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The Journey…

Written by : Abhisek Pattnaik
Pic Courtesy :

I had almost trekked for 6 hours on an uncharted path by now. And it reached to a meadow after a climb of some steep and some not so steep slopes. I was quite exhausted by now. I could see a big tree, the only standing tree by the end of it. I thought I’d reach this tree before bringing the ceremonial end to my summit. Uncharacteristic to the topography, it was huge with its branches extending to all directions more than its height and its broad leaves giving me an impression of a banyan tree. But it looked different; certainly it felt different. Without giving much thought to it anymore, I decided to take some rest under its welcoming shade. The lush green grass, the cool wind and the enthralling view from the top made me do something wild, which I wouldn’t have otherwise. I undressed myself and left everything behind before entering the abode of its shade and lied down on the grass stark naked.
“Never had I felt more free. Never had I been this comfortable before.”
I woke up from my short nap to find Brownie sitting in front, facing me. Seeing me wake up, she wiggled her nose, before taking her short steps forward.
My breathing fastened as the idea of finding her again after so many years was too much for me to cope with. Tears of joy started rolling from my eyes as I forwarded my index finger close to her nose. She paused a bit sniffing my hand before jumping in joy in all possible directions…

“Tick Tick” I called her to come close. And she came and sat next to me as I started scratching her in between her ears. She was always very fond of it and continues to be so as she closed her eyes as I did that.
Suddenly I got reminded of her departure from this world…
I closed my eyes to stop this thought.

But guess, it was too late by now.
And She was gone.

I started climbing down the mountain and somewhere in between in search for answers, I found a cave next to a spring. I drank some water from it and dared to enter it. A yogi sat in his yogic posture at the far end of the cave. I slowly but steadily approached him. He opened his eyes and he smiled at me as if he had measured and judged all my questions in that split second. I simply went close to him and sat there. We didn’t exchange any words nor it was meant to be exchanged. He brought his index finger forward towards my forehead as I closed my eyes.

“Silence finds it’s meaning only amidst the chaos. Sanity comes because we have all been insane before…
You saw there what you wished for…
Nothing was ever taken from you, nothing can ever be taken from you.”


… Brownie! ❤️

Love and Pain.

Acrylic Painting on Canvas(18″×24″) by Abhisek Pattnaik

Often we stand at crossroads, feeling dejected reflecting upon the mismatch between our expectations and what life has in store for us. But it is in these moments of extreme privacy, it becomes rather more important to sit back and reflect upon these as a result of one of the universal laws of nature. Love and Pain. Ironically we never think of them putting them in the same basket. But they always happen to chase each other… don’t they?  Sometimes even occurring at the same time.

“Aab kya karein janaab! Aas he to niraasa to hogi hi… par kabhi kabhi.” 🙂

The Departing…

‘The Scream’ by Edvard Munch
Written by Abhisek Pattnaik

Seeing his helpless aunt and hearing the pitch of her cry gave in for the violent waves of emotions to engulf his face. Scratching his head in no less mannerism of a mad man he directed her towards the room where the dead body of his father was lying still and cold; surrounded by the howling members of the pack. The madness of uncertainty took over only for a few seconds though, for good or worse, before he came back to his stoic self and continued with his engagements in the corridor.

A chapter from the lands of Fosterganj.

Written by : Abhisek Pattnaik
Pic Courtesy :

