The Making of Modern-Day Vampires

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Even as I lay dying under the onslaught of the slivers and shards
Of broken syntax, bumbling semantics and half eaten words
That bit into my consciously suppressed grammar-conscience,

The preacher of ENGG seminars, fully aware of their futility and
Like a broken record that is soaked up in their senility,
Played this steadily relentless outpour of outdated syllables

To the flash and crackle of a color blind PowerPoint presentation
Breaking through the monotony of the winds of boredom
Inducing sleepless hypersomnia

– Akanksha Gupta

Attempted Cuckolding of Commonality

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Painting emotions in hues of monochromatic blues
And carving expressions in granite
Little in matter, unremarkable in type
The common man walks forward
His gait stumbling toward his shadow
The crowds crow in forbidden delight
Magnifying the slight to overshadow
Those clung on their guise;
Uninvited, their gossip-ridden retinas
Molesting privacy and violating all arenas
Rove, probe and deride
Until there is an enforced stillness
Even in his overly expressive eyes
His mien becomes their definition of perfect
And nary a ripple can be fingered into it
There is a terseness in his shoulders
And a tightness in his lips
His tongue is held for times to come
Unless you count the rhymes it hums
In mutual agreement and cascading contempt
Unheeded and forgotten
The records of the past are unkempt
The present unencumbered of the future –
A future unmeasured and unread

– Akanksha Gupta

You know you’re in HKUST when …

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You know they like to strengthen the base

Without building the basis

That even schools forget // To-Do

Which you only regret later in the year

 

So as time races past without a second glance,

The concepts crawl at a snail’s pace

And settle intact within the brain

 

But the overload makes them fall

And makes you wonder “when”

The textbooks developed gravity

Strong enough to call to your head

Repeatedly

The “why”, after all, is a foregone clause

 

And so, the murky black waters,

Flowing from your head, nod,

And with them

So do those auburn, brown and blonde

That may or may not be naturally-occurring

 

You ponder over this predictable sensation

Which initiates a fashion

Of incongruous oscillations

Until you nod off

 

And the world slips before your eyes

Into the cacophony that presides

Over a Grades-Giving day

 

Which bursts into a confetti of alphabet

Splattered with youthful abandon

Flicking at the heart piece lodged in your throat

 

But you swallow it back

And open your eyes, not to the sunrise,

But to a platter of incomprehensible formulae

And since this not a surprise,

 

You promptly roll your head off

The textbooks on the desk,

And shake off the remnants

Of a lousy nightmare

 

Throwing the desk-ware

Into the bag

You swing it around your shoulders

And walk to the next class

For time races past without a second glance

– Akanksha Gupta

Waking Up, Charmed, I’m Sure

The ephemeral scene’s visceral appeal
Left me palpitating in its wilting attire
It jilted me by its apparent refusal
To reappear when my heart desired

The shards of this incomplete dream
Broke through the canopy of the night
Whose jittery birds tittered sleeplessly
As I willed it whole with all my might

I wished to wilt again into the shadows
Away from the prodding glare of the half sun
But while burrowing back into the thickets
I was outed by a misbegotten wren

Possessed, the wren screeched and shrieked
As though the victim of a failing exorcism
Heavy or light, the moment of dawn
Broke, as did I, down into multiple aneurysms

~ Akanksha Gupta (poem) ~

Ordinary

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Life is a story

If mine, I’m the main character

I’m the best actor you can find

In a pool of daydreaming narcissists

The rest are sheep; everyone that is

The occasional leader that pops up is not excluded

Though being a political animal,

He hadn’t even been included

But then I’m an idealist

Who picks apart the black and the white

I am also a cynic

Who caresses the gray left behind

But really, I’m a pacifist

Too concerned about my lazy behind

To actually pick up the chalk

 

But on the occasion that I do

I fill the canvas of my mind

With a cartload of chalk dust

And find beauty in the abstraction

The reality, however, causes an infraction

A world that never existed, shatters soundlessly

I feel free for a while

Without any labels, self-perceptions

Or impressions of any kind

Tis an alluring experientialism

In which I find freshness and novelty

And drown deep into it

Until the need to breathe supersedes

So I shoot up to the surface

And gulp lungsful of perceptions greedily

Some unaltered, some modified

And to study them

I dive

Back into the pool of daydreaming narcissists

 

This oscillation between radical worlds

Makes me teeter at the edge of normalcy

A piece of sanity dislodges itself

And pours uninterred into poetry

So do I call myself a poet now?

