How the lotus came into being

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Once there was a girl who fell in love. She fell in love with the green undulating, grass swaying on the riverbank. She fell in love with the ripples that lapped the wet shore, with the lovely golden oriole, with the open blue skies and the soft clouds floating by. She fell in love with the tall Jacaranda tree and the lonely koel that sang its song every morning and evening.

And then came a breeze laden with the moisture of verses that garlanded her very soul. Her being danced to the rhythm of the trees that swayed, to the waves that swished, to the bees that buzzed and to the colourful wings of the butterfly that flit silently past her. She had the magic to weave silence into her words…an amazing gift as words normally destroy quietness.

She spun a world of magic around herself with her simplicity and imagination. She lived dreaming of rainbows and unicorns till a strange steed flew to her from the skies and turned into a young traveller from a distant land where wild blew the golden sands. He had travelled through desserts and snows in search of his soul mate and at long last the lilting songs of the girl had touched his soul and he became again a man from a stallion. He had a story to tell too….

As he travelled through the Arabian sands, he was followed by a beautiful creature, winsome, doe-eyed with pale skin and jet-black hair. She had a perfect figure and a sinuous walk. She followed the young traveller from one caravanserai to another till he, who was still untouched by the wiles of the young damsel, noticed her. When she threw herself on him and declared her undying love, he turned his face away from her. For, in his soul, he did not love her. There was something in her kohl-blackened eyes that seemed to rankle in his pure heart. And he was right, for the beautiful, sensuous creature was a wicked Jinn who had escaped the confines of her bottle when a drunk looking for free wine in a caravanserai uncorked the ancient jar that had been her home for a thousand years. She had been tricked into the bottle by a clever magician when mankind believed in magic and magicians roamed the world. The first man the wily Jinn saw was our young traveller. He was so young, pure and handsome that she fell in love with him and started following him.

She was infuriated with the young traveller for turning her down. She turned him into a winged stallion who was forced to fly till the strains of his soul mate’s melody bought him back to his original form and life…

He had flown for a decade in the clouds, living on dewdrops and rainbows, till he suddenly heard the melody riding on the waves and touching his heart and soul. A strong draft of breeze came and carried him down to the young, innocent girl in love. Her song and innocence reached out to the purer and rare air where magic had led the winged stallion. This time the magic that had been woven by her song was stronger than the magic that imprisoned the traveller in the body of a stallion. As his hooves touched the ground, the winged stallion transformed back to his original self.

The maiden saw the young man and fell in love with him too. The two of them twirled and danced amidst the trees, sipping nectar of flowers, eating fruit and drinking from young springs.

Then came the mists of the night. They whispered through the forest as the young couple slept on the soft grass. The mists of the night were minions of the doe-eyed Jinn. She had cast a spell on them. They spied the young couple and saw that the stallion had turned back to the young man. They whispered the story to the Jinn when they visited the desert sands. The Jinn was furious. She turned herself into a crane and flew to the tropical paradise where dwelt her heart throb. She did not want anyone to have what she aspired and could not get.

She descended to a branch of an Angsana tree.

“Look, a crane!”cried the young girl in surprise. “How beautiful it is! Pure and black. I have never seen anything like it!”

The young traveller started. He had seen the worst of black magic in his travels and he wondered if it could be…the Jinn. As he thought, she transformed herself back into a beautiful woman with cloudy, wavy jet-black hair, red lips, a pale skin. The boy recognized the Jinn as she shouted, “What I cannot possess, neither can she. I will destroy her and you if you do not come away with me.”

The young man, with a downcast face walked over to the Jinn, to save his loved one. The loved one looked on startled and said, “Where do you go?” As she spoke, the Jinn cursed her to turn to ashes and dust and dissolve  into the marshes near the river. The spell flew out of her mouth and where the young girl fell sprouted a beautiful flower, so clean and pure that none of the mud or slush from the marsh could stick to it. The boy, astounded and stunned, fell to his death as he ran to catch his beloved. He fell right where the flower was sprouting and he turned into it’s leaves, which remained as unsullied in the marshes as the flower. As for the Jinn, she was so angry that she dissolved into ashes and mud and the marsh swallowed her up.

