Thursday, March 30, 2017

From Your Valentine-1

The month of February is the month of festivities, the time when birds find their mates and the Lupercal, the festival of the god of fertility. Yet for me, this is the month when I have experienced the optimum happiness in my life with a tinge of regret that I felt it when my days have become numbered. 

Tonight, it is very cold and even my bones can feel the chill this might. I don’t know what hour it is. But the little glimpse of sky that I view from my barred window, it looks dark blue with a glow. Looks like it must be three hours past midnight. 

Not that I was a reader of the skies but judging from the months of captivity and the hours when the watch changed in the tower, I think I have become adept at it. But there is something very special about this day as it might be the last one I might see. This day I go to face my death in the gallows before the huge crowd gathered for the Lupercalia this week. 

There are occasional shouts and celebrations that one can hear rising from the streets. Just like every year, this year too many young men will prove their valour in the competitions held before the emperor. The women will be showered with the ceremonial blood from the sacrifice of animals before the god of fertility near the caves of Romulus and Remus. 

Then, there will be the choosing of one’s bride from the urn of good fortune. Julia will also be chosen by some warrior or the other. Even the thought makes me angry as it brings to my mind a very unpleasant memory of having to tend for her for days on end and then having to leave her side on new orders from the Emperor.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

From Your Valentine-2

I was born in Terni in Italy. My childhood was a happy one with loving parents, plenty of siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles. I was the eldest in the family and I wanted to become a priest so that I could serve God. I loved reading the Bible out loud and also had the power to create potions and concoctions. 

On becoming a priest, just like the others, I did my share of baptisms, marriages and deaths. I was celebrated for my singing voice and my solemn speeches. However, I got into trouble when Emperor Claudius came to power. He was of the opinion the soldiers loved their families more leading to less attention to the duties of the nation. This made him antagonistic towards the instuition of marriage. Oh, I did disagree. 

There was Anna and Simon who were in love for years. Moreover, they could hardly wait as Anna was already in the family way. They were betrothed to each other since the Lupercalia when Anna came of age. The church took mercy in the matters of the heart and a special license was issued to get them married. It was at that time that the Emperor Claudius made a declaration of compulsory bachelorhood for all soldiers. According to him, men married so that they don’t have to go for war but stay around in the village looking after their families. 

What happened the next week was a secret marriage in the church attended only by the bridegroom and the bride. Looking at them and the simple ceremony of exchanging vows, I felt I was God in the Garden of Eden making a match between Adam and Eve. I blessed the couple and their unborn baby with a special blessing and sent them home. 

It was that night that I received an order from my Abbot asking me to leave the place immediately. In the letter, it was written that the Priest Valentinus was asked to enjoy his stay with the jailer Asterius in his castle for a few days. It meant in a veiled manner, a place of exile away from home till I was called back. But before, I left what I did was to gather some more young couples and get them married in God’s name.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

From Your Valentine-3

The morning is only hours away and the need to see her has become so strong almost like hunger or pain. The first time I saw her she was so fragile and sick. Those days, I was not a prisoner as I am today. I was a priest who was condemned to exile for marrying off young lovers. When I was sent to live in the prison under Asterius, I took all my belongings- my books of learning, my secret potions and even my Arabian horses. 

I was taken to the bedchamber of the sick girl. There was a smell of decay in that room and when I looked at her closely, she was a frail creature with huge eyes and a feverish look. But on speaking to her, I felt that her eyes had lost their focus and she was unable to see me. Then I remembered the recipe for a herbal potion that I have read of and my next few days were spent in preparation of that cure for her illness. 

My first suggestion was a change of her rooms to somewhere with more light and sunshine. She was given a room on the Eastern side of the castle. For days together, she was my sole thought, my reason to be, the only delight in a confusing world of high ideals and disillusionment. I was at her side, observing her and how she became better day by day. 

My room was on the Western side but every now and then, I would cross the yard to come and see her. There was a strange delight in being responsible for a person’s well-being. Then, I remember the day when she opened her eyes and saw me. She mumbled some words of recognition at her mother who stood by her. When her father visited her, she was at a loss for words. 

There at times, when I wonder, had I been a layman and not a priest, I would have loved this girl who said my name Valentinus quietly and deliberately. She did not address me as “father” like the girls in my church nor did she give much thought to the fact that I was a priest. May be she knew what Emperor Claudius had in mind.

Monday, March 27, 2017

From Your Valentine 4

One morning, I saw her playing in the courtyard with the young women of her age, wearing a crown of white lilies. Not that I would have payed much attention but her merry laughter caught my ears and distracted me from my thought. I was deep in thought for I had received new orders from my Abbot to watch my steps. I was worried because that meant I was not free to go anywhere and there were hints of imprisonment in his letter. I smiled looking at her because it felt special, that laughter and the feeling it aroused in me. 

At night, Asterius visited me with his two soldiers. Usually, he comes alone and I am treated like a guest in his castle. Then in a very solemn manner, he made me understand that the Emperor has requested him to detain me as a prisoner till the Lupercal, which means till the Ides of February. He also declared that under no circumstances was I allowed to meet anyone or use any of the special privileges that the Abbot had permitted. 

 I was led to a room near the castle gates that had barred windows and also a glimpse of the sky. There was no sunshine or laughter any longer but from the day I was put in the room, I began to receive flowers and letters from the young ones who wrote about their lovers and their hopes of getting married once the Declaration of the Emperor was cancelled. There were crowns of lilies that made me think of Julia every time I saw them. 

I think of writing a letter to Julia. Despite the sleepless nights, I don’t feel tired at all. The only thing that is before me is her lovely face. What I feel is that I met her so late in life, when in exile, when condemned to death. Though I try to read my books on medicine, it is next to impossible because of a longing to see her or to hear her voice. I have hardly known her but I feel a kind of soul connection when I think of her.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Earth Hour 2017

Image result for Earth hour 2017

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Activity Tracker

One of the things that I bought with the prize coupons from Indiblogger Tata Tiago Marathon was Fitrist, an activity tracker, always related to my dream project of losing weight, though almost every year, I find myself expanding horizontally and nothing else.  However, I was extremely disappointed to find out that it was incompatible with my Windows Phone.Today, I saw a review of Fastrack Reflex, a similar product that combines an activity tracker with several  other cool features. Looking forward to buying this product!

Saturday, March 04, 2017

The Rain

In between her sobs,
She tells her story,
My hysterical friend,
The rain.

How she had waited
For years
For her true love
To come back.

She remembers
How he forgot
Or never bothered
Much about her.

How her longings
How her love
She hid behind
Grey veils.

When she could
No longer bear
Her sadness
She burst to tears.

Once in a while,
She weeps inconsolable,
Abandoned and lone,
Through the night.

She sobs and chokes
Her long silver hair
All scattered
Over her frail body.

In between her sobs,
She tells her story,
My lone friend,
The rain.


In a way, each story has the same kernel in it- our dreams, hopes and longing all lost and found again- the fire and the smiles and t...