Hi! I’m writing to let you know that I’ve started a new blog that is available on both WordPress and Blogger. Head over there to rid yourselves of the diorganized silliness of this page.
See you there!
I remember one glorious summer afternoon when I went for a walk in the locality with my brother since home was being sprayed with mosquito medicine as a prevention measure for the epidemic that gripped the city. What I had expected and what I encountered are two images too surprising in my fading memory to be reconciled. The sun, it seemed, had blanched the ground on which I stood (and everything else), in a park, as if the colour was intrinsic to its character rather than being caused by an external influence. Patches of sunlight falling onto the low shrubbery along the walls cast the surrounding ground in a mysterious gloom. It was a dazzling sight, with the white blazing over the green and purple of the plant limbs. Swarms of dragonflies hovered over regions where the grass had grown too long and wild due to prolonged neglect: fauna teetered precariously over the edge of the urban demarcation, threatening to spill over. Appartments loomed on the horizon. A forlorn volleyball net occupied a large portion of the park, flanked by lamp posts on both sides. It was a sun-kissed landscape embracing the ramparts of decay.
The only thing running through my mind then, as I endeavoured to articulate this fairytale experience that I have since lost, was this passage from Rebecca Solnit’s book that I have come to love completely:
“What is a ruin, after all? It is a human construction abandoned to nature, and one of the allures of ruins in the city is that of the wilderness: a place full of the promise of the unknown with all its epiphanies and dangers. Cities are built by men (and to a lesser extent, women), but they decay by nature, from earthquakes and hurricanes to the icremental processes of rot, erosion, rust, the microbial breakdown of concrete, stone, wood, and brick, the return of plants and animals making their own complex order that further dismantles the simple order of men.”
Needless to say I was in a daze as I basked in the sounds of that quaint June afternoon last year. It stands as testimony that I still am.
Previously, a reflection on the sickly appearance of the capital’s trees: On the Trees of this City
The barren glory of this city’s trees have become both an eerily pleasurable sight against the diffusing skies as summer prepares to take over, as well as an alarming reminder of the deteriorating state of its collective health, were we to think of the city as living and breathing entity in biological terms.
For like a terminal malady that invades the body’s system with forces unseen gaining impetus under the surface, their presence detected only in the subtle symptoms that manifest externally: the drastic weight loss, the sagging skin, the thinning hair, the weakening defenses… the transition from flesh to near bones. The disease makes its presence known in the skin. And what is the diagnosis for an ill and failing city?
Its dying trees.
Here is a reading of the beautiful poem I stumbled upon via Poetry Foundation by Pakistani born London-based poet Momina Mela. My interpretation of it was that it is also about our follies as a race, the shallow promises and our procrastinating assumption of time, denial of crises and our inability to respond to it in due time—what Carl Sagan called our inability to accept that help will not come from elsewhere to save us. Something that religion once held about poets, as said in the podcast, that poets “preach what they do not follow”, and something which is the essence of this blog post. In that context, we are all poets leaning on the slim promise of mustaqbil.
Poetry is prayer too.
Hi, there. So to compensate for my long absence would be a herculean feat considering the deteriorating state of this venture I started in 2013. I hope to make many changes around here, metamorphose, if you will, but it would indubitably be achieved at an incredibly crawling pace. I also realize I have been defensive in the past as to my identity. No more of that now, fellow bloggers who have freshly encountered this raw and disorganized blog space, and to those who have stuck—I am happy that you have. Have a good day.
The photographs are from Karkardooma, New Delhi as I captured them on March 25, 2017.
Oh silver Moon, do you know?
Tell me, how long ago
was it that you found out
Without the sun you couldn’t
paint the black nights silver
that your light could never burn out
Since it wasn’t yours to keep?
Tell me, do you remember?
the days our planet eclipsed
your ivory, cratered shadow
Do you ever feel scared
knowing that it will again?
Tell me silver Moon,are you lonely
those times when not even the tides respond to
Your desperate, silent wailing?
Tell me, how long ago
Did you fall into the gravity
of an indifferent friend? Or when did you certainly know
That your days will be spent circling
All these melancholy epiphanies
Oh silver Moon, won’t you tell me?
Next, another conversation with the moon on life, and longing.
