behind dark glasses

strange eyes
that dissolve in darkness
looked up at me
they took off their teeth
first the right then the left
and smiled

over my suspended fourths
strange eyes
diffuse in the pale
dark night of my room
and soar into song

when the music’s over
strange eyes
lids shut
shiver under my fingertips
like a silent counterpoint

strange eyes
look back at me
as in an infinite mirror
i see more of myself
than I’d ever cared to see
or dreamt there was

strange eyes
wilful as an angel
intent as desire
restless as truth
send me postcard puzzles
at the break of day

putting on those slippers
dusty vermillion dusk
making as if to walk off
into the sunset
strange eyes
turn round
tiptoe back to me

to rest awhile

nightbird

a hint of burgundy
pink froth over blue grey
dawn breaks

a dark private jazz
of crickets – shadow shuffle
a hollow hush electric
tanned green smoke
– fanned air in
a stilled room

eyes take over
take it in

IMG_1080-1

lone crimson overdue
shapeshift diffuse
gold into blue
fade to nothing
day breaks in

eyes take over
shut it out

Translation

I wake up to
a bloated lower lip
blood yet to ooze
dark purple
concentrate
hemispheric
obscenely ready
to dangle from
the left side.

No longer curious,
it won’t stand
no other touch
but yours.
Not even my teeth.
Not even my pillow.

I crush the lump
between my teeth
savouring the red
salt on my tongue
around my fingers.

At peace with
its words, I raze
my lip flat again.
I tell it to heal,
and wait.

Call for change.

IT’S HIGH TIME WE TOOK AWAY ANYBODY’S RIGHT TO DRAG PEOPLE TO COURTS FOR HAVING VERBALLY ‘OFFENDED’ THEIR ‘SENTIMENTS’.

Let’s face it. Words don’t hurt like a prison-term or a fist in the face. We must be free to criticize/offend each other in words as much as we want to.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7883612.stm

Pair held for ‘offending Islam’

By Subir Bhaumik BBC News, Calcutta

Muslims protest in Calcutta against cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2006 Calcutta Muslims in a 2006 protest against Prophet Muhammad cartoons The editor and publisher of a top English-language Indian daily have been arrested on charges of “hurting the religious feelings” of Muslims. The Statesman’s editor Ravindra Kumar and publisher Anand Sinha were detained in Calcutta after complaints. Muslims said they were upset with the Statesman for reproducing an article from the UK’s Independent daily in its 5 February edition. The article was entitled: “Why should I respect these oppressive religions?” (http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-why-should-i-respect-these-oppressive-religions-1517789.html). It concerns the erosion of the right to criticise all religions. In it, the author, Johann Hari, writes: “I don’t respect the idea that we should follow a ‘Prophet’ who at the age of 53 had sex with a nine-year old girl, and ordered the murder of whole villages of Jews because they wouldn’t follow him.” Mr Kumar and Mr Sinha appeared in court on Wednesday and were granted bail. Apology Angry Muslims have been demonstrating in front of the offices of the Statesman since its republication of the article. Police have broken up the demonstrations using baton charges several times this week. Some Muslims close to the Jamiat-e-Ulema e Hind (The Organisation of Indian Scholars, a leading Islamic group in India) later filed a complaint with police alleging that the publication had “outraged their religious feelings”, which is an offence under Section 295 A of the Indian Penal Code. Mr Kumar has said he has already issued a public apology for reproducing the article. “Not anticipating the reaction to the story was an error of judgement and we have regretted that, ” Mr Kumar told the BBC in an interview.

Also, why the appalling lack of coverage in the mainstream media? Where the hell have they gone to graze that they can’t defend their brethren?

More coverage: http://www.thehoot.org/web/home/story.php?storyid=3656&mod=1&pg=1&sectionId=6&valid=true

Postscript:

I also attach excerpts from a chat with Bachchada who brought this to my notice:

Bachchada: kolkatar kono kagojei beroi ni…..
amra secular to
tai hoito editor der i khisti marbo
ebar daini hotyar biruddhe bolle ojhara o court e jabe….
🙂

soumik: ajkei bbc-te khete khete dekhchhilum je this guy on hardtalk whos been assigned to handle uks engagement with the gaza problem n the new israeli govt vehemently supporting the blocking of this far-right dutch senator from entering uk to promote a film he’s amde which supposedly tries to provoke anti islamic hate n all that. the world is getting more n more violent. n less n less tolerant in fear of the escalating violence.
damn.

