Srilakshmi is, in her own words, ‘A doctor passionate about Kannada literature who just happened to translate one poem for you me.’ So it seems only appropriate that I include the original Kannada version of the poem. How I wish I could read it!
Though Srilakshmi and I are yet to meet in person, we are connected by a shared love for the written word. So when she generously translated a poem she wrote in her native tongue for me to read, I was more than touched.
Then there is the topic – depression and de-personalisation. My old friend, the dementor, seen through another pair of eyes. A familiar dark world captured in the few lines of a poem. Of course I made my ‘guest blog’ request; some voices have to be heard.
P.S. Srilakshmi’s daughter Srushti is a budding writer, and I had the occasion to publish her lovely little piece ‘Wonderland’ in a blog I have created for my students. (No, she’s not my student – she’s just young enough to be one. Read Wonderland here: https://minismenon.wordpress.com/2017/04/19/wonderland.
The conversations around you. Brittle and brisk. Without meaning. Words hurriedly strung together. Shoved into a tin can. Shaken. Made to rattle in short bursts. Like gunfire at close quarters. Tweets of fate. And happenstance. Like firing squads. Immediate. Transient. Relentless and vicarious babel. Grab and shoot. Who has the time? To think? Or breathe normally. The normal? Now a different shade of pale. Like running a hundred meter dash in less than 9 seconds. On shards of glass. Breathless. And bleeding. Gladiator sport. The kind that seeks out language only to thrust a sword into it. While the mob brays. For more bloodletting.
Slow everything down. Let your fingers grind to a halt. The forty-five on your turntable. Your skin scraping the grooves. Slurring the song. As if strangling the words. Almost.
Start afresh. Begin a new sentence. A long one. One in which with extreme patience and a strong dose of diligence you once again lay down the ground rules for language with a past history of elegance and a turn of phrase that makes you gasp with admiration for the one who has penned it with such élan and taste and wit and a sense of literary tradition passed on from writer to writer through centuries of fine writing where the meaning of words as they combine and mingle with each other takes precedence over mere ornamentation and where the complexity and density of a thought is chiseled to succinct and purposeful perfection in a heady mixture of fine prose or poetry or drama or whatever be your particular calling.
Now punctuate it.
Show them how things work. Or at least strew the air with hints. Let them be razor sharp. The clues. And full of wit. And irony. And the chutzpah that says it like it is. Up in your face. Like truth. So that no one believes it. As the truth. As nature. Both yours. Mine. And Natures. The way things appear to work in Nature. In life. Or on stage. Like the web that the spider weaves. Against the light. Visible. A work of art. Or a trap. Depends on who is admiring the spring like strands that shine and glint in the sunlight or turn invisible as they snare a fly. The strings on stage that create the magic of a floating cloud. An entire flotilla of white that suspends belief even as it is suspended in the air above the stage floor. Look carefully and you will see the nylon threads that like the spider’s web hold the white bags of polyester filled with yesterday’s news. Crushed and torn into different fluffy shapes. Light as the air they are meant to simulate. Be something they are not. Sleight of hand. Or a trick that the eye missed. The ones that do not bear muster close up but in the right kind of light. And colour. Glowing with gold and red and silver white. With spotlights that make no attempt at being hidden. Hung and patched. In full view. On metal battens. With exposed wires. Process. The craft of magic made visible.
The truth is always other than what it appears to be.
When I thought of inviting some of the writers (and lovers of the written word) I have come to be acquainted with to pen down a few lines for my blog, the first name that came to my mind was of Naveen Kishore – a writer, poet and person I tremendously admire and respect. Not to mention the publisher of some of the most beautiful books in existence today.
I admit I was skeptical – asking the one who publishes Nobel Laureates and their ilks to write for my humble blog sounded preposterous even to myself. But I did, eventually, and Naveen graciously obliged with a casual ‘See if these ‘jottings’ work. Call it whatever you wish to.’
Today is Seagull Books’ 35th anniversary, and I can’t think of a greater honour than to be able to host his words on my blog. And Sunandini Banerjee, whose magnificent collages are the lifeblood of Seagull Books, has allowed me to use ANY collage I’d like!
Today was going to be my Taxi Tales day. Because, as I was saying, there are so many I’ve collected, and I’m bursting to tell them. But it has been a very long day, and I’m too tired now to string two decent thoughts together. And then there is all the excitement about my newly acquired turquoise nail polish – a gift from Juhi – that is making me look at my fingernails every so often, wondering momentarily whose they are. The fingernails I mean.
You see, I’m usually more conservative with my nail polish. But what the heck – YOLO, as Aditya used to make fun of me, back when he was just a strapping lad. Now he’s almost seventeen, you see.
So I’m cheating. I’m using my turquoise-tipped fingers to copy-paste something I’d jotted down one glum morning a few weeks ago. A morning when the earth and the sky were glum, as were me and my thoughts.
a sky with dark circles
under the eyes
brushing off last night’s dreams
from her clothes
the moon biting her fingernails
for the sun who wandered away
lost in borrowed thoughts
a desert hungry for words
that fall on sand and die
That’s where I’d stopped. On that grey-blue morning in the last leg of winter.
My on-again-off-again morning walk has its moments.
It had been ‘off-again’ for a while, so yesterday morning I decided to break the dry spell and accompanied my better half to the park. It was still dark, but I noticed that in my absence, the marigold flowerbeds had flourished. I tried to click pictures, but my Nokia 520 refused to acknowledge the beauty of street light falling on orange flowers – instead what I got was a lot of black with a few orange smudges.
So today I went in broad morning light, determined to get a few good shots of those lovely flowerbeds that make my walk a pleasure. I must have been a hundred yards from the park when I came across a lady a carry bag full of marigold plants. Which was kind of intriguing because I had never seen such a sight before in this part of the world.
In Dubai, when we buy plants, they comes in prim, perforated plastic pots. When we need soil to grow them in, it comes all the way from Holland in sturdy plastic bags. You get what I mean.
When I reached the park, there were more people with bunches of marigold plants clutched in their hands, a look of mild triumph on their sweaty faces.
That did not seem to bode well for the plants, somehow.
And I wasn’t wrong. When I reached my flower beds, they were bare, with just a few withering flowers and uprooted plants littering them. The drip irrigation tubes lay as if abandoned on the sand. All traces of summer/autumn was being erased to make space for the approaching winter.
No more yellows and reds and oranges of summer/autumn. Only winter colours from now on…pink and purple and white and – Well, winter colours.
So much for my Marigold Flower-bed Photography Ambitions 2015!
Who was it that said, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade out of them? So here’s the rest of the lemonade – no, story. A heartwarming one.
As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Here are a few thousands, for whatever they are worth.