Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sojourn


I like to start writing a new story each day; stories without endings, stories that are born out of a sudden whim and carried forward with obsessive spontaneity. I am just like any other writer, a naive creation of God, who believes words can cure him of his solitude, when every one else around him has lost their trust on words. But his hope is miraculous, because it never tires of its mission. It urges him to write, to spend time with words—polishing them, practicing his skills, pruning his diligence to perfection, looking failure in the eyes, succeeding, dreaming—and disregard his family’s advices to look for a job with a permanent financial source.

But as most of the writers who are part of the struggling community, who are not yet blessed with the gaze of the publishing industry, it is difficult for me, even now, to write about my dwindling financial situation, my struggle for a life. Perhaps I could write a story, search for a solution to this situation or just try to create an altered reality through the power of words that could protect my being form deteriorating from the struggle for livelihood. The struggle for a life extracts all our attention, and leaves us blind, deaf, dumb and senseless. The writer, the artist, the musician vanishes, without even the charity of a proper cremation. At this point words, become formless sounds, and thoughts run out of paper and jump out of the terra firma and fly in the air, forcing us to find someone to share them with. The fear of wasting words is the worst kind of it, only a writer knows.

Prakash Pacha was someone I found in Kannur, with the above mentioned intention. Well, to be frank, the intention was considered later. The finding had taken place in a small tea shop near the Old Bus stand. He was drinking tea sitting on the only bench available. When I came in he moved in order to make space for me, but in this attempt he spilled some tea on my jeans. I looked at him in the eyes. His face, which was calm a moment before, changed defensive and this, provoked me further. But considering the risks of entering into a brawl with a stranger in a city which is famous for its thugs and communists, I immediately put on my mask of indifference and steered my gaze away from him.

Then I noticed something under the bench near his legs. It was a framed picture and a hand bag with painting brushes peeping out of its mouth. An artist! “Are you an artist?” I asked, unable to find the time to hide my facial expressions suggesting my relief to find someone with a destiny which is as naive as mine. “Yes” he answered with a cool air, as if I am just another of his fans, when in fact I had never seen his art works, and would never perhaps see them either. I was only interested in the fact that he was an artist, just to share a fellow feeling, the presence of someone with whom I can effectively share those words that took the eloping flight from their comfort zones.

Then he told me his name, extending his hand. Prakash Pacha, Pacha being his brush name, meaning green, in Malayalam, his favourite colour. One thing is sure we can never be friends, I thought. I cannot differentiate between green and blue. I can see green, but for me it appears very much an uncertain variety of blue. “It’s nice to meet you, a writer.” He said as his parting words. I smiled and kept that smile for as long as possible allowing no word to escape this time, thinking he was not the right one for sharing those flying words of worldly agony. But the very next day we met again, in the same shop. And this time there was something different. Pacha was warm. He asked me about my favourite authors and books. And though we parted soon that day, we promised to meet each other at the same place the next day, at the same time. And I could see the tea shop owner, sealing off our pact with his smile, in the prospect of two potential customers. And I was happy too, for there was a companion who is from the art world, and perhaps in similar life situations as mine.

“I am an art teacher, in the Art College, in Kannur. I do it for money, for sustaining my life. Being an artist and art teacher are different things, entirely.” He said on our next meeting. So here he was, sharing his life story with me, just the way I thought it, and it surprised me how his story resembled mine. And this is one of the reasons for certain deft generalizations I undertook in the first paragraph. I could be wrong in my conclusions. I am very well aware of the fact that best learning is the learning from within, but due to his essential temperaments, the layman always goes for the outside knowledge, what others say.

“Nobody knows what I feel in my mind. Perhaps you would know, because you are an artist, too.” He said in our fifth meeting. “I don’t know what to do. Yesterday I thought of suicide.”

Instead of occupying the position of weakling, and being consoled, I found myself aghast in front of Pacha, as his resort, thinking how I could suggest help to this naïve sibling of the art mother.

