Tuesday, 30 March 2010

-life update-

Insomnia is the worst disease in the world, next to immortality. Imagine never being able to die, never being able to sleep is just a little less bad. I hate my insomnia, it was never this serious. My psychoanalyst could not help me at all. Today a psychiatrist prescribed me medicines, and advised me to stop intake of tea/coffee. This is my death knell, I can't imagine a life without tea and coffee. I don't want any kind of stress anymore, but you should have seen her face when I said that. She looked incredulous and amused(bemused?) and gave me the sort of looks that people give you when they think that being a graduate in English Literature has made you slightly retarded.

It's not all that, it's not. "What is it then?" she asked. If I could even begin to answer her question she would have shown me some respect but I gave her a dull nod and said "I don't know." I am sick of pleading ignorance these days. I want to know. I want to know. And I want to know more than the things I study, read, write or think. I want to fucking know.

Literature really does you in, if you take it seriously. The world does you in if you take it seriously. Why didn't I realize it before? I never took it seriously and I was fine, then I lost half my friends, I mean not just drifting away but actively antagonizing them, I am such a wretched bitch. Fuck this world!Fuck it all. I want to stop being endearing to a handful, I want to be enduring instead.

And now-after a really pathetic day- I came home and discovered that a didi of mine has sent me a parcel of books, choglet and clothes from Montreal. This made me cry out of sheer happiness. Isn't there this strange thrill that permeates one's body and mind when one discovers that one is loved unconditionally by someone at least? I was so happy with everything until I discovered that she had also sent me a piece of putty. Amazing putty that tears like paper, bounces like rubber and shatters like ceramic! It's s'posed to be for stress relief and is manufactured by a company called Copernicus Toys. (Irony, huh?) It has made one li'l retard sister very very very very happy :)

I don't know what to gloat over more-Michael Chabon, endless gourmet choglet or my piece of yellow putty nothingness (and putty sounds like potty, I am exhilarated!)

Silver linings etc etc outshining them dirty grey clouds, huh!
Thank you and I love you Buba didi!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

A Short Story on Love.

Dearest,

I am trying to remember where we first met, I think it was an attic. You know how metaphorical an attic is, it is almost always a lie. Therefore my attic might need never have existed and yet I claim we met in an attic. I am sure you remember it as well. If you don't- ah well, does it even matter? I wonder whether you remember the dirt. The dirt has increased over the years for I am quite sure that the sweepers always forget to sweep out that one particular attic. It lies there in a curious liminal zone, beyond memory and nostalgia, an attic where we once made love.

You stood there looking at the dusty shelves trying to figure out whether it was the old copy of Beowulf you wanted or a book of transcendental old vernacular poetry. You had money for one book and you chose the Krishna-leela over heroic lores of monsters who existed in old Anglo Saxon England. Or was it England then? Who cares, my beautiful glorious one, who cares? I know you as I have seen you glow in the tropical summers of my old, forgotten, and fading colonial city, glow with perspiration, dust and poverty. I have seen you glow with love and inspiration and I have seen you fade too. Fade away, fade out, you drifted into the ether, the vast ether of humanity, away from this country and this city uniquely ours.

I remember you in that bookstore-in-the-attic, and I knew you were a mad woman, a woman who would throw the copy of Beowulf onto the floor and without epilogue or prologue bat your eyelids at me, and I would trace the contours of your eyelashes-what could be more erotic? But you adjusted your spectacles and almost in reflex the sari that you so carelessly and wonderfully wore stiffened. I believe it was my presence that alerted you. You looked up at me and looked past me. You paid for the Beowulf and you walked out, alone. I was so hurt then, so very hurt, almost surreally I saw the blood flow through my flimsy white shirt, it dripped on to the floor, the floor of red cement. Red camouflages red all the time, doesn't it? So it was with my blood which coagulated shortly until I realized that it was not blood at all, it was something else altogether. Don't shout "metaphor, you lousy lunatic!" at me, I don't think I can take it. I wanted to marry you then and there. I knew you felt it too. So I followed you. I followed you outside without paying for the books that I picked up. You see how I must go back eventually, go back to the old attic? I did not pay for my books, I must return.

