Weathered cities shouldn't be a reminder of fallible nothings, weathered cities should tell us that the a new world shall born out of the cements of the old, sprinkling mortal hope, the kind of hope that says things will start looking up from the month of January. The kind of human hope that believes in the beginning
He liked tiny people, who could easily disappear in crowds. He liked that sense of flexibility they possesed, appearance and disappearance, transparent masquerades, hide and seek? So in a more personal moment, he concluded, verbatim,
'Life should be like a colorful sine curve. It should always oscillate between the extremes of finite things, it should change skins, take other forms, be full of mischief or else it might just get so boring and sad that one may cease living. People die everyday of quotidians, you know.'
Of course, he was talking about his life. He was a philosopher of sorts, a fool, if you may surmise.
Its scary to sleep alone in the hall-room with moonlight beaming out of your window panes. Red Moon.
You are not scared of ghosts or phantasms, those are for rowdy disobedient children, good boys sleep well. Good boys listen to what papa says. You are a good boy. You get a badge.
You hear the bickering sound of the crimson ceiling fan, something so brazen that it scares you too and your brave good dog -scarlett bitch 293 decides to whimper aloud like a hurt wolf, and then vanish in the darkness of the room. The night is starry and the moon is a sickle. The sky of a good state. You are all alone now. The night reddens. The usual.
You recall the state favorite horror story they taught you in school. Something so ghastly that it should always be brought to mind. Why do you want to forget it ,say it loud good boy,
'A spectre is haunting Europe. A spectre of commu....'
So in the Red State everyone sang the lullaby of dreamers. And there was horror. The horror.
Incoherent paper faces always bursting in and out like Dionysian revellers, pushing and shoving but always accomodating. That's a Mumbai local train with its thousand rain-tanned stories. Its almost like a crepuscular melange of humanity, with its audible babel and ocassional mirth.
Here, no one minds the menagerie the world sells. They just go on. Somewhere to go, somewhere to be.
For my part, I will respond to the smiles and smells, and the winks and sighs, to those cross eyed tears, to those poker faces in crowded spaces, to those dancing eye-brows that merge, to the thousand things my eyes ignore and perhaps I will know what I want to know. I won't use words. Words are inert. I will use my eyes and ears, and perhaps I'll love more.
I won't depend on language. Language disconnects, language is a barrier. Its complicated and corrugated, language hurts. I won't speak love. I won't say it. Instead I will use silence, because they say, that is how most great loves are.
The darkness sheds her dress to reveal the morning, and if you read science in high school you would know, that it’s just the earth going round that makes a day and a night.
In a world that runs in circles you plan ahead of time, you think you are going up in a straight line but the journey is helical, you can’t avoid running circles, no one can run straight in this twisted of a world, people who go up, just follow the helical route and if you’re smart enough you will figure out that nothing of this means anything, what’s up or down in the enormousness of human conscience? We all die anyway.
The idea then becomes of life being of no meaning, damned, without hope. Of no greater purpose. Some people buy and create gods to argue that belief, human brain is a funny organ you see, it reconstructs and pre-conceive a lot of things. And in a way it’s marvelous because otherwise we would have been stuck in much more smaller circles than we are now.
And then there are others in this hell of a modern world who just live as if nothing would matter, living without purpose and dying with lots of money.
But also there are many others just like me who must argue that something does matter, that if we look at the miraculous evolution of life through time, its birth by chance in the heart of this cosmic desert then we do marvel at its sheer brilliance. The acquired intelligence of the human race, the preciousness of memory, the collective consciousness, the will to work together, the will to love are all in a way so alluring that you just ignore the delinquents who are worse off than you, because life is beautiful. And the only goddamned way to live this life, is by teaching others the value of it all- how precious it is. Because this is where it all happens, this one life.
We live here, and we love here.
We won’t last forever we know, but we are the first one to have figured out that we are expendable, that extinction is looming in our backyard waiting to strike, we are fragile, very fragile, but even that understanding is that what makes us special.
