Monday, July 21, 2008

Idea of a Hero

Seldom one comes across a story that makes something inside you feel alive. Tonight such a story made me feel that way. It felt like someone had personified Hope, Sacrifice, Wisdom, Courage, Nobility, Compassion and Ability of the epitome of what humanity will ever have to offer. Suitably, people who symbolized these in medieval times were called "Knights".

All right, I believe there are people in this world who don't have a superhero (or maybe several) that they would idolize. Not to forget plenty who haven't read their comics or watched their animation, and more recently not been much of their movie adaptation viewers either. I am not one of them, no offense. I am an apt follower of all 3 of them, and would grab hold of an opportunity with either at the first chance I get. And probably what this story so amazingly stirred inside me was the real reason why I always liked the concept of someone 'Saving the Day (or Night)'. Ofcourse, I always wanna be the Superhero doing that.

We face the so-called forces of Good and Evil everyday in our lives. From the smallest good deed to the worst crime. I also know that when we discuss perspective of Black and White, there are as many acts in shades of Gray as there are in the absolute extremes. Some crimes are heinous, some efforts divine, and there are many which will always be a matter of which way you look at it. But sometimes being so wise and realistic, isn't what you gain strength from.

We all need something to believe in, something that out conscience can treat as an example to evaluate our own actions by, something that fills the void of what's the right thing to do. Religion, Gods and Prophets are one such source of faith and belief. Other set is that of Legends. Legends that have stories told of them in epics, in folklore and nowadays in the media I mentioned before. It doesn't matter if the real story behind the hero was that of mistakes and some wrong choices. But what is left for generations to remember (and this always happens) is how loudly did his actions say what he achieved. Legends are Immortal. And for something to survive such a long span of existence, it will be made an example of.

Nowadays superheroes are portrayed more human than ever. They are portrayed with the human traits that will be expected of any human like selfishness, glorification, self-righteousness, dilemmas. But the inspiring part of this portrayal is, they never win without admitting to the fault of their ways and always work to make a better choice next time. To me that's as perfectly human any hero will ever need to get. That's what I like to believe in when I think of what I would do if I had all those extraordinary abilities that are depicted so often. That's who I like to turn to when I feel that the problem is beyond me.

Mostly always, being a Hero means making the Hard Choices. Do you give up or not? Do you let things go or not? Do you kill or not? And someones Hero, might be someones Villain. Indian mythology is filled with instances of such antagonists, who were shown to be there, just for the sake of being defeated by the protagonist, for there to be a moral to the story. But could a selfish, powerful monster, might have been a Good King to his people? Could a Thief who stole from the rich and gave to the poor, might have been the nightmare of hard earning people? Still Heroes become heroes when they are viewed beyond such perspectives. What we see as a Hero is an idea of what a Hero that person can be.

So what does a fictional Superhero do to be deemed worthy of its existence in our beliefs? He makes us remember that maybe we haven't been wrong about the beliefs handed down to us through million of years. He makes us believe that ever under the most adverse conditions, we can make the right choice and still survive to talk about it. He paints a rosy picture of idealism in our minds, that however tainted it becomes with our logic as we grow, the tint of the color will always be there.

Superheroes make us Believe that we can be More than what we expect ourselves to be.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Silence is scary - both within and out.
For in it, truth rises mercilessly.
A silent gaze can freeze fear in its tracks.
A silent gesture can change the world.

It is not easily found.
It is quickly lost.
It is like a veil of darkness.
Waiting to be pierced by realization.

In Silence, one's efforts may seem futile.
In Silence, one realizes the power one holds.
In Silence, one becomes his worst foe.
In Silence, one becomes One.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Milestones of an Year

Results of the graduation exams were out. He hadn't topped them although he wished he was lucky enough that he struck gold with the meagre preparation he did. However, he thought that above average results were good enough. He already had secured a job with a reputed company, which would look like a solid start on his resume in future. He was glad he finally did get a job. The placements in the college had gone well this year, but he didn't get as high paying job as many of his classmates did. And the company he was waiting for did interview him, but they decided they were better off not shortlisting him. He still remembered the time after the interview. He had stormed out fuming inside and trying to reassure himself that he was too good for them and they probably thought that a sharp guy like him won't be staying long with them. And his friends reassured him about it. He knew they were just being friends, and soon they were off the club to dance and drink off their grasp on reality. He remembered that he cried holding her at night, asking he didn't have any clue as to why they didn't select him.

