Wednesday, 30 June 2010

happy endings

If you want a happy ending, that depends of course, on where you stop your story.

Orson Welles.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Evening walk.

Some days are marked out for solitude, today was one of them. I was sulking in the evening, sulking my life away. I could feel my life ebbing out like a distinct and painful song. You know how there are some songs which just fade away after the first four minutes or so? Well, today it was like that- I could feel my vital force whispering mean things to my evil and idle mind at 5 pm so around 6:30 I finally decided to go for a walk.

But this walk was already predetermined to be peculiar. I knew that the transport strike would mean that I would not meet a face I would recognize and such was the idle antagonism of my wicked soul that even if I did, I would refuse to recognize any familiar face. So out I went, wearing a grey tee shirt and pajamas of an indeterminate hue. I looked hideous and I felt hideous. There are days when you cultivate ugliness and bleh-ness. Of course today was such a day. Had I not heard Stairway to Heaven in a loop ad infinitum and mourned the death of rock and all that rock stands for (stood for in my life, at least) all evening? Oh when did I grow up so much that all I all I ever did and do is to jazz up my existence or mourn the fact that I am not professionally trained to appreciate Classical?

"So you're going for a walk?" asked my mother and I nodded assent. "And what about money? Do you have enough for the weekend?" I carefully explained that I do not need money today, I wasn't going to do anything but walk. No coffee/drink/appendages, just walk. I laughed at her incredulity and set off. It wasn't true that I had no money left, enough for some smokes and cha. And I walked.

I could see the restfulness of the evening and it shocked me. Myself so restless, the streets were deserted, those who were walking had no desperation, no need for anything but that careless relaxation, I envied their self assurance. They would never know what it is to be compelled to walk for nothing, for the sake of nothing, for the sake of nothing but some self assurance- perhaps the next morning. I tried to analyse where my deep anxiety springs from, why I cannot control my most irrational fears. I drank some rather pathetic roadside cha and smoked a couple of hasty cigarettes that tasted rather nasty. I cursed them for their transience, for their harmful nature, and despised myself for needing/wanting them at all. Had I been 18-19 I would have read a bit of French existentialism, nothing phenomenological though and no Heidegger, thank you very much. But perhaps some Sartre and Camus. At this point of time, I have not yet grown up- just settled for some compromise. I read Rilke.

I read nothing at all today, nothing at all. How could I, when my entire existence revolved around that solitary walk and what it stood for? (What did it stand for, you might quiz, and I would still be trying to articulate my position.) I often glanced with great distaste at the chipped scarlet nail varnish that adorned my fingernails and I hated myself. I often overheard lovers conversing amongst themselves, something about The Godfather and marriage. But I paid no attention, for I had no curiosity left. Only a strange sort of distaste for a person who has no apparent problems but creates problems in her mind, almost as a mathematical conundrum is created by a great philosophical brain. But mistake her not, I must point out, her problems are not intellectual, they are very real, they apply to her life. Oh hideous momentary pleasure, how much you make us suffer all our lives....so transient, so fleeting, in fact, no pleasure at all.

I was walking past a strange building. Deserted and shady, deserted for more than two decades, left wholesale at a moment's notice. The office-goers never returned, and the building remains. If you believe in ghosts, then surely there are ghosts there- nobody passes that building without the customary shudder. It is the revulsion that one feels for something that is obsolete and no longer in use. Which can no longer remain beautiful, is ugly out of necessity and compulsion. The Romantics amongst us will find a stranger beauty in such ugliness, will savour the eerie and the uncanny, will perhaps go home and write a poem. But I alas, I had today forgotten my love for the grotesque, all that I remembered was that this building with its grounds is soon overtaken by another no less sordid reality; a police station. Overflowing with lights and bustle, harbouring elements rejected by society and who have in turn rejected society. What must they be feeling behind those bars? Have they forgotten the women they have married, the children they have borne, the parents who in turn must have borne them?

I don't think I could think much more after that, because I realized that the projapoti biscuit I had bought with Re. 1 /- at the chawallah's was mouldy and altogether inedible. In the life of the absurd man, as Camus so beautifully pointed out, bathos is often stronger than pathos.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

I've been waiting too long

I've been waiting too long under the cypress
breathing death, sucking the honey out of
the maze of the honey-makers, the bees making
a buzzing sound, the monotonous drone of
everyday plebeian existence. I've been
waiting too long, and it drizzles intermittently
the bittersweet odour of incense and
sandalwood, overpowering the senses.
They say it is autumn.

