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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’s the first poem –

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The LIBRARY!
[Source – Pixabay]

Stories

Once upon a time began a story,

One that preceded the old granny’s,

Kind of majestic, kind of silly…

The story glanced at the human tale

And built the drama of our coming-of-age;

Cultural riches, potions, a legacy in storage

That led the imaginative heart’s dream

To fly high until detained by authority,

That questioned before listening

And answered before knowing.

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Stories adorn with garlands these phases

Of mankind, the world and the universe’s,

Weaving powerful parallel universes

In stories after stories after stories.

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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 in summers it is like playing with the breeze.

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Godard… Breathless and Alive

A Tribute to Jean-Luc Godard, the Film Philologist who Reinvented Cinema

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Jean-Luc Godard (1930-2022)
[Source – DAZED]

All the Boys Are Called Patrick

Dancing and chirping, posing, frolicking, a bird –now on this branch, now on that – living in Godard’s city in black and white 1957, knows not the language and yet doubts Patrick. And rightly so for that philanderer never hesitates; quick-witted, he charms the ladies into believing him and his stories and “well, it is just a coffee date”, he says casually.

Only later do they find – Charlotte and Veronique – why All the Boys Are Called Patrick, because they were talking about the same Patrick, that is why, and look here he goes, in a taxi, with another beauty.

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’64,’65,’66

The birdie dares and continues living while in Godard’s city in three back-to-back years – ’64,’65,’66 – the voices – twice in black and white and once in colour – speak the language of simultaneity… and of confusion, surplus, discrimination… expressing it through every medium, especially the medium called love.

Just see, simultaneously in love, out of love, whimsically, the next moment knowingly, executing the plan and fate’s execution, the Band of Outsiders – Arthur, Odile, Franz – dancing the Madison dance, breaking the Louvre record, firing gunshots, breakaway… winning and losing simultaneously.

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The name of the production company ‘A Band Apart’ founded by Quentin Tarantino Et al. comes from this film by Godard.
(Source – Wikipedia)

Dance ‘the Madison dance’ along with the trio –

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The Louvre record

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And meet the fool, Pierrot the Fool, who runs away in the search of and is chased by meaning. Along with his ex-girlfriend, Marianne, he protects everything new that he has accepted and acts, confidently and in confusion simultaneously.

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I met Pierrot in 2015 and wrote a review-cum-commentaryOh Fou!
(Source – Swiss Culture Awards)

Poor Pierrot’s search ends, finally, it does; he finds, though quite late, that he was wrong about Marianne and right about the bomb. But as said before, he was so late that… dhamaka!!!

Next year, in Godard city, the questions ‘he’ asked ‘her’ and the questions ‘she’ asked ‘him’ were all documented; the answers were young, naïve and in late teens and early twenties. Fun and spirit jarred the running time.

A singer, her two girlfriends, a lover, his journalist friend, elections, peace in Vietnam and everything in fashion voted in the favour of 1966 and against each other.

Starring the child from The 400 Blows, now all grown up and Chantal Goya, a Ye-Ye singer playing a Ye-Ye singer.
(Source – Wikipedia)

Masculine Feminine: 15 Specific Events, out of which the bird makes a guest appearance in two events, inter-titled-

#1 A philosopher and filmmaker share a way of being… an outlook on life that embodies a generation.

#2 This film could be called The Children of Marx and Coco-Cola… Understand what you will.


Goodbye to Language (Adieu au Langage)

Godard’s dog Roxy Mieville plays an important role in the film.
(Source – UniFrance)

Jump to the year 2014!

Jean-Luc Godard’s Goodbye to Language (Adieu au Langage), a 3D essay film is a mind-boggling experiment.

Speaking about all that we encounter in life – through a car’s windshield, superimposed images, from a stray dog’s POV, in the colour red, rose red – the narrator speculates, maybe, regarding the dearth of something crucial at the centre and our unobservant impatient nature.

Maybe it shows also the fast culture that admires and nurtures weak concentration. Maybe we have missed the train… but then we can always walk if we remember how to that is.

The fun part is that ‘adieu’ in some parts of Switzerland where French is spoken, the parts where the film was shot, may mean both goodbye and hello.

The bird twitters adieu and means both.


A bout de souffle – Out of Breath – Breathless

“One of the best films ever made” – Sight and Sound magazine
(Source – Wikipedia)

Time-travel again!

Godard’s Paris, the year 1960; a criminal, Michel, is absconding and in love with Patricia. The boulevards, narrow lanes, tricky corners, buildings, stairs, doors, rooms, windows are together mocking – in black and white – the seriousness attached to delayed decisions, and also, questioning the pettiness shown towards whims.

Before becoming a news headline, Michel lives a simple life of a goon with a free future in vision and a blurry present; blurry but sweet and tender, like a half-dream seen in a half-sleepy state.

