Life

Ninety-Nine Times out of a Hundred

Sherni (2021) Film Review

“Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way.”

John Muir

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“Even in the dense jungle, the tigress knows her way.”
[Source – impawards.com
Poster design – True Blue Design Co.]

Aware about the scents, the dancing shades and the quiet breathing sounds of the jungle, the tigress moves knowing with certainty that the world is unpredictable.

Familiar with the idea of freedom and boundaries, she has learnt to cooperate.

For the tigress to become a man eater it would mean that either she crossed her boundary or a man crossed his and then if we shed light on their reasons, we will see some simple similarities and some dark differences.

Sherni is a brilliant 2021 film written by Aastha Tiku and directed by Amit V. Musurkar. Displaying the bare truth, in all its rude capriciousness and glory, the narrative builds a powerful unsolved puzzle for the viewers, unsolved but thoroughly engaging.

Through its veering route it takes the audience on a safari tour, one where we wish wholeheartedly to never get a glimpse of the tigress for the gunned men accompany us.

The film raises questions and leaves us with hints to, collectively, as a society, solve this puzzle and be aware about our roles.


Lady forest officer! Hoo-ha!
[Source – IMDB]

Vidya Vincent, the protagonist, is a newly appointed forest officer who challenges the status quo from the start just by working efficiently. The apathetic, insincere mood of her co-workers upsets her but doesn’t surprise her.

She tries to stay detached and work for work’s sake, but well aware about her job, about the bridge her department builds between the forest and the village, she never lets go of her sensibilities.  

In a bureaucratic leisure loving system, Vidya Vincent walks swiftly and cautiously; in protecting the wildlife, making the villagers aware, dodging the political never ending hoo-ha, she is reminded repeatedly that SHE is weak.

Vidya’s family loves her, but doesn’t fully understand her rather they emphasize the importance of their expectations, underlining insistently for her a daughter-in-law and wife’s responsibilities.

After two fatal attacks on villagers, a tigress is declared as a man-eater; and with elections approaching in that area, this hot topic is smartly used by the two challenging parties to manipulate the trampled villagers and the confused slow officers.

Protecting the composed jungle from the chaotic outer world, Vidya strategises the tigress’ safe return to the sanctuary.

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Rescuing wildlife after a short tea break.
[Source – IMDB]

Vidya Vincent, a Christian lady-forest-officer, is a wonderfully layered character; brave and bold but also vulnerable and at times helpless.

Her dilemmas and exigent actions unfold so realistically that even though we get attached to her and wish for her victory, we also see her with an objective lens; and so her struggles, efforts, decisions, plans, victories and failures come across as real.

She wins and loses at the same time in the end; surely the writer here wanted Vidya Vincent to pass on the flambeau to those who would come forward and continue the fight.


A fleeting glimpse…
[Source – IMDB]

Sherni, the adult female tigress, named T12 by the forest department, has given birth to two cubs and is trying to reach a safer place, away from human infiltration, deep inside the sanctuary. It is only through the villages and a mining site that she can reach the sanctuary.

Fierce and vigilant, the tigress doesn’t fall for the forest department’s ploy to catch her. She attacks the villagers who by chance wondered in her area and earns the cursed title of ‘man-eater’.

Protecting and feeding her cubs, the tigress gradually moves closer to the sanctuary.

But because she follows only the rules of the jungle and is illiterate about political chicanery, she misjudges the scent, shade and silence spread that night in the jungle and is shot first and tranquilized later for a hassle free report.

When the cubs dare to step out of the hiding, a few days later, they see a smiling Vidya Vincent staring at them with relief.


After spending generations in the vicinity of the jungle, the villagers inherit many of its qualities. Straightforward and simple yet considerate and calm, the villagers value life.

Though afraid of the big cat, only the villagers can survive as its neighbour.

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Hassan Noorani, Vidya’s team mate.
[Source – IMDB]

In the film Sherni too, the boundary shared by the villagers and the wildlife becomes the site of contention. Will the big cat let them survive?

The political parties promise them that they will survive, but only if they vote in their party’s favour, while Vidya Vincent tries to make them aware about the tigress’ behaviour, frequently visited trails and sole goal to reach the sanctuary.

And so some of the villagers support Vidya and end up securing, at least, the lives of the two cubs, whereas the others, who refuse to adapt, get dragged in the pompous parade of the powerful who for this occasion specially invite Pintu the hunter.