“As you once said, being an artist and an art teacher are different experiences, being a writer and a painter, too are different states of being. But still, this is what I do when I am down: I write whatever I feel.” I lied. The struggle for a life extracts all our attention, and leaves us blind, deaf, dumb and senseless. The writer, the artist, the musician vanishes, without even the charity of a proper cremation. At this point words, become formless sounds, and thoughts run out of paper and jump out of the terra firma and fly in the air, forcing us to find someone to share them with. This was the very intention I placed as the reason for the daily meetings with Pacha. But now, finding no other solution to help him in his problems, I suggested writing.  

Even though, we promised to meet tomorrow, I could not find him the next day. The tea shop owner too confirmed not seeing him that day. For another one week he was absent without any news and allowing me no guesses. The struggle for a life extracts all our attention, and leaves us blind, deaf, dumb and senseless. The writer, the artist, the musician vanishes, without even the charity of a proper cremation. Perhaps he was disillusioned from my friendship. He might have tested my solution and miserably failed.  

I met him again, but after four weeks. “I tried what you suggested.” Pacha said. “It was miraculous. I found peace with myself and the world. I was trying to dedicate as much time as possible to write. I almost wrote a memoir.”

Sometimes, a peculiar feeling follows certain revelations, a feeling that verges jealousy. Perhaps writing is like the taste of honey sucked from flowers in a garden, each taste differently. Perhaps this too is a revelation that even a painter can do what sometimes a writer can’t achieve, with words.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Nomenclature


The man who worked in the army invited me for his kid’s naming ceremony. Naming is carried out with special rituals in the presence of a priest at a temple or holy place. Nowadays, in Kerala, this ritual is not observed just among Hindus but to have their children named in the presence of a gathering Christians and Muslims too considerable effort. I was invited to one such occasion. As the man who worked in the army was a Hindu, I was supposed to be in the village temple on that momentous day, when the child would get a name chosen by his or her parents, but announced in public by the priest.

That made me do something different that is usually required in my work as a lecturer in the University I work at, thinking. To put it straight, I was a bit happy and amazed of myself to be able to use once again this faculty, which was capable of inducing fantastic results in my consciousness. In the university I work at the best way to stick with the job is to pretend that one’s sensibility has been lost entirely or partially and keep one laughing at those ridicules jokes that both the students and the staff celebrate around, every day. Forget about terms such as Learning, Education, or Wisdom. Follow the syllabus, or course plan. Stick to it and you can survive, otherwise a group of block heads would be seen as knocking the door of the Head of the department to complain about your class for being too out of focus or too widened that they could not understand anything you say. It is no surprise that you would scratch your head and ask, “What is the problem; is it a primary school to be so diluted with things?”

“What is the problem?” you would ask. By hugging a reason for any specific problem we are naming it, actually. You don’t have the convenience of a clergy or a priest naming the problem in public. You are alone beside yourself. And you have to find out what is going on. The reason you search for the glitch is nothing else but just a name. Lack of focus, extreme widening of the areas of discussion, unusual methods in teaching (as a usual way to mark innovative teaching techniques), and so on goes the list of reasons. You know these areas in your class already and many of these ‘problems’ might have intruded your classes purposefully as a method you might have thought would bring you fame and satisfaction as a teacher. But you fail to bring the required results and these techniques become ‘Problems’. You react furiously, and they would call you indignant. You name them useless blockheads, they name you arrogant. It’s hard to find any other activities other than naming happening in Indian universities visibly.

The man who worked in the army had a strange habit too. He used to name every thing in his life, living and non-living. He named his cell phone Komal, meaning soft. His pen was named pinky, since it has pink colour. And so on. Once he even named his wife, and the reason he said was curious, he said he had difficulty in remembering his wife’s original name. So in order to avoid a family battle, he decided to choose a name from his own box of choices. And this process was repeated each month and sometimes each week. His wife too was aware of his brain’s inability to hold certain things tight, but she never said anything in return. Once he named her Pearl, suggestive of the shape of her face, round and fair as if a huge pearl stick to the body. The wife smiled after listening to this new name. That was not usual of her. On other occasions she would become resentful and keep silence for some hours. But this time she was seen very happy. He asked why she is smiling. She said; “Thank god, my husband remembered my real name after so many years!!”            