Mr Shyamalan came back from office at around seven in the evening; a tad later than his usual. In his late forties, he was quite famous in Fosterganj for his condescending demeanor. Though he carried his own stereotypes, he liked to showcase the world that he is a rational person. 
“Only a fool craves to be caged in the system of marriage” is what he used to proudly announce, having lost any hope for a possibility of marriage. So his house, the last building in the main lane of  Fosterganj, was left to the care of Ramu, Mr Shyamalan’s help. Ramu took care of anything and everything that Mr Shyamalan or his house demanded.
The evening hours on this particular day passed by like usual and Ramu left the house after leaving Mr Shyamalan a jug of water next to his bed post his dinner. Mr Shyamalan settled down in his bed and tuned into Vividh Bharati station in his age old Radio that he had received in ancestral property along with the house. In the times of modernity, you can say that Mr Shyamalan’s house was a world of its own that still resembled the old days of simple things. In fact the only new thing that he had bought for the house was the Air Conditioner for his bedroom the previous winter as last summer in Fosterganj was unbearable, even for Mr Shyamalan.
Mr shyamalan was woken up suddenly by the sound of something falling all of a sudden as he was about to fall asleep. He thought he heard it coming from the living room. But finding everything at their own places neatly, he came to his bed surprised.
“Maybe it was a dream.”
And as he was about to settle down again in his bed, he heard something moving in the bushes next to his window. Being the last building in the lane, the plots next to his window were mostly left unattended and it looked like a mini forest with its wild creepers and bushes. Mr Shyamaln never used to sleep with his window open. He sensed something was wrong. He opened the window gathering some courage. Switching on the flashlight, he tried to inspect the bushes that his old eyes allowed him. The sound of crickets was filling up the air.
” Strange”, he thought as a sense of fear crawled in his head. He got reminded of the gossip in the market, of Mr Mehta seeing a ghost a couple of days ago. He closed the window as fast as he could. His show of rationality left him instantly in the face of something unfamiliar as the air felt colder all of a sudden. He hurried back to his bed and sat there under his quilt with wide open eyes for some time.
“Plop”. His heightened senses made this sound appear as something sudden, which was loud enough to break his trance as his body started to shiver. He gathered the last ounce of courage to check his bathroom.
Nothing there as well, as the taps were tightly closed and the floor was dry. He came back to his bed.
“Plop, plop”.
It seized his body with a sudden horror; his skin hair started bristling out of fear. He felt heavy as if he had lost control of the motor functions of his body. He sat still in his bed frightened to the core as he could hear his own heart beats even amidst the noisy crickets.
The sound of it was not as loud as it appeared to Mr Shyamalan. The shock of a sudden sound was severe enough to push his heart pumping to the roof. Suddenly he was no more an atheist, as he started fervently praying every God he could possibly remember.
Maybe his prayers were answered as nothing unusual happened for sometime allowing him to fall asleep.
Ramu came the following morning at his usual timing.
“Oh, the rats. I have to do something about them”, he murmured seeing Saheb’s book lying on the floor in the living room.
He came to wake Mr Shyamalan with his morning tea. Mr Shyamalan sat a bit puzzled in his bed as the whole incident from the night before felt like a dream. As he was about to sip from his cup he heard,
“Plop… Plop…”
The daylight and the presence of Ramu in the house gave him enough courage to open the window again. He looked around.
He looked up as the water drop gathered again at the AC outlet to fall. Sighing a long breath of relief, he was back in his characteristic condescending mode. Grandly he walked back to his bed and started sipping his tea.
Mr Shyamalan looked up to find Ramu standing at the door.
“What is it?”
Saheb, I need some money.”
“What for”, Mr Shyamalan raised his eyebrows looking in Ramu’s direction.
“I had wished upon giving two coconuts at Jagmata temple if my son’s health improved…”
Mr Shyamalan cut Ramu in between.
“Ramu… how many times do I have to tell you! Gods and ghosts exist only in your head.”

The end

The ship of Theseus

Written by : Abhisek Pattnaik
Image courtesy : Freak’s shutter

What would you deduce of your life if it has come to this point where you take a leave from office for no particular reason at all or maybe because you had grown used to the paid holidays during lockdown period, only to find yourself attending office in your dream during the daytime nap that almost lasted for a day’s working hours. Too many layers, right!

