The Victory

16 01 2008

She was the Princess Ajita,
the heaven’s beauty,and the nature’s grace
and he was poet royale Shekhar,
smith of the words, sewing them with a lace
She was the Princess Ajita, the smile broke a thousand moons
and he was Shekhar,on poems of whose the kingdom revelled
He loved her, with all his poetical truth,
and all his white heart.
Yet, knew not the King Narayana,nor the Gods themselves.
Yet sang he when, the songs of his love unheard,
the love of his bosom graced the stars of the sky
O ye! but who listens to this song behind the velvet drape?
Who is it, who peers on his voice with her melodious trinklet?
Manjari, is it, the maid of princess?
Shekhar, loved her not,but her company to keep,
She sat on the evenings alone for his sweetness to seep.
Shekhar, buoyed by his lone muse and presence,
and flowed from his pen the ballads like essence
devoid of all his worldly defence ,
The world knew, the King knew, and so did Manjari,
or so did they think,on these innocent trysts.
But truth is oft a bag of clues, layers filled,
and Shekhar knew the truth and his heart alone,
yet with the jesting world he reeled.
***
The Duel
Day 1
Whose ominous shadows does this monsoon bring?
On whose arrogant wisdom does these trees swing?
It is the Pundarik, oh is it?
The great poet from the Kingdom of Anandapur…
It is Pundarik, oh is it?
The word smith par-less, holding the pride
of thousand bested poets.
“Oh Rajadhiraj, Oh kind and virtuous king,” Pundarik roared
“I seek the war of words, the battle of hymns”, his voice soared
“I have the pride of thousand poets, and all of them implored
afraid and defeated even was the poet of the Lord”
Urged the King, the crowd and life itself,
Shekhar bowed down and glanced at his love,
yet joyous was the court, thought he smiled at the Lord.
“If I be the winner, lady, then thy name be victorious”
So did, the duel begin,
the battle of the hymns, the sound of the seers
The war of the words and clash of the wordsmiths.
Pundarik stood, and so did the court,
raptous were the subjects, hypnotised in short
So began the conquistador, and so began the King’s praise
The court moved, swung in the gardens of Pundarik’s emotions
King swayed, in the swings of his beaming voice.
Shekhar, stood up and lanced with his poetry,
glanced at his King, advanced on his mastery.
The love for his king, the pearls of his heart
the blood of his veins throbbed in his art
Yet it was Pundarik’s glory
The day went on, with both of them lancing around
Yet Shekhar was at a loss, and the curtains were drawn.
the war stopped till another dawn
Day 2
Shekhar got up, glanced at his love
he smiled, unknownst to the world, prayed in his heart
and sang the song of his King.
“I maybe defeated in the play of words,
yet defeated I am not in the love of thee”
Shekhar forgot the trial with his rival,
lost in his thoughts rustling, quivering in the breeze of spring
thus flowed the Song of his Flute,visions of Ajita in his poetic wing.
Yet lost was he, with Pundarik’s art,
flinged him out with the toss of his poetic twig
the court hushed, revelling in the scholar’s clout.
Narayana smiled, and held up in his hand
the exquisite necklace of pearls,
The arrogance beamed and took it as his band
Shekhar lost and dejected, wandered away in the warmth of the setting sun.
The Victory
Screamed did he, in his home alone,
tossing his works in the fiery fire to atone
yet hurt was he, with his own broken love,
couldn’t usher the court in his patho filled cove
“Burn, Burn thee, my beauty, my lady, my fire
thou hast been burning in my heart since the futile aeons
If my life was the gold unshone,it would glow ever brighter,
but it ‘s a turf of grass and nothing remains but dust and ashes”
The night wore on, the jasmines blossomed
Shekhar drank with the acrid bacchus, dipped in poison of his life.
Golden trinklets seeped past this night, the smell of roses rising high.
The poet with his eyes shut,”You are a bit late, My lady, my end is well-nigh”
“My poet, I have come”,
His sight was dim, breath shallow, yet he heard the last of her swallow
“I am Ajita, oh poet, and you were my victor today,
Charmed was I, in your words did I ever sway”
She took the garland of flowers off her neck and put it on his head
The poet smiled on her grace and threw himself
beaten, desolate and dead.

