Forgot to laugh

Forgot to laugh?

In this picture, Shantanu Mot and Ram Saraswat enjoying their evening bath. I splashed water on children and the reactions were, most of the times, the same as one can observe in this picture of my nephews; then I moved on to do the same with elders ( my sister), and I had to run off to save my camera and of course myself. Is that what we learn with time after growing up? 
Picture Credits – Myself 🙂
– Swastik Saraswat

What leads common people to be criminals?

What leads people to be criminal?

”Father has already gone to work, and you are still sleeping. Wake up son!” pulling off a torn blanket over me my mother shouted at me. When my mother says ‘at work’ she means begging on the streets, not any official work like you people do. Last three generation of my family did the same; begging on the streets. But I’ve different opinions, I don’t beg from the people. Because it doesn’t give me satisfaction. I don’t want to lose my self-respect. I asked my father to do the same; sell balloons rather than spreading hands in front of people.

“Their families were rich, not like us wandering city to city. Their children study in big schools, they’ve brains and knowledge. Do we? Are we equal to them? And still, if you think we can live and earn enough by working. Try it.” replied my father angrily.

“No issue, I’ll earn. And one day I’ll show you that we too can earn instead of begging on the streets.” I replied.

I started selling balloons. Fortunately, It was a festival season and there used to be enough crowd in the market, so, I didn’t find it difficult to sell balloons. It was all good. On the very first day, I sold out 35 balloons. When children of even rich families used to come to me I became the reason for their happiness.

While going to back to the house I bought an ice-cream for my 5 years old sister. She too helps my mother when she goes to her work; the same work which my father does. Alike me, she has also been taught how to beg, how to make face expressions, what type of clothes to wear and all that a beggar needs to make an impression; an impression to get some sympathy, to get some money. The only difference is that I didn’t choose to be a beggar.

When I entered the house holding an Ice cream in one hand. She ran towards me and asked piteously, “Stupid people. Who did put this fresh Ice cream in the dustbin?”

“I bought this and paid the price. I didn’t take it out from any dustbin dear.”, I said poignantly in high pitch.

She smiled, happiness on her face was of millions. When my father learned that I bought an ice cream after paying a right price, he was not happy. His opinion was that the money should have been used for the right purpose, to get something which is needed.

We set for the dinner on the floor. Dinner….which was yesterday’s lunch of any other family. Father brought a plate of rice; mother a plate of Daal, and sister managed to get some sweets. And it was our dinner. It was our life.

Then came the summer, leaving my father sick. My mother couldn’t manage it alone to get food for us. Gradually, the sale of balloons also came down, because it wasn’t a festival season. People don’t bother to come out in June-July months.

I used to step out with 50 balloons in morning and come back with 30-35 balloons in the evening. Finally, a day arrived when we all had to sleep without food. Father asked me to start doing what he did from the next day. It wasn’t an easy choice for me. I denied.

The next day I didn’t carry new balloons and went out with 35 balloons of yesterday. I’d not eat anything last night, my stomach muscles were cramping and then those summer days!

That day till the evening, I still had 30 balloons in my hand. I managed to sell only 5 balloons. I wandered next to the city malls but no one bought balloons from me. Security guards of the malls showed me baton when I tried to stand next to the mall for a minute because people get irritated seeing such faces. I broke down. There was a tree next to a tea stall. I sat under the tree, put my head between my knees and reluctantly started crying. Before I could wipe my tears, someone came to me and asked to go from there because there was no one to buy balloons. I don’t know whether he noticed me crying or not. I stood up. I saw some students there. I put aside my self-respect and asked them to buy some balloons. I almost begged. They denied saying they don’t have children in their home. I said I’m hungry since the morning yesterday. But they didn’t consider even listening to me, they were busy in their gossips. Someone among them cracked a joke about something and when they clapped their hands to each other it felt like those clapping hands lashed up on my hungry muscles. I was angry now and I left my balloons over there.

I didn’t have money but still, I boarded a bus to travel to my house. There was an empty seat, I sat over there. The guy beside me on the seat was snapping. The conductor was collecting fare from other passengers. I chanced upon the wallet of the person sitting beside me, the wallet was looking out from his baggy paint’s pocket. I took that out. For a while, I thought of being morally correct and give the wallet back to him but I didn’t. Perhaps, my honesty and morals squeezed between my painful muscles.

The conductor came to us and I thought it’s over, public is going to beat me up once the guy sitting beside me found out that his wallet is lost. The conductor asked for the fare to him. I pretended to look out of the window. The conductor again said “Hello, listen. Where do you want to go ?” As he was saying these words, my heart started beating fast. Before the person would wake up I looked towards the conductor. Actually, he was asking me. I took 20 rupees note out from the wallet I stole and put it into my pocket. The conductor gave me four rupees change.

