Swimming Through The Fog: Prose

swimming through the fog is surreal. it’s icy cold, but not the type that gives you goosebumps or makes the hair on your hand stand up.

all around me are water droplets— suspended in the air, encasing dust and smoke. when you think about it, it’s like a magic trick. mother nature’s magic trick.

i can barely see two feet ahead of me.

but, for once, not knowing what’s to come comforts me. because all my life i’ve been taught that the clock is ticking, and time’s running out, but being suspended in the water droplets feels like i’ve been suspended in time. like a wave paused in mid air. there’s a tentative ticking, waiting for it to crash. but it doesn’t.

so, i relax.

i don’t know if i’m moving or not. and even if i am, it all looks the same.

i’m falling asleep for the first time in eleven years. i can hear music from the carnival of the dead playing in the distance. but that music, i resolve to forget. because i am comfortable in the silence now.

there are patches of black and white.

black and white. black and white.

i wish the world was black and white. but then, it wouldn’t be so beautiful.

am i willing to trade beauty for simplicity? diversity for one dimensionality?

i don’t know.

(maybe that’s why i find this so comforting. because i know there’s nothing bad that can come. but then, i know there’s nothing good that can come of it either, if i go on forever.

over time, the fog will fill my lungs, seep into my skin and water down my blood and i’ll become one with the fog. over time, the waves will yearn to embrace the ocean.)

i think i have my answer.

it’s time to swim out of the fog. into the light, or into the darkness.

whatever comes, i’ll take it.

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History: A Poem

there is a story that lies forgotten,

buried deep within your bones—

beneath the layers of pretence and hypocrisy

that you have been taught to don

as camouflage;

it chronicles the tales of stigma

and prejudice that have been

imbibed into your blood

and the lofty morals

you’ve never understood

but nevertheless uphold

out of the vague sense of

obligation that resides

in the pit of your stomach.

carved into the crevices of your soul

are stories of savage wars

and blood-stained shackles—

of gods and men who conquered

the world and women

who were forgotten by it,

of empires made of stone

that were brought tumbling

down like sand by

the wheels of revolution and

of people who gave up

their lives for freedom and humanity

and the ones who lost

their lives to it.

history is a being buried alive

in the sands of time, an exposé

that is echoed in the footnotes of

every conflict that has divided us

and all the stories that define us.

— don’t forget your history

and don’t let history

forget you.

The Godfather by Mario Puzo: A Book Review

The Godfather by Mario Puzo is an explosive read that delves into the mafia underworld of the 1940s– a dark and twisted tale of violence and family loyalty in a cut-throat world of underhanded men.

Rightfully hailed as the godfather of the subsequent portrayals of the mafia in both literature and on screen, it is ingenious, gripping and riveting.

The Godfather revolves around Don Vito Corleone (the Godfather in question), whose commercial businesses primarily consist of gambling, bootlegging and union corruption. As the head of one of the powerful Five Families of New York, his power extends all the way up to the White House and down below into the murkiest depths of the underworld. However, the man draws his power not from the extent of his empire, but from the strict code of morality and friendship he lives by. He helps people who are shunned by society and law, with no conditions of repayment except their undying friendship.

That is where the magnetic charisma of this anti-hero lies.

However, he is shot and critically injured by a rival, Virgil Solozzo, one evening. When he is rendered incapable of running the Family business until he recovers, it is up to his sons Santino ‘Sonny’ Corleone and Michael Corleone to avenge their father and keep the Family business afloat in the midst of a full-blown mob war. The novel then follows the transformation of Michael, who shunned the life of a mafioso as a young man, but is now drawn to the life of power, revenge and bloodshed that it holds.

 

The novel makes for an extremely exciting read. The diction employed by Puzo is simple, yet supremely effective in delivering a punch as and when required. The pacing of the novel is taut and keeps the reader intrigued, but slacks off towards the end.