The film subtly highlights the essential role that the villagers neighbouring a jungle plays in safeguarding the wildlife. If their interests are also cared for, a harmonious bond could be formed between the two neighbours.


The corrupt and manipulative system that ensnares the boorish, ignorant and weak brings antagonism in the film. The one who doesn’t dare, one who prefers the herd, the guileful, timid and adjusting inadvertently support the dominant.

Vidya Vincent’s office employees and the villagers, who face daily life’s struggles, neither appreciate the new forest officer’s help nor do they agree with the political thugs wholly.

There are divided as a group and easy to control.

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Pintu bhaiya; “might is right when I am carrying a rifle”.
[Source – IMDB]

Vidya’s boss Bansal, who promotes and supports the men in power, doesn’t wince twice before switching sides; the present MLA, he who is contesting for the post of MLA, the supreme lords in the high ups, Pintu the hunter and his colleagues/ juniors are all his friends; he favours the favourable.

And so Bansal, the sly, the coward becomes the most dangerous creature here.

Pintu the hunter comes across as a stereotypical character unlike any other in the film; he brags from the get-go about how hunting animals is in his blood. His father killed so many tigers and he killed this many; arrogantly he guarantees all that the man-eater tigress will raise man-eater cubs, so the little ones should not be shown any mercy.

Pintu flaunts his rifle in the parade, promising the mad crowd that now it is Pintu VS Sherni and he only knows how to win.

Meanwhile Vidya and her ‘forest friends’ try hard to keep him misinformed and away from the tigress and her cubs. They achieve one of the set goals.


Hassan Noorani, a zoology professor, and his expertise is welcomed by Vidya. Well aware about the village political scene, Hassan always guides Vidya in the right direction.

Volunteering to help the newly appointed forest officer, we see in him another individual who is passionate about wildlife conservation.

Sympathetic and sensible, Hassan contributes greatly as Vidya’s team member, but fails to stand by her side till the end. And this makes him all the more a realistic character; when a lucrative job opportunity calls him to Mumbai, he decides to accept the offer.

On finding T12’s body, shouting out loud that this is a “pre-planned murder”, disgusted and helpless, he leaves.

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Jyoti and Vidya Vincent; they found the cubs.
[Source – IMDB]

Jyoti, a panchayat samiti member, is another ally who understands Vidya Vincent’s genuine efforts. She represents the few who acknowledges the link that must be built between the wildlife and villages surrounding it.

Daring enough to counter the politicians, she chooses not to go astray, rather step by step form a better relation with her wild neighbours.

Vidya Vincent’s little kitten, from the very beginning, shows what it means to survive in the “wild” outside the jungle. She adapts quickly, and later, so does Vidya.


“If you pass through the jungle 100 times, you may spot a tiger once but the tiger will have seen you 99 times,” says a forest official in the film. So even though we rarely get to see the tigress here, this game of hide and seek, nonetheless, allows us to feel her wonderfully strong presence.

Not a man eater, the tigress attacks either in self defence or to hunt her prey (a livestock animal); some of the forest officials do testify the same, but the tigress fails to present her case with valid proofs and is unjustly sentenced to death.

Then we run towards Vidya Vincent, hoping that she’ll avenge the tigress’ murder; and she tries her best, saves the cubs, and in return gets a transfer order.

Posted at a Museum of Natural History, she looks after the displayed stuffed animals; a glorious stuffed tiger also poses in one of the glass cages there.

Waiting and watching, patiently, we recognise Vidya’s dilemmas and helplessness, her actions taken silently against bigotry, her tears of joy and pain.

When there is no one left to run to, we realise we are on our own. It is our turn to act now. Sherni leaves us wondering.

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Glorious, always!
[Source – Pixabay]

The boundaries of a wildlife sanctuary, the walls of our painted homes cannot separate nature from nature.

It knocks on our windows every night when we leave the balcony light on; little insects, beautiful moths are only too determined to remind us of it.

And when we get a glimpse of the wild, maybe when on a safari, taking pictures of the baboons, hushing and shushing each other, dressed in khaki, hoping a show to unfold before our eyes, the tigress sees us from a distance and walks away.