So here is my entry to From Soups to Nuts. Let me see where does it all fit in. A story rendered by Rabindranath Tagore of the same name, presented as a poem by yours truly. Although didn’t quite expect it to be such a long treatise, yet couldnt quite make it short. Its bit of heavy, so I don’t think at least it will go well with Hors d’Oeuvres , maybe will send it to Main Course 😛 . Anyway do let me know how did you like it…
Another poetry alongside, Upagupta , inspired from the same man who penned them all…
And yeah if you liked this place, then I would appreciate if you spread its word around.

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Where does the power lie?

28 12 2007
Image by idealterna

A long time ago, there was a powerful shaman in a village, in a place far,far away. There was this young man, He’-sha-be who apparently impressed by the magical skills of the shaman, decided to be his apprentice. But there was a problem, he was not the only one who wanted to be his apprentice, there were two more. So the shaman, decided to take a test. He said to his fellow-men, with his eyebrows curled, and eyes closed in a hawk-like expression, “Ye! all, Look at these hands and look at these fingers. Powerful are they, blessed are they, magical are they…” And the crowd nodded vociferously, and cheered.” And let these men… “pointing to the three youngsters, who wanted to be under his tutelage, “then point out which finger of mine, resides the most potent power”. And the crowd cheered with anticipation of something truly miraculous. One by one the youngsters walked up and pointed to one of the fingers. Yet wrong it was, then He’-sha-be came up and said,

“O ye great one, the power is not in them…” and the crowd gasped, the shaman squinted his eyes even more.

“… the power lies in our hands”. The entire crowd gasped and looked to the shaman with wide astonishment, but the shaman, smiled and gave him a pat of praise.

So where does the power lie? Does it lie in your hands or in the hands of invisibles whom you let control your life.


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Three

21 12 2007

Life brings with itself ironies galore,
filled with sarcasm and some more
yet we love this cruelty met to us
cursing Him often on our tomorrow’s loss
***
This heart is a cruel thing to listen to
often has to say a word or two
it pains to hear them, O, I do know
yet in the works infinite, those words still they glow
***
The warm sun beating down on the weary road,
that soldier rests in the tree shade
and takes of his velvet coat
rests and refreshes, he walks away
I wonder what happened to the tree,
for it has to but stay.
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The Artistic Sabbath, Ghalib and Taj Coromandel

21 12 2007


This is going to be a long post. At least longer than what I am used to post. Many of my readers have no doubt come here a lot often in the past two months only to return disappointed at no new thing here. Or in Web 2.0 speak “no-fresh-content”. Well although it certainly is not beneficial for your online presence to have such long hiatus of inactivity, yet surprisingly it does oneself far more good than bad.

Let me come to the point right away, and let me start explaining all those small questions which pop up in our heads often, when we see something inexplicable. I had been blogging actively for some time, bringing forward to some poetry and prose, which I would like to believe was enjoyed by one and all. But I guess, thats the beginning… isnt it? You start off with your heart’s sorrow pouring out in front of the world, and suddenly you see that those lines are so well appreciated that, you blow yourself up. Not literally, but in pride, satisfaction and other such altruistic feelings you start feeling on cloud 9. But then you indeed blow up, not yourself but your artistic pursuits. People pour in, take a morsel of the dessert here, try a ladel of the sauce there, reject the tofu yet lap up the soups, and life goes on. Yet after the party ends and you retire to the sanctum sanctorum of your heart, you feel a void. A sudden void which crops from the release of long pent up feelings out in front of the world, and a stronger void in the lull after the ‘party’ . Now you want your friends to drop in some more, most often to give you company, yet you want to make the tofu, which they refused to even touch last time. You know you can make the tofu and the sauce much better this time, far different than what they have ever tasted, far more exotic yet you again go back to the soups and dessert and convince yourself that tofu will be for the next time. So this carries on, you want to try out unchartered territories in your artistic skills, yet you have to carry on with the facade which everybody loves putting on. So what do you do? I think at the heart of this, lies a very basic question about artistic survival? What do you do? You keep on trying new things and risk rejection (albeit after some time they will vehemently take that thing up, and you know its a good thing the others have never tried out) or you keep on whipping up the different sweet variations of the same old things. Well I believe nobody can answer it. What do you think?

