Sunday, August 26, 2012

Calcutta cosmopolitan contradictions and other ailments-

One-
Sometimes the vulnerability of Calcutta strikes me as curiously poetic. How it gives in to all our vices. How someplace like New York would make you a slave and bit by bit change you like a demanding lover and this sullen place of even sadder evenings besides the Ganga asks nothing.

It is perhaps one of the few cities that changes at your will sometimes with you, sometimes for you and sometimes after years later when you come back it still feels the same. Though you know that it is not, for her soul may be the same she has grown old, weathered and weary and as for Sayantan, Calcutta is where she was, Kolkata is just a cloned down older replacement that is trying so hard to please him. 

And even in xenophobia he feels acquainted as he can see her traces everywhere, in the evenings around Victoria, in faded denims and giggly girls in every passing resemblance of a soft triangular jaw, size XL eyes, and slightly large upper lips. So, this strange place Kolkata may well be known, after all.


Specifically, around College Street the city tries a tad too much to be Calcutta as if with those same overbearingly big eyes, tiny protruding well shaped though carved in a hurry nose and a wrung smile bejeweled in light red frame of some lip stick. 

Calcutta can still be felt all over with mogra and all her friends of the night, salt pepper lips and cheeks none too large so as to seem intruders but like well-loved neighbors, small eyes like poetry written with a bleeding soul and then, she inches closer, puffed eyes, over dressed, thirty trying to be nineteen.


As if the city wants me to be convinced of her promiscuity pointing at me to Hooghly – 
Am I her? Can I be?
I Sigh, and reflect “at times my dear, at-times”.


Two-
My stories like the reflected rays of car head-lights would always back track to this mess called Calcutta. Where else can I draw such an inspiration of life and death in a single moment? Which other city has such a fragile backdrop like my ego and is as lost as I am.

My limping weak heroes can only survive in a city as spineless as this and all those women who I would make love through my words would have to be as head-strong as the stoic city around the noisy diamond harbor. My story is much like me and this city, a contradiction called Calcutta.

My story begins much before the vanity of city lights and monolithic indecency of buildings had engulfed Garia. And I began to feel like a small hut of man walking through the godless foundations of a place. When there still were lanes marked not with the names of men who had never been here but by directions and distances from small ration stores or rational ponds.


When men were not fighting for cramped spaces with cattle and roads. When riding a taxi to park circus was an excursion and the small rickshaw pulled by men was still inhuman not just antique. 

When in October the sun would burn with the slow flame of incense sticks and moon played around dhunuchi. That was my first home it was an enclosed space of narrow alleyways and knee height rain waters outside of which the world was pretty much like it was inside, simple and clutterless and chaotic with its uniformity. Just like this nameless tale I write.

It begins around the calm class rooms of a vacant Presidency lost in time roaming through the Coffee houses and the Canteens. Where 'a just out of teen' Tanima is reading Somerset Maugham and listening to Sinatra and taking pride in herself overwhelming beauty, yet to meet Sayantan and then it ends right here at this place called Kolkata which I do not know or perhaps chose not to.


A place that has no heroes never did and unlike any writer of fiction I have not obliged myself with the responsibilities of my protagonists just like a certain God did with his personal Adam and Eve.

It is a story of evolution of a place and also the story of the men that inhabit it and the ideas that they put all their faith to. It is a story of love like all other stories with clich├ęs and literature having stale smells so much so that sometimes I feel I had no right to write it and yet I did. Through time the city grows not much in size as in the distances that people have between them.


My story is not just for Tanima or Sayantan or that unlucky European man called Adam but all of us for it is we who live it much more than them. It is we who while looking outside the windows admire the beauty of rains and written word while our coffees are warm and lukewarm and cold just like us. It deals with our wanderlusts and all those extra miles that drew us apart and yet in every inch long word, we gape. At every thought that was so far beyond our imagination. 

Three-
For, we all have been Tanima at some points chaining ourselves with love when in reality our soul just wants to run wild. So, do not ask me why Tanima and Sayantan do not meet. I have no reasons for that instead I may just stare blank at you and say, cherish their loneliness because in being lonely they are doing a great service to you for all the three hundred and ninety two pages that they live.

