Tag Archive: empathy

Cleopatra my Love


Oh Cleopatra!
The woman of infinite variety
Your fickle emotions,
subtle gestures, boundless charm
and volatile feelings
that make up your variety,
-I’d dealt only in books.
And wondered
Am i capable of this variety?
A complete human avatar, i believe you are
in all its blacks and whites and grays.

Cleopatra, my love,
Motley Fabric suits you best
For in it your variety’s well expressed.
Motley fabric;  classy but!
-not the mediocre,  strictly.
Strictly, ’cause you’re majestic, originally.
And majestic calls for elegance.

Variety is your beauty,  Cleopatra
Your physicality though grand,
is not as beautiful as your variety.
Surprised like a child
wonder struck i stand
each time you show me your variety.

Variety is not just your beauty, Cleopatra
It’s more importantly your strength
To keep moving
from blues to rainbows
and for the beauty beyond
– glossing up the matte reality.
And the sudden bliss it discovers
Could be as beautiful as
Koi no yokan.
And if this bliss ends abruptly,
you can always turn to your beauty,
which is
your variety.

-Sruthi Sikhamani


Art for art’s sake!

“Cinema should contribute to the total development of man, both as an individual and as a social being”

[Motion picture academy of Kerala state]

Picasso’s Guernica

A film is being screened in Kesav’s classroom. He is sitting in the dark room along with his classmates (B.A. Film studies, 1st year). The film’s director is also sitting in the same classroom. He is an Indo-Canadian film director who presently resides in Hyderabad. As part of taking his latest film ‘D’ to its ‘specific’ audience, he has been visiting universities and film schools for the past three months. In fact he is a famous film director who has a Wikipedia page. Today he is in ‘S’ college of media studies with film studies’ students. He will be interacting with the students after the screening.

The film has been rolling for one hour. Kesav hasn’t understood or identified with anything yet. He remained quiet, assuming that his friends are extracting so much from those visuals. The man on-screen is drinking coffee. He takes a sip and appears to be  thinking deeply about something. Sip, think, sip, think, sip .No other act different from this appeared on the screen for about five minutes.

 Kesav slowly walked out of the room, went directly to the canteen and ordered a cup of coffee.


“Good art is done with enjoyment. The artist must feel that, within certain reasonable limits, he is free, that he is wanted by society, and that the ideas he is asked to express are true and important.” – John Ruskin

Kesav read these lines which he had noted down in his pocket-book.

After sipping the last drop of coffee, Keshav returned to the classroom.

“Wasn’t anything else shown all this time. I went down, had a cup of coffee and am back. Still this man on-screen hasn’t finished his coffee?

“This is the second glass macha” 

Arun replied.

“Oh, I see. Did you understand anything so far, Arun?”

“Sshhh ! Keep quiet! The director is just behind us. Don’t insult him. Let’s wait and watch. I think something interesting will hit the screen soon. This film is said to have won two to three prestigious awards. Wait and watch “

But nothing much happened on-screen for another 10 minutes.

“Either the cameraman forgot to stop recording or the director forgot to say cut. One of these surely happened while they shot this. What is this lengthy shot all about?”

“Hey wait, something interesting might come”

Everyone continued to watch the film expecting a twist somewhere. Exceedingly lengthy shots kept on rolling. No one followed anything.

Suddenly, that ‘interesting’ bit of the film appeared – the credits list.

“Wow! Wonderful”

“So what was the one-and-a-half hours all about?”

“Kesav, why are you quiet”

“Haha, I think he has understood it from head to toe”

Students whispered among themselves.

“Switch on the lights please”

Mr. Subramanian, (HOD, film studies) said.

“Dear students, now it is time for some interaction. You may want to ask our beloved guest Mr. K about various aspects of the film. Over to you!

There was deafening silence in the room for nearly three minutes.


 Suddenly one hand shot up.

“Yes!  Come on Kesav! Mr. K  is waiting to hear from all of you. “

The HOD said in ‘relief’.

“Sir, what is your take on art for art’s sake?”











Do you identify with Kesav? Perhaps you must have felt similarly like Kesav at some point of time watching ‘great’ works of art. If not, I will give you a chance.


Each of the above art work was painstakingly created with so much of effort and time.

“I had no kids when I embarked on ‘D’. By the time I completed it, I was the father of three children”

Mr. K said before screening ‘D’.

But unfortunately they fail to communicate to common man. Such art directly get a space in museums but not in people’s mind. The creators escape the question of social responsibility by uttering the much acclaimed MGM-phrase.

Art for art’s sake

Further, explaining this, they say that art is not meant to be didactic; it is ‘auto telic’. But it is time that they realize that their art is highly didactic. In fact it is completely didactic. That is why we often come across it in art-textbooks. See how ‘didactic’ that art is when it turns into a textbook for beginners/students to learn the basic ‘rules’ of art which they break later, to explore the magical field of wisdom.