Then he asked the person sitting beside me. “I’m gone.” I thought. I was perspiring in fear. He scrubbed his eyes as he woke up, gave a cold look to the conductor with his half opened eyes and said, “Am I supposed to pay the fare twice?” The conductor stepped ahead. I thanked god for he didn’t check for his wallet.

I got off the bus at the next station and bought some medicines for my father, food and sweets for all of us, five Ice-cream and stepped ahead towards my house. Everyone was happy seeing me with food, ice cream, and tablets. When we sat for the dinner, mom asked me dubiously, ”This much money?”

“Yes, today I charged 16 rupees for each balloon,” I said smilingly but I was feeling betrayed by the destiny inside. Father smiled looking at me.

The next day again I did the same. I became a pickpocket. I used to travel in buses and trains just to pick purses, wallets, chains and such costly things. I smiled, pondering, when I was honest I cried almost every day when I chose the path of larceny I became happy. Almost everyone in my family was happy. I bought some new clothes for everyone in my family. And one night I heard my mother asking my father to sell balloons like me.

The next day in the morning he asked me about this. “Not today papa, I’m busy. I’ll let you know in a few days. Till then you should rest.” I said turning my face from him because I knew what I was doing. And on the very same day, I was caught by police in the evening while coming back to the house. I didn’t go back to my home that day. I don’t know what were my family’s reactions. I thought it’s the end. But actually, it was just the start.

I met some good people in the jail. I told them my story. One of them offered me a job. I was freed in 21 days. And then I went to the address the man I met inside the jail gave me. It was a big gang of someone named Aslam Bhai. He had around 50 members, including children in his gang. Some of them were involved in serious crimes like murder too. I became one of them, to be true, better than them because I was angry with this world. We started robbing people and locked houses at nights. My mentality was changed or should I say society changed it? Shrug it off, I don’t know.

Society got a new criminal, the people around me got a role model to follow, criminals got a new brother and in between, I lost myself and you people lost an honest person who wanted to make a little space in the circle of you people.

Can you hear honesty’s screams? Morality’s cry? Only if you were concerned about people like me.

Swastik Saraswat

Why’re you here?

I want an answer to this question; why are you here? why are we here?

Behind every one reason to prove god’s existence there are ten of them to prove his absence.

Ask any son of a noblewoman, religious scholar, priest, or Mullah, he won’t be able to answer you why god created us?

The almighty god is the ruler of this world.” they say.

Enough of this adulation! You say god created us. God created this universe. But the question is why? what was the reason behind creating us?
An Islamic scholar wrote in his book that, “God created us because he wanted someone to communicate with him. Someone to love him. ”

If so, who is the selfish here?

In Christianity and Hinduism “Offer whatever you do in your life to me.”

Is it why you created us?

In the process of adulation, they say god loves peace. He forgives us for our sins, and he is kind. So is it why every day thousands of people are getting killed in the name of the same god who loves peace and kindness? And the almighty can’t even come once to make his own children understand that he loves peace?

Some, not all, Pundits are looting the devotees and yet god didn’t appear to stop those thugs despite knowing it all. Why?

However, in Hinduism, the concept of ‘Devta’ seems to be plausible to some extent. Because Devta gives birth to neither the universe nor the man. Devta’s existence is only after the birth of this universe.

Why do we exist? Why is the earth not as other planets like Saturn, Mars etc.? Why the bloody thing called ‘life’ existed here only? The earth would have been even healthier if we were not present here; then why? There is no ultimate purpose of our life which includes the whole of humanity.

They say everyone exists because he/she has some goals. But I’m asking what if we all were not present here? For example, doctor’s profession exists to cure patients. What if there were no patients?

So one who believes in god will never have an answer to these questions. Because he strongly believes that god created us, but there is no answer to ‘why?’

What’s your take on this?

~ Swastik Saraswat

What she wanted to tell me before I became an orphan?

It’s hard to be liberal when you see your dying mother asking you to leave her immediately, and the same way it’s easy to be liberal running your fingers on keyboard buttons and periodically grabbing the coffee cup to take a sip…..[read more..-

[read full story, …… : What she wanted to tell me before I became an orphan? ]

What she wanted to tell me before I became an orphan?

“Shall I go to the heaven or hell?’’ I asked my mother as she finished the story which was about the life after death in Hinduism.
“Shut up! You are too young to worry about all this’’ she replied widening her eyes.

