Saturday, December 25, 2010

In Praise of Self-Deprecation

The buzzard has nothing to fault himself with.
Scruples are alien to the black panther.
Piranhas do not doubt the rightness of their actions.
The rattlesnake approves of himself without reservations.

The self-critical jackal does not exist.
The locust, alligator, trichina, horsefly
live as they live and are glad of it.

The killer-whale's heart weighs one hundred kilos
but in other respects is light.

There is nothing more animal-like
than a clear conscience
on the third planet of the Sun.

-Wistawa Szymborska

The Plain Sense Of Things

After the leaves have fallen, we return
To a plain sense of things. It is as if
We had come to an end of the imagination,
Inanimate in an inert savoir.
It is difficult even to choose the adjective
For this blank cold, this sadness without cause.
The great structure has become a minor house.
No turban walks across the lessened floors.

The greenhouse never so badly needed paint.
The chimney is fifty years old and slants to one side.
A fantastic effort has failed, a repetition
In a repetitiousness of men and flies.
Yet the absence of the imagination had
Itself to be imagined. The great pond,
The plain sense of it, without reflections, leaves,
Mud, water like dirty glass, expressing silence

Of a sort, silence of a rat come out to see,
The great pond and its waste of the lilies, all this
Had to be imagined as an inevitable knowledge,
Required, as necessity requires. 

- Wallace Stevens

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I am Much Too Alone in this World

I am much too alone in this world, yet not alone
to truly consecrate the hour.
I am much too small in this world, yet not small
to be to you just object and thing,
dark and smart.
I want my free will and want it accompanying
the path which leads to action;
and want during times that beg questions,
where something is up,
to be among those in the know,
or else be alone.

I want to mirror your image to its fullest perfection,
never be blind or too old
to uphold your weighty wavering reflection.
I want to unfold.
Nowhere I wish to stay crooked, bent;
for there I would be dishonest, untrue.
I want my conscience to be
true before you;
want to describe myself like a picture I observed
for a long time, one close up,
like a new word I learned and embraced,
like the everday jug,
like my mother's face,
like a ship that carried me along
through the deadliest storm.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

When You Are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

- W.B.Yeats

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Selecting a Reader

First, I would have her be beautiful,
and walking carefully up on my poetry
at the loneliest moment of an afternoon,
her hair still damp at the neck
from washing it. She should be wearing
a raincoat, an old one, dirty
from not having money enough for the cleaners.
She will take out her glasses, and there
in the bookstore, she will thumb
over my poems, then put the book back
up on its shelf. She will say to herself,
"For that kind of money, I can get
my raincoat cleaned." And she will.

Ted Kooser

Saturday, August 28, 2010


[ Stumbled upon this one. Written not too long ago, I think ]

