Sunday, December 31, 2006

Notorious or Noble

So ...What was the legacy, Saddam left behind? How will history judge him? What was the man -- notorious, according to Bush or noble -- as per his American jail medics.

Details have begun to emerge. Thay say truth, always prevails. It will take years -- though -- to know what is real and what is unreal. For now...Read on:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,1981148,00.html

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/PAR162214.htm

Dignified in Death

I know you have come to kill me. Shoot coward, you are only going to kill a man.
~~ Ernesto "Che" Guevara, d. October 9, 1967
Facing his assassin; Mario Teran, a Bolivian soldier.

"Do you consider this bravery?"
~~ Saddam Hussein, d. December 30, 2006
Facing his executers, as they taunted him, while he walked to the gallows


Trust me, all those of you who are alive. It takes a lot of courage to face death. And to face it with valor and incredible dignity is the kind of stuff that legends are made up of. George Bush-II – for instance – might wet his cowboy underpants if you mockingly put a wild carrot behind his butt-head. On a more serious note, the words people utter exactly at the fag end of their melodramatic lives have always interested me. That is when they are no more. When they cease to exist. Just then. Those last fleeting moments. The final words!

I was amazed at the courage and frankness that came from Saddam in his final dying moments. For once, there was no respect for the fact that these were the last minutes of a man’s – a ruler at that – life. I think some very average, uncultured, uncouth chaps were allowed to witness the execution. I have no living example of people filming and swearing at a chivalrous, helpless, hands-tied old man, while he is being hung. Whatever happened to the dignity of the dead?

In our life spans we often communicate our feelings through countless words. Words -- they say, have power. Words wrap moments in timeless zones. The grisly video -- freely available on Internet -- captures the last horrific but rebellious seconds of Saddam's life. Hussien, on the gallows, noose around his neck, can be seen with a brief smile crossing his face as masked goons around him, repeatedly tease him. Less than twelve seconds to death – a death that is largely seen as a cross betwixt political vengeance and the victors vendetta – the man is exceedingly composed and shouts with supreme defiance to his executors, "Is this what you call manhood?"

Aware that his life was on its exit countdown, Saddam recited the holiest verse in the whole of Koran. As he continues with his final prayers, saying, "I profess that there is God and that Muhammad...” the executioners release the trapdoor, not letting the man complete his last prayer. During the run-up to his execution, Saddam had reportedly requested that, as Iraq's elected commander in chief, he be sent before a firing squad. Instead, he was condemned to die on the gallows — as though he were a garden variety Iraqi thug or criminal.

Another matter, his last words were Mohammad. I am not a religious bloke but I reckon, according to Islam, saying the Shahada, at death, equates to an absolute act of faith.

Lets hope God is kind to the righteous.

Sameer

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Execution by Euphrates

The man ruled Iraq for 23 long years. He remained an Arab-nationalist, a Bathist till the very end. Militant and dauntless – in life. Bold in captivity. A complicated man, who was held with both awe and contempt by his folks. I have two striking images of Saddam– as an image-conscious Iraqi potentate who fought stupid war’s at others bidding and that of a grey bearded old-helpless man, who held a copy of the Holy Koran tightly in his hand, as he stood to defend himself in the make-believe courtroom’s dock.

A dictator is brought to justice and made to pay for his misdeeds, the Western media croons in unison. Now it doesn't take rocket science to understand that everything was so well orchestrated from Day-1...Court matter deferred live all across the world [Deferred live because US army needed a gap of 30-minutes to cut objectionable parts of the proceedings, translated in short for: any speck of truth that might expose the US of A], the judges were secretly trained in the UK, the settings, everything perfect to the last cunning detail. The theme: The first Arab ruler to face justice. Crimes against humanity. The theatre of the absurd went on for an entire year. Ramsey Clark, the former US attorney general, said, the court was a political vendetta. Plain and simple. Nov 2006: The expected Verdict: Death to Saddam.

End-December 2006: Saddam is quietly hanged at a secret location pre-dawn. My first reaction was this: The guy must have walked to the gallows defiant. As ever. I just watched his execution on BBC. He appeared calm, refused to wear the hood, wishing to face death in his eye. That was Saddam. Chivalrous in death. For once, I never liked him. He was a dictator -- like any other dictator -- pretty ruthless and authoritative but what many don't know -- or are deliberately kept unaware of in an information era -- is that Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons, biological programs and his order to execute Shiites at Dujial was at a time when Hussein was seen in Washington as a very valued ally. The U.S.-Iraqi relationship is . . . so important to our long-term political and economic objectives," Assistant Secretary of State Richard W. Murphy said in a September 1988 memorandum that addressed the chemical weapons question. The guy is now strung for crimes he apparently committed when he was a buddy.