Watch the trailer now


Sherni (2021)

Story and Screenplay by Aastha Tiku

Dialogues by Yashasvi Mishra and Amit V. Masurkar

Directed by Amit V. Masurkar

Cast

Vidya Balan as Vidya Vincent

Vijay Raaz as Hassan Noorani

Sampa Mandal as Jyoti

Brijendra Kala as Bansal

Sharat Saxena as Pintu


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Sharpening the Lens Cavafy Style

Poem Review
Together we wait…
[Source – Pixabay]

Waiting for the Barbarians

By C. P. Cavafy

Translated by Edmund Keeley

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What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?

The barbarians are due here today.

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Why isn’t anything going on in the senate?

Why are the senators sitting there without legislating?

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Because the barbarians are coming today.

What’s the point of senators making laws now?

Once the barbarians are here, they’ll do the legislating.

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Why did our emperor get up so early,

and why is he sitting enthroned at the city’s main gate,

in state, wearing the crown?

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Because the barbarians are coming today

and the emperor’s waiting to receive their leader.

He’s even got a scroll to give him,

loaded with titles, with imposing names.

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Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today

wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?

Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,

rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?

Why are they carrying elegant canes

beautifully worked in silver and gold?

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Because the barbarians are coming today

and things like that dazzle the barbarians.

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Why don’t our distinguished orators turn up as usual

to make their speeches, say what they have to say?

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Because the barbarians are coming today

and they’re bored by rhetoric and public speaking.

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Why this sudden bewilderment, this confusion?

(How serious people’s faces have become.)

Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,

everyone going home lost in thought?

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Because night has fallen and the barbarians haven’t come.

And some of our men just in from the border say

there are no barbarians any longer.

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Now what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?

Those people were a kind of solution.


Steady like a statue.
[Source – Pixabay]

Waiting to take a stand, sitting comfortably, letting the waves cover with silt our body, mind and soul, we continue waiting, living.

Glaring caustically at the silt, we regurgitate pompously.

Unable to cross the maze, we burn the walls down, unable to touch the sky, we pull it to the ground.

Waiting for them to distinguish between the truth and hearsay, to dust off our earnest intentions, to demystify our vision, we humbly stretch and wait.

In waiting for an autonomous lustrous life, we steadily pass by, dulling our society.


C. P. Cavafy, “a Greek gentleman in a straw hat, standing absolutely motionless at a slight angle to the universe” (as per his friend E. M. Forester), wrote the poem “Waiting for Barbarians” in 1904, juxtaposing the past with our modern thoughts, superimposing the ancient image on the now, yes the now, swiftly jolting the reader from slumber and questioning “this wait”.

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The leaders in ancient Greece, the poem shows, await desperately, in static opulence, for the Barbarians to come and take over everything and to begin mending every disaster, but when they don’t come, the city dwellers are aghast as now they will have to tackle problems and take decisions on their own.

And so the free individual, waiting for an external source to revitalise the life, takes a dip in the bright, glittering mirage, dreading, complaining, ignoring, barricading, adjusting all the while, and refusing to end “the wait”.

But let us not wait anymore…


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Shubhasya Shighram – A Pocket Sized Mantra

Philosophy

Nature too believes in this mantra.
[Source – Pixabay]

शुभस्य शीघ्रम अशुभस्य कालहरणम।

Shubhasya shighram, ashubhasya kaalharnam.

Translation – Do not delay when planning to do something good, but when inclining towards the opposite, think twice.


Contemplation is good and needed. Action is better and a must.

Plans in a potli-mind take time to come out, yes, for they are grand ones, created meticulously, weaved with love.

Inspired thoughts build this glass minar with intricate designs, colours of hope and success and appreciation and a little bit of all that is magical in this universe. We fly high when planning in a potli-mind.

Now how to fabricate such a tall glass minar in reality? Where to start from? How do we know if the time is right?

And what about all the ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’? Oh, and our dominating ‘know-it-all self’ that loves to put a stamp on every new thought, issuing summons, calling the poor thought a fraud, out-of-our-league or an impossibility, come what may?

Or worse, comparing it with the giant called the OTHERS?

Maybe this is the moment to tell yourself, shubhasya shighram, why wait to do something good.

Maybe this is the time to take the first step towards that glass minar, an overwhelming act it may feel at the beginning, but by the end, whatever the result is, we get enriched, we understand the rotating world and our bumbling selves a little better.