Patricia, an aspirer, a daydreamer, not a native, asks a lot of questions –

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“Have you been to Monte Carlo?” “No, Marseilles.”

“What is a horoscope?” “Horoscope? The Future. I wanna know the future. Don’t you?” “Sure.”

“Why are you so sad?” “Because I am.” “That’s silly.”

“What would you choose between grief and nothing?” “Grief is stupid. I’d choose nothing. It’s no better, but grief is a compromise. You have to go for all or nothing. I know that now.”

“What is your greatest ambition in life?” “To become immortal… and then die.”

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See, she asks such questions and gets such replies from Michel and others, like Parvulesco, the French writer/ philosopher she interviews in the film. Not always coherent and never definite, the answers make Patricia smile.

The car, the coffee, the cigarette, the smoke, the sprint, the bullet gradually push Michel and Patricia to either take a decision or act whimsically.

They do both – a decision is made, a whim wins over – but the timing and consequences differ. The only similarity is that they both make a news headline-worthy move!

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A simplified trailer of a mosaic film –

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A simple storyline that Godard twisted and moulded anew every day before shooting, Breathless’ distinctive visual style, editing, character portrayal and life-like quirky humour made it one of the leading films of the metamorphic French New Wave cinema.

The film’s originality and unique construction, after so many eras, continue to reform the cinema.


Experimenting, exploring, challenging fearlessly, Jean-Luc Godard postulated, presented and celebrated a new film philosophy; trying to build a bond with the viewer, his films demand attention, awareness especially if a political joke is being shared or if lovers are looking London talking Tokyo or if life is shown getting a speeding ticket or if an absurd gesture appears twice and the viewer tries to copy just for fun…

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Godard pushing cameraman Raoul Coutard (on a wheelchair for a tracking shot) during the shooting of Breathless.
(Source – The Hindu)

Au revoir, à la prochaine”, said the bird in French i.e. ‘goodbye, until next time’, for the bird has subscribed to an OTT platform where some of Godard’s films are streaming.


Cinema lovers, what’s the time?

Time to imitate Michel’s gesture from ‘Breathless’ where he is shown imitating his favourite American actor, Humphrey Bogart…

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Life imitates art, art imitates life.
(Source – The Madeleine Project)

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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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The Red River Named Kanthapura

Book Review
Gather around, the storyteller is here.
[Source – Pixabay]

“There is no village in Inida, however mean, that had not a rich sthalapurana, or legendary history, of its own. Some god or godlike hero has passed by the village – Rama might have rested under this papal tree, Sita might have dried her clothes, after her bath, on this yellow stone, or the Mahatma himself, on one of his many pilgrimages through the country, might have slept in this hut, the low one, by the village gate. In this way the past mingles with the present, and the gods mingle with men to make the repertory of your grandmother always bright…”

Author’s Foreword, Kanthapura, Raja Rao

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Kanthapura is a 1938 novel by the wonderful, most eloquent writer, Raja Rao – one of the finest amongst the Indian English novelists.

The novel shares the ‘Katha’ (traditional Indian style of storytelling) of a South Indian village, Kanthapura, that rises in tune with the Gandhian movement, imbuing everyone with the colours of Swaraj.

Achakka, an elderly lady, narrates this story as if she is telling a folk epic; passionately she shares, and you dare not disturb her, for she once lived in Kanthapura, high on the Ghats, high up the red hills, where Kenchamma, the goddess, reigns and blesses them all.

Achakka tells before anyone asks the reason behind the red earth – it is all blood that was shed in the battle between Kenchamma and a demon; Kenchamma won.

“Kenchamma, Kenchamma,

Goddess benign and bounteous,

Mother of earth, blood of life,

Harvest-queen, rain-crowned,

Kenchamma, Kenchamma,

Goddess benign and bounteous.”

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“One has to convey in a language that is not one’s own the spirit that is one’s own. One has to convey the various shades and omissions of a certain thought-movement that looks maltreated in an alien language. I use the word ‘alien’, yet English is not really an alien language to us. It is the language of our intellectuall make-up – like Sanskrit and Persian was before – but not of our emotional make-up.”

Author’s Foreword, Kanthapura, Raja Rao

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Writing in the Indianised English Raja Rao’s Kanthapura moves in a serpentine style, meandering boldly to present the Indian thought.

From Achakka, the narrator, to Moorthy the Satyagrahi, to the two widows – Rangamma, the wise, and Ratna, the defiant who was married at 10, to Ramakrishnayya, Patel Range Gowda, Bhatta, the Sahib, Bade Khan, Seenu, the Pariahs, Potters, Weavers, Coolies, children, cattle and strays, together they weave this sthalapurana tying it not to a time and place, yet speaking of a true era.

