Swan Song

And there it was. On the white water. Under a black deserted sky, ominous and cloudy save the faint moon, abruptly punctuated by the dark lake in the distance. And still, breathless silence of a world dumbstruck at the sheer beauty, the bloody audacity of beauty, the painful intolerance of beauty, the insurmountable allure of perfection, the insulting mockery of it all. There it was, its white coat reflecting the soft moon in a blurred concoction of fractal complexity, its long slender neck rising above the surface of water with an elegance unspeakable, its wide open eyes shimmering with the innocence of stupidity, utterly confident of the immutability of future. Silly swan! In the calculated expanse of his wings was the grasp of his dreams, unsullied, untainted - ultimately unintelligent. In the perfection of his form lay the idea of an unimprovable future. In the grace of his movements, the surety of a sunny day. In the arrow through his neck - the shattered shards of the perfect life. Helpless as he writhed with this unquenchable pain, as he jostled with this anchor which had tethered his mighty flight to the lowly ground, as he tried to squeeze out the last tones from his fast emptying barrel - in his desperate attempt to save the quickly disfiguring pot of his dreams, in one of those stupid ironic moments when death lays bare the most human of hues, when life lives with an unmatched vitality in the arms of death, he broke out into the most gut wrenchingly beautiful song of his life. And it pierced through the deafening silence with the power of a bolt through a menacing sky, with the simple beauty of the fall of the last leaf of a dying tree, with the tonal perfection of rain over water, with the divine harmony of - silence. And silent it became, with the sanguined water, some blood stained furs stuck to the steely tip and a lifeless, formless, helpless body aimlessly drifting away into the frigid dark, the depressing reminders of a promise ruthlessly trampled. And the sand slipping away from my hand - faster the harder I try to contain it, with an almost mocking, insulting nonchalance until my fingers press against the face of my palm and I realize that it's finally over. The song that I just heard has also stopped. Yes, it's finally over.
I was reading 'The Ballad of Reading Gaol'. A few lines worth sharing:

Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word.
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

Some kill their love when they are young,
And some when they are old;
Some strangle with the hands of Lust,
Some with the hands of Gold:
The kindest use a knife, because
The dead so soon grow cold.

Some love too little, some too long,
Some sell, and others buy;
Some do the deed with many tears,
And some without a sigh:
For each man kills the thing he loves,
Yet each man does not die.


Such a poetical exposition of the essential connection between love and hate that leaves them both tangled in each others embrace, hanging in an exquisite balance whose unstable equilibrium is a relationship.


Mnemonically speaking

In thinking about my distant past I'm frequently surprised by the clarity with which certain small details, quite insignificant in the normal scheme of things, rush through the haze of at least 2 decades. It has the same effect of staring down into a valley on a particularly foggy day. Backgrounded by a blurry, vague mist the bushes in the foreground glisten and sparkle with an astounding detail that is completely missed in the mayhem that is the inevitable concomitant of clarity. Similarly my past, so nebulous, so amorphous like a long exposure shot of a waterfall in which water looks more like a continuous fabric than a collection of long quantum streaks, provides a canvas of such assorted medley that the resultant is a whitish, palish sheet of paper on which arise the geometrical flashpoints of my life. My life, in hindsight, conveniently expressed, summarily summarized by the relative perspicuity of periodic insignificance!

How else would I explain the lucid taste of Calcite which still clouds the tongue everytime I take a piece of chalk in my hands; the memory arising from my taking a bite out of a classroom piece at a time in my past that is as lost to my mind as the complete repository of my Bio knowledge. How else would I explain the exactitude with which the parabolic trajectory of the six, which was the result of two and a half paces of dance down the wicket and a mighty heave on the onside, is affixed in the jumble of my mind? How else would I explain the vivid memory of the primordial bliss that engulfed a child of 6 in the company of his mother who is chattering away on a clear spring afternoon under a bright yellow sun on a white concrete roof of a dilapidated signature middle class society building with moisture induced black algae on the outside walls that is punctuated with small mottled glass windows and frank, public private balconies? In comparison, all the important landmarks, examinations, birthdays, marriages, trips etc. appear as if from behind a rain spattered glass window. They are there alright but as their own ghosts; they are all there in the realm of the fuzzy no-man's land between the conscious and the subconscious. Like the indefinite transmogrification of reality in its caricatured alter-ego that resides within the boundaries of somnolence. And I'm never sure that upon trying to extract a particular portion of that gooey mixture, what I'm ending up with is actually a slice of my life or just a phantasmagorical remnant of a confused mind.

I suppose this problem is uniquely my own. Imagination tries to fill in the gaps left by a memory that has been a shameless bum with regards to its own work. I have, without a shred of doubt, the most incompetent, most vacillating of long term memories among all those I've met. But then I don't remember most of them :).

Foggy and Gloomy

Wilde once said that all bad poetry is a result of honest emotions. Well... at least my poetry is bad... it's in fact verse!

