Life

Nautanki/ Drama

Film Review
Hip-hip-hurray, just like that!
[Source – Filmfreeway]

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That high school year passed too quickly, swiftly, madly and you could not believe it – holding unsaid messages in one hand and uncertain life decisions in the other, you had stepped out of the school gate.

Footsteps, voices, promises, laughter, you could hear it all, but when you had turned, you saw no one there.

Suddenly on your own, with phone calls, messages not being good enough and the classroom meetings of everyday, of every month, for so many years, suddenly took over by hostel walls, you were hit strongly.

The everyday meetings become few, fewer, rare… and the bond?

Presently, it makes a good happy place within you.


If you remember that last high school year, the last month, friends leaving town, and maybe you too leaving for a hostel, all by yourself, then you will love Nautanki*.

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Remember…? Yeah, ha ha ha!
[Source – Filmfreeway]

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A 2022 feature film, Nautanki, is a coming-of-age drama that calmly, brightly, innocently tells its story. It never forces any thoughts nor is it in a hurry to reach a dramatic point in the protagonist’s saga.

A very rare film that allows the viewer to be on a journey without the burden, aggression of being on one. Not fulfilling a duty, but just observing and exploring honestly, as much as one can.

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Joshi will leave the town after his 10th standard exams and his best friend, Priti, wonders if he has learnt anything at all, to pass the exams and in life, in general.

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Experimenting with the flow, twisting the technique, the film progresses beautifully – where to, you ask, we don’t know for we too are moving with Joshi.

Fun times and fights with friends, that ‘not-speaking-anymore’ zone, the reunions that colours our high school years give us a tool for sure before thrusting us towards the end, the beginning.

A tool that navigates.

And with our very own – skilled, unskilled, aware, unaware – hands we write our life’s drama.

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Joshi, who knows simply to be – not in the moment, he is ‘moment-free’, he is super careless/carefree – eventually will be pulled into the world’s drama…

Yes, no? And what role will he play in the Nautanki?


Here’s the trailer –

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Watch Nautanki (1h 31m) anytime on YouTube, it is FREE, thanks to the director and his team.

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*Nautanki is a Hindi word that means drama in English. It is used to refer to a style of theatrical performance that is usually more showy, exaggerated and over-the-top than traditional types of theatre. Nautanki performances often include elements like music and dance.


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Tughlaq in the Library – Part II

Review
Read Tughlaq in the Library – Part I here.

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The siege of Daulatabad (April-June 1633).
[Source – Wikimedia Commons]

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But the play is more than a political allegory. It has an irreducible, puzzling quality which comes from the ambiguities of Tughlaq’s character, the dominating figure in the play. All the other characters are dramatized aspects of his complex personality, yet they also exist in their own right. Kannada critics have made detailed analyses of the play, paying special attention to the symbolism of the game of chess, the theme of disguise, the ironic success of Aziz whose amazing story runs parallel to Tughlaq’s, and the dualism of the man and the hero in Tughlaq, which is the source of the entire tragedy. Yet no critical examination of the play can easily exhaust its total meaning for the reader, because the play has, finally, an elusive and haunting quality which it gets from the character of Tughlaq who has been realized in great psychological depth. But it would be unjust to say that the play is about an ‘interesting’ character, for the play relates the character of Tughlaq to philosophical questions on the nature of man and the destiny of a whole kingdom which a dreamer like him controls.

Introduction, U. R. Anantha Murthy

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[Image by Jagriti Rumi]

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Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq, in the play, commits to actions with a confidence of a master player, one who is certain of the ending, one who is far sighted somewhat like an ominous oracle – a skilful, wise puppeteer who runs the show singlehandedly, unaware and forgetful of his involvement in the drama.

People unlike puppets, even though tied to strings, quietly keep gathering the power to pull down and topple the king puppeteer, they always do.

The echo of a future that reached Tughlaq’s ears, the making of history that Tughlaq could see so clearly was nothing but an illusion, a time bound vision, a trick that tricked him.

Sure about a glorious tomorrow, he dragged his people along towards it – an ever evading tomorrow.

Sultan’s experiments done so as to unite the country as one, to build an ideal powerful state, failed pathetically, leading the kingdom to anarchy. With a staunch eye on greatness, Tughlaq couldn’t manoeuvre without ‘murdering’ the stubborn present – the present, so full of the past, so treasured by his subjects.

Subjects who wrote hate-letters, full of rebukes, all addressed to the Sultan.


Let us meet Tughlaq, whom we first met in the library, who is now placed, by the playwright, on the chess board and the game has begun –

Scene One

Old Man: You can go to the Kazi-i-Mumalik for small offences. But who do you appeal to against such madness?

