Saturday, February 8, 2020

Ask me about my new friend

Dream 1 : Writer's Block

Murthy had always been a moderate man. He preferred to be left to himself to do as he pleased, and held the simple belief that everyone that did not hurt anyone else should be accorded the same laissez faire. His severe critiques of powerful people would mostly concern issues where this sacrosanct freedom was violated, or where people were allowed to perpetuate injustice sans oversight. He would, however, never support an armed rebellion against the status quo -- whenever the media made vague allusions that his work had inspired the Izuh-ra, it left Murthy deeply disturbed. His entire system of principles would bristle in indignation, and he would mope and sigh about the lack of basic reasoning that the TV hosts and Izuh-ra seemed to have in common. But these allusions would now accompany every news story about Izuh-ra's activities, and Murthy was just about getting used to it.
This time, however, the reporters had absolutely outdone themselves. Fuelled by a fresh press release from the police, the media's imagination had gone wild, making Murthy irritable company for his wife at dinner and a victim of writer's block and insomnia thereafter. Finally, getting back into his outdoor shirt and trousers, Murthy stepped out of his family home for a stroll in the midnight breeze. He let his mental faculties slosh over the day's problems, and as his irritations slowly cleared, he inevitably began to analyse why, after all, the news outlets behaved as insensibly as they did. Quickly spiralling into a deep analysis of the underlying economic and political factors, Murthy was late to notice that his surroundings had grown noisier than respectable residential areas usually are at night. He could hear the hum of trucks on the highway and the slight murmur of tradespeople who had only just finished their days. Around him was the locality that folks of his stature only visited at daytime for shopping and repairs, and deserted cautiously at the close of godly hours. The street lights here were still yellow gas lamps, the last sleepy tea stall still burned an incandescent bulb, and cathode ray televisions still were the window to the world beyond.
Murthy's realisation of how far he had wandered finally stopped him at the mouth of a busy market street, now deserted save one man pacing a makeshift stage. Presumably, this man was ruminating over the next day's important (if Murthy's peering eyes read the signs right from that distance) trade union meet. Clearly this man was a union leader, and given how he stared into the street, he had a lot to think about. Murthy rationalised that walking into the street would disturb this stranger's thoughts, but he did not quite convince himself that the very bias towards the poor that he so decried was not stopping him venturing deeper into this neighbourhood at night. He had spent countless evenings over tea and snacks arguing against friends who saw the inhabitants of this area as natural criminals, and finally, as if to prove the entirety of his own socio-economic class wrong, Murthy walked with the most sincerely forced nonchalance into the dimly lit market street, and almost immediately felt guilty of something akin to slum tourism. It was as if he had only walked in there to make himself feel better about his fortunes in constrast to these people's misshapen dwellings and workplaces. Nonetheless, thought Murthy, the hum of the highway could be gotten used to, and the slightly shabby street felt cosy to walk along that night.
Settling thus into his decision of entering the street, he bowed his head and crossed his hands behind himself, into a posture ideal for analysing media mentalities -- and so he walked, an author once again sure of his intellect, and a man once again friends with his principles. His thoughts now proceeded to convince him that the associations the media had formed between him and Izuh, the eponymous leader of Izuh-ra, were absolutely bizarre. Yes, they were born in the same city, a hotbed of the country's every ideological revolution; yes, the police suspected that Izuh was back to that very city, which Murthy had never stopped living in; and yes, sympathisers and possibly members of Izuh-ra thrived in the city, especially among its disgruntled lower middle class; but lumping Murthy with these radical people was absolutely atrocious. Murthy had completed college respectably, made a name for himself, and always communicated his ideas, howsoever disruptive, in a collected and academic manner. Moreover, if Izuh had read Murthy's book as was rumoured, it was not Murthy's fault that he chose the wrong paths for realising the resulting inspiration. In fact, Murthy reasoned, how differently the thoughts in that book had influenced the two men would in fact be the most glaring evidence of how fundamentally in contrast they were -- and so Murthy listed out more obvious differences between himself and Izuh, this man he had never met but for the media's picture of him.
Even if Izuh had never read his book, there were other ways to most obviously exhibit that they were entirely unlike one another. Izuh didn't drink on principle, and Murthy was practically incomplete without whiskey. Murthy was loyal to his wife and children, in contrast to the horde of mistresses that Izuh maintained in every hideout. Moreover, thought Murthy with the chuckle of a man bringing levity to the deepest philosophies, Murthy would never be as well-liked among women as Izuh probably was. Sensible girls would marry well-settled stoutish men like Murthy; despite ideological differences, though, they would secretly swoon over Izuh. Murthy sure had good-naturedly sat through his wife and her friends guiltily detailing Izuh's eyes, Izuh's stubble, Izuh's chiselled jawline, Izuh's hair that would definitely be so very soft to the touch. And so the pleasant mental image of Izuh, for a moment untouched by his knowledge of the man's deeds, rose before Murthy's eyes. Immediately stopping to ponder over the disconnect between surface beauty and ideological attractiveness, Murthy lazily stopped in his way, and stretching himself slightly, turned to face the other side of the street. With the laziness and his ponderings still lingering, Murthy registered slowly that the makeshift stage was now just ahead of the spot across him, and the man on it was still there, his feet facing Murthy with his body partly turned away mid-pace. Murthy's gaze had been low, and now he began to casually follow the man's loose clothing upwards from his sandals. Instinctively, perhaps because of the utter emptiness of the street, Murthy also began to cross the road as he raised his gaze. The man was strongly built, and jolted Murthy with his long-held admiration for the working class. Presently, perhaps taking notice of footsteps approaching him, the man on the stage reversed the spin of his athletic torso, and turned to face Murthy who also, by now in the middle of the road, had finally raised his eye to the man's chiselled, stubbled face.
The eyes that looked at Murthy from within that face were beautiful, and glowed with strong surprise and soft admiration. They were very, very different from Murthy's own beady eyes, which perpetually squinted from academic stress, and were now staring ashenly at the familiar face in front of him.

