Saturday, 29 November 2008

the naught joke.

In the light of Godot and Borat, both of which are flashing through my mind in lurid images, I have come up with a variation of the NOT joke.

It's called the NAUGHT joke.

Example.

Godot is meaningful, Godot is lovely, Godot is wonderful, I am waiting for Godot.

NAUGHT!

Friday, 28 November 2008

Memories.

The man who first introduced T.S.Eliot to me, as a poet who could use language and religion (religion?) as no other, was a great man. He had told me it was better to study Physics than Literature. And today, I don't know whether I half believe him or not.

There's no way to make sure, of course. He died in 2007. I miss him like anything. I miss his coarse jokes, I miss his obnoxious cigars, I miss his wheezy scoldings, I miss everything.
The strangest thing is, when he died, I was blank. He always liked my poetry, he liked even my worst poems, the ones I wrote when I was an overbearing horribly pretentious and precocious kid who read Bishnu Dey and Symbolist poetry. You know the type I'd not like so much now. Would I like a 13 year old who reads Joyce and Rimbaud? And thinks Shakti Chattopadhyay is best read at that age only?
Maybe that's because I don't like kids.
However, that is to say, as I was reading Eliot today, for a test, desperately cramming lines for Monday's test- to be able to quote and impress- of course, otherwise what's the point, eh? I remembered my dearest Arko Jethu, physicist and raconteur par excellence. He knew it all by heart and he would have thought studying for a Literature test quite boring and useless, for the test of Literature is not something that one sits for one winter morning. The best student of Literature, according to him, was one who lived it. A month before he died, he asked me to return his Collected Eliot.

And that is why, sometimes, when I try to make sense of things hurriedly before a test, I miss him horribly. Because for him, he of that honed memory and remarakable rigour, of record marks in Physics for more than a few generations, who could quote from his favouritest works of literature at will, literature was not dreary academia. For him, the mind it was that shone through the darkest days and the worst hours. This was a mind that grasped life in its entirety and that knew no pettiness. Which is why perhaps,nobody or nothing could really touch him.

Since Prufrock was one of his favourite poems, I read that at his memorial service. He had believed that I would do remarkably well when I chose to study English. Alas, the initial interest has worn off a bit, I know I am no great shakes really. Just as I failed him in Physics, I have failed him in this. I feel so awfully guilty. I am, as he once said, worse than a dhnyaarosh. All the champagne and ham gone to naught.

I have not been able to live literature.

And now as this sinks in, I wonder. What can I do? Is there anything I'd be good at? I wish I could act, or paint, or dance, or sing, or just solve sums. I can't do anything. The way I'd want to.

Frustrated, non-existent genius is a dangerous thing i.e., to rephrase, a little knowledge etc.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Who is afraid of Virginia Woolf?

*gulp*
erm, I am?

Though I have, dear reader, misled you. This post should actually have been titled Who is Godot?
The answer, being, of course, you, you and (don't panic or shirk responsibility) -you.
Please do not think I am joking. I have tried to read the play. The references to the vegetables are definitely more alluring than the allusions to the Second Coming. As Prayag had once said, "I have just realized that Jesus Christ is the most important person in human history." Which is wrong, because he is divinity now. But what complexities have arisen thus! I am much depressed. What if there was NO Christ? Is this blasphemy? Where would you and I be? Would we have ANY OF THESE TEXTS AS SYLLABI?

No, sir. I thus conclude that Godot has come for me. And precisely, Monday afternoon, Godot will come, consume me like a tasty turnip (that I am, or a crisp carrot) and then vanish, leaving Christendom scarred forever. I shall be a martyr, not in ecstasy, but still a martyr. All of you, and you, and you shall sing hymns in my name. I will hover around in white robes and silver slippers and radiant halo and say, "Haylo". All of you will then look upwards at my beatific mien. But you are stupid. For then Godot will come for you.

Hahahahahahahahaha. Don't you know? There's no point waiting. Would you wait for a dentist? No, then why wait for Godot? Why do that goddamned play? Why feel such existential dilemmas, the utter angst, the utter pain, the utter pangs of going round and round in eternal vegetabilia?

Dammit. I am also afraid of Virginia Woolf.

Friday, 21 November 2008

to sadness.