The daytime breeze that watched the whole drama carried the story to the village of the fisher folk. The fisher folk came to see the new flower and named it after the girl who fell in love, Lotus.

People from far and wide came to see the flower and said, “How beautiful is the Lotus with her unsullied purity and lush, clean leaves!”

 

 

 

 

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Medley

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Why is it...

It is all right to be different, not to be the same.
We are still all a part of the big game.

We still look at the sky each day
And see it brightened by the sun’s ray.
We still see the rainbow light up in delight
With the dust washed clean from our sight.
Violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange and red
Bring happy thoughts to our head,
Thoughts that glide and thoughts that play,
Lightening our burdens by the day.
If the different colors light up our lives
And fill our being with happy smiles,
Then why its it when we are not the same
We get thrust out of the game?
Why is it the differences matter more
Than ideas that make us soar?
Why is it we fear and hate the unknown
Instead of learning and making it our own?

It is all right to be different, not to be the same.
We are still all a part of the big game.

That is why each sunrise
Brings colors and blue skies,
And each sultry, soft, starry night
Punctuates the darkness with a silvery light.
That is why we have calm and storm
And each bird, it’s own color and song
That sings, harmonises and celebrates
The bounty of this infinite space.

Book of the Week

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Title: Heart of Darkness
Author : Joseph Conrad

Heart of Darkness was first published in 1899 as a three part serial in Blackwood Magazine. It is the story of a journey of exploration on the river Congo into the heart of Africa. Though the book has been condemned by some as a misrepresentation of the country, I would see it more as a journey of the protagonist, Marlow, into his own inner psyche, which is critical of the colonial culture among other things.

In the beginning of the story, Marlow states,

The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much.

Marlow continues to have this stance through out the book as he journeys into the heart of Congo in quest of the elusive Mr Kurtz, who was not just an ivory trader but also  a remarkable man. When he finds Kurtz , the legendary figure is sick and on his deathbed. He gives Marlow a bunch of letters from his fiancee. Finally, when he died, he cried out  the horror, the horror. Was he denouncing a horrible vision he had, or the horrible life he had lead, or the horror of dying in the way he did? Just before he uttered these words, Marlow, who was with him  on the journey back , describes his last facial expression.

 I saw on the ivory face the expression of somber pride, of ruthless power, of craven terror — of an intense and hopeless despair.

Kurtz had been also doing a report on Suppression of Savage Customs. Just as the conquistadors in South America had exterminated the local population for gold, glory and God with advanced weaponry, the ivory traders were intent on conquering the local population for ivory, glory and God. Anything unfamiliar was seen as savage and, therefore, bad. It had to be replaced by customs acceptable to the ivory traders and invaders. To me, through this story, Conrad has successfully exposed how invaders not only loot the invaded country off it’s wealth but also destroy the local colour and culture.

Kurtz ‘s was an impenetrable darkness. The darkness highlighted in the book, I would say, refers to the blackness of the ivory trader’s  psyche which sees anything different as negative. It also refers to the intent of the invaders who defeats the local population to harvest their resources, in this case ivory, and drain the conquered country of their wealth. Darkness refers to the ignorance and obtuseness of the invader to the needs of the invaded, who living in harmony with the nature around them, have evolved a culture and lifestyle best suited to mankind in that environment. What goes on in the the name of development is a cultural imposition and not a harmonious cultural intermingling. And this is something that Conrad has critiqued repeatedly in this book.

Marlow himself fell sick. So, all the perceptions he has about the locals are from the perspective of a semi-conscious sick man. He had to be nursed back before he could return the letters to Kurtz’s fiancee, who is absolutely in the dark about Kurtz’s cruelty and viciousness( Kurtz had shrunken heads of natives on poles at a certain distance from his post in Congo). She only sees Kurtz as the penniless lover who went into Africa to make money and, thus, be accepted by her family. She says, Men looked up to him( Kurtz)–his goodness shone in every act.