I was aware of the never settling debate of dualism in philosophy i.e. body and mind are two radically different entities and the debate of reality/identity based on it inclined on one of them over the other. It reminds me of the Ship of Theseus Paradox. The Greek historian Plutarch was the first to mention it in his works which goes like the following:

“During its long voyage as the planks of the ship of Theseus needed repair, it was replaced part by part, to a point where not a single part of the original ship remained in it, anymore. So the question arises, whether the now sailing ship still continues to be the same ship?” To this Thomas Hobbes later added another layer i.e. if all the discarded parts of the ship is collected and used to build another ship, which of the two should be called the real ship of Theseus.

Some argue that it is the body that goes over mind. But our cells die and according to some estimates every seven years we become a completely new individual, because in that time, every cell in our body gets replaced by a new one. But then, the identity of us continues to survive. 

And if we go by the narrative that it is the mind over the body, we do change how we think, how we perceive things as we age. I certainly would like to believe that we grow wiser with age. Then what is it that remains constant to continue to give us our identity?

Guess, I personally feel inclined to the analysis that says, the only thing that remains constant in us is change. Like ancient greek philosopher Heraclitus puts it, “We never step in the same river twice.” Our body changes, so does our mind and its faculties to allow us to see things differently. What remains constant to give us our continued identity is only the illusion of unity like the roll film where each frame is followed by another but it happens with such spontaneity that it appears as a single film.

But I’m a practical man and I can be accommodative. Coming back to my earlier question of what I should deduce from my dream is a topic for another day. “Mind over body” shall be my choice of reality when it comes to attending office, but only in my dreams.

Schrodinger’s Cat

Written by Abhisek Pattnaik
Pic courtesy :

Areté : (Greek), the act of living up to one’s full potential.

You know looking at my past, what haunts me the most? It’s simply the foregoing of the possibilities of what I could have become. No, don’t get me wrong. I’m neither judging my current state nor carry this notion that the world and its elements needs to be layered to make any sense. Given the support I have received from my family throughout my life, I’m yet to believe in the idea of economic determinism(ie it is economics/money that determines every course of action) like that of Karl Marx. So, I continue to live in my distant ideal world, staying an idealist(someone who envisions a world i.e. ought to be rather than the real one). Hence, the possibilities I have foregone have nothing to do with the social status or power hierarchy or the paychecks that we receive by the end of every month. But rather, the idea of experiencing them in their totality. I can’t simply pull a rickshaw for a day and become a rickshaw puller. Nor can I engage in active politics for a day and call myself a politician. I’ll simply remain myself. A selection of decisions/choices from among the infinite possibilities drawing a narrow path, which has become quite thin now to allow me to accommodate something else into it. And, this makes me think of the ‘many world’ hypothesis.

You must be aware of the thought experiment famous by the name of Schrodinger’s cat. It was given by physicist Erwin Schrodinger as an allegory to explain the complexities of quantum physics.

Imagine there is a sealed box with a cat in it. And there is a radioactive element and a vial containing poisonous gas to accompany it. The system is so designed that if the radioactive element decays within an hour, the hammer falls, breaking the vial and thus, killing the cat. But, the chances of decay of the element within an hour is 50/50. Hence, Schrodinger argues that the cat in the sealed box is simultaneously both dead and alive before the box is opened. According to him, since there is no one inside the box to witness the happenings, the cat exists in all its possibilities i.e. both dead as well as alive. This in a way gave way to the ‘many world’ hypothesis  by Hugh Everett later. According to it, all possible outcomes for any quantum event or decision are physically realized in some “world” or universe.

Okay! This is assuring, to know that infinite copies of me are living simultaneously in parallel worlds as the rest of the possibilities.
Me as a cricketer. Checked.
Me as a pilot. Checked.
Me as an artist. Checked.
Me as a billionaire. Checked.
Hah! But what about this copy of myself, that I’m getting to experience. How can I transgress this limitedness and become the rest of them simultaneously?