I suppose

It has taken years of writing

To gain confidence enough

To label myself

They say labels are empowering

Powerful and powerfully flattering

I say they are downright frightening

The standards they define

Mutate the potential

Garble the mind

Gradually I find myself

Changing my perception of me

A change should be welcome

But I find myself swimming

In a pool of doubts

Barely staying afloat

There are days I’m flailing

And those when I’m sailing

But I know I’m failing to hold onto an identity

 

At this interlude

You do recall

This is but a story of my life

And I, the lead actor

And thus, it is no wonder

That the plot does often twist

Into self-gratifying theatrics

Where victimizing myself

With labels

Gives the story

As though a drug-induced high

Whose hangover leaves me

Feeling like an unsung hero

But when you peel the layers off of me

My core is like everyone else; ordinary

 

By Akanksha Gupta

The Clothes We Wear

Capture

We enter

Wearing nothing

But flesh, blood and bones

We are then adorned

With a myriad garments

That they tell us are clothes

Later we learn the fabric

Was made with a swarm of threads

Of them, some were so fine

That even subtlety would’ve reddened

Gradually we observe and learn

The clothes everyone wears

Most follow the fashion

Some never catch up with it

But there are some who sweeten

The fabric and reinvent its ilk

We call them the leaders

And strive to be copy-artists

We too attempt to stitch

For, by and to ourselves

Only to realize it’s easier

To choose ready-mades from the shelves

We are happy to follow for a while

Good sheep who may never stitch

But every now and then to get by

We give the lone threads a twist

Where we had learned to wear

Smiles, frowns and courage

We have now also learnt the art

Of weaving and wearing politics

Oh this as an important life lesson

In case a thread comes loose

Or there’s a wardrobe malfunction

Because smiles, frowns and courage

Can sail you through

But only politics alleviates dysfunction

And with every political mutation

That makes the fabric twitch

The clock hands turn and tick

To wipe off an irascible itch

The fabric thus grows fainter

And starts losing its sheen

The threads come loose

It’s time to come clean

For some, that time never comes

Until they must exit

And their dirty laundry

If dirty enough

Is washed in full view of the public

But some stitch their garments

So cleverly embroiled with each other

That even after their exit

Their clothes either are buried with them

Or bury an unfortunate other

– Akanksha Gupta

Just a Matter of Perspective

As an extension to Happy New Year, a friend of mine told me earlier this morning that he makes resolutions when needed, not when the calendar on the wall changes. That perfectly describes my sentiments. However, this New Year I received a greeting from another dear friend apologising for all her past actions and words that may have even inadvertently hurt me. That gave me a pause. It gave me the idea for my latest resolution, which coincidentally happens to coincide with the first of January.

Every individual reacts differently to a given stimulus. Communication in a common tongue aims to reduce the scope of misunderstandings within these reactions. However, our unique styles and perspectives on life disable this particular feature resulting in a wall that stops us from being able to adopt a foreign mindset that justifies a particular action or reaction.

evaluation3-copyIn this light, my resolution is to simply try and breach the wall by translating it through poetry. As an example here is a parody on the mental tyranny of social obligations:

 

 

LESS IS MORE

I suppose it may differ
Mine from yours
As do I from you
But nevertheless for me
It’s true
My dear –
Oh bother
I really must start appending
‘friend’
At the end
Of every ‘my dear’
For I fear
That such affectation
May be taken
Under undue consideration
By one
Who may or may not
Have been
Mocked
As the talk
Progressed into
The emphatic
But thence
Unto
The static

– Akanksha Gupta

Wacky Food Lyrics

I adore cooking. Mostly cooking up things. Sometimes it’s food. Palatable, usually. Here’s one of my many wacky dishes.

