“through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us. . ."

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Today afternoon as I gave Sancho his food, I took a morsel from his bowl and threw it in the direction of Tommy’s grave. Tommy died day before yesterday. He was only 12 years old; had a couple more years in him. But since last three weeks he had been ailing. I had been force-feeding him all these days. It started with urinary tract infection. Then a cyst was found in his urinary bladder. In the last week he developed complications of the liver. All sort of possible medicines were administered, miracle was hoped for. On Thursday night he limped into my room and slept beside me on the floor. Occasionally I would wake up, caress and whisper to him. Friday morning, I gave him Glucose and water. He tried to get up a couple of times, fell down, but dragged himself out to the courtyard. Exhausted, he passed a little urine, I could see, with lot of pain. I gave him a sponging with Dettol and warm water. Tommy laid his head on my lap. With my right hand I fanned off the flies. And then, with a little yelp, he went away.

Though there were always dogs in my house, Tommy was the first one to be born here. His mother, Kunchi, had a long innings but succumbed to Mastitis. Tommy was an ordinary mongrel, if you go by breeds. But, those who knew him would agree that Tommy was the most elegant, refined, cultured, wise dog that ever walked on this earth. He had a gentle way with him. I remember the numerous occasions when persons who were scared or disliked dogs visited us. Tommy would immediately sense their unease. It was a treat to see how he would gently, lovingly win their trust. Many are those who became dog-lovers after meeting Tommy.

I had carried him as a new-born pup; now I carried him as I carefully put him down in his grave. I miss him terribly. I miss his trusting, loving, caring eyes. I miss his wet nose and kiss. I miss him, I miss him so much.

******** Balachandran, Trivandrum 25.04.2010.

Below is a poem I wrote on Tommy a few years ago.

Lessons in Love

It ain’t easy to write about love,

The blind can see better than I.

The deaf has ears sharper than mine,

The dumb has voice sweeter than mine.

What do I feel, what do I sense

I do not know what is love.

Is it sorrow, is it joy,

Is it the lust betwixt my legs?

I listen to songs, if I feel the same

I like the lines, nothing more.

I read the books, stare at the words,

Aay bee cee dee, eee eff gee.

Weary from travel, home am bound

Opens the gate- then hears the bark.

A blur of a dog leaps at me

I can’t see, for he licks my eyes.

I can’t walk, for he jumps at me,

Bites me, pulls me, howls at me.

Am scratched with nails, splattered with dirt,

He tugs my shirt and whirls around.

Sitting on haunches, I hug him close

Taking care he not bites my nose.

His cheeks on mine, kisses on ears,

In my arms he holds so still.

In my arms, is the thing called love

In my heart, a cup so full.

In his eyes, the limpid pools,

I see my face, I know it not.

Ladies and Gents, your lesson in love.


Kottayam 18/08/04

Monday, April 19, 2010

Inherit the Wind

Yesterday evening I watched a movie, ' Inherit the Wind', directed by Stanley Kramer in 1960. Teacher B.T. Cates is arrested for teaching Darwin's theories. Famous lawyer Henry Drummond defends him; fundamentalist politician Matthew Brady prosecutes. The period is sometime in the early 1920s. In those times, a heated debate was going on in America between the Bible-centered christians who belived in the Genesis according to the Bible and the scientific theory of evolution by Charles Darwin. Most of the film is shot in courtroom scenes. In spite of the long dialogues, the film is riveting. It is more than Genesis Vs Evolution; it is more about truth Vs faith. It is about the right for an individual to think. It is about breaking away from the accepted, unquestioned notions of life and probing and unraveling knowledge.

The story is very thought provoking from both points of view, the evolutionist and the fundamentalist Christian. Even though the leanings towards rational, scientific thinking is obvious, it goes to the credit of the movie that it offers a balanced view of either sides. Look at the following lines:

"That if you take a law like evolution and you make it a crime to teach it... tomorrow you may make it a crime to read about it. And soon you may ban books... because fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding.” The advocate for the fundamentalists retort that 'our children will turn into a godless mob with no direction without the teachings of the Bible'. Isn't that what has happened some 90+ years after the story takes place? But then, fundamentalism has not been much different either, has it? While these opposing views draw battle lines in the movie, an interesting third perspective is offered by a cynical newspaper reporter who believes in neither – it is not his cup of tea either to uphold Christian faith or the flag of scientific enquiry. Alone, he is the typical observer who must burn under the glare.

The choice is ours. Between the comfort that faith offers and the suffering in quest of truth. Between ignorance and submission on one side and knowledge and challenge on the other. The problem with faith is that the faithful tends to defend their faith; for that they would go to any extreme, including violence to suppress any force that questions their faith.

Extrapolating the above conflict, one can see that most of the issues in our world are actually between liberalism and conservatism. Be it religion, politics, culture, economics, enviroment – any aspect of our life, the contrasting views are based on either of the above.

************* Balachandran V, 17.04.10

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Favorite Poem

The other day a friend asked me about my favorite poem or poet in English. It is such a vast ocean, and what i have taken to my lips are but a few droplets. Yet, I sat back and suddenly one poem came to my mind. On second thoughts, there are much more better poems than this one, but strange that it should pop out of nowhere and snuggle up my chest. I would like to share it with you...

A Blessing
James Wright
Just off the Highway to Rochester, Minnesota
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl's wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Tribute to Sarat

This beautiful piece of writing appeared in the 'Friday Review' of the The Hindu. Do read it.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Losing a friend

I lost a friend yesterday. Saratchandran. Sarat was a documentary filmmaker. His interests were environmental and social issues. More than that, he was one of the few who persevered in the cause of nature conservation in Kerala. Through his documentaries on Silent Valley, Attapady, Chaliyar River, Plachimada Coca-Cola and several others, Sarat tried to make people aware of the issues. Through his touring film festival he called ‘Nottam’ ( Look), Sarat went up and down the state and even outside the state with his collection of documentaries ( made by others too) showing them at schools and other gatherings.

Though I had known Sarat for a long time, more than 20 years, we met only infrequently. Sarat came to see me a couple of months back. He had come to Trivandrum to attend the Film Festival. Hugging and kissing me, Sarat recollected our few journeys together, discussed his new documentaries and said that he had this sudden urge to see me and that’s why, drunk at a late hour, he had barged in. He had a great baritone and spoke well. I have seen several men of my generation succumbing to alcohol. It is my nature not to be critical or judgmental, but to witness the deterioration of their faculties, the transformation from brilliant, energetic minds to a dull, slobbering souls was sad. I enjoy my dollop of whisky, but I make sure they remain dollops.

Day before yesterday, while traveling by train late in the night, Sarat slipped as he tried to hold to another man who was about to fall. Both fell and died. Knowing him, I could see him doing that, risking his life for another. Looking at Sarat lying in the deep freezer of the mobile mortuary reminded me of my mango tree. I was like a green leaf watching another being taken away by the wind. Sorrow welled up in me as I watched Sarat’s mother calling out to him, asking him not to go away.

Yesterday late in the night, I googled Sarat. His film company, Third Eye Films, has a website. He has a Facebook page. I looked at it and realized he would never be there to attend to my ‘friend request’. But I sent him one, anyway. Who knows, he might reply. I sent him a message – ‘Goodbye, Sarat. You will always be in my thoughts’.

Now, at 1000hrs, his body would be being lifted up from his house for his last journey to the crematorium. Within an hour, Sarat would become a handful of ash and bones. Later he would come occasionally, like reflections in the water, and leave when I sigh.

********* Balachandran , Trivandrum 02.04.2010