Three Big Cs – Cancer, Corona & Corruption. Over the years, great progress has been made in fighting Cancer. Corona is a new kid on the block. Baby-steps are being taken to find a vaccine even as we are groping in the dark to find ways to manage ourselves. What about the oldest villain of the lot ? Corruption – the malady of the mind, deep rooted in our society, entrenched in our psyche that ‘it is a way of life’ ? Why is this not being combated ? Why am I bringing this up in these pandemic times ? Because at ground zero the evil Corruption monster keeps raising its ugly head and spreading its venomous tentacles at all places – even in food supplied and tests done in Corona times!
It is an open secret by now that some of the basic Corona tests that should cost around Rs.3,000 are jacked up by private corporate hospitals to Rs. 9,000. Lot of unqualified intermediaries (read agents who are contracted to get home-tests done) padding up the price without adding value. Bed numbers falsified. Corruption in the govt. machinery for procuring beds and medical equipments. I heard all this from one of my relatives who has first hand information. Why he even narrated his own story of corruption in the food supply contract that he got in April. While Nagaraj (real name masked) was happy that he got a contract for Rs. 6 lacs to supply food dabbas / packets to BBMP (Bangalore Municipality) for its workers, Asha workers, home guards, nurses, poor patients and also officials, he was taken aback that only part payment was released (mind you these contracts do not provide for any advance amount, it is only reimbursement). A small time hotelier with only he and his wife cooking, cleaning, supplying and serving, it is tough for Nagaraj who has pawned his wife’s jewels to finance the contract. He was happy that he got an opportunity to serve people during these pandemic times – he travelled to the most affected places, wearing the PPE gears and risking his life as he served hot, tasty food to the Corona warriors. But what pained him is the demands from the ‘hawks in the department’, right from the driver to the clerk to the accountant to the officer to ‘pass his bill’. Needless to say, at every stage there is a cut to be given. Shocking that even for Corona related service, one needs to ‘pay’ to get back his ‘rightful dues’ ! While I felt indignant, Nagaraj being an old hand at this game was resigned to his fate saying ‘nothing will change this sick mind’. Current update from him – he has lost the repeat contract because he couldn’t continue playing the game. Pretext given was of course that his food quality wasn’t good though he claims to the contrary. While Nagaraj is not a saint, I thought at least a life-shaking malaise like Corona should have shaken the system and brought some positive changes.
Alas, it only continues to get worse and rot. Any vaccine for Corruption ?!
Last issue was a colourful pink but this time I am happy to showcase this beautiful, sublime piece of mandala art by yet another team member of mine Ms. Trupti Hegde. Away from the hustle & bustle of Bangalore (now a fear-gripped city of exodus), she must be finding it peaceful to let her imagination flow either from the lush fields or the mountain tops of her village as she dabs at the free-hand geometric designs. The perfect curves, bends, lines & spacing in Black & White seem to reflect the universal truth of duality – of Life & Death, Sorrow & Joy, Growth & Decline, Light & Darkness, In & Out, This (Iha) & That (Para), Yin & Yang !!
Resonating with my thoughts above is this Strange but True contrast of life that I came across recently
✤ Inspite of so many Colours – Black & White is considered Class
✤ Inspite of so many Voices – Silence is considered Ultimate
✤ Inspite of so much to Eat – Fasting is considered Healthy
✤ Inspite of so much to Travel – Meditation is considered Superior
✤ Inspite of so much to See – Looking within is Apex
✤ Inspite of so much to Hear – Voice from inside you is Eternal
✤ Inspite of a sweet Life – A peaceful soul is Solace & Divine
We hear of so many precious lives lost to COVID, lost on the frontiers so that we can live ours, lost to hunger & poverty, lost to melancholy and many more reasons. Yet amidst this gloom and despair, I would like to share (with her permission) this beautiful tribute to my late, dear friend Jayakrishnan Pillai penned by his wife Cini, affirming that there is hope, there is life, there is the glow of stars.
Solace in the Stars
The Sun went off in a moment, so abrupt
Off went the colours, and the light and the warmth
The world turned grey, cold and numb
I was thrown into darkness, hitherto unknown
Sad, angry, distressed, lost
Unable to fathom the length or the depth
Groping the infinite, the abysmal space
Uncertain if there is a way beyond..
And then, I saw them, the shiny little stars,
Lighting up my sky, in many different hues
A warm orange glow, a soothing blue,
An energising green, a cheering yellow
Wrapping me in a cocoon of warmth
Nudging me ahead, life has to move on..
My Sun, you are irreplaceable
You will be missed, ever so dearly
In every moment, every breath
And as I tread this path we wove with our dreams
I do want to let you know
I have these stars keeping me company, Lighting my life , each in its own way!!
We had goosebumps as we heard Cini read this out aloud, bravely to us, a group of Jay’s friends. We were left speechless and numb as I am now, unable to write anything further. But as she says Life must go on…..So must my writing and your reading…