Marlow keeps her in the darkness about his last words too and says he died with her name on his lips because she wants something– something–to–to live with. She is also the opposite of darkness and her hair glows with a golden light.

This is a book that makes me think. It makes me wonder if development means the same thing to all the people of the world, if what we judge to be good for ourselves would be good for others. To me, it is a cry for tolerance of things unfamiliar and new. It is a call to be positive and open to all cultures, religions, races and life.

Phantasm

 

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Flights of Fancy

Through the land of mists I glide
With thought beings by my side.
White, misty clouds shroud
Strange creatures that mouth
Hushed whispers, murmurs that grow loud
And emerge from the mists as beings thought out.
Robed in white,
With an inner light,
These creatures ride
Side by side
Through the woods.
Strangers flitting in hoods.
Silver girdles on their waist,
Ambrosia and honey they taste.
Sip off the little brooks that run,
Through the the patches of mists and sun.
When they emerge in light
They become beautiful and bright.
An emanation of the mind,
A figment of a fanciful flight.

The Creators

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In the misty forest, hushed whispers seemed to emanate from the very trees. Mysterious beings rode on strange horses among the trees. Everything seemed to have a fleeting sense of reality. A soft moist breeze twirled its fingers on the white robed, silver girdled riders. A sense of unreal surrounded Jasmine, Jacaranda and Gorge as they walked through the woods from the beach. None of these figures harmed them. They seemed intent on their own tasks.

A soft Zephyrus song seemed to pervade through the mists of the whispery creatures. Suddenly, the mists began to clear and the three reached a meadow by the woods. The meadow was grassy and had a little pond in the middle. There were flowers of different colors in the grass. The sun was peeping out from the mists. The music seemed to be coming from the mysterious white robed creatures that stood by the pond. There was a tall girl with beautiful tawny eyes and hazel hair wearing a tiara made of daisies. From the tiara hung a veil of diaphanous silver. It glittered in the sunrays. The clear voice rose from the girl drowning the earlier notes with its clarity and intensity. It sounded like the sunray had pierced the mists and was ringing out in clear notes.

At a distance, there were some enormous white steeds gamboling around. The sky had a vibrant rainbow on it. The steeds, on closer examination, had wings on them. A group of grey flying horses landed near the white ones and started grazing on the soft green grass. A blue bird chirped and flew out from a tree by the pond. Jasmine, Gorge and Jacaranda looked a little surprised because though they could all hear the song, the singer’s lips did not seem to move. Everything seemed to be in harmony.

As the song rang out, they could see the flowers in the grass bloom and a bright yellow bird flew out from a tree, followed by a red bird. The surroundings seemed to spring to life with the mysterious music. Again the whispers rose in a crescendo and the clear notes dissolved in it. The song slowly seemed to fade into the swiftness of a breeze. The tall, white robed beings now turned their focus on the three intruders.

“Welcome, O creations of Janice and friend,” said a strange voice in their heads. It felt as if all the surroundings spoke in unison. Jasmine, Jacaranda and Gorge looked at them with stunned surprise on their faces.

“We come for help,” said Jasmine.

“We can hear your thoughts,” said the voices. “But we will use voices if you so desire.”

Gorge could sense the speech too. He was absolutely quiet and a bit scared. He had never seen anything so weird.

“Some of you are scared. There is no reason to be scared. We will help and not harm. Trust us,” said the voice.

Three of the white robed creatures, including the girl with the diaphanous veil, came over to where the three of them stood.

Their walk was more like a glide. They were much taller than Gorge, had pale but tawny skins that seemed to glow like moonlight.

“Let us lead you to our halls before we start to talk,” said a tall grey-haired man.

“Summon the steed.” Now, they could see he was moving his lips and talking just like them.