Well something similar happened, yeah my prose suck (somebody said that 🙂 ), my poetry is heart tugging, yet somewhere I was feeling a gaping void build up. Couldnt help it, could I? And when you stagnate, things dont flow(cliche). Your words refuse to flow and then you get frustrated, get up and leave or keep convincing yourself that it will get better. I took the first choice. 🙂 .

I left. I left and took a long Sabbath. Stopped commenting on others blogs. Stopped visiting poetry blogs. Didnt reply to any mail which came to me, inviting me to poetry blogs. Well I had all, and left all those things. Whooff! Two months… yeah two months quite some time. My daily online activity just had checking my mails and visiting orkut. Nothing more, sometimes less. I needed to clear my head. Feel passionate about things again.

Well so here I am 🙂 . A lot of things have happened in between. I have been actively involved in many things. Professional life has taken quite some interesting turns. May divulge to you sometime later. Had been following the financial markets actively, started investing too. Predicting and expert commenting, I had it all. Doing some extensive technical work on my end, (personal although and completely). Reading quite a bit. Had a cursory walk through The High Performance Entrepreneur by Subroto Bagchi, for whom I would have ended working if not for my present employer. Had been dabbling with Perl, and VLSI Testing very actively, my list also contains a Python (heard a lot about it), Javascript, My SQL and PHP(dont know if I can pull the last two).

So what made me come into it all over again. Well, I came across an article today in The Economic Times, Chennai Edition about Tom Alter, a Plebystrian Christian living in India, yet knowing Hindi and Urdu better than perhaps the natives(me too included). He has a Gold medal from National School of Drama, active theater artiste and..and ..and , guess what, a Ghalib enthusiast.

I discovered Ghalib at a tender age of 12, and wow! the poetry and prose he wrote. Before I continue with the thread of Alter, let me tell you something about Ghalib. Ghalib had a tumultuous childhood and being the royalty he was, the apparent poverty on young Ghalib’s family was sort of a black cloud. Born and brought up in Delhi,at the close of 18th Century Delhi Sultanate, the apparent grim childhood gave him a much stoic mental makeover. Married at the tender age of 13, he had seven children yet none survived. In his twilight years he even adopted one of his nephews, but kismet had other plans. At his ripe age, his adopted son too passed away. Although a witty man, yet his poetry seems to reflect his hearts pangs and some more.He self taught himself to Persian and Arabic(to a certain extent), he was a man who wore many hats. In fact his masterpieces came at the time when he was devastated with pain and sorrow. He is today remembered as one of the most prolific writers of Urdu. For all those who understand Hindi and Urdu, Ghalib is one of those beacons of Urdu literature which winds of time cant fade out. (You can find a wiki entry here and a much more comprehensive entry over here ).

Yesterday Tom, co hosted along with Juhi Babbar, in Taj Coromandel an exclusive evening on Ghalib’s shayari in Taj Coromandel. The guests were requested to come dressed in Mughal attires, and were made to sit on the gaddi-s on floor (in true Lucknowi Gharana stlye). Flowers adorned their wrists and Chivas flowed copiously as Chennai braced itself for another rainy night. Tom and Juhi along with some heart rendering back ground violin, recapped some of his best works, interspersed with the incidents in his life which made him write such heart rendering stories. As I write, I am finding myself increasingly transported to those days of Lucknowi shaan.

