A Beautiful Mind – Not A Book Review

Last week I finished reading A Beautiful Mind. It is a biography of John Nash written by Sylvia Nasar. John Nash was a mathematician who made fundamental contributions to several fields of mathematics. His work in game theory has had a tremendous impact in economics. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1994. Thing is, from the age of 31 to 62 he was besieged by schizophrenia and lived a life thoroughly lost to the world.

This is an astounding story of redemption, so very competently crafted into a detailed, thoroughly-researched saga. I was filled with a deep sense of gratitude when I finished reading the book. So I had a tiny exchange with my boss –



You are beautiful. So kind and loving. इतना सुकून महसूस कर रही हूँ after having read John Nash’s biography. Thank You for putting the book in my hands. Thank You for restoring his life. Thank You for making him the way You made him. Thank You for giving him that self-awareness that he learned to say no to his delusional thoughts, thought by thought, each time they occurred. Thank You for mending his relationships — that he finally became a supportive husband and father, with his quirks. That he finally had a good relationship with his sister. Thank You for Alicia. Indeed there is only Your love that blossoms across the universe in different ways. Thank You to Princeton and the whole mathematics community that kept him, let him stay and wander its corridors through all his dark days. Thank You to USA that brought him back when he was insistent on becoming stateless — though I fully understand the purity of that thought, of wanting to become stateless.

Thank You for Sylvia Nasar, for having her write such an excellent biography, with such in-depth research, thorough references, no words minced — all things beautiful and ugly relayed as it happened, no candy-flossing — right down to all the behind-closed-doors drama of the prize decision, showing me how Your hand is there in everything that transpires. Those adjectives, beautiful and ugly, I have inserted them. She related the whole thing almost totally as a true journalist — not just what happened in the outside world, but also the inner dynamics of the brain, how it feels inside for the person dealing with such a condition. All the informational sections of what the research world in USA was like in the 1940s, 50s, the sharing of the mathematics in a manner that laymen may comprehend, how game-theory has impacted economics, including Al Gore’s auctioning of wavelengths right at the time when the Nobel was being awarded were also so valuable and gratifying to read. Thank You for all of that — though I skipped several pages in between.

Thank You for the pointers and takeaways of how I can live a better life. Filter out every thought of warring family members and the sense of being alone (because it is a delusion), and give my mind to You, for Your beauty to flow.

You are most welcome. It is all because I love you.


By the way, John Nash also invented a game called Hex. It is very easy to play. I played with my nephew Dhruv and he beat me at it. Dhruv and I both lost to the computer. See if you want to give it a try.

To The River And The Mountains

We are immersed deep into the quiet now — the quiet of the gurgling river and the humming crickets of the night, the moonlight dancing peacefully as silver varak on the water as it navigates the rocks and pebbles, the mountains rising high in the backdrop, black in the night, but not pitch black.

It feels good to press the accelerator of the car. The cool wind on my face feels good — so also seeing the profile of your smiling face, the changing landscape on land and in the sky. A long drive feels good.

We started when the sun was setting, driving into the sun, the pink, purple, and deep blues. Now the pink and purple have eloped with the sun and the sky has adorned itself with that one regal evening star — the queen of all the stars that will soon make their appearance.

“Where do you wanna go?”

“That river.”

“Good that we have our camping gear in the trunk. We can camp there for the night if we want.”

“Let’s see.”

So we drove. To the right of town. 70 kms away.

.

It is 8:30 p.m. now by the time we have reached here. There are mountains on one side, the gurgling river beside it, and this open land on this side of the river — covered with grass interspersed occasionally with boulders — nature’s chairs placed so thoughtfully for us.

“I just want to sit with you, in your arms, beside this gurgling river for a while — before we fix dinner.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

“I am looking forward to the sushi though.”

“I am looking forward to the beer.”

“Ok. You, your beer, and patient me — but only two cans. Then we dive into dinner.”

“How about diving into the water?”