Three of the white horses that had been grazing at the far end of the meadow gamboled over. The three beings got up on the horses each one taking one of the three outsiders with them. Then the steeds took off to the skies. They soared over woods, meandering rivers and meadows till they reached what seemed to be a silver cliff-like structure. The steed descended just outside the cliffs

The riders and their guests descended and they went in through an enormous opening. Jasmine, Jacaranda and Gorge stared in amazement at the hall made of some translucent, crystalline material. The walls seemed to diffuse a natural yellowish white light of their own. There were more of these creatures in the hall.  Most of them were seated in small groups on plush sofas of red and gold against the walls. The floor was covered with downy carpets of mustard color. The shelter seemed to be a kind of cafe as most were sipping drinks in tall glasses. There were some who were behind a counter handing out drinks from different taps. Hushed whispers emanated from the different groups. Sounded like a pleasant chatter. The group sat down on an empty sofa.

The girl in the diaphanous veil broke the silence. “Come partake of some refreshments with us and let us talk over your issues,” she said. “I am Janice.”

“I am Halon ,” said the grey haired man.

“I am Anouk,” said the third man.

“We are from a distant planet called Lemuria,” continued Janice. “ We came here long, long ago. Earlier, we lived with mankind in the same dimension. Then the conflicts between different groups of mankind started. To keep out of these conflicts, we receded to this dimension.”

“I have read that,” pleaded Jasmine. “But we really need your help…”

“I know,” said Janice. “But this will be for the queen and her council to decide. I would like to help as you were an emanation of our ideals. We poured the emanations into your multiple selves as they were being formed. Your parents at some point were visited by dreams from us, which they would have forgotten. The dreams would translate to a physical reality…enough of this. You must be tired. Come, let us have some drinks.”

Janice and Anouk walked to the counter and carried back two trays. There were six tall glasses of a delicious drink. The drink was amber and filled Jasmine, Jacaranda and Gorge with a sense of peace. Their hunger disappeared and they felt rested.

“ Wow!” said Gorge. “What is this?”

“It is delicious,” said Jacaranda.

“This is Ambrosia, our main nourishment,” said Anouk.

“I feel really energized drinking this,” said Jasmine.

“So do we,” said Halon. “ It is our main diet. I would suggest that we adjourn to the queen and her council this evening. This is the time for our refreshment and then, we go back to work.”

“Perhaps, you would like to come with us to another meadow…” said Anouk.

 

The Creators

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Lemuria… the land of mists and murmurs came into being tens of thousands of years ago when mankind was in its throes of infancy. The ancient man saw the lemurians as gods from the skies. The modern man did not know they existed!

Lemuria was a strange land shrouded by white misty clouds. They had green hills and loud raging seas with patches of sunshine peeping through the clouds and mists. Flitting in the mists were tall and graceful lemurians. They were robed in white. Their skin seemed to glow with the light of the moon.

The lemurians descended on Earth because they needed a planet to live on. Their own planet was facing destruction from an aging sun. Some remained on the planet but many left to find planets they could terraform and continue living their lives as they had been used to.

Few of the space ships landed on Earth. In those times, Earth was scarcely populated. This suited the lemurians. They lived in harmony with nature terraformed by them. Their children were thought beings they developed with emanations from their minds. To reach out and make friends with mankind, who seemed rather primitive to them, they made some thought beings look human. These creatures were sent out as lemurian ambassadors to mankind. When people met these creatures, they thought they had descended from heaven, as they seemed to appear from nowhere. In reality, they were teleporting. But in those days, man’s comprehension did not stretch beyond the confines of his land and experience. Instantly, he gave these tall well-dressed, glowing creatures a divine status. They became the gods of mankind.

Lemurians had conquered disease. Death was a process that occurred in a five hundred years. After a full life, death was seen as a process of regeneration. The lemurians just dissolved into the mists when they died.Every lemurian was replaced by thought beings, who had powers similar to their parent. Some, who were made to interact with humans, had multiple biological systems that could adapt both to human and lemurian needs. Life went on peacefully for sometime.

The lemurians communicated telepathically. They did not have a language problem. It was easy for them to understand man’s words as they could read their minds. They could pick up the language very quickly and easily without man figuring out they did not know the language. The lemurians used a hundred per cent of their brain while man used only a small percentage.