Jaate jaate arz kar raha hoon-

Naqsh faryaadii hai kis ki shokhi-e tehrir ka

Kagazi hai pairahan har pekar-e tasvir ka

Ghalib (age of 19 yrs)

kismet :fate

gaddi :cushions

Lucknawi shaan: A golden period in Lucknow(a city in erstwhile United Provinces in British India) where the best in every material tastes were associated with the city.

 





Creativity,Collective Conscience and Desires

21 09 2007

I was just going through all my previous karma and unwittingly wandered to my blog roll(it had been quite some time that I went through them) The site being Poets Who Blog written by Sara. It has a very unique thing. Sara often arranges group poems, i.e a group of people will compose a poem without the apparent loss of their creativity ,yet sans the absolute authority of the flow of the poem. It goes on like this: Sara posts some three-four lines and invites people for their contribution to it. So people do exactly that and chip in. And jolly good! the contribution they do. And yes, Sara does acknowledge the source of each contribution. So I browsed back in the pages of time (and Sara’s blog) and what I found is a group poem started in August with just four lines by Sara grown to over 50 lines! But it sometimes strikes me as funny, you contributed it but cant say its your own(given the possessive guy I am), you wrote your lines but cant control its flow and it sometimes is funny to see how the river of collective creativity flows when all the banks and dam are broken apart.

So here is the poem I was talking about:

He didn’t ask for
forgiveness.
Didn’t talk about regrets.
Wouldn’t think about the morning;
it wasn’t here yet.

Words spoken in haste;
Daggers hurled with intent.
Eternal damage inflicted,
But only temporarily meant.

a twisting tale of whirling dream
sat spinning through his mind,
a veil of words
sewn delicately
a palm to hide behind.

Never knew, whats wrong,
never felt whats right
but, in the silence of his lonely dreams,
sometimes he cried.
He did run all his life,
he did fall sometimes…
but unforgiving was his heart
for gone day’s crimes

there by the rags and the amputation
scavenging the shadow of the symbol
lives still the glow of his lost lantern
these are the lines of severance
a love letter sealed into the art
of the surgeon
the parts of him not here
fly like birds in an unrequited sky

This life takes leaving,
time unveils one more
unread book left on Life’s shelf –

his weathered hand
on the old book
pauses,
as his fingertips
trace the delicate spine
he wonders
where the time went

He wouldn’t think of trangressions,
wouldn’t think about regrets,
or what may come in the dawning
that was not here yet.

His memories smudged among
the thin crevices of what is reality
and that which is sometimes not….
But now only too aware of the pace of time
He tries what he has not ever done
while he treads those withered hands on the book,
pauses now on something engraved deep, written in gold.
for all the words which broke heart a many,
& all his deeds, which struck’em misery
A tear silently wets his eye, as if
He now knew what’s been lost,
his own truth engraved deep, written in gold
Lines 1-5 by Sara at the Shores of My Dreams .

Lines 6-9 by Dan at Poetic Justice

Lines 10-14 by Absolutely Miles Away

Lines 15-22 by Soham Das

Lines 23-30 by Crimsonsonflaw

Lines 31-33 by Janet Leigh

Lines 34-40 by Autumn Moon

Lines 41-44 by Sara.

Lines 45-56 by Sarayu from Hues of Thought

But by the way what’s its name ? Does that also gets decided by the group?





Fading Realities

18 09 2007

Why do realities fade so fast?
Why does last night’s pain is now a numbed loss?
And why that loss, will be oblivion tomorrow?
Ah! we cant remember, our minds are too narrow.

Why does that love seem so distant?
Why does this heart seem so relieved,
It did lose something didn’t it dear?
Ah! we forget the gone-bys and cling to things near.