“In the morning. Am too tired just now.”

So here we are — on this flat long rock, a natural bench that mother nature has placed for us.

“I love you.”

Your lips on mine. Not kissing. Just there. For long. At least it seems long — eternal.

Then you turn your face to gulp beer again, and pull me close.

We are immersed deep into the quiet now — the quiet of the gurgling river and the humming crickets of the night, the moonlight dancing peacefully as silver varak on the water as it navigates the rocks and pebbles, the mountains rising high in the backdrop, black in the night, but not pitch black.

“I am hungry now,” I say an hour later and spread the sheet on the ground. You light a fire. Roasted veggies and garlic bread for you, cold sushi for me. You toast the bread on the fire and warm the veggies. We eat. The fire sings a crackling composition for us.

***

It is the wee hours of the morning. The sky has not opened into clear blue, nor its special sunrise hues for the day. The birds are up and about though. With a gentle snore, you are still sleeping. It’s fascinating how I feel more relaxed and peaceful if you are relaxed than if I am relaxed. I go to the river and splash my face with the crisp clear water, made crisper still by the morning chill. Soon I’m immersed in the water — immersed in the flow of never-ending love.

After a good easy half an hour I finally step out of the river. You are squirming in the sleeping bag. Your eyes open dreamily. Our eyes meet and there is a silent acknowledgment, a gentle love. My heart settles further into the soft bed of contentment.

On the patch cushioned with lush grass, I do some yoga — nothing fancy, just some Pawan-muktaasana, and fill my lungs with the fresh morning air. You catch a quick 10-minute meditation on the rock where we’d eaten dinner. For long you simply look at the shaking branch of a tree on this side of the river, then a small bird with rich blue feathers catches your attention. Now, for long you are immersed in how that tiny frame is so full of the most natural life. You feel as though you are communicating with it — which you are. Eventually, your eyelids gently descend as, in your being you make the universe your own.

We pack up. All camping gear dismantled and folded into the trunk of the car, we head back. Soon we will partake of some piping hot idlis and chutney at our favourite morning joint before you drop me off at my office and carry on to yours — but right now, as we drive back with our eyes and chest filled with the peace and life of the entire universe, we are silently One.

The Joy Of Work Well-done

A piece of work well-done, boulders and roadblocks broken down (technical roadblocks, in my case), is reason for much joy.

If I was working from home I would have stepped out of my room and gone and hugged mom. Since I am working from a co-working space right now, this post is the alternative. But the joy of a good old physical hug is in a realm of its own.

I would go to mom, grinning wide. She would ask me, “क्या हुआ?” and I would say “कुछ नहीं” — for most of the time the reason for the happiness would not amount to much in the worldly sense or be too complex to explain. In any case, joy that erupts within us without reason is the most sublime. “Unnecessarily Happy“, is the technically correct term for it.

Actually, there is always a reason for joy — but like I said, often that reason is not valued much by the world. The most sublime reason for joy: when, in the most natural manner, we feel unlimited.


Image credit: Gerd Altmann from Germany at Pixabay.com

threesome

One night You had encircled me.
No, that night You sandwiched me.
From one side You came as You
From one side You came as Him.
Then I remained just as a mite

One night You had encircled me.
No, that night You sandwiched me.
From one side You came as You
From one side You came as Him.
Then I remained just as a mite
Floating in You infinite.

*

I float in Your power
boundless
And Your arms
encircle me
Two black, two white —
and so the dance
of duality
is not a challenge.
It is my haven
It is You.

I float in Love
infinite
I live in You.

Waterfall

I want to feel this body
rub against Your body.
I want to feel this breast
pressed against Your mouth

I want to feel this body
rub against Your body,
this breast pressed
against Your mouth.

The 3-D roundness
of Your body, and its shape,
and its weight,
as those legs
keep these legs in check…
let my senses drink.
These fingertips, let them caress
Your being.
Let me smell Your sweat
as I did that day.
Your voice in my ears ―
let it water my deepest being.

