Christmas in July

Today is 13th July, an exalted date by all means. My friend Akshaya completes one more year upon this beautiful and tragic planet. He is in Kerala to refresh himself before he joins JNU to pursue his Masters in Arts and Aesthetics. Energy and power to him, although he never lacks any of it.

Akshaya graduated from IIT Kanpur in the same stream of engineering as me, Metallurgy and Material Sciences. He joined a Forging company, and then shifted to software to capitalize on his many talents. After that, he gave up on capitalism. Due to some misdeeds of his past life, he has taken a liking for that dangerous mistress called Communism, the dope of the sensitive and the intelligent. Under the influence of that dope, he left his job as a programmer in righteous anger. Oh, but this is about his brighter side.

I met Akshaya first when our mutual buddy, Abhishek, dragged me to one of his plays. It was an artwork that could be interpreted at multiple levels. To me, it clearly betrayed an influence of Fight Club. But, it also showed the power of Ravan over Ram, and the strength of Ram over Ravan. Such interpretations have never interested him. I met him in the stands to congratulate him on scoring his first runs as a playwright. I cannot say with honesty that it was love at first sight. Please, I am perfectly heterosexual, but of the Greek philial kind. They call it platonic, in memory of Plato’s love for Socrates. Plato disgusts Akshaya.

Akshaya visited my house regularly, and waged a war on my ignorance. He found that I was misguided and stubborn. He fired his opinions like arrows and missiles, like an iconoclast destroying the idols in Kaaba, caring nothing for anything but that which his experience testified. He had come to give me a sword. A weapon that could multiply all illusions with zero, the truth.

I had never seen the ontological vehemence of a human being manifest itself like this. I was yet to discover the speaker of the Quran and the Bhagvadeeta. Meeting Akshaya was like coming into contact with the soul of the universe, albeit dimmed by the dust and smoke of the fallen world. It is a beautiful experience to fully humbly submit yourself to someone out of your own free will, atleast once in a lifetime. Perhaps, I may add, it is rewarding.

He forced me relook at Somerset Maugham and reconsider everything I seemed to know. He introduced me to Albert Camus, nay, to myself. The world according to Akshaya was a different place than what I had imagined. He taught me how to watch cricket. He made me acknowledge the influence of Urdu poetry in my life. He helped me simplify myself. He dragged me to places where we discovered nature afresh. He hit me if I misbehaved. So much care for others, for such trivial matters. This, from me, who loves trivia. I had always considered it a virtue to be able to be influenced by others. I was stumped and a world of indifference had come to an end. I cannot imagine how to return his favor. I satisfy myself by saying that all guidance is from God.

Together, Abhishek, Akshaya and me claimed Pune in the name of beauty, and cursed indifference at any corner where we found it. We discovered world cinema, debated on art and politics, ogled at visions, made nocturnal jaunts; I was happy to belong. I had the self-proclaimed responsibility to act as a bridge between Akshaya and Abhishek, and preserve it from them. I was only violent with words; they also actually fought with flesh and blood. We were three different universes in encounter with each other. Those friendly fights, magnanimous outbursts of praise and vengeful criticism, giving each other Nobel prizes and making fake speeches, hating each other and making up… We must remind ourselves that we live in each other and we share our truths.

Akshaya cared for nothing but his own brand of reality. He was like an imperial power, aggressive and powerful, coming to establish his own kingdom in the name of truth. All he seemed to care for was his own clarity and his own peace of mind. Clad in rustic clothes, the master of the universe treads in the deserted streets, calling out to forgotten names, ignored and misunderstood. He hinted, as if to tell, that we may all pretend to be friends with each other, but truth is more of our friend than anything else. Irony is indeed one of the most subtle tools of language.

Akshaya left his job one fateful day in a fit of wrath and moral defense, being suffocated at the desensitization and dehumanization that surrounded him in the corporate atmosphere. He struggled with dreams and ambitions which were closer to his ideals. Mostly, conventional success eluded him. But he never gave up. He continued to travel. Today, JNU is waiting to be conquered by him. He is not one who gives up. Only I wish he gets married soon.

Once, I visited Akshaya at his house in Lucknow, that mistress of spices and the bed of art-lovers. How well the people here speak! It was a hedonist’s pilgrimage with St Akshaya, whose feast we celebrate today. There I found how closely Akshaya resembled his mother. Sometimes, we feel our parents do not want to understand us, but this is harsh and unwise. Perhaps I may suggest, a prophet is not without honour but in his own country, but I say this is in tragic humour. Charity begins at home.

Akshaya does not say it, but having seen indifference and imperfections from so close, he must be feeling that this world is not such a good place for bringing children. This is wrong. Akshaya, this world is perfect for us. You will make a good  father. You are only learning to become a mother. And you know it. You were not one who learnt on computers and through books; you learnt on the floor, with a chalk and a slate.

Akshaya says that I have the willpower and madness combined to take on the whole world. We have always fought on faith and belief. Well, it is none of my business to get involved in other peoples’ fight, but as I have received the English word, it is elementary gratitude that I acknowledge the word Christ. I have a completely original and perhaps blasphemous acceptance of what is generally understood as christ. It is a word, not a person, but also a person. It is that spark inside us which helps us to overcome depression, to save ourselves from suicide, to destroy indifference, to give power to Ram over Ravan, to love the enemy, to appreciate beauty, to be ready to die for the truth, to acknowledge otherness. Generally, the christ available to us is corrupted by the dust and smoke of the world. This is what christ means to me. Kill me. I do not understand the son-of-God bit, but if it helps others to live better, fair by me.

Today, I revel in christ on my friend’s birthday. Akshaya, glorify your self in whatever you do; I will do the same. Do I hear someone say, do not take the name of christ in vain? I agree with you.

Merry Christmas, Akshaya!

Holding a candle to the face

Holding a candle to the face


~ by Bombadil on July 13, 2009.

6 Responses to “Christmas in July”

  1. Blessed are those who have a friend like you.

  2. 🙂
    I am the one who needs friends.

  3. What a lovely post! I do not know many who can write like you do. Akshaya is lucky to have you. And you are lucky to have him.

    – Abhishek*

  4. Merry Christmas, Sanket! Verily Merry!

  5. Akshaya, Bhagawan ji ki jai ho!

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