*made

Bachchada: haan kichhu kora darkar eta niye kolkatar kono kagoje berolo na kano eta? 2 diner purono khabor…..bbc likhe dilo ar kolkatar kono kagoj likhlo na? kichhu kora darkar eta niye…pratibaad hoa darkar…..eta to hussain er case tar motoi

soumik: exactly ami kalkei ju-te print out mere debo. wtf. eshob religious offense nebar odhikar tule deyoya proyojon. jottoshob shuyorer bachcha.

Bachchada: ar dekho amader dordondo protap party ba agunkhor maobadi sabai chup …haan…seriously..fuck all religion….ei katha to richard dawkins hameshai bole thake….molla ra dawkins pore na bole jane na

soumik: im sure mollarao jane. shob intelligent lokei jane. some intelligent people who stand to benefit from exploiting these things choose not to know it.

UPDATE: This little post has inspired an impassioned debate on my Facebook link-up. For those of you in Facebook, and interested in following it up, here goes: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=507829654&v=feed&story_fbid=62401122268

Acceptance.

What if you must have something on your mind constantly, not as an obsession possessing you, but as a perpetual contender to your attention, a corollary distraction to anything you’re consciously occupied with? Something neither driving you insane (for nothing ever will), nor yet letting you be…

You don’t receive as well anymore: you listen to music, and you only appreciate its ambiance; you watch movies, but they only affect you when they do so viscerally; and you can’t read, for the printed word offers the least degree of unconscious pleasure: it barely lulls you in (against the resistance of distractions), unlike the rhythm of action, the resonance of sound. You can’t create in any form: for words sounds visions slip past you too fast, and you know not what you want to say, nor how. Even intoxicants leave you high and dry, their effects restricted to the dullness or animation they bring to your spirit and body, and no more.

Context limits our choices in courses of action. And things make less and less of a difference when you’re not free to initiate those courses that can make the difference.

If you must have and hold on to something on your mind, you must resign yourself to a restless exile: a loss of centre, and control. You must keep running, though you’ll have nowhere left to run to no more.

Do you say, ‘Don’t think twice, it’s alright’? Well, what else can you do.

Post facto.

The flowers that I left in the ground,
that I did not gather for you,
today I bring them all back,
to let them grow forever,
not in poems or marble,
but where they fell and rotted.

And the ships in their great stalls,
huge and transitory as heroes,
ships I could not captain,
today I bring them back
to let them sail forever,
not in model or ballad,
but where they were wrecked and scuttled.

And the child on whose shoulders I stand,
whose longing I purged
with public, kingly discipline,
today I bring him back
to languish forever,
not in confession or biography,
but where he flourished,
growing sly and hairy.

It is not malice that draws me away,
draws me to renunciation, betrayal:
it is weariness, I go for weariness of thee.
Gold, ivory, flesh, God, blood, moon —
I have become the expert of the catalogue.

My body once so familiar with glory,
my body has become a museum:
this part remembered because of someone’s mouth,
this because of a hand,
this of wetness, this of heat.

Who owns anything he has not made?
With your beauty I am as uninvolved
as with horses’ manes and waterfalls.
This is my last catalogue.
I breathe the breathless
I love you, I love you —
and let you move forever.

Leonard Cohen
from The Spice-Box of the Earth

Call so.um.ik from your phone!

Will

Will there be
There be a light
At the end of the tunnel

Will there?

The Heart Asks Pleasure First.

The heart asks pleasure first,

And then, excuse from pain;

And then those little anodynes

That deaden suffering.

[photos: mine; poem: Emily Dickinson]

The First Five Year Plan: 2003-08.