“Today is my ninth Birthday”

My dad told us (my mom, elder sis and me) while we sat down together for breakfast. His 59th birthday was celebrated with great pomp and show last month. But the 9th one was undeniably a milestone birthday, not only special to me and my family but also to the entire world I must say. It is very particular because it carries an inspiring story of ‘nine years of life’ – a life which is lived by the man in us and not the hidden animal. Yes, it has been nine years since my father last drank the killer-drink (read: alcohol). Nine years, though it may sound small, is what my dad considers as ‘lived’ by him.

I was in my seventh grade when I first heard of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous).

*[Following is the definition of A.A. appearing in the fellowship’s basic literature and cited frequently at meetings of A.A. groups:

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.

The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.]

Two men (most likely in their 50s) came to my house one evening to meet my dad. There was a power-cut at home and mom lit a candle. Conversations went on. I observed dad listening to the guests very patiently. Though I couldn’t understand everything that they discussed, I was sure that those men were god’s gift to us – they were sponsors from A.A. who had come with a mission to take my dad to the beautiful world of sobriety. I was glad and hopeful of a brighter future with my family whose backbone is my dad, the tower of support. Today I realize that my hope didn’t go to waste.  My dad is nine years old with A.A.

“He is still a child. Treat him like you would care for a kid, with all love and affection”. Mom reminds me often.

Before the magic called A.A. cured my den with its miraculous wand, we had visited and known other organizations/associations which claimed complete cure for Alcoholism. But only A.A worked with us, for it is not just a togetherness that helps you in bringing alcoholism to a close but also teaches you a ‘way of life’—the way of life anyone would covet—where only love, peace and truth prevail.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept

The things I cannot change,

And to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference”

Since that incredible night (after sharing with those two men), dad has never skipped the routine of chanting these words of wisdom in our prayer room.

The members of A.A. meet daily at different venues to share their thoughts, shortcomings and experiences. On Fridays it is at the church, opposite Malabar Christian College where we get together. While dad joins A.A. in one room, I with my mom and sis join the Al-Anon/Al-Ateen family group in another room, where we share almost everything that happens inside and outside the family. I have seen women sobbing helplessly while sharing their miserable trials and tribulations in life (Al-Ateen/Al-Anon members in Kerala are not alcoholics. They come solely for their husband/father). According to A.A. alcoholism is a disease. These women who are wives of alcoholics sacrifice a lot while going through the initial stages of A.A. because the alcoholic undergoes his own irritations and disturbances of not in-taking the killer-drink. The astounding shift from chronic alcoholism to serene sobriety is looked upon as a wonder. Children who are raised amidst  chaotic situations of alcohol-affected families need to be given special care. This function is carried out by the esteemed Al-Ateen family group. The most amazing factor of A.A. that leads to light of the future is the egoless sharing and revelations by its members. There is no point in shying away from sharing about ourselves when we do it in our family – A.A is a family. Alcoholics stand up to share their innermost feelings ( even what we wouldn’t want ourselves to approve of us) shamelessly (no pun intended) in front of the large family comprising doctors, advocates, fishermen, police officers, writers, light-boys, electricians, plumbers, house-maids and what not ? Each of them overlooks their respective status in the society while mingling at A.A.

As usual the meeting commenced at 7pm. In the small room, after a pledge, ten to twenty alcoholics came forward and made their heart-touching sharing. Moyidoottikka (one of the two men who came to sponsor my dad on behalf of A.A. that evening, 9 years back) who is 17 years with A.A. made a confession-like sharing. Being rueful, he said that he doesn’t deserve forgiveness  after having thrown a cup of mud on the food his wife prepared for him to break Ramadan-fast.

“I was not under my control. I was angry and disturbed with something already. The only way I could bring down my uneasiness was by getting mad at my wife though there was no reason. When that lovingly cooked plate of food turned into a plate of waste because of my thoughtless action, I suddenly woke up from my unconsciousness — just to see tears forming in her eyes, rolling down her cheek silently, splashing down on the floor in front of me.  I humbly beseech theeforgive me, O Lord, and forgive me. I was unable to suppress the evil in me at that terrible moment. Forgive me…”

Moydoottikka’s eyes welled. Ours too.

He is an alcoholic. Though he hasn’t literally taken in the destructive-juice (read: alcohol) for the past seventeen years, the traits of an alcoholic reside within him silently, waiting eagerly to eclipse him and others around him by making a redundant appearance. Forgive him! Everyone in that room would have prayed for him, I am sure because it was a confession of an alcoholic.