They share their plight being you, what more do you need from two hapless fictionaries. And Adam, have no sympathies for him he is your unbound desires and blindness and egos. He is your mirror. 

I do not care about them and neither do I care about you. It is a perpetual burden that I carry, a wait for it to end. My longing is different from yours because my mind endures the burden of my sentences that are statements like full moon nights over the Ganges and I have to stare and I have to stop. I am not courageous enough to amalgamate my life and the thoughts that wander about so I write.


This is my world now with their quirks and judgments and philosophies and I shall sit back and watch them letting them chart lives unmolested. While I let go of the idea of belonging and abandon myself, concluding at the beginning.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Excerpt-

#
There must be some tenacity in each written word some special string that when holding the whole of it together makes it sound just perfect. Something that we cannot deny or obliterate that we cannot carve in or edit out but just obsess about and stalk in written words mercilessly.
That sometimes what is, is barely alive like being fugitives in the land that holds us and running to the island of memories. A place where boulevard of longing adorns pathways just fleeting as if the place, the time that almost never is; is now and would perhaps calm our restlessness. And then we realize it does not, never did. So we can sometimes just refer to it while we write as realists yet everybody around is talking of it holding on the dead albatross.

.
I remember the smells that surrounded the mornings of our old home there was this something that marked the early beginnings of winter which the old people always knew was around the corner and I looked gaped as they took out the old woolen clothes to set them alive against a strangely beautiful sun. There was something beautiful about those days something comfortable, something that just stared into your eyes asking to be looked at as a thing of beauty.
Words dulcet, readable, random yet moving the chain forward, plain laid, but bewildering in the way that is fragrant of flowers and flawlessness. Like Nobokov's work assuring the reader of his intelligence.

I intend to write about these simple enough things like almost known friends and ordinary days, a family lunch, a coffee and a book for they seem ordinary enough and yet the potential of beauty that these things posses is infinite to write about. That man who is silently disappointed as the one roofed city of his is building multiple high towers on its body who is so calm in his nonchalance that it disturbs and he sometimes just walking by one of them wishes to run away somewhere else and tear apart his memory of a small town that once was his.

...
And so I often wish to start my book from a simple page one hundred and two where things are settled and the story is just walking along, the characters are set in their habits and while I am not afraid to maneuver the beauty in my words I know that the simplistic sense would never be erased. I wish to write then something that is so easy, so near, so close and strokable that it is almost beyond imagination. To describe the straight line that a man is than the silent labyrinth that he becomes in a Kafkaesque manner.

Almost like the old broken grand father rocking chair of our home and the difficulty of lovers name on lips.

But then something so simple would have to be bartered for a lifetime of slow burning at both ends and a Faustian trade for which your life I cannot let go and mine they say would not be enough.

So, I am left like a man draping words to cover his inadequacies and wishing what I can never be.

Shadows, and the land of Prophets-



There are stealthily creeping shadows
within the silences of my lips
a sense of ocean
filling the smallest cut
that love makes on me.

I live withering
like a cloud
on the perfect blue skies
the sunshine resplendent,
plays with the crevices of my moist body

I have but two eyes
and no sense of smell
so I see without feeling.

To the overwhelming weight of the parched land
that dies with every falling sun-ray
I drop to save the broken sands
but I break am a breeze
and fill the dead-body of earth with few breaths.

I sigh
and for her my land, my love
I become
the broken staircase
to netherworld.

Nativity of a poem-



There are myths and faith and in between these two islands is the motherland of my words
Something that I cannot fathom like ‘Iman’ and still believe in with the faith of a crusader in Reconquista.
Which I am the father and yet a beget , I wander amidst my words, the archipelago of verse, rhythm and rhyme
Imbibing myself in the forgetfulness of your loss and a dried cloud of tears.
In this solitude of a traveler my words accompany me, my shadow, my soul and your receding thoughts.

It is like the unassuming end to something I cannot quite name,
Which wanders among the old paraphernalia like yellowed books, musty closets hallowed songs and the garden swings of winter homes.
Flows like a river with sudden rushes and sounds like psalms of ‘Hubal’, noble and transient
lives like an ancient land of pagan rituals.
Wandering into lost times within ghostly neighborhood where I wither in broken silences dissolving in the water streams of fate.
I am vacant, I am waiting, I am patient
Like the summer rains.

