I Am Poetry

Structure, perhaps; the magic of how the words at the end, end up rhyming. Or perhaps the metre. The litany that caries us through the verses. In a sense, the only sense that poetry appeals to us is through reading. The text, i.e.

Yet, without warning it evokes a sense of being — devoid of any other sensory perception. In a preface to a Mahakavya (great poem), the stellar poet, Dinkar, talked of realm of an extra-sensory perception. He spoke about it in a different context — love — but the logic — if you would call it that, remains the same.

A poem can never be taught. In teaching, a poem, its meaning is narrowed, to the teacher’s interpretation. A poem has to be owned. Like the life that we live, it has to be lived every day. It has to permeate your every day activity; find a permanent place in your self; become a part of you.

Inner Space

There is no understanding poetry. There is no learning poetry. You can learn the mechanics, tools, methods, and metre. But to to get poetry it has to become an indivisible and integral part of life. I have noticed my attitudes change, in a few aspects of my life, as I carried poetry with me.

In its punctum, poetry makes sense that is obvious (often, not always). It is immediately apparent, but soon lost. Because it is not our own. When a poem is our own, it changes us over time; itself undergoes change.

I am learning that, now.

I Declare Open the Games of Cynicism

A couple of hours ago, I thanked my friend, because he posted a status on Facebook, encouraging our semi-finalist in the Rio Olympics Singles Badminton, to “Go for Gold.”

It was heartening. Almost all the folks I know on Twitter, were saying that we were “assured of the silver” — which is not a bad thing. But me? I hate calling out results before they are out.

India has performed (as of today) dismally at the 2016 Olympics. There is no contesting that. Our first medal was a Bronze in Women’s wrestling. No doubt, I am happy for her. But I was smart enough not let my emotions flood out in social media. There are identities at play. The person that got us our first medal is: a human, a wrestler, an Indian, an athlete, a woman, a Haryanvi (a region in India). [I bet you a beer, someone will comment on this post: why woman is fifth on the list.]

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Watching the narrative, I wondered who won? Almost every camp appropriated her win. And, in turn, disparaged an opposing camp. My winner’s achievement were backgrounded. And it will happen again.

I could not, to save my life, abstract all these identities to congratulate her. I did not, publicly. Somewhere in the deep recesses of mind, I just said — Well Done!

Dear Athletes,

Know this. Through your efforts and sacrifice, you are much more than those who make fun of you. Sheer qualification for the Olympics is an enormous thing. I used to be an athlete, I have a some sense of your life. I hope this message finds its way to you. And it tells you: how special you are. Irrespective of the sport you play, you are the top-most in “hurdles.”

Truly, yours,

Me.

Thank you for getting there.

*

When you come back home, please ignore the almost useless debate, which we will continue ad nauseam. Do what you do best. Focus on what you do best.

Ignore, and, if possible, forgive us for our ignorance and shamelessness. We have sacrificed belief and action on the altar of the God of one-forty. If there ever was to be the Olympics of cynicism in 140 characters, we’d get gold.

And even that gold would be due to you; because if you did not exist — where would we hone our useless, pathetic skill, of flicking judgement through our armchairs.

Painlessness

It was a sharp pain.

Below the chest. Not exactly in the stomach. Somewhere in between. That’s where the intestines are, I suppose. Having majored high-school in Biology didn’t help, all that study, and I had no idea what was there; which of those many tightly packed organs was keening like a banshee. (Sorry, Mrs. SS!) My thoughts went back to my textbook from school, trying to remember the organic arrangement. Then, and I have no idea why, I realised I had been feeling the pain for a while; I just hadn’t noticed it. My thoughts shifted from what I was thinking, to the pain, and —without notice — like a ghost spirited away by sunlight: the pain vanished.

Just like that!