But personally, I believe that it is less because of the author’s writing style but rather due to the gradually lessening force of the Don Corleone’s character. Though Michael may seem to be a better successor in comparison to the Don’s two other sons, he simply lacks the enigma and force of character that the latter possessed.

While the charismatic Don simply leaps off the pages with his paradoxic viewpoints and actions– a mafia boss who employs both compassion and cunning to run his business– Michael only comes a very distant second.

As is very apparent in the character of the Don, he is emphatic on building lasting relationships with all who seek help from him. He truly forges a bond with the reader as well– something that’s not replicable by Michael, who dominates the latter half of the book.

Mike Corleone does possess the tactical genius and subtlety of his father, but he lacks his sophisticated charm. Perhaps he is less of an enigma than his father is because we read a large part of the book from his perspective while we see the Don only from the eyes of the people who adore him. But it is undeniable that Michael is a befitting depiction of his generation.

Despite the strong lead characters, the pace also seemed to slack off in the middle, where Puzo described the lives of some supporting characters. It must be noted that these subplots were all necessary to add something more to the story and to make transitions smoother (after all, The Godfather spans a time of over ten years), but it did seem very unnecessary at some points.

The Godfather is the masterpiece that it is primarily due to its titular character who is adeptly crafted. The Don is polished but raw, cunning but naive, imposing but vulnerable and tyrannical but compassionate. However, it is also legendary for its scathing portrayal of the mafia, its power dynamics and the veil of blackmail and bloodshed that hangs over it. But what adds to the stakes is the dynamics of the Corleone family and the allegiance that binds them all.

 

Anatomy of a Wordsmith: A Poem

(Define death. Is it when the mind stops thinking or the heart stops beating?)

Date of Death: Unknown

Time of Death: Unknown

Cause of Death: UNKNOWN*

External examination: No external injuries.

Internal examination:

the subject’s cells were scarred,

all the words he ever wrote

carved crudely into their walls;

his heart ceased to pump blood

and instead injected ink into his veins,

staining his innards blue.

his mind was a perpetual battlefield

of ideas— thoughts struggling

to gain dominance, shredding

and twisting each other apart

until they really didn’t make sense anymore—

and not understanding them drove him insane.

his marrow was infused

with poetry that has long been forgotten–

words, phrases and ideals of glory

that were as pitiably transient as

the human remembrance,

forgotten by minds but

buried in bones.

his lungs were filled with gunpowder

that made his thoughts and

words explosive—

but his tongue, it was

laced with tact and metaphors

that softened the blow and exuded

the sort of empathy that could even defuse bombs.

the subject lived a cursed half-life,

where his words were his world

but reality was a recurring nightmare

that he had too many times

(and yet each time,

it seemed more vivid than the last)

until he morphed into a breathing poem

and became the words he wrote.

*This report may be inaccurate. All available forensic technology that was employed returned inconclusive results because they are applicable for humans only.

What Is Too Much Power: The Media Perspective

The media is the cause of much controversy and debate, not only in terms of the work it does but also the power it wields. Some people hail it as the fourth pillar of democracy, essential to preserve its sanctity. But others believe that it has crossed the thin line between power and its abuse, transcending into sacrilege.

It is always interesting to observe the intricacies of society’s relationship with power. What is power? What qualifies as abuse of power? What do we make of the nuances of abuse of power– abuses so abstract that we can’t label them so?

Furthermore, it also makes us question the cost of freedom. Is freedom really worth the abuse of power? If there is a line that separates freedom and abuse of power, where does it lie? Are we willing to curb freedoms to combat exploitation? Or are allowing exploitation to flourish in the name of freedom?

In this post, I would like to outline the arguments by both sides– for and against what is probably the most powerful institution in this world. I will not attempt to answer the questions that I have posed above, but merely to present the facts in as unbiased a manner as possible so that you, the reader, can arrive at a conclusion by your own devices.

