Thursday, July 11, 2019

Free

For someone who NEVER has the patience to wait till the onion grows fully brown in oil, I do spend a lot of time chewing words in my head. Each word arrives so reticently, as if it would have ideally preferred to be elsewhere. So, the fifth proposal's first draft has left for another time zone. Much more to gather around. SOP-s, validation letters, elusive binding agreement letters from super star academic conclaves..Everything might just end up in another letter which goes.."We are sorry..we read you proposal..very good..but..."

May be, it doesn't matter. It is a July which has more to it than a grant application. This strange poet who has become a fellow traveller. He generally makes people leave home, hearth and accustomed ways. He isn't going to go away with the smell of a rejected grant application. We will still travel. I will still write on stolen mornings before I leave for the under graduate feeding bottle factory which chews my hours and patience. Will write across over-work and flus. Will film across lack of funds and desperation. Will meet new comrades over coffee and a will to live against the tide of hate. The poet rarely ever leaves anyone unscathed.

Then again, there is more to this July. To be free..To be free of the smell of memories of any man. There are times when you should climb mountains and scream out aloud, "I am not in love with anyone any more". No, not even the infatuation kind. The exhilarating freedom of it. Wind-only wind will get that.

Much more than a year ago ..the fall into the depths of sorrow which was all over like the blood on Lady Macbeth's hands. All the friendships in the world seemed inadequate to wash it away. Just that line. THIS TOO SHALL PASS. And, it did. I want to say that to the dear friend who is doing the living corpse act over a walking art piece on infidelity. She wouldn't get it now. May be later, when all this is blown over and she is on a better boat, better life.

After sorrow, nothing should have mattered. Really, nothing. But then, life has strange ways.

Now, thankfully is officially free of all the demons which might even look remotely like love. Not sorrow, not the guy with the ability to communicate to extra terrestrial beings through his hair. Finally, free!!!!

Should do a trip to the mountains to own this. But, then there is a grant application to write, the mad poet and the end of vacations. This short trip with G should be good. Y will be here soon, with the infectious energy of the very young. There will be many more mountains. And times to laugh out aloud, to watch a film to its end, to dance with the sway of the wind, to relish the touch of mild rain on skin..to put it in that cliche..to be alive and free

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Living with the dictators of the right and democracy

So, the dictator is coming back to power, through a thumping democratic victory.
The era of dictators of hate coming by rightful means of democracy

 Lives of many of us will change drastically.
One of the leaders of a people's movement I filmed with has disappeared.
Each of us will pay a price, as the time rolls by.
The front rows will go first, but it will be more than the front rows.

I remember talking to R years ago, all enraged.
And, she telling me that history will take you through times that you may not want to live through.
Holocaust, Partition, Emergency, Gaza..


This, our share
As years pass by, many of us could lose jobs, could get jailed or killed.
.......

Will be out there
With the feeblest weapons in the world-a pen and a camera
Will converse with hate filled mobs and algorithms
To figure out whether there is any way of bringing in a semblance of sanity
With the sharpness of the words of that poet whose words of love managed to
travel through centuries

It might be a lost cause
Foolhardy venture
Trying to fight the tides of hate with a camera and pen
Funded by the coins in the piggy bag and the time I steal from the day job
Hours at the dawn when I look for answers in the archives about fifteenth century
With that grand capital, going to the charging hate mobs to read to them verses of love from a far gone century.
Many of us will be similarly foolish, in many ways
But may be that is the only way to live through times like this
To walk on or perish with whatever is left of you.
Without selling the soul, like that good friend who now heads a channel
and writes hymns for the dictator in the 24x7 news mode









Tuesday, April 16, 2019

To Work

Not because there is enough courage
A reasonable amount of paranoia is packed for the journey
Not because there is enough money
Have to count quite a few coins for yet another no funds till now project
Not because there is enough time
Is going to bunk job and hope that it won't register within the bureaucratic maze
Not because there is enough peace
The smell of the hospital and daily squabbles are still fresh.

Fire and belly
Over the mounting pile of rejection slips, over unanswered emails
Is going to make another journey
To chase the shadows of that 15th century poet
Whose songs might have the spell to calm these tides of hate.
It is just a guess, could be horribly wrong

Over to a bus journey
To a remote town
With not much of a safety net
'Lone woman with a camera on an unfunded research trail'
Could end well, or very badly
If things go awry
There are not even the supervisors to mourn

Why do I get pulled to work that can get me killed?
There is no money, but the maps are laid out
To be the black researcher who will film performances with the KKK
So that we can get an insight into the shades of hate.
With a prayer and hope that camera will turn out to be a good enough barrier

This work which no one funds, or publishes, or lends an ear to-it still makes me undertake strange journeys
To the unknown and often dangerous roads

If I come back safely
Will write it down and send off in a month
No more procrastinations for that perfect paper
These are the debts that you owe to perilous journeys

Once it all gets done
Will save more to swim to a conference
Where I can convince some rich merchant of words
The worth of my wares and the need to invest in my rag tag ship
May be one day the ship will sail and find its place in the world
With enough people to read, to watch and to think with

Whatever the course is, will still be in water
Though it could float or sink
May be because this is all I have in the name of love.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Strong

Insides are a bit broken
Or may be a lot

Black and blue from the perils of the storm
The paths where I move across hospital smells, bills, adulthood,
spectre of endings.
Reassuring and bickering while holding mom's shrivelled hands
With the act of  a courage that I don't have
Over  damaged roads that could fall apart  any moment.

