Trees swaying along,
Thunder rumbling away,
Trailing rain arrives …
- in response to the alphabet haiku challenge, https://darksideofthemoon583.com/2018/11/16/alphabet-haiku-challenge-t/.
Trees swaying along,
Thunder rumbling away,
Trailing rain arrives …
Everything ended last fall. She remembered staring up at the mountains as it did. Their heads were bare, the snowy caps that normally tempered their appearance melted away in the afternoon sun. The early fall mist hid their torsos from the city, giving them a disembodied appearance. The periodic blinks from the lonely communications tower atop the tallest range stood out in a lacklustre red.
His limpid green eyes were always a mystery to her. Although she knew that the saying that a person’s feelings are reflected in their eyes to be a farce, she had always been good at reading people. Not so with him. They were always impassive, well, almost always. She had known them to transform into dark dilated orbs which convey more than words at times.
She watched as his mask slipped, as her words brought confusion and then hurt to his eyes. She wanted nothing more than to take him in her arms and kiss that look away. But she forced herself to stay stoic, balling her fists inside her jacket pockets. She forced herself not to look away, to let him see that she meant it this time.
Their goodbyes were little more than perfunctory. After a moment of weakness, the mask was back, more opaque than usual. As she walked away, she felt chilled to the bone. She doubted it had much to do with the weather. She turned back for a last look. He was staring at the river, hands in his pockets.
Another fall evening passes,
While I sit and gaze through the trees
Holding a cup of my favourite tea,
Waiting for you as I always do.
I’d forgotten it’s a Friday,
The streets busy and rowdy
People calling to each other,
As they walk by on their ways.
These sounds, these smells,
The breeze that kisses my hair
Takes me back to the day
When you and I first met.
The colours of the day,
So vivid and lively,
They paled to nothingness
Beside your glorious smile.
Many years thence
I’ve sat here in the shade
Chatting with the crickets
To watch you come through the trees.
The fireflies are out now,
Darting among the bushes,
Blinking, dancing, dazzling me
With their capricious lustre.
Something moved yonder
Startling me from my reverie
There you are, with that same smile
Treading the tree lined paths
To come home to me.
Today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt word ‘Justice‘ is particularly fitting and poignant when you consider what is happening today and has been happening in the last couple of weeks in the United States of America regarding the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh on to the Supreme court bench. Since he was nominated by everyone’s favourite orange cheeto on July 9, 2018, three women have come forward accusing him of sexual misconduct and harassment. The first accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified in front of a Senate panel yesterday, after which Judge Kavanaugh was granted the time to present his version of the events. And today, the same panel is voting on whether or not to go ahead with advancing the nomination process to the full committee vote.
I watched the testimonies of both the parties live yesterday. It was at times quite difficult to watch, especially Dr. Ford’s part of it. She was calm for the most part but the gravity of her emotions were evident on her face. Her statements were clear, believable and thorough. Even in the face of difficult questions about a time in her life I’m sure she’d rather forget, she managed to maintain her dignity and decorum, something even GOP Senator Hatch couldn’t deny (he described her as ‘attractive’ as well, which I found exceedingly creepy and in poor taste, especially considering the circumstances of the hearing). After Dr. Ford’s testimony came Judge Kavanaugh’s. The contrast between the two couldn’t be more drastic. Even in his opening statement, Judge Kavanaugh was aggressive, overtly emotional and generally hostile. During his testimony he frequently interrupted the Senators, was almost inappropriate to Sen. Klobuchar (he apologised for this after a recess, but it came across as too little too late) and was shouting to get his points across.
