07 August, 2014

Juvenalia or bust

 So we all wanted to live our lives out like in the movies. Or books. Or like one of those existential-crisis kind of plays. With a therapist in the plot. You get the point.

  There's supposed to be high drama, unrequited non-endings, laconic one-liners etc.
   And I'll be damned if I ever grow out of it!


  Somewhere in the middle of trying to live one's life like a book, it is possible that one's life itself becomes a minor detail. It's an endless game of trying to make "Real Life" emulate the final chapter of some book, or a stanza from some poem, or making events such that a movie quote becomes eminently apt. The human factor is mostly incidental.

  And then all that you are left with is really just a bunch of quotes and pop-culture references and snatches of lost sunshine. There's no orchestra giving the OST as a camera pans out. The once-faithful audience has long since moved on to 2BHKs, housewarmings, engagements and other such non-essentials.


 So what do you do? "Grow up"? Try to pick up the threads of a monochrome life. Swallow the regurgitated mire of Everyday. And tell yourself, alright, I can teach myself to live like this. Like everyone else. The dulling opiate of domestication. The lulling comfort of soft arms, soft words and small thoughts. Yes, there is comfort in that for every trudging traveler. The little streams and fields, far from the thunder of the seas.

  Then one day it dawns - this is a lie. This life of pretense-normalcy. There are no strident chords here, no thundering stanzas soulbled into a starry night. Just the comfort of everyday - warmth, smiles and softness. And you shudder to think that one day you might even forget the yearning - the nameless yearning for something just beyond reach. Is this soft happiness worth trading the senseless maddening quest for lost grails and grim voyages?

 Left behind as always are the casualties. Guilt-trips for when you were weak, when resolve relented enough to let the tempting solace of mortals seep into you. Scattered in the wake like one half of a pair of shoes - nothing more senseless. And what reason do I give you then - because your words "forked no lightning"? Because you were quiet, and agreed and smiled and nodded, and offered yourself  with good heart and clear soul? Because the cooing of doves can never for long lull the wanderlust of one who has seen the swoop of hawks. And so they pay the price of my singular madness.

  The voyage for its sake alone! To think young and be naive and drink deep of the wells of those darkling eyes!

26 July, 2014

Homewards


  •  Simon and Garfunkel tracks on. Check.
  • Buying Bengali sweets from the Indian store. Check.
  • Ghore ferar gaan on loop. Check.

   17 days. Internship ends. NYC. Delhi. Calcutta.

   Home.

   It will not be the August of 2014 that I return to. It's the baked pavements of a 2009 summer, blues riffs on guitars by the gutter in the backdrop. Green benches and back-gates. Or late nights near 8B, 2010 maybe. Football in a village field, muddy rules and clear souls. Whiff of "bep"-rolls and the trundle of trams. "Meet me in front of Music World." Before the place got shut down. After-parties and their aftermaths on sun-warmed terraces. Snatches of technicolour in a monochrome past

  Home. To listen for the echoes of voices long gone elsewhere. To try and replay those rained off Test matches once more.

  Home. Of cooked food. And breakfast in bed. Tea, just right. La familia. Old friends and new tales. And of course, "ekta dishi phone hobe?"

  Even though I am visiting somewhere called Home, it's the somewhen that will always tear my eyes into the final gloaming of a westering sun, over the tangle of antennae and jumble of rooftops.

18 July, 2014

On translation

Two decades

A chance meet after a score of years,
Once again, after a decade or two --
By the rustle of rice stalks
In an Autumn wind --
When evening brings the nesting rooks
 In the midst of river reeds and waving grass

 In the hunt for dewdrops by soaring kites
 Swooping gently like the droop of sleeping eyes
 By the windows of the gnarled trees
 Shadows pooling in the eventide
 Crawling in the bracken as in our childhoods lost
 With the mist of two decades entwined
 If, timeless, we were to meet again!


 -- Inexact translation from "Abar bochhor kuri pore", Jibanananda Das.





Snowbird, blue skies

Snow bird in a blue sky
Soon to melt without a trace
Too harsh the honest glare of day
And Summer's fields of parched, cracked clay.

03 July, 2014

To look back a stranger

 It's bright and sunny, the poolside is awash with tanning beauties and I'm resisting the urge to sneak away for a quick puff. On a whim, I realize many of us as children often dreamed of having a day in our life like this. The Sunday's rest: blue skies, blue waters, deck-chairs, barbeque and sun-tan.



  Reminded of a snatch of conversation that draws me back about three years ago. Too tired and dulled by the sun to trace the thread that connects the present to that time.

 "You know - most of what you do is so that you can talk about it later." T's crazy-eyed gaze, always challenging, always alluring. I knew she was half-crazy, that's why I wanted her.

 Feigned chuckle. "Huh?"

"Yes. Years later, when you're a lonely lonely old man, you would sit like some ridiculous  feudal zamindar and tell the youngsters that whatever they did, you had done before. Writing, poetry, trekking, debate, drama, painting. A bit of everything, but nothing in reality. Ami ekkale shob korechi. Just so that you can do your 'been there, done that' shit. That's your real reason."

 T had a habit of painting pictures with her words. Probably a side-effect of her Murakami obsession and usual  daze.

 It was comforting to cut off that conversation with cheap chilled beer (a delicacy not to be scoffed at in a sweltering Calcutta summer). And blame her madness upon something that came disconcertingly close to the truth.

 

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