Tartarus Quest

The waves around you swirl around

as you swim across oceans

to the fiery pit that dries and burns you.

You bathe in its warmth,

letting the ember grow on you, feed on you.

Boiling flesh acrid around you

melting off into the abyss

to be one with many.

An ocean of molten sinners.

 

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Millennium Interlude – The Girl who kicked the Hornet’s nest

Reading through the millennium series have always been a pleasure, and that didn’t change with the final entry. Yes, I do consider this as a conclusion and I don’t see myself going ahead with another one unless it is from a reanimated Stieg Larsson. Even though there is a possible sequel hinted at the end, the series did feel wound up nicely.

As always with the series, there are lots of meaty characters. I always loved how each character, be it a comparatively minor character inconsequential to the series as a whole or Lisbeth Salander, keeps to grow. Everyone has their own traits (though I did have a hard time keeping up with the character names). Larsson knows how to keep the reader on the edge, be it in a hospital, a coffee shop or a even a corporate meeting room. But in all fairness the overall invulnerability of Mikael Blomkvist and Co. does eventually set in. That probably would be of my reasons to stop with this book.

Lisbeth remains the best character in the series, probably followed by Erika Berger. The only character I seem to find as a solid brick is Kalle fucking Blomkvist, invincible invulnerable Greek God. All the ladies swoon over him, to such a point that its frustrating. Reminds me of the smug Oliver Green in the DC Green Arrow TV series. There is not much growth in the character from the first novel. It almost feels degenerative alongside others who grow on.

I really appreciate how Larsson treats his female characters. Somehow in his universe the male characters seem blunt and lacking when set alongside the female equivalents. I, especially, liked how Berger was given a space in this even though extraneous to story. Even though it was like a side quest, it was something I enjoyed. That said I would have appreciated if Mikael and Dragan Armansky had some more space to grow.

The best point in the book was definitely the Godfather-ish climax culminating with the trial. All laid to rest with a sequence akin to the hero riding onto the sunset.

“Salander was afraid of no-one and nothing. She realized that she lacked the necessary imagination – and that was evidence enough that there was something wrong with her brain.”

Taramani Takeaway

“How was he?”

He asked, anger and frustration in his eyes. He doesn’t know what he would get from the question. Would he be happier if it was a “Not as good as you”? Or did the question actually matter?

Shock and disgust filled me while watching these sequences, because there I saw myself. I had the same shameful revelationary moment at the first instance, similar to what the protagonist himself had during the second act.

I remember the night when she begged me to stop. She pleaded with me to stop being this way, to stop taking away whatever love she had left. I can’t even remember her face at the moment, I was blinded red by the insecurities boiling inside me. As she walked from me, she glanced back, a peculiar expression which washed away the coals. Fizzling smoke of shame arose in me, as I realized my folly. Ten minutes of red lay waste to a lifetime of cheer.

Denial through Acceptance, two years to realize when it had gone wrong. But it was not the day she walked away from me, it was the day she said “I missed you”.

Taramani is a movie about patriarchy and the roles that society tags people. Expectations turning into judgments and unwitting mistakes into consequences.

Starting off as a conventional love story between nigh unconventional couple sparked off into a chaos of events. There are lot of things happening from all the sides, that we can’t help but feeling like a rat in a fiery maze, that is until the protagonist is splashed with separate instances of self-shame.

“Unnai kadal alavu nesikkuren malai alavu verukkiren… Pasuthol porthiya puli neeya?? naana?? ”  <I love you as deep as the ocean and hate you as high as the mountain… Wolf in sheep’s clothing (Tiger in cow’s hide), is it me? or you?>

 

From one Dark Age to the next – Fahrenheit 451

There is a thought in Fahrenheit 451 that had been festering inside author for sometime. The chaos in the events and the writing itself writhes with a passion that betrays the sudden explosion of thought.

