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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Identity 2 : Lost In Translation

==================================
Lost In Translation

To stare at backs of necks
And wonder what could be,
To raise a hand that never lands,
Believing, c'est la vie.

There's grandeur to be found
In meeting fate's decree,
In playing the old violin,
Singing, for c'est la vie.

A better woman leaps
For faith can set you free;
And here I am, flying because
Someone said, c'est la vie.
==================================

Our movie club screened Vivre Sa Vie. It was interesting. Review may or may not follow.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Identity 1 : Thinly Veiled

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Thinly Veiled

Air
Between branches
And in lungs
Of the dead and the dying;

Breeze
In greener boughs
And grandmother's tales
And lovers' lanes;

Wind:
In Kenneth's willows,
As panic strikes
Numbed pain;

Gales!
Every day in farms,
And fresh residue
Of the outbound;

Storms:
Outdone only
By old hearts that find
Very little in names.
==============================

Hat tip to The Wind In The Willows by Kenneth Grahame, one of my favourite books of all time.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Black and White Train

When my mother bought me my first Enid Blyton at the age of eight, I refused to read it for the lack of colour. The book, a three-in-one compilation of The Faraway Tree Stories, had minimal illustrations, all done in inked drawings. Eventually I did get drawn to the book (as my mother had shrewdly predicted), and both the book and the author have been revisited and cherished many times thence; and, needless to say, both remain favourites to this day.
The second realization in my life of the minimal importance of colour to human emotion came during the last long weekend, when the Movie Club at CMI screened the Apu Trilogy. I had been reluctant to watch the movies, albeit legendary, before reading the two novels behind them first (as is my regular practice) but then I jumped on the chance to experience the movie in the company of my friends, in my first true home away from home.
The movies deserve all their hype and then some, if I may be so daring as to judge them through the gap in cultural acumen and time. They are, as such, difficult to describe in words, but I will make an attempt by saying this: though, having had a much better life one cannot completely comprehend the feelings of the lead characters, there is a little of them in each of us. Ray's symbolism is through the roof, and every bit of work in the making of the movies is perfectly done. The trilogy spills over with soul, pathos and, as the Facebook-era terminology goes, the feels. I was dumbfounded to find that I related with someone so removed in space and time that I began to miss my past and rethink my present. Many a scene in the films reminded me of leftover feelings from my daily life: like, for example, the quiet that descended over my group of friends returning to college from home when the parents had waved goodbye and the train pulled out of sight -- for some minutes before we descended into the mandatory revelry, I remember how the hush brought us all closer as the train huffed us away from those closest to us. It helps, of course, that the train is an important trope in the Apu Trilogy (and has remained so in Bengali life)!
The third movie was a bit outside my taste and comfort levels, and seemed a bit too hopeful. However, as I told a friend afterwards, it is perhaps because we are still too young to relate. All through the three films, Pt. Ravi Shankar's music remains both an apt and necessary element and a masterpiece in its own right. The actors have all played their roles immersively, and I somewhat understand what people mean when they speak of Ray's laborious and realistic casting.
To conclude, some observations: I shall not rehash the obvious social commentary of caste and gender and family and the like; those, while pressing and poignant, have been spoken of in better words on greater pages. I shall only venture this much: Ray was badass (trivial), Apu is a little bit of all of us (not-so-trivial), and Sarbajaya is one helluva kickass bitch (#respect).

An afterthought: it has been a while since I wrote blank prose. My blog has, of late, been swamped sick with abstraction, which is a great thing in itself, but never a good thing if it sticks and is overdone, and especially if it restricts one's frontiers and counters the very vulnerability to one's medium that it is supposed to engender. I am grateful to this fellow (budding) blogger whose work, despite its many flaws, has reminded me of the honest beauty of blank prose.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Just convenient things

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Acceptance

Cruel are the heavens
And the stars, they are mocking;
Somewhere down the seaside wind
The clocks, they are tick-tocking.

Heaven bless the innocent;
And help the humble, meek!
For here I come, the tyrannical,
To oppress the pained and meek.

The taste of kindness failed
Is bittersweet, it seems:
On one hand, the bitter truth;
On the other, sweet dreams.

====================================

Friday, January 15, 2016

Just a poem

==============================
Vows

I will swear to hate
The ones I once had loved.
I will fail, and learn,
That hate is burdensome.
I will grow to love
The arms that hold me back;
I will lift above
The hands that pull me down;
I will be the one,
'Cause no one else will,
To learn how to forgive
The ones that hurt me still.
==============================

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Small and Alone

#11

It was the first of January: stark, unique, and solitary. Quite ordinary in itself, this day gained celebrity status when someone picked it as the beginning of the year -- ever since, so very arbitrarily, it was assigned the number One of One.

