanasia or penance or some other acceptable means to strengthen the secular fabric of the nation. Hinduism across ages had attracted best of the intellectual minds. While today, the intellectual mind is considered a synonym to leftist-atheist-communist, which derives its legitimacy by opposing anything which it fails to argue or explain against as Brahminical; in history we have had brilliant minds getting attracted to Hinduism. Instead of putting our mind to reach the sublime truth, we have left it to the half-educated to defend Hinduism. It is the sad plight. Those who mind, do not matter, and those who matter, do not mind. When have we seen in our time, someone of caliber of, say, a Thoreau (who considered Christianity as radical due to pure morality in contrast to Hinduism which he said, was pure intellectuality), coming out to argue the attempt of the half-baked intellectual to malign Hinduism and insult its symbols without even comprehending their true meanings. Most debates are with Right-wingers is like- I oppose you because I am hurt, while it should be – I oppose you because you are a moron. That is my argument on Sabrimala debate. I oppose you not because I am hurt, but because of the absurdity of your argument. I would support your entry into Sabrimala, if it were a school and you want to go there for education, or for an employment, for the sake of argument, and are prevented. But no, why would you want to go into a temple to pray to a God you don’t believe in, trampling over faith of those who do believe in Him?  The middle-aged Marxists of leftist colleges mock Vedas in TV studios, while Schopenhauer wrote, of Upnishads, “from every sentence deep, original and sublime thoughts arise, and the whole is pervaded by a high and holy and earnest spirit..In the whole world, there is no study so beneficial and so elevating as that of Upnishads.” Voltaire even went to the extent of saying that “Our holy Christian religion is solely based upon the ancient religion of Brahma” . However, there is this another quote of Voltaire that worries me much- Hindus are peaceful and innocent people, equally incapable of hurting others or defending themselves. I so wish his last statement was not true. I never thought I would write anything formal tangential on religion, but here it is. Do read and think about it. Biggest strength of Hinduism is intellectualism, and we must not surrender it. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

My Bright Saturday- The Magical part of the Mundane

There were many things of immense import which begged to be written. Religion in politics, the art of creating a narrative- how slyly media creates a narrative. I was reading Sol Stein on Writing on the way to office on Friday, and it occurred to me, the total apathy with which a student, a leftist leader from JNU charged with rape is being treated by mainstream media. A regular in TV debates, a known figure from a University much in news for all wrong reasons of late, and media acts as if nothing has happened. The silence is to kill the story, so perfectly dead truth being presented. Nothing beyond facts, no flesh, not blood, not personality caricatures. It is discomforting. But then I will write about it next week. This week, I write about simple pleasures of life. My monthly visits to children library with my eight year old. Here it is, I share my Saturday with you.

While on my way from the Car workshop where I had dropped the car for repair, I get a call from Nonu (my eight year old), reconfirming the sojourn and reiterating that lunch will be at the Udipi next door to the BC Roy Children Library, in ITO. I pick her from home, just picking the four books to be exchanged, the magical part of my mundane existence begins. We take the auto from home, her friend, landlord’s grand-daughter, two years older than Nonu, accompanies us. We mostly take public conveyance on this day. She mustn't think Public conveyance an impossible inconvenience when she grows up. Furthermore, it is a great equalizer. Her hairs lose, her face iridescent in the afternoon Monsoon Sun, her demeanor buoyant, more than usual with her friend for company. We get on the metro, I park myself resting my back on the glass partition at the door, and they get the seat. They are talking at the moment like two grown-ups, on their way to do attend to things of business, work- things grown-ups do. I look at her with the fond affection of a father. She is playing with her locks and the bright yellow hair-band stands out, splendidly as if a sunbeam has stuck in her hairs. I try to figure out what is painted on her Tee. It occurs to me, how much we see, how little we observe. I thought it to be a Donald duck, only today I realize it was Dory and Nemo. It brings smile to me. I wonder, how quickly time passes, and for how long she will be wearing such dresses. A tinge of sadness, and an urge to hold the clock back. My thoughts float to the Nursery in Max hospital, where I had met her first, and her palms had first curled around my finger. The first night I slept, almost sitting, holding her on my shoulder. Life was never to be same again. We get down at Central Secretariat for the change of train. Trains towards ITO seem to be running late. She is unperturbed. Delays do not worry kids. More time to play. She plays, as I watch her. A deep blue canopy of night sky stretches itself under the hot, Monsoon Sun, with her sudden laughter shining like stars spread over the deep blue sky of my imagination which covers us. She breaks into a dance. Yes, at the platform. She isn’t perturbed about who might be looking. She is happy. She is always, I silently pray, she always be as happy, as unrestrained. She takes off her Disney slippers and jumps. Her friend also jumps. They hold hands and jump. At the platform. People watch. Whenever you feel like flying, my child, you jump. Never look around who is watching. Just jump. Always believe your father is watching over you. Even when you are seventy and I am long gone. Stay aloft, levitate- I remember the dialogue from the Movie, Meet Joe Black, where Businessman, William Parrish (played by ever elegant, Anthony Hopkins) tells her daughter- “I want you to get swept away out there. I want you to levitate. I want you to sing with rapture and dance like a dervish. I mutter something similar. 