The next morning, I woke up with gasps as I heard shrieks of people concurrent to loud gun firings. I heard something which does not suit the beauty of the (Kashmir)valley; Jannat as people call it.
I put my legs down from the bed on the floor fearfully and walked out of the room. I could feel negative vibes in the air, unassertive thoughts surrounded my mind. There was utter silence in the yard, even a heartthrob could be heard. It dawned on me that something is terribly wrong there. I hurriedly stepped ahead and as I put my left leg out from the main door, I saw my foot got soaked with blood. I looked down to find the floor blood-bathed, and the blood was dripping out of my Mom’s wounded body which was barely three meters away from me. The white snow was falling directly on her skin and which and it curbed the blood flow to some extents.
I was stunned with my legs trembling. I buried my face into my hands and it got soaked by tears within seconds. My body slightly bent over reluctantly for my shaking legs couldn’t hold my weight. I was about to fall on my knees right there that she looked up at me unconsciously and shocked. She was crying, her tears and eyes seemed to be more painful than her wounded body.

“My dear son, listen to me carefully,” she said, “They will be back in minutes,” she continued in a shaky and terrified voice, “and they will kill you. Run away from here, Right now! My days are over now.”
I tried to hold her hands into mine while she took a gap of three seconds to continue, “Don’t worry about me. My faith in god won’t be wrong; he ‘ll save you; he ‘ll have to save you’’ she said. Tears were falling down and she was thumping her trembling red hands on the floor. She was dying with a belief that god shall save me.

I fell on my knees beside her. I put her head on my lap holding it by my both hands. Despite heavy snowfall, her face was warm and wet because of tears and sweat. Being utterly oblivious to the fact that my tears were falling on her face, I said, ‘don’t cry ma, don’t cry. Who did this and why are you asking me to run away from here? Who are you are afraid of? Where is Papa? Where is Grand ma?’ As I asked, she sobbed more intensely this time and tried to shook her head but failed to do so.
I warned her that, ‘I wouldn’t go from here if you didn’t tell me the truth’. She indicated by her trembling hand towards the two bodies which were lying just beside the main door. I stood up and ran towards those bodies. I saw that nature already muffled them in Qafan in its own way; a layer of the white snow was stuck all over the both bodies. I screamed out loudly, ‘Grandma speak to me, listen to me, papa.’ But no! In such a heavy snowfall, perhaps, their senses were not being able to hear me.
I looked back towards to my mom. No ! She was not looking at me. I rushed back towards her. It was just a lifeless body now. A few moments ago she was my mother. By her straightened towards me I told to myself that she wanted to tell me something before she took her last breath. But what? What she wanted to tell me before I became an orphan? Or she just wanted to stroke my hair for the last time? I still don’t know!

I felt a complete silence as if even my heart stopped beating for a while. My mouth was open, tears came out of my eyes. “Mum….mummm…..maa”, that’s all I managed to say. And cried! Just cried. She didn’t reply. Her face looked calm now. She went into the eternal tranquility. I cried inevitably looking up towards the sky holding her upper part on my lap. I bent over to hug her as I did not have ample strength to bring her close to my chest. But she didn’t utter even a word to assuage me. Sobs echoed the area for a while, but the voice, if I could hear in reply, was of my echo and that of snowfall on the withered leaves of the trees which were standing silently there, as if they were trying to cover their eyes with snow in order to not to witness what’s happening there. I felt as if they were ashamed of being trees and having nothing in their ability to help me.

‘The culprit is god’ that’s all I was feeling, but at the same time I was praying to the same God, “please send my mother to the heaven’’; the heaven she told me about 9 hours ago.
”Goodbye” I said to my guardians and started running as I saw a group of people, whose faces were covered by scarfs and each of them had a gun, was coming towards me. I’d not have even tried to run away in such a situation, but the last order of my mother was to be obeyed.

After darting through congested streets of the valley for almost 5-6 kilometers, I reached the other end of the valley and then my legs answered me. I ran my eyes all around. Oh, Miracle! A ray of hope rose inside me as I saw one of my school friends’ father there. I went towards him and requested to take me inside their home to save me from those terrorists. But he denied saying, ”sorry, who are you? I don’t know you.” I was stunned hearing to his answer. Though his wistful eyes were talking about the reason why he was saying this all, perhaps, he was afraid of those people. He knew I’m a Hindu and saving me will put himself in peril.

I was tired now and my face withered. I fell down there almost unconsciously on the road that a car came and took me inside. Later, it was dawned on me that it was an another family whose house was burnt to ashes and they too were forced to leave the valley. They were strangers but more than whom we call relatives. As the car was going through streets, I saw many houses were burnt to ashes, many dead bodies were scattered over the roadside. I saw a house’s soul burning in the flames. Some people were standing nude in front of those monsters who were carrying guns in their hands; the reason behind doing this was to know the religion they belong to.

Today it’s 21st January. I never come out on this day. I wake up early but don’t come out of my bed. And the black day of 20th January 1990 starts screening inside my head. I find myself somewhere back to those days while you people are enjoying the new year. A fear related to January is stuck inside my heart. To be true there is not even a single day when I don’t remember about it but during winter season whenever I recall those days, my body starts quivering and some questions arise in my mind and those are always unanswered, and perhaps, will remain unanswered till I inhale my last breath.

