Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Night Fears


A dark curtain of a night fell from across the river green
With huge trees that looked like demons to a five year old.
Then almost twenty years later they came back as crossroads
And having to face the worst possible mistake in life.

The nights that followed were all full of fears of future,
Till you came with your music and took them all away;
But now that you are also gone, the fears are back
The intense loneliness and the few words once again.

You with your music could sweep all those fears away,
You with your love could erase the fears from the years
Yet you have made the night bleaker and darker,
Wringing away the life that throbbed in these bone cavities.

The nights of unknown fears of future were much better
Than these nights of fearful knowledge of separation. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Maddadam Trilogy



Margaret Atwood’s The Maddaddam trilogy that consists of the simultanuels Oryx and Crake (2003), The Year of the Flood and Maddaddam (2013) explore an extremely common device in popular science fiction- an apocalypse triggered by biotechnological and chemical experiments that destroys the rhythm of nature and produces unforeseen disasters and epidemics such as the Waterless Flood. These novels are called simultanuels (as opposed to sequels) as they co-exist and enhance our understanding of the state of life before and after the apocalypse through the eyes of the narrators Snowman, Ren and Toby.

The strides made in biotechnology such as genesplicing help scientists create new species such as wolvogs, liobams and pigeons with human brain tissue added for intelligence. But the product that starts the epidemic known as the Waterless Flood is an over-the-counter medicine known as BlyssPlus Pills, supposed to provide increased sexual satisfaction, protection from sexually transmitted diseases and to prolong youth. Hidden in the BlyssPlus Pills, is a killer virus that will spread like the plague and wipe out entire continents altogether.

When the attacks begin, radio and television stations from across the world report news of the spreading pandemic. But gradually the stations go dead and cities cease to exist. Gradually, a handful of people survive along with the bioengineered Crakers, who are a gentle humanoid species whose skins have natural insect repellants and whose need for animal protein is minimum. Among the survivors are Toby, Ren, Amands, Zeb, Jimmy and other Maddaddamites who are a group of bioterrorists who were bought by Crake in exchange for the protection of their identities.

The narrator of -awaited conclusion to the Maddaddam trilogy is Toby, who belonged to a green cult called God’s Gardeners. She wonders if there is any future for the human generation:
She’s slipping: she ought to write such things down. Keep a daily journal, as she did when she was alone…for generations yet unborn as politicians used to say when they were fishing for extra votes. If there is anyone in the future that is; and if they’ll be able to read; which, come to think of it are two big ifs (Atwood, 136).

The Crakers and the human survivors together create a new set of babies- Kannon, Rhizomes, Jimadam, Pilaren, Medulla and Oblongata, whose characteristics are yet to develop. But the wonder of all wonders is that Blackbeard, a Craker youth learns how to write and records the history of life after the Waterless Flood and the formation of the new hybrid species from humans and Crakers in the form of history.

Atwood uses the trilogy to express her concerns about the environment, the use of artificially created animal protein, the dangers of biotechnological experimentation, the hidden dangers of medical corporations and the relations between the sexes. She concludes on a note of hope through the creation of hybrid babies who will definitely lead life on earth forward in spite of the Waterless Flood. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Dying Young

It was always there in me, this thought of dying young.
The tales of talented youth dying much before
They found no use for  their eager dreams,
Kindled a desire of blazing out like a forest fire.

The ones who had done so were many to count:
Long before they reached the age of thirty-three,
Jesus, Shelley, Keats and my own writerly father
Who left so many manuscripts and diaries.

Now, in my thirties, I wonder what made them tick,
What went in their bodies or minds to make them sick
And no longer afraid of lightning or busy roads,
Fresh cylinders or changing a light bulb all myself.

Sometimes I think I might die of laughter or heart-attack
From reading twisted truths on my students’ answer sheets.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Teaching

Once upon a time, for a short while,
Teaching meant trying to scream above
The aeroplanes taking off nearby
 And the trains that screeched past,

While in this noise girls chatted
On the much prohibited mobile phones;
It also meant counting own mistakes
And losing your voice by Wednesday.

Now it means being silent when it rains
More because it is impossible to talk,
And may be it disturbs the lovelorn dreams
That flit across so many dreamy eyes.

The rain takes them away somewhere
An my voice drags them here back again. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Future

The life of hopes and ambitions is not the life you live,
From the cradle the baby is taught to dream and hope
But when the dark and light of youth decide to fight,
It is often darkness which wins and leaves one lost.