The train to Mandi House comes first. The crowd thins at the platform. She sings, loudly, in her yet untrained voice of unadulterated innocence. Her friend is couple of years older. She looks little embarrassed, a little held back. She is also happy, but she thinks. Her thoughts seem to hold her back. Nonu’s exuberance is not yet adulterated with thoughts, thoughts of who might be watching. Her friend tells her that people around might think them mad. She doesn’t care. She sings. Some rhyming sounds, not even words. Happiness doesn’t need words, it needs soul. We get on the train. She keeps repeating the announcements- “Please stand clear of the door. Please mind the gap.”  We reach ITO. We have lunch first. Then we reach the library. And the magic is now augmented with fantasies and fairies. She runs among the books, she touches the books. She and her friend find a book of schoolkid’s jokes. They read them and giggle. She looks for Roald Dahl. She loves Roald Dahl, his life. She almost wants to become a writer like him. Him and Ruskin Bond. She is an only child, but with this friendship, she will have company which will never abandon her, which will never judge her. These books, they will carry her through to the day when she’ll be swept off her feet; the day when she will sing with rapture and dance like a dervish. And even beyond. These moments are the brightest part of my weekends, they will take me through the worst days of my life. This ability to sing, dance and whistle while walking through the loneliest and darkest patches of her life, is the biggest inheritance I leave her. I wrote once- When kids grow up, they judge their parents. Sometimes, they forgive them. I hope she will judge me kindly, when her time comes. This is from this Saturday, this is my one Saturday of each month. This lights up my days, hope it does light up yours as well.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Book Review- The Waves- By Virginia Woolf

Book: The Waves
Genre: Fiction (Spiritual/ Philosophical)
Style: Experimental
Published: 1931
Publisher: Hogarth Press
Rating: Must Read, Classic

“The Author would be glad if the following pages were not read as a Novel.” – Wrote Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) on the manuscript of The Waves (Initially called The Moths). It was first published in 1931.  We are close to a century since this book was published, still this book is unparalleled and unequaled. The Independent called this Book of a Lifetime.

This is not an easy book to read. Beauty is never too easy to create, or is it ever too easy to savor to the fullest. Both production as well as the consumption of true work of art needs to be earned. This is a difficult book to read yet immensely elegant and infinitely exquisite. The story, unlike most fictional novels, does not unfold through dramatic events. It doesn’t depend on drama, it deftly steers clear of the mundane. It is sensually sublime and magnificently mystical. It breathes softly in the cusp of prose and poetry. Riding on fascinatingly gorgeous prose, it rises to glory from the space where literature melts into philosophy and the exact intermingles into the abstract. The words written here have a soft tone, almost like a whisper as if they were giving away some magical secret to the reader.

The Wave tells the story of six individuals who are the key (and only) characters in a beautiful story. Well, there is a seventh one, who is there only as reference for the six characters. The story is told through the monologues of the six characters- Bernard, Susan, Rhoda, Neville, Jinny and Louis. They meet, as kids at the beginning of the story on the sea-shore against the backdrop of waves, hitting on the shore- incessant, unrelenting, representing the continuum and passage of time. It is this rhythmic sound of life which Virginia Woolf refers to when she wrote- I am writing to a rhythm, and not to a plot. And one really feels a soft beat of drums coming from a distance as the words unwrap themselves, unhurriedly.  The novel traces their lives through school, college and work. The story moves in monologues, as Mrs. Woolf wrore- The Wave resolves itself into a series of dramatic soliloquies.

Through monologues we understand the characters and how they look at each other and at life as it unfolds for them. Susan accidentally finds Jinny kissing Louis and is very unhappy. Their individual characters unfold in the first part of the story itself. Jinny is a happy kid. She says, “I dance. I ripple. I am thrown over you like a net of light. I lie quivering flung over you.  She is sure of herself, and looks for happiness. Susan is earthy and sad. Bernard wants to comfort her. Bernard is the writer in search of right phrase. He writes letter like Byron to his friends. He explains Susan’s anguish, “Susan has spread her anguish out. Her pocket-handkerchief is laid on the roots of the beech trees and she sobs, sitting crumpled where she has fallen.” She is not anguished because she loves Louis. We find the sorrow is within her, on account of her own image about herself, incapable of love and happiness. She has already concluded, and resigned to a life of the usual, the unremarkable, when she says about herself, “And I am squat, Bernard, I am short. I have eyes that look close to the ground and see insects in the ground. The yellow warmth in my side turned to stone when I saw Jinny kiss Louis. I shall eat grass and die in a ditch in the brown water where dead leaves have rotted.” Susan has already given up on life. She trades passion for propriety and in the end, laments, "I am sick of the body. I am sick of my own craft, industry and cunning, of the unscrupulous ways of the mother who protects, who collects under her jealous eyes at one long table her own children, always her own." 