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ocean’s Dream


Once, a ship named Ocean’s Dream was making its return voyage. Its crew was seeing land after a long time. But they all felt a little disappointed as the ship made little progress forward. The wind was getting weaker. Its sails shrunk as the wind that puffed it died away. It was impossible for the ship to make it to the shore with such a weak flow of wind. The sailors knew that if they reduced the weight of the ship, it could sail easily to the shore.   

They approached the captain and asked if they can lighten the load of the ballast.

The captain agreed. And they started throwing out the weight that steadied the ship on the surface of the sea. But just as they did it the breeze took up power. There was no ballast to steady Ocean’s Dream any more. And it sunk into the sea.

Moral: Don’t unload things where you have no chance to take them back.

I never tried a children’s story in The Indian Commentator. This is the first time. It is a molecular story too. I don’t know if there are any kids who read my blog, but I expect those with their hearts beating with the vigor of childhood would enjoy it even if their body had crossed the crease of adulthood. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Slumber


A molecular story
 I woke up at my mother’s voice; “Why are you not waking up? It’s night!”

That was the way she always did it. She would make me feel guilty and irritated, as if I spent the whole day sleeping. It might just be six or seven in the morning, I thought. It was high time I reacted to such a negative start of a day.

I found some quick expressions to vent out my resentment. “What a fine way to start off a day! Why don’t you stop it for at least once?” I said with a voice that was close to a shout, making clear I did not enjoy her comments.

“What did you say?” She asked and paused for a moment in front of my bedroom door, which was open, contrary to everyday.

“It’s night.” She had a blank expression on her face.

And then I felt a deluge of sense rushing into my mind. “You took a nap at noon. Forgot?” she said. But I noticed, she was not mocking me, she kept her expression blank.  
    
“Good evening viewers, welcome to news at six.” A television news reader greeted his audiences in the next room.   

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tenth

“God is love, and he that remains in love remains in union with God and God remains in union with him.”—1John 4:16
Here is the final part of “The Unsaid” i-poems.
Image Courtesy: Google
You have something unsaid.
I too have.
The moment you find out mine,
And I yours;
Redemption.

Love, and pray that you are being loved.

One of my readers once asked me why most of my poems revolve around the idea of love. I could not answer the question then, because at that time it was a revelation to me. I was never aware of it. Every time after trying many other themes I resort to the theme of love to gain back my internal peace and spiritual gratification. Even though, many of i-poems were on topics such as “Destiny”, “Rain”, “Distances”, etc, all of them revealed the presence of a unique and at the same time universal theme, love, which often was mystic in its temperament and profane in its roots. I thank that friend for helping me lead to this realization about my own art.

The other day a special person, sent me the e-card pasted above, the person to whom the inspirational root for this series of i-poems belongs; redeeming the unsaid by saying it. I love you.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Unsaid: Ninth


“Beloved ones, let us continue loving one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born from God and gains the knowledge of God.”—I John 4:7
 You looked into my eyes,
And for the hundredth time,
I tried.
But what I said always echoed,
Your words;
Those unsaid. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Eighth


The Unsaid
“Love carries God’s energy.” –Anu.
 What the night is for the sun,
What plateaus for a fish,
What the depth of the blue for a bird,
What you haven’t said is-
For me: the hope of a revelation. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Seventh of The Unsaid

I will say to the prisoners, 'Come out in freedom,' and to those in darkness, 'Come into the light.' They will be my sheep, grazing in green pastures and on hills that were previously bare.”-- Isaiah 49:9

Love is innocence, too.
But once transformed,
Into the unsaid, it’s sin. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Uniqueness


Sorry to take a quick break from i-poems series, The Unsaid. As the situations turned out to be, I have been presented with a surprise gift by someone, the wonderful header which could be seen on my blog, unique and individual. Uniqueness, what is it? How can one achieve it? Here is a story that explains it.  