According to the Washington Post, the US tilt toward Iraq was enshrined in National Security Decision Directive 114 of Nov. 26, 1983, one of the few important Reagan era foreign policy decisions that still remain classified. The directive stated that the United States would do "whatever was necessary" to prevent Iraq from losing the war with Iran. The Dujial incident had occurred only months back. US officials rarely acknowledge that these so-called offenses that Saddam is now hung for, date back to their friendship days. So we know why nobody thought of sending him to the International Court of Justice. And when the same chaps call him ‘A really bad man’ and help set up an illegal court with the sole intention of having him silenced, you can’t help say: It smacks of hypocrisy and falsity.

So in the little hours of Saturday, a day before 2006 ends, the brutal dictator is executed after being held guilty in what the western media dubbed as the 'Trial of the 21st century'. Clap-clap. The media goes hysteric. Important milestone, Prez Bush says from his Crawford ranch before he retires for the day with Laura. One day to New Years, Gee. The only thing on George’s mind. CNN now takes you live to Bag-Dad streets where people are celebrating. Never trust the slobbering hacks. Fifteen silly people dancing. Five kids. Two scooterists. Three cars. That represents the rejoice. The propaganda continues. So do the killings. The reprisals.

It's tawdry. And it is not going to achieve anything because of the way the trial was conducted and the way the occupation was conducted. Life in Iraq has become so precarious that many people are saying it was safer under Saddam Hussein - it makes the whole thing look like a poke in the eye as opposed to closure or some kind of contribution to the future of Iraq. The purpose should have been to see justice done in a transparent manner.

Instead the trial was swift, hurried, and outright lopsided. Top journalists witness to the procedure write that the way in which the court functioned was gruesome, occasionally farcical, and failed to fulfill its promise of giving satisfaction. For Iraqis, some will see it as a symbol of the death of an ancient regime. For some Sunnis, Saddam's death represents the final nail in the coffin of their fall from power. But Iraqis may also see this as the humiliation of Iraq as a whole that their president, however odious, was toppled by outside powers, and was executed effectively at others' instigation.

Pity.

Saddam Hussein abd al-Majid, born April 28 1937; died December 30 2006.


Sameer Bhat

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Mom

A mother is a mother still, the holiest thing alive.

It has been nine crepuscular years. I still remember it vividly. It was as if mom had gone to a deep sleep. I looked at her face for one last time. She was still graceful in death, as in life. She had turned 42, a little less than three months back. I hugged my kid-sister asking her to not sob. “God wants her to look after a small heaven-garden, she will be back soon” I foolishly consoled her. In hindsight I reckon, there are many things in life we don’t have the power to change, even as we may wish to! You simply cannot talk to people who leave you forever, though you may snivel at this supreme injustice. You may dream your mom and then get up excited -- like a hen’s newborn chick -- to look around and find her no more. Such is Life. Bittersweet.

My mom lies interred in a beautiful, simple grave, in a green meadow, by a quietly flowing river, in peach-fragrance of countryside Kashmir. Shaded by Viburnum flower trees, the place appears utterly peaceful but it makes me feel unloved for some arcane reason. In life one has got to be lucky to be blessed with a mother’s noble, selfless, love. Like other kids I grew very fond of my mom. The mother's heart – it is said -- is the child's schoolroom. Mommy was sweet, loving, sacrificing, beautiful. Like all mom’s. I still feel good in my heart when my pals return to their mother’s for holidays or festivals.

Life teaches us many lessons the hard way. It allows us to absorb shocks; we otherwise think will knock us off. I recall my best friends in the US -- Suhail and Salah. They lost their mom in similar circumstances a few years ago. It was a wintry night, they later told me. A snowstorm was raging in New York. It was dark and cold and they stayed awake. Then the phone rang. It was the hospice calling. The storm had stopped, so had aunt’s feeble pulse. My friend tells me that he still feels her presence in his Manhattan home. Yet I know something is amiss. He experiences it, like me.