For the ones who have won and moved ahead of others,
Who do not share the burden of your past sorrows,
Who measure you by their own measures of success,
Your dreams are a reason to poke fun and laugh at you.

While you plod against life gathering the missing pieces,
Often having to start again after losing so many times,
The victory that would have tasted sweet in dreams,
Being like a mirage that eludes only you every time.

Yet some day the dark would give way to the dawn,
And if God wills, it will be an everlasting sunshine.

Natural

May be we learnt this silence from nature,
From dormant volcanoes that do not show
Any signs of life; but explode into rages
And passions, creating new terrains,
Blending with the waters of the ocean.
This love hides itself behind a wave of silence,
That sweeps away everything in its path,
But is natural like the merge of streams,
Like the blossoming of flowers in arid deserts,
And the sight of birds in the morning.
It springs natural, magical, dream-like
On the food of silence and nothing else.
For words have no meaning in this love,
And take away the magic of its silence. 

Songs of Sunshine


When the heart chose its path
And burnt all the other roads,
Reason was silent and sore,
But the heart hoped and loved
More than everything else.

In the days of radiant sunshine
Free and uncensored thoughts,
Effortless talk with smiles,
Laughter, kisses and love,
No bitterness was foreseen.

Now the sunshine is gone,
Replaced by the rainy days
Just like the pre-sunshine age
Each day after the other
Again an uneventful life.

The clock has been turned
Back to the mixed times,
Bittersweet and mundane,
Where no dark clouds were,
It is raining incessantly.

The days of sunshine are over,
With no hopes of coming back,
Angry words and accusations,
No daily downloads of news
Only spite and seething anger.

Yet this heart that forgot itself,
Became rougher and tougher
Day after day remembers,
The melodious tunes it knew
In the days of bright sunshine. 

Saturday, August 03, 2013

32

32


You remember dear,
I have reached where you were,
When Humpty-Dumpty broke the wall.

All could be seen for a while was pieces
Of your broken shell that hurt my eyes
And bled my heart for you were gone.

It was a lesson, these long years
To know what you lose in a moment-
A king, his horses and his men. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A House for Mr. Biswas


He thought of the house as his own, though for years it had been irretrievably mortgaged. And during these months of illness and despair he was struck again and again by the wonder of being in his own house, the audacity of it: to walk in through his own front gate, to bar entry to whoever he wished, to close his doors and windows every night, to hear no noises except those of his family, to wander freely from room to room and about his yard, instead of being condemned, as before, to retire the moment he got home to the crowded room in one or the other of Mrs. Tulsi’s houses, crowded with Shama’s sisters, their husbands, their children. As a boy he had moved from one house of strangers to another; and since his marriage he felt he had lived nowhere but in the houses of the Tulsis, at Hanuman House in Arwacas, in the decaying wooden house at Shorthills, in the clumsy concrete house in Port of Spain. And now at the end he found himself in his own house, on his own half-lot of land, his own portion of the earth. That he should have been responsible for this seemed to him, in these last months, stupendous.
A House for Mr. Biswas (1961) is V.S. Naipaul’s third novel and deals with the life of Mohun Biswas, an Indian settler in Trinidad and his struggles to have a house of his own. Born the wrong way and considered to be unlucky by his parents, his prank leads to the death of his father. His mother and the four children are separated, Mohun taken into the care of his aunt Tara and her husband Ajodha. To earn a living, he works as a painter of signs and falls in love with Shama of the Tulsi family.
The Tulsi family is a joint family with the mother Mrs. Tulsi, her two sons, her sister and family, her fourteen daughters, their husbands and children, all living under the same roof. He longs for a house of his own and builds two, one of which blows off in the storm and the other catches fire. His struggles to have a house of his own that be “unaccomodated and unhoused” is the theme of the novel.
After years of poverty and humiliation, Biswas gets a job as a news reporter and his fortunes change. He saves money and when his son Anand is humiliated by Owad, the present Tulsi patriarch, he buys a house and takes Shama and his four children there. The house has so many faults that he did not notice but then it is his own and he dies there.
The novel portrays the lives of Hindus in the West Indies and the joint family system is humorously portrayed especially the nicknames that Mohun Biswas devises for his mother-in-law and his brother-in-laws. At the same time, there is pathos in the rootlessness and humiliation that a poor migrant has to suffer in an alien land. A House for Mr. Biswas combines both laughter and tears to depict a man’s attempt to find his self and his own "privacy and space" as Naipaul himself says in his BBC Interview.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A tear


The light of your laughter,
The wonder in your eyes,
The pride of your work,

What all have you lost,
What all did the brutes
Wrest away from you!