Third Man: This is tyranny! Sheer tyranny! Move the capital to Daulatabad! Such things never happened in his father’s days – may his soul rest in peace. Now he’s got his father’s throne. He isn’t happy with that and—

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Tughlaq has set up the court of Chief Justice in the capital where people can file a suit against the officers of State or even the Sultan.

He talks about justice and equality after accepting the Kazi’s verdict; he declares to compensate and offers a post in the Civil Service for the Brahmin who had appealed against his land being seized illegally by the State.

The humanistic monologue ends with Tughlaq announcing his well-thought and thoroughly discussed decision of shifting the capital from Delhi to Daulatabad and without waiting for a reaction or a bird to fly by, he leaves.

The shocked public worries if their worst nightmare will come true – what are they to do? The guard shoos them away shouting “Go home! The show’s over!”

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Aazam: Anyway, why did you have to dress up in these ungodly clothes? Couldn’t you have come like a proper Muslim?

Aziz (scandalized): But then what would happen to the King’s impartial justice? A Muslim plaintiff against a Muslim King? I mean, where’s the question of justice there? Where’s the equality between Hindus and Muslims? If on the other hand the plaintiff’s a Hindu… well, you saw the crowds.

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Aziz, a thug, disguised as the Brahmin, seeking justice from the Kazi, truly understands Sultan’s ‘impartial justice’; playing along with the Sultan, he makes use of the State’s scheme and presents the Sultan a chance to make use of him – Sultan gets the tag of a “fair ruler” and in turn, Aziz makes some money.

Throughout the play Aziz maintains the stance that no one knows the wise Sultan as much as he does because it is only he who participates in the Sultan’s game.

Aziz will, sooner or later, dare to check-mate the Sultan, will he win?


Scene Two

Muhammad Tughlak orders his brass coins to pass for silver, A.D. 1330.
[Source – Wikimedia Commons]

Step-Mother (bursts into laughter): I don’t know what to do with you. I can’t ask a simple question without your giving a royal performance.

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Tughlaq’s step mother is his confidant; well aware about his burdens, the Step-Mother always urges him to slow down and more importantly, to make every move not in secret, not from her.

The Step-Mother too is playing alongside the Sultan, sometimes delicately trying to use him as a game-piece, but never showing it. The crime of patricide and fratricide hangs heavily on the Sultan’s soul; the Step-Mother never brings this up, never, unless it is required to make an impact.

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Muhammad: Surely a historian doesn’t need an invitation to watch history take shape! Come, Barani, what does he say?

Barani: It’s as Your Majesty said… He says the Sultan is a disgrace to Islam.

Muhammad: That’s all? I could find worse faults in me. What else?

Silence.

Najib: He says Your Majesty has forfeited the right to rule, by murdering your father and brother at prayer time.

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First Tughlaq makes praying five times a day compulsory, then he completely bans praying in his kingdom, only to wait in the end for a messiah to bring back pious prayers for his doomed subjects.

Like a devotee crossing all boundaries – that of life too – to connect with the almighty, Tughlaq crossed all boundaries to win over the almighty.

The far-off dream seemed the biggest truth to him and making sacrifices the only way towards it.


Scene Three to Five

Muhammad: No one can go far on his knees. I have a long way to go. I can’t afford to crawl – I have to gallop.

Imam-Ud-Din: And you will do it without the Koran to guide you? Beware, Sultan, you are trying to become another God. It’s a sin worse than patricide.

Muhammad (refusing the bait): Only an atheist can try to be God. I am God’s most humble slave.

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One Sultan, one dream, one decision, and what did the thousand eyes see – bloodshed or sacrifice, deceits or promises, Delhi or Daulatabad? Perhaps they couldn’t see clearly, perhaps they were hungry – for prayers or food?

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Shihab-Ud-Din: I’m sorry. But you have never liked the Sultan, I don’t know why. After all that he has done for the Hindus –

Ratan Singh: Yes indeed, who can deny that! He is impartial! Haven’t you heard about the Doab? He levied such taxes on the poor farmers that they preferred to starve. Now there’s a famine there. And of course Hindus as well as Muslims are dying with absolute impartiality.


Scene Six to Eight

Daulatabad Fort, Aurangabad, Maharashtra.
[Source – Wikimedia Commons]

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Moving stealthily ahead, like an animal approaching its prey, Tughlaq finds it hard to remember that he is not an animal. Playing the game too well, he begins to lose the grip on reality; shuffling strategies, imposing with a hope to win once again.

Muhammad: I could have killed you with a word. But I like you too much.

Stabs him. Then almost frenzied, goes on stabbing him. Hits out at Shihab-Ud-Din’s dead body with a ferocity that makes even the soldiers holding the body turn away in horror.

Barani: Your Majesty – he’s dead!

Muhammad stops, then flings the dagger away in disgust.

Muhammad (anguished): Why must this happen, Barani? Are all those I trust condemned to go down in history as traitors? What is happening? Tell me, Barani, will my reign be nothing more than a tortured scream which will stab the night and melt away in the silence?