To however go back to reminding you of that one mad day of love. I followed you and convinced you with my frantic gestures to accompany me to Prinsep Ghat, the banks of the river Hooghly. I wondered at your superb nonchalance in calling it Ganges, it is not the River Ganges, it is not I tell you. This little disagreement we have obviously livens things up a bit (although your utter ignorance makes me mad and very very angry.) We stare at the Greco-Roman pillars, not decrepit but not stunning either, somehow they seem so integral to the mood. We hope for something eternal you know, something lasting, even if it is only for the moment. You smile and tell me, "Let us take a boat for an hour, why don't we?" and in my enthusiasm I take a boat for two hours. You sat at one end and I sat at another and we were so scared that this little rickety boat would be overburdened with two strange hearts that would find little common ground that we stared at the swirling water instead of at ourselves. That eternal swirling water, what did it care for our transient and fleeting differences? The boatman asked us for a cigarette taking advantage of the uncanny silence. I grimaced but you laughed and handed him one of your expensive ones. He gave an ugly grin (what horrible teeth!) and lit it with your pink lighter. I could have died of jealousy at that moment, it is engraved in my mind-the image of his toothy grin and sly wink, he smoking your expensive tobacco and I staring moodily at the water, staring sans courage. But how could I protest? You would have laughed at me, and that would have been mortifying. So I kept my silence and you your tobacco but my mind was not silent, it was screaming screaming at the sky and at the water and there yonder at the distant silhouette of land. The river meandered like our moody minds; what did it care for how we think? These thoughts eluded the muddy water, the boatman asked for a cigarette, the glowing embers swayed and flickered out in the water. We had only that eternal passing moment.

Then you laughed again and I looked up. "Why is your forehead creased?" you asked. "I am thinking..." "Oh?!" and that strange smile reserved not for fellow human beings but for something less human, something we feel pity for and yet empathy too. "Our lives are taut and relaxing at the same time," you said," and that is why I find ice cream so delightful. The cold tingles my teeth (I have cavities that tingle) and yet the ice cream melts into the tongue...not always an explosion of taste but almost always an explosion of feeling." And then-because you were a poet-"Do I always write in the same way?" I was truthful before I was a lover so I said-"Never same but always similar." Then you got terribly angry and slapped me so I sat chastened like a little obedient sulking boy. Finally you smiled. "Exactly. Writing is like love then, eh?" I was impressed, impressed so much as to have an orgasm, but controlled myself in time for there was also this slight resentment. Love is never similar! Never! But the boatman had rowed for a couple of hours already, the hours of paid glamour and suspect danger were over. Death by drowning would not happen, not at least this evening.

That night I had a dream. I dreamed that we were married and were on our honeymoon. I wanted to go to Paris but you chose the mountains. There in a remote spot in the Greater Himalayas we fought absurd snow fights. You stuffed snow down my woollies, you bitch! I however was the winner (or loser) of this unequal match and carried you across to the little wooden cottage. We lit a fire. We cozied up. Shadows danced in front of us and outside everything was white. That dazzling wretched blinding whiteness symptomatic of snow. I hated it. I hated it too much. You said you loved it. You changed your mind the very next second. Then even you said you hated it. I said this was a dream and we would wake up very soon. You looked sad and you said it was my dream and not yours. So what would you do? You were condemned to linger there forever alone, you cried. "You will return soon?" I assured you that I would. But I knew that I hated this whiteness so much that I pledged I would never ever dream of it again. I wanted to prolong the loving(hating?) as long as I could however, so I stroked your cheeks. Your cheeks looked like red green-veined apples. One could ferment them and make cider and get intoxicated, I was already intoxicated with your smell. You had no ordinary smell, it was pungent and sweet like autumnal things. "You will return soon?" I assured you that I was yet to come or even reach my destination, returning comes later. My answer was "Cognition comes before recognition." You turned your slender stiffened back at me and wept. "I hate the way you speak. I hate the way you refuse to acknowledge poetry. I hate it when you descend into philosophy!" But I hadn't, I told you repeatedly I hadn't, I hadn't done anything. I tried to reach out to your fading silhouette and found myself awake. I was awake and alone and perspiring.