I can’t say what. An emotional scar, a sense of deep reverence or remnants of the gentle influence of a mother, perhaps. There is this terrible hunger for love. We all experience it in our lives - the pain, the loneliness. We must have the courage to recognize it.

Hundreds of dewdrops to greet the dawn,
Hundreds of bees in the purple clover,
Hundreds of butterflies on the lawn,
But only one mother the wide world over.


Mom, 28 Sep 1955- 28 Dec 1997, RIP

Sameer

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Love -- unspoken emotions


Love is supposed to be much more
than an emotion. Do I love you

because I feel I do or because you
took the time to show it?

Love is supposed to come
from the windows of your soul
and not just from the chambers
in your heart.

So, is it my soul that feels pain
or my heart that cries when you're not there?
Love is supposed to be the best form of
communicating one's inner spirituality to another.

But if we keep away from one another,
is it our spirits or our words that
keep us a part?

Love should be me writing poetry
and singing silly songs of happiness,
blossom trees and turtle doves.

But if you don't enjoy or appreciate
any of these things, has my love
been misunderstood?

Love should be you
being able to look into my eyes
while gently caressing my soul.

Love is, love should be infinity
times infinity and a whole lot more.
But if you're the only one feeling it,

and I'm the only one showing it,
Can we still call it love?

Samy

What really is ur Zod-sign?

We all have our inherent traits. And our star-signs. Virgos and Geminis. And so on and so forth. Is it all dictated by stars? Stars... I really don't know. To be a star, you must shine your own light, follow your own path, and don't worry about the darkness, for that is when the stars shine brightest.

Here another cool internet quiz:
What sign you really are?
http://quizmeme.com/zodiacpersonality/takequiz.php

Sam

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Life's a party!

There are some quaint moments in everyone’s life when they feel stupid and sane at the same time. I feel sensible and sappy, in equal parts, many times. Like an Uppish, high-society party I went to, this weekend. Bellies swirled like some mid-winter tempest in the fashionable kegger, straight out of a famed Shakespearean work. Expensive arch-lights blazed in the background and flashers appeared to blinker upon glossed-over faces. American colonial-style decking, neoclassical columns, baroque plasterwork, Tudor beams. I clutched a drink tightly in my hand. Well past mid-night, babes sashayed in their bare minimals. Being a tad old fashioned -- in my mid-twenties -- I was shamelessly clad in woolens. I beamed fake smiles, like all others. I danced briefly, upon being invited by a nubile perfumed girl. My brawny buddy Barry was the center of some attraction and drew considerable female attention. Like other parties of the kind, it was first silent, then talky, then argumentative, then disputatious, then unintelligible, then altogether, then inarticulate, and then drunk. That’s where it all culminates. It was fun, nonetheless.

Driving back home in Delhi winters -- at 3 in the night – I think of what New York must have looked like a century back, perhaps. It is calm and chaotic at the same time; trucks entering Delhi bring in milk and vegetables and plastic pipes and whatnot. It is an endless stream of automobiles finding their way in. Trying to satiate the appetite of the capital city of the world’s fastest growing economy. People – and there are loads of them – sleep, huddled together upon roadside kerbs. Trying to hold on to each other’s warmth on a harsh, cold wintry night. Some elderly beggars were trying to light a bonfire. From inside the thermal confines of my car, I could see their blankets were not warm enough to keep out the cruel chill. Even in 9.5% growth. Wonder, how those beauteous babes managed!

Back home, I hit upon some lines, I couldn’t help adapt. Ya, I know. Stupid, Sam, someone may think. It is not that I don’t think of life without my distant dream. It is just that one practically cannot stop dreaming. Moreover, the thoughts are not the remnants of any party line. It's just that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what I really think. Just me.

The lines, my friends, before I drift again:

Why do I holler inside?
Why do I try and hide
Why do I still care
Why do I think you there.

Why do I love you?
Why do I think you love me too
Why do I feel pain
Why do I feel I'm insane.

Why do I want you so bad?
Why do I get a li'l mad
Why do I miss you
Why do I need you.

Why do I still love you?

Samy

Saturday, December 16, 2006

So what is it?