Oh! Where are you?

This thirst in drips
keeps me alive.
Give to me the waterfall.

***

The Gift Of The Night

Now that the day is done
There is only You and me.

The night is precious
For it brings
You and You and only You

Now that the day is done
There is only You and me.

The night is precious
For it brings
You and You and only You.
You who are forever here,
How precious that the night
Still brings
Just only You.

There is every moment left
To love You by and by,
For now, I shall kiss the night
How sweet it’s gift,
Then maybe I shall also kiss
You, but just a tiny bit.

My heart, my lips
My every cell
Are all so busy loving You.
Where is the time?
So my love, for now just this
Just a tiny little kiss.

From a wordless place

Sometimes it is good to go to a wordless place, i.e. to not write prose or poetry. So here is a digital art instead that got made recently, during a no-objective-other-than-to-have-fun time.

What does it signify to you? What does it evoke in you? Does it evoke anything at all? Tell me. Then I will share where this image emerged from, what I called it, and how a friend interpreted it in a totally different way.

your entanglement is a dream sm

Fiction continued: The Wise Wild Woman

As the morning opened into its full light, she saw a mud hut with colourful paintings on its walls. A short wooden pole had a wooden board nailed to it, which said in rough carving – “Wise Wild Woman”.

A gentle voice was singing inside to the strumming of a string instrument. She bent down to enter through the low door, propelled more by curiosity than anything else. Sitting at a low wooden table, a young girl, seeming sixteen years or so, was singing to her heart’s content, strumming on an Ektaaraa. Somewhat paler than the people of this region, she wore shorts and a loose cotton top with short sleeves. Her short hair was tied up into a bobbing pony-tail.

This is in continuation from the post: Seeking A Wise Wild Woman.

This is part of a fiction series that is unfolding. All episodes in order so far:
1. Shimmering Blue Water
2. The Grasslands Bristled
3. Like The Sky Itself
4. Something Stirred Inside Her
5. Seeking A Wise Wild Woman


As the morning opened into its full light, she saw a mud hut with colourful paintings on its walls. A short wooden pole had a wooden board nailed to it, which said in rough carving – “Wise Wild Woman”.

A gentle voice was singing inside to the strumming of a string instrument. She bent down to enter through the low door, pulled more by curiosity than anything else. Sitting at a low wooden table, a young girl, seeming sixteen years or so, was singing to her heart’s content, strumming on an Ektaaraa. Somewhat paler than the people of this region, she wore shorts and a loose cotton top with short sleeves. Her short hair was tied up into a bobbing pony-tail.

Seeing someone enter, the girl stopped singing, and gently said, “Come.”

She entered and joined the girl at the table, surprise written all over her face, her eyes locked in staring at the girl.

“It is good that you came,” said the girl.

The kindness in the voice assured her a bit, but she still continued looking at the girl, feeling confused.

“You were looking for me isn’t it?” asked the girl.

“Yes…” she said vaguely.

“So here I am,” said the girl, “Looks like my clothes are tripping you up. Are you interested in me, or are you interested in my clothes?”

“But… I expected you to be much older. Even wrinkled with years of experience,” she said.

“Oh ok, age. Same difference, my friend. Are you interested in me, or are you interested in my clothes?” said the girl. The kind eyes now danced with a naughty playfulness, and she added, “And if it makes it any easier for you, I am a million trillion zillion years old — just as any good Wise Wild Woman should be. Just as you are.”

She broke into laughter. The playfulness, more than the import of those words put her at ease.

“So, what is your name?” asked the Wise Wild Woman.

“Shubhra.”

“Aah… white, pure, resplendent… the confluence of all colours of light,” said the Wild Woman wistfully, and broke into song, “shubhr jyotsnaa pulkit yaaminee…

She seemed lost in another world, as if connecting to a force.

Coming back a few seconds later, she added, “Shubhr jyotsnaa refers to moonlight. Pulkit yaaminee, the happy night. The full moon, the One Mind, that soaks the sleeping world in caressing light.”