What a brilliant mantra then, a pocket sized mantra!

So, my friend, go ahead with that plan… because shubhasya shighram, shighram shighram.


Potli – bag, bundle, parcel, packet.

Minar – a tower or turret.


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Ancient Dusky Rivers

The river… sketching its way ahead…
[Source – Pixabay]
The Negro Speaks of Rivers

by Langston Hughes

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I’ve known rivers:

I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

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I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.

I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.

I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.

I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

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I’ve known rivers:

Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.


Rivers – streams, creeks, brooks or rivulets – love to flow; flowing towards a sea, lake, an ocean or another river, and at times also drying out. Rivers love to flow just like life.

Most of the earlier civilisations prospered when they settled around rivers, channelizing the same love when drinking its fresh water.

And when mankind sat in a circle around the fire and created stories – of the sun, the moon, the thunder and the wind – they fostered their imaginations and decided to pass on the love running in their blood to a lovely supreme one.

Different supreme ones took the centre stage at different places and myriad dramas unfolded that the rivers watched quietly, flowing, gushing with joy every moment.

Resisting neither the rocks nor filth, accepting the dead and plastic bottles alike, it continues to flow… for now.


Still like a mirror, moving like a reflection…
[Source – Pixabay]

Langston Hughes in his poem The Negro Speaks of Rivers connects the human soul with the world’s ancient rivers; the hands that cupped to drink water, the feet that crossed the river, whatever race it belonged to, felt the same damp calmness every single time they drank water and crossed the river.

Written during the early twentieth century when African Americans struggled to achieve equality and justice, Hughes, presenting a powerful historical perspective in this poem, emphasises the link between his ancestors, the ancient rivers and the rest of the human civilisation.

The Euphrates, often believed to be the birthplace of human civilisation, the Congo, powerful and mysterious, that saw the rise of many great African kingdoms, the magical Nile that carries with poise the secrets of the great Egyptian pyramids, the folklorist Mississippi that shared here the tales of Abraham Lincoln and American slavery – shows how rivers carry the past in its depth, carrying it always with love.

And the one who sees with love can sense the connection between rivers and souls, between them and us; we all started this journey together, the rivers are a testimony.


“I’ve known rivers:

Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.”

Experience and history, though often oppressive, have not extinguished but rather emboldened the development of a soul, the birth of an immortal self, the proud ‘I’ that now speaks to all who will listen.

Christopher C. De Santis

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Regina Spektor’s Musical World and the Ephemeral Moments of Joy – Part I

Coverage
Delicate dance anthem…
[Source – Pixabay]

Walking down the street with old heavy memories, frozen and hazy, not bothering for a while and the unknown liveliness of the fresh sounds greeting us from all around – the dripping thaw, the golden sunny warmth, the tiny twittering birds, the ‘oh my god’ honking of a dashing car’s ghost that passes by, the hearty smiles and laughter – we blush with hope teasing us, giving us bright ideas, gleaming as we experience our quiet, still mind-pond.

These ephemeral moments of joy, so true and innocent, are hard to capture, harder to sustain, probably that is what makes it so special for and loved by all.


Regina Spektor, the star singer, songwriter, musician, the starry-eyed star, the star magician, knows how to hold such moments very well. She doesn’t capture it, na-na, she only knits a pretty, sweet and soothing melody and then soaks it into such warm moments, letting the melody take this ephemeral colour.

To this colour, she adds free-play, emotions and her pianist-self and, voila, a Regina Spektor song wave is ready.

Listen to “Ne Me Quitte Pas (Don’t Leave Me)” before reading further –

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…And down on Lexington they’re wearing
New shoes stuck to aging feet
And close their eyes and open
And they’ll recognize the aging street
And think about how things were right
When they were young and veins were tight
And if you are the ghost of Christmas Past
Then wont you stay the night?

Ne Me Quitte Pas, Mon Chere
Ne Me Quitte Pas…

Regina Spektor

She amalgamates it all so well, life’s experiences, cut both ways and so gently she allows herself to smile an honest smile. How beautifully this song captures time and lets it go.

And she loves Paris, especially when it rains there and so do we all (at least the rasiks* do).