Please note that media, in this post, will primarily refer to journalistic mass media and not social media or the internet.

First, let us consider the arguments that illustrate that the media has too much power:

There is no doubt that the media holds tremendous sway over public opinion and the words of a journalist can make or break a person, regardless of whether they are true or not. One of the biggest chinks in the armour of media is its lack of accountability to the people.

There is nothing that prevents the media from being as irresponsible as a five year old who has been made president for a day.

It is free to publish and endorse whatever it wishes to and is not answerable to the people. There are laws concerning defamation and ethics for journalism, but they can do little repair once the damage is done. Put simply, the media isn’t checked and balanced like the democratic government is even though it is, in most cases, many times more powerful.

Furthermore, another powerful defense that swings the balance in favour of those against the media is its commercialisation.

Recently, a journalistic operation named Cobrapost 136 unearthed disturbing yet definitive proof of the business that media has become. Though it is a well known fact that money and muscle power can sway the media perspective, watching the tapes that film the negotiations between the investigative journalist and the heads of prominent media as they freely discuss their prices for promoting a particular ideology is a wake-up call we all need.

Thousands of people from all over the world rely on mass media for information. But this information is not free, nor is it true. Reputations and facts can be bought just as easily as groceries.

Another troubling fact about reporting that relates to fake news is the sensationalizing of the various happenings in world. Really, how are mainstream news media different from the reality shows we look down upon for their ‘manufactured’ nature?

If you thought that was all, you’re wrong. The paparazzi culture stands testimony to the worst face of media. I think celebrities are human beings as much as we are, and that they don’t ‘sign up’ for disrespect and disregard of their personal space when they became famous.

The fact that people are so absorbed in lives that aren’t even their own, to the extent where booming business can be made by sneaking around behind celebrities baffles me, but that’s a rant for another post. The ugly face of the paparazzi is another powerful testament to the unstoppable power of the media and the ideals it propagates.

Now, I shall move on to discuss the reasons why the media, despite being the flawed institution it is, is integral to the existence of a democracy.

A popular argument that emerges in favour of the media and the opinions it propagates is that the media in itself was constituted in order to provide perspective. Since the media is not a single entity in itself and is made up of diverse individuals who hail from different belief systems, their conflicting perspectives breathe life and soul into the spirit of democracy.

Furthermore, as the fourth pillar of democracy, the media functions as a platform that encourages the right to free speech and information. Despite the flagrant misuse of power by journalists and news companies, there is no definitive way in which we can bring about regulation without nullifying the very purpose of the media. We need free speech and a body that is vested with rights to freely broadcast information in order to educate the people about the actions and policies of the government. Censorship or any such method of regulation can easily be taken too far and result in the establishment of an autocracy.

A major point in favour of mass media that cannot be ignored is the unparalleled power it has to create awareness. Whether it’s about a scandal or a social issue, the media creates a buzz that gets people thinking and talking. it has always been an important component of social revolution, especially in the past century or so, for it mobilizes and rallies for a cause like no other instituion ever can. And that is where the power of the media lies– in its veritable and unequivocal power to educate and influence the masses.

However, it can be argued that the media has as much power as we people give it. We can choose to let it get the better of us and tell us what to think, or use it as a medium through which we obtain information and not let the opinions it shares cloud our judgement. We can choose to take the word of conventional media as the word of God, or we learn how to sift between the real and fake news. We can choose to let the media fool us, or we can revolutionize it. Ultimately, it is about making a choice. A choice between exploitation and freedom, between revolution and degenration– for after all, power dynamics are determined by choices. Choices of both the entity in power and those who it is ruling.

And that’s the thought I would like to leave you with today.