Why did this happen to we Kashmiri pundits? Was the fault ours or our religion’s? Why have you people forgotten us? I often see you, media, politicians talking about many other riots and massacres and you should in fact, but why are we sidelined? Aren’t we humans? Oh, I see. We are no vote bank. History won’t forget you. We had to leave our land and we lost our beloved ones because some filthy minds wanted to spread their religion. Where are your human right organizations? I see they’re liberal. They won’t speak on this. It’s hard to be liberal when you see your dying mother asking you to leave her immediately, and the same way it’s easy to be liberal running your fingers on keyboard buttons and periodically grabbing the coffee cup to take a sip.

That winter! It was so cold
so cold that they left our houses on fire
that they warmed themselves on our pyre,
that winter! It was so cold
That winter! It was so cold
so cold that it froze people’s emotions
that snowfall seized humanity relations
that winter! It was so cold
That winter! it was so cold
so cold that it froze someone’s mother
that snow enveloped screams of slaughter
that winter! it was so cold
That winter! it was so cold
So cold that even today we’re waiting for a season; anew
that our screams are still finding a place in the snow to go through
that winter! it was so cold
Smell the wind, hear the silence
Souls are still wandering in search of justice
That winter……………….!

Why don’t they understand that when the first ray of the sun comes from the heaven crossing the sky touching cliffs, removing the fog and meets another heaven on the earth, when it falls on the bluish water of the river walking amidst the valley; It wants to see love, feel peace, enjoy spree and listen to some beautiful songs, not your bullet fires and screams of innocent people?

On 19th January 1990, Kashmiri Hindu families were thrown out of their own homeland Kashmir, India. They were asked to choose between their religion or life by some people. Some people? What am I afraid of? Not by some people, but radical Islamists. Some converted to Islam and the others to lifeless dead bodies. It wasn’t a sudden attack. Appropriate warnings were published in local newspapers citing ‘either leave Kashmir, or die‘ on much before twenty days of the genocide. The day before the incident, as cited by Colonel Tej Kumar Tikoo in his book, messages were broadcasted from Mosque speakers asking Kashmiri Pundits to leave or die. Nearly 400 people were killed mercilessly and 1,40,000 people moved to other parts of the country. Government and the law? They’re busy in calculating their vote bank. Or what can be the reason behind the fact that even after 27 years, Kashmiri Pundits are still living in refugee camps with no proper facilities?

~ Swastik Saraswat

Who’re you? Introduce yourself.

This post should have been published earlier as the first introductory article of this blog. But not my fault! It has always been a task for me to introduce myself, blame my extraordinary invisible life achievements or my dislike to the concept of self-introducing.
After the grand success of my first blog post which fetched as many as two likes, I thought of giving a look to other famous WordPress blogs. One of which I saw was started just a few months back. I hurriedly looked for the blog’s first post to reconfirm whether it’s only me to receive such a grand success on the very first article of my blog or there are more like me. Unfortunately, she wasn’t as successful as me with only eighty likes on the first post in which she introduced herself. Here, after reading her introductory post I thought of trying my hands on the same. Not that I do copy people but there shouldn’t be an issue with trying what you’re not comfortable with. Or else what sense will the comfort-zone-ven-diagram posts make which we often see being shared on facebook pages?

comfort-zone

Hello, my name is Swastik Saraswat…err! That’s too formal, no? Let’s just go with the flow and respect the comfort zone which is much needed than the magic.
Another problem with me is that when exams are around, so deep a sudden crave for writing emerges into my heart that I can’t resist the feeling. I already own a Facebook page which has managed to get around ten thousand likes so far, of course, with the help of other page editors; Suyash Pandey is the co-editor and sometimes, I feel he is more loyal than me to the page. The page has mainly been used to spread a few thoughts related to core Indian politics and social issues. Besides this, I have also written a book titled ‘The Other Class Of Human Beings‘ which is live on Amazon. I’m pretty sure none of you does know about it but don’t worry, someday you will. And yes, I do also like to click photographs which I upload on National Geographic website’s open platform. Needless to say, I’ll upload them on this blog too.

This weekend, when another entrance exam is around on 28th of January, I felt like doing something new and start a blog with a resolution that I shall write a new post every other day. This time, I’m not going to keep myself limited to the core Indian issues or a particular field. I’ll post all the stuff from what I get to see on the streets of India to the India of my brain; from Rajasthan’s sand dunes to the food dishes I do try to make; from my childhood stories to the vast fiction world residing in my brain. Hope to see you hovering around the posts every time. And wait! Somebody told me that my blog’s ‘follow’ button is not working, so before you share my blog would you please test the ‘follow’ button on the right-bottom corner of this page?