Invictus by William Ernest Henley




Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul. 

William Ernest Henley


This had to go on the wall.

It was a hot summer afternoon; I was in an extra hurry to reach home. Given the short distance; I chose to travel in an auto-rickshaw. Whilst the journey I was accompanied by a family who seemed to be in a jolly good mood. I was least bothered and I indulged my own train of thought.

The family of four had a typical gruff father, overly empathetic mother and two pubescent kids carrying (in) their own frivolous banter.

The auto ‘walas’ had a penchant for bass. Their music systems were altered to enhance bass which always irritated me. This youngest one amongst them, hardly 8 years old, was jumping and singing to the tune, I felt quite embarrassed, if it was for my child I would disclaim and abandon him immediately. I have nothing against kids but I don’t carry sweet spot for ‘em either. He changed the atmosphere of the vehicle, despite my distaste, he had a soothing voice, his elder brother tried to emulate but later understood his crass voice was of no match, the father joined the kid at the chorus and the driver immediately. I was befuddled by everything. It was like a school picnic trip. I was asked to sing (too), given the searing hot sun, the chaotic bass system and  my irate mood then, I politely denied and said I don’t speak the language (which is a big fat lie), but again, I didn’t want to be a spoilt sport so I started clapping.

The driver tried small talk, to which the kid replied that he was done with his exams. They were all singing in a jolly good mood and here I was with a shell shocked expression. Nestled between the kid and the father I was hoping this ordeal would end soon.

Finally the guys got down and appreciated each other, BELIEVE ME you don’t appreciate nor get appreciated by an auto ‘wala’, EVER! He did charge them for the trip. It happened so fast it took me time to get a hang of it. He tried to talk to me in Hindi, he was poor at it. I wasn’t up for criticism.  We both agreed to the potential the kid carried. He added some sob story of his cousins losing one of those myriad singing competitions. I emphasized and got down at my spot.

Walking down my street I could feel that experience grow on me. It must be for that kid because all I could see around was happy faces. People greeting other? Thanking a shop keeper?? It is highly unlikely of me to care about my surroundings; I couldn’t help but notice a guy helping a handicapped beggar find some shade. It was moving. I was aware that my subconscious was somehow tampered with. It was an unusual day and beyond my scope of understanding. I doubt it will ever happen again.

Be that as it may, the kid had a beautiful voice.

All suggestions are welcome

42 … 42….

Perks of being a last bencher is that you always are under radar, it’s like living life on the edge. OK  I know I might be exaggerating a little bit but you get the point. Compared to my peers in the front bench we are a lot better at classroom bedlam.

This was a physics class, there was hardly anyone listening. We were all exchanging lunchboxes from under the benches and it seemed like a usual day until our lecturer picked one of us, it was Rg. Our sir asked him a question right from the topic that was being taught. Rg had no clue neither did anyone around. He was dumbstruck and our sir was losing his cool. Then again someone hushed “42  … 42 ….” my friend, who was made to stand up answered confidently “42, sir”. Not only was the answer wrong but also unrelated to the topic . It was chaos in the last benches, everyone was laughing hard, our sir scowled at his ignorance and gave a very condescending smile.  He left us alone to our own senses. Even today when someone is picked to answer a question we murmur “42  … 42…” just for the fun of it.

A Piece of Chalk – G. K. Chesterton

A Piece of Chalk

I remember one splendid morning, all blue and silver, in the summer holidays when I reluctantly tore myself away from the task of doing nothing in particular, and put on a hat of some sort and picked up a walking-stick, and put six very bright-colored chalks in my pocket. I then went into the kitchen (which, along with the rest of the house, belonged to a very square and sensible old woman in a Sussex village), and asked the owner and occupant of the kitchen if she had any brown paper. She had a great deal; in fact, she had too much; and she mistook the purpose and the rationale of the existence of brown paper. She seemed to have an idea that if a person wanted brown paper he must be wanting to tie up parcels; which was the last thing I wanted to do; indeed, it is a thing which I have found to be beyond my mental capacity. Hence she dwelt very much on the varying qualities of toughness and endurance in the material. I explained to her that I only wanted to draw pictures on it, and that I did not want them to endure in the least; and that from my point of view, therefore, it was a question, not of tough consistency, but of responsive surface, a thing comparatively irrelevant in a parcel. When she understood that I wanted to draw she offered to overwhelm me with note-paper.

