Teach your children well Their father's hell Did slowly go by And feed them on your dreams The one they pick's The one you'll know by
What will we teach our children? Not to help the man who has dropped his bag because it may be a bomb that he wanted to drop. Not to smile at the stranger in the bus because he might be a paedophile. We will teach them to be scared of a monstrous world that we created for them. Our children will grow up caged and insulated because we looked away when they burnt churches in India or bombed babies in Beirut. We have lost the right to teach.
I take the dream out of my locker, dust it and put it away for a rainy day. I might have some use for it someday when I am no longer scared of it. I am not sure if dreams come with an expiry date but I am certain this one won't die. Almost.
I used to be fascinated by airplanes. Mysterious fireflies racing through an inky small city sky. The unmistakable roar of the engines, full of promise of faraway lands. I could tell them from a mnemonic ... Air France to Paris, BA to London. I was envious of these travelers of the night on their way to unknown lands. How excited they must be. Life is a romantic riot when you are a little boy; miles to fly before I sleep. When did it all change. I hate aircraft food now. The thought of spending 10 cigarette-less hours in a deodorized cabin with some crashing bore who snores is as romantic as filing tax. Miles to fly makes me weep. But even now when I am woken up from my sleep by the roar of an aircraft, it takes me back to a better place. I wonder where they are headed. How many serial snores on that BA 118 to Heathrow?
My heroes have always been from the Byzanite era. Something to do with my reluctance to value the present. The problem with having ageing heroes is that they die sooner than you think. I grew up listening to the magic of his rich keyboard strains. If anyone defined the sound of art rock, it was him. Rick Wright is gone now. A piper at the gates of dawn, how appropriate.
I can hear the drum beats knifing through the raven night. It's a haunting, questioning, persistent beat. It perches on my ear and whispers to my heart. It tells me I am running out of sand. My life, with its contradictions and abstractions, education and ignorance, needs to find a signature. I need to make one tiny difference for all the oxygen and patience I have used up. I can hear it call out to me from the distance. Just one tiny difference.
They said Fedex don't stop at no Grand Slam station no more. They said underwear-tugging Spanish Popeye had destroyed his soul and his forehand. But champions don't fade away, they crash or burn. For the moment, the flame burns even if it's just a mellow orange. And so when Fedex rolls into the hard courts of Melbourne on steel wheels and a prayer, we hope that there is some magic left in that wand. Amen.
Long before Star Gold made Batman (or was it Spider Man) speak Hindi, India had its own super hero. No, don't say Hanu Man, that's a bad joke and a capital offence in the court of the VHP. I am talking Bahadur. The super hero in the orange Fabindia kurta and the bad 70s Jeetendra haircut. Bahadur, founder of the Citizens Security Force (CSF) in dacoit-infested Jaigarh, is a crime fighter with no super powers. He hides his underwear under his trousers and battles real dacoits. No goblins and jokers for Bahadur. He is strong, brave, clever and named after my security guard. Fact is, all of the characters in Bahadur comics are imaginatively named. Mukhiya is the village headman, Inspector Vishal is the cop, Shaitan Singh is the daaku and Bela is his Lara Croftish belle. Can't understand why his dog is called Chamiya, but then super heroes think differently no. Bahadur saw me through many mathematics classes. Was easy to hide his orange kurta under a big math book cover and disappear into a world where he fought moustachioed dacoits in the Chambal and vanquished them. This one's for you Bahadur.