****************

It is only at moments like these when you realize that solitude is not worth so much poetry or philosophy or even banal speculation. Solitude is the one curse that you do not ever need. I did not need it either so without further ado we had the most glorious summer in the world. So what if temperature shot up to 45 degrees celsius. I was mad, mad with the concept of dialectic, I understood it as I had never understood it before. We bought lozenges which we bit into asymmetrical twos thanks to superbly manoeuvred kisses, two sets of sharp teeth and the feverish love that new lovers acquire. I witnessed her perspiring in the most glorious cotton saris but we never went back to the attic. Nor even to the banks of the river. Gradually her cruel laugh became a distant memory and she would smile differently now, smiles of pleasant contentment. We explored new places and spaces and faces. Hand held in hand we discovered Calcutta as it was then. We ate greasy food that she could never digest and watched superbly political plays that she surely did not understand. I was often afraid to tell her how little she understood anything, stupid girl as she was she thought feeling was understanding. Yet who was I to aim to give her conceptual clarity? She was more beautiful than I was and she had breasts and she thought she could deal in language and for me, for the time being, it was enough.

Two summers went by. It was time to understand time. Not this eternal passing moment but the future. I had saved up some money. I bought a ring. I planned to meet her there where my brow had been creased in hateful thought two summers ago.
"Dearest," I said with my hand in my pocket, "We are done with this chapter in our lives. To increase our horizons and to aid that infinite progression of knowledge we must escape these narrow confines and travel, travel to a country and a university that with ample funds will sustain us for the next many years. Will you join me? Will you go?"
She stared straight ahead as if she hadn't heard me and muttered, "I hate the syntactical structures of your sentences, you freak."

A summer previous to that I would have felt a mild annoyance and infinite affection but all I felt was blank as if something had struck me suddenly. A faint idea trying to articulate itself. Perhaps it would be better not to? Perhaps there was something...? Her cruelty, her utter arrogance, her blind irrational hatred for everything that stood in her way. Why was she so irrational? How could I ever live with her? It was impossible! It was impossible! She was a stupid unseeing child who had flashes of brilliance but whose sense of self importance would make it absolutely impossible for her to achieve greatness. She claimed humility but modesty she had none. A snob, an intellectual snob with no insight into my interests and my needs. She said the same things of me.Yet I loved her.

****************

I loved you so much that it was impossible to be with you. I don't think you will ever understand. I have heard that you were married and divorced and that you are working as a journalist. I didn't think you would ever go back to the city where we grew up either, but return you did. Something that I could never do. I often dream those old familiar dreams and wake up crying alone but of late it has been decreasing, I do it only once a year, midsummer. I daresay you think I am mad, I have always been. There is something so wrong about being in love, so intrinsically wrong. It has made me work harder and harder and I have produced some of my best work in the process. I bought your book of poetry recently. I never thought you could write such pleasant things not remotely sad. The Funny Book of Short Giraffes from a morbid self-obsessed girl like you? I'm sure you're going to say that I haven't understood it, that there are layers and layers and layers like onions that I need to peel- and cry in the process.

I am yet to return to the attic bookstore. I know you wait for me there endlessly, wait for me to return. I am sorry, I am sorry, I have lately started writing poetry-would you say it is a small step? This is how I end today-

"In the universe of our many delusions only one thing do I know with certainty that I have loved and my love was true and so did you and we wait for eternity to end so that we can reunite for this bitter joy is what sustains us this never being together this eternal anticipation and constricted feeling at the same time liberating…Thus ends the saga and thus begins it for in our end lies our beginning and we shall meet in those sepia attics and the whiteness until universal darkness shall engulf us in a different understanding
and still may we love…"

I know that I have failed us and yet succeeded. You fool, you utterly beautiful fool who exists like the attic in that curious liminal zone between memory and nostalgia, you made a mistake. You didn't understand. Or did you? I finally have.

The one thing that a poet and a philosopher can have in common is paradox.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

like-blah?!