 We will give you the tears,
We will remember your life,
We will keep you from slander,

But then what else can we give
Who have no power to return
What you lost- a promising life.

 

Friday, April 05, 2013

Female Quixote

You are in your twenties. You do not know what to do- whether to get married or pursue a promising career that exists in your dreams. You are brilliant; at college known for punctuality and studious hardworking nature. You have clear cut opinions on almost everything under the sun, including your future husband.

Secretly inside you live a person who believes in finding love somewhere quite unexpectedly but you don’t want that person to take control. For some strange reason love eludes you when it hits everyone everywhere: in buses, trains, offices, colleges, libraries, churches, hospitals, everywhere. No, its not that you do not go out but you are very serious about whatever you do. You go for work and keep cordial relationships with your male colleagues, who have a hard time understanding you. You go to church and either pray or sleep. You travel in buses full of guys but keep reading the boards everywhere. You visit the library crowded with handsome guys thrice a week but nothing interests you more than what’s new inside the well-vacuumed and orderly kept library.

Finally, when some guy is interested you are not and you don’t want to be either. You become conscious of all this stuff only when you decide to be good-looking on your cousin’s wedding day. You are no beauty but suddenly people take note of you clad in this strange costume and say: “Oh my God! You look beautiful. We’ll be attending your marriage next. May be I will talk to your mother. There are a few guys that I know.” There is laughter and you cannot help blushing. From uneducated relatives there are questions and sneers meant to make you understand that their hardly educated daughters had two kids and a handsome husband during the same period of time that you were working hard to earn a university degree.

Here you go. Suddenly you feel confused. You have dreams about your life though you do not know which route to pursue. These wise old women prescribe marriage for you as if you have become an old maid, as if marriage is the end of all these problems while you try to think about the whole lot of people who have trouble keeping their marriages intact.

Worse than the old women are your friends: school, college and workplace. They wonder when they can attend your marriage as if that was something they have looking forward to their whole life. Unbelievable. The haughty ones turn docile after marriage and speak in a sweet voice to their hubbies in a voice that makes you want to puke. In front of you they act that their life is so perfect and to have a perfect life what they advise you is to get married to someone they know: Do you know that my hubby has a friend named A, who is very good? He’s not that educated as you but he’ll keep you happy!” “Et tu Brute was not written without a reason.

If you are not a female Quixote, may be you are unbelievably blessed, lucky or born out of time in this strange age!



Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Nissim Ezekiel's "Goodbye Party for Miss Pushpa T.S"

Friends,

our dear sister

is departing for foreign

in two three days,

and

we are meeting today

to wish her bon voyage.


You are all knowing, friends,

What sweetness is in Miss Pushpa.

I don't mean only external sweetness

but internal sweetness.

Miss Pushpa is smiling and smiling

even for no reason but simply because

she is feeling.


Miss Pushpa is coming

from very high family.

Her father was renowned advocate

in Bulsar or Surat,

I am not remembering now which place.


Surat? Ah, yes,

once only I stayed in Surat

with family members

of my uncle's very old friend-

his wife was cooking nicely…

that was long time ago.


Coming back to Miss Pushpa

she is most popular lady

with men also and ladies also.


Whenever I asked her to do anything,

she was saying, 'Just now only

I will do it.' That is showing

good spirit. I am always

appreciating the good spirit.


Pushpa Miss is never saying no.

Whatever I or anybody is asking

she is always saying yes,

and today she is going

to improve her prospect

and we are wishing her bon voyage.

Now I ask other speakers to speak

and afterwards Miss Pushpa

will do summing up.



By Nissim Ezekiel

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

A True Gift in Green



To know the mind of woman, he has to know first, the mind of the land.
Sarah Joseph is one of the celebrated women novelists of Malayalam literature and she has he has received numerous awards and honours such as Kendra Sahitya Academy Award, Kerala Sahitya Academy Award, Vayalar Award, Cherukad Award and O.V. Vijayan Sahitya Puraskaram. Her Malayalam novel Aathi was published simultaneously with its English translation Gift in Green by Valson Thampu in 2011. In her interview with Valson Thampu, Joseph speaks about how she modelled the land of Aathi on a island Valanthakkadu in Ernakulam district of Kerala. She was amazed by the lives of the people who subsisted in fishing, picking mussels and farming Pokkali rice. They earned as much as Rs. 300 a day picking mussels but never fished for more than that as they count on the fish and mussels as their fixed deposits. The author praises the subsistence perspective of the people of Valanthakkadu by basing a novel on their simple life.



