Sunday, May 13, 2012

Cymbal #43:: You Will Rise

Howard Carter widening a crack, pushing a light through it, blinded by gold – it is one of the authentic dreams of our age, that the earth is not dead, only sleeping. In wooden chairs, gilt and horsehair, rock hewn chambers, lives a dream of limitlessness, a seductive whispering of untold power. Wisdom in scrolls, wisdom in sand paintings, astral wisdom in colorful disguises, pulsing powerfully, it draws you in. For this, a man could leave his home, abandon his wife and children, commit crimes that thin him and dry up in the desert sun till he leaves only a husk like a beetle.

But remember what Carter found in the innermost chamber – the Verdant Osiris. Stone Osiris, lined with linen, filled with the soil of the Nile and sprinkled with seeds of grass. Pulsing life, waking in spring like grass -

- pulsing in green and yellow, like handsome Mondamin, the corn god, at Hiawatha’s door at sunset, commanding him to rise from his fast. Hiawatha complies. 

They wrestle and the warrior feels like life is pounding and laughing in him, flowing like a mighty river. The next day, Mondamin returns to Hiawatha who is wasting away, and again challenges him to wrestle. They lock as the sun goes down, a burning cinder, and again Hiawatha feels the river rise in him. Then, Mondamin tells him that he will come again the next day, and Hiawatha must kill him and then bury him, sweep the loose packed earth over his face, close his clear eyes.

Woods - Death Rattles - 2010

And Hiawatha waits, gaunt and wretched, bloodless. Mondamin comes. They wrestle in the pink and golden light, their muscles rounding, breath ragged and then the god is no more. Hiawatha pulls his green and yellow husks off him, pushes him into the loam, lets it roll across his body till he is gone from sight. He sprinkles the mound with water.

Nobody is gone long, it is only the means of return that concern us.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Jonah on The Literateur

It appears that The Literateur, that most excellent online journal, has published a poem I submitted a while back- 'Jonah'.

I wrote 'Jonah' in 2006, when I was a student in Bangalore.

Frankly, I'm stunned. This is just great luck.

Gone to Presses

Since HarperCollins are going to press today with my novel, I've set up a Facebook page for it:

It is: - The Angel's Share

Of course, cups and lips do that famous slipping thing, but hopefully it should be out on shelves by mid-June.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Cymbal #42:: You Need to Buy A Helmet

Morning comes early- the summer is here. If you can no longer sleep, if there is no comfortable compromise brokered between the blanket and the A/C, if your eyes are not stinging, then rise and saddle up. Stretch quickly, throw your phone and wallet into your slingbag and push off.

Up the first meager slope your thighs groan and complain, they too are waking up. You pass all the sleeping cars, and one woman who is bleached so pale and tucked so heavily that she has no expression. She too could be asleep, with her eyes pinned open by some cunning surgeon.

The tennis players are up too. One stands at the baseline slinging leaden-footed forehands. His tutor stands patiently at halfcourt with a cart full of balls. You know half the balls are bad but they leave them in the cart anyway, from when you were a child, walloping dead balls into the net, and looking up like-I-swear-it’s-not-my-fault-I-bent-my-knees-and-everything, but no one buys it.

Around the corner, the school parking lot is filling up with cricketing. Don Bosco himself sits princely on his stone throne. Down the road, through the Alaknanda market, where there is only one person, an old man in a white topi doing breathing exercises. Past the cops at the chowki, where one holds his back and leans.

The Hotrats - Bike - 2010

Back up through the garbage strewn Gobindpuri back lanes, where stray dogs trot, patchwork dogs rummaging through rubbish heaps. Drop a gear, pedal faster. Around the corner to Kalkaji. There is a big modern concrete Church of the Holy Spirit, a plaster Jesus welcoming above the gate, the high concrete tower above the chancel breaking through the trees like an aircraft carrier. A metal staircase leads to it. Beside it is the Sri Balavenendu temple, with its multitude of gods on the nominal gopuram. You contemplate taking a picture, and then scold yourself for being a tourist.

School buses crowd up outside the apartment colonies of Alaknanda. Parents look at the windows which contain their squalling brats, an eternity of painfully early mornings, you think. You have to watch for school buses. Their drivers have no heart, it has been screeched out of existence by thousands of children. They will run a cyclist over and laugh, and all those children will laugh with them, because children are cruel like crows.

Up the hill, pump pump pump, and then down the hill, coast, to CR Park. The markets are empty. Even the famous fish-market is empty. A big dog sits on the table and yawns with equanimity. Millions of flies buzz around it and it is not bothered. Through the backlanes of CR Park, past the Kali temple, past the police station where you once came to reclaim your towed car. The small roads twist and turn, and you see small parks for children, morning walkers, determined. Boys everywhere wash cars. We too should use first-world terms for our city, you think. Why do we not call CR Park a quaint ethnic enclave? It is Chowdhury after Bhattacharya after Ganguly after Dutta after the delightfully spelt Mowdgal. One lady looks at you while she waters her plants and frowns – a young man on a bicycle joyriding on a weekday morning does not compute.

The Beatles - Good Morning, Good Morning -1967

At the corner back to GK-II, four older school-girls stand in wait for their bus. Three are reading magazines and one is putting her face on. Big shiny Punjabi GK-II – a beautiful woman learns how to pilot the Mercedes from her husband. In the balcony of the top floor of a new glass and marble three-story, a maid takes a break, her hip pressed against the railing, looking into the neighbour’s.

You pick up mangoes at the corner fruit-shop. Then you pedal home slowly, pick up your bike and take it in. Your heart is singing with the glory of the morning and you ring your bell – trangtrangtrang- joyously.