Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Love under the Republicans (or Democrats)

I think that I am going crazy. I woke up this morning with a poem ready in my head. Sometimes, I think in verse. I am taking a short sabbatical from poetry. No more writing poetry. No more reading poetry. For a week, atleast. Except Ogden Nash, ofcourse. A poem by the master:

“Come live with me and be my love
And we will all the pleasures prove
Of marriage conducted with economy
In the twentieth Century Anno Donomy.
We’ll live in a dear little walk-up flat
With practically room to swing a cat
And a potted cactus to give it hauteur
And a bathtub equipped with dark brown water.
We’ll eat, without undue discouragement,
Foods low in cost but high in nouragement
And quaff with pleasure, while chatting wittily,
The peculiar wine of Little Italy.
We’ll remind each other it’s smart to be thrifty
And buy our clothes for something-fifty.
We’ll stand in line on holidays
For seats at unpopular matinees
And every Sunday we’ll have a lark
And take a walk in Central Park.
And one of these days not too remote
I’ll probably up and cut your throat.”

Infact, no more reading for a week. I’ll just stay on a healthy diet of Ogden Nash and American sitcoms that is appropriate for people in my age-group. An honorary mention of Sam-almighty for insisting that I watch “How I met your mother.” It is awesome. No other word would do.

Lunar recollections

There becomes the earth
Brimming with life
Ebullient. I am its moon
Always mum. I am here
Eccentric, eclipsed.
Sometimes intimate, often far.
Amorphous, circumscribed.
My wonderdust
The shore of its disdain.


I don’t recall having any trouble understanding the law of thermal equilibrium, whilst studying thermodynamics. Now, I know that I was mistaken. After this:

“As I speak he is freezing
my words he will melt them

to listen and listen
to the water of my voice.”
-Agha Shahid Ali

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lazarus from the dead

Sometimes, life is worth living.

I went shopping today. I stopped at Crossword after splurging on a pair of shoes. I was pleasantly surprised to see Murakami, Lessing, Coetzee and Kafka sitting on the shelves, albeit, Lessing was next to a Kinsella and Murakami was hidden behind a DuMaurrier. They don’t believe in piling up the books alphabetically. Talk about sacrilege. “The trial” was priced over 500 and it wasn’t even in hardback. But, even so, it was there. Partial redemption.

This, after I had completely given up on Crossword when they told me that they didn’t stock up on Chekov’s short stories.

Yes, yes, I know I should not be so critical. And cynical. It has its advantages, though. For example, I was thrilled to find Sartre in the college library. Yes, I meant to use the word thrilled here.

I have read nothing by Kafka till now, but, for some reason, he is right up there in my hall of fame. Maybe, it is because I have been wanting to read “The trial” for so long.

Murakami is a genius. A God even. His short stories are engaging studies in the expansion of the magic that we like to call fiction.

Sometimes, I think that I “check out” books the way guys check out girls. I know that I can’t read all of them, but, that does not stop me. I still have to see and make a wishlist. For the future. You never know, after all.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Chasm

A golden web
Winter afternoon light
On white porcelain.

Your face
A ceramic palette
Paint any emotion you like.

The calm
A noise too loud
Of glass against granite.

The chasm
A fundamental separation
Indeed, the calibrated life.

The applicant

Some more fiction.

"First, are you our sort of person?
Do you wear
A glass eye, false teeth or a crutch,
A brace or a hook,
Rubber breasts or a rubber crotch,

Stitches to show something’s missing? No, no? Then
How can we give you a thing?
Stop crying.
Open your hand.
Empty? Empty. Here is a hand

To fill it and willing
To bring teacups and roll away headaches
And do whatever you tell it.
Will you marry it?
It is guaranteed

To thumb shut your eyes at the end
And dissolve of sorrow.
We make new stock from the salt.
I notice you are stark naked.
How about this suit-

Black and stiff, but not a bad fit.
Will you marry it?
It is waterproof, shatterproof, proof
Against fire and bombs through the roof.
Believe me, they’ll bury you in it.

Now your head, excuse me, is empty.
I have a ticket for that.
Come here, sweetie, out of the closet.
Well, what do you think of that?
Naked as a paper to start

But in twenty-five years she’ll be silver,
In fifty, gold.
A living doll, everywhere you look.
It can sew, it can cook,
It can talk, talk, talk.

It works, there is nothing wrong with it.
You have a hole, it’s a poultice.
You have an eye, it’s an image.
My boy, it’s your last resort.
Will you marry it, marry it, marry it."
-Plath


It had been over a year. She still had his things in their home. She wasn’t ready to throw them away, yet. His books in the study. She aired them every now and then. His clothes in the cupboard. She washed them and put them to dry. Still. She hung on to the routine of her life in the closet that had become her life. Still. She sometimes wondered if the neighbours suspected.

She had banked on time. Time, the kind friend. Time, that would make her old; that would make her forget his hushed footfall in that long-forgotten snow.