Untitled: A Poem

All my childhood I was asked

whether I wanted to be

a doctor or an engineer,

and as a teenager I decided

that I would be neither–

that I would be different,

 

and I’m asked everyday

what I want to be when I grow up,

(turns out sane isn’t

the correct answer)

 

whether I have a plan,

(turns out no isn’t

the correct answer)

 

which college I want to study in,

(turns out the one that doesn’t 

turn me into a zombie

isn’t the correct answer)

 

because people want me to grow up

before I am ready to;

they say this world is no place

for a child, and it’s unfathomable

for one to not want a place

in this world.

 

And it makes me wonder,

if I ever became an adult,

who will I be?

 

Will I be the one who’s struggling

to cope with responsibility,

because I clung on to my childhood

as my friends left it behind;

the one who is stuck

conjuring castles in the clouds

while the rest of the world

conjures business opportunities

and profit margins out of

line graphs and pie charts

that she could never really understand?

 

Will I be the cool professional

who earns for a family

she has never known;

sheds blood, sweat and tears

climbing up a ladder that

leads nowhere, all the while

yearning to go back home,

where her heart leads her,

to children who have known

the love of a nanny better than

they’ve known a mother’s love—

but no, how can she give up

when she’s almost at the top, stray from

the only race she knows to win?

 

Will I be the adult who every child

is warned about; the one who made

a mistake and took the spiral down,

down into the dregs of humanity,

the very ones her parents

warned her about,

down into the dregs of humanity,

never again to be found?

 

Will I be the one who finds

true happiness in this world;

the one who can hear the tinkling

of ladybugs as they tiptoe

across a leaf, feel the smile

of the wind as it carries

a melody with it,

the one who finds soaring joy

in searing pain, tranquil calm

even in the noisiest abyss

and sights of unimaginable beauty

in this ugly, repulsive world?

 

Perhaps I’ll be the one who’s lost,

or the one who’s lost hope,

the one who has found a voice

or the one who never found her soul.

 

Perhaps one day I’ll know–

twenty, thirty or forty years from now;

and I can reach into the empty drawer
at the bottom of my cupboard,

unfold the disheveled piece of paper

on which I first wrote this poem;

 

scratch out the ‘Untitled’

that’s printed across the margin

in an impatient, soul-searching scrawl,

a question I didn’t know the answer to

as a child on the brink of adulthood

 

and put my sixteen year old

mind’s turmoil to rest with a word

that’ll take me a lifetime to find.

Why I Prefer ‘Winging It’

As a student who is on the cusp of making important choices for my future as an adult, I am often told to sit down and make a plan. To decide which career path I wish to pursue, what colleges I’d like to apply to and how I plan to utilise my degree in the future. Though I’m hardly someone to refute the fact that high-level planning is essential in giving you a vision you can work towards, I like performing smaller tasks in bursts of spontaneity. For example, I have never in my life stuck to a study plan for more than a day. Whenever I try writing a novel, I never manage to make it past the third chapter outline before I start writing spontaneously, because the better ideas always come to me only once my novel starts taking shape.

In this blog post, I’ll be discussing why I like living life without a plan. Before I start, I’d just like to put it out there that spontaneity may not work for you, the same way planning doesn’t work for me. Ultimately, we’ve got to experiment and figure out what mode of working suits us best, because the way each of us likes to do things is different. This post is just my attempt at articulating my disinclination towards planning and why I prefer spontaneity.

I’m the type of person who thrives in a state of chaotic organisation. I simply can’t work at a clean desk and needs loud, energetic music to decipher my thoughts, not to clear them away. Adhering to a study plan is a Herculean task for me, and I find it impossible to tell you what I truly see myself doing in five years. I like getting out of my house even though the forecast says it’s going to rain, and wasting a whole day in the middle of exam season just because I can’t bear to look at my textbooks that day.

However, at the same time, I am someone who never turns in work late, has a problem not knowing where things are on my desk and can’t stand going out to eat if I don’t know where.

In short, I’m a paradox that’s really not accounted for on the spectrum. But I think I definitely lean towards the spontaneous side, and here’s why I prefer it that way:

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