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“There must be something in the sun of India that makes us rush and tumble and run on. And our paths are paths interminable. The Mahabharata has 214,778 verses and the Ramayana 48,000. The puranas are endless and innumerable. We have neither punctuation nor the treacherous ‘ats’ and ‘ons’ to bother us – we tell one interminable tale. Episode follows episode, and when our thoughts stop our breath stops, and we move on to another thought. This was and still is the ordinary style of our storytelling…”

Author’s Foreword, Kanthapura, Raja Rao

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Flowing like a river, the story of Kanthapura, whether consumed mid-way or at any given point, continues to be powerful, calm and vibrant.

The distinctive style/ form of the story is the protagonist as it very straightforwardly propels the story, colouring all the plots, characters, twists and turns, monologues and prayers, speeches and rebukes, songs, celebrations and sufferings alike.

The form glues the novel’s world beautifully, heartily – not one cardamom plant or the fragrant sandalwood forest or the moon eyed gods and goddesses are unaware of what Moorthy discussed with Rangamma and Patel Range Gowda in the secret Congress meeting and what the whispering hearts shared, and what the sari-clad, bare feet, hands-busy-cooking offered their families and the deities.

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Oh goddess, will my wish come true?
[Source – Pixabay]

Everyone and everything moves ahead together like twigs, leaves and swans in a river.

Even the readers become an essential part of this ‘sthalapurana’ because sooner or later they sit down in a humble gathering to tell the others about a tiny village named Kanthapura.


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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 Perceiving the Emotion Called Love – Part III

Coverage

Love is the key.
[Source – Pixabay]

Love, the key to living a fulfilling life, the path that leads to the real you, this emotion called love is universal and free.

An enigmatic thing, love is everywhere – in and around you and me, in our blue planet’s core, it is the main component of every heavenly body and the equally mysterious dark matter. Why else must the dark matter be dark if not for love?

Love – the power that knows the art of giving only too well, that takes pleasure in calmness, that patiently and leisurely creates, that also manoeuvres without light, that is fathomless – humbly colours the dark matter dark.

Who ventures in the unknown, hoping to pierce through the darkness like a sharp arrow, in a speed that surpasses the twang of its bow?

One who is courageous enough to Love.


Landing back on earth, let us see how Regina Spektor has perceived Love and what rhythm has she given to her definitions of Love.

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Listen to ‘Blue Lips’

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He stumbled into faith and thought
“God, this is all
There is”
The pictures in his mind arose
And began
To breathe
And all the gods in all the worlds
Began colliding on a backdrop of blue

Blue lips
Blue veins

He took a step
But then felt tired
He said, “I’ll rest
A little while”
But when he tried
To walk again
He wasn’t
A child
And all the people hurried past
Real fast and no one ever smiled

Blue lips
Blue veins
Blue, the color of our planet from far, far away…

Regina Spektor

No one said that it will not hurt, that there will not be any sacrifices, that we will not forget and misconstrue, no one said Loving is easy and so we failed, repeatedly we failed.

But why lament when we can try again?

As humans, all we need to fully revel in Love is our ability to breathe and our home planet that looks blue from far, far away.

Regina Spektor believes in Love and Loves our beautiful blue planet; it is evident in her songs.


Listen to ‘Eet’

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It’s like forgetting
The words to your favorite song
You can’t believe it
You were always singing along
It was so easy
And the words so sweet
You can’t remember
You try to feel a beat eeet eeeet eeet…

Regina Spektor

‘Eet’ is a backspace key that you find on typewriters that allows you to type over the previous letter if you make a mistake.

Mistakes and life, life and mistakes, go well together if you are truly in love (no matter with whom/what). Even if you stumble, forget or lose, you will still try, sooner or later, for love will not allow you to rest.

It is strangely powerful, this emotion; it attacks with a strong gust of memories and then waits, it tickles with happy thoughts and then waits… waiting as if it knows it will win in the end.

If you ever think of using the ‘eet’ key, do try the Regina Spektor way of editing – turn the mistakes into musical notes.


Listen to ‘Better’

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If I kiss you where it’s sore
If I kiss you where it’s sore
Will you feel better, better, better?
Will you feel anything at all?

Born like sisters to this world
In a town blood ties are only blood
If you never say your name out loud to anyone
They can never ever call you by it

If I kiss you where it’s sore
If I kiss you where it’s sore
Will you feel better, better, better?
Will you feel anything at all?

Regina Spektor

Just like opening an old album, with slightly tattered and folded edges, we are greeted with some golden memories – happy and sweet and sad; sad because we cannot travel back to meet the ones we have lost.

And yet we go on, asking hypothetical questions, somehow reliving the moment mentally, grasping the answer that we know will work, at least for now.

Just like opening an old album, ‘Better’ by Regina Spektor gives us such a feeling.