Now. This moment here. I want to write.
Writing mustn't be a want, it must be natural, but I am unsure of using the word 'mustn't'. Must and must-not are just too exhausting to peg onto my fingertips. My thoughts, my only constant companions were waiting, floating like huge gas filled balloons on a lake, and now that I wish to rescue them they have streaked out into their original darker colors. Sometimes I can't draw comparisions and my metaphors and similies are absurd.
I've been thinking of many things, new and old. Several words have redefined their tight meanings and settled in new voluminous formless clouds. Several people have come and left, and some keep coming and going. Each time, they alter something, misplace a thought or two and in the end I am comfortable about gaining on more misplaced thoughts. One more feeling which will perhaps make the knowledge of myself more understandable. I've been thinking of you and I don't fear reading this a little later in my life. You could become more than you are by then or become several times lesser. Who's to say. I couldn't believe myself though it was me and entirely me who froze in time and then one day wore summer on her sleeves. I outshone my own dullness and thus proved that I can let things go.Of course I have you.
You, who seem everything. I do not see you yet, as a God. I see your absence, like a crater in my soul. Like something that grew on the surface of my soul has been removed.
But then, there is hope. Hope, is so new, so surprising in its magnitude. The moment it stepped into me, it paralysed several doubts. Hope itself, is so scary though. Why do we have a word like blind-hope, isn't all hope blind or isn't it hope that blinds a person? I am yet to know if my hope can see. I am on the course. The course which is blind, uncertain. Things I love must guide me.
Then there is courage, another word that is acting strange. I had known it, yes. I have called myself courageous on several occasions. This time though it seems to empower me, silent. I feel strong, and it has got nothing to do with muscles and their girth. I am returning to the words you said, Hope. Yes, leave that to me. Rather, let me have a share of it. I might as well hope. I do not see anything from here. Several years hence I do not know what this will looked upon as. If you read this now, I do not know how I will be looked upon. Perhaps, it'll fall as a pebble in a sleeping lake, or perhaps it'll come as a tide. Somehow I think the world must've been upturned. I think we might be hanging from the ground and water too hangs from the sea-bed, perhaps the air around us is thick oil and it lets us be. I cannot justify it though.
I now think of countries, warring, divisions. I think of living in a country that is not mine.I think of you outside your country and I do not like it. I think of us, in a room and getting bored of each other yet I long for your presence. [What is getting bored of each other? We might not talk too much but too much is what makes things boring.] Imagination or hallucination or whatever they call it is wonderfully spacious. It is never too small to hold the zillion figments of my future, the real and the unreal one. I claim that I never write what I do not see. But I do, I fear I will today too. Since I have some invisible part of me stay with you and it tells me the experience. And it scares me that I've given my senses, my perceptions to you, to stay with you, to be guided by you.I cannot, though, give myself entirely, or so I tell to give my unseen ego a temporary pleasure. I can see it smile from a nook, seems more like a mock. On a nice winter day when it can't snow since I live on the uncomfortable latitude it rains and that brings enough pleasant weather to me. I have been willing to continue but I fear I might recourse it, lest I say too much. I have quite forgotten the repercussions that follow a fountain of speech. I look at myself near a fountain, gathering the sprinkling water. I would like that. I might strike out or go back on a word or two. I might write an opaque poem. I might stop a rain. I might stop the Earth from turning. I might want you. In acknowledgement of the calmth you've brought to me. The calmth that envelopes all the words I have dug up from the mud.
Beauty is too heavy and pompous a word to convey the subtlety. I wish to live.Like the passing of a night, I wish to die.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"There is something about watching your mouth when you speak that excites me — and it is more than the knowledge of their touch.”

- Abandoned Books and Marginalia

Sunday, June 13, 2010


What do you remember of the old house?
The smell of it.
How did it smell?
I could find the old house by my impressions of it, even if contributed only by the perceptions of my nose and the storage corners of my mind. It's like they have assumed corners, and the odors have been neatly shelved- The smell from the kitchen grasping the dining area like in an aged, frail fist, while the kitchen smelled of mom (or was it mom who smelled of it before she'd wash away the clues of that lilting quality of clove and cardamom from her fingertips?). The smell of each of the bedrooms- smelling of it's owner- in rebellion, fiercely independent- of her very own separate dreams in a house meant to be a collective cloud. The store room- smelling like a heavy heart . The washroom- a strange cocktail of everyone's favorite toiletries.The smell of the terrace wild with the home-grown lilies, lazy breath of button roses and the sticky balm secretly emanating from the money-plant. The porch, always, inebriated. How the odors of the drawing room never remained the same- That was the only area frankly deceptive and confusing. Only that confused me of home.



Syed Mir Saheb.
Okay. [(typing) S-y-d-a-n S-a-h-e-b]. In-patient number: 56783


What's your name?
(Breaking voice) Syed Mir Saheb Doctor.
Okay. [(Writing) A male patient by name Syclan Saheb aged 67 years presented to the hospital at 3:04 a.m. Alleged to have sustained a fall from the bicycle while going to the fields on the outskirts of xxxxxxx.]