The gang was devastated. Not one of them was going to end up in the same city as any other person. It was as if fate had decided they were better off placed in different corners of the country. Girls were hit the hardest as to now they would have to find someone new to live with. One out of the 2 couples in the group was the most hopeful, because the guy was ready to take over his father's business, and once settled, the girl would leave the job and they would get married. The other couple was his own, and they had decided 2 months ago, that they weren't going to be able to cope up with the distance and had to focus on their careers. Still it was hard for him to think that this was their last day in college. Somehow they had managed to convince each other to stay till the results came out, but now no one knew how to react to the parting of the ways. Finally, they ended up hugging each other one by one and tears hit them one by one. Girls had promised each other last night they wouldn't cry any more, but the guys tear-stained smiles made it impossible for them not to.
He sat back into his chair staring at the screen. Six-months into his first job, and he already felt like he was going to pull his hair out. All that he had imagined about living the professional bachelor life had come true. He earned enough for himself, his lifestyle was comfortable as per any standards, he had his choice of girls to ask out on weekend nights and none of them was looking for a serious relationship or so they said, and he was a picture of healthy youth. Yet he knew what he was missing was something none of the satisfactions could shadow and hide. He thought he was wasting his time. At first he thought the frustrations were rooted because he didn't have his friends or family around. But then he realized that most of the time he didn't have the time to spend time with them even if they were there and if they were, they would have their own life to attend to. It had taken him 3 months to understand that college life will never return. And when he did, he called up the entire gang and his family, to tell them he missed them. They finally made him smile with the sheer variety of their reactions and responses. He had made peace with that.

Then he dove himself into his work thinking now was the time to climb the corporate ladder as fast as he could. He worked, he performed, and he made his share of mistakes. His office life wasn't half bad as he hoped for it to be so that he could put the blame on it. But when you feel like you are wasting the most valuable asset in one's life, you can't put the blame on anyone else but yourself. How you utilize your time in this life, is no one's responsibility but yours. And worst part was, he was smart enough to know this fact. But he couldn't lose to doubts now. He had planned out certain aspects of his career and wavering from it now, would definitely render him lost on the way to achieve his ultimate goal - To be filthy rich; because money was a requirement for everything in the world today; directly or indirectly. With this rekindling of his motivation he got up from his chair and went to get a cup of coffee; she had gotten up for the same and he had been waiting for a chance to strike a conversation today. It was high time he tried asking her out.
It was raining. Maybe someone likes me up there, he thought. It was exactly one year since he had started his work life. And he was sitting near the window looking out into the city, drenched in rain. He had been thinking about it the whole week. Last night, he had asked her out to spend the entire day with him. She was delighted. He knew she was hoping for something long-term and why wouldn't she? She was his constant beckon call on more weekends than he wished to recount, and she knew the contents of his refrigerator better than him. Still, when time till lunch seemed to be stretched and he didn't know what to talk about, he told her that he wanted to be alone. She left with a look of care and understanding and asked him to call her whenever he felt like talking. He looked at the rain and wished he had opted for a sea-view apartment. The falling drops would seem more picturesque that way. It was still evening, but the clouds made it seem like a starless night and seemed in no mood to stop their downpour any time soon.
Yet he loved the rain. He knew he was a sucker for them. All the people close to him knew about it. He thought of taking out his new car for a drive in the rain. Maybe later. There was something in his mind that was trying to break free. And he was afraid. Not because it was something terrible, but because it seemed that it was something that had been suppressed deep for so long, it would hurt when it came to light now. He distracted himself with thoughts of the work lined up for next week. Work? Was it all that he could think about now? There were things in his life that he had hoped he would enjoy once he was out on his own, but hadn't got a chance to do them. No that was wrong. He hadn't looked for a chance to do them. It was always later. And what was he doing right now? He was spending time in fulfilling his plan. Did he really want that plan so much? Was it really his plan or something he picked up from somewhere? He had matured enough to realize that he wasn't someone special as he had hoped he was like the protagonist in a story. But then who was he? What distinguished him? Most importantly, am I not the person right now I am living as? He felt the shell inside him cracking.
Suddenly, his cellphone rang and his thoughts were replaced by the curiosity of who called. It was surprising how eager he got whenever he was called these days. It was him. Probably they had finalized the date for their wedding. He was suddenly filled with guilt before he pressed the answer button, remembering he had missed their engagement the day before, just because he was working. He answered hoping it was a flurry of unmentionable swearing, rather than a disappointed question as to why he wasn't able to make it. The former would mean he was still forgivable, the latter meant he had scarred one of the few people he could call a friend. The swearing followed without any formal greetings. He smiled. He kept on apologizing, and listening to the words that meant nothing except than a verbal beating figuratively speaking, and that he was sexual abomination literally speaking.
"We are all waiting for you at the club. And I mean all of us. I had to call in all the favors with every one of us to keep them here for today and you better get your butt here. I don't know who was the person who missed my engagement, but buddy you better wake yourself up. It's been an year and we are not spending it without a rotten ba***** like you. You've got 15 minutes and I know it is at least a 20 minute drive. Deal with it!" His friend hung up.
He couldn't remember when he was this happy last. He put on something acceptable in a rush, and without even looking in the mirror, he rushed into his car. They were here. All of them. And suddenly has he raced the car out of the parking, he realized nothing else mattered. He had spent a year trying to mature, but he still got the rush from the same things in life. And maybe he needed money for many of those things, but no amount of money was worth missing out on any of those things. Maybe he hadn't grown up at all, maybe he was a long way from becoming wise, but he was happy. He swerved maniacally at the turn and pressed the accelerator. The rain was merciless but tonight he felt like he was invincible. He still had 3 minutes to cover a 9 minute distance. He sped on, but the rush outside was nothing compared to the calm taking over inside. He had to follow the things he really wanted. And if the life he had right now didn't allow a place for them, it had to change. The changes didn't have to be radical, but they would be if required. And hopefully she would be there. He missed her. He never realized that the only reason he let her go, was because she didn't fit into the plan. He was so stupid to forget that he fit into everything else so perfectly. It was time to pursue her again.

