WOULD I LIKE TO BE IMMORTAL? By Neel Anil Panicker Would I like to be immortal? The question stared at me from the computer screen the other day. My first reaction to that was, ‘what?’ and then sec…




By Neel Anil Panicker

Would I like to be immortal? The question stared at me from the computer screen the other day. My first reaction to that was, ‘what?’ and then seconds later, ‘Oh! there could be no sillier question than this’.

But then I quickly recovered and thought to myself what could be my response to this eternally bugging question: Would I like to be immortal?

Maybe. Yes, that’s true, maybe is my categorical answer.

Categorical, did I say? Pretty paradoxical, you may volley.

But then that’s because there are some things in this world that I would definitely not like to see or experience or be a part of for any more than what is my normal lifespan.

And topping such things would be the sheer crassiness, crudeness, cruelness, vevenality and vileness of man.

A close second to that would be his utter contempt for and destruction of Nature. Following that would be the massive moral degradation of societies.

Add all this up and what have you: the slow but sure turning of man into beast.

Now if that’s where we are all headed then I would definitely not want for myself the boon of immortality.

But then, maybe, there is one part of me that would like to be immortal if only to find out whether we are able to find some another planet for ourselves where we can go and live and love one another as God intended for us__ peacefully, lovingly, and happily.

But then the flip side to this is who would I share my joys with?

Maybe, I would have to go and find for myself a brand new family, friends, and build an entire ecosystem and that’s something knowing me as I do will take another lifetime.

I, then, will settle for one life, one potholed life full of rains and scams and lots of ‘wham bam, thank you mams,’ what say!


Writing Prompt #3 To be immortal

A Pilgrim’s Progress- Around Haji Ali Dargah By Neel Anil Panicker Raghav felt a tug and turned around to find sickly fingers pulling at the edges of his shirt sleeves. The free hand, twiggy to the…


A Pilgrim’s Progress- Around Haji Ali Dargah

By Neel Anil Panicker

Raghav felt a tug and turned around to find sickly fingers pulling at the edges of his shirt sleeves.

The free hand, twiggy to the bones, were clutching a half broken yellowed plastic bowl with more holes in it than the dirty pock marked bylanes through which he had come.
The girl, nee, a child, looked as if she had breathed in all, barely at that, no more than six summers; her cadaverous, bare boned frame, wasted and emaciated, and her skinny legs shone through what looked like a mere apology of an ultra short and faded, much worn and torn, thrice stitched dress of uncertain antecedents.

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Seated on the rickety wooden bench outside Hameed’s Lajawab Kabab, Raghav sipped into his cup of tea. At that instant, the sun fought its way through sky high walls and landed on her bare legged feet illuminating whitish red perforations on skin that had long gone diseased. And when the rays bounced upwards to hit her face, Raghav was all of a sudden struck by the magnitude of callousness on display by an increasingly self serving world that cared two hoots about the sheer pain and agony of childhoods such as hers gone awry.

Setting aside his cup on the bench beside him he called for the waiter.
Later he watched as the little girl smilingly dunk her disease-ridden fingers into the plate of vegetable biryani, ravenously emptying its contents into a fully stretched mouth. The heart wrenching spectacle once again reminded Professor Rags of how cruel life was, and more acutely, how cruel had man allowed it to remain.

‘What man and what society would allow children as young and vulnerable as this one in a near relic of a skirt that barely covered her frail frame to beg’, he pondered to himself.

It was then that he was reminded of a typically expected of but still an utterly opprobrious, sexist comment of a professional politician who recently had wondered aloud if short skirts were not the reason why young girls were raped and molested in this great land of our ours.

‘If hurling heartless comments were an Olympic sport, then this one would certainly bag a medal, if not surely the gold, ‘ Rags chuckled with more than a trace of sardonic humour.