Having been through two very different ‘first-days’ in JU, I’ve been finding it very difficult still to find things to say about them. Reeti and Mandy tagged me to do this write-up quite some time back, and I kept on leaving it for later not just out of pure sloth (though definitely that too), but cuz I didn’t quite know how I feel about these opening acts so to speak. Reeti, having made her thorough disapproval of my sluggish ways amply clear (and not for the first time either), kept on asking me ‘bout the note I’d told her I’d write; till she too gave up or forgot ‘bout it eventually. Yet I had definitely planned on replying to her tag. So I decided to give it a shot after all, though my thoughts aren’t any clearer than before.

First things first, so let’s switch back five years or so. See, the deal is I don’t think too many people would say they get to see the department’s nicer faces quite convincingly on their first days. Ours was punctuated by the characteristically inane orientation sessions which start up affairs here.

Not that it’s all that bad on the opening day. I was a kid outta school, one who’d been frothing at the bits throughout school-life against excesses of discipline, cramping course structures, unintelligent (often idiotic) teaching methods et al and laying foundations for freedom-to-come on extensive reading and the few great teachers who could fuck the system and take you out of it. So it was quite a thrill to finally enter JUDE with all the promises it held for the young, naive mind (and the wonder of the place is this, that it lived up to most of these expectations, and if a few rare ones went unfulfilled, they were more than made up for by the many different and unexpected rewards it had in store for us all). But these gifts, like all such that stay on in your life, you had to earn, and earn in time, as you grew into the place and the place grew into you. The first day however wasn’t all that special in this transformative sense; it was fun in a way you’d expect it to be without becoming an exceptionally fond memory. I guess it was as enjoyable as all college-opening-days are to newbies, gettin’ tipsy over these new environs, sticking by the familiar faces from school (and even those not-so-familiar ‘long as they were schoolmates), and making all those new acquaintances with no knowledge of any future friendship or animosity that might follow.

The profs started with the usual li’l routine they do on these occasions. I’d heard a lot ‘bout some of them and had been looking forward to meeting them personally, so that was quite cool and all that. ADG being an ex-Pointer was happy I guess to see me and Kaichu, a couple of Pointers, having the top entrance spots. I remember him treating me to one of his vacant, far-away smiles and telling me he was a Pointer too. Already the word’s been doin’ the rounds ‘bout Takai’s musical virtuosity and Alal had thought he’d find out if he could grill the young fiddler a bit. SukChau as usual was in absentia and remained so for a month or more, having merrily trotted away to some corner of the globe on his usual lecture tours. So there was quite a bit of curiosity in my mind for some time ‘bout this famous prof who was also assigned my tutor, and who wasn’t there for my first few weeks. Everyone was curious to see Tintinda, the curiously coiffured diminutive-prof(et)-of-the-cool who’d been famously greeted by Mahadyuti as a fellow-fresher on his admission day. ND had just started to teach fulltime when we entered, and PB I think it was who introduced us to her, a very different new kid on the block.

Then followed the traditional greeting of the freshers by their immediate seniors. And this calls for a compliment. I do believe you guys, my taggers, your bunch is incapable of the level of stupidity that this occasion used to attain in the past. So I guess I hope and believe that you guys are more fun ‘bout how you greet your young ‘uns, though if stories are to be believed, such efforts are not always reciprocated (at least intentionally) by the newcomers either. Well ours was as fuckin’ ridiculous and unimaginative as it could get. I remember being bored and revolted by the whole spectacle, losing interest soon enough and tuning out, confining my attention to a more sensible conversation Takai and me had going with Anik, who used to play the violin in those days. So I remember mere brief snippets, and I guess these have stayed with me cuz they were either the rare fun ones or too weird to forget: the sudden rush of UG-twos hullabalooing into the classroom and fighting each other and clamoring over each other’s voices for the right to decide how each junior should be bullied; Soumava dutifully doing as Kaka told him to and doing this imitation air-TT act on the bench (or was it Aveek?); Rimi Nandy deigning to tell us her name and no more, then sitting down sayin’ she’ll leave the rest for another time in her inimitable faux-snobby-bitch voice (:P); Somnath being made to propose to Zish-on-the-dias and doin’ it in style on his knees, somberly elocuting Romeo-under-her-balcony to the lucky girl. I had resolved by then to refuse any part in the ongoing circus. When my turn came however, as all turns do, Diyasree asked me to serenade Riyanka. As she issued her demands, she had this evil relish in her eyes, seemingly in confident anticipation of much mirth soon to follow, and I couldn’t but oblige and take her up on her words. Turnin’ the tables on people acting bullish and superior is always a pleasure, even if the same folks become your friends in future. Most of our immediate seniors, it must be emphasized, didn’t live up very long to this initial impression they established, but they did establish this impression nonetheless. Remember wishing I’d brought a guitar along on that first day (as it became a habit quickly enough in those lazy days on the bridge). But then I guess some other demand would have ensued on seeing a guitar, certainly not a song. As for Riyanka, she became a great friend throughout the first semester. But ours was unfortunately a friendship much like quite a few others I’ve known through the years – setting off with surprising intimacy but fizzling out soon once the fuel from the initial charge ran out, failing to survive the onslaught of time and the greater knowledge of one another it inevitably brings.