It’s almost amazing how a story writing almost 50 years back resounds with the way the world is going forward now. There is an uncanny resemblance to the digitized life we lead now amid all the noise and the cacophony of distractions that ironically keeps you from being distracted. You are delivered everything you want, including your next set of predictable thoughts so that you need waste your time thinking. Because thinking spurs thought, which in turn spike a sense of consciousness, lack of which is paramount to the happiness we enjoy.

The character of Montag shows how a seed of idea placed in the right mind grows into a tree of rebellion. There is an almost abstract character, Clarisse, turning up in no more than five pages but her actions reverberating to the end. She is kept alive, as the book mentions, by the fingerprints they leave behind on others, in this case Montag. Her playful questioning of seemingly mundane things and attention towards insignificant normalities place a seed of wonder, the question of “Why?” inside Montag. The question that leads humanity from one Dark Age to the next, beautiful compared to a burning phoenix by the author.

The most interesting character for me was Beatty. A man burdened by the life he leads, not unlike Montag, but somehow more so due to his inherent cowardice. He is portrayed as the immediately available antagonist. One towards whom we can direct all your hate. But then a single thread of thought by Montag – “He wanted to die” – pulls us back, through the quotes and arguments, his helplessness and the inability towards action. He was man, practically held in a straight jacket. His mind lashing against his disability.

The greatest moment in the book was undoubtedly the catalyst to it all – the burning lady. The entire sequence was portrayed with such arresting detail, that we almost suffocate in smoke and silence. “The men were making too much noise, laughing, joking to cover her terrible accusing silence below. She made the empty rooms roar with accusation and shake down a fine dust of guilt that was sucked in their nostrils”. Such powerful words, makes you want bow your head in shame.

“‘I hate a Roman named Status Quo!” he said to me. “Stuff your eyes with wonder,” he said, “live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. Ask no guarantees, ask for no security, there never was such an animal. And if there were, it would be related to the great sloth which hangs upside down in a tree all day every day, sleeping its life away. To hell with that,” he said, “shake the tree and knock the great sloth down on his ass'”

The Stranger You

When you are past an event, you take a moment to realize that it is life changing one. You do realize that it’s life changing, just not how life changing.

The heinous scar may have covered up, but the wound runs deep. The occasional spasms of pain subside and you let your guard down.

Days pass, months pass and maybe even years, a strange unknown feeling comes to your attention. Something you have never felt before. Unknowingly the wound has eaten you up, chewed on you moulding you into an alternate you from the inside.

You regretfully realize the change in you. You strive to fight against it. To find yourself in you again. But you can’t identify yourself again. You keep digging, but still you just find the stranger that is you.

You vaguely remember what you were like, and you accept the fact that it’s easier to embrace the stranger than dig for a forgotten wisp.

Ugh! Despicable Me! 

I ran across the platform, to get to my coach. For a weekday afternoon, the platform was unexpectantly crowded. People were bustling into the train, without regard to the reserved ones and the general. Scenarios ran across my mind where I would find someone sprawled on my berth. The irritable thoughts soon drenched out as I got into an empty coach.

Empty expect for the one guy smoking opposite to my berth. Unruly beard and unkempt hair spread across his dark, wrinkly face. He was obviously illiterate and I was sure that he didn’t realize this was a reservation only compartment, not that he could afford one if he knew. I juggled between asking him to stop smoking or asking anyone of authority to do the needful. 
As I decided to sit myself in a corner, where I could watch over my bags, which I has already placed on my berth, and be comfortably far from him. The perfect position to lunge at him if he made a move towards my bags. I could very well move towards some where else with my bags, since the coach was practically empty, it simply felt like handing over my rightfully booked seat.

Slowly coming to terms with him smoking, I sat there reasoning to myself that I was not being an unresponsive citizen. After all if it was one of my friends in his place, I would have ignored it, or maybe even made it a sort of dare. 
The train started moving, I so badly wanted to sleep but somehow I couldn’t bring myself to remove my shoes to get on to my rightful upper berth. What if his entire game was to steal shoe pairs and sell it off? But then why doesn’t he take the bag across him? Whose bag were they? Where they his? Is this a Anbe-Sivam scenario? Did I judge him too soon?