Listen to ‘How’

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Time can come and wash away the pain
But I just want my mind to stay the same
To hear your voice
To see your face
There’s not one moment I’d erase
You are a guest here now

So baby, how
Can I forget your love?
How can I never see you again?

Regina Spektor

One always remembers sad endings and unanswered questions, but why?

So that one keeps walking, searching and living more sensitively… maybe.


Coming soon – Regina Spektor’s Musical World and Addressing the Hero – Part IV

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The Old Fortune-Teller’s Special Offer

Flash Fiction
Fine and finicky little bird. [Source – Pixabay]

Her picky parrot was partying somewhere and the crystal ball was dead, though she chanted to switch it on nevertheless, the old fortune-teller, with a trademark red-riding-hood cloak, was keen to predict the future. “Your future”, she squeaked suddenly.

Looking at the fixed-price board she beamed unambiguously.

“No, tell me about your future, predict first one for yourself”, said the customer confidently, sternly. “I’ll pay you extra.” The customer took out three silver coins and kept them on the table.

Fortune-teller’s eyes sparkled, slowly but firmly she picked the silver coins, mumbling to herself, gleefully, she hid the coins in one of her many pockets. Grinning, with some plans in her mind, she casually said, “I don’t believe in predictions.”

One hand still clutching her silver coins, she realised her mistake. “I-I mean, I can change the future. I often play with my-my future predictions.”

After a short staring competition between the two, she rudely said, “Now listen to what I foresee for you.”

“If you are any good, first predict your own future”, the customer said adamantly, taking out one gold coin and placing it near the crystal ball. The old fortune-teller’s toothless, sweet smile made her look delicately pretty.

She nodded her head, picked the rugged bag that was lying on the floor next to her and rummaged for something in it, happy and mumbling once again. Nimbly, she took out a tiny tin box, tore a paan in half, placing it in her mouth to the right side, she readied herself.

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The five magical objects. [Source – Pixabay]

“Hmm, I carry five things with me you see, magical objects, I change the future as I please using these… mm (enjoying the paan) first is that precocious little parrot of mine, little nuisance, for ages now I have been looking after this (gestures towards the empty birdcage)… parrots are picky you see, mine feels he is a filthy gourmet (laughs loudly)… once he flew away, returned only a week later, bloody I almost fried him that day (more laughter)… but my parrot keeps me grounded, taking care of this fine finicky red-green creature I never lose focus when I sit down to alter my future life… if I mumble a wrong spell, my parrot rebukes me brazenly (laughs and relishes the paan).”

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“My magic staff (points towards a wooden quarterstaff resting silently against the tent wall), partly made of dragon bones, many centuries old… swish-swash and the scene changes magically… ask those two thieves I met near, near (trying to remember the town’s name, coughs a little)… they thought an old dame like me, what can I do, I broke their noses, hit them with my staff non-stop, then I broke their ankles, heels and their filthy toes. Tempest-no-tempest, I always face it head-on (with an emphatic look raises a finger as if pointing towards her head), head-on, come what may… ya-hoy, I have built new paths where…where there were no lands you see, me and my magic staff.”

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She tried to pick the gold coin that was silently shining brighter than the crystal ball sitting next to it, but the customer took it back and said, “what about the other three magical items?”

Visibly displeased the old fortune-teller swallowed the paan and then mumbled something, possibly some curses.

“Hmm… this crystal ball is no ordinary crystal ball, I can see the future and the past in it. But don’t ask me to see your past, I cannot make it work for others, what a shame! If you can give me two gold coins, I can give it a try, hmm? No? Sissy!”

The customer looked at the crystal ball and pondered.

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“This crystal ball shows me my past, times when I acted like a goof and times when I was a spectacle, I balance things, add condiments accordingly, that is the recipe to a pickled life. And here, see-see this red cloak it has so many pockets, I keep my charm books in it, plus (takes out an old hand-mirror from one of the pockets) this mirror, it is also magical. Do you want to buy it? Hmm? Think wisely!”

The old fortune-teller showed the inside pockets of her cloak, she tried getting up but her aching knees refused to budge. The customer got up and turned to leave.

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“Listen, special offer for you… buy this cloak and get one of my charm books for free; refer to it when stuck somewhere or attacking an enemy, this is the best way to create a bright future; (gets up slowly, grunting and pushing her chair backwards) buy this mirror then, magical hand-mirror, price -one silver coin only, ask it when you have failed and it will brazenly speak the truth, I always use it, did it just before you came in, and see I have moved on, so… hey!”

The customer turned, keeping the gold coin on the table said, “I would need all the five”, then smiled and left.

The old-fortune teller, as if transfixed, picked the coin, checked its authenticity and kept it safely in her pocket. As she sat down slowly, her parrot flew back in; she cursed him badly before offering him half of the paan.


If you were the customer, which magical object you would have bought and why?


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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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