1/1/2019

I dreamt that I would never write again.

I had everything I could possibly have wanted, in my dream. I had none of the worries from which I had run away. Instead I had love and longevity and a thick skin and the sort of earthy contentment that you get in people of great age and little anxiety. But I knew that I would never write again, on this earth.

There were feasts and carousing and many wonders. There was the approval of others and the laughter of children. There was a sense of overcoming smaller or larger obstacles, all towards the achievement of some greater plan.

But this I knew, that I would never write again. A paper was just a piece of paper and the marks that I made upon it with a pen were only the means towards an end, and not the end itself. The end was hidden but this much was clear – I was doing what was expected of me. In the dream.

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This too shall pass

Take up my life, O Lord, and let me be

Heart, body, mind – all moulded by thy will.

Tame now the ego-snake and let it be

Naught but a frame to hold earth-matter still.

 

I am the lowest of thy lowest made.

All pride is gone, I cannot lie to thee.

Naked with all my faults I stand, alone,

Yearning before thy doors eternally.

 

All the world gives is tawdry dust before

The diamond-light that glimmers in thy smile.

I am bruised with many wounds. My mind is sore

And sick of battle and would dwell awhile

 

Within thy halls of ever-conscious dreaming

Before I turn once more to lifeless seemings.

 

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Starlight

When I was green and free of heart,

I thought I would forever sing

In words of strength of the mighty deeds

Of wizards wise and noble kings.

My theme was grand, beyond the earth

And its petty cares of seed and soil:

‘Twas a soaring hymn of Light’s bright birth

Above our tedium and toil.

But shackles now (not all unsought,

Or unconsented to) me bind

Where once were wings are human hands,

In place of sunlight, walls I find.

And so I sing

of little things

My praise goes to a single star

Against the dull grey field of night

Alone, invincible and far.

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Sit

Sit

–Vikram Seth

 

Sit, drink your coffee here; your work can wait awhile.

You’re twenty-six, and still have some of life ahead.

No need for wit; just talk vacuities, and I’ll

Reciprocate in kind, or laugh at you instead.

 

The world is too opaque, distressing and profound.

This twenty-minutes’ rendezvous will make my day:

To sit here in the sun, with grackles all around,

Staring with beady eyes, and you two feet away.

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The Call

I live under a rock, so I discovered Regina Spektor accidentally while searching for an extremely beautiful Hebrew song called Halikha LeKesariya (“A Walk to Caesarea”). Which in turn I got to know because of a question in a great quiz I attended recently. I think I basically attend quizzes in order to get to know about good music and literature, because asking other people in a normal way is so mainstream (tongue, meet cheek).

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The Others

Of the other man, who stood in the background, effaced, as you spoiled his wedding and flew to your one true love;

Of the other girl, who cried until tears are no more and turned her heart to the heavens above;

Of the other player – no underdog, but who practiced for ages, who turns up and loses each match and is not very cute;

Of the other student who worked long at his lessons but realized that’s not quite what you need in a suit.

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The Star

“Oh, you poor thing! What a beast he must be, to keep you waiting so!” said Victoria Forrester. “Why do you not go through, and look for him?”

“Because…” said the star, and then she stopped.”Aye,” she said. “Perhaps I shall.” The sky above them was striped with grey and white bands of cloud, through which patches of blue could be seen.”I wish my mother were out,” said the star.”I would say good-bye to her, first.” And, awkwardly, she got to her feet.

— Neil Gaiman, Stardust

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Valentine’s Day Poem from 400 CE

यां चिन्तयामि सततं मयि सा विरक्ता, साप्यन्यमिच्छति जनं स जनोऽन्यसक्तः।
अस्मत्कृते च परितुष्यति काचिदन्या, धिक् तां च तं च मदनं च इमां च मां च॥  

“The maid my true heart loves would not my true love be;

She seeks another man; another maid loves he;

And me another maid her own true love would see,

Oh fie on her, and him, and her, and Love, and me !

(Showing how little has changed since Bhartrihari’s times)

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Geek Goddess

The endearing thing about the Hindu pantheon is that there is no end of deities. Thus, you can pick a favourite according to your temperament, mood, traditions or some linear combination of the above.(I think only Catholicism comes even close, with its dazzling array of saints).

SW2

Only gets upset if you interrupt her reading.

. I’m not particularly religious, but if you forced me at gunpoint to worship a god or goddess of my choice (what a very, very disturbing thought, by the way), I’d probably pick Saraswati. Yep, I know that Krishna is clever and fun and popular and Kali is beloved of the feminists, maximizing their respective cool quotients. Nevertheless, Saraswati remains my quiet, unassuming favourite.

First of all, she has the most extraordinarily relevant powers. If you’re unaware, she’s not only the patron of all kinds of learning, but also of poetry, music, literature and art: in short, all the things Rothinzil wants the world to have more of. Goddess knows our ignorant, restless world badly needs a lot of the above.

Secondly, personality-wise, she’s the least intimidating of the whole goddess-clan. Kali and Durga naturally win the scariness stakes hands down, but even the other milder goddesses seem a little bit like those too-nice primary school teachers who only just hide their strictness behind a sweet smile. In contrast, I have never come across a single instance of Saraswati being angry at any one or anything. (And I’m supposed to be a reasonably intense mythology nerd). In fact, if there’s one quality I’d associate with her, it would probably be infinite patience. I kind of have a hard time thinking of her as a scary, powerful being: I can imagine her more as a kindly, slightly stooped lady, probably peering down from behind unfashionable glasses and gently encouraging one to have another go at that tough economics reading.

But stop a moment, and think of how powerful patience really is. No art or knowledge in the world can be achieved without a steady, cheerful patience. Hell, one cannot even write a coherent five-hundred-word blog post without patience. All inborn talent or intelligence comes to nought in its absence. And this brings me in a roundabout way to the other thing about Madam S.: I like to think she’s also, in some way, responsible for creativity in general – both in terms of generating ideas as well as implementation.

Finally: while it’s pretty obvious how Durga and Kali got to become feminist icons, I find Saraswati an equally powerful one, in a more subtle way. If “being a learned and wise woman” is not the epitome of feminism, then what is? Only if you understand feminism as some kind of violence does this sound incongruent. But if feminism is simply the belief that women are as flawed, or as perfect, as men, and deserve an equal chance in life, then there is no contradiction at all in the idea of a person being wise, learned, patient, mild – and feminist.

Anyway. Off I go to lay down my pen and paper for the weekend!

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The Stoic’s Prayer

“It matters not if dusty summer skies

Are cruel and white above my parched mouth;

Or verdant landscapes soothe my hungry eyes

Beneath the scent of rain-clouds from the south;

 

If armies proud oppose with sudden might

My single helpless self in desert lands,

Or gold-enthroned I sit and in my sight

A thousand men obey my least command –

 

My mind is still, perturbed by neither grief

Nor frenzied joy that worse destruction brings,-

Like a forest lake that mirrors every leaf

Above it, undisturbed by surface things.

 

A steadfast arm and clear untroubled thought-

Let these be mine, and all else be forgot.”

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