How shallow we are, I wonder,
yesterday’s sorrows are todays ironies
todays foes will be tomorrow’s cronies,
wonder if today’s sins will be tomorrow’s glories,
ah! we forgot dear, we forget,
but thats a different story.





The Girl called life

9 08 2007

I am not Flynn and she is not my Anna, but yes, I guess, she did teach me many things which only an Anna could teach to her Flynn.

I met her in one carnival. She was seven years old perhaps, and she was lost, this I am sure. But she didn’t panic I don’t know why. Kids of her age are meant to panic even if they see their cousins, they are supposed to cry even if they are taken away from their mothers, but she didn’t cry. She stood near the ferry’s wheel with enthrallment. I just glanced her and thought with exasperation –“God, the parents of these days!”. And I edged past her to buy the cotton candy.

“Hey Mister, I would accept that if you offer me one.” Those words if came from a girl of my age, I would have been in the seventh orbit. But it was not from any teenage feminine voice , but a sweet tender voice of that girl. For a spilt second, my face was an index of all possible emotions a boy of my age could have. Disappointment, puzzlement, surprise and a whole lot of emotions, which I don’t even have name for. You see, there was this girl of hardly my half the age asking me a candy floss as if umm….well… her boyfriend??? But there was something on her face, and innocent streak, a sweetness which this guy couldn’t resist. I offered her mine one and bought another.

It was awkward. There was this girl of half my age putting me in a predicament, of what should I do next? Leave her over there for her parents to come back or stay with her till they came back. But there is one potential problem, I could be misunderstood by her parents. I asked her what’s her name. She replied “my parents call me Sharmu, but its Sharmila”

“Hmmm….”, now what next? I cant talk about weather to a seven year old girl, can I ?

“Its hot these days, isn’t it?”

“Huh?”

“Never mind”, I muttered…

“Okay Sharmu, bye…my friends are waiting over there, I got to go…bye”, I started inching out.

“Hey wait you didn’t tell me your name”, called out Sharmila

“Its Soham”, increasing the void between us even more…

“Soham, wont you show me your friends??”

I was puzzled. Come on, she was just a seven year old girl talking to a seventeen year old boy with such finesse that it was awkward…

I was standing out there for a second or two, thinking…no, not thinking, I was just doing something except thinking…

“Okay come on…”I waived her towards me….

She ran towards me and held my long fingers with her little fingers mustering all her might.

And that’s how we met.

 

I think she was perhaps too tough to even accept that she was insecure. I brought her home and despite my mother’s initial amazement and protest she stayed with us. The first week we waited for any missing report from local police. And then we waited some more. My mother tried convincing herself hard that she is a guest of a few days, but she and yes…providence made it sure nothing came up. As for me, she already jelled great with me. After the death of my father, me and my mom lived somehow from hand to mouth and managed to keep our two bedroom home. Sharmu came and she brought some headaches for my mom and some welcome change in my life. She came as a sunshine to our lives.

 

My mom, made it sure that she received her academic lessons from her and I finish my studies in time. She was intelligent. She grasped quick and learnt easily. In fact should I say she knew perhaps more than her age. She could really read minds and put seventeen year old guys like me in awkward positions.

 

It was in one of those times that I understood the real heart and mind behind that frail body.I was doing my work on the bench under the sole light of the beige table lamp and she was sitting on the floor solving, I think, a jigsaw puzzle.

“Soham, you need to stop chasing that girl ,you know”,

I was taken aback literally. Shell-shocked to mention the least. I have a crush that itself is‘confidential information’. This is an information which people know, as they say, “only on a need-to-know basis”. People like, that girl, her best friend, my not so best friend, but Sharmu? No she definitely didn’t really qualify herself in that list.

“What???”, feigning ignorance is the best defense against such unproved charges.

“Okay she does look good, but no, not of your type…”

“Hey Sharmu, what are you speaking of?”