There is a strange sort of sadness in November, even when you are happy. It is something that is intrinsic to the month, a symptom perhaps, or a property. November for me is unbearably sad. Some would say it is hemonto. Those orange rays of sun, filtering through the leaves of trees, towards the fag end of the afternoon. That is inarticulate pain. That is a feeling that rivals no other.
*
Yes, being in love is painful too. As if life was perpetual November. We could promise to say nothing, promise to try to be apart, promise to think only of tomorrow and never today. Today we must work, and look ahead, and meet only on stray streets that are definitely not cul de sacs but fork into two roads, and two different roads we take. It becomes slightly easier.

But I can't...I have to be near. I have to see everything! Hear everything! Be there, and sing, and hear you sing, and cry and watch movies, and dream, and hug, and pinch cheek, and generally be happy. See, no more elaboration here. But these things are not happening... okie phine. So go away, become Ole Father November, or sumfin! I know it's not your fault, it's nobody's fault.

My heart would burt sometimes with music or mortality. In those days, when I did not know this sort of love. Life is very strange, and always deals us cruel blows. I want to cry sometimes, cry so much. Cry at my innate idiocy, cry at your innate idiocy, the innate idiocy of our mutual friends', acquaintances, and everybody else. But there's nothing to be done. Just nothing. Because tears are cheap and easy to come by.
*
This is not a little bit of a lovestory. Do not think this even a story. It is merely nothing. November, remember, is always full of nothings and nothingness. That feeling of futility and melancholic beauty is too cliched to merit much discussion. We could talk Shakespeare, or Keats. But we choose neither. We could mention Robi Thakur, but no thank you. There is no profundity left when even oblivion chooses to shun us. Hemonter roddur chokh dhnadhaye na... hemonter roddur ekta adbhut jinish. The sun's oblique rays remind us that between the cold beauty of winter and the humid love of monsoon, lies a strange twilight zone. It is that time of the year when things change. For the better, for the worse? I don't know. I am such an awful judge of these things.
*
I don't know what's worse. Love, or November. Or both.

Dur saalaa, bhaallaage naa.

dur saalaa! aar bhaallaage naa!

Sometimes one feels that inarticulate nagging discomfort that pokes and prods and just makes one feel sick. Like a physical ailment. For me, it's more like a terminal disease. Ma tells me that it's because my room is a mess and if I tidied up, I'd feel much better and promptly attain nirvana. Nilanjan tells me it's because I don't study consistently and if I just studied properly then I would feel much better and promptly attain moksha. (or nirvana, just didn't want to be repetitive, besides this is an ashikhhito post). Many bondhuwaas would tell me to listen to music. But it's NOT THAT! It isn't. You know woddimean?

It's that familiar feeling of dur saalaa, bhaallaage naaa....

I just want to be 14 again. For a bit. Dammeeeet.

And I get this horrible feeling I got last winter sem. Kichhu porini. Bhishon dube gechhilaam.

Nilaaaaaaaaaaaaanjaaaaaaaaaaaan. Huuuuuuuulp. Why are you not picking up yer phone? Talk to me, mother! Talk to me!!!!!!

*panics*

For unenlightened hoi polloi/hai pilao. There was no Nilanjan Das in my life last winter sem. So there is still a straw of hope to clutch on to, fer dearlife.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Silence.

I wasn't there yesterday.

It hurts. It hurts a lot. A strange sort of guilt, and a lot of disgust.

What is the use of art? Literature, drama, philosophy? What is the use? You sit there, listening to great ideas? Performing untruth? Enchanted by language?

What is the use? We suck.

I arrived just after the last man was extricated. I saw crowds gasping, gaping and obstructing the path of rescue operations. I saw people who felt useless even though they were there, bang on spot. They could have sone something. Anything.

This sort of helplessness and futility may I never feel again.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Drinking Coffee.



This life.It bores. When ennui comes swooping down in an avalanche of hatred and self-defeat...when the greatest and best ideas fail to enchant...when the aesthetes win every time over the idealists...
My life, it bores.

There was one, who tried to teach me. The meaning of life. He thought it was a realm of ideas, that life was fervent, and sweeping, and every moment was required to grasp ideas. That wretched word-idea. I positively hate it. All around me people discuss it. The State, and society, of love and the future. The Orient, the West, America.Che.Modernity.Oxbridge. Fiction.