Each tear does not signify lamentation/
As shutting an eyelid does not connote sleep/
I do love you/
But does love always mean concord

There are times when I feel like a falling star that has finally found his place next to another in a lovely constellation, where we will sparkle in the heavens forever. The thought holds me high for long hours and then a sudden twitter wakes me up. The bright star shining by my side is there no more. I hear distant echoes of a familiar kind. ‘You can take me nowhere’, my yonder star appears to suggest. Silently one by one, in infinite meadows, the shiny stars evaporate. Ah – the hex of the early morning sleep. Another morning. Time for gym!

I think it is so important to space our relationships. I’ve come to realize that relationships of all kinds are like sand held in your hand. Held loosely, with an open hand, the sand remains. The minute you hold it tight, the sand trickles through your fingers. You may hold onto some of it, but most will be spilled. A relationship is like that. Held loosely, with freedom for the other person, it is likely to remain intact. But held too tightly, the relationship may just slip away.

In our most innocent ways we ponder, why we fall into relationships? Bondings, which only make us hanker. Lose sleep. Yearn in the winter fog. When we wish to cut through the mist. To touch those teasing toes.

A little canary has been cooing on the iron-grilled railings of my balcony since dawn. What is the tiny two-legged beauty trying to say, I wonder? We fall for people who most clearly fit our love map. And this love map is largely determined in our heart. And though the head may try to reason, the heart understands none of it.

Tirche tirche teer-e-nazar ke lagte hain
Sidha sidha dil pe nishana lagta hai
Aag ka kya hai pal do pal mein lagti hai
Bujhte bujhte ek zamana lagta hai


Thy eyes dart me sharp
And aim at my heart
The fire that kindled in a jiffy
Won’t douse just so soon!

Samy

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The week that went by

I must confess, I have been rather laid back during the last few days. Close to uninspired. Not-enough-motivated to key in a few hundred letters on my keyboard. I must have perhaps caught a longish nap. Then suddenly I had a quick dream. Eyes! They appeared to tell me something. Before I could gather the meaning of those arcane signs, my dream was already a faint flicker. It was gone, as quickly as it had appeared on my horizon. Frankly, I don’t dream too often these days but whenever I do, it is almost always brief, fragmented, in cut-glass types. Concise. Leaving me gasping for more. Every single time.

Very few people understand us in our lifetimes. A select few. Earlier I used to reckon, in my most naïve thoughts, that people really understand the silent gasps beneath our laughter and endless chatter. That is -- however -- not always the case! I understand people tend to mistake you, miscomprehend you, misread you, unless you express. They may know you but they often don’t understand you. There actually is a great difference between knowing and understanding something, as Kettering sees it: You can know a lot about somebody and not really understand him. Or even try to. Often enough the real pain is breaking of the shell that encloses understanding.

Philosophical meanderings apart, I attended a superb lecture by the very acclaimed writer and one of my favs William Dalrymple at India International. The author delivered a talk on the Indian mutiny as a prologue to his latest book, The Last Mughal. Dalrymple is a maverick. A sheer delight to read. In The Last Mughal he has written an account of the Indian mutiny such as we have never had before, of the events leading up to it and of its aftermath, seen through the prism of the last emperor's life. He has vividly described the street life of the Mughal capital in the days before the catastrophe happened. In his one-hour talk, I stood transfixed, like many others. Simply Brilliant. This guy puts his finger deftly on every crucial point in the story -- which earlier historians have missed – and intersperses it with his characteristic wit. At the end of his lecture, the mixed gathering -- comprising of Delhi’s Who’s who -- authors, historians, writers, scholars, diplomats and journalists gave Willy a standing ovation. I kept standing for the entire hour. The auditorium was jam-packed!

I also went for a dinner over the weekend. It was sizzling Italian. I love their cuisine. Antipasti followed by pasta. I don’t know Italian but I guess antipasti means before pasta. Excellent food based typically on the Italian gastronomic specialties. I think it consisted of a variety of ingredients -- aubergines (stuffed, baked, grilled), green peppers, tomatoes, vegetables in oil and mussels. The food was yummy. My friend – I forgot to add -- was as ever delectable.

Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside. Outside we always fight for other things.

Sameer

Friday, December 08, 2006

Sleep sweet boy!