One is the herald of change, the pinnacle of achievement, and yet also the peak of loneliness. One is independent and free of frills. One is the destination yearned for, but regretted.

But this first of January, I made a decision: to be, to the best of my powers, brave in isolation and content in solitude; and so here I am -- alone and unafraid, with my feet firmly planted at the centre of my Universe.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Small and True

#8

You don't disturb people when they are studying. You don't disturb people when they play or talk or sing or dance or watch a movie. Your ideas are too big. You are too small. You are too nice. You don't disturb people. Get that into your head. You don't.


#9

Alone inside, and stepped on, and broken into a million bits; but hey, at least she looked like a million bucks! And so she became a victim of the human need to give affection -- all for the love of a sexist man.

#10

When the proof doesn't happen and the brain stops working at 2:30 am, your thoughts spin out of control. You regret things you were confident about, and miss people you swore to force yourself to hate.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Small and Scared

#7

I won't die tomorrow. I won't, I won't, I won't.
It's 1 a.m., and my brain is cooking up a thousand ways in which I might. Between going to bed and falling asleep, I have vicariously lived through car crashes, natural disasters, blazing buildings, jilted lovers, fallen flower-pots and masked strangers. I have lain paralyzed as all the grenades and rifles and handguns in the world are pointed at me from somewhere between my eyelids and my mind.
But I won't die tomorrow, because all this is in my head, and I can make a difference in the lives of those for whom all this is real. Yes, the world is dangerous. Yes, saying no a to man is (should not be, but is) asking for rape and violent disfigurement and death. But I will step out, I will live.
I am human. My life is precious. I have too much to live for. So I will. Live, that is. I still don't think I can sleep -- of all those scenarios, the one I fear the most is dying in my sleep; dying without knowing. Another is dying from sickness, as my body and mind fade away.
I have decided that if I die, I want it to be clean and quick; and, if possible, painless.
But I say that only because dying is a possibility. I don't want to die. No way. Not right now, anyway.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Small but Proud

#6

Heritage. Not the country's or race's or religion's or family's, but the individual's heritage. Your heritage and mine: the legacy of our rich struggles through each life so differently chequered, for our future selves to hold on to in desperate times. Children we may or may not have may or may not inherit it, but our individual heritage is our utmost identity. Don't ever, ever give up on your heritage, or poison it with self-doubt planted by alien sources oblivious to your history -- your beautiful, albeit scarred, history; because your history is a story worth defending. It is complete with art and music in doodles made and tunes hummed in moments of lightness, volumes of priceless unwritten literature told to loved ones, and striking advancements of science and industry in figuring out your body and mind and using them to get where you are now. Your history also has pages of bloodshed and senseless hate that left you gut-wrenched and heartbroken, and the subsequent pages where you emerge battered but victorious. Let them remind you of your strength, and help you celebrate and defend your precious independence. You've earned it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Small but Wise

#4

Ride into the sunset. Alone, in a Lamborghini, over the dead bodies of all who ever wronged you.
But yes, remember Mom's advice and pack plenty of food and water to take with you. Perhaps also take a book. Everything is better with a book.

#5
Speaking of books... I cleaned and rearranged the English section of my bookcase. I had to do some smart placing to fit my very inflated collection. It was overwhelming to think that every word in all those pages had held my attention at some very precious moment of my life; and to think that, for every book in this collection, there exist at least three books belonging to friends and libraries that I had borrowed and read; and in all of this I don't include any textbooks! Each of those books is reminiscent of lessons learnt and experiences vicariously lived that built who I am today. Seeing them all together drove home their importance to my identity and development as a person. My bookcase is rather cramped now, and I think I'll need a new one sometime. I'll do the Bengali section one day... it'll be another tumble of memories.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Small and Inanimate

#1

I'm the present tied in brown paper and string. I'm the slosh of school shoes in monsoon mud. I'm the Fruitzee bread-omelette, and the last paneer in the palak-paneer.
I'm the joy found in simple things.

#2

I am faded carbon paper, an old typewriter, and an umbrella with a curved handle. I am a handwritten postcard, and the clothes left behind by a student leaving for college.
I'm the memory of times that were not better, but definitely simpler; I'm the small difference made by big sacrifices.

#3
I'm the dinosaur game in Google Chrome -- the limbo between procrastination and productivity.
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