Thus in the here would my poem stay without any repents or heart bleeds
Without the dismantling of critiques and the clasping congregation of approvers
Where men are yet to hear the war chants but brave enough to reason
Where Firdaus’s heaven would not cry for silences and hell is unknown, unseen
Waiting for the soft muffles of your name as its full stops and commas and words and letters.
And now for the thousand nights that my poem is awake, I leave my door ajar,
Come through.

What I wish-

On days I wish,
I was a settler in the ghetto of lost words
perhaps, like a weaver of folklores
coming in and out of verses
that surround my home.

though
life with living words
would be too much of a freedom
where deceit by the metaphors
that carve the cottons of a poem
would bear forcefully
on the shadows of my mortal body.

So, I wish anew, life
in the far stretched island of silent staccatos
where you live beyond the horizon
of sunrises
and sunsets
and moons

but then, such places
have no sounds nor seas

.
Let us meet halfway then
in the summer river of our aching souls
the tropic of wounded bodies
and sand dunes of simmering subconscious
where we live for an eternity
into the slum of words
and the country of portamento

Love, when you sleep tonight
keep the windows of your soul
unlocked.

nouko-

And there lies a 'nouko'
a caravan of dreams
where the hoogly divides itself
unto
a thousand broken fragments
of a dying Calcutta's hope and her fears
and her loves, and her tears

So I write again
.
in the shades of this lost evening
a crumpled prose resting on the shores of the ganges
opening with the damp greens and yellows of the city-lights
and closing here,
nestled in this river of mine
where her shores meet

and I have a home.

Of all I can be-

of all that i can be and live
i want myself to be a poem
perhaps by neruda
where i grow
like carnations
and linger like silence
where i am read and re-read and interpreted
as dense as a jungle
yet tiny as tears
not a prayer neither psalm or words
that stab
but a tiny heartache,
a dark loved thing
between the shadows and soul
and your closed eyes as i sleep

then
amongst
all possibilities
may be you would
have me written
in your heart
or diary

when-

when the city was not inviting enough
and the dreams punch card into the realities of destiny
when rains were too dry
and I was living with hosts of marinated magnolias
and half truths and stubborn lies
I found you like the holy book and war
as the dawn of the river titicaca and the sunset of serengeti
and verbal masturbation
and my fantasies of all,
of all, of all.

Two poems that end in you-



1
So, it must be understood
that my wanderlust and cravings
leading to unknown books and verses
and trees and rivers
and the slow flames of burnt wood in the coldness of a night
are means to find ways
to the heartland of my soul
which lights up like an ember or a dying star
when certain words bleed
smudging the hollow of my life
into something remotely alive

And in the moment of surreal gratitude and serene awakenings
there are a thousand men who walk
through the courtyard of my dreams
whispering words that I read and caress back to life
my faith in men and verses.
and in between all the thousand faces to find you
I metamorphose into your words and rhymes
and your name and then
you.

...

2
That poetry is how I talk
when silences are misunderstood
and I have to hold onto that instant of completeness
that lays within
like a stealthily shadowing stranger.

And with every night that passes
I learn to graft my own words into a pattern
that is noiseless yet remorseful
and echoes with voices of my soul and shadows
clearing a pathway that leads me to a map-less jungle
where lovingly I loose my way
of reasoning and logic and all that is sane
so that I can walk myself
astray to you.

When a friend asked why poets are sad creatures-



Personally there is something intimately romantic in something that is tragic and yet something that is so profound that steers your personal codes of expressions to a level unattained before.

To write is not just to feel and be expressive but it is about understanding a pattern, a synchronization of words that looks beautiful and pain entangled into this web of personal helplessness makes you a better judge of such less observed things, perhaps.

Perhaps the sheer size of your loss makes you blind to the macro aspect of a regularly lived life and acumen's you with a micro vision of the flow of words and their symmetry and their nature.

To think of it all artists of our times and the gone by era hold onto something a distant idea of sadness that makes them stop time and wait patiently till they can offer themselves something however momentarily that pacifies them.