I thought I saw glittering fireflies instead of sodium lamps, and I thought I saw funny clowns instead of people. P's cycle became a unicorn and I was so happy. I was going fast, very fast, being double-carried into the ether. And all of this because of some puny beer in a bottle?

Oh no no. Obviously not.
Where did I keep my spectacles? :O

Saturday, 20 March 2010

growing up

With the knowledge that one is getting older comes another more difficult realization-that people see you as an adult. This is terrible, because I feel like a child all the time. I want to be adored and cuddled and made much of and mostly I have a terrible desire to be understood. My friends often point out the inevitability of the complexities that characterize human existence, but it hurts me most when even my mother treats me as grownup at times.

B especially tells me that my irrational habit of disliking someone who doesn't like me much or make much of me is pathetic and childish. N said appearances need not necessarily correspond to reality and to expect this is pathetic and perhaps a piece of philosophical idiocy. S is in many ways like me, the need to be loved comes from so deep within that both of us often end up looking foolish and absurd. But trying to grow up has been a physically exhausting process for me these last few years and I think at times that everything I write will end up being a replay of that old and familiar nostalgia.

I miss people terribly, I miss my old attachments without wanting them back, I replay them in my mind and I love and hate the old times. I miss the innocence and I miss my snootiness and snottiness. There have been instances when I have been hurt terribly and when I have hurt people terribly. I want to ask for forgiveness and I want to distribute it too. I go over these times and try to figure out where and how and what I should have done differently. And then I remember that I am an adult and an adult doesn't treat time like this. An adult looks forward and doesn't dwell in the past and the what-might-have-beens.

I set a lot of store on human attachment- as if being attached to people is the mark of humanity. I would question attachment and at the same time accept it unquestioningly. Why does he/she like me? What do they see in me as a person? How far would they care about me? What if I am in trouble? What if I die? D taught me that one doesn't question attachment when it comes, one is just attached. One is a friend. One cares. Memories don't fade but gradually you get detached from these memories, the good times, the love. You look back but you don't obsess. That is growing up.

Sometimes you become friends with people and get attached to those who can never feel as you do. They might not reciprocate the love and concern you have for them or they might not have the same intellectual and social concerns. You think about different issues, you gradually fall out.
I have had several intense friendships with men and women and strangely enough I seem to have had immense difficulty in preserving these over time. But I am learning, as N may testify.

It is one of my closest friends-N.B.- who unconsciously made me understand in her beautiful dimly lit drowsy afternoon room- the friends who stay are those whom you love and appreciate with detachment, who you see as central to your life in a peripheral way, with whom you have fun but mild enjoyment and not paroxysms of delight. Even looking back at lost time is an art-maintain an aesthetic and intellectual distance-otherwise life could become unbearable, unlivable, and repetitive.

When I have such moments of realization I wonder how these will enrich my art. In my teenage years I believed that moments of agony mingled euphoria- ecstasy and epiphany- characterize the greatest works of art. That might be only partially true. In my twenties I have reached a different understanding. Life is composed of calmer moments-moments when one realizes that one has no enemies and no "best friends" either. It is then that the consciousness feels happy curled up with an interesting book, a cup of good tea and the promise of a phone call a couple of hours later. Accompanying this feeling of almost contentment is the happy realization that nobody in this world will probably "understand" me, myself included. This is when one is in urgent need of chocolate.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

-in devotion-

The seconds are ticking by, and they become minutes and hours
and days and months. Years have passed and I met you
too late. Too late to call you my own. How we have grown
and it is true. Red and purple are the flowers
that grow every season of crisis.
Tell me, have you met the goddess Isis?

I am no Isis, no miraculous woman, and know no magic
Charmed by my absurdity, you forget that I am tragic.
Overhead in this evening sky the eternal awaits-
Closed is my perception and thus forbidden are the gates.
Seconds melt into minutes and hours pass me by
When I look into your face which alone gazes at the sky.

Yet every moment reminds me of my human imperfections, my defects are many-
broken are the strings of my lyre, missing the intensity of
desire. I wish I could emit
a stream of perpetual knowledge
or fascinating wit.
But all I see and you see are the imprints of my flaws.
Slender are the hands of Isis, grubby are my paws.