Scene Nine

Aziz, the thug, awaits a chance to be in the centre, right in front of the king; to be there not as a pawn, rook or knight, but to be invited by the Sultan himself, to be revered – he plans to replace Ghiyasud-din Muhammad, a saint.

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Aazam (giggles): So you want power, do you? What do you want to be, a Sultan?

Aziz: Laugh away, stupid. You’ll soon see. It all depends on whether Karim will bring the goods.

Aazam (seriously): But, no, Aziz, why are you so dissatisfied? We have such a nice establishment here. We take enough money from travellers and the other robbers are scared to death of you. There’s no limit to what we can make here.

Aziz: I am bored stiff with all this running and hiding. You rob a man, you run and hide. It’s all so pointless. One should be able to rob a man and then stay there to punish him for getting robbed. That’s called ‘class’ – that’s being a real king!


Scene Ten to Twelve

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Unlike the game of chess, the king wages a war against his own people; wounded and hurt, he tortures himself by giving his step-mother the death sentence.

Step-Mother: You had your share of futile deaths. I have mine now.

Muhammad (shouting): No, they were not futile. They gave me what I wanted – power, strength to shape my thoughts, strength to act, strength to recognise myself. What did your little murder give you?

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The Step-Mother too wanted power, power to rule Sultan’s heart and mind and through him the Sultanate; Tughlaq knew it, but couldn’t accept it anymore, not after she had Najib, the royal adviser, poisoned.

Muhammad: God, God in Heaven, please help me. Please don’t let go of my hand. My skin drips with blood and I don’t know how much of it is mine and how much of others.


Scene Thirteen

Aziz is finally face to face his idol, unafraid and gleefully meek, he praises every move of the Sultan, revealing it to him unabashedly who all profited from his ‘just schemes’ – some goons like him and the generous Sultan himself.

The only character who manages to break Tughlaq’s dream and show him the ugly reality, the present that is far off from his historically grand future. He brings forth the truth as a twist.

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Barani: This man should be buried alive this minute!

Aziz: I only acted according to His Majesty’s edicts.

Muhammad (exploding): Hold your tongue, fool! You dare pass judgement on me? You think your tongue is so light and swift that you can trap me by your stupid clowning? Let’s see how well it wages when hanging from the top of a pole. I haven’t cared for the bravest and wisest of men – you think I would succumb to you? A dhobi, masquerading as a saint?

Aziz (quietly): What if I am a dhobi, Your Majesty? When it comes to washing away filth no saint is a match for a dhobi.

Muhammad suddenly bursts into a guffaw. There is a slight hysterical tinge to the laughter.

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Aziz wins without check-mating the king – his life is spared and a job in the deccan is offered by the Sultan – as he seals a deal to continue fooling the crowd for a while and then to vanish. He makes the king adhere to his wish.

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Judgement day!
[Source – Pixabay]

Muhammad: If justice was as simple as you think or logic as beautiful as I had hoped, life would have been so much clearer. I have been chasing these words now for five years and now I don’t know if I am pursuing a mirage or fleeing a shadow. Anyway what do all these subtle distinctions matter in the blinding madness of the day? Sweep your logic away into a corner, Barani, all I need now is myself and my madness – madness to prance in a field eaten bare by the scarecrow violence. But I am not alone, Barani. Thank Heaven! For once I am not alone. I have a Companion to share my madness now – the Omnipotent God! (Tired.) When you pass your final judgement on me, don’t forget Him.

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Barani, the historian, Sultan’s only friend, prepares to leave Daulatabad; Tughlaq will soon be all alone in the magnificent palace, alone with his deeds and this terrifies him.

As a king Tughlaq took responsibility of his subjects, confident of his vision, that when it breaks, he knows he has fallen and with him, so has his people. The cries, chaos, mayhem follow him like his shadow.

But if not a king, yet a ruler, a group of elected rulers, what does responsibility of the citizens mean to them? Who falls, if they fall? What do their shadows sound like?

The play ends with the fake Ghiyasud-din Muhammad performing at the prayer time in the background (Muezzin’s call to the prayer is heard), Tughlaq, sitting on his throne, takes a short nap, then suddenly wakes up unsure of the place or time.

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An Old Tune

Flash Fiction

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Nibbling the leaves and thorns, reaching for its yellow flowers, suddenly, Jhui-Mui the little goat made a novel request to the Khejri tree, “please tell me a story.”

Jhui-Mui’s mum and other goats chuckled a bit, then continued surfing the shrubs spread around the Khejri tree for shade, water and love.

The tree which gave, for centuries, both food and medicine to all, with its ground bark to make a flour during the very many parched famine days, and its deep-deep roots that held the soil and directed the researchers to the cool water table, the desert’s old friend, Khejri, knew a pocketful of folktales too.