“Sometimes I feel that way — resplendent, gentle and caressing, like the full moon. Sometimes I don’t know where it all vanishes. Everything feels like the dense dark night. There is no moon and I cannot find myself. I am unable to recognize myself. I know I am there somewhere — for I did experience myself,” said Shubhra, her voice tightening up into emotion and desperation.

“Is that what brings you here?” asked the Wise Woman.

“I think I am pregnant. I want to retain you as my midwife,” said Shubhra.

“But you don’t look pregnant,” said the Wild Woman quizzically, her gaze moving to Shubhra’s tummy, and then searching her face.

“Are you interested in me, or are you interested in my clothes?” said Shubhra naughtily.

“Aah… You learn fast! I like that. So what do you think you are pregnant with? A project?”

“Myself? Maybe?” said Shubhra, her eyes seeking support and assurance.

“That is a nice proposition. That, my friend, is called the process of Self actualization — quite an exhilarating and terrifying process, and yes, indeed like a pregnancy. There is a crucial stage in this process, kind-of like the breaking of the water…”

“What is that?” asked Shubhra.

“Kill mother. Kill father,” said the Wise Wild Woman.

Seeing the hint of startle in Shubhra’s eyes, she added, “Mother, is representative of all those things in which we place our sense of security. They can stifle our creativity. Father, is the rules of society. We slay these when we have practiced them long enough and can see that they have outlived their purpose — when we must step-out of the boundaries they set.”

Shubhra thanked the girl and left. All the while, as she was retracing the miles to get back home, the girl’s words percolated in her, “Kill mother, kill father… things in which we place our sense of security… self-expression… rules of society… outlived their purpose…”

Fiction continued: Seeking A Wise Wild Woman

The days were getting warmer. Three weeks had passed, she hadn’t gone to office. Her backyard had burst into purple flowers, and she would spend hours sitting at her backdoor …

This is in continuation from the post: Something Stirred Inside Her

This is part of a fiction series that is unfolding. All episodes in order so far:
1. Shimmering Blue Water
2. The Grasslands Bristled
3. Like The Sky Itself
4. Something Stirred Inside Her


The days were getting warmer. Three weeks had passed, she hadn’t gone to office. Her backyard had burst into purple flowers, and she would spend hours sitting at her backdoor feeling the cool breeze filtered through the leaves of the lone tree in the region. Sometimes she walked around the house with her eyes closed, enjoying the new perspective of her world seen through her fingertips. As she fingered the textured wall, finding her way to the bedroom door and then onto the kitchen, she thought, “What a broad, strong chest you have.”

One morning she went out on a walk. The idea was to keep walking, on and on, to test just how far she could go. It was 4 am and the eastern sky was just beginning to open up to light, above which only one star remained – Venus, these days visible as the morning star, shining regal and kind. It filled her with a sense of confidence and assurance. “I am with you,” the star seemed to say. She started walking towards it.

Twenty minutes or so in, the land started getting more arid. Dawn clothed the sky now with gently rustling colours. There he was —at the edge of a drying lake. A giraffe stood was with him. They seemed to be pals. Playfully engrossed in their morning ablutions, they did not notice her approach.

Something about seeing the man made her feel ‘normal’. Normal and ok in a manner she hadn’t felt before. The scattered particles of relentless searching settled down easy inside her. His trailer stood in the background.

“That is my home,” said her heart. While she stood still, her heart started walking towards the trailer.

“No,” said a voice in her.

Turning away, she resumed walking, this time towards the north.

The gait that had been easy, and exploratory so far, became brisk and adamant. The landscape changed. Dried grass became few and far between. Gravel and sand covered the land here.

Then, as the morning opened into its full light, she saw a mud hut with colourful paintings on its walls. A short wooden pole had a wooden board nailed to it, which said – “Wise Wild Woman”.


Image credit: Patricio Hurtado