You look at me in recognition and often think you know
the conception of woman, the appearance that I show
is mistaken for reality. You who can penetrate
into the depth of things, must realize it is too late.
You see the illusion of wings and the mirage of flight
My broken strains of music reverberate through the night.

The seconds are ticking by and we had erupted into song
where the purple flowers grow and the birds
sing along. You knew my voice was harsh though
tender was my heart. We would soon grow apart-
and knowledge of this crisis
Made you call me songstress, a beautiful Isis.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Streets to the Unknown

Or, hast thou experienced love, my poet?

We do not know.

What do you not know, my poet?
Those hidden alleys of love?
Bylanes to destiny, crisscrossed with misfortune?
Misfortune of not being known, but discovered?
Of being discovered but remaining unrecognized?
(Is it in your smile that the answer lies?)

They remain questions.

He toils at his task, so extremely literate,
but his grimy and sweaty countenance frowns.
Always these dark cul-de-sacs leading to more questions...
Why doesn't he laugh when the treacherous evening descends
and the leaves rustle and the stars burst into tears?
(Why does he search for answers in my smile?)

He does not know.

We should have gone for an unnatural play together
Beaumont and Fletcher, or maybe a movie- Chinatown-
He would have been horrified with the incest
Jack Nicholson would have satisfied me, we would soon
part ways. He would walk away, and the moon
would shine on my fading silhouette. Farewell.

The Unknown can only ask questions-

Have you...you...experienced love, my poet?
When the sweat dripped from your weary brow-
and you thought, "This is the time, then
and now, now she will come-" and I came
But the weight of legacies, questions and quandaries...
Burdens. You sought deliverance, that too in a smile.

I go back to what I know best, my
final inheritance. You, my poet,
unlettered and not illiterate,
honest but untrue.
Perhaps no poet at all.

What is a smile?
A street to the Unknown?

We do not know.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

poetry

Oh my kind young narcissus,
I have loved you, until your love directed inwards,
killed me.

And I wrote to you, commemorating that love-
this very draft here replaced the old one-
a beautifully composed pack of lies.

Perhaps that sort of love is meant to be
written over and over again.
Some sort of ecstasy in pain
Out of my skin, in yours, must we begin
to recount the old story of obsession?
Shall I be content with the old sin?

Or can it wane?

But here I am at the old site of commemoration
Rewriting myself, and perhaps
this love is important. For all love
is subjective to the point of
pure selfhood.

So I shall come back again.
Tonight. Every night.
This poem shall change every night.
Watch this chameleon space.

It is your face.

A terribly thwarted textual construct.
Nothing more, nothing less.
A simulacrum of real love
Forever- changing, hyperreal mess.

Friday, 5 March 2010

My Dilli trip funny post.

Do not pretend, my loyal readers, that you have not been waiting for this post. This is going to be one of those posts that make you laugh so much that you inevitably fart in your seats and pretend that the chair moved, making that awkward noise.

The seminar that I went for was- in a nutshell- funny. Now I shall explicate why it was funny. The options that you have-
1. The author of this blog is strange.
2. Seminars organized without a specific purpose and agenda and without adequate screening of paper-readers are strange.
3. Delhi, as an alien city, and the large sprawling campus of JNU with a million canteens all with fantastic food, and Arse Poetica let loose with too much loose cash alone, alone in this evil large metropolis= trouble.

There are many things that my curious, observant and inquisitive mind has to say. Like; do not use a boarding pass as a bookmark. Do not leave your most precious and intensely private notebooks lying about in the house of the people that you are staying with and then call them up and ask them to peruse the same looking for aforementioned bookmark. Do not contemplate their horror when they see sexy potty sexy potty sexy potty written ad infinitum all over your intensely private notebook. The evening conversation went something like this.
A. uncle: I didn't know you have a potty fixation
A.P: I do?
A.uncle: Indeed. Your boarding pass was not in the Camus as you had claimed, so I chanced upon your notebook.
A.P: The notebook that had "potty" written all over it?
A.uncle: No, the notebook that had sexy potty written all over it.
Arse Poetica cringes.
Little kid: Ahona didi, tum kitni gandhee cheezein likhti ho!
Attempt at recovery of lost reputation:
Potty gandhee kyun hogee? Sab log karte hain!
Actually the term "sexy potty" is one that I have coined. It encapsulates the ennui of everyday academics-standing for the banality of our inane existences. For example, who can tolerate two hours of nonstop lit-shit, eh? Thus etc. In fact, one of our professors established the famous blog on fantastic(not) loos and where to find them! Scatology I like better than other more mundane epistemology, and so...

