and then the flower finds life leave her as time lays claim to her being so she exhales a fragrance urgent and keen her breath content a message on the windletters in a bottle will find a shore but her notes of light will remain scattered whiffs of longing forever silent like wings of a butterfly that flutter no more for their song is spent
Today I hugged a tree
And then another
I hugged them tight
till bare arms
where tiny creatures
of body and bark
brown bark met
brown arms met
long lost friends
bleeding unshed tears
waiting for graves
who will leave
flowers and laments
that will never be
the copper pods
there is a blue
which bears scents
also shiny new drones
eyes in the sky
quick to send
to scatter shoppers
and their bags
the huggers stay
maybe they’ll meld
into one brown
soft and gruff
rings of age
human and ent
until all that remains
is a face in the trunk
And they’ll breathe
one long sigh
but mostly a dirge
in a land called
I saw a short film yesterday, The Swimmer and it set into play so many flashes. The poetry of Derek Mahon (he’s a discovery), the beautiful capturing of the moods of open waters and Redmond’s moment 20 miles off shore. Just like the slashes of Mahon’s poetry, my memories of running, swimming and the sea coalesced into a private film. The lines read by the poet in the movie reminded me of a few lines I wrote to myself a couple of months back, mesmerized by the sea.
The water was just right, like the temperature of breast milk or maybe the fluid in the womb. Warm, alive as though it had a heartbeat. Walking through that was such a sensory immersion, the smell of salty air, the sand shifting below my feet, the touch of moisture in the air and the incredible expanse of sky and water. What if one walked into the sea to die? What would that moment feel like- the one of no return as water burns into lungs?
In the meanwhile, I found pleasure in swimming while also discovering deep silences under water. The breath has started to become a friend as I let go and surrender to the flow. It is a different experience to be suspended in a medium which can either support or swallow you. As an element, it’s an interesting one to explore through its different aspects. Benign, malevolent, neutral. Three different states- ice, water and steam, all with different gunas. Water in the womb, water in our bodies and on our planet. Universally used by all that lives… Quite like the secrets of water under open skies. They invite you to dive deep and dissolve. After all, isn’t life really a preparation for dissolution? A bit like all asana being preparation for savasana…
Winter is melting into summer, rapidly. The water in my matka is just the right degree of cool to quench my thirst. The pool waters provide buoyancy and resistance as I swim. My thoughts flow one into another until they bear no link to the original thought. I feel water everywhere…
Free flowing and stagnant.
Life sustaining and suffocating.
Terrifying deluge and gurgling brook.
Thundering waterfall and the silence of a mother’s womb.
Meandering rivers and gigantic waves.
Baptism waters and bearer of ashes.
Finally, I was reminded of the movie, The Shape of Water and it’s mute beauty. But that one is a separate post.
In the meanwhile, I wait for a pandemic to spend itself so I may find my way to the ocean and submit to its incredible silence.
Earlier in the day, very early on in fact, the mind settled on a single word as a cue for the day. In the course of exchanges with a friend, the word cropped up a few times lately and yesterday as I watched the bougainvillea curve into a dip under the weight of violently pink flowers, it settled into an easy prompt. Often the word stays fluttering behind my mind’s curtain until threads start to appear and I can begin to weave it into a poem or a snatch of prose. There is no purpose save to see where a word or thought might go left on the wind. And then, it gathers unto itself something of an energy to become a piece that is self-sufficient. It mostly writes itself with very little intervention from my end, save a little rearranging like one might attempt with flowers in a vase.
Curve was meant to be the word today until I was asked, “Do you see your writing as an end in itself?”
I suppose so. It wasn’t always so. Even now, sometimes it slips into a means rather than an end but that is reserved for my journals.
For many years, I didn’t consider myself a writer simply since I did not publish anything (blogs didn’t really count). I still haven’t done so. It was mostly in the nature of unpacking thoughts that would refuse to go beyond a point in the mind or then to capture a moment or how it felt or appeared. These remained private, anonymous and a way of making sense through the years. The form it took was mainly entries scribbled in journals and the odd poem or a patch of prose. These have been scattered in papers, notebooks, screens and pretty much anything that could be a writing surface. They’re coloured with the textures of my days and in retrospect I see changes that have happened as well as an intrinsic basic nature. It was and continues to be a way of discovering myself and allowing the thoughts to flow. These have led to explosive breakthroughs although the intent was never about using it as a means. The outcome just seemed to happen. I burnt my journals written until the age of 27 when I decided I didn’t want to look back. There are some old letters that I had written which have survived and somehow happened to fall in my possession.