 Bernard continues his journey into the search of a voice of his own, as he keeps looking for the best of the phrases. Neville advises him that you are not Byron. You are Bernard, in the college, Cambridge. It is only towards the end Bernard agrees. There they meet Percival, who is only external character in the story. Percival is quintessential representation of orthodoxy, a conventional hero. He is an old-fashioned hero of myths, to who all are attracted – like Moths. 

Rhoda feels inadequate thought spiritual. She misses earthiness. She says, “I have no face. I am whirled down caverns, and flap like paper against endless corridors, and must press my hand against the wall to draw myself. She is in dilemma. She wants to become like Susan or Jinny. She never is able to come into her own. Her own self is lost. She says- “I am cast up and down among these men and women, with their twitching faces, with their lying tongues, like a cork on a rough sea. Like a ribbon of weed I am flung far every time a door opens..I am also a girl, here in this room.” She has lost herself in her menial, an inconsequential identity, a broken self and she is twenty-one. She will jump off the cliff eventually and kill herself, hounded by her own sense of inadequacy.   

Louis is the ambitious one. He is articulate, thinks of himself as an unhappy poet. He is a realist. He says, “The bird flies; the flower dances; but I hear always the sullen thud of the waves; and the chained beast stamps on the beach. It stamps and stamps.” The chained beast is the sea, the stamping- the sound of the waves. Louis is artistic but notes the time which is passing by. He goes to London, who spoke of “My father, a banker in Brisbane” with embarrassment, is laboring in office. Maybe his picture will not be on the wall as an unhappy poet. He has given up on being a poet. He says, “I repeat- I am an average Englishman; I am an average clerk.” He is tortured by the sense that he has compromised his potential, his ability. He says, “I smoothed my hair when I came in, hoping to look like the rest of you. But I cannot, for I am not single and entire as you are. ..I am the caged tiger, and you are the keepers with red-hot bars.” His sensitive soul, we find later, is tamed when he says, “There is no respite here, no shadow made of quivering leaves, or alcove to which one can retreat from the Sun, to sit, with a lover, in the cool of the evening.

Neville is pursuing a dream, following a chase. He too is hounded by a certain emptiness, a certain sense of loss. He says, “ I am like a hound on the scent. ..I shall never have what I want, for I lack bodily grace and the courage that comes with it.  ..I excite pity in the crisis of life and not love. Therefore I suffer horribly.”  

Percival dies. The hero dies the most ordinary death. He falls from his horse in India and dies. The six lives, who would be attracted to Percival like moths will suddenly come home to the ephemeral nature of life. Bernard says- “This then, is the world that Percival sees no longer.”  From ashes to ashes.

What we have to the end? What memories hold to their own in the end, when we look back? Are there these six distinct people whose life we watch with some sort of vicarious attachment, or are they one? Neville says in the last chapter, “The old corrosion has lost its bite- envy, intrigue and bitterness have been washed out. We have lost our glory too.”  Bernard says- “ Percival is dead and Rhoda is dead. ..As I talked I felt, I am you! This difference we make so much of, this individuality we so feverishly cherish, was overcome. Here on the nape of my neck is the kiss Jinny gave Louis. My eyes fill with Susan’s tears.”

 The characters are incidental, so is the story. It is deep philosophy, it is the story of spiritual search. It is a story that one ought to read, even though it is difficult. It is like life. We have to live, no matter how difficult it might be. For anyone, as an early reviewer wrote, it should be twice read. For a writer, one should read, re-read it many times, hoping some of the genius would rub off on your own writing. While being path-breaking and experimental, it attracted some scathing early reviews, I would only quote from this book itself, before you make an opinion about it- “To read this poem one must have myriad eyes… one must put aside antipathies and jealousies and not interrupt…Nothing is to be rejected in fear or horror…The lines do not run in convenient lengths…One must be skeptical but throw caution to the winds and when the door opens, accept absolutely..Let down one’s net deeper and deeper and gently draw in and bring to surface what he said and she said and make poetry.” This quote from this book is apt for this book.