The Khejri tree told Jhui-Mui the little goat about a four-hundred-year-old tree, one who belongs to its own family, but lives in a far-off desert, alone on a barren hill, with roots fifty meters deep and long groovy, harmonious branches that welcomes every traveller and every story.

“What is its name?”, asked the beady eyed, happy Jhui-Mui. “The Tree of Life”, replied the Khejri tree and hummed an old tune that filled the arid air with cool magic.

No one spoke, everyone listened then.

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The Tree of Life (Shajarat-al-Hayat), humming an old tune, in Bahrain.
[Source – Wikimedia Commons]

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Which One?

Commentary
Three Worlds by M. C. EscherLithograph, 1955.
[Source – Wikipedia]

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Out of the three worlds, this time, which one can you hear? Which one appeals to you more? The fish’s saga, the floating leaves’ travelogue or the tall dry trees’ declaration?

Is it clear then that the fish is frantically slow and brokenly quick, dashing here and there, carrying a wide-eyed moustache-o message for one and all?

And that the floating leaves, united and wet, surge to take over the stick, the feather, the boat and the paddles? A spirit of wilfulness rises in every seemingly dead leaf that allows it to fade at its own pace… green, red, brown, and skeletal leaves speak a different language.

The tall dry trees say nothing that time can capture in the garb of winters, autumns, summers, springs or monsoons, for the tall dry trees declared it long back that it is all just one big movement, constant movement, and stays so whether you measure it or not.

Is it clear then that the trees are old masters and not just a reflection of our ideas?

Out of the three worlds, now, which one do you listen to? Which one swirls you as if on a joy ride? Which one’s too fast, which one’s too slow?

Which one? Or is there simply just one?

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One big movement!
[Source – Pixabay]

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Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Ours

Review

The Novel

Frankenstein Or The Modern Prometheus speaks to you directly, showing you with its wintery-cold hands the myth through the lens called life.

Call it a myth, an experiment, a mistake, it retells, at the same time approaching the same unknown vision, the story of Victor Frankenstein – a man who humbly tries to be god.

The novel retells, and is still retelling like a folktale in the air, how Victor Frankenstein’s passion for alchemy, chemistry and natural philosophy acted as a catalyst for his many experiments on lifeless frames he gathered from cemeteries.

Long, maddening but exact and taciturn, expeditions, not to a far off land (not as of now), but inside the laboratory, expedition to the depths of knowing the dead and undead, to the threshold of unruly desire and undue greed, greed to dominate.

It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils. With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet. It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs.

How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavoured to form?

Chapter 5, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

The creator fled away from his creation forgetting that the two are now tied to each other by a thread – a thread stronger than creator’s own shadow, voice and thoughts. Victor created a monster, not on that ‘dreary night of November‘, but over a period of time. Absolute neglect and abhorrence left the monster no choice but to be one.

Even when he learns the ways of the world – living in a hovel, grasping in silence what a family life means, secretly helping people around, picking their language and deciphering meaning in what he could read – he faces rigid rejection to whomsoever he turns to.

Shunned, he questions his existence and finds the winter weather leaping away after answering him with a static silence.

Fear fosters fear and with such weakness and anger the monster acts, brutally he acts, making sure that his master hears all about it. The monster kills Victor’s younger brother William and thus begins the downfall of both the creator and the monster.

Darkness and gloom overpower Victor and with the deaths of his best friend, fiancé and his old father, he becomes as lonely as the monster.

The pure white snow at the North Pole, that appeared to be engulfing the earth and the sky alike, could not make the monster anything less than what he had become – he was a curse, told Victor to his new friend, Robert Walton, an explorer and closed his eyes forever, hoping that in death he may find victory over his loathsome creation.

And this once Victor was right, the monster decides to put an end to his grotesque life too.

A little bit of gleaming sunshine, valley fresh flowers and joy too may feel subdued in this novel by the inky rainy nights and foggy, grey skies, but that is because it stays true to its core – a tragedy, but a modern one where the hero nurtures his flaw, unaware yet certain at first, lamenting and regretting later, truly owning it as a dead man.

Victor Frankenstein borne the brunt of such a curse that no one may ever dare to face, even in the advanced world, maybe only by mistake, but not as a determined goal and even if one did, in the times to come, such a creation will know what happened to Frankenstein’s monster and will know it only too well.

Until then, Frankenstein will continue to live, in our memory, for the sake of the curse and so will his monster.


The Author

When I placed my head on my pillow, I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think. My imagination, unbidden, possessed and guided me, gifting the successive images that arose in my mind with a vividness far beyond the usual bounds of reverie. I saw – with shut eyes, but acute mental vision – I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion. Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavour to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world.