“Hey Soham..”- no bhaiyya or anything else.-“don’t feign. You really need to do either two things, go propose her, she knows that only from her best friend, or leave her. You really shouldn’t be running away like this you know…”

She didn’t make any sense to me, but I was afraid that she did speak reality. Never could I bring myself to face the realities like a man, but I think she splashed it like a glass of cold water. She went back to her puzzle and I went back to mine.

“How did she know??”

That night I double checked my diary but it was not moved even an inch. It was safely tucked away in its solitude under the pile of old books of the drawer. That night I really thought, I refused to believe that a few words of a girl is making me think like this. I really cant run away from anything. Thinking ten years from that day I think she taught me one of the most important lesson in my life. I cant run away from my problems.

 

What followed that night was hilarious. I went upto her(my lady love) the next day and proposed her. And the entire school laughed. I laughed too, but it was not from embarrassment but it was that of satisfaction. I did face my fears, so what if they turn out to be true. I didn’t run away. She was supposed to turn me down, and she did. Strangely, very strangely I didn’t get upset. I was far more happier that I was a man at last.

 

Did I ever mention that she was a chatter box at times, chattering away incessantly while at times she used to remain silent as if she is contemplating on the very meaning of life itself.

It was one of those latter times that I got my second lesson. I was reading away merrily the newspaper and she was seated in the yogic lotus position. I don’t know from where did she learn that, but yes she was very serenely calm in her expressions. I did peek at times from the cover of the newspaper but found a petite little girl serenely sitting in the lotus position contemplating with her eyes closed. Sometime her brows used to flinch but it relaxed in its own way. I did find it very amusing but nevertheless feeling lucky for the peace, Sharmila has agreed to bestow on me.

 

“Soham, do you believe in God?”, she posed that question suddenly.

“Err…umm.. yes why not?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Why do you say so? I do go to temple and pray over there, believe in the rituals, yeah I do believe in God”

“Hmmmm….” She got that gesture from me. Wonder how much does a human imitate the people around him.

“But you know, even the rats stay in the temple, do you think they believe in God?”

Bam…there goes the hammer of logic. Sharmila could be probing and incisive with her cold logic at times that a person if didn’t know better she would have been suspected for being an hedonist.

“Ummm…err… I don’t know, I don’t think that qualifies as staying in temple strictly for spiritual sense”, I am speaking to a nine year old, mind you. (It had been roughly two and a half years since Sharmu came to stay with us).

 

“Soham, going to temple or doing rites doesn’t mean that you really believe in God, if you believe in him, one whom you haven’t seen , then how cant you believe in his creation. In the fellows human’s pain and agony. Don’t you think we need to give them our helping hand?”

 

Double whammy. “That’s right. I do give alms to the first beggar I see on the way to college.”

She let out a smile, which just made me feel that, I cant run away from somethings. Lesson 1. Two years ago. She could really make people feel small.

 

She gave me the third and her final lesson before even I was old enough to understand her first ones.

She was coming from school one dusk when a truck came and ran over her petite ,weak body. She died thirty six hours later with plastic pipes going inside her to support the life which in many ways strengthened my family. Her vitals were dipping and her once lively eyes were hovering around that fine line which we all are afraid to cross. I sat beside her for those entire thirty six hours. During her final hours she returned from coma and spoke to me these final words-

“Soham, you know the prayer of St. Francis:- God give me the will to change things which I can, grant me the strength to accept those things I cannot change, and the wisdom to understand the difference”,I nodded in frustration. I realized what she meant but refused to understand it.

 

And then she was gone.It has been ten long years since I saw Sharmila, but those words of her are still fresh, as fresh as the sweet fragrance of roses in the springs.I think those three lessons of my life came at times when I was least prepared to hear them, but the right time to make me understand their importance. In many ways I feel I didn’t bring her home, she always knew where she will be going. I didn’t help her that evening,it was she who chose me.