From an entry dated December 17, 2015:
It is surprising how naturally a person can thrive, unfold themselves progressively, a single layer of beauty at a time, like the blossoming of a bud to the stimulus of sunlight, peeping through the cracks of the concrete structure that asphyxiated their natural self. That is exactly what the idea of them, in the minds of the people around them can do to their freedom of creative, healthy void: like a forced urban planning that annihilates the vast, enriched landscape it replaces. The landscape, the void, that infinity of space within which a person can swim that grand stretch of pearly blue waters which project their cores outwards like an ancient pinhole camera—only, it is as alive as the day is long.
What I mean to say, is that it is amazing how naturally a person can reveal and discover at the same time their inner beauty to us, if only we allow them to. Otherwise, it becomes one of the many beautiful things about our life that regrettably, we don’t get to see, regardless of however immortal we could possibly conjure up becoming.
The little things about them: a fond memory, a personal joke, the memorabilia of something or someone attached to them—all these that remind them of happiness…that if you allow them, if you are an observer, a listener quiet enough so that you can hear the creaking of the non-lubricated parts of them being resuscitated under the removal of the influence of pressurizing, judging scrutiny; you might just find them quietly laughing with the chirping birds in the branches of the trees as you walk alongside them on a sunlit pavement. All of this can happen, even though you might be walking in the middle of a busy urban street. We are our best, most truest self when we think nobody is watching, or even if somebody just happens to, ever so silently( perhaps like an ornithologist that sees through his binoculars painted storks playing in the distance) we let them watch without hesitation or unease—like you sit quietly with a frightened animal long enough, unimposing, they come to see you as their friend.
That is the reason why people with whom you are everyday, the little alterations we all undergo with time, we don’t notice them immediately; but if we don’t see them long enough, it is funny how we never cease to be taken aback by the series of beautiful transformations they go through, despite the obvious changes in their physical appearance: the little crinkle by their eyes when they laugh(an experience more added to their memory) and the more open they are around you since you last encountered them, because they might have just discovered that healthy void for themselves.
You see, time is a mysterious thing. And what being still, unassuming and unimposing can do will amaze you—what simply listening can lo, like Mary Oliver urged in her words:
“Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”
You can listen to her reading of this wonderful poem from which the above lines have been cited here, on the wonderful brainpickings‘ soundcloud stream:
Frozen hands make for poor writing instruments.
I can hear the chitter-chatter of kids and their mothers outside enjoying the warmth of the sun on a quaint winter afternoon beyond my window, the filtering sunlight from which casts narrow shadows on my fingers. It is not intense enough to warm my hands, but so is our general sense of empathy towards other people, people with lives different than our own.
The sincerity in our everyday conversations gets watered down due to a lack of that willingness to listen. We want to be heard, but do not realize it when we skim over the other person’s words even if unintentionally; when we defy listening.
Instead, a cold breeze quietly weaves around the already wane sunlight filtering through.
Featured image source: Digital Photography School
From January 29,2016
With shifting skies
there is a twinge of longing
In the crisp atmosphere
Of the still night’s air
In the blackened woods stand
Giant trees, countless on the land
their wooden bones and bony fingers
The memory of one missing, lingers
And though the mountain’s attention
The extroverted clouds have caught quick
trees stare at the distance in wonder
Can you hear the thrill in the soundof thunder?
The moon stirs the restless awake
To the nocturnal lack of din
open your window nightgazer
And let the stars come in.
When The Hobbit was first published almost 75 years ago, JRR Tolkien provided a set of wonderful illustrations. But buried among the author’s papers were 110 drawings, watercolours and sketches, some of which have never been published before.
So I found myself drowning
in a stream of filtering moonlight
With leaves rustling somewhere overhead
And the woods rustled with them
Around me, and out of sight.
Floating on the light
Trapped inside night’s melody
with an undertone of sharp octaves
Matching a frightened pulse
A cyanotype of captured tragedy.
I saw a deer from behind my eyelids
Looking at me from a curtain of ferns
Two orbs of innocence glaring
In my direction in night’s ephemeral theater
With me standing underneath the light
When the seats in front of me are deserted
Helpless, I can’t see beyond
Even though out of dark’s reach I am riveted.