Author’s introduction, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, London 15th October 1831

At 18, when she began writing Frankenstein, Mary Shelley had thought of it to be a tale no longer than a few pages, at 20, the novel, after initial rejections, got published anonymously – customary for most female writers of the period – with a preface by her husband, P.B Shelley.

Some thought P.B Shelley or his father-in-law, the philosopher writer William Godwin, to be the author of this phantasmagoria and Mary Shelley surely was influenced by both, but her close encounters with death that tortured her, but kept her alive, very much like the Titan god of fire, Prometheus, made her who she was.

Mary Shelley wrote in her diary – “Dream that my little baby came to life again – that it had only been cold and that we rubbed it by the fire and it lived – I awake and find no baby – I think about the little thing all day.”

Mary got her name from her mother Mary Wollstonecraft, a feminist writer, who died soon after giving birth to her. Even though deprived of this pious golden bond, Mary Shelley nurtured it solitarily, just like Frankenstein’s creation.

Percy Bysshe Shelley’s world became her world when she, at 16, fled with him, well aware that the journey ahead will be more perilous than it ever was. Percy, then 20, was already married, penniless and somewhat on the run from his creditors. After his first wife’s death, the couple got married and just for a few shy years they happily lived together.

Too strong a wave, was Mary’s beloved, for he rose to meet the light on a stormy night on the sea and drowned unabashedly. Mary Shelley kept the remains of his heart as keepsake and continued to edit and publish his poems posthumously.

Patience of deep sea grew in Mary Shelley and she decided to live – for her only son and her pen. She wrote novels, short stories, travelogues and biographies both to earn a living and stay close to the phantasmagorical world of stories.

The idea of Frankenstein came to Mary Shelley in a half-waking nightmare in the summer of 1816. She had been staying with her husband and Lord Byron on the shore of Lake Geneva when at Byron’s suggestion they were all challenged to make up a ghost story.

– Frankenstein (Penguin Popular Classics)

The summer of 1816 later came to be known as ‘the year without a summer’ because of the eruption of Mount Tamboro in Indonesia that sent clouds of volcanic ash throughout Europe, North America and Asia.

Torrential rain and grey gloominess filled the sky, it must have, when Mary Shelley sat down to write Frankenstein. And this only favoured her, even if she didn’t realise it, as she managed to breach the measurements of time in presenting a vision, hideous and terrifying, but intact and alive.

And so, it walked, with our desires and knowledge meeting, it walked – Frankenstein’s monster walked.

But what’s he up to now?


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The Poet, The Sound

Poems

Phases: A Collection of Poetry

A phase is defined as any stage in a series of events or a process of development; while we all go through different phases in life, at times we either forget to notice or simply become fearful of transitions, inadvertently being ignorant about the fact that this phenomenon is universal. In this short poetry collection, the blogger has attempted to capture this subtle yet powerful phenomenon – phases that are observable in every journey undertaken.

Here are the last two poems from this collection –

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The Muse knows…
[Source – Pixabay]

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The Poet

From the pious to the picturesque,

From the lovelorn to the metaphysical,

The passionate poet enquires about life,

Stock-still like a quiet monument, but alive;

Merging this, that, and all the worlds

Into a rhythmic thought, the words

Together nudge, jerk, rise and fall,

Carrying the mythic, mystic, epic god,

Pulling to and forth and churning

The ink seas; the poet believes in creating.

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Linking the myriad life phases,

The poet sovereign readies

Pen, paper, season and riddles

To record the ever-evanescent time.

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The celebration called life!
[Source – Pixabay]

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The Sound

The trickling, babbling, rippling river,

The chirping, twittering, singing bird,

The whispering, chiming, gliding wind,

The swaying, circling, smiling dancer,

The silken, beaming, talking sun rays,

The messenger moon’s lovestruck sweet bays,

The melodious, mesmerising music composition,

The honied, light, bright hymn’s completion,

The mother’s lullaby and the father’s delight,

The sound softens the silent universe’s might.

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This Sound travels leisurely than Light,

Fading, often breaking on the way;

We are in a phase of celebration and life

Is speaking fervently, for now it is here to stay.


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Begin and End Like a Raag

Commentary
A Lady Playing the Tanpura, ca. 1735 Rajasthan, India.
[Source – Wikipedia]

A raag in Indian classical music becomes Time when orchestrated. Glorious instruments, colourful songs and performances, although, when glimpsed at, mute, await patiently for the right Time, right raag.

For a different season, a different raag – Malkauns, Puriya Dhaneshree for autumn and fall, Megh and Miyan ki Malhar for the monsoons, Brindavani Sarang for summer – that captures the weather in wavelengths, letting it communicate ever so freely.