It was reported before the hearings that it is possible that a different facet of Judge Kavanaugh’s personality to the one he embraced during the Fox news interview might be in evidence during the hearing since President Trump had advised the good Judge to be emphatic and aggressive in presenting his side to the committee. This report and the consequent testimony were quite revealing in themselves. A man, a conservative, white, straight family man, the kind of man who is universally representative of the who’s who in power, he shouts, cries, is rude and crude to members of cabinet in the most powerful country in the world, and his actions are considered powerful, even honest. Anything said against him is decried as a witch hunt. A few Republican senators (such as Sen. Graham) defended, consoled and even praised him during the hearing… All of which led me to wonder, why is it that when a man loses his cool and becomes emotional in grandstanding, he is considered powerful and when a woman does that, she is considered emotionally unstable ? If Dr. Ford had cried and torn her hair and added some theatrics to her testimony, would that have made a greater impact on the Republican Senate committee members, or would she have been called attention seeking or unstable or any number of things that we have known women to have been called when something like that happens ? Judge Kavanaugh kept yelling “I’m a good man” and kept mentioning his family and how the accusations have affected them over and over again. While I feel for his wife and his young daughters, if he is indeed guilty, that cannot be a consideration, either for his confirmation or for prosecuting him for the offences (well, the latter is probably not applicable since these incidents happened a while ago, and the statute of limitations almost certainly has expired). Then there is the “boys will be boys” defense. Yes, it might be unfair to have a mistake made in someone’s teenage years spoil a person’s future and his/her whole life. But sexual harassment or anything in that family of offences cannot be written off as just mistakes. And it cannot be a ‘rite of passage’ for young men in any civilised society.
These musings might be unproductive, and this might just be once of the instances where this disparity has become evident. It might be futile to hope for justice for Dr. Ford and women like her, who have been brave enough to come forward, and countless others who haven’t (I mean in general, not just in this particular issue). Nothing has changed since yesterday, as I was typing this, the Senate panel has voted to advance the nominee hearing to the full committee. Judge Kavanaugh may well become Justice Kavanaugh by this time next week. And considering his relative youth, he might very well remain there for the next thirty years. Civil liberties, women’s rights to decide about their own bodies, environmental issues that might indirectly impact the world as a whole (and by extension, our planet), all these crucial issues might depend on his say-so. There is nothing left to say about it, except, “God Bless America”, although I sincerely doubt this is the scenario Irving Berlin had in mind when he wrote those lines !
P:S – I am not a citizen of the United States of America. I don’t seek to offend or support anyone’s political leanings. These are my opinions as a citizen of the world who closely follows politics, who cares about people in general rather than those belonging just to my nationality and above all, as someone who cares about the impact these small events have on a global basis (that includes social, political and environmental issues).
Mountain tops gleaming,
Majestic is the sunset,
Magic in the air …
I would sometimes sit out in the benches in my balcony with a cup of tea in summer. It is a very peaceful place most of the time, though too cold to be in winter. Beyond the garden I can see the mountains of the North chain in the Austrian Alps. I don’t generally watch sunrises, they insist on coming too early in the day. But the sunsets, absolutely marvellous. My favourites are the late summer sunsets.
My balcony faces west, so I don’t actually see the sun, but I can see the light pass over the mountains, range by range. On clear days, the contrast the light makes with the blue sky is beautiful, not to forget the white clouds reflecting the golden light. Right before the sun goes down, it’s like they cluster around for that last bout of warmth before the chilly night. The golden light becomes amplified in their white nebulous bodies. I have seldom seen a more beautiful sight.
From my seat, I can vaguely see the spires of the church nearby. I have to strain my neck a little bit to see it, there is a rather large pine tree and a few buildings in between. I mostly just hear the church clock, striking the hour. The church stands at one end of the park that I go for my walks to. The park itself is notorious as the main drug park of this little city, but I largely ignore its reputation in summer and spring. It is only in fall and winter when it becomes dark earlier that I adjust my schedule so that I’m not inside the park too late. Perhaps it is the most basic of all human conditions that prompts such an action, fear of the dark.
This morning, the mountains were covered in a thick film of mist. It almost seemed as if it had snowed up there already. I don’t see it anymore. Even if it had, the relatively warm day has melted it away. Their heads are bare and Grey now, as it usually is, except in winter. To be surrounded by mountains is a strange feeling, especially if you are not used to it. There are lots of hills and mountains where I grew up, but my hometown is primarily characterised by its coast and proximity to the sea. You have to travel outside the city in order to wander in the mountains. In the places I’ve lived since, mountains were always something you travelled to see. Nowhere else, but in Innsbruck, were they a constant presence. Here they are close enough to see all the time, to touch, to climb. They are real in the realest possible way.