Doctor, could you pass the list of patients who need injections?
Here, doctor.
Where is Syclan Saheb?
In the post-op ward.

|Post-op ward|

(Calling out) Syclan Saheb?
[No answer]
(Calling out) Syclan Saheb?
Doctor, there is only Syed Mir Saheb here.
Oh, how did he get hurt?
He had a fall from the bicycle, doctor.
Oh, it is him then. Alright.

|Operation- theater|

Sydan Saheb, do you feel any tingling or numbness?
Yes, doctor. I can't feel my limbs.
Great! You will do just fine.
Doctor, can I just go out for a day?
For what?
I want to walk. I want to walk to anywhere. No, I will walk to my village and see my grandson once. I was cycling to the fields to get him some mangoes. I will give him those I'd gathered and I'll return for the operation and stay as long as you would advice me to.
But, you can't walk. Unless you are operated on, your legs can't support you. Please relax.
(Looking into a distance) Okay.

|Acute Surgical Care|

Doctor, he's deteriorating.
He was well until he was wheeled out. I had checked his vitals.
Yes, he was. When he was being wheeled out, he was good too. Right after we got him here into the room, he's started to deteriorate.
[Resuscication begins.]
We're sorry for your loss.


What's the patient's name?
Sydan Saheb, doctor.
(Relative) Doctor, his name was Syed Mir Saheb.
Oh but the entries show his name is this, Sydan Saheb. And the certificate will be issued in this name. I think there's been a mistake on our part. You must get the name changed. You will have to ask the MRO and present a arzi for change of name. You can claim the body now, though.
(Wife) That will take long. (Leaves.)

Until then, he might reach home to where his grandson is waiting. Wheeled on the stretcher, hurrying, thinking, he was indeed riding his rickety bicycle. Bringing home the season's last mangoes.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

"Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I've ever known."

-Chuck Palahniuk

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


What did you do?
Lots of things.
Tell me about them. Have you brought pictures?
Why not?
I couldn't. I couldn't pause to.
You should've stayed longer then..
Yes, I should have.
What will you eat? I think you should take a bath. Have you bought something? Why don't you empty? You should straighten up. When did you return, anyway?
Just some time ago.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Confined Love

I've never been a great fan of Donne's poetry except for his tendermost romantic verses. Today, though, I've been pleasantly surprised with the following verse- Its hard to imagine- a man against the background of such times in which he lived(21 January 1572 – 31 March 1630) writing this exceptionally sensitive debate of confinement and repression of women. Kudos, really!

Some man unworthy to be possessor
Of old or new love, himself being false or weak,
Thought his pain and shame would be lesser
If on womankind he might his anger wreak,
And thence a law did grow,
One might but one man know;
But are other creatures so?

Are Sun, Moon, or Stars by law forbidden
To smile where they list, or lend away their light?
Are birds divorced, or are they chidden
If they leave their mate, or lie abroad a-night?
Beasts do no jointures lose
Though they new lovers choose,
But we are made worse than those.

Who e'er rigged fair ship to lie in harbours
And not to seek new lands, or not to deal withal?
Or built fair houses, set trees, and arbors,
Only to lock up, or else to let them fall?
Good is not good unless
A thousand it possess,
But dost waste with greediness.

John Donne

Though it is also deplorable and immensely sad that the scenario painted here hasn't undergone a palpable change, yet.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I Am Learning To Abandon the World

I am learning to abandon the world
before it can abandon me.
Already I have given up the moon
and snow, closing my shades
against the claims of white.
And the world has taken
my father, my friends.
I have given up melodic lines of hills,
moving to a flat, tuneless landscape.
And every night I give my body up
limb by limb, working upwards
across bone, towards the heart.
But morning comes with small
reprieves of coffee and birdsong.
A tree outside the window
which was simply shadow moments ago
takes back its branches twig
by leafy twig.
And as I take my body back
the sun lays its warm muzzle on my lap
as if to make amends.

- by Linda Pastan