But through all these quasi-vaudeville-sideshows, what stayed with me was the horror, the bad vibes of paranoia, that the place might not turn out to be that great after all, not with people around who outclown their juniors on their very first day of meeting. Had I known, I would’ve mouthed some ol’ Raoul Duke at certain moments of despair:

BOOM. Flashing paranoia. What kind of rat-bastard psychotic would play that song – right now, at this moment? Has somebody followed me here? Does the bartendress know who I am? Can she see me behind these mirrors? […] Jesus, bad waves of paranoia, madness, fear and loathing – intolerable vibrations in this place. Get out. Flee… and suddenly it occurs to me, some final flash of lunatic shrewdness before the darkness closes in, that my legal/hotel checkout time is not until noon1

Well so much for that. When our turn came a year later to greet the next batch, it must be said we fared no better, quite possibly worse, ‘least in my book. But that’s for another time. As for the rest of that day, noon came and went, and we checked outta California aft’ all and made our way to the canteens and explored the campus. I remember sitting with Takai in the A.C. Canteen, trying to discuss Jibanananda with Pradipta and Tayana and getting rebuffed. Now, when their identities have gotten chiseled out with time into their familiar roles as friends and fellow batchmates, it’s quite an absurdist trip trying to associate their faces to things one felt on the first day. Faces weren’t that important that day anyhow. One was way too drunk on the very idea of having a huge, soggy-green campus for one’s home, the freedom to be sharing that home with motley bunches of other misfits that one would be sure to find and befriend sooner or later, and of course the bridge that we started haunting from minute zero.

Libbe lange seo brycg. I advocate any and every use of unnecessary violence in this regard. It’s been long enough, we should go ram those gates open and reclaim our few beloved strips of soggy wood, and fuck all who stand in our way, whoever it might be. Wishful thinking yes, but that’s cuz the wish is there, at least in me. And so is the will to action if I find suitable fellow-thinkers in this matter.

Well flash forward now. Five years. And what did this new day-one bring? Not much. By now, JU’s too much of a home to host a real day-one for me. I missed the introductory session for Film Studies, and sat through an elaboration of course structures and curricular plans over the next period. Having missed the intros, and being more in favour of getting to know people one or two at a time over time, and not at one go en masse, I skipped down to familiar JUDEan shores for the rest of the day. Oh well, that’s that.

I have no notes to add here at the end of it all, no witty anecdote or wistful epilogue to seal the envelope. Disjointed recollections. Sketchy views of times too recently outlived for a phantom shape to appear out of and overwhelm the heterogeneous blur of details. Yet it feels good to have taken this odd hour off to keep my word and get this down on paper.

Over and out.

[ P.S. Muchos Gracias, Reeti. ‘Twas fun doin’ it 🙂 ]

1. Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971, second ed. 1998: Vintage, NY), p.85.

[Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by “Raoul Duke” first appeared in Rolling Stone, issue 95, November 11, 1971, and issue 96, November 25, 1971.]