I then tried to explain the rather delicate logical shade, that I not only liked brown paper, but liked the quality of brownness in paper, just as I like the quality of brownness in October woods, or in beer. Brown paper represents the primal twilight of the first toil of creation, and with a bright-colored chalk or two you can pick out points of fire in it, sparks of gold, and blood-red, and sea-green, like the first fierce stars that sprang out of divine darkness. All this I said (in an off-hand way) to the old woman; and I put the brown paper in my pocket along with the chalks, and possibly other things. I suppose every one must have reflected how primeval and how poetical are the things that one carries in one’s pocket; the pocket-knife, for instance, the type of all human tools, the infant of the sword. Once I planned to write a book of poems entirely about things in my pockets. But I found it would be too long; and the age of the great epics is past.

With my stick and my knife, my chalks and my brown paper, I went out on to the great downs. . . .

I crossed one swell of living turf after another, looking for a place to sit down and draw. Do not, for heaven’s sake, imagine I was going to sketch from Nature. I was going to draw devils and seraphim, and blind old gods that men worshipped before the dawn of right, and saints in robes of angry crimson, and seas of strange green, and all the sacred or monstrous symbols that look so well in bright colors on brown paper. They are much better worth drawing than Nature; also they are much easier to draw. When a cow came slouching by in the field next to me, a mere artist might have drawn it; but I always get wrong in the hind legs of quadrupeds. So I drew the soul of a cow; which I saw there plainly walking before me in the sunlight; and the soul was all purple and silver, and had seven horns and the mystery that belongs to all beasts. But though I could not with a crayon get the best out of the landscape, it does not follow that the landscape was not getting the best out of me. And this, I think, is the mistake that people make about the old poets who lived before Wordsworth, and were supposed not to care very much about Nature because they did not describe it much.

They preferred writing about great men to writing about great hills; but they sat on the great hills to write it. The gave out much less about Nature, but they drank in, perhaps, much more. They painted the white robes of their holy virgins with the blinding snow, at which they had stared all day. . . The greenness of a thousand green leaves clustered into the live green figure of Robin Hood. The blueness of a score of forgotten skies became the blue robes of the Virgin. The inspiration went in like sunbeams and came out like Apollo.

But as I sat scrawling these silly figures on the brown paper, it began to dawn on me, to my great disgust, that I had left one chalk, and that a most exquisite and essential chalk, behind. I searched all my pockets, but I could not find any white chalk. Now, those who are acquainted with all the philosophy (nay, religion) which is typified in the art of drawing on brown paper, know that white is positive and essential. I cannot avoid remarking here upon a moral significance. One of the wise and awful truths which this brown-paper art reveals, is this, that white is a color. It is not a mere absence of color; it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black. When, so to speak, your pencil grows red-hot, it draws roses; when it grows white-hot, it draws stars. And one of the two or three defiant verities of the best religious morality, of real Christianity, for example, is exactly this same thing; the chief assertion of religious morality is that white is a color. Virtue is not the absence of vices or the avoidance of moral dangers; virtue is a vivid and separate thing, like pain or a particular smell. Mercy does not mean not being cruel, or sparing people revenge or punishment; it means a plain and positive thing like the sun, which one has either seen or not seen. Chastity does not mean abstention from sexual wrong; it means something flaming, like Joan of Arc. In a word, God paints in many colors; but he never paints so gorgeously, I had almost said so gaudily, as when He paints in white. In a sense our age has realized this fact, and expressed it in our sullen costume. For if it were really true that white was a blank and colorless thing, negative and non-committal, then white would be used instead of black and grey for the funereal dress of this pessimistic period. Which is not the case.

Meanwhile I could not find my chalk.

I sat on the hill in a sort of despair. There was no town near at which it was even remotely probable there would be such a thing as an artist’s colorman. And yet, without any white, my absurd little pictures would be as pointless as the world would be if there were no good people in it. I stared stupidly round, racking my brain for expedients. Then I suddenly stood up and roared with laughter, again and again, so that the cows stared at me and called a committee. Imagine a man in the Sahara regretting that he had no sand for his hour-glass. Imagine a gentleman in mid-ocean wishing that he had brought some salt water with him for his chemical experiments. I was sitting on an immense warehouse of white chalk. The landscape was made entirely of white chalk. White chalk was piled more miles until it met the sky. I stooped and broke a piece of the rock I sat on: it did not mark so well as the shop chalks do, but it gave the effect. And I stood there in a trance of pleasure, realizing that this Southern England is not only a grand peninsula, and a tradition and a civilization; it is something even more admirable. It is a piece of chalk.

G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

My first post.

As this is my first post, I welcome you all to my blog. My name is Roy.

I am an avid Internet user, and I follow many many articles, pages, websites. I created this blog mainly to accumulate all the info I’ve gathered and to share.

Most of these posts might contain articles and links which relate to my academic research/studies. Occasionally personal views ,and lastly food. I am not a gourmet, but I am a foodie.

I keep my posts short, never digress.

I hope you will find this blog useful and do share if you like.

Merry Christmas, keep safe.