As mankind advanced in intelligence, time and history, lemurians realized that they could no longer continue to live in harmony with these creatures whose wants came not from just needs but also from their greed. When battles started over land and violence became an accepted reality among mankind, these graceful aliens decided to create a separate space for themselves. The lemurian quest for ages had been to harmonize with that source of energy that created life and eluded all comprehension. War, hatred, anger were all emotions that took away from the positive. The lemurians wanted to experience only the positive energy so that they could focus more on understanding the energy that creates and destroys life, as it did their own life-giving sun. To keep negativity at bay, they decided to create dimensions. They did not violate or hurt man but, one day, they just seemed to fade out of existence. They had gone into a new dimension.

Some of the mythological creatures on the magic dimension’s island of wonder were children of thought beings and humans. But, no one except the lemurians knew that. The gods of mankind were lemurian too. The lemurians continued transmitting thoughts to people who were able to communicate with minds.

The lemurians, disappointed at the turns mankind’s history was taking, decided to create the creator’s dimension, which would help mankind evolve into a more positive being, into a creature that would live in harmony with nature and each other. The first five councilors were thought beings with human functions only. They mated with humans and founded a new dimension.

The councilor’s job was to experiment with different ideas to create a perfect civilization and home for man. They had not yet achieved this.

Sometimes, when people thought there had been a mass disaster where many died, the creators had merely generated an illusion and moved a group of people to new dimensions. Their minds would be wiped out and they would restart life on a clean slate, thinking what the creators would have them think.

People from the other dimensions who could communicate telepathically were also brought in. Sometimes, they made sure that some of the minds were replicated in a number of dimensions, as was Jasmine’s. These replicated people had  powerful minds and had their origins from the creator’s dimension.

Over eras, the creators had developed biases and some of them, felt a little more equal than others. These people made sure that they became council members. When this group rose to power, they wanted all creators to be in sync with their thoughts. Any aberrations were not tolerated. Jasmine with her open thought process became an exception. She wanted a dimension that would be open to all dimensions. The creators, like other humans, wanted their dimension to remain exclusive. That is why it was important for them to eradicate her and her multiple selves from the multiverse.

Jasmine, Jacaranda and Gorge had pinged to Lemuria. They landed by the raging sea when they arrived. Jasmine knew very less about this dimension. She had not ever met any of them in the mind stream. In fact, the lemurians were never sensed in the mind stream. But she knew there was a seaside in Lemuria from her history lessons. She knew that every creature in the creator’s dimension looked upto the lemurians.

The sea raged around them and there was a strong breeze. The little group moved inwards towards the green cliffs at the end of the beach. Jasmine could sense soft, reassuring murmurs rising from the sea. Despite the turbulence of the sea, she felt calm and at peace at last.

 

 

The Creators

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Jasper had spent more than three hours in outer space hovering between stations. He was starting to worry that he would run out of his supply of oxygen if he did not go for a refill. Yet, he was worried that the mind police somehow could have figured out things and might have spread their web to the outer rim filling stations. He decided to make a desperate bid to contact Jasmine. He focused his mind on her.

He was desperately looking for her in the mind stream. But, there was no response. There was so much chatter.

The mind police could sense Jasper in the stream. To entrap him within the stream, they created a chatter web. This would make it easier for them to trace his coordinates.

They were now near the cloud where the two mind policemen were keeping a lookout for Jasper. They knew Jasper had not descended and was not on earth. The mind police decided to use the outer space button to locate Jasper. They jammed on the button. They rose swiftly and suddenly higher and higher at a very high speed… Confronted with the bareness of outer space, they felt bewildered. However, they were still in touch with Jasper’s mind stream.

Every time they spotted a red vehicle,they tried to tally the number plate . The mind police had  a blue car.

As they circled around , they spotted Jasper’s car hovering near a space station. They went near the car and tried to lasso it from the back with a laser loop. But, Jasper still had his shield up. The laser bumped off. Jasper swerved. He realized he had been hit. He could see the blue car behind him. He recognized the car belonged to his assistant, Rudolf. But Rudolf would never hit him. He realized the mind police must have somehow got hold of the car and had traced him. Instantly, he quit the mind stream and zoomed away. He was a more practiced and adept driver than the mind police. The mind police followed him as he re-entered Earth’s atmosphere. He went behind thick rain clouds and disappeared again. He had managed to re-enter his hideout.