RICE ‘N’ CHIPS

Doritos crumbled into rice swathed in egg mayonnaise seasoned with a thousand islands and sprinkled with grated cheese and red chilli

dish 1

because there is poetry in food … and food for thought

You know you’re in University
When your taste buds have worn out
With the bland and the boring
And the numbingly unalluring
“Things” to eat

And you know when you’ve crunched
On supermarket candies and cookies
For days, mayhaps even weeks
Because winters have come
With blanket retreats

You know you’ve truly forgotten
How the good food melts like
On your tongue
For to walk a mile
(Or what seems like one during exams)
Is a real problem

But when your stomach starts wheezing
And your bread is hosting fungus
Oh your jam’s got it too
You walk that mile (despite a humongous workload)
But your options are too few

So you don’t even take the road
Less travelled by
But get off of the fork
You wade through the forest
And pick that what might just work

– Akanksha Gupta

TO VOTE OR NOT TO VOTE

Politics is messed up and in return, I am lousy at it. It is a very healthy relationship I assure you; of being uninterested, apathetic, uncaring, and indifferent and all the synonyms you can find in the thesaurus for the word “voter”. Do note that the word ‘voter’, here, not only refers to those who vote but also those who can but prefer not to.

And I appreciate the voters who don’t vote. After all, they must have more pressing concerns such as working to put food on the table. They have no reason to care about which candidate gets elected or what schemes he proposes. Those schemes are never going to bear them fruits. But yes, if they must, they would rather vote for the candidate that delivers promises before the elections even begin. After all, he ‘shows’ promise despite his track record. Now, while most cultures may call this ‘bribery’ and condemn it for being a despicable act, the truth remains that nobody would admit but everybody is guilty of it. And that makes the whole world which includes those who vote and those who don’t equally and unequivocally a despicable lot. Since everybody is born this way, no-one is alone in being lazy and dishonest. Thus, without shame I can confess to you, one voter to another, I’m one who’d rather not vote.

THE UNVARNISHED TRUTH BEHIND AN ELECTION MANIFESTO

I will get up

And wash about

Me, my house

 

I will drink

To the health

Of me, my house

 

I will eat

To fill the tums

Of me, my house

 

I will work

Hard to earn

For me, my house

 

Day after tomorrow

I will do all I can

For me, my house

 

Tomorrow I will plan

The how-to-do

For me, my house

 

And I will want today

Your support

For me, my house

 

For what is mine

Is yours too

Even me, my house

 

And together

We sink or swim

That is our house

 

Coz ‘everyday’ comes

But the day after ‘tomorrow’

In this blessed house

However, I vote. Despite the fact that the higher echelons of the society are infested with petty politics of a silver tongued governance riddled with corruption, I vote. After all, the media has spiced it up into a soap opera, irresistible even to the likes of me. And I absolutely despise it; a love-hate relationship. Moreover, I want to feel like Santa Claus. I want to know which candidate has been good and deserves a gift. It gives me a perverse guilty pleasure to note that no politician deserves it. Still I vote; partly because I am inclined to put up the pretense of a nice active voter who cares and partly because if I am to give up my nation to vultures I’d rather choose the least greedy one. So yes, while I am lousy at politics and would rather not dirty my hands with it, I refuse to sit on the sidelines and accelerate the rot. Who knows? Once in a blue moon, the tide may change and long-sought changes may be wrought.

BIRDS OF A FEATHER

Look at those giant feathery folks

That poke their beaks into businesses

That bother them not

And rather than lay an apology

Thickly and swift

Their tongues erupt into

Hackneyed discourses and juvenile diatribes

That fail to eclipse their wilted wit

So much so that these long weathered ears

Grow wary of potential permanent abuse

Especially as their voices grow louder

And their stilted stature elevates

Mayhap it’s their nearness

But as their beaks elongate

I wonder how many of us

Are blind by choice

And how many oblivious

But it is quite certain that the giants seem

(Beyond their bulbous beaks)

Unable to see

Or care about

Our apathetic visage

And a pathetic state of affairs

~ Akanksha Gupta

(PS: This article was published in HKUST Wings 23.1)

Gratitude – Limerick Challenge

Two left feet fishing
The ground for latitude
Burnt in the agony
Of soundless sonnets
With little gratitude

~ Akanksha Gupta

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My limerick entry for Limerick Challenge Week 7: Gratitude hosted by ‘ Mind and Life matters