Listen now to “Dance Anthem of the 80’s” –

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…I’m walking through the city
Like a drunk, but not
With my slip showing a little
Like a drunk, but not
And I am one of your people
But the cars don’t stop…

Regina Spektor

This is nothing but a memory, cold, harsh, but funny in retrospect; one that glares until you glare back at it, acceptingly. And Regina Spektor handles this mixed emotion so peacefully and at the same very eagerly, probably eager for it to evolve.


Also, listen to the live performance of “Dance Anthem of the 80’s”, how sweetly she thanks her audience.

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Here, at Chiming Stories, the blogger will be covering Regina Spektor’s musical world in the coming posts, trying to live and relish her songs in your company, so dear readers ‘ne me quitte pas mon chere’ (don’t leave me, my dear).


*A rasik, in Hindi language, is a passionate and thoughtful being.


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The Thousand Faces of Night – A Charcoal-Inked Raga

Book Review

The certainty of it being the night promises us of the erubescent dawn. It is an inky night, it has been for aeons and aeons… and, mind you, she uses charcoal-ink… for the stove is still burning, she never forgets to collect woods.

And so, with her inky fingers she writes messages, anecdotes, dead secrets and stolen dreams on the walls in the kitchen.

A custom followed since antiquity, now the charcoal-ink smells of these quiet cursive messages. It talks about the dark night and the breaking of the dawn.

Her inky fingers will turn red with the dawn.


But Sita needed all the strength she could muster to face the big trial awaiting her. After that, it was one straight path to a single goal, wifehood. The veena was a singularly jealous lover.

Then one morning, abruptly, without an inkling that the choice that was to change her life lurked so near, Sita gave up her love. She tore the strings off the wooden base, and let the blood dry on her fingers, to remind herself of her chosen path on the first difficult days of abstinence.

Githa Hariharan (Part Three; Chapter 1)

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Painting of the Goddess Saraswati by Raja Ravi Varma.
[Source – Wikimedia Commons]

The Thousand Faces of Night (1992) is written by the astounding Githa Hariharan. The novel is a melody sung and composed at night that captures the thousand faces of the moonless, starless night.

It narrates the many tales of Indian women – the celebrated mythical ones and the limited editions – with such excellence that the novel takes the shape of a woman carrying a heavy potli bag full of tales.

The tales, entangled badly, still echo well and dramatise their essence. The tales are spicy and heart wrenching and true.

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Earthenware… they hold intact their stories, cultures for centuries.
[Source – Pixabay]

Devi, Sita, Mayamma – daughter, mother, maid – kindle fire that burns time, others and themselves. And so powerful is this fire that life gathers around it to get some inspiration.

Delicate like earthenware, painted beautifully, allegedly breakable, they hold intact their stories, cultures for centuries; you must have seen the pieces of such earthenware dug out from archaeological sites, displayed in a museum safely.

Their resilience never fails them even if it means to walk alone, against the tide, the familiar sunshine. Devi, the present, dares to break away, in her agility, eager to explore, moving away from Mayamma and Sita, the past.

Posing in front of the patriarch, they contribute to his legacy/magnificence. After foolishly spending a long time and suffering from backaches, Sita straightens up and Devi dodges the mockery, while Mayamma continues.

The patriarch sees Mayamma and smiles, Mayamma bows and cusses silently. She prays for Devi.

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The new raga.
[Source – Pixabay]

After etching their charcoal-inked messages on the kitchen walls, the three ladies change the notation of their melody slightly, making the raga, still sung at night, fresher.

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I must have, as I grew older, begun to see the fine cracks in the bridge my grandmother built between the stories I loved, and the less self-contained, more sordid stories I saw unfolding around me. The cracks I now see are no longer fine, they gape as if the glue that held them together was counterfeit in the first place. But the gap I now see is also a debt: I have to repair it to vindicate my beloved storyteller.

Githa Hariharan (Part One; Chapter 3)

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Shakespeare’s Sonnet 107 and Timelessness

Coverage

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Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul
Of the wide world dreaming on things to come,
Can yet the lease of my true love control,
Suppos’d as forfeit to a confin’d doom.
The mortal moon hath her eclipse endur’d,
And the sad augurs mock their own presage;
Incertainties now crown themselves assur’d,
And peace proclaims olives of endless age.
Now with the drops of this most balmy time
My love looks fresh, and Death to me subscribes,
Since, spite of him, I’ll live in this poor rime,
While he insults o’er dull and speechless tribes:
And thou in this shalt find thy monument,
When tyrants’ crests and tombs of brass are spent.