It took a couple of kilometres, to realise that I was very angry, when the pain started. Very angry about something that’s going on in the world that I live in. Very angry about how people are reacting to this thing. Very, very angry at all the name calling, the all too common spewing of venom all around me. Specifically, the bile-filled pit of 140 chars. And as soon as I started thinking about the placement of my organs, I wasn’t in pain anymore.

A while ago, I made a conscious choice not to go anywhere near that pit. And I haven’t ever, almost never. But it is all so pervading. It’s a big pit. Large. Huge. Massive. Enormous. It’s inescapable. And just like that, I left.

Not Twitter; I left the pit.

A Fine Divide

The medium is not the message. Sometimes, bits of messaging corrode the medium, all we need to do is clean the medium. It’s all clean now. I am away from the pit.

There’s no pain.

Of Disrespect

When we were young, we didn’t like some people. Because we didn’t know words like ‘obnoxious’ or ‘haughty’ or ‘disdainful’ — we could never explain why we didn’t like those people. Yet, our parents ensured that we ‘respect’ them. Mostly, it was about age. “That person is elder; show respect.”. Respect your elders. (So said, Baz Luhrman, in Sunscreen)

The respect was cautious. While we didn’t feel respect, we feigned it. In the least, we didn’t exhibit disrespect.

Most Indic languages have addressable word-forms that inherently define who you address. So, we have a different word-form for a sibling, a friend, and a senior. In Hindi, e.g. we have tu, tum, aap — you (casual/street), you (formal/common), you (official/respectable), respectively.

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By virtue of my upbringing, my education, and having lived in North India for a while, I default to aap — the respectable form, when I speak in Hindi, irrespective of the age of the person. And over time, I discovered, respect and age have nothing in common. Respect is how you see people.

I recently was addressed in the “street form” on Twitter. I did not take exception to it, and continued the Twitter banter. Yet, I was amused. The person was tweeting from an organisational account. I know that the person knows I am “elder” — but I am a fan (of that organisation) as much as a 12yo is a fan. I was not upset; as I said before, I was amused. I live in different times. There’s a flatness, that I live in, which I understand, but confuses me.

Respect, makes the world go round.

Somewhere in the deep recesses of my head, it takes much, to know that person is not worthy of respect. When I see casual mentions of disrespect, I generally ignore them. Not that those who are disrespectful are making it difficult for us, though.

Instinctively, I believe, we are tuned to be respectful. But in recent times, it seems to me that we have been conditioned otherwise. Our default is now to ignore respect; which, mind you, is different from disrespect. Our tired fingers are losing the grip on humanity; our adventures of science (science not in absolute terms, but how we abuse it), are perhaps, the reason we will drop, deep down.

Deep, deep down. In a dark abyss.

Some New, Some Old; Some Plus, Some Minus

Been a while. Eighteen days. The while means different things to different people. Eighteen days could be split seconds or an age. It was neither, for me.

Me? I was just moving, from one place to another. Like I have done before. Many times before. And Richard Bach’s words echo in the clank and the shlank and the crank of the traffic:

“Flying with the wind, Richard, from town to town, has it occurred to you that’s not a way to find her, that’s a way to lose her?”

Her, now manifests. Perhaps, our lives are worthwhile only if we make new meanings. Not because they come to us; but because we make them.

As I write this, a friend is tweeting about Talat Mahmood. That soulful voice rendering such wonderful poetry distracts me from writing this post. Another friend is away trekking in a place I consider sacred and soulful. I’ll go on that pilgrimage, soon. One friend has come out of a self-imposed exile. Another is (finally) exercising a license he always had. I am teasing him, only because occasions to tease are rare now. Snotty cousins are doing well; I am proud of them. Not all is well, there are some concerns, but when so much is good all around you, all that is not good seems unworthy of my indulgence, though I am paying attention to it. Amongst all that is not well, an old wound has opened up. No, nothing mental; an old knee injury. An injury I have long cherished; because I saved a boundary (you’ll understand if you are from a cricket playing nation.)

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New city.

New everything. And the same old me. And that is how I will remain: same old me.

