Reading Keki Daruwalla’s poetry collection titled–Collected Poems, 1970-2005. Reading because reading a poetry book is never a complete process, it is a rendezvous that feels like a dej…
Reading Keki Daruwalla’s poetry collection titled–Collected Poems, 1970-2005.
Reading because reading a poetry book is never a complete process, it is a rendezvous that feels like a dejavu and promises a repeat mojo only when you are in the mood for it. Otherwise, it just lies there collecting dust on its covers and sulking. So reading, not read.
A few poems stand out, as they do, highlighting the trends of the times stamped already in history and mailed to us through these broken lines akin to a bird with broken wings warning that your muse has been kidnapped, go fetch her/him before they consume its essence. Or just fly to your muse and leave it all behind. Sometimes, I felt that the poet kept it sounding like prose as if to communicate with any dull-head reader who doesn’t get the pathos and urgency of broken lines broken at places not so obvious. Apart from that, the collection is a vista of information, some received, some urging to be explored.
A City Falls
A student had died here, in the middle ages
Who killed him, black magic or the black death?
If you walked over his grave, you roamed
the city, lost, the legend said.
Was it any use, this mass tantrum of defiance,
this flicker of a spirit reaching for the stars?
Do fires still burn today
under those vast , black collieries of the heart?
Note:History has no place and time, it would seem, from this poem. Why, I see this question echoing in my own backyard civilization!
For my heart aspires to beat with nature, I loved the poem “The Last Whale”
When the last whale moves into our Lord’s keeping
the wake abuzz with flies and a procession
of gulls as there never was before–
and the seas turn the colour of red wine
they’ll wonder if this is omen or miracle.
Neither! Just the gashed side of a harpooned whale.
The sea-god, his eyes red with salt-burn
his beard turned to coral, extends his palm
to ask what’s in store for him.
As many stars as there were before
to brood over tides and chart the course of ships;
the same number of icebergs, more or less;
more oil slicks certainly and tanker fleets,
more aircraft-carriers and submarines. No whales.
Note: Who cares? No whales. But who cares? Ahoy! Onward Humanity. Me included–Only read, write, print nature.
The collection is vast and my attention span momentary, compared to its timeless treasure of knowledge. However, the poetics is a wee bit short on rhythm component which is my personal comfort groove in reading poetry. So, not groovy kind of poems, yet birds with broken wings that make me want to fly and leave it all behind.
“Ordinary Decent Criminals” by Lionel Shriver.
Read it upto beginning of page 5 where the author says character Estrin knew bad work 🙂
“Tales from a Vending Machine” by Anees Salim
It began well, with me laughing at the black humour every page, until it felt like the author was stretching it too far and making my response plastic to the characters Haseena Mansoor, Shamla, Eza. In ads one can get away with quirky humour, in books if you make the central character come across as dumb and mean every page or so you are actually assaulting the reader’s intelligence or curiosity. But it seems to be a cynic’s dream book, one that probably looks even at love like biology and game play of mind, nothing more nothing less. Much as I’d have liked to read it in one sitting I could only sustain my interest upto page 65. Possibly I’d have to undertake a flight to somewhere to read it till the end , while I am waiting at some airport lounge eyeing a lolly at some vending machine( only my character being male). Actually, I’d love to know how the author treats the main character going forward and whether the book ends in triumph or irony which, given the way it is going, is more likely.
Kathakali: Katha-kali: literally translating to story play or story drama.
[Yesterday, I was privileged enough to watch this cultural zeitgeist show of heart thumping music, mind blazing colours and girth expanding costumes called ‘Kathakali’. A forty-minute show in a touristy place that housed a long corridor which doubled up as an art gallery and reception, besides opening into various rooms of small curio shops, café and a folklore museum displaying puppets of various traditional costume dances with anecdotes of history and significance associated with it].
It is predominantly a facial dance involving almost all muscles of the face including the littlest ones around eyes and mouth, as also the eyes and mouth and its components to create a drama that is only heightened by the mesmerising make-up in colours that can be best described as basic but hypnotising. Add to it the drummers in the dark background, the white and red umbrella like costume boosted up by small pillows, I believe and the dark kohl literally adding a frame to the eyes of the kathakali player as if to say—look into my eyes, here you’ll find the story. Very minimal use of feet which include a bit of hop skip jump and walking besides a bit of dancing movements. The hands have a language and its alphabets called ‘mudras’ tell a story which add to the hypnotising drama of the face and eyes. If you can take your eyes off that face you might just be able to read the language of the hands but that would be like video recording a show and trying to watch It at the same time. But when the characters play out the drama you are feeling the ‘navarasas’ (emotional language in a spectrum of nine expressions) or at least one or more of them in great dramatic brilliance. At the end of the show, which portrayed a story about a seductress from the evil world of Asuras and a powerful king of the Devas/good world, I was convinced that the king was a patriarchal chauvinist of the common kind back in those days and the seductress just too tempted by his pomp and glory. In the end, he cut off her breasts and nose as punishment. But the story-play perhaps goes on to reveal the real drama and plot where the seductress was sent as a political move to overwhelm the king as part of a stratagem to win a war that was raging between the demons and Gods. But cutting of breasts and nose symbolically in our modern days would mean defamation and drying up the milk of kindness of a woman. Then it would seem that the story is very much relevant to our modern times and would still feel like chauvinism if viewed in seclusion from the rest of the drama, if at all the girl was innocent about being a pawn in the game.
It was the darkest drama I have ever seen in a dark auditorium on a dark stage lit initially only by lamps and then by some spot-lights focused on the swaying characters and yet it amazed me instead of horrifying me. Its effect was as if it put me in the centre of a warm room mesmerised by the dance of two awestruck light-bugs of brilliant colours. And I will be haunted by that experience forever just as I was by one Kathakali show stuck to my childhood memory witnessed on some beachy compound of a temple in an open theatre, while the audience sat half-sleeping half cross-legged on the sand. Was there a tarpaulin under us? I don’t remember. All I remember is that it was a story about some Gods at war or some monkey with a huge tail that could not be moved, a blue lotus and 😉 Zilch! Nothing more. But it remained a vibrant, haunting memory that took me back to seek out a green ghost and yellow witch for a replay effect.
Raduan Nassar’s “A cup of rage” is like a train journey. Its prose is continuously building up and coming to brief halts only to re-uptake steam and chug on like a man steaming from his anterior fontanelle which perhaps temporarily reopened to keep his head from bursting with stuffed up rage. The main character’s cup of rage overfloweth in loveless combat with his partner’s sarcasm in lyrical flow of an unending frictional ecstasy that ends only with his physical frame giving in to exhaustion. This is not a story, it is pure unadulterated stream of consciousness writing, but in turmoil. A whirlpool of words that sucks you in and leaves you breathless.
Unmasked is an anthology of 21 short stories by various writers, all trying to unravel the protagonist called Ruby. This happens to be the 4th Anthology that I am a part of, my story ‘Punished’ is featured here. The book, to begin with has a unique concept. The protagonist of all the stories is the same, a 25 year old girl with mysterious past and 21 writers trying to decipher her through their stories.
I love the black and white cover of the book. It lends to it an air of mystery, much like the mysterious Ruby. And the book had to start with a love story, a love story which transcends boundaries and decades. The First Rainsof 1947 by Darshan Pania turned out to be a lovely read.
As I started reading one story after another I was quite fascinated by the many facets of…
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