Once, the prince of Travancore met his teacher at the teacher’s residence. The royal student wanted to know how to achieve uniqueness of personality. He asked: “Teacher, can you suggest a place where I can live alone for some years in solitude, secluded from others, so that I could develop a unique personality and can eliminate the edgy side in me.”

The astonishment of the teacher creased furrows on his forehead. “I am sorry prince, I am afraid I cannot be able to tell you about such a place.” He said.

“But why?” asked the prince in a slight state of shock.
“Because there is no such place on the earth, where you can be alone in absolute seclusion. Nearness by people is a mental state. Even if you are alone, you will be surrounded by the people you know, in your memory. And it cannot be undone until you learn your unique personality.” The teacher said in an understanding tone.

 “But respected teacher, how can I attain uniqueness of personality specific for kings, by spending my life among ordinary people?” The prince asked in confusion.

“My dear prince,” the teacher said consoling the prince by placing his arm around his shoulder, “you can never learn uniqueness of personality by secluding yourself from the world. It is the world and its conglomerate influences that make you unique and special of an individual. Being a butterfly is better than being a drop of colour spilled from an artist’s brush.” The prince looked at the teacher for a long time. And then smiled and said, “I wanted to tell you something.”
 
The teacher’s face again widened with astonishment.

“I am friends with some hard working and honest young men. We are good friends, and I want them to help me in ruling my nation when I become the king. The only problem is that they belong to a lower cast. After your answer, I am sure that my decision is the right one. And my kingdom would prosper in our combined efforts. Thank you teacher.” This time it was the teacher’s turn to look up at his student.

Just like the teacher in this story, my life also taught me one thing, personal uniqueness or individuality as we usually put it, comes from a complex combination of different experiences. It’s like life impersonating teachers sometimes.

My blog The Indian Commentator is proud today to have an individual look with its new header design. The design is created by Terri Gauthier of BloomingideasMI, a blog solely dedicated to her artistic universe. She is a part of my family, my spiritual mentor and my friend. She gave this design to me as a gift. I thank Tia Terri, for this present which is a wonderful creation of artistic elegance.

You can visit her blog here and enjoy her works of art with opportunity to purchase them if you are interested. With her support, my blog looks more individual and unique, just like a butterfly, with its manifold colours giving it the unique personality.      

Monday, September 5, 2011

Sixth


The Unsaid
“Possessiveness is just the other side of the coin of love”—Anu.
 We are brave to build it;
The bridge, between darkness and light-
The unsaid.
But to cross it,
We spend a lifetime of cowardice. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Fifth part of "The Unsaid"


“Love is like a taut bow. The more you pull the string away from the bow, the more energy it gathers and when you find yourself in no situation to pull further it recoils with such power as to pierce one’s heart with an arrow.” –Anu.
Stay nearby, though behind the shades.
Let me build the bridge,
Of my dreams across;
My last chance of escape.

(picture courtesy: http://imageshack.us/)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Fourth


The Unsaid
You haven’t said it yet.
But I saw it on your cheeks,
With the blossom of blood,
Under your skin.
I saw it in your eyes,
Gleaming like drops of rain,
With the sun behind.
I saw it,
In the purity of my tears,
I felt it,
In the fire of my breath,
I heard it,
In the music in my veins,
And I read it,
In the engravings,
Of what you left unsaid. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Unsaid: Third

"I have been astonished that men could die martyrs for religion - I have shuddered at it. I shudder no more - I could be martyred for my religion - Love is my religion - I could die for that. "
--John Keats

What the earth says,
When the first drop from-
Heaven pierces its heart. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Second

The Unsaid 
“That is the true season of love, when we believe that we alone can love, that no one could ever have loved so before us, and that no one will love in the same way after us.”--Goethe
It’s like the journey,
Of a drop of rain,
From its birth to the-
Destiny with the earth;
It just glides down,
Without a word. 
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