Ode To An Droid

I know you’re bugged
By the erroneous syntax
In the title
The fact that
It wasn’t affixed
By “the” honorific
Makes you seem
So inconsequential
After all
Ultimately
You’re psyched to serve
“The” client
But by my word
Your stubborn refusal
To run trivial errands
Makes my fingers
Itch
With frustration
And mind
Limp
With denial
But even as the
Java codes with
JavaScript
Met initially
At crossroads
With no way
To synchronize
That you finally
Responded
However stilted
The reaction
Ignited minds
Renewed passion
And thus molding
The codes
Despite the crossroads
Continued in this
Singleton fashion

~ Akanksha Gupta

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The App & Web Development Team

 

Is there a reason for everything

If we think beyond

We can unravel any riddle

The more that we discover

Further will grow the puzzle

 

‘Coz we’re smaller than small

With the wisdom of one cycle

In the great scheme of things

We’re too inconsequential

 

This world began weaving its secrets

With the sacred thread of time

Now they have grown too huge

For us to be able to divine

 

And all those secrets are linked together

So intricately

That weaving and unweaving them

We will never run out of curiosity

 

In my opinion, the world is built upon rationality and everything that happens here results from and into a process; a long drawn and complex one, with intertwining cycles and hierarchies. But limited knowledge and limited time prevent us from completely discerning it. Furthermore, since we have different emotional responses and perceptions, we reason out every outcome differently.

For instance, consider death. Everyone has a different interpretation; from scientists who call it thermodynamics and cell degradation, to religious scholars who call it the path to after-life. Now, as rationally thinking individuals, we generally base our arguments on indisputable scientific facts. We find it difficult to swallow the religious explanation. Religion, many say, has no justification, yet it exists. It’s a matter of perception. Even the seemingly most unjustifiable thing can be justified. All that is required is a different approach, a different perspective and a different school of thought.

Let us apply this to religion. Religion too has a variety of schools of thought. While one says it exists, the other believes it to be a conspiracy by the powerful to control the weak. There are also those that believe that religion was conceived to put keep a check on human arrogance and deceit. However, simply because we do not have enough time and knowledge, we cannot dismiss the possibility of religions and their Gods existing. In other words, that which cannot be reasoned by quantification used by hard sciences cannot be automatically deemed unreasonable. It can be explained using softer philosophies.

Spirituality, a product of economics and anthropology, is one such philosophy. In principle, many of us are skeptical about it. We tend to complain that misfortune does not spare morally upright and honest men. That it has no justification. Now, this is not true. Take the example of natural disasters that wipe out tons of people. They probably arise from geographical factors that are too massive to mitigate or presently too complex for science to predict.

Few also call them a natural population control mechanism. Such statements, though, are frowned upon. The society may subliminally realize the truth in them yet consider them improper justifications. But you see, justification is not a matter of being nice or right or wrong; but simply of reasoning out everything.

To illustrate, a man who meets with an accident is not “deserving” of it. The accident can be caused by a variety of factors such as the vehicle quality, its makers, the road, the traffic, the driver and so on. The list is endless. But all these possible reasons is why a particular vehicle meets with an accident, while its severity determines the fate of the driver.

In other words, nothing in this universe can be accidental, not even what we deem accidents. By objectively observing all the factors, we can paint a very logical picture; one that isn’t necessarily nice, but honest.

This conclusion brings us to The Leibnitz Principle of Sufficient Reason. It quantifies the very process of reasoning to show how all logical arguments mesh together to culminate into the best possible outcome at the appropriate time. And, to quote Einstein, “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once”.

~ Akanksha Gupta

Linear Vanity

I want a simple line
Neither straight nor crooked
Neither long nor short
Not too thin or thick
Without an end or a start
Drawn from nothing
Into everything
Drawn with what
Never wants
To part from its art
Indecipherably lucid
And beautifully bald

– Akanksha Gupta (poem only)

How To Get Away With Sleep

Sieving through all that old and rotten
And downtrodden mush stuffed
And heaved into a jarred head
My dread increases with the hour
Beads of sweat trickle down
A hairy mess crested atop
Of leaves aged with fungi
And yellowed by fingers
Strumming without a stop
Even as these eyes close in fatigue
And the fingers retire
The mush screams in disbelief
Misunderstanding satire
But these ears are now
Dead to all sounds
Of whether snoring and storing
Or sorting and pouring
Through soft copies and
Hard bounds

– Akanksha Gupta (poem only)