It is then that my lungs and I cry. My lips curl into a sneer of utter disgust.Immediately I fancy that my throat is parched. For 'ideas'-and discussing 'ideas'- leaves me high and dry. Like a smoke, or the lack of one. Everyone around me smokes incessantly. The smoke curls up into the sky and disappears into the blue. Much like their ideas. Huh! I say. I must get a coffee.

Coffee? Coffee means a tequila-like shot of an awfully sweet liquid. It is so sweet that it gives one momentary migraine.Yet that it is a moment of relief. I am not that bored when I drink coffee. Except when I pay insane amounts for coffee in cafes.

Individuals are lonely. Which is why they spend a lot of their parents' hard earned money. On bad coffee. I fall in love with solitude so often. The problem is, not with lonely hearts, just with lonely hearts. It is all very complicated. Yawn.

I think I survived uni because of Milonda's coffee.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Little Rant, Little Comment.

Since childhood, one book grasped my imagination completely. I learnt Bangla comparatively late. Realized what a void there was when I was around 8. Stupid childhood in England! Am so glad my parents decided to come back. Ma gave me Chander Pahar when I was in class 3. Also the year I finally learnt my mother tongue.Hope I did justice both to my language, as well as to the first novel that I read. I have obsessed over it for a long time.Felt Shankar's misery, was scared of the Black Mamba and the horrible desert.Cried when Alvarez died a heroic death.Then realized that he was always meant to die.I was in love with Shankar.Always wondered why his last name was never used.
I always knew that it was one of those books that defy genre, even before I knew what genre meant.I hope that all those who were there today and who have not read the book will.That's what I really want.Not praise.Sometimes I think I will never be an academic.I think I will write and translate.But I need money!Damn.

This paper is catharsis. For two years I have been trying to articulate everything that I said today. Today I felt satisfied. Happy. But I know this just the beginning.I have a plan. I do not know whether it is a bit ambitious, or a bit ludicrous, or what.
I wish to translate Bibhutibhushan, Tarashankar, Manik Bandyopadhyay.Today Tintinda asked me a question pertaining to Rabindranath(his Africa). I think the answer to that is:
1.Rabindranath is an isolated specimen. He was awfully rich to begin with. And they were very very cosmopolitan.
2. He was an international figure thanks to the shitty rendition of his Bengali poetry into a mystic English. God knows what he conveyed to the English speaking world. But he did hop about quite a bit, didn't he? And he established a world centre, at Shantiniketan. Nothing was really out of his reach.Much.

I think Tagore was great, but so were quite a few other Bangalis. If Bibhuti Babu had a good translator he would have won the Nobel. Maybe it's too late for that.But I think Bengalis need to stop obsessing about Tagore and thakurbari and look beyond. The cleverest literary minds need a bit of introspection methinks. Shall I incur the wrath of many at this point? Tell me what you will, but Tagore has become like mishti doi. Ah well.

Yes so he has done it all. I LOVE ROBI THAKUR. Nothing will ever change that. Kshudito Pashan, Gora,Lipika, Balaka,Jibonsmriti,Karna Kunti Sangbad... and Gitobitan. I don't think that without these I would be half as literary as I am today. Literary as in; lover-of-literature. Not academic thingums.

Just that...we take genre too seriously in literature. In vernacular literature, i.e., the only one I know :) I think it's a bit pointless. Here genre is a general consensus; between writer, publisher, and the bhadralok reader. The literature of the 20s, 30s, 40, 50s is very strange. Think Bonophool, Parashuram (both friends of my dadu), Premendra Mitra, Jagadish Gupta, Bibhutibhushan Mukhopadhyay, Saradindu, Narayan Gangopadhyay, Satinath Bhaduri...
These are of course, just some favourite authors. Maane many more famous ones. Many I miss. But whatever.

We English-speaking, new cosmopolitans... how easily we forget those who made that transition before-tried to bridge a gap...and we only remember the one we wish to emulate...the other day Tapandadu, Professor Emeritus at Oxford, Indian Civilization and History, was telling me how after Bangalnama he is flooded with offers to deliver lectures here, there and everywhere. Just like Amartya Sen, he grumbled. Muffasils and Town Hall. What are they looking for?

The next big icon, what else. Bankim, Michael, Tagore...then?then? Ah the polymath Satyajit Ray, winner at Cannes, etc. Shantiniketan link. Amartya Sen.NOBEL!Shantiniketan link. Blech.

Bengalis. BENGALIS!