Translated from the Marathi by
I reach into the innards
Of a Pentium 4 processor, and log on,
Chat with a friend
Beyond the seven seas.
He knows of my former life,
Of the riots in Malegaon,
Of the Shiv Senaís Dashera rally,
Of all the prizes Asha Bhosale has won, and so on.
I know how his wife was hurt yesterdayó
His son ran his tricycle
Over the little toe of her left leg;
How his yellow shirt
Got burnt while ironing it;
How his son misses my own,
Whom he met just last month.
I informed him
That I did nothing special this Dashera,
That my blood pressure is OK, and so on.
Last night, a lot of loud noises
Were heard from our neighbour Dísouzaís flat.
This morning, his front door opened
With a bang
But being civil and all, I did not know
Just how to ask Dísouza what happened.
I had not run into him for several days now
And I donít even know his e-mail ID.
A man may die, but . . .
A man may die, but like poetry
His email ID is never deleted.
Like the Taj, the Ajanta caves, the Qutub Minar,
His facebook and LinkedIn profiles live on, eternal.
When a man dies, his profile followers
Raise a leg to go all over his wall, in memoriam
And upon such lowly association
The wall of time rises,
Like cultural garbage, piled higher and deeper
By a hungry public today.
Memorials on online walls
Can neither be forwarded nor erased.
Cyberspace is completely covered with the fat
Of private, mediocre life histories
That can neither be wiped, nor wished away.
And now we all
Form the real bytes in this world,
And on this gigantic monitor
It is easy to understand, at any given moment
Just how many bytes in the world
Are preparing to live, or to die,
To sink, or to swim,
And how much of this data
Is merely there to experience real-time.
And who remains
By the monitor, engrossed in collation.
Then, all of a sudden
Everyone realises, simultaneously
That each one is being reduced to data
And quickly tries to delete the other.
History repeats, sir, history repeats.
This whole bloody world
Is stuck in the labyrinth of superficiality.
The terror of superficial people,
The fear of their superficiality
Makes this helpless state prevail.
An unforeseen, superficial market
Runs this surface-deep world,
Keeps everyone flaky.
And even beyond this realisation
You and I, capriciously keep acting
On this superficial impulse.
A vast mob,
Thirty-three crore fickle souls
Prepare to celebrate this festival of caprice.
The meaning of life
Is to be part of this circus of superficiality,
To become superficial without feeling superficial
And applaud the superficial.
Itís a sham hallelujah Itís a sham! Itís a sham!
Itís a sham sham sham sham sham!
Well uncle, what home-grown remedy do you have
To extinguish this illusion of superficiality?
Who typed the password to restart?
At any given time, life runs out of insurance.
At any given time, the internet goes down, or
We disconnect ourselves from the world.
The massive program to self-destruct hangs
In our brain
And even with every intention of deleting thought
The brain keeps being rattled
By that one, persistent thought.
We try to eject ourselves
From our timid mouse-mind,
Quickly clickclicking to close a file
Open for the past 36 years,
Trying to stop preprogrammed heartbeats,
Preprogrammed and unprogrammed notions,
With thoughts of living a living death
Or of staying alive while dying each day.
Why is the inbox of the mind filled
Brimful with concerns of the living?
We try to hit Ďdeleteí
To purge our mind
Our absent soul
Our wayward thoughts.
We try to empty, with quick double clicks,
The already overloaded cemetery
Of the recycle bin.
Thoughts buzzbuzz round in the inbox
Bouncing off its surfaces,
We have no means of escape
From traffucked thoughts
Spawning like viruses,
Duplicating triplicating multiplicating,
A thousand copies of a single thought
Scattered and spread all over
This dishevelled mind.
Thousands of images, thousands of ideas
Occupy this unsettled mind,
A maze of a thousand mirrors
Cast a thousand reflections
In this spaceless space.
At any given time
The mind, hidden within the mind
Clicks on, with an unknown power source
And pop! reopens
The many, many minimised windows.
Each one whizzes open
And the comatose mind is at once alert
With this powerplus surge.
Batteries start to recharge
All signals are Ďpositiveí.
What I canít understand is this:
Who, in this tabula rasa moment
Typed the password to restart?