Rajaraman "Red Man" Murthy. That's what this fellow must be thinking, Murthy reasoned. Then, painfully, Murthy added to himself the realisation that, if the man before him was smart, as he definitely must be, then he too knew the one word that now held Murthy's brain in a clammy grip.


Friday, November 8, 2019

Show and Tell

Sacred Games

This fabric of hope
Stretched thinly on your bones
Reminds me of a comrade, fallen,
Another of your ranks.
Merciless and wanton,
One more I abandon
On the busy seashore
Of these rocky banks.

Each one that fell away
Wanted ballads on his stone;
Each one, he took his price
When he burned away alone.
But asking not my rhymes,
What does he ask of me,
He whose spirit burns away,
Everyday, for free?

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Breakfast Mathematics

After one and two, comes three.

Ledge Drei

Algebra শিখিয়ে গেল যাবার পথে,
দিচ্ছে যারা সুদূর পাড়ি একলা রথে,
যাচ্ছে যাদের কিনতে গিয়ে একটু চেনা,
হোক বা না হোক চেনার টানে বেচা কেনা |

The Ledge is এখন সবজান্তার শান্ত হিসেব,
Markov-এতে ঠ্যাং দোলানো বাপ Chebyshev;
The Ledge is এখন ল্যাজ্যবিহীন মস্ত critic
যার চাপেতে morphic হল analytic.

Ledge-কে ফেলে যতই হারাই আঁকেবাঁকে,
Ledge যে আমার usefully সঙ্গে থাকে !
কঠিন কথা বলায় সে যে সহজ পাঠে,
হোকগে না হয় সব goal আমার ফাঁকা মাঠে |

The Ledge is এখন হরেক বছর একই ছড়া,
নতুন ভাষায় সস্তা বুলির লেখাপড়া ;
Ledge কে দূরে থেকেও ভালবাসতে পারি !
Algebra পড়েও এখন হাসতে পারি।


Saturday, October 26, 2019


My Kingdom For A Room

Like a poem I lost in sleep
And would dearly love to write,
A thickly blurred and flickering form,
Lit by memory fond and bright,
Rises when my waking breath
Strokes my patient bedside wall
And clings about my tired limbs
Until my nighttime deigns to fall.
Neither like unwelcome bird,
Nor like cogs in baleful hum;
Matchless in its radiant ease,
As blessed child in lay humdrum;
Consecrated but in mirth;
But in exploring, corrupt;
With what urgent, raucous joy
Does it my idyll tales irrupt!

In numberless numbered days,
Steadfast in contrarian grace,
Into my sight and taste and touch
It spirited pride anew;
So if all the world believes
That lilies bloom when memory grieves
Must I repent my stubborn spring
That sprouts but far and few?

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

An Old Poem to Fill the Time


I built you back from the pieces of the boys who were your friends --
Like every seaside story, at my feet is where this ends.
Put a gaping hole where our own world used to be,
Fill it up with rum and coke and call it fantasy.

It used to be, it used to be :
I was used to you, you were used to me.
Everyone's got their own world where they could use a friend.
It used to hurt and crash and burn and beat down and offend.