She set the table for two. Two cups of tea. Chocolate crèmes. Lilacs from the garden. There was a Shelley lying on the table from the night before.

She closed her eyes and sipped the tea. She tried to remember his face. It was too hard. She imagined it as it was the day he was to be cremated. She remembered that it was sullen, so free of regret, so final. She wondered why she still thought of him.

She closed her eyes to the intimate Chopin. Chopin who proved that sometimes, even suffering inspires envy; that sometimes, beauty is savage, wild; that rage also sings.

She opened her eyes to the suffering that had become her oxygen. The white walls. The lilacs in the vase. So fragile, his favourite. The Virginia Woolf in the bookshelf. The feminist who drowned herself.

She was tired. She wondered why.


PS: Just finished “Crime Passionnel” by Jean Paul Sartre. It is depressing. Period.

PPS: I am neither a feminist nor an intellectual highbrow, but, I have to agree with Sartre when he says, “I hate victims who respect their executioners.” This is because I am saddened to conclude that feminism has come to focus entirely on establishing the victimization and oppression of women. Creating class consciousness is extremely important, but, whatever happened to concrete action? I cringe to say this, but, it is not easy to forgo power. Patriarchy has not vanished into thin air after the establishment of the fact that women are treated unfairly.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wilde, an obituary

“When there was nothing,
There was God,
Had nothing existed there would be God.

My being has been my ruin:
Tell me,
Had I not existed,
What would be lost?”
-Ghalib


You had nothing to declare but your genius. You laughed at people for laughing at you. The communion of the words that you used was so precise, that it seemed incongruous in your youth. Now, the intelligentsia quotes you with an air of self-righteous defiance. I want to stop this defilement. Now, your words make so much sense that I am compelled to write about them in my insomniac juvenescence. These words that you used together, have slipped into the language, but it is not the same. They met in happy reunion when I opened a volume of your plays yesterday. The pages were a pale yellow from the nostalgia. I look at your languid vignette, your velvet jacket, your silk stockings and ofcourse, your sphinx like smile.

Your life let you down. You were betrayed by existence. But, your legacy lives on. Your aestheticism. Your hedonistic lifestyle. I look at your picture. Your eyes have a strange look in them, a faraway look that has a magical, mysterious knowledge that is impenetrable to me at this time.

You died a very long time ago. Now, 108 years later, I mourn your death. I hope that it is not too late. Your death seems unreal. Your life seems unreal too. I am saddened by my resigned apathy. Perhaps, grief is part illusory and part exacting. For now, I look at your picture and try to fathom your being. It says a million things. It speaks for itself. Now, I know that it does not need a learned exposition.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Lost souls swimming in the fish bowl, year after year

Trying my hand at fiction, now. Real life is too surprising.

"Four wax candles in the darkened room
Four rings of light upon the ceiling overhead
An atmosphere of Juliet's tomb
Prepared for all the things to be said, or left unsaid."
-Eliot

She had to know. She had to be sure. She liked the mask after all. It was real. Much more real the boasting children begging the forced genorosity of thin-lipped smiles. Fake smiles and bemused. Like a guilty secret, thanking its good fortune.
She liked the mask's stoic silences; the angular contours of his guise; the honesty of his façade; the immutability of his expression; the refusal to pretend, to conform, to seek judgement, to care.
She caught him looking at her. She returned his stare, even as she walked to him and removed his mask.
He said, "What better way to create fiction, than live it?"
She walked away. She never looked back.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The renaissance of realization

There is not much to say. Or perhaps, there is so much to say that the prospect of a suitable inception daunts. I have been asked how I want to occupy my days, post these four years, unfailingly and redundantly in the past couple of months. No earlier than yesterday, a friend wanted to know about my least preferred form of interrogation. But of course, the latter reverberated the former. How could it not? I spent the better part of a quarter of an hour contemplating which to read-Pride and Prejudice; or Persuasion. How am I supposed to decide something so……….. monumental now? The fact that I read neither, the phenomenon that I occupied that day studying AA Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh” should purport to the readers the image that I am trying to project with such painstaking diligence.
After a great degree of meditation, I have had an eureka moment. I have found my forte in life. No, no, I am not taking a friend’s advice to be a cartoon character albeit both my friend and I concede that it is my natural calling. It would require very little labour on my part. Work should connote diligence, toil and exertion and not natural flair, so that option was ruled out with deliberate expedience.
My calling in life is procrastination. It is a function of lethargy. It is a procrastination so evolved that it even engenders classification-a procrastination to decide, and even a procrastination to think.
Par exemple, my wardrobe is almost entirely pink. It saves me the hesitation of decision in the mornings.
I loathe wearing shoes, it takes too much effort to wrestle with the laces.
My grand old age belies the fact that I can’t drive.
I haven’t even attempted to read James Joyce till now.
I could enlist more vindications, but I would rather procrastinate.