I like the word Indolence. It makes my laziness seem classy. I rise late in the mornings. I must have been chastened a million times by my Dad and I still recall those spanking words – Samy, the whole world is up. Good ol’ days! I used to be half-asleep and sheepishly pull the quilt over my face. The naughty morning chill trying to slither in from tiny tunnels of my crumpled sheet into my cosy bed. Dad could go on, but I didn’t bulge. Then my Professor uncle – who is soon going to take on the rather colonial title of the vice chancellor of Kashmir University – would scare me in his baritone voice. Success has two foes sonny, sleep and bad company. Uncle, I reckoned, was a tad removed from reality. I’d no bad company but I loved my sleep. That was tween age, followed by my teens.

Years later, I still wake up a little late. I ensure that my office shifts do not align with my mandatory morning sleep schedule. I feel good when I sleep unruffled, after reading a delightful book overnight. The moment when you first wake up in the morning is the most wonderful of the twenty-four hours. No matter how dreary you may feel, you possess the certainty that, during the day that lies before you, absolutely anything may happen. And the fact that it practically always doesn’t happen, matters not a jot. The possibility is always there. Life hinges on such sweet and sour possibilities.

I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day. Brookes white once remarked. Life is like a blanket too short. You pull it up and your toes rebel, you yank it down and shivers meander about your shoulder; but cheerful folks manage to draw their knees up and pass a very comfortable night.

Yesterday, I laid my hands on an old tape. It played a haunting melody, almost mesmerizingly –

Lag ja gale ki phir
ye hasin raat ho na ho
shayad phir is janam mein
mulakat ho na ho


Transliterated, it simply means.

Come hug me/
For we are never sure if/
the sublime night will ever bless again/
We will never know if/
we get together again/
in this lifetime

I wonder the sonorous incantation says it all. There is so much beauty and ecstasy in the song. You can still listen to the fluent musical strands, long after you slip into your bed. Thinking, Life is like a beautiful song, only the lyrics are messed up. Another day is about to end, another cold, comforting night is going to blanket us.

Tonight, the stars twinkle. The night is chilly. You tarry for something? Sleep. Hug. Warmth. Eyes. Dreams. Tears. Love!!

pas aiye ki ham nahin
ayenge baar baar
bahey gale mein daal ke
ham ro le zaar-zaar
ankhoon se phir ye
pyaar ki barsaat ho na ho
shayad phir is janam mein
mulakat ho na ho.


I don’t need to translate it. You can’t express silly heart’s every faint rhythm. I better go to sleep.

Samy

Monday, December 04, 2006

Blessing

I hear God in the whisper
of a summer-scented breeze,
I hear Him in the robin's symphony,
I hear Him in the chorus
of the waves upon the shores --
I hear His voice when my friend comforts me.

I see God in the fiery glow
of sunrise over hills,
I see Him in the sunset's majesty,
I see Him in the wonder
of a baby's eager eyes --
I see Him when my friend is close to me.

I feel God in the rainfall
that caresses flowered fields,
I feel Him in the richness of the land,
I feel Him in the golden warmth
of sun upon the earth --
I feel Him in the touch of my friend's hand.

samy

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Mellow reveries

The days are wintry short. It gets dark around six. The evening chill feels good. Things continue to be as they are. Everyone and his uncle appear busy. There is a mad-mad rush to nowhere. People tend to smile but keep it in inverted commas. Everything is routine. Ah -- the monotony of things. The sameness suffocates me, at times. Nonetheless, I trundle on. Being part of the modern civil society, you eventually capitulate to its prescribed norms. It catapults you to a certain level, where you can do nothing – just stay quiet and watch events unfold! Watch unalloyed emotions being lacerated and dreams being dumped. The show – as they say -- goes on! 24 x 7.

I’ve made up my mind long back. I’m never going to give in to this fakeness. I can’t fake my hearts myriad little reveries. They are just too sacred to me to be wished away. A thrill still shoots through me when I think of love. Of eyes. Of stealing some cute glances in car mirrors. Of doing tiny somethings for someone, which I can’t bring myself to do even for me. The simple, innocent appreciation and respect for one another. My mind often reels as I step in my solitary room. I try to unwind, emote and enact the randomness of things! Think. And sit back to jot my thoughts.

When I go to sleep I always think of the countryside and all its loveliness and all its pureness. The trees and river streams. Quietitude. That’s when I unshackle my soul from life's numerous prejudices, vanities, riches and avarice. With a vanilla sky above and a grassed landscape beneath, my toes begin to tinkle. They tinkle alone.

The lovelorn thoughts chime in – always. It is already evening. Weekend. Cold. But beautiful. I am cheerful but I don’t know why! :)

Sameer