Raag as Time presents itself in a harmonious clock, naturally. Dawn breaks with raag Ahir Bhairav, Lalit, Bilaval… afternoon visits with raag Bhimpalasi, evening with raag Yaman Kalyan and night with raag Chandrakauns, Darbari, Hameer

Moulding live Time into a majestic melody, into resplendent raags – they sit still. Who all, exactly? Both raag and Time – raag as Time, Time as raag. They sit still, now bursting into true joy, now as fragrant as love, they await, never losing the discipline of being one.

Yes, here comes the structured, palpable, countable, direct, strict form of the raags – notations. Tied to notations, raags sincerely obey the rules set by the masters, always free to improvise and ameliorate the notations. Raags aim for clarity of ever vibrant awareness, presence that transcends.

And who do the masters, gurus, legends and myths obey? Well, life is cyclical – they obey, observe, listen to, be mindful of the raags.

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So, the strictness, the structure of notations attempts to keep the raags’ soul alive, while firmly certain that raags’ soul is eternal. And carrying this paradox rhapsodically, the artists move rather uniquely, theirs is a different gait, rich in colours, in fast-forward or rewind mode.

Ti-ha-yi i.e. tihayi, a technique used in Indian classical music mostly to complete a piece.

“Tihais are sometimes used to distort the listeners’ perception of time, only to reveal the consistent underlying cycle at the sam.”

Music Contexts: A Concise Dictionary of Hindustani Music by Ashok Damodar Ranade

Sam is the ending point/ beat.

Listeners’ perception of time… very true, after all it is done for the listeners, the stage is set for the viewers, the raags become Time for the audience.

Why? So that the sublime connection between the world around and the world within doesn’t break, so that the cyclical journey goes on and on… for no mortal being knows the final destination.


Akbar watching as Tansen receives a lesson from Swami Haridas. Imaginary situation depicted in Mughal miniature painting (Rajasthani style, c. 1750 AD).
[Source – Wikimedia Commons]

Raag comes from a Sanskrit word that means ‘dyeing’ or ‘a colour, tint, hue’, and so when the right note – beautifully beaded, richly fresh – is played, it touches the heart and soul of the listener, affecting and colouring the thoughts, urging one to act well, arresting one’s hurtful quietness, liberating one from the heavy shackles, boosting one’s spirited self.

An ecstasy when experienced so, in general the raags take a traditional ritual’s shape that often gets dull under the burden of untouchable rules… untouchable for they are pious.

And oh, be careful of rupturing the impeccable quaint charming world.

But they forget the raag becomes Time here, when orchestrated well and as Time it evolves, evolving others along.

Who has captured Time in this ephemeral space? And that too in a sweet honeyed way that in captivity it turns melodious – Time becomes raag…?

An eternal tug of war between the thoughtful and careful, a wave rising and falling, union and separation, spoken and unspoken – there is a raag for every shade, every mood, every subtle change, every sky and every earth.

Together why not we take a dive into this ocean of raag… why not we learn to be as patient as a still raag as if we have been sculpted out of stones, while the atoms within hum steadily the right tune… why not we become in action that ecstatic joy like the raag Malhar, causing the clouds of bleakness to rain, in-turn nurturing our roots… why not each one of us create a unique tihayi that uncovers the similarities at the sam…

Why not we begin and end like a raag…


Some supreme performances by the legends –

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Let’s Take The Final Curtain Call Together

Flash Fiction
A lovely dancing tree.
[Source – Pixabay]

Standing next to the giant old tree, its static presence made Saami sombre, more and more.

He cried, “Saami is now one with the rigid, rough and-and dead, yes, dead and gruesome tree bark, Saami has turned into this tree bark… O, but why?”

Resting against the tree now, now hugging the tree and mumbling, Saami stared into nothingness blankly, quietly. He opened his fist – a flint stone chip, equally dead he thought – and started ripping off the bark once again.

“Saami sees it all, Saami knows the limits, Saami’s dungeon is different from theirs, but… it’s all the same”, he announced in pain.

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Sombre Saami’s imagination.
[Source – Pixabay]

The twittering yellow bird, the prancing butterflies, a distant lullaby, the pesky kung-fu crickets’ funny civil war and the red flowers’ bold stance, Saami turned a blind eye to it all.

Even the crickets stopped their civil war to enjoy the rain and the rainbow that day, but not Saami.

“Fools! Saami knows the pattern, Saami knows hope and destiny are always stuck in a traffic jam, and love…”, said Saami two hours ago.

“Love… love coloured Saami’s world black… black is the absence of all colours… black reflects no light… Saami lives in darkness”, he completed the sentence just when the fireflies lit the jungle.

Some rested on his head and hands, but Saami refused to greet them.

With a dry look, sullen eyes and tired limbs, Saami spoke for the last time, “dead, static tallness, this soulless tree bark hates Saami, this is the death penalty, and the most terrible because Saami is not tied, Saami can move, Saami knows, but not anymore, for Saami has become one with this giant numb stubborn treeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…”


Saami spoke for the last time because the lovely, joyous and calm tree’s branch took hold of Saami’s tired body and pulled him up-up-up… in a gushing blast of speed, suddenly music broke Saami’s heart-heart-heart… ta-rum-pup-pup-paa came the sound and immediately replaced it with a musical hub-dub sensation of a heart.