The idea of timelessness, eternity, immortality must be true as we wish, look and aim for it in some way or the other. Imagining living continuously, building and creating happy ways of life, chiselling and shaping the continuous source of happiness, we forgetfully live with the idea of forever.

The decisive time gone by, the melting present and the secret future, though definite, knows the indefinite. And one is lured, naturally, to know and identify with the indefinite. Why? For the indefinite is the absolute. So? The absolute appears to be complete, eternal, beyond the cyclic drama and free. Then? We may be a part of it or we too may want to be complete. And so? I don’t know, I am living forgetfully with the idea of forever, remember.

Shakespeare, the greatest and most famous playwright ever, via his works, attained immortality and this is what he celebrated in Sonnet 107. Full of creative splendour, he announced his lead on rusty cenotaphs and statues of the rulers.


The Battle at Gavelines and Elizabeth I at Tilbury (Pastiche).
The painting presents a stylized account of the battle of Gravelines between the Spanish Armada and the English fleet, including the beacons, Elizabeth’s address at Tilbury, and the battle itself in a single montage on three jointed pieces of fine tabby-weave linen. 
[Source – Wikimedia Commons]

“The mortal moon hath her eclipse endured”

That the grand, rock-hard, grave and lovely moon too continues its finite journey, eroding gradually, black red white, suggests that the moon knows well the infinite’s will. Or else why will it so humbly accept its role? This long journey, then, is no less than a quiet meditation. The deep circular craters are the timekeepers and the moon knows it.

One of William Shakespeare’s renowned 154 Sonnets, Sonnet 107 is often linked with the contemporary events of the time: the defeat of the Spanish Armada (1588), Queen Elizabeth’s death (in 1603), the Long Turkish War (1593-1606); the Armada charged in a crescent formation, Queen Elizabeth was also called Cynthia (name of the Greek moon goddess), the Ottoman Empire’s flag boasted the crescent moon symbol.

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Elizabeth I of England.
The portrait was made to commemorate the defeat of the Spanish Armada (depicted in the background).
[Source – Wikipedia]

In times so precarious, one would want to hold on to a secure thought or remember the limits of mortality, mocking unabashedly the warmongers and peace-lovers alike, or even hope to create something timeless.


Read the wonderfully crisp commentary on Sonnet 107, here.

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First image from Pixabay


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Jasmine-Rich Raga

Coverage

White Jasmines.
[Image from Pixabay]

Like flowers threaded to form a sheet, woven intricately, the free white petals settling in a designed pattern, accepting the arrangement with joy, like an endless beaded wave of fragrant flower-colours, the ragas also weave intricately musical framework that evokes fragrant feelings in a quiet listener’s mind.

Just like the perfection-loving flowers – the humble sepal, the vibrant petal, the ambitious anther – the ragas too know how to bloom to perfection. Capturing the exact mood that exudes the season’s essence perfectly, the ragas effortlessly scent time making it beautifully appreciable.

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The scented time celebrates the raga – in Vilambit laya (slow tempo), Madhya laya (medium tempo), Drut laya (fast tempo) – accepting every melodic improvisation, evolving with each performance, never bothering with change, rather ushering it with consistent Riyaz (practice).

Overwhelming calculations keep the ragas free from vegetating and from the burden of the past that at times tries to confine its spirit, but almost always the spirit remembers to break free.

The many notations, the Swara, bring forth incessant improvisations, giving space to every emotional twist, forming an intricate, fragrant Mandala.

The ragas symbolise, like a flower threaded sheet, intricacies of life… and more.


Lat uljhi suljha ja balam

Piya more haath mein mehndi lagi hai

Lat uljhi suljha ja balam

Mathe ki bindiya bikhar rahi hai

Apne hi haath laga ja balam

Lat uljhi suljha ja balam

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(Translation – Disentangle my hair, dear beloved/ I have applied henna on my hands/ So come and disentangle my hair, dear beloved/ The bindiya too is spreading on my forehead/ Correct it for me with your own hands, dear beloved/ Disentangle my hair, dear beloved)

This Bandish* in raga Bihag decorates time with a jasmine-rich fragrant emotion that vehemently values love and life.


*Bindiya – a colourful dot mark worn between the eyebrows, especially by married Hindu women.