Like the Schrodinger’s cat, I derive my status, my identity from others. Don’t I? Certainly it depends on what and how the society perceives me. Hell, I can’t even tell the difference between what’s real and what’s forced in me now. I wonder what if I simply lock myself up in a box as a solution. Like the cat, I’ll be perceived by none. Shouldn’t it liberate me then; helping me to exist simultaneously in all my possibilities from here on; helping me achieve my Arete!

Kintsugi : A chapter from my life.

Kintsugi : the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver. As a philosophy, it means embracing the flawed or imperfect.

I had read this story once.

[There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.
Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.
The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there.”]

I had found it very moving having seen this evolution in myself personally; though at the cost of some scars. I had developed this bad temper during my adolescent years. Maybe it was the hormones or the lack of education and understanding or a mix of both. But it resulted in passing on my tantrums to others; mostly my mother and my sister, who had loved me dearly all my life and I was certain that they won’t ever retaliate back about it. And the reasons used to be very flimsy; sometimes for non acceptance of my choice, say of a TV to be bought or simply the hot humid weather; they varied with given time and space. But mostly it was to do with my narrow understanding of authority/ego someway or other, as I remember it.

Interestingly, if you google ‘Anger’, the first post that pops up explains it as one of the basic human emotions as elemental as happiness, sadness, anxiety or disgust; necessary for human SURVIVAL. Guess I had honed it calculatingly for my ego satisfaction in a sustainable fashion, when I had chosen my mother and sister as the receivers. But it all changed one particular afternoon and I think I should share this here.

It was summer of 2006; I had appeared for tenth board exams a couple of months back and was awaiting the result. We had gone out for some reason that I don’t remember; me, Didi(elder sister) and Maa. It was a particularly hot day and the high humidity was making it all worse for me. But the trip was short and we returned back home early; maybe it was one of didi‘s doctors appointments. I entered my room only to find the broken Air conditioner; the trigger that I needed for my fit of anger to come out. Hence started the slamming of doors, followed by raising of voices complaining anything and everything that was wrong with my family. A few more slamming of doors and a few kicks to the sofa later I found myself confronted by my didi.
“Why are you shouting? What are you acting like this!?”
And my rage reached its peak as I simply pushed her aside to slam a few more doors accompanied by a few more bellowed sentences.
‘Thud…’ My mother came running from the kitchen welling.
“What have you done? Oh, God! Reeka, are you alright?”
Only then did I realize that my push was hard enough to make her fall over her wrist and crack it. I stood numb there seeing all this commotion as my mother lifted her up and took her to the hospital.
They came back some thirty odd minutes later. My sister had plastered her right hand. I was still in a state of shock to accept the severity of my actions. A few minutes later I found her sitting in the living room by the aquarium. I went and sat next to her. A few seconds of shame later I said, “Didi, I’m sorry”, as my words whispered by the end, weighed down by the shame. She turned towards me and held my hand in hers and gave me a peck on my cheek.
“I love you,” she said.
No advice, no warning, no deliberation: nothing. A simple “I love you”, in exchange for her fractured wrist.
I’m not sure what I felt in those few minutes and what changes it brought to me. The weather continued to be the same; the decisions in house continued to be taken in the same fashion; the family continued to be members of four; but what changed was the absence of temper that I used to experience. I don’t recall ever getting angry after that.

I was lucky enough to have them; my family who kept on giving me chances. Not everyone is…
“Thank you Didi for embracing this flawed individual.”

Hope this chapter of my past helps you avoid your fits of flow of anger on your near and dear ones. Stay healthy and spread happiness. Love.