I’m leaving Innsbruck in three weeks, for the forseeable future, perhaps forever. I’m taking a long holiday at home, and then me and my panoply of random things are moving to France, to the landlocked city of Clermont-Ferrand. I didn’t have an easy relationship with Innsbruck. After almost five years, I suppose a few squabbles are the norm. But I do believe that I will miss it terribly. I will miss the mountains that I never embraced, the office room in which I never felt at home, the people whom I will forget and the home that was never mine. I will miss them all.
P.S – I’ve written about missing Innsbruck once before, but the melancholy of this golden sunset prompted another of those.
Walking along the shore
The sand kissing my feet
The waves lapping and nipping
Erasing my footsteps as I walked by.
I walked towards the Sun
Mottling the sky in reds and blues
Scattering the clouds
As he left for his nightly abode.
As the waves receded yet again,
It pricked at my feet
I looked down and saw
Its patterned shell.
A sea shell, formed over the years,
Hiding a life, nurturing it
Then setting it free
To wander the halls of spirits.
As I walked back,
I held it to my ear
Its preserved melody,
The eternal song of the sea.
Leaves in the river
Lining up by the shadows
Levitating by …
Leaves are turning red,
Coloring the glassy pond
Fall visits again…
I still remember with perfect clarity what my first impressions of Innsbruck were. It was six years ago, and I was moving yet again, to a different country, to a different city. It was a long flight from my coastal Kochi to mountainous Innsbruck. I had stopovers at Doha and then Vienna. The flight from Vienna to Innsbruck was unforgettable. A tiny Austrian airlines plane manoeuvring above ranges upon ranges of Austrian Alps which were already wearing sparse snowy crowns in September, and finally setting down inside a mountain ring that hosted a small city and a smaller airport. That was a truly magnificent spectacle.
Another distinct memory is of my first snow here. For a person from a coastal city in a tropical country, snow isn’t exactly commonplace. My first encounter with it had been in London three years before. But London snows are, well, weird. It only snows for about ten days from Christmas to the new year. In most of the city area, it doesn’t settle at all, the foot traffic just crushes it into disgusting sludge. So it was quite an experience to see settled snow, literally overnight (I kid you not, it was cold when I went to sleep, and when I woke up, all was white !), its carpet stretching as far as the eye can see, and as high as you can look. The mountains around Innsbruck in snow is a sight worth seeing.
I left Innsbruck after six months, lived in Italy and then in Serbia, for six months each. When I came back here in February 2014, nothing much had changed. Yes, 2014 was a strange year, weatherwise. It was already quite warm in February. There wasn’t much snow that Winter. But Innsbruck remained as I remembered her.
I have a difficult relationship with Innsbruck. I love looking at the mountains, I admit I’m not much of a hiker or a skier. But I hate that it is so land locked. My only consolations were the rivers Inn (after which Innsbruck is named, Inn-brücke means bridge upon the Inn, which became Innsbruck) and Sill (near which I live). I love watching water flow, there is something so calming about it. I love the fierce beauty of the swollen Inn when she carries the snowmelt from the mountains. I love the placid currents of the Sill as she gurgles along. And I love my flat, which is pretty great, not to mention the great location, which is in the heart of the city, but removed from all the hubbub (such as it is) . It is almost my perfect space. And I absolutely adore my backyard, especially when it snows. But I hate that Innsbruck is such a tiny town (I don’t consider it a city, not really, it is minuscule, with a population of a little over 100,000 people) and is pretty much dead after 7 p.m. It experiences a brief awakening over the weekend, but even that is nothing to write home about.
So like I said, I have a difficult relationship with Innsbruck. But, now that it is almost time to leave it, I’m feeling a little sad. It may be my Stockholm syndrome talking, but she and I did have some good times together. I did meet some great people, do some interesting things, and got on a little further on my quest to come into my own. Those are things that will stay with me, if not forever, still for a long time. Innsbruck was after all, my home for almost five years. I do believe that once I have moved, I will miss this itty bitty city. Therefore, I will not say Goodbye, Innsbruck, I will simply say, Auf Wiedersehen !
“The only real revolution is in the enlightenment of the mind and the improvement of character, the only real emancipation is individual, and the only real revolutionaries are philosophers and saints.” — Will Durant
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