I broke you down and deconstructed girls who loved you more;
I cracked your shell, and here you fell, upon my rocky shore.
Brew your bubbling, caffeinated, dated heresy;
Fake your fiction, contradiction, trills of melody.

It used to be, it used to be!
I had use of you, you had use of me.
Trodden twigs and wizened wigs don't feel quite all the same.
I hope your breath falls easy, love -- it used to be my name.

Monday, September 23, 2019

... blaze like meteors and be gay


Sometimes, in some crowds,
Some faces simply shine.
You know it's in your head, but still
It feels simply divine.

On your hasty, fearful way
You see a safer place.
Unto your guilt, unto your shame
It sings a saving grace.

And so you hold it hostage,
Your undeserved keepsake --
Forsaken, 'cause you know that
If you touch it, it'll break.

Have you ever watched a dog run into a volleyball court?

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Logic, Automata and Games

Grayscale Man (?)

As happy as a bee,
As busy as a tree,
I have it in me
To be fair and free;
I have it in me
To belong to one,
To belong to all,
To be strong and tall,
To be smart and small;
And they don't trust me
But you do --
So you must know
I have it in me
To build you a wall :
It'll keep you safe,
It'll keep you brave.
I'll keep you safe,
I'll keep you brave,
But if you love me
Please do love
The things I build
More selfishly --
My aqueducts;
My every shrine;
My wall to hold
All that is mine,
That keeps me safe,
That keeps me brave,
That helps me heal,
That helps me save.
I've got to love
This wall I've got :
In all the world,
It's all I've got.
But if you cannot
Love my wall
I fear I'll hate it
After all.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Poofs and Hypes


A concrete corner's my new friend.
The corner sits at a corridor's bend --
A bit too far from the sweeping tree,
Too close to men to be truly free.
It patiently counts its youngish days
As shrub and earth go their own ways.
When rain falls, it shirks in fear;
Never before has it been near
To something that so freshly gives
To all that, like this corner, lives
Only when it's looked upon.
The rain then fills the muddy lawn;
Seeps through gravel, wets the leaf,
Gives the tired men relief;
Pools along the garden's end;
Splashes along my concrete friend
That, by now, is a steadfast bank
To muddied water in a fleeting tank
Where raindrops plop and plink and play
And make a tired student's day;
Rising to the rain and storm
So fresh and cold and yet so warm.
That corner called to colder rain,
To wetter, softer, older pain.
That corner, with its broken art
Took my thoughts, and took my heart.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Some Colours Were Shown

Vegetarian Man


Make and break
The promise of green.
Hurt only where
You have seen
Your likeness -- harsh,
And much unlike
Those you spare;
Them, more of hair
And less of arm;
Those to whom
You mean no harm.
Your heart fills
With great compassion!
Human women
Are out of fashion
(Unless of course
They are white)
What's left of you
You think it's right.
Hearken then
To heroes proud,
Hateful podcasts
From the cloud,
Digital diaries,
Cashless purse,
All by softness
That you curse.
All by truth
But you hate proof
Born of womb
Son of hoof.


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Concrete should have its own label by now

This is a sequel to an older semi-serious bilingual attempt about the same beloved Ledge.

Ledge দুই

Ledge-কে আমি সেদিন পেলাম আবার একা,
অনেকদিনের পুরানো-কে আবার দেখা|
উড়ল যারা আমার সাথে হেসেছিল​,
উড়ল যারা নতুন ভালবেসেছিল​|

অন্যদিকে উঁকি মেরেও দেখেছিলাম --
বুক ভর্তি কান্না নিয়ে বসেওছিলাম​|
কিন্তু তাকে Ledge বলে যেই ডাকতে গেছি,
উড়িয়ে দেওয়া ভালবাসা কুড়িয়ে পেলাম​ :

The Ledge is আবার ঘুমিয়ে প​ড়া ছোট্ট খুকি,
The Ledge is আবার রঙ-চ​ড়ানো উঁকিঝুকি,
The Ledge is আবার ক্ষুধার্তকে ভুলিয়ে রাখা,
The Ledge is আবার মন​-হেঁয়ালি মিষ্টি-মাখা;

The Ledge is আবার cloud-এ ভাসা maturity --
হারিয়ে ফেলেও রেখে দেওয়ার disparity;
The Ledge is আবার অমানুষে মানুষ করা,
জন্তুমানব খুঁজে পেতে রাতের ছড়া|

Ledge-কে আমি বিলিয়ে দিলাম তাদের হাতে,
ঘুমপাড়ানি গান জরুরি যাদের রাতে|
এই পুরানো​ Ledge আর আমার না-ই বা থাকে!
আমার দেওয়া নামেই তাকে সবাই ডাকে|
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