Flight of a dragonfly

Written by : Abhisek Pattnaik
image Courtesy :

Chiku never liked his afternoon naps. But Lakshmi, his mother, made sure that he doesn’t leave his bed after lunch. She had her own reasons for this of course. After a toil with household chores that stretches from taking shower and fetching water from the village tube-well before the sun rises to eating lunch after everyone else is taken care of; she deserved a good long sound nap after lunch. But if Chiku is up playing, she of course can’t even have this small luxury in her life. Hence, she made sure that Chiku also sleeps post his lunch, making it a routine for him. But Chiku always managed to sneak past her despite her regular warnings. Usually the signal to leave the bed comes in the form of light snores from Lakshmi. He loved spending time playing with his ball or car or doing something fidgety or simply he would search the shelves in the TV room to find any piece of metal or plastic good enough to give flight to his imaginations.

This was like any other day. After the light snores started coming from Lakshmi, Chiku snuck out of the bedroom and started looking for his ball. He had persuaded Lakshmi last month to buy it from the ‘harek mal bhaiya’ (the man who visits each house in the village with his little mobile shop on his cycle) while Lakshmi was buying some ‘bindis’ for herself.
“Maybe Maa hid it somewhere”, he thought.
Then he looked up for his car and failed to find that either he thought of venturing into the top shelf of the TV room. He climbed up on the armrest of the chair next to the shelves and stepped on the lowermost shelf. His eyes hardly went above it. Hanging from it with one hand he let the other explore the shelf with hope to find something interesting. Last time he had found the cap of a coconut oil bottle that had helped him make cylindrical clay moulds from it. A few disused keys, unattended papers and some dusted old books later, his hand met something made of plastic with blades. He drew it out.
It was sheer joy for him. He stood astounded in disbelief for what he had found was a “dragonfly helicopter flying toy!” The same one that he thought to have lost last winter. He straight went running to the photo of Lord Shiva, that was  hanging from the wall and kneeled before it for this gracious surprise. He got up keeping his prayer fast and short; too excited to make the dragonfly fly. Holding it between both his palms, he gave it the hardest churn that his little hands allowed him.
“Shoosh….” And it flew, in a grandest of style possible; almost reaching the wooden ceiling of their mud house. Chiku dived to not let it touch the ground.
“Touchdown means game over”, the game he just invented.
Flights after flights, the dragonfly flew and Chiku was acing the game.
“Maybe they should introduce this game in the Olympics. I can certainly bring a medal for India then.” He let his mind run its course of imagination before the clock in the room rang.
“Tong, tong….” It rang four times! “How come it is four already!”
It was time for Lakshmi to leave her nap. He crept back to his bed next to Lakshmi with his prized possession. Lakshmi was yet to wake up. He covered himself up with a bed-sheet and kept the dragonfly in front of his eyes inside his little tent; slowly falling asleep with a smile on his face.

Brewing Romance

Pic Courtesy :
Written by : Abhisek Pattnaik

“Mari Mari Kothaga Ni Jatha..”
The song played in the background as it drizzled outside. I didn’t understand Telegu but somehow this one was making perfect sense to me. There are certain songs that remain with you forever. Isn’t it? I had heard this song for the first time when I was in her room to help her move certain items. She was my friend’s girlfriend. And I fell for her like a dried leave; having no option but to fall. And when you are in Love, it makes you do stupid things. Isn’t it? Guess, now that I look back I won’t be able to assess, which one happened first. The falling in love or the stupidity that allowed me to fall.

“Knock, knock”.

I opened the door to the surprise of her presence there. The very sight of her was keeping me content those days. And there she was in her orange salwar. She must have taken a shower, as only her long hair seemed recently towel dried. Her dark circles were somehow making her Irish Brown eyes even more beautiful.

She smiled looking at my speaker bar that was playing the song; maybe acknowledging my fondness for her without saying a word.
“Tea”, she asked.
We shared the same building only separated by a single floor. We had become good friends by now to seek each other’s company for tea. Five minutes into it, we were sitting on the balcony with the speaker by our side; a cup of tea in our hands to witness the dusky sky grew darker as the evening skies of Kolkata continue to drizzle.

“I didn’t know, you like this song as well”, she said allowing herself an idiosyncratic chuckle.
I couldn’t muster enough courage to look into her eyes. So instead I continued to look into my cup of tea and said “Even I found it out very recently “.