So let’s run a little backwards today, let’s run in those circles ambitious people like us are scared of, and exchange love-notes with our crooked neighbor, because in this cosmic grave of time nothing can save us other than our will to love and feel, and because we must not forget that will is what lead to the birth of human civilization.
Once upon a time when I was very little, my brothers made little solar glasses out of x-ray plates, just to take a look at the wondrous solar eclipse, that was all over the newspapers. Those glasses were cute and black, just out of some sci-fi movie. Stanley Kubrick would have loved them, you know.
So is it true these days, that on normal days, only lovers look at the sun? The kind of people who loves life, who fishes for a little time just to see the sun go up or down. The sun is milder when the day ends, it doesn't burn your eyes, it soothes it right? Beauty soothes eyes, they say. We're all asleep when the sun rises. Its more pleasant in the morning, but then what do we know when we hardly see the morning?
And then there are weird people like me, who stares at the midday sun because they have sepia glasses and have nothing better to do.
Tonight I will stay with Mozart. Because tonight I want to cultivate a strange happiness and pretend I am like them, the ones who understand music, because tonight I am insomniac like insomniacs. If you are reading this you must switch on Tchaikovsky and lie in your bed, eyes fixed on the ceiling, and think of all the places inside you that music can touch. Nothing like this winter when you don’t have sleep in your eyes. All you do is crib and be depressed about the weather. They are all running you think. But hey, I am sleeping. I am different. Such a bad thing isn't it, being different without a cause? Right now I am writing this shit. You will read it later. I will read it later too and curse myself. Sometimes when I am typing such shit on the screen I hear the sound of some ancient type-writer being pressed, and I romanticize about myself in third person. Some distant eyes watching me write, while someone is playing the piano on the far-side of the room. Roll over Beethoven. The night casually flirts waiting to end with a jerk. But I think it’s the piano music that keeps the night alive. It goes on and on, time moves slowly with the music. Suspended time. Mr. Auden, we cheated time. Mr. Frost, we are friends with the night. On some days like this I imagine telling someone to play such a music on my death bed. Perhaps on my deathbed I will ruminate about tonight. Perhaps it will dilute time a little. Perhaps it will prolong my life just a bit. Why do we fear death? Is it because life is so painfully beautiful? So much love to give. So much more to get in return?The lonesome romance of youth, so little faith in today that you get to plan life backwards from death, hoping it’s far ahead in time. Always believing in life to come. Always.The music seems to confide in me some ancient soul secret. The kind of wacky comradeship some weird people get. Music, like wine was invented by man. On nights like this you love humanity. You forget your woes, knowing that after the music stops you will sleep like a log. The night ends now, little birds are chirping, insulting the music.
People are so abundant in emotions that you often see them uniting over great things and great events, no one’s afraid to shy away in stating how they feel, or recollecting some sacred moment from their childhood, and since there’s a platform to share it these days, you just can’t look away from the abundant goodness of so many people. All of them feeling sad together, about the end of an era. Well, with the cornucopia of farewell letters that’s coming up for Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, or the set of sweet epiphanies people are having about growing up, it all seems a little dulcifying and encouraging to me, that people still bond over great things and great people, that there’s still a set of sweet people out there, who could save the world with feelings, perhaps. Then there are people like me who slept all day, draped in woolens, thinking just another shitty day had gone by, indifferent to the warmth that lures another thousand beings, of events that will come and go, of people that will die. It’s another grey winter after all. But hey, the sweet people knows that in India it’s always summer, because no matter how the Brits ruined us they couldn’t leave their winter here, they left cricket instead, one bat and one ball and many little dreams. And thus years later, in the land of many gods, one god was made, who could bring all of them together. Perhaps that’s why these people are all sad and teary, perhaps because they all want to believe in a tender greatness of the man, who with a little editing here and there, has been nearest to them all. The fact that they feel so greatly about greatness, is a toast to humanity itself, a toast to these people who are great in their own way. I wish I could feel like them, but then I will try.
‘Here’s to Sachin Tendulkar, and two decades of filling up the vacant spaces. And making a winter’s day, a little like Summer.’