Link to Amazon Page of The Waves 

Some initial Reviews to The Waves:

It is important that this book be read twice. The book is difficult. Yet it is superb.” – Harold Nicolson- 1931

Ms. Woolf’s writing has always been difficult: by which I mean that it will yield motive, its clear and luminous core, only to a reader who is ready to empty himself of preconceptions and to become in the highest degree receptive, patient, searching..” – Gerald Bullett, 1931

Her genius is like a shaft of sunlight breaking into a room- a golden medium in which float a million fiery particles but beyond that enchanted area the darkness is darker than it was.”- L P Hartley, Weekend Review- 1931

Mrs Woolf has not only passed up superficial reality; she has also passed up psychological reality… A far cry from the ‘Biographic style’ but a very far cry from greatness.” – Louis Krorenberger- New York Times Book Review- 1931

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Why I Hate Birthdays?

Don't get me wrong. I am not a depressed teenager contemplating death as a plausible way out of life. I have too tough a hide for that. There used to be a time when Birthdays excited me to no ends.
A birthday is a perfect occasion to reconfirm and substantiate one's station in life. Friends embrace, kisses, blessings- your role as a father, husband, child is all settled once again. Your station in life is substantiated, reaffirmed. You are a prince (or the princess if you are a woman) for a day. 

But then you grow up, get wiser and broken from inside. You realize the inadequacy of the dream to keep you aloft. You no longer levitate, in spiritual terms. You dread the day, you drag yourself through it. It lies at your door, like a dead dog, in such an awkward fashion that you cannot walk around it. The pretense of your being a special person doesn't survive unblemished for even for an hour- an unadulterated, unbroken hour. 

You realize that the day is as crappy as any other day as the one that preceded it or the one that is to follow it. Social media makes it easier for people to make a wish. Even Linkedin connects, people you have never met or spoken to in person, start wishing you. You know they could as well be wishing a very happy birthday to a dead person. You are old enough, so old that life is tiring. I was reading Virginia Woolf's writer's journals the other day. She laments, ponder over the fact she is 45, and wonders how many books she still has left in her, yet unwritten. She is the Virginia Woolf. I think of it. I am 45. I have written couple of poetry books, I have just published a collection of stories. It is there up. I suck at promoting and selling them, even though I know I do have something to tell (which is why I wrote them). But the painful saga of awkward promotion of The Rude Tenderness of Our Heart is another story. Pertinent point here is that scathing, unforgiving thought that much of life's work is yet undone. And no, it has nothing to do with the career, the selling of IT, which I do for the upkeep of the family. How many books will I write? How many by the time I am 55?

I write in short jerks and between long breaks. Sometimes I convince myself that I am writing when I am spending long hours preparing to write, or trying to approach real writing in a hugely round-about way- reading interviews, twitter (author's platform) and all that nonsense. Time passes me by. I do not get fooled anymore. I am old. I know my station in life. A small cake is just an alibi of the value of a relation, value of a person. The ideas are uncertain, the voice is tremulous. I mutter what I want, slowly, hesitatingly. I am given a small, pale Pineapple cake to cut, and brief embarrassed clap follows. My daughter laughs. The laugh is pretty, as always, like clinking of crystals. It fills and lights up the bland day.

The day is over. I read Yeats. 
An aged man is but a paltry thing
A tattered coat upon the stick, unless
soul claps its hands and sing, and louder sing

I whistle against the night breeze, but the soul doesn't sing. The soul is tired, of years of neglect, of being relegated to good sense. I ran after happiness, a hope of an ideal life fades. People around me, do not realize that time is outrunning them quicker than it is outrunning me. Still stuck in their diminutive egos, they strut around. We smile, while hating one another. Civility or cowardice, the line is too thin. The fan, makes unpleasant sound, which rises, hammering the conscience. I end the day, reading Virginia Woolf- I have lived a thousand lives already. Everyday I unbury- I dig up. I find relics of myself in the sand that women made thousand of years ago, when I heard songs by Nile and the chained beast stamping

Will I once again hold this unruly beast steady, only time will tell? The hope is little, the adamant soul is unyielding. Phew, another birthday is gone. I am old. Last year have seen some younger souls than me leave this mortal world. Age rides on my soul. I always had an ancient soul, it is even older now. The era behind me is longer than the era ahead of me. The shadow of my past mistakes is longer than the dim Sun of my future can ever wash away. The shadows are getting longer by the hour. 
It is embarrassing to write about unhappy passage of the birthday in an age when pouts and loud celebrations mark the birthdays in very public celebrations. But that what it is. I found a quote which covers beautifully my feelings on a birthday. It is by Hemingway.

His talent was as natural as the pattern that was made by the dust on a butterfly's wings. At one time he understood it no more than the butterfly did and he did not know when it was brushed or marred. Later he became conscious of his damaged wings and of their construction and he learned to think and could not fly any more because the love of flight was gone and he could only remember when it had been effortless.” 

He wrote it long back. I feel he wrote it for me.
The shadow of silences walk in wearing heavy boots.
The night is overwhelmed in those shadows. The night is
 drowning. It gasps for breath. The birthday is over.