She didn’t say anything nor did I. We simply sat there enjoying each other’s presence. Guess, nothing explicit was ever meant to be said. Love can be many things for many people; each having their own idea for it. But, for me that was it. An evening with her on my balcony as it continued to play…

Mari Mari Kothaga Ni Jatha..

Fish Korma

Lakshmi woke up 30 mins earlier than her usual i.e. five in the morning. And why not! It’s a special day in her life, after all. Raaju, her husband, had demanded for ‘Fish Korma’ to be prepared last night. Maybe it is the first time he demanded for something specific to eat in their one year long marriage. Rather maybe it was the first time they had a real conversation because of ‘Fish Korma’. Her shy nature in reflection to the typical indignant nature of Raaju, resulted in her spending most of her time in household chores. But, when Raaju demanded for a particular delicacy to be prepared, Lakshmi knew it was her chance to bridge the gap between them. After all, she had been trained well in the domestic dynamics by her mother. She understood very well that the route to a man’s heart goes through his tummy.

The day for Raaju started as usual. He left for the Tehsildar office i.e. the corner building in Banram village, sharp at nine. He was a man of bigoted principles and didn’t like even the slightest of deviation from his daily routine. All hours of his day had their specific purpose assigned to them. Lakshmi dialed up Chhoti Maasi, as soon as Raaju left for office. Choti Maasi was renowned in the Sahu family circle for possessing the best hands for food. Lakshmi noted down the steps involved in it cautiously as directed by Maasi, double checking them so that nothing was missed out.

And the preparation for the delicacy began. Diligently following all the steps as directed by Maasi, step by step, the ‘Fish Korma’ was finally ready. The aroma of it filled up the air of the whole house. Lakshmi was quite proud of what she was able to achieve. Afterall being the youngest, she never cooked at home.  And it’s only once her marriage was fixed, she was exposed to daily routines of household chores by her mother.
“Is there anything special cooking today, Ma?”, her father-in-law asked with a smile.
Lakshmi chuckled and went running inside her room, waiting for Raaju to come for lunch, lost in her own world. It was indeed a happy day for Lakshmi.

Raaju came back sharp at 13 05 hrs. Seeing him Lakshmi smiled.
“It smells good”, Raaju said while maintaining his stoic expression. She was excited herself to showcase what she was able to accomplish and went inside the kitchen to serve him the food.

As soon as she entered the kitchen, she was bewildered to find a cat next to the kadhai having ‘Fish Korma’ in it. She jumped inside after it to shoo it away but the cat was swift enough to take a piece of fish and flee out via the window of the kitchen.
She started shivering in horror as she got reminded of the last instance when the lunch was delayed and the way Raaju’s wrath was showered upon her for days.
“It’s necessary to keep the women of the house disciplined” is what he had said when his mother had tried to intervene.
She stood there confused, lost in her thoughts. She certainly didn’t want the beating again.
“Why is it taking so long!”, Raaju shouted from the veranda. It shook Lakshmi from her seizure and brought her back to life. And she started serving the food but the ‘Fish korma’ as if she had gone on auto-pilot mode; serving it the best way possible.
“Where is ‘Fish Korma’?”Raaju raised his voice puzzled seeing his thali missing it.
“It’s… it’s…” Her father-in-law cut in before Lakshmi could confess.
“Keep your temper in check Raaju. Bahu, you go Ma. Bring it.”
Lakshmi nodded and went inside the kitchen. Having no other option left, she asked Lord Shiva for his forgiveness for this one time, before serving the ‘Fish Korma’ to Raaju garnished with coriander leaves.

The rest of the day passed by in a fizzy for Lakshmi. The household chores kept her busy. Raaju came back from office at seven as usual. But, he had brought a gift for Lakshmi this time; a red shawl. Looking at Lakshmi he smiled and said,
“How about Paneer Kofta tomorrow?”