I believe in roaming the endless boulevards at the far end of my hometown, those crowded alleys covered by a carapace of aged concrete where sunlight never reaches, I love the disgraceful scent of fish markets and I love watching those squirrels hide beneath my favorite rhododendron tree, at the jinx of midday in some offshoot city parks where some couples spoon after sunset.
I love the slow tram rides in the dizzying rain , and the yellow cabs smoking out an exotic black gas and I love everything that's ruined and dead and old, I like everything that moves, hides, squeaks, screams, flows, bickers, falls, and often slowly kills my city, because I am privileged enough to do that. I know.
I love Calcutta because I was born and raised there, because I belong there and I hate those posh asses who criticize this city, when they live their life on inheritance money, whose idea of having fun is limited to 'pubs' being open till midnight to midday. I hate people bickering about the fact that there's not enough job there, there's no night-life, when they do nothing about it. Why criticize when you don't contribute? Yes we are limited. Our hands are tied. But then we can always travel free in the metro. For fun?
But then people will always whine and rant, just like I am doing here.
It won't change the world or anyone, but then one can hope right?
Often in your dreams she would come and tell you, 'There. there. Everything will be alright.' And then you would wake up and nothing would change, so you'll look forward to sleep again, and your shrink will prescribe you colorful pills and you'll sleep more and she'll come to you more often and one day you'll decide you want her more than your waking life and you'll decide to sleep forever.
Sometimes, when you're chasing the eyes of a blue dog, remember that this is all there is, this one life. Only one.
Wake up. I am here for you. Alive in this life. Always.
People who soliloquize in public are often deemed crazy by
the society. By that definition, I think a writer is the craziest person alive.
Imagine putting the thoughts that you often rehearse to yourself in a sheet of
paper or on the surrogate computer screen.
All of the time you are like- talking to yourself.
You talking to you. You saying things to you. You smiling at you.
Writers are crazy people.
And by the notion of such a cliché, Mr. Henry was damn crazy.
First things first.
Mr. Henry did not consider himself a writer, he was rather a man of many
worlds, most of which remained confined within his skull, and often penetrated
into sheets of toilet paper.
Mr. Henry was considered crazy because he used to write
little stories on sheets of toilet paper.
Toilet paper- expendable, biodegradable, difficult to write on.
Mr. Henry’s crazy obsession reached epic proportion when he brought toilet
papers that would last a year if used continuously by a person suffering from
chronic diarrhea. A hobby gone way too far, if one may say.
But critics in the end would agree that he wrote beautiful
stories. Stories made up of beautiful names and places, that if read out loud
would dulcify the auditory atmosphere. More like poetry.
Poetry in prose.
The device that works nine out of ten times.
After Mr. Henry had written continuously for a year, and
weaved out his beautiful thoughts in words in a seemingly truculent manner, the
world had decided to take notice.
The toilet paper company aware of the development had decided
to print the stories in the next product of their toilet paper. It must have
been a fair marketing strategy. If anyone listened to the Intellectuals
anymore, they would hear-
‘A cultural revolution was taking place.’
A special edition of toilet paper with printed stories were now available in
the honor of Mr. Henry.
It would perhaps forge the consciousness of an entire generation united in
much to the utter dismay and brouhaha of some well-read men frequenting public
The climax of the generation winked maliciously and said,
where there was a dearth of readers, the only way to reach them was by wiping
While the cold slowly seeps into everything around you, in this little Northern town, reprising the inevitability of the seasons, you subtly wish for the warm familiar things that has always invigorated you. You wish to sit on the top of some tall building in your warm familiar hometown, and watch the warm plethora of people warding of each other, in the familiar warm neon lit streets, just being a part of the familiar festive you once venerated with a puerile zeal. ’Pujo asche’ – says a radio channel. Festivals, you think were probably designed so that people forget how pointless their life was. They make you reminiscence the warm reveries of your youth- the sense of belonging, the rush, the phone calls, the sudden plans, the inebriated nights. You keep observing the colourful people, all with the single purpose of looking good, at accord with the notion of beauty. And if that rational crowd full of your own memories ever disappoints you, makes you feel lonely and sad you can always look up in the night sky. The stars, you know, they never disappoint you. They are just like you- an outsider. Ancient, distant, faint, hardly ever seen by normal people, they just glow like a resolute soldier at war and you don’t feel sad anymore. Suddenly you sense the warmth within. That’s the warmth you so crave for in these cool afternoons.