In a sort of unwarranted panic, he threw away his cigar and looked out the window as if to search for something. He was mumbling something… And he turned to me. 

“Are there no water shops nearby?” he asked me. His native language was obviously not mine, but sure was fluent enough. 

“Yeah, there are lots.” I replied. 

“But the water-boy didn’t come yet” 

Why was he smoking if he was thirsty? It’s counter – productive, right?! And why didn’t he go get the water while train waited in the platform?He is obviously not all there.

“The train will stop at the next stop right?”

“Yeah it will” Duh!

He continued peering out the window. Mumbling prayers and calling to all gods that came to him. 

Wow! This dude must be really thirsty. Should I give him my bottle of water, but what about the innumerable combinations of diseases he might be carrying. 

“I am here! Don’t worry! I am here!”,  a guy my age came to him rushing in. An uber-cool guy, clutching a bottle of water. 

“Oh I was so worried, you went to get water but didn’t come back”, a visible smile widening across the old guy’s face. 

The new guy calmed the other, telling the story about how he had to wait to get the balance amount back, as he drank the water he went out to buy. 

As the “water-boy” and the guy sat there with their stories, I removed my shoes and climbed on to my berth to try sleep off my disgust. 

The Tug of war

The screens blared with opinionists screaming out of their boxes in an inexplicable effort to drone out their counterparts. I sat there trying to make out the facts about the story that’s running the show in my state now. Emphasis on the now, because by the time I finish typing the people would have moved on.

As I sat there digesting the noise along with the morsel in my hand, I was prepared for the derogatory forming itself right beside me. I could almost hear the sparks flying across as he formed his thoughts. I raced my mind through all the choices of impending statements and their probable counters.

And finally there it fell, an accusative “Kids!” and I fired my barrage of defenses. Defenses in attempt to pull up the man I believed lost. The man who took me to wait for Shiva on a Navratri, the man who taught me the meaning of secularism and asked me to keep it close.

As I sat there defending the girl who converted to Islam, he countered with unproven possibilities poised as facts. Convinced with the facts I gathered, I shut myself out from the claims that pass off as truths. Declaring the battle won, I moved on to research further because I know another battle awaits, deciding the war.

As I read further on the Hadiya case, as it was sensitized, and dive through its recent history, questions sprang to fore blurring the battlefield.

What would make a girl in her prime youth choose to shift her views onto a new religion?

I do understand there are people who strongly feel about their religions and beliefs and I myself am no atheist. But to leave aside what had been essentially your moral anchor to follow another belief system all over takes insurmountable faith in the new doctrine. I could never understand it mostly due to my general mistrust towards religious institutions and also because I don’t think what you fill beside the religion label matters for the One-Up-There.

How did she end up marrying someone who is seemingly a stranger hours after a specific court hearing?

I get that most Indian weddings that come under the category “arranged” are just two strangers slowly realizing that the stranger on the other side is going to be your partner for life. But this was far from arranged. In midst of court-battle with her parents, she manage to get married to someone never previously mentioned.

Yes love strikes fast and also the argument that this may be a personal fact they decided to keep personal is understandable, except that it just was too convenient. Convenient in the when, the who and the how.

Also there is the fact that the “who” wants to take her to “Gulf” where his parents are staying. CONVENIENTE!

How are they affording the lawyers defending them?

When I read about the team defending them, something seemed familiar about them. One was a renown Human rights activist, good for her and the other was a GODDAMN FORMER UNION MINISTER!!

I get that the couple has a whole political party aiding them, but it isn’t it still a bit on the off-side.

As I prepared on for the battle, I realized that I really didn’t want to fight the war anymore. I sat cross-legged gazing out into the battlefield wondering if anyone has actually won wars.