in life as in a strange garment

Every year without knowing it I have passed the day When the last fires will wave to me And the silence will set out Tireless traveler Like the beam of a lightless star Then I will no longer Find myself in life as in a strange garment Surprised at the earth And the love of one woman And the shamelessness of men As today writing after three days of rain Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease And bowing not knowing to what —For the Anniversary of My Death, WS Merwin, 1967. Continue reading in life as in a strange garment

Those who will serve time in prison

If instead of of being hanged by the neck you’re thrown inside for not giving up hope in the world, your country, your people, if you do ten or fifteen years apart from time you have left, you won’t say, “Better I had swung from the end of a rope like a flag”- You’ll put your foot down and live. It may not be pleasure exactly, but it’s your solemn duty to live one more day to spite the enemy. Part of you may live alone inside, like a tone at the bottom of a well. But the other part must … Continue reading Those who will serve time in prison

study

vo log bahut Khush_qismat the jo ishq ko kaam samajhate the yaa kaam se aashiqii karate the ham jiite jii masaruuf rahe kuchh ishq kiyaa kuchh kaam kiyaa kaam ishq ke aa.De aataa rahaa aur ishq se kaam ulajhataa rahaa phir aaKhir tang aakar ham ne dono.n ko adhuuraa chho.D diyaa –Faiz Continue reading study

Disquiet

All love letters are Ridiculous. They wouldn’t be love letters if they weren’t Ridiculous. In my time I also wrote love letters Equally, inevitably Ridiculous. Love letters, if there’s love, Must be Ridiculous. But in fact Only those who’ve never written Love letters Are Ridiculous. If only I could go back To when I wrote love letters Without thinking how Ridiculous. The truth is that today My memories Of those love letters Are what is Ridiculous. (All more-than-three-syllable words, Along with unaccountable feelings, Are naturally Ridiculous.) –Fernando Pessoa. last Pessoa poem found in Ranchi. Continue reading Disquiet

Firayalal shaam

When I reached the control room, Upadhayayji (from Special Branch) was the first to have arrived. He put his phone down, ending a conversation with, “So, it was full of clothes, was it?” he chuckled. When I enquired what had happened, he said the bomb squad had been called in Lower Bazaar. “A black bag with wheels had been found”, he told me, “One of those bags with wheels, a trolley bag? All afternoon, there was alarm.” No one knew who had left the bag, and it could be a bomb. The bomb squad arrived, and found the bag stuffed … Continue reading Firayalal shaam

spring/ sun

1. Get me flowers from the tree now Get me all the flowers right now All of them will fall to earth at dusk I will not be here either at dusk I will go away somewhere at dusk I will never stay here at dusk Get me flowers from the tree now Love me close so you can be free now —Get Me Flowers From The Tree Now. By Shakti Chattopadhyay tr. by Arunava Sinha. october/february find 2. From blossoms comes this brown paper bag of peaches we bought from the boy at the bend in the road where … Continue reading spring/ sun

‘Throw away the Brahman’s scriptures fast’

A poem by Savitribai Phule, circa 1860: My weak and oppressed brothers, stop living in slavery. The day of Manu-worshipping Peshwas is done, the English, who share knowledge are here. Learn now. For a millennium you have been denied books. We will teach our children and ourselves to seek knowledge; our souls cry out for wholeness, to leave behind the marks of caste and unfurl our proud flags in Baliraja’s kingdom. This shall be our war-cry, we shall rise up now, Rise up now, to learn and to act. (found at the end of ‘A Gardner in the Wasteland’. There’s … Continue reading ‘Throw away the Brahman’s scriptures fast’

Even when you take to the woods,

We are children of our age, it’s a political age. All day long, all through the night all affairs–yours, ours, theirs– are political affairs. Whether you like it or not, your genes have political past, your skin–a political cast, your eyes–a political slant. Whatever you say reverberates, whatever you don’t say speak for itself– so either way you’re talking politics. Even when you take to the woods, you’re taking political steps on political grounds. Apolitical poems are also political, and above us shines the moon no longer purely lunar. To be or not to be, that is the question. And … Continue reading Even when you take to the woods,

‘Law, like love’

Law, says the judge as he looks down his nose, Speaking clearly and most severely, Law is as I’ve told you before, Law is as you know I suppose, Law is but let me explain it once more, Law is The Law. Yet law-abiding scholars write: Law is neither wrong nor right, Law is only crimes Punished by places and by times, Law is the clothes men wear Anytime, anywhere, Law is Good morning and Good night. Others say, Law is our Fate; Others say, Law is our State; Others say, others say Law is no more, Law has gone … Continue reading ‘Law, like love’

“Absential”

Thirty spokes converge at the wheel’s hub, to a hole that allows it to turn. Clay is shaped into a vessel, to enclose an empti­ness that can be filled. Doors and windows are cut into walls, to provide access to their protection. Though we can only work with what is there, use comes from what is not there. —Lao Tsu. (determined with respect to an essential absence.) Incomplete Nature; via Dee Continue reading “Absential”

Glimpses from the protests against rape in Delhi

I was in Delhi last week December. The video below is of some of the people at Jantar Mantar who so creatively took the conversation away from “hang them”, “castrate them” to ‘Kaandhe se hamaare kaandha milaaiyei‘, and ‘Hum kya chaahte azaadi, raat mein din mein kaam karne ki padhne ki azaadi‘. Protests against rape at Jantar Mantar from Anumeha Yadav on Vimeo. The video below is from six days prior at Raisina Hill near India Gate, when the government started using teargas against protesters(*facepalm*): Dec 2012 Dilli protests 177 from Anumeha Yadav on Vimeo. Continue reading Glimpses from the protests against rape in Delhi

Wintry love poems

1. Like the unshaven prickle of a sharpened razor, this new coldness in the air, the pang of something intangible. Filling our eyes, The sinusitis of perfume without perfume. And then love’s vertigo, love’s exactitude, this snow, this transfiguration we never quite get over. —How Snow Falls. Craig Raine, in Granta‘s ‘100’ in 2009. 2. She tells her love while half asleep, In the dark hours, With half-words whispered low: As Earth stirs in her winter sleep And puts out grass and flowers Despite the snow, Despite the falling snow. —She Tells Her Love While Half Asleep . Robert Graves … Continue reading Wintry love poems

Listening to Faiz in Ahmedabad

Raat yuun dil mein teri khoi hui yaad aai Jaiseay wiraanay mein chupke se bahaar aajae Last night, your memories came back to me, as though Spring stealthily should come back to wilderness Like cooling drops of dew, a few lines of poetry became succour from the summer sun. To celebrate the centenary year of Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s birth, a collective of civic groups based in Ahmedabad, India, organized a reading of the poet’s work. Sadiq Noor Pathan, a published poet and program executive at the local All India Radio station, began with a recording of Faiz reciting his work. … Continue reading Listening to Faiz in Ahmedabad