K S Subramaniam

K. S. Subramanian

Stuck to his wheel chair since his memory took off he has not been straining his mind over what befell him.  That’s not the way you live your life, do you? ,he asked himself very early.  Since then he never looked back.   May be, that’s why he never felt a sting of weariness or agony whenever he saw youth going about their chores in full fettle or children at play in school where he enjoyed watching them from the sidelines.  To be in the sidelines is only a state of mind, right?  When the sun rises untiringly in the east every day and goes about its orbit then why not me?  he said aloud working on his mobile net which brought a world of what zaniest things one would want to know.  He had his laptop too where he wheeled himself to see, store and channelize a reservoir of info into profitable activity. 
Sadanand, 24, saw off his post-graduation in mathematics with distinction but deep in the recesses was an unrelenting inclination towards literary forms, especially poetry.  Being the only son of Parameswaran, an auditor with a wide, well developed clientele in Palakad, he spent his formative, creamy years in the western part of Kerala honing his cognitive skills in a closed, enthusiastic circle of college mates.  Set into a clipboard routine he sang his vedic hymns in the morning, went to college and poured over an array of statistical and mathematical problems in the evening.  And he would chat on mobile with his close friend and neighbor, Asokan who was his fellow student in the discipline.  They always visited the Shiv temple in the vicinity when Asokan would wheel him around, sit in the space within the temple premises and discuss maths.  Sadanand would return in his car when the loyal, long serving driver and Asokan would help him get back home.  Parameswaran had a separate entrance for his son’s easy access to his room.  And Sadanand would remain there, ensconced in what he did or wanted to do. 

Sadanand loved watching the twinkling stars and felt as if it was winking at him to convey a message – “Man…..this cosmos is millions of years old and like all creative rhythms cannot say and vouch for a theory how it all happened.  It is and ever will be a cause for wonder though new technologies and creative missions to unravel its mystery will be undertaken.  Still the aura of mystery will remain.”   He smiled reminding himself.  “You are just a speck in life but can you see that it turns into a momentous sparkle that brings a world of meanings only to you?” 

He poured over a couple of IT returns that two medium sized companies had given to his father and took a few minutes to deduce the tax liabilities and the refunds that could possibly accrue from the data.  He spoke to Asokan, who worked in one of them, and mailed the data.  Both wanted to showcase their talent in something big and better – preferably a statistical institute or a software firm where they could create a pool to centralize the data on staff strength, product features and market influences.  Asokan kept telling him “Sada…..why don’t we focus on the micro factors more, regular fluctuations in retail trade and even more regular global pressures on it?  It will give us a springboard to see the larger macro things playing out and help suggest flexible policy initiatives?” 

Sadanand nodded.    Both had done extremely well in their post-graduation and were much in demand.   “Asokh……I want to get into the Indian Statistical Institute but that could be a tall order for us both…..It may or may not work but we both must aim for it.  I am not looking forward to a day when you will be working in some metro and me elsewhere…..  It will upset the applecart.  Together we can do things far better than separately.”   Asokan knew he meant it and always felt that fate could will it otherwise.  Both had immense faith in their abilities and the somber air of harmony work brought between them. 
Being the only son Sadanand knew his father’s enormous clout as an auditor in the area and outside and had never felt the pinch of purse strings.  Financially they were well placed, he knew but he also understood that he was not going to live on inherited legacy.  At some stage in the future he might be alone to pursue his life, not necessarily in terms of the emotional cost that loneliness would bring because he had his close friend and also a bevy of relations who peeped in infrequently to renew their bonds.  “End of the day your pursuit, whatever it is, is lonely, isn’t it?  Or there is a private world of yours where despite the constant remonstrations and counseling of your loving kin you are left to yourself?” he muttered with a rueful smile.  It was a human condition from which there was no escape. 

He remembered telling Asokan once in a contemplative mood  “ everything is transient boss….right?  All discoveries, scientific and mathematical, complimented each other but were always modified, illustrated or even dismissed by a fresh chain of findings based on empirical data.  What remains constant is speculation……” he chuckled when he said that and went on “ or to put it in a grandiose way sublime contemplation?”   Asokan was always down to earth.  “Come on Sada……It has to be.  Newton was just gazing at the tree when the fruit fell.   And Aryabhatta did convert his contemplation into mathematical equations which still matter.”  

Sadanand was not convinced.  “Be that as it may, Asokh there is some undercurrent of uncertainty about life which circulates around us like a noxious, ethereal  element with a Faustian touch.  I sure feel we must leave something behind…..but even if we do it will have the fresh fragrance of a rose fleetingly before time consumes it.” 