He fervently hoped somebody would walk up to the politico concerned and pull his ears and shout into it that in this country that he avers to represent, women of all categories get raped including girls who shun skirts and wear other ‘respectable’ and ‘socially sanctioned’ attire; girls who wear skirts out of choice; as also girls like this little one who wear them out of compulsion.
Still shaking his head at the irony of it all, he turned around and walked through the narrow bylanes, his steps guided by the sound of the brackish sea waves as also by the sight of the white washed minarets ahead of him that shone bright and resplendent in the mid-August afternoon blue skies.

In no time he joined the ever burgeoning milieu of the faithful all of whom edging forward at breakneck speeds muck like huge armies of ants racing down a hill; men, women, and children pushing, pulling, shoving, edging, nudging, thrusting, bursting, and when required, even kicking their way through the byzantine pathways that led to their destination, the grand Haji Ali Dargah__that majestic islandic patch of faith that beckoned one and all; a tantalizingly towering beacon of hope for both the believers__who come in hordes to wish for the fulfillment of their wishes__ and, the non-believers__who come to figure out what exactly is it in life that was worth wishing for.

As delirious sounds of Allah o Akbar escaped the parched lips of the pilgrims and resonated and reverberated over the arched dome to finally become one with the hot mid afternoon air that blew in from the Arabian Sea, Raghav knew he had come inches close to the sanctum sanctorum.

All of a suddenly the crowd ahead of him broke ranks and raced through as the imposing façade of the world famous mausoleum slowly loomed into vision; a grand mid-fifteenth century monument that was built in memory of a rich man; his chequered life a saga of great riches and magical realism and then much later, mystical atonement and redemption.

As the sea rumbled and grumbled all around him, Raghav joined the multitude and entered, his head bowed down, into the over 600-year-old Sufi saint’s shrine, his mind alive and buzzing with a plethora of questions, answers to all of which he hoped would be revealed to him here.

( chapter 22 of continuing novella A Fair Affair)

#HAIKU/NeelAnilpanicker Fear not no stony seabeds Fire up your dreams, Swim ashore on waves of hope. HAIKU PROMPT CHALLENGE RonovanWrites #Weekly #Haiku #Poetry Prompt #Challenge #112 River&Sto…


Virtual reality is really real

By Neel Anil Panicker

Everybody loves a challenge, don’t we?

And what better if that challenge comes from the dark unknown.

The virtual world, that is.

A point which was recently validated by a group of scientists working at the very prestigious New York University Tandon School of Engineering.

Fifty men and women, all randomly chosen and possessing identical educational, social and cultural interests were tasked with tagging objects to a Brooklyn Atlantis photograph as part of an ongoing city science project.

With the clock set to an hour, it was found that the coworkers who ended up with the highest number of submissions were those who witnessed a virtual peer that consistently ended up outbeating all others.

The results of the said experiment, which was spread over a three-week period conclusively proved that men and women get motivated to react when there is virtual peer competition around them.

This left me wondering as to its applicability in a more widespread manner.

I mean, wouldn’t it be wonderful were we to assign computer simulated peer members who would work alongside humans and carry on with performing tasks, both___mundane everyday events and also on a more macro scale including those whose outcomes have massive geo-political ramifications on very global scales?

I got my answer to that soon enough.

The other day I met an excited twenty something and while we were conversing the topic gently drifted towards his career plans.

To my very well intentioned query as to what he intended to do with his life, the starry young man replied that he wanted to enter politics.

Intrigued, I decided to probe him further.

“What makes you aspire to be a career politician.

Without batting an eyelid, he shot back, “Rahul Gandhi”.

Momentarily stunned, I only could manage a very feeble, “What?”

Pat came the reply, “Well, for someone who is as good as an alien and travels all over the stratosphere except refrains from landing on the atmosphere, but still manages to be hailed as the “Great Indian Hope” by his unending army of acolytes, sychophants and what have you, he surely is one big inspiration.

Well what can I say to that. Science has merely confirmed what we have known for long.

Proof enough that there are out there some virtual buddies who inspire us__not by their actions but by their inactions.

Can’t get more paradoxical than this, can it?