I wonder what to write on
in times of such distress,
with gloomy days and foggy nights
solitude lone buttress.
Specters rise in ghostly dance
from all engulfing mist,
I raise my hand to touch them all,
moisture my mistress.

Memory with its shearing edge
cuts carves clean car-cass,
and chops it to a deja vu
bludgeons it to molass.
And I walk on with eyes put fix
into the foggy dark,
anxiety, nerves, concern, shivers,
trepidation en masse.

Ink in the pen, starts to dry
with careless nonchalance,
in horror do I gape at the
precarious imbalance.
As it tilts here and it tilts there
I'm left to ruminate,
over our hollow rein on life,
self-deluding pretense.

Well... too gloomy I think, too dark. No no, things are not nearly dark enough but midway through it I was seized by the romantic imagery of it all. It's a vicious circle, gloom. It feeds on itself. The more eloquently you express it, the more beautiful, alluring, all-consuming it becomes until you are reduced to a whining, bleeding heart that your emotion and sympathy laden ideas want you to be. I know it from experience and I believe it very deeply that I have been dealt a more than fair hand. My travails have not been worse than anyone else's just like the travails of most people in the world are probably worse only in their own eyes. But such rational justifications do not stop me from writing self-indulgent, morose lines like the ones above. Hmmm... was it Gandhi who once said that to be happy, you only need to look at a person sadder than you?


Fry on Language

I recently came across this brilliant post on the subject of language by Stephen Fry and since I can never express my own feelings with the clarity and eloquence of the master, I will reproduce a part of his text here. From Stephen Fry's musings on the subject of language:

"I’ve mentioned those French intellectuals the structuralists: one of their number, perhaps the best known, Roland Barthes, liked to use two words jouissance and plaisir. Le plaisir du texte. The pleasure of the text. Those who think structuralism spelt or spelled death to conscious art and such bourgeois comforts as style, accomplishment and enjoyment might be surprised that the pleasure of the text, the jouissance, the juicy joy of language, was important to Roland and his followers. Only to a dullard is language a means of communication and nothing more. It would be like saying sex is a means of reproduction and no more and food a means of fuelling and no more. In life you have to explain wine. You have to explain cheese. You have to explain love. You can’t, but you have to try, or if not try you have, surely, to be aware of the astonishing fact of them. We would never notice if the fat and protein rich food with which cows, ewes and nanny goats suckled their young could not be converted to another, firmer foodstuff that went well with crackers and grapes. We wouldn’t go about the place moaning that sheep’s milk was only of any use to lambs, any more than I have ever heard anyone wonder why pig’s milk doesn’t make a good yoghurt. In fact if you suggest drinking pig’s milk or horse’s milk, people look askance and go “yeurgh!” as if it’s the oddest suggestion they’ve ever heard. We take what nature and custom have led us to accept. As Eddie Izzard pointed out, it’s odd that bees make honey: ‘after all,’ he said, ‘earwigs don’t make chutney.’ And take that arbitrary fruit, the grape: suppose grapes didn’t uniquely transmogrify themselves, without the addition of sugar, into a drink of almost infinite complexity? We wouldn’t wonder at the lack of such a thing as wine in the world, any more than we wonder that raspberry wine (despite the deliciousness of raspberries as fruit) can’t, in the proper sense, exist or speculate on why the eggs of carp aren’t as good to eat as the eggs of sturgeon. But every now and again we should surely celebrate the fact that caviar is so fine, that the grape offers itself up so uniquely, that milk products of three or four species have such versatile by-products for us, that the grain of some grasses can be transformed into bread, that the berry, pod or leaf of this plant or that plant can give us chocolate, coffee or tea, and that while the fuzz of this plant can’t go to make a shirt, the fuzz of that unique one canand the thread of this insect can go to make a tie, while the equally impressive thread, in nature, of that other insect can’t be spun into the simplest handkerchief. Is it weird that silkworms exist or is it weird that only the silkworm will do when it comes to silk and only the cotton plant when it comes to cotton? To put it again, in an accidental line of decasyllabic verse, ‘none would be missed if they didn’t exist’. And if language didn’t elicit pleasure, if it didn’t have its music, its juiciness or jouissance would we notice, or would always be destined to find pleasure in it because that’s a thing we humans can do? Out of the way we move we can make dance, out of the way we speak we can make poetry and oratory and comedy and all kinds of verbal enchantments. Cheese is real, and so it seems, is the pleasure of the text."

His full post can be found at:

hmmm... quite a brilliant article and it makes me wonder about those philosophic thoughts which advocate a spartan and austere life, taking the juice out of life itself so that it would never spill on your clothes. Would terming it 'to always err on the side of extreme caution' be right? Is pleasure the most basic human duty? A duty which like all duties is extremely difficult to live up to but whose idea is the idea of a perfect life.

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.