The rationale in his brain kept reminding him, that this was just momentary. When he got a reality check tomorrow, after everyone had left for their own lives, he will realize the importance of his efforts leading to his life till now. Will I? He shrugged and grinned. Maybe. But then now I know again what makes me happy. Being myself. Letting go. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon I will be brave enough to face the truth and then I will be glad of being who I am. It's not the same as not knowing the truth. He was almost there. He thought he didn't have time to be a miser and will let the valet take care of the parking. He breathed, preparing himself for the rain's attack, and looked out to the club's terrace. They were all there. He could never forget how they all looked grouped together. Only one missing was him. It was time. He opened the door and shuddered at the coolness of the rain drops. He closed his eyes to enjoy the rain before making a run for indoors.
She had waited for him the entire evening of the engagement party. Not just, everyone had. He was probably the most simple-minded, cliched and average of them all, but that made him so forgettable to everyone who didn't know him well. To them, he was the eternal hope of a child hoping to grow up someday to be a super-hero. Few of them were protective towards him, some made fun of him and rest adored him, but she loved him. She always did. She had left her job last month, to pursue something she actually enjoyed doing. He did always say she was the first person he came to with study problems. And now today it was raining. He would be happy. He was such a kid when it came to rains. And she hated it when he would always expect something beautiful to happen in rains. She knew her feelings for him were still mixed with confusion, and probably accentuated by not being able to see him for an year now, but today it was raining. She knew she was going to at least kiss him tonight to make sure something was still there.

Someone from the group mentioned that it seemed like his car. The groom-to-be joked that he still was 3 minutes earlier than he expected, still a rash driver. They all called out to him from the terrace. Then the driver came out and stood for a while in the rain holding on to the door of the car. It was definitely him. She smiled and in a flash her hand reached out to him impossibly screaming. A car smashed into the door of his car at full speed. The running car's brakes screeched and it swirled into a frenzy on the wet road, coming to a halt hitting it's back on a lamp-post. But the door of his car hanged halfway across its hinges and he was not getting up. People rushed towards the site of the accident. Guys from her group rushed downstairs. She stayed watching the aftermath, half hoping that he would get up and say he was all right. After all it was raining. Magical things could happen.
He saw the lights of the approaching car probably a few moments too less to reach inside into his car or run away from it. Suddenly he realized that all he could think of was - Is this It?