White and pale after the new seasonal joke on the calendar
Which promises to be an intermittently  regular event across
my already torn years.
Conversations over red wine, beer, some thing else
And hovering security guards so that no imaginary limits are ever crossed.
How did I ever walk into this loop with their sharp edges of nothing which gift bruises again and again?

Red and forlorn
Over that broken haggard ship of mine
-Which is all that I have ever managed to bargain in the name of love from life-
Stuck at this isle which does not even have a sea.
The papers I write with sweat and blood
Keep coming back unopened from corners far away
How would I ever be on the move again?
.....

There might be a time to write of hope, of silver linings
But today, let me be Emily Dickinson
Who can't find the coins of Ibn Battuta to sail far far away from everything.




Tuesday, April 9, 2019

......

हमें  शौक  हे
पानी में  जलनेकी
पतछड़ में बहार ढूँढ़नेकी

Seasons pass by me with a sigh on their brows.
Time often gets flabbergasted with the choices that I make
Why is it that at times "nothing" is far too much?

Not Emily Dickinson
Just wanna be Ibn Batuta
But the curse of Majnun refuses to leave the baggage
Making everything far too heavy to carry.

This penchant for getting drenched in deserts
Smelling flowers in mirages
Looking for stars in high noon
When will it ever leave me?



Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Storm

There must be a manual somewhere about how to deal with storms.
One of the key instructions must be -try to cower down and let the storm pass.
However, as usual, I am no good with instructions.

Imagine trying to pick a fight with the storm.
Cataloguing all the losses in life.
As if storm will care for that laundry list.

Is as alone as that one crane in the paddy field
At the hospital, time finds new ways to choke with its ellipses.
This must be the price for being the itenarant spirit.
 The price to pay for only falling in love with
Unavailable apparitions who will disappear into thin air
At the designated hour of the clock or train or plane or whatever

Now brave the storm all alone
Away from all kinds of roots
.....

If you ask, still wouldn't have chosen another life.
Wind on the sail, that is what makes everything worthwhile.

But, isn't brave enough to still write that grant application.
Storms are certainly not the time for it.
When life hurls everything around
May be should reorient for different things.

Somewhere, want to be back in Delhi.
In that pool, against the setting sun.
Where most things can be forgotten.
Even if your swimming skills suck and water has too much of chlorine

Instead, in the storm have to safe guard this rag tag house
Dad always used to do this.
Now, my turn as he walks into that surgery.
Is alone and a bit forlorn
As he always told me the way I will be, if I don't mend my ways.
........
But still, these are the prices to pay.
For the bargains that one makes

Once, the storm blows over, as it should.
Do remember to relook at things.
7 years somewhere, that grant should work.
Aim for that, give it all you have
As you always do.

Try to make that shore a bit of home.
And not just another anchor to sail from.
Next time you meet another apparition
Run far far away instead of walking into coffee shops or dargahs
For a change, take chances with those who won't disappear into smoke
Leaving a void which only those who are as unreal as ghosts can leave.

Will work as usual, of course what else will keep me in love with life
Even if that love is just a little.
But, run with that club, swim
Travel in groups, break bread with strangers.
There must be friends waiting, in places unknown.
And, may be, just try settling a bit
Without being scared as shit of roots.
There must be a way of flying even with a bit of roots, with a bit of people.






Friday, March 15, 2019

For a city I am yet to meet

Cardiff,
I have never met you.
But possibilities of you arrive on such a strange day in my life.
Roomie says I am a bit drunk.
May be I am.

You will mean that I won't have to learn a strange language where everything sounds like stratosphere. That the racism which I will meet will be a bit more polite, less of the getting lynched kind. You will mean much. That the stolen hours that I gather on mornings will amount to anything. That the work which is the light on which my life burns will finally find a ship to sail with. As you know, ships are expensive. I am that pauper who needs to convince the deep pockets that I am such a good captain. This rag tag outfit where my publications don't match is not much of a convincing act

But, Cardiff, if this works out
Remind me to buy you a drink for this night.
Where I reach the empirical conclusion that love has never been my thing.
But sailing, work  totally has been.
There is fire within the belly
To find those pebbles, which can work against the tides of hate.
If only I could afford a flute, seasons will sing to my tunes.

On that note Cardiff, send a prayer my way.
Tides of you arrive on a night when other stuff blows away.
Hopefully we will meet
And laugh about all this in rain and sunshine.
Over old buildings, by the sea.
Till then, wait for me