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The lead singer-cum-dancer-cum-poser.
[Image by Roy N from Pixabay]

From the top-most branch of the tall lovely tree, Saami could see melodic colours and no darkness, nothing was static for the entire jungle and the river and the wind and the sky and the stars and the moon and the sun (together) danced to the twee peppy tune – and equally soothing, thought Saami – that the animal orchestra was playing.

Every animal – jamming freely – sitting on the top of some tree just like Saami… Saami who started clapping, swaying along and tip-tap-toeing in the air.

The tall lovely tree finally spoke, “Saami, yoi-knowi-da-cosmic-i-dance-sO-‘ell”; Saami was seen blushing brightly before the curtain was drawn.

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Cosmic-i-dance!
[Source – Pixabay]

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मंत्र नंबर 205 / Mantra Number 205

गद्य काव्य/ Prose Poem
जल  ही  जीवन  है/ Water is life.
[Source – Unsplash]

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देर हो गई इतनी, मैं सोचूँ तो बोलू इतनी कितनी?

कई मंत्र जप्पे थे, कई जाने थे, अब आई बात समझ जाकर नंबर 205 पर।

उमर होगी मेरी 88-90, बोलो फिर कहाँ पाले मैंने इतने मंत्र?

हाँ तो मैंने फिर जाना की माना इस्कूल में पढ़ाया था जल ही जीवन है,

मैं गई भूल, अब आई बात समझ जाकर नंबर 205 पर।

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अब खा लूँ मैं जल, पी लूँ मैं जल, करलूं सफाई जीवन भर,

जल ही औषधि, जल ही प्राण और मैं राख,

जल नाले-नदी -झरने -समंदर में, जल मेरी मटकी में और मटकी मेरे सर पर,

मटकी टूटी तो जल ज़मीन-बीज-पौधे-पांच-साल-में-पेड़ पर, और मैं पेड़ की डाली पर।

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झोंपड़ी सी है मेरी, छत डालियों की बुन्नी थी कभी, अब छेद वाली है… फिर…

फिर इस बार अम्बर का पानी मेरी झोंपड़ी में और मैं मुईं झोंपड़ी की छत्त पर,

मुंगी भौंक उठी उस दिन मुझ पर, या मुईं छत्त पर… बिजली चमकी अचानक

और मैं गई कूद, गिरी सीधे चार-पाई पे, अब लगे मेरा बिस्तर फर्श पर।

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बड़े मटके में बड़ा, छोटे में छोटा बन जाये ये जल

और जब जाए मेरे भीतर तो बन जाए मुझ बुढ़िया सा कुबड़ा।

मूयें कुबड़े होंगे तुम सब, मैं कोई न होनी…

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फिर जल कभी मेरा खाना, कभी मुंगी का, जो वो न खाए तो चिड़िया का।

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जल आकाश, जल समंदर, और ये माटी के पहाड़ जैसे मेरी मटकी,

रिस-रिस के पानी, अंदर इस भू को जल दे जाए प्राण और ठंडक…

क्यों? पृथ्वी घूमे है तो थके न क्या? जल तो मांगे है…

फिर जल से कौन बचा, जो डूब गई वो भी किश्ती थी, जो तैरती रही वो एक किस्सा,

तुमने सुनाऔर मुझ बुढ़िया ने भी जाना, माना  माना, नहीं माना नहीं माना।

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बचपन में आई एक बार बाढ़, सब जगह जल ही जल और सत्यानाश,

मैं बच गई… काहे चौंके?

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देर हो गई, देर हो गई इतनी, मैं सोचूँ, तो बोलू इतनी कितनी?

देर नहीं होनी कोई, तुम्हारी घडी भागे दिमाग से तीन कदम पीछे।

सुनलो, जल पीना चौकड़ी मार के जैसे है कोई अमृत ये, तब ऊपर के निचे के

दांत झड़ेंगे पहले और तुम मरोगे बाद में, बिन बतीसी के

बुड्ढे खुसठ 100 पार छलांग लगा कर।

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हाँ, याद रखना, मुझ बुढ़िया की बात, मैं जल देवी कहलाउंगी इसके बाद।

हं… हं… हाँ तो…

कई मंत्र जप्पे थे, कई जाने थे, अब आई बात समझ जाकर नंबर 205 पर। 


मटकी जाने है एक राज़, हम न जाने क्या/ Clay pot knows a secret that we know not.
[Source – Pixabay]

English Translation –

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I understood quite late, but then I wondered how late is quite late?

I chanted many mantras, knew many more, but mantra number 205 enlightened me.