I though in no means am saying that the sheer strength of tragedy and that morbid sadness is a driving force in their artistic endeavors but we cannot deny that of all emotions this one powerful emotion of melancholy changes you in ways nothing else can not even love.

And hence sometimes we also see these artistic types such sad lovers or sad in love just because this feeling of having nothing left but your thoughts makes you hold fast to your creativity.

The artist is never objective, just abstract.

Preface-



'Becoming is an antithesis for whatever you may call the transmogrifying isn't it always a progression.'
Sometimes he would just phrase his own thoughts in a way as if writing a novel and funnily enough the sentences stuck. Often while waiting for that four minutes overdue coffee and that two second difference that clocked the tasteless sip, something like this would lazily stroll through the mind.

As a teenager he read about Sharat Chandro and the men he wrote. He loved the silent passive aggressive overtones and yet the weakened limbs that manifested as those men.
While the twenty first of the century nested him he peregrinated through his own pages of time with an almost fiction novel protagonist like sympathy for his own self, sometimes more.
Admittedly though, for the times we live in, a little shelter of your own warm covering may help to evade the stealthily crawling monsters of humid hotel rooms, over priced coffees, over payed civil servants and economists and the stupid yet scathing criticism that he sometimes got for his overtly refined south Calcutta bengali-victorian words like 'noshtonir' and 'ojatshotru' being used in his almost monthly poems published for 'desh-the magazine'.

Solitude was a way of life more than any other option and here too defensively using Sharat Chandro or may be Kafka as a metaphor, it was a method to trade with that silent yet metaphysical storm. Sometimes even to ride it so that his monthly quota of a poem is fulfilled.
The mute violence, the blood and all that is named in a city filled with people and yet so resolutely vacant that sometimes he would laugh at the meaninglessness that how all they needed was just a touch or a whisper to melt down, to cry and yet all of them each one was walking in a rear guard action as if to save skins when all it wanted was their pains and tryst to be acknowledged by love.

Men disappoint you specially when they try and narrate out such mammoth amount of retrospective intellectualism as if the evolutionary human lineage in itself is an episodic tale.
After the later ice ages, the barbaric tribal wars, the crusades, bubonics, the wars if you are reading this today and know that your ancestors stayed alive in the middle of the mayhem won't you consider little baby luck as a factor.

You write for you are a success and yet you run and the things that are lost O! the chances, the kisses, the lives that you knew and yet the untouched you by all of it scampers on only to fall down and break in the desert and then the memories, the over bearing father that lives on forever called memories, as a race what if we were smart enough to be able to refine memories.

He knew even he was not safe from that Frankenstein called 'the days lived by' he though had found a way just like Murukami might say to nourish his own loneliness.

Thoughts, wild disenfranchising.

And yet how fragile is the human soul no matter how many layers of thoughts you cover yourself up in at 4:30 AM when you wake up thirsty, you drink and suddenly like a fresh stab you find the world desperately seeking none of your attention and you run and you run and you write a book about it, so that you may live part fiction-part rumor.
Someday he would write about it.

"Excuse me two spoon sugar. Thanks"

'Becoming is an antithesis for whatever you may call the transmogrifying isn't it always a progression. After all the change that is so evident is in itself a collective reflection of all of what you have been. You do not become yet you are becoming with every liven moment into death and void. Ironically how human it in itself is. But what characteristics other than you specific specie behavior determine you as humans...'

"Sir! Sugar."

For Rilke-



And then you look out the window
with the silent patches of green that dorn around
and a metaphor of longing muted into poetry

..Your eyes are poetry, then

.
where they roam around those bookstores of desired unread books
and small shanties of tea shops, where simple stories nest
the woman that stood just there in the platform no. eight redolence in those eyes
you can never let go
where you walked through lands, that lie isolated to you now
blue and white and ash colored dress that you once laid your eyes on
never wore

and
that poem in your eyes that you want to paint in words
but cannot.

and then
birds of horizon fly into the sky
the rains platters sound on the sill
while, you know,

in the silence of your soul
dwells the poetry of your eyes
and in the unsaid are the words

and, that you have lived the longings
the poetry unwritten, was you
always...