M. Auntie (nursing her 3rd vodka and looking stonily at me) : It's OK.

For the first time in my life, I introspected on my fondness for potty. I mean, it's not that I like looking at my shit or anything. I am just as normal at shitting as any of you. Then what is it? Why am I like this? Am I disturbed? Am I weird? Am I- oh horror horror- dirty?
Anyway this story ends here. Moving to the seminar which I attended- truly cosmopolitan and exciting. I befriended people of various nationalities- Czech, Polish, Japanese. But one race I could not stand during the course of the international conference on bengal and bengalis by gad were the bangalis...

I will now tell you about the weirdest of the lot. He was a man with a physical deformity which would at first instance lead you to feel some sympathy for him. There is a tendency to sentimentalize hunchbacks after reading Victor Hugo. But sympathy for this particular creature was shortlived. After a hugely disappointing plenary session this man arose to ask a question. With a flourish he ascended the podium. Meanwhile the plenary had become a heated catfight between two elderly largely un-intellectual ladies who were screaming at each other. This man goes up like a breath of stale air and looks serious. We expect something calmer, but in a split moment of delightful horror, we understand that he is enunciating an obscene chant instead of a question-
joy bangla!joy bangla! joy bangla!!!!!

Never has victory ever been further from Bengal. Gone were the memories of the pointless plenary and the cantankerous catfight. Here was the new apostle; a man with a stoop and a relentless opinion. A Vaishnavite whose sole claim to academic fame was life membership of the Asiatic Society. After the performance which was his paper, I was led to believe that they take auditions before you get admission to the hallowed portals of that orientalist institution.

his performance.
Some acts leave you speechless and incoherent, incapable of representation. You become acutely aware that what you write is not the real thing, that you can never convey the real thing. But nevermind. Let us try. I shall merely quote him and leave the rest to your imagination and delicacy of mind, dear reader.

Quote #1- regarding the validity of a date in the life of Chaitanyadeb-
"Gurudeb Sukumar Sen bole gechhen 1583 aar Ramakanta,(hnyaa, mane paasher barite thaake), bolechhe 1610. Amar mot e 1583 keno na(kapaal chhulen pronaam er bhongima te) paramguru bole gechhen!"
my translation- "My mentor Sukumar Seb has said the date is 1583 and Ramakanta"( yes, for sure he lives next door...) "has said that it's 1610. In my opinion it is 1583 because (touches forehead as a mark of respect and reverence) my paramguru has said so!"

Quote #2-
"Paramguru bole gechhen-shokkole sanskrit poro, poro, poro!

Quote #3-
"Salute to all those jaaraa amar paper mon diye shunechhen- jara shonen ni...(looks very very angry and in the mood to kill)...no salute!"

I have never seen anybody so clear in the head about what he wants from his audience at any seminar. To salute all those who have listened to a merciless invective breathtaking in its irrelevance and low academic merit, and to deny the salute to those who switched off....*speechlessness*He also interrupted every speaker in every session that he attended with irrelevant comments, mostly concerning his Bengali and Vaishnavite jingoism.

Also a Czech academic who befriended me asked me this question most seriously:
apni aponar paper kokhon poribeshon koriben? (When will you serve your paper?)

I did not answer this seriously:
Aagami kaal, mohashoy. Shonge kintu kancha lonka, shorsher tel ebong lobon aniben! (Tomorrow, good sir, do not forget to get the green chillies, mustard oil and essential salt!)

There are of course a million other stories, and one that includes the good Opaline, and plenty more on JNU and their "tutes"- which is a lewd abbreviation that they have come up with for tutorials- but for antichrissakes, not today, not today.