Am around 88-90, so will you say I have gone overboard with chanting mantras?

Hmm, so as I was saying I know we were taught in school that water is life,

But I simply forgot about it, but now mantra number 205 enlightened me.

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These days I eat water, I drink water, and I say keep it all spick and span forever,

Water is medicine, water is life-force and I am dust,

Water in the stream-river-cascade-ocean, water in my earthen jar and the earthen jar on my head,

The earthen jar broke, water seeped in the earth-seed-plant-and-in-five-years-the-tree and am now sitting on the tree’s branch.

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I live in a small shack, with an old thatched roof that now has a hole in it… then…

Then, recently, it rained heavily, water entered my bloody shack, I climbed the thatched roof then

Mungi barked at me or was she barking at the bloody roof… Lightning struck suddenly,

I jumped and landed on my cot, as a consequence of which now I sleep on the floor.

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Big in a big jar, small in a small one, water takes any shape

And when I drink water, it takes the shape of a hunchbacked oldie…

Oh, you all must be hunchbacked, because I surely am not.

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Hmm… I often have water for lunch, sometimes I share it with Mungi and if she rejects it, the birds feast on it.

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Water is sky, water is ocean and these mountains made of earth are like my earthen jar,

Slowly seeping inside, water gives life-force and coolness to the earth…

Why not? The earth rotates so don’t you think it gets tired? It too asks for water…

Water is very powerful… the one that sinks is a ship and the one that doesn’t is a legend,

You have heard such tales, this oldie has also known some, if you believe in it, you do and if you don’t, you don’t.

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Once, in my childhood, a great flood caused catastrophic destruction,

I survived… you look surprised, why so?

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Quite late, quite late, but then I wondered how late is quite late?

You’re not quite late, your watch runs three times slower than your brain.

Listen, sit down cross-legged whenever you drink water as if it is an elixir, then your lower and upper

Teeth will fall before you die and you will die toothless

Grumpy and senile, only after crossing 100.

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Okay! Remember what this oldie has shared, maybe from now onwards I’ll be known as the ‘Water Goddess’.

Hmm… hmm… like I said…

I chanted many mantras, knew many more, but mantra number 205 enlightened me.


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Of Monsters and Men and This Journey

Coverage
Of Monsters and Men and This Journey…
[Source – Pixabay]

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A happy piece!
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. – Wikipedia

[Photo by Motoki Tonn on Unsplash]

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For a better experience, listen to the wonderful, magical tracks before reading on –

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Listen to Little Talks here –

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‘Cause though the truth may vary
This ship will carry our bodies safe to shore…

Little Talks, Of Monster and Men

And this journey forward that seems uncertain, unforgiving, perilous, and so lonely transforms into a key – a key that unlocks both the Pandora’s box of adversities and the heart’s orchestra.

String, woodwind, brass and percussion music, always on stand-by, ready to win-over the adversities melodiously, has given the heart’s orchestra a good name.

What if the monster charges with an army or is two-headed or many eyed or has tentacles? Hey-hey, hey-ho, the key that unlocks, also locks… it is all up to you and your heart’s orchestra performance.

Psst! Listen, all monsters aren’t evildoers, but they are music lovers for each one has a heart. Good luck!


Listen to King And Lionheart here –

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And as the world comes to an end
I’ll be here to hold your hand
Cause you’re my king and I’m your lionheart

King and Lionheart, Of Monsters and Men

And this journey that seems to have ended with our destruction, our death, and yet alive, we silently stare, scar-faced and overwhelmed, at our sacrifice blooming at the right place, at the right time…

Tired steps befriend the trodden grass… and at last the haunting echoes fail… the Lionheart rises again.


Listen to Dirty Paws here –

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The bees had declared a war
The sky wasn’t big enough for them all
The birds, they got help from below
From dirty paws and the creatures of snow

Dirty Paws, Of Monsters and Men

And in the middle of a war, when you turn around to see and cannot distinguish between the mad faces, you become one with them and fight fiercely until you remember, you too are a creature that breathes.

Breathe, breathe, breathe and continue for that is the call…


Listen to Love Love Love here –

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Oh, ’cause you love, love, love
When you know I can’t love
You love, love, love
When you know I can’t love
You love, love, love
When you know I can’t love you

Love Love Love, Of Monsters and Men

And what hurts the most in this forgotten life of ours… unfulfilled love that can be fulfilled and yet…

When love love love turns you into a piece of Kintsugi pot, smile for now you have been repaired.


Listen to Mountain Sound here –

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Of Monsters and Men is an amazing indie rock band from Iceland. They have a knack for amalgamating folk stories, emotions, joy, pain and the magical into their songs that almost every time matches with the universe’s wavelength.

Listening to their music is like sitting around a bonfire on a bright winter night… and like playing with the breeze in the summers.

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