The land of Aathi is pristine covered with water on all sides. The people lived the water-life, drawing sustenance from the water and the fields. Their water-life meant that their daily immediate needs were met from earth and water as they could collect enough food to feed the whole family just by working till noon everyday. The mangroves that surrounded the land of Aathi contained plenty of fish, which the people used to catch with their bare hands. During high tide, these fish and prawns were carried across to the rice fields, from where the people caught them. They also knew the secret of growing rice in salty waters. In Aathi, people from the ancient times lived the water-life, harvesting only what they need from nature.



The destruction of the pristine, land, water and its people starts with the advent of Kumaran, a business tycoon who sees in Aathi, the means of making money. With his coming, the modes of living such as the water-life and farming are replaced by construction of buildings resulting in pollution, creation of toxic waste and destruction of natural habitat. The novel also shows the environmentalist concerns of the writer as she describes the present-day issues of Kerala such as water contamination, lack of proper waste disposal systems, dumping of biomedical waste in rivers and waterbodies, the use of endosulfan to ensure profit in farming, the problems of landfilling, destruction of marshes disposal of plastic and biomedical waste and so on. However, nature cannot be exploited and contaminated forever and the waters of Aathi rise in a flood and purify the whole land.



Sunday, March 31, 2013

A decoration

Cat on a cold tin roof



Every picture speaks a story. This photo was snapped through the window on a cold day! I was coming down the stairs and saw that our neighbour's cat was napping on the tin roof, next to a madal (dried cocunut branch). This is the same villain who used to steal into our home and cause a lot of havoc.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Art of the Perfect Roti


Styles in cooking differ; as many styles are available as there are people. This is one lesson that I learnt once I got married. For many of the food items that I knew how to cook at home were made differently here and held with amusement as well.

It was strange how a simple task like making a chapattis or a roti can be so different. My mother makes it big and wide as big as the tawa at home. It's soft and my comments were always along the lines that all her anger at people she sublimated in the act of making the dough for chapattis.

Here, at the new place, the rotis were small enough to fit the vessel my new mother-in-law (I mean one and the only mother-in-law) had and she could make it round and soft and full, like the ones shown in the advertisement for atta.

First, my trials at making rotis were met with laughter and my husband would remark:" Do these rotis go to the gym everyday?"My father-in-law said: "Kid, I'm past 65 and my teeth are shaky. If I eat these everyday, most probably I wont even have to visit a dentist". True to what he said, three months after I landed, his tooth fell.

Somehow I kept on making rotis and didn’t give up. Finally in a historical moment that witnessed great applause from all, the roti came out perfectly made and soft. More than my years at the college, these few months in the kitchen were the toughest in history.


Wednesday, March 06, 2013

A writing woman gathers no fat



Every writer needs a space to write, be it a lap-top or a quiet corner in the room, where you can sit and mull over things, real and unreal, present and past, serious and trivial. That idea of a sacred space can be found in the writings of many women writers, especially Virginia Woolf who spoke of the need for having a room of one's own.

For a woman to write, she needs to be free from the guilt of not doing household chores, unless she is well-off and has one or many house-helps. Otherwise, writing is like walking on tight rope- you might fail to balance the work world, the home world and the world of words. But creating balance comes out of setting priorities in day-to-day life.

Writing is a great relief from the world of stress; it can release lots of tension and keep you occupied with the jigsaw of creating good content. The satisfaction that you derive from writing a page can never be compared to that a well-cooked meal or a sparkling floor as each has its own value in life; but a piece of writing has a lasting value in that a meal disappears in a day or two, depending on the artistic talents of the cook and the floors have to be swept again and again.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Recompense

For every word of harshness that you hear,
There is equally a word of love somewhere.
For the darkest hours of the wakeful night,
At the end of which is a beautiful dawn.

For the loss of innocence of childhood,
There is the growing maturity of years.
For the loss of a life near river green,
There is lot more sunshine to equal.

For the trenches that this life fell into
There are the new scales that it climbs.
For the years lost in search of dreams,
There are these words on a virtual page.

Which brings in daily, strange comfort,
For every friend lost, that of strangers.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Barn-owl in the backyard

Pensiamento Fantastico: The Kitchen God’s Wife

Amy Tan’s novels serve as cultural documents that describe the immigrant experience in terms of communality and identity. They con...