In one of the most poignant scenes in Bollywood history, a hyperventilating Rajesh Khanna says to a massively worried Amitabh Bachchan, 'जो खत्म हो रहा है वो शरीर है।' (That which is ending is the body) and follows it up with one of the most beautiful poems I've ever come across:

मौत तू एक कविता है,
मुझसे एक कविता का वादा है मिलेगी मुझको

डूबती नब्ज़ों में जब दर्द को नींद आने लगे
ज़र्द सा चेहरा लिये जब चांद उफक तक पहुचे
दिन अभी पानी में हो, रात किनारे के करीब
ना अंधेरा ना उजाला हो, ना अभी रात ना दिन

जिस्म जब ख़त्म हो और रूह को जब साँस आऐ
मुझसे एक कविता का वादा है मिलेगी मुझको

which, when translated reads like:

Death, you are a poem,
and you shall meet me; in your poetic promise.

when pain begins to subside in my sinking pulse,
and the pale moon reaches the horizon.
while the day is still in water, and night lurks on the bank,
neither dark nor alight, when it's neither a day nor a night

when the body ends and the soul takes breath,
you shall meet me; in your poetic promise.


Not the brightest of thoughts with which to start the day but it does serve to elucidate the power of creative effort. Art, in its best attempt, trying to veil the hideous reality in a beautiful raiment, thereby engendering an experience that is as rooted in ethereal beauty as in dead certainty. Bare truth is not only depressing, it's also predictably boring. A creative vision, in the above example, seeking to redress reality's morbid obsession with its own mediocrity and inevitability.


Oh Lolita!

I suppose the fascination; this secret, almost amoral intrigue, the all too well known broad desire of uncertain and unsullied youth which makes it look with slant,unsure, fidgeting but intermittently riveted eyes at the lady in elaborate disrobe on the cover of magazines which invested too heavily in the aphorism, 'a picture is worth a thousand words'; about one of the most controversial books of all time started more with hearsay than with rationality. There it was, tucked away with almost unusual secrecy in one of the damp, dark, dreary passages of the library between other books by the same author which had been unfortunate enough to have not been controversial enough for me to remember their names now with any sort of clarity. There it was, 'Lolita', sinister and inviting in the blackness of its hardbound, evil and guilty in the deluge of its perverse reputation, smug and defiant in the light of its success but classy and confident in the quality of its prose. I had heard about it, I have been hearing about it, I heard that they made a movie on the story and I heard that Bollywood duly followed suit by copying it in one of those mind dumps which starred one of those mind dumps whose father had the foresight to give up the mighty good name of the Srivastavas. Oh! I can imagine how mediocre the movies must have been.

As someone said to me, good books make bad movies. And Lolita is far from being a good book. It's a brilliant book. One of the best I have ever come across in fact. Simply put, it's the testimony of a pedophile/murderer. Oh! how crass it sounds, how viciously unworthy a subject upon which the creative juices of an artist be spent, how overwhelmingly lopsided our emotions regarding the deviant fetishes of one so deranged and how swift our 'fair' implications and judgment. How warped and perverted must the story be! Well, it's not warped and it's not perverted. I'm sorry if it's too hard to believe but it is a beautiful tale of a person who belongs to a group who has had the terrible misfortune of having an interest which happens to have not had found any favor with the majority view of acceptable social conduct. I'm not advocating that his behavior must find a champion in one as vocal and might I say deranged as Ms. Roy. I'm just saying that in a society which is continually expanding its realms of what it finds acceptable, to use a term from Dawkins in this continuing moral zeitgeist where gays are allowed to be happy and gay the protagonist (or antagonist?) of this novel represents that portion which has been dealt a hard hand by nature. Tough luck, you deserve the consequences! we might say and move on. But this book stops where our sense of propriety dictated us to look in the other direction. And it's a worthwhile read. After all, is there is sense to our quest for knowledge if not for widening our horizons of rational thinking and sensitivity?

It's essentially a love story. A tale of unrequited love which sees its highs in vigorous, periodic, closely spaced but almost never narrated sexual encounters and its depressing lows in juvenile indifference and jejune preoccupations unmindful of love's shivering and hesitant supplications culminating in a subdued whimper in one of those agonizing moments which, given the poignancy of the situation and masterful exposition of heart's innocent cries, manages to leave a slight trace of moistness in even the most arid of eyes. Yes it's a heartbreakingly beautiful story and it ends up making you feel for the pains and travails and joys and miseries of the eloquent debauched. Such is the power and beauty of author Nabokov's narration that Lolita's final words ('No') stand as iridescent, incandescent reminders of all those times when one has felt completely helpless in the face of all those resolute but heartbreaking Nos. Except in this occasion while the reader's sympathy should have rested with the corrupted and defiled it instead embraces the corrupt and the defiler. The language is a spectacle to behold and is an added incentive if one is needed. I really am too incompetent and too small to even do justice to the brilliant shimmering blaze with which Nabokov's flamboyant prose is alight. Suffice to say, it's been one of the most satisfying reads. Both linguistically and as a really good story.


Monday grays

My mobile, weary and red-eyed, listless and slightly annoyed, almost in half sleep whispers in faintly audible blues that the divine order of time has just passed the obscure milestone of the middle hours of the day: 2. And there I am, nestled between the warm embrace of a jaipuria and soft hollows of a 'Sultan Fageras', hair unkempt, face weirdly contorted by a prolonged bout of improper sleeping posture, lying face down with the resolve and the dignity of a soldier recently gunned down on the battlefront. And the irritating phone, oblivious of the ruckus it's causing, unmindful of its amplified and distorted resonance in one so comprehensively unconscious, heedless of its own prickly dissonance and smug in its self delusional belief of digital perfection and recorded harmony, goes tee-tuu-taa-tee-tuu-taa. Ah! if only it had not burned a hole the size of several centuries in my pocket, I would have promptly dealt with such insolence in the form of a raised arm, a clenched fist, a sudden jerk accompanied with a muffled bang and hopefully shards of glass and silicon and bruised pride and hushed conceit. That bloody thing!

It's raining cats and dogs outside... metaphorically speaking that is. A literal manifestation would certainly have been reason enough to hurriedly wake up but a metaphorical manifestation of the phenomenon is the best anesthetic ever devised by the devious divinity of the divine. I can hear the cats and dogs slamming down on my window, much like hearing the suicidal tantrums of a very long Chatai from a great distance on Diwali. It looks capitally bleak outside with a bright, all engulfing darkness, a sweltering all pervasive cold, a dry, stifling, itching wetness, a still, inanimate, heavy presence of immobile wind, and the contorted, comic, strained postures of weirdly stretched trees against a backdrop of mercurial, protean, capricious stagnation. The window pane is dotted by the blood of cats and dogs and seems to be trying its best to keep the two worlds separate. The ebullient, jubilant, ecstatic, unchained, primal, unforgiving spectacle much like one of those mysterious tribal ceremonies you see on Discovery or NatGeo or low budget B movies, outside and the subdued, stagnated, controlled, diluted, chained world much like nonfat milk and soy substitutes and mocktails, inside. The one outside is fastened and the one inside is fastened!

I think another hour would do me good.

About Me

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Like a particularly notorious child's tantrums, a mountaneous river's intemperance, a volcano's reckless carelessness and the dreamy eyes of a caged bird, imagination tries to fly unfettered. Hesitant as she takes those first steps, she sculpts those ambitious yet half baked earthen pots.