The clock rang 8 pm. The day’s meeting had come to an end. Dad was seen conversing with a man (looked elder to him by five to ten years). He was limping and shabbily dressed. Soon I learned that he was just one day old (read: it was his first day in A.A.). A once-upon-a-time famous foot ball player from Calicut, on whom high hopes were hung. But unfortunately the killer-drink restrained all prosperity from coming to his life. His family left him a few years back for being an ill-fated prey of the killer-drink. I wish his life with A.A. progresses well and his family back with love and gratitude. The life of another child begins. Long live A.A, soon bring future prospects of the killer-drink together for a revolution against the same.

These books were given to me by Moidoottikka 


രണ്ടു  മാസത്തില്‍  ഒരിക്കലെങ്കിലും അമ്മ തന്നയച്ച മണി ഓർഡറോ, കത്തൊ അല്ലെങ്കില്‍  ഗ്രീടിംഗ് കാര്‍ഡോ  അയക്കാനായി കൃഷ്ണയ്ക്ക് കുട്ടികാലം മുതലേ പോസ്റ്റ്‌ ഓഫീസില്‍ പോകേണ്ടി  വന്നിട്ടുണ്ട്.  അവളുടെ ജീവിതത്തിലെ ഓരോ ഘട്ടത്തിലുള്ള ശാരീരികവും മാനസികവുമായ എല്ലാ വളര്‍ച്ചയും കണ്ടറിഞ്ഞവരാണ്  പോസ്റ്റ്‌ ഓഫീസ് ഉദ്ധ്യോഘസ്ഥർ. നാല് പേരാണ് കുതിരവട്ടം പോസ്റ്റ്‌ ഓഫീസില്‍ ഉള്ളത് . ഇത് കൂടാതെ ഒരു പോസ്റ്റ്‌ മാനും . കൂട്ടത്തില്‍ ഒരു സ്ത്രീ ഉദ്ധ്യോഘസ്ഥ മാത്രം. എല്ലാവരായും കൃഷ്ണ നല്ല അടുപ്പത്തിലാണ് . അവളെക്കാളും മുപ്പതു വയസ്സെങ്കിലും അധികമുള്ള അവരെ ഓരോരുത്തരെയും അവള്‍ അങ്ങേയറ്റം ബഹുമാനിച്ചു.