But this environment has to count for something. It affects me, this new environment, in minute ways, to begin with. All I have to do is not resist. The positive portfolio of my life is an aggregation of acceptance and the negative, has been of resistance.

The Ghost of Forgiving

I have forgiven a bazillion times. I have to admit, however, I do not understand the nature of forgiving. The format of my forgiving is to just accept that you have made a mistake, and I accept that as a mistake.

Is forgiving that easy, however? I wonder.

I think forgiving tends to becoming difficult when the impact of the mistake is over a longer term. If your mistake/offence/flaw, whatever you want to call it, affects me far too long, it becomes difficult for me to forgive you. Then, there’s intention. Did your act, which I find difficult to forgive, is it full of or bereft of intention?  How much does intention matter in forgiving? What of repenting? Irrespective of the intention, does repentance count? Does the mistaker’s repentance count for the mistakee?

Ghost of Fogiving

Ghost of Fogiving

Forgiving has been reduced to a word that we use without thinking or feeling. Its meaning has been sucked out and has been reduced to a letter combination. A filler word; an answer word; that helps us avoid confrontation – not with the mistaker – but with ourselves – because we just do not want to deal with what we feel. Perhaps, because we have been bombarded about what a great virtue it is, to forgive.

Many may disagree, but it is better not to forgive, if you don’t feel like it. If you can’t come to terms with it. You may hurt yourself or an other, but at least there will be no loss of where you stand. Forgiving without meaning is treacherous. It hurts the forgiver and the forgiven, forever. Because for the forgiver, there is no forgiveness, though it is said. And for the forgiven, there is no forgiveness, though it is said. That’s when forgiving dies and the ghost haunts, both.

There’s another reason forgiving is not easy. Most, who kneel, seeking forgiveness are unable to forgive their own selves. So even if forgiveness comes from the forgiver, it is never enough. Forgiveness is incomplete, unless you are completely forgiven. Which includes you, forgiving yourself.

Almost always, redemption is when you forgive yourself. Why we seek it elsewhere, I have no idea. It would make sense if we were living someone else’s life, but the fact remains:

We have to live our own life.

Irawati Karve

I know it’s titled as such, but this post isn’t really about Irawati Karve.

*

There’s never a dull moment with my mami (aunt; mother’s brother’s wife).

I recently finished reading a book in Marathi – and I am proud of it. So proud, that I suffer from the shout-it-from-the-rooftop syndrome, now. Given that it is my mother-tongue, and I’ve formally studied it only for three or four years. My aunt devours books, mostly Marathi literature, but many other genres as well. She is not very unlike my mother, actually. Needless to say, I told mami about this achievement of mine. Again, needless to say, she was very proud of me. Further, needless to say, we got into a conversation about writers she has read, respected. She mentioned Irawati Karve.

She was telling me about a relatively complex analysis of the characters in the Mahabharat: and I was intrigued. As she was speaking, I instinctively reached for my phone (which was nowhere close to me, because it was being charged, at the other end of the room) – I wanted to Google Irawati Karve.

Here she was, telling me all about Irawati Karve, about her life, times, and her work. Yet, in my head, I was automatically reaching for my phone. Of course, I let my phone be where it was and re-entered the conversation. It was time for our ritual 1AM coffee (something that all my cousins are fond of), and we were now talking of Kamala Sohonie. After a while we were back to Irawati Karve. And I got to know a lot about her. My mami recalled that I had finished a book in Marathi, and urged me to read more. It will be a while before you can digest the presentation of Irawate Karve, but, keep at it. It’s only a matter of vocabulary, for now.

What I learnt about Irawati Karve, from my aunt — I could not find on Wikipedia (Yes, I Googled her the next day). And, perhaps, therein lies the difference between information and knowledge. While consumption of information is not a bad thing; acquiring experiences is more important; is what I thought after I saw myself reaching for my phone.

There’ll be more reading. For sure. And there will be more listening, than searching. Thank you, Mami!