The mind police again lost him at his new coordinates. They decided to post some more guards at the new coordinates. What they did not know was this time unknowingly they had hit on the coordinates of his hideout. His hideout on the surface looked like a wild mountain.

Jasper felt the roof of his hideout close above him and heaved a sigh of relief as he got out of his vehicle.

Meanwhile, Jasmine, Jacaranda and Gorge followed Daedalus into his office. It was a huge dark cavern lit by fluorescent lights made of phosphorus. The office glowed with bright lights when it heard Daedalus’s voice. The lights were obviously voice-activated. With his fascination for technology, Daedalus experimented with science and magic to come up with unique products every now and then.

“So, tell me now…,”said Daedalus.

Jacaranda related all their adventures to him. Jasmine pitched in to explain how the issue had started.

“Well, I have one thing to say that you youngsters have a lot of spunk! I have one suggestion to make however. The moon is not as safe as you think. They technological dimension has a strong base there. So do some of the other dimensions, including the magical one. Rather, I think you should start thinking of involving the Lemurians. They are the only ones that can negotiate an amicable solution with the creator’s dimension. They are the only ones the creators fear,” said Daedalus.

“The Lemurians!” Said Jasmine. “I have never met one.”

“I cannot leave this isle without risking my very existence,” said Daedalus. “Otherwise, I would have come.”

“What do you mean … risking your existence?”

“Oh! You don’t know…,” said Jacaranda. “When the residents of isle of wonder leave this island, they lose their bodily existence and remain a only as a spirit, which can occasionally show up as ghosts in other dimensions. The souls here have been given eternal existence by a magic woven into the air of the island.”

“Wow!” Said Gorge. “That means I and Jolyn could live forever here…”

“You do have to face a governing council. It consists of people from magical dimension and the Lemurians. We do not want villains to find their way here. That is why there are spells to keep out souls with black hearts in the air too!” said Daedalus. “I have seen Lemurians only once in the governing council. They are seven to eight feet tall. They wear white robes and are peace-loving. They have powers beyond our comprehension and will always help people in need,” said Daedalus.

“Can we pinge to the Lemurian dimension?” asked Jasmine.

“I don’t see why not,” said Daedalus. “I had started work on pinging but abandoned it! Well good to see it taken up again. But, you can’t pinge from the maze as it is magic proof, technology proof and mind stream proof. Come, I will walk you out so that you can start onto the next lap of your journey.”

They again trooped out behind Daedalus, emerging this time outside the labyrinth, near the stream.

“You can pinge here,” said Daedalus. “I want to see you pinge.”

Jasmine took out the tong.

“Now, what is that?” said Daedalus.

“The pinging tongs,” replied the three simultaneously.

“Use it!”said Daedalus. “I want to see it done first.”

Gorge and Jacaranda held onto Jasmine’s shoulder as she clapped the tongs and the three disappeared.

“Hey ! Get back!”shouted Daedalus. “Now, I want to see the work that went into the tongs.”

But, the three were beyond his reach…

In the dragon’s cave in the magic dimension, things had calmed down. Jolyn was still pining for Gorge but the dragon prince had them all out in the garden involved in mind games so that they could hone their telepathic abilities. Jamie had started opening up. He seemed to be getting over his fears. Jacinth had started communicating very basic issues with JaJa using her mind. For instance, she could figure out when JaJa was hungry. She could give a simple command like ‘wait’. But, when a more complex command was needed, she had to take help from the dragon or Jamie.

Jolyn was starting to discover that women could do things too on their own, without men. In her dimension, women depended entirely on men. They did not work outside the home and had very less schooling. Talking to Jacinth, she was learning that men and women were equal and women could have opinions independent of the men in their lives. Jacinth had told her about Emmeline Pankhurst and how women had moved forward in her dimension.

Jolyn wondered how Gorge would react to her new discoveries. She missed Gorge very much all the time…his smile, his touch, his warmth…