*Bandish – a composition in Hindustani classical music.


Listen to a melodious version of this bandish now.

*

A shorter version.

Complement this with another melodious post – Amir Khusrau and the Mustard Flowers


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Not Lithic

POEM

The universe’s engine runs on love.
[Image from Pixabay]

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Its nature is not lithic,

Not etched,

You cannot run your fingers over it,

Malleable and foldable for some,

Yelling, “Come, come,

Buy a packet full of love…”

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From the absolute beginning

Love, not lithic in nature,

Etched if anywhere, then in atoms;

Ride like the wind to feel it;

A malleable, foldable sweet memory

For all those who fall

In love, just like in the absolute beginning.

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Beauty in Perfection and Vice-Versa: The Japanese Take

Book Review

Seeing through a lens that sees things as it is, in its truest form, looking at a broken feather as a feather, not denying its reality, not giving it a quality, experiencing the moment quietly the Mother wrote about Japan. She wrote about its perfection/ beauty-loving people, the value given to nurturing kids, the dedicated women, the Japanese restrained-balanced-subtle art and the transient life.

The people, she observed, not via reactions, but by silent selfless actions showed how much they cared for someone; happy to persevere they worked to fulfil the task at hand, devoted harmoniously and absolutely in the present moment, aware about nothing else.

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Taking long walks to a garden in spring or autumns and spending time there or climbing the steep stairs to reach the monastery at the top of the hilltop, the people (of every and any class), she noticed, believed in beauty and peace.

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“…very simple people, men of working class or even peasants go for rest or enjoyment to a place where they can see a beautiful landscape. This gives them a much greater joy than going to play cards or indulging in all sorts of distractions as they do in the countries of Europe. They are seen in groups at times, going on the roads or sometimes taking a train or a tram up to a certain point, then walking to a place from where one gets a beautiful view.”

“For instance, in autumn leaves become red; they have large numbers of maple-trees (the leaves of the maple turn into all the shades of the most vivid red in autumn, it is absolutely marvellous), so they arrange a place near temple, for instance, on the top of a hill, and the entire hill is covered with maples.”

“Well, an artist who goes there will experience an emotion of absolutely exceptional, marvellous beauty. But one sees very small children, families even, with a baby on the shoulder, going there in groups. In autumn they will go there. In springtime they will go elsewhere.”

The Mother (Questions and Answers, The Mother on Japan 12 April 1951) 

Image of the Buddha, painting by the Mother.
(The Mother, Paintings and Drawings, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1992) [Photo by – Jagriti Rumi]

While reading about the 1919 flu and how the Mother fought back the negative, dark energy, one thinks about the present pandemic and hopes to win like the Mother in the end.

The glorious cherry-blossom trees in bloom – pink, white, vivid joyous pink – and the narrow paths that take one to wonderful places, with old Japanese houses on both sides, presented the Mother with a paradise puzzle…

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“Then you go wandering around – always one wanders at random in that country – you go wandering and all of a sudden you turn the corner of a street and come to a kind of paradise: there are magnificent trees, a temple as beautiful as everything else, you see nothing of the city (Tokyo) any longer, no more traffic, no tramways; a corner, a corner of trees with magnificent colours, and it is beautiful, beautiful like everything else. You do not know how you have reached there, you seem to have come by luck. And then you turn, you seek your way, you wander off again and go elsewhere. And some days later you want to come back to this very place, but it is impossible, it is as though it had disappeared. And this is so frequent, this is so true that such stories are often told in Japan. Their literature is full of fairy-lore. They tell you a story in which the hero comes suddenly to an enchanted place: he sees fairies, he sees marvellous beings, he spends exquisite hours among flowers, music; all is splendid. The next day he is obliged to leave; it is the law of the place, he goes away. He tries to come back, but never does. He can no longer find the place: it was there, it has disappeared!… And everything in this city, in this country, from beginning to end, gives you the impression of impermanence, of the unexpected, the exceptional. You always come to things you did not expect; you want to find them again and they are lost – they have made something else which is equally charming. From the artistic point of view, the point of view of beauty, I don’t think there is a country as beautiful as that.”

 

The Mother (Questions and Answers, The Mother on Japan 12 April 1951) 

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Complement this short spiritual post with similar posts – The Journey and Sri Aurobindo.

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