In other news, I think that I am in love with Shel Silverstein’s poetry. He just cracks me up. Here is a poem called “God’s Wheel.

GOD says to me with a kind
of smile, "Hey how would you like
to be God awhile And steer the world?"
"Okay," says I, "I'll give it a try.

Where do I set?
How much do I get?
What time is lunch?
When can I quit?"

"Gimme back that wheel," says GOD.
"I don't think you're quite ready YET."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Plateaus

Tropical oceans-warm and shallow
Full fathom deep.

Melted to hardness
Diamonds reflecting streaks.

Your children, their life
Trophies on your mantelpiece.

The freedom of bronzed tins
Conclaves in the night.

Faith enclosed in your hands
They are joined in a prayer.

Vultures screech
But you have lost the faculty of sight.

"That dolphin torn
That gong-tormented sea."

Ordinarily, I would not have posted something like this on my blog, but, this time I was asked to. I hope that you are happy now, Sayan.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

As imperceptibly as grief

I know that winter is approaching when my mom starts fretting that it is 6:30 in the evening and I am still not home. This is a beautiful time of the year. It is damp but, not chilly. Today, it is overly sunny, maybe, as a reminder of the ethereality, the fragility of beauty. I sit at home as I am typing this. Hendrix, Floyd and the doors have been playing in the background since Friday evening. Now, Schubert is mourning the loss of something that I have no conception of. But, I know that it is a loss. “It is a secret place, the land of tears.” Schubert was there. He created sublimity out of it. We gained from his loss.
Here is something by Dickinson.

As imperceptibly as grief
The summer lapsed away, -
Too imperceptible, at last,
To seem like perfidy.

A quietness distilled,
As twilight long begun,
Or Nature, spending with herself
Sequestered afternoon.

The dusk drew earlier in,
The morning foreign shone, -
A courteous, yet harrowing grace,
As guest who would be gone.

And thus, without a wing,
Or service of a keel,
Our summer made her light escape,
Into the beautiful.


I fell in love with this poem when I first read it. She inverts the elements of grief into levity. The summer makes her “light escape.” She mourns summer. She welcomes winter. The new morning is courteous and yet, harrowing. The foreign presence reminds her of the absence of that whose golden die is imperceptibly, indelibly imprinted on her being. The poem is a celebration of sorrow and through this, an erosion of the betrayal that has led to the sorrow. Maybe, she is trying to say that it is impossible to say when one has ceased to be unhappy. When are we liberated from the shackles of grief? A month, a year, ten, an eternity? Maybe, we get accustomed to the grief, so that, even when it leaves, we feel a sense of loss. Maybe, it is the slow erosion of this grief that assuages the absence of that which has become a part of our lives. Maybe, she is comparing the loss of grief to the loss of summer. Perhaps, she is reversing the comparison to welcome the advent of sublimity.
In a discussion about poetry with a friend, very recently, I told him that sometimes we like illusions because they are hazy. Sometimes, we shouldn’t dissect the things that we like. Sometimes, we like things albeit we don’t understand them. I never look up the poems that I like for the fear that they will mean something else and they will be taken away from me. Sometimes, I spend an hour reading and re-reading a poem. I don’t know what this poem actually means, but, I think that I have got it right.
When I first read Ariel by Sylvia Plath, I did not pay much attention to the poem “Lady Lazarus.” After a couple of friends read the poem, recently, I have been forced to think about it and I can’t believe how off target I was.
Today, I will read Victor Hugo or Guy De Maupassant. I can’t make up my mind. I have been reading Salinger’s short stories (Thanks Sushant!). I think that he captures the conflict in his era very well. I also, finished a book on Chekov.
I know that I’ve been writing soppy and rambling stuff. Next time, I’ll write something fun.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Insentience

The tears
So bitter, almost petulant
They are unshed

The words
Painful and blunt
They are unsaid

The eyes
Searching, hungry
Everything is unread

The life
Memories, memories and a mirage
Why are you dead?


I bunked most of the day to go to school for DPS Pantheon’s Poesia today. Most of the students recited modern poetry. We had Walter Scott, Neruda, Auden, Ezekiel, Amrita Pritam Singh, Yeats and a few others. Even so, I was disappointed that nobody chose Eliot, Plath and Tagore. I was asked to recite something at the end moment. I did. Prufrock.

I can’t believe how amazing my school is. We have the complete works of JD Salinger in our junior library. I saw them with my own eyes. I have been wanting to read his short stories for a long time. I read a couple today. I also got a 100 page book photocopied. Selected poems of Eliot. I just had to.

I don’t know why I wrote this poem. It was written during the MP lecture today. I was too tired to continue my reading.

The literary society had a group discussion yesterday. It was fun.

I have been reading RK Narayan-The painter of signs and the bachelor of arts. I delight in his simplicity. His subtlety. Also, I read the worst book ever written during the weekend. I won’t waste your time by telling you about it.