Asokan jabbed his right fist on his shoulder.  And grinned.  “Sada….have you ever given a thought to how long what we leave behind lasts?  You wont because it is not material…..Simply put, you won’t live to see it.  Let us live in and for the moment.”        
It all came in a flash of lightning to him.  Sadanand always wanted to convert that flash into verbal pattern before it vanished like fireflies.  That is, put it down in words lest he lost track of it.  
 “The blinding ray of lightning was lost in
 the menacing rumble of thunder; the sky
shrouded in dark spread hissed of imminent
downpour before a strong gust blew it away.
The sky turned pale at its own impotence
to moisten the expectant earth;   And many
hearts stewed in pain of parched hope.
A moment swept in a tide of uncertainty?”

He went back to it over and over again not because he was able to capture the embroidery of words and images enshrined in it but the state of mind he was in.  He was hard minded enough to fling aside any rush of pessimism or fatalism that people would come up with on reading it if it ever saw the light of print.  States of mind are too deep like life or cosmos itself for any sweeping, earthy and superficial generalizations.  Uncertainty, he felt, was an inherent characteristic of life howsoever one might try to wish it away.  He also knew that certainty was the other side of the coin and one led to the other.  Scientific discoveries were facts, he muttered, but they also led to questions that were inherent in it but never asked.  So also, were mathematical precepts. 

The line of verse that flashed in his mind reached its summation.  In a few minutes he saw that the baby was full born, healthy and lily fresh. 

He toyed with the idea of sending it to a poetry contest or exclusive poetry web sites.  For a contest there would be hundreds of entries and the tired, opinionated or impulsive judge would pick randomly the best and feel happy with himself.  “If it is unwrapping of the mind or emotion the latter matters more than dazzling images which could be an attempt at embroidery.  Oh! If I think that way a wisecrack will call it sour grapes.”  He laughed to himself.  “Who cares?” he thought aloud.  “This is my baby and I am thrilled with it.”  So he googled, picked out a list of contests-bound web sites and sent them simultaneously.  And forgot all about it. 

A few months later Asokan came rushing in.  “Sada!  An IT firm in Bangalore has called us to organize their data network for the farm produce they have been dealing with for rural farmers in adjoining areas.  The pay is good yaar… they have agreed to your request to work from home.  They will set up the system wherever we rent a place. “   He paused for breath.  “Boy! Looks like this could be our dream project or at least the one we looked for. “

Sadanand was delighted.  “Wasn’t this the one we applied for two months ago?  I had almost shelved it, boss.” 

Asokan grinned.  “It is always things that you shelve return in another form.  Let us speak to your dad.”

Parameswaran came, weighed through the letters of appointment and affectionately patted both.  “Their perks are also in tune with a medium sized firm, but it doesn’t matter.  If you succeed in creating a data system that could facilitate their marketing and processing of farm products they could set up branches in other areas too.  Sada!  This is what you both need.  What makes me happier is that the job keeps you both in the same place.” 

Sadanand turned to his pal.  “Asokh… what did your dad say?”  “He is mighty pleased yaar…” said Asokan.  He spoke to his dad.  “Appa…we have to be there in two weeks.  Have to fix up accommodation…” Parameswaran cut in.  “Don’t worry about that.  I have a friend who will fix it up for you both. “

Just when the message was beginning to sink in like a belated monsoon Sadanand had opened his mail but not the inbox on his mobile having been distracted by the news.  He disinterestedly clicked on the inbox and the first mailer left him dumb founded.  He found it too incongruous to be true.  Caught in a pipeline of conflicting emotions he quietly asked his friend to take a look. 

It was a prestigious poetry contest held every year and the winners had their hour of reckoning with a bit of media glare too!  Sadanand’s poem had made it to the summit and been adjudged the best. 

Asokan’s eyes widened in disbelief and he turned to Parameswaran.  “Uncle… this double whammy or what?  Or is it one of those bolts from the blue? “   He put his arm around his friend’s shoulder, whose face was a portrait of indigestible surprise.  Parameswaran was inevitably delighted with the news and shook the hands of both his son and Asokan. 

“Well…I didn’t know Sada wrote poetry … even if I did wouldn’t have taken it seriously.  But back in my youth one English teacher, who was exceptionally good at literature, used to say that Poetry or all forms of literature swirled in the realm of uncertainty, its agonies, and occasional pleasures.  Of course, we used to think then he was being philosophical.  After all we believed in certainty. “   He gave a laugh.  “We chartered accountants do…. Any way you both have to go to Chennai to receive the award.  After all you are inseparable.  Note the date.” 

Sadanand and Asokan exchanged glances with a smile.  The smile revealed a lot more to them which Parameswaran couldn’t fathom.  That’s the essence of uncertainty?

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