You know, that’s where you want to remain, suspended between the festive world of mortals and the starry heaven.
'Mahalaya' reminded me of Dad's old transistor radio.
Its funny how childhood memories creep up on such auspicious days, like stumbling upon a hidden treasure somewhere, yes that's how it felt like- a little child finding his broken toy amidst a junkyard.
And may be that's why such days are important - for that little child and his lost toy. For that possibility of memory.
When my mother had brought a little dog into our lives, all of us had mused upon naming it. The usual debate had raged in our family over naming the untimely off springs- a plethora of weird names raging from mad-psychotic protagonists to some well-known scientist, but ultimately much to my dismay everyone in our family had agreed upon naming it Kashtanka. It was my grandfather’s word above all.
The disgrace of coming from an aristocratic family these days, is that it would try to enforce any stain of elite-ness in any form possible, and mine did it with the help of literary allegories.
‘This is a family of writers, poets, dramatists and musicians’, boasted my father.
‘Kashtanka?’ a guest would enquire
‘Yes, it’s a Russian name.’ My grandfather would proudly reply.
To add on to it, he would explain, that there’s this Anton Chekov story of the same name, and why one must read it. He also had this theory that this was the story from where Satyajit Ray had perhaps got the idea of luring the dog in his famous Pather Panchali shoot, where the dog follows Apu and Durga. It was a pretty crazy idea to begin with, but the only family for me are the mad ones. So I had to get used to them.
I do not remember much about that story except for a crude kid, torturing a cute dog, and the dog still sticking with the kid, perhaps he had nowhere to go in a cold sad Russia, dogs are like that, and to add on to it one should establish it to be apparently out of love, the innocent torture I mean. For me back then it was hard to imagine, how love could involve such heinous torture on a dog. I had to ponder about it. Russia wasn’t even a communist country during Chekov’s time, and if my western education served me well apparently it was the communists who made bombs out of dog fat.
So why did Chekov’s Russia be so cruel to dogs? Oh wait, it was love and much more.
I took care of Kasthanka, I loved him very much. Which true man doesn’t love a dog? Also, I was pretty worried that it may have to face the same fate as its namesake, well Mr. Chekov was writing out of imagination I believe, but more than often life surprises one by making the worst imaginations come true. So, I paid special attention to that. There would be no cruel owner in this Kasthanka’s life and for a brief time or so reality would serve better than fiction.
Kashtanka died before his first birthday crushed by a pillage of concrete that fell on him on the far side verandah of our old ancestral home, and after that, while mourning I wrote a short story about a dog that would live a century.
I think Mr. Chekov would have liked to end a story like that, with a jerk, a sudden jerk, just like life ends often.
Well, the wise man echoes the words of my bourgeois teacher, who said a part of this world dies with them.
One minute silence.
Me? I try digging up their poetry and I try reading them. And more than often I feel, I discover or reinvent why they are called great, no intellectual connotations mind it, in case you’re wondering, it’s just that Poetry often like a powerful magnet sucks out those pejorative iron fillings that we store within us and heals us, in a way we never thought was possible.
So poetry is therapeutic, just like many other things in life, one must say. And because it nurtures emotions and feelings, it’s a something we should value in this world.
But emotions are second rated.
Hence, the need.
Poetry is a feeling. A beautiful feeling.
And the poet? The bearer of poetry.
So back to the original question, what happens when great poets die?
Ah, well great poets never die, because great poetry never dies.
It etches on, metamorphoses, transgresses, regresses but lingers on till the very ends of the Earth, in the hearts of the chosen few.