I've been thinking too much, savouring the oak
and pine, the evergreen survives the winter.
Then of course the dryness
of snow-it hasn't yet been established
what causes blindness. I had seen the swallow
fly to warmer climes. But like Thumbelina
I married a mole.
Languished in darkness.

I've been breathing your smell, and you
smell like what's lost, which has a smell of
its own. Neither incense nor sandalwood
nor cypress nor pine could ever divine
the smell of loss. Lavender and myrtle
sweet and horrid potpourri.
Fading leaves, pressed to remind.
Frozen flowers in embalmed hours.
Dried to remain.
(Nothing remains.)

What is the smell of loss?
What is the taste of death?
What is the sound of thought?
I knew, I knew
The swallow flew
And I forgot.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

die-astole.

Oh stupid trembling heart
What an ass you are
Instead of a wholesome beat
you give a resounding fart.

Monday, 14 June 2010

zoo.

His eyes pierced through to the depths of my soul. How many people have I seen with that expression in their eyes? Tamed nobility, always waiting to strike back at the servile oppressors gazing as inane voyeurs. I felt ashamed and awed and knew that the tiger roars and knows that this is a mock roar, mock roar at himself.

I could see his eyes and these were the eyes that shone with a curious mixture of outrage and boredom. His body itself was poetry, but the body was tamed and curbed, the spirit crushed and restricted. Human beings are such a sickening race, my pulse increased and my heart beat fast, I wondered what it would be to meet him in a forest....

And then the wilderness of the Calcutta streets beckoned and I went home in a taxi.

To tackle the forests of night in my own mind. Or lack thereof.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

This is for you.

You
are the nameless friend
I miss. When I see art
and hear music. My heart
is with you. End
is also you, and I
am merely the beginning.

You
Must I name you?
I am alone
But should I blame you?
On my own
But always. Like a song-
a song in my mind
elusive and taunting
forever haunting
I knew you all along.
(Must you be unkind?)

This is my final verse.
Brilliance I have none.
You?
You have fun.
I am your curse.
And I look for you
In the smiles of children
In the eyes of sin
In the dreams of strangers
In the lies of kin
And I look for you
And I write.
(Goodnight?)

But no. I look again
I call you my intimate other
Sensual is my love
and yet I'd call you brother.
Are you my self?
Are you art?
And my heart
grows cold.
Horror makes me old.

Youth
is repulsive. Its transience
makes no sense
yet on its altar
I daily burn incense.
My nameless friend
says there are no friends
Only desire
(Means-who looks for ends?)
and lack is the fire.
This lack and then desire
I fear your sorry ire.
And yet I know
you
You are not
true.

Friday, 11 June 2010

The days are shrinking despite the solstice.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

bougainvillea

I lost you. I lost you that night I got wet in the rain
and the sheer wetness made me think. I can never write again.
Pink. Pink bougainvillea grew out of my ears
in tender tendrils. I could never write again.

Sometimes they said, you rhyme so well. Your love is
the love of a beautiful woman, your language the most
surreal, that of a beautiful woman. Afternoons in your company
are dreams. I want to live with you.
Together, we shall create fiction.
(And what better compliment?)

I wrote parodies. When something is about to end, crisis
brings forth reinvention. Forever we reconstruct,
forever we rewrite. I had realized
That night. I would never write again.
Or perhaps I would, but only differently-
And I would love again, but also differently
Oleanders are red too, like blood.
We were wet too
In mud.

Dirt and slush cannot crush the human spirit.
Fiction can also be written with invisible pens
on an intangible parchment-
human minds, and children's tears
old women's stories and their babies' ears
fiction is therefore woven like spider webs
like the Ganges; it flows and ebbs.

That night I knew I would never write again
but would count infinite polaash flowers
and count the minutes, never the hours
and knew that till the end of time
I could never find anything to rhyme
with Bougainvillea. I see you sigh
and whisper, "How strange you are
beautiful witch of the endless night
madhuchhanda
rajanigandha
e ki sandhya"
This evening recedes into universal pain
I knew I would never write again.

(This is sort of a translation of a Bangla poem I wrote, hence it sounds like this.)