കൂട്ടുകാരികളുമൊത്ത് തമാശപറഞ്ഞ്‌ നടന്നു വന്നിരുന്ന കൃഷ്ണ ഒരുനാള്‍    സൈക്കിള്‍ പറപ്പിച്ചു വന്നു .
” അങ്കിള്‍ , എന്‍റെ പുതിയ  സൈക്കിളാ  . ഇന്നലെ രാത്രിയാ കൊണ്ടുവന്നത് . മുന്നില്‍ കൊട്ടയൊക്കെ ഉണ്ട് . എങ്ങനെയുണ്ട് ? “
” കൊള്ളാം ! അടിപൊളിയായിട്ടുണ്ട് . ഇനി കൃഷ്ണക്കുട്ടിയെ പിടിച്ചാല്‍ കിട്ടില്ലല്ലോ .കടയിലൊക്കെ വരാനിനി മോള്‍ക്ക്‌ എളുപ്പമായല്ലോ . എന്തായാലും നന്നായി !”
സൈക്കിള്‍ മാറി പെട്ടന്നൊരു ദിവസം അവള്‍ സ്കൂട്ടറില്‍ വന്നു. ദൂരെ നിന്ന് അവളുടെ ലക്കില്ലാത്ത വരവുകണ്ട് പോസ്റ്റ്‌ ഓഫീസിലെ എല്ലാവരും വാ പൊളിച്ചു ഹൃദയത്തില്‍ കൈവച്ച് പ്രാര്‍ത്തിച്ചു നിന്നു .
” ഇതെപ്പോഴാ മോളെ നീ വാങ്ങിയെ ? “
“ഹ ഹ ! ഇപ്പോള്‍ വാങ്ങിയതെയുള്ളു അങ്കിള്‍ . 10 – ആം  ക്ലാസ്സ്‌ കഴിഞ്ഞാല്‍ വാങ്ങിത്തരാമെന്ന് അച്ഛന്‍ വാക്ക് തന്നിരുന്നു “
” അതുശെരി ! ഇനിയെന്താ വേണ്ടത് ? എല്ലാമായില്ലേ ? ഇപ്പോഴത്തെ കുട്ടികളുടെയൊക്കെ ഒരു ഭാഗ്യം ! “
പല ആവശ്യത്തിനായും കൃഷ്ണ പോസ്റ്റ്‌ ഓഫീസില്‍  കയറിയിറങ്ങി . അവിടെ എല്ലാവരുടെയും മനസ്സില്‍ അവളിപ്പോഴും  ആ പഴയ കൃഷ്ണമോളായിരുന്നു . എത്ര വലുതായിട്ടും പോസ്റ്റ്‌ ഓഫീസില്‍ ചെന്നാല്‍ കൃഷ്ണയുടെ സ്വഭാവവും ശരീരഭാഷയും താനേ കുട്ടികളുടേതാവും . വാക്കാല്‍ പറയാത്ത ശുദ്ധമായ സ്നേഹം അവള്‍ അവിടുന്ന് പലതവണ തൊട്ടറിഞ്ഞിരുന്നു . എന്നാല്‍ ഇന്നതിനു ചെറിയൊരു മാറ്റമുണ്ടായി . ചെറുതെന്ന് താഴ്ത്തി പറയാനാവില്ല . കാരണം, അവള്‍ക്കത് ചെറുതല്ലായിരുന്നു  .
ഇന്നവള്‍ പോസ്റ്റ്‌ ഓഫീസില്‍ ചെന്നത് കാറിലായിരുന്നു .കയ്യില്‍ ഇത്തവണ അമ്മ പോസ്റ്റ്‌ ചെയ്യാന്‍ കൊടുത്തയച്ച  ഒരു മണി ഓര്‍ഡര്‍ — ആലത്യൂര്‍ ഹനുമാന്‍ കോവിലിലേക്ക്  നെയ്യ് വിളക്കിനായി  30 രൂപ . എന്നും അവള്‍ അറിയാതെ ആസ്വദിച്ച ആ വാത്സല്യം ഇത്തവണ ഇല്ലായിരുന്നു എന്നതായിരുന്നു വ്യത്യാസം .കൌണ്ടറിൽ ഇരിക്കുന്ന രണ്ടു പേരും അവളുടെ സമപ്രായക്കാര്‍ .ഗൌരവത്തോടെ അവളെയൊന്നു നോക്കി കംപ്യൂട്ടറിലേക്ക് ശ്രദ്ധ തിരിച്ചു .
” ഒരു മണി ഓര്‍ഡര്‍ അയക്കണം”
കൃഷ്ണ പറഞ്ഞു .
“ആ മേശപ്പുറത്തു ഫോം വച്ചിട്ടുണ്ട് . അത് ഫില്‍ ചെയ്തു അപ്പുറത്തെ കൌണ്ടറിൽ കൊടുത്താല്‍ മതി “
മണി ഓര്‍ഡര്‍ അയച്ച് ഒന്നും മിണ്ടാതെ അവള്‍ പുറത്തേക്കു നടന്നു .
വീട്ടിലെത്തിയ ഉടനെ കൃഷ്ണ അമ്മയോട് ചോദിച്ചു,
” പോസ്റ്റ്‌ ഓഫീസില്‍ പണ്ടുണ്ടായിരുന്ന അങ്കിള്‍ മാരൊക്കെ ഇപ്പൊ എവിടെയാ അമ്മെ ? ഒരാളൊഴിച്ച് ബാക്കി എല്ലാവരും എന്‍റെ പ്രായക്കാരാണല്ലോ ഇപ്പൊ “
“പിന്നെ ആളുകള്‍ മാറില്ലേ ? അവരൊക്കെ റിട്ടയറായി പോയിക്കാണും . എന്താ ? എന്ത് പറ്റി ? “
“ഒന്നുമില്ല !
‘ഇവിടെ “ടു” കഴിഞ്ഞു കോമ ഇടണ്ട മോളെ’ എന്ന് എന്നോട് പറയാനിനി അവിടെ ആരുമില്ല”.

Aileen Wuornos

“How is she? Is she a good girl?”

My friend inquired about Niya, my college mate who just dropped by, to borrow a book from me. My reply to her was a tender smile which wasn’t meant to connote any inner meaning. It was a plain, transparent, honest and genuine smile. My mind rolled back three years when it was my first day at college.

Not a single face did I previously know. Everyone was totally new to me. When my dear parents returned after dropping me at the college hostel, a horrifying alienated atmosphere of solitude crept into me. My eyes welled in no time and my breath wasn’t anymore in my control. I was literally weeping. Very soon a group of girls encircled and appeased me in the beginning and made fun later. I thought they were my seniors. But in next to no time I realized that I was going to share the coming three years of college hours with those lovely buddies. The newness brought more freedom and choice. I liked it. Among them was Niya, about whom my friend wanted to know –good or bad. She came to me like an angel, both at hard times and joyful ones. I admired her multitude of qualities with a sense of acceptance. I saw no flaw in her. Almost immediately my ‘intelligence’ accepted her under the class of good people, with many others. Continue reading