Blogging was a tentative exploration and the initial few were to save my words somewhere lest I lose the papers in the process of moving homes many times. A few years ago, I decided to document my running journey as a means to keep me accountable to myself and discovered that it became an accompaniment to the sport. Running fed the blog and vice versa. I also discovered the joys of having someone read what I wrote. It was a pleasant surprise to discover that they connected enough for a two-way conversation.
Yoga came back to my life soon after and another blog was born and the two were primarily to document my journey so that another who might struggle with these things as a beginner might benefit. I also discovered my voice and that of others who began to read those musings. It was just a way to document my personal experience, subjective as it might be. Running was lost after a few years and around the same time, sarees made a re-entry into my life and through them, an entire world of memories. I found that the humble piece of clothing that had been a staple when I was younger also became an anchor for musings, mostly quiet reflections about the mundane every day. Maybe a witnessing of living in the now and how it has never quite been too far away from the past and the future. Lately though, that is also dwindling and I find myself withdrawing into the format of a letter.
Perhaps, it is a way to reclaim time, find a pause and release where instant communication is the norm. Does an experience cease to have significance if it is dated? Letters make it possible to pause in the present to share of myself in the moment and send it into an unknown time and place. I like the act of writing to one person and that is how I like to relate to the outside at present. The appeal of this format lies in its dispatch, once gone it is truly gone from my memory until a reply, if and when it came, jogged some of the contents. It also feels natural considering that it used to be a way of sharing myself as a very young adult, long before the time of facebook and texts. Of course in these days of a pandemic, I take pictures and send them on since the postal service has been disrupted.
Now, the three weave in and out of each other and their boundaries are blurred. And in a sense it has become a practice, much like my yog sadhana, a continuous striving with no end in mind, just the act of endeavouring. Call it a studentship maybe? Occasionally, there are aha moments when a sentence or a pose come together effortlessly but that’s nodded at, acknowledged and it’s back to working on the art.
Writing for me is an intensely solitary act of silence. It feels like painting in a sense, brush strokes of a present truth that are rarely edited simply to keep the truth of the moment of its birthing, both conscious and unconscious. There are crafted pieces too but the spontaneous fragments remain my favoured children. Most of what finds its way as a complete picture or a profile of one are raised from a pool of rememberings, colourings and learnings. It is a sum of all I have experienced, imagined or heard. There used to be a time in my younger days where I feared that all the thoughts were already thought, all the beautiful sentences had already been written before. I feared having my words resemble that of other writers and not being original but that perhaps was an insecurity of an immature writer. Writing just for myself released me to let the words flow through me as they deemed fit.
If I had to have a framework for my craft, it would be Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram. Simplicity and restraint are the checks that I like to use in language. As much as writing is for my pleasure, it also gives me happiness when others respond to what I write from their own recollections. The biggest joy is when young ones find something useful and beautiful and true in my words.
So, why then do I write?
I write to wrap a hint of myself in the act, an act of ego perhaps, to mark this blip of a presence.
I write because I feel through words all that I may not necessarily be able to experience.
I write because there is pleasure in seeing words come together to create something familiar and new at once.
I write because the act of writing is a deeply sensuous one, an act of giving completely of myself.
Somewhere hidden among the vitriol on twitter, I read about the end of Padmanabhan, the Guruvayoor temple elephant. It resulted in this musing…
The temple elephant died after a life in golden captivity
It is an event so they prepare a farewell and write eulogies pictures and reports articles and accounts a balance sheet of his life earnings and expenses, they forget to mention anything about him though
The occasion demands so they drape him in fulvid silks circumambulate his corpse chant names of a God he served accompanied by cameras in readiness to bury his tonnage
In the jungle he would have died an anonymous death mourned by his herd relished by scavengers one with the land a life well served no press, no television no mention anywhere
Tell me if his elephant self would prefer to die silently under open skies lying near clear waters or within compound walls containing elaborate rituals with strangers and their chatter?