R S Prasanna

Spam that tries to be literature.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Paper Flower

You decieve me with untruth;
Try decieving the Truth -

You wave a mesh of veils at me
A puff of smoke create;
Through them you hope I never will see,
The lies that you cremate.

Behold! The Rule of Truth and Lies
The paper flower is a lookalike
The fragrance cannot lie;
Forever it shall smell that of
Paper that tries to a flower be!


Inspired by this beautiful couplet told me by Meenakshi, a passionate admirer of Hindi Poetry.

"Sachhai nahi jhukti banavat ke usooolo se
Ki khushboo aa nahi sakti kabhi kagaz ke phoolon se"

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Home, by the Poet

It was not dark
It was not bright
I sat alone in wonder

All that I saw was new
Not a sight warm to my eye
Not a speck igniting my mind
All around me strangers
I felt alone

And when I felt that
I felt scared

I made not a change to all this
Not a word i spoke
A thought I thought
would ever touch that around me
I did not matter
And that scared me

This is not home
Yes, my home had the mountains,
The river, the trees, the chirps
But back at home
They were somehow warm
More real

Here they seem an illusion
Lifeless, devoid of thought

Not a sight warm to my eye
Not a speck igniting my mind

And when i felt that
I felt I wanted to write

The poet I am, i began
I looked around me, and i smiled

The mountain
The river, the trees, the chirps
Are alien to me, I wrote
I, a stranger
Out of place, out of home

And when i wrote this
I suddenly felt

I stopped to look around
At the strangers

Only now, every sight warm to my eye
every speck burning my mind

And i laughed
Like a child

For I was home.

I, a poet
The poem, my home!

Soldier In Love

Here I am a lonely soldier
Always soldier alone was I
Now I feel lonely more

I set eyes on you
Before I left to play
With death
On the battlefield.

Just a glance of you I got
Before the weight of the gun
Laid across my chest
Call of duty
Weighed upon me

I thought of what name I would use
What string of sounds
To describe you
None I confess, perfect.

No earthly sound I've heard
Seemed to even know of you
How then could I expect them
To dare even a try?
I gave up!

Amidst sweaty comrades
Lewdness abound
Rickety paths, relentless cold
Noises inside desperately trying
To diffuse the noise around

Of bombs, of cries, of dying friends
And death-calls raised to enemies made
Anew with every falling pal

Amidst the fear that raises its head
Fearlessly, through all the training;
Amidst laughter too loud, gaiety too gay
Confessions made of confessing fear
You are with me, through it all

In vain the attempts of fearless men
To dodge with the truth of war!

Who are you, whose name I know
Not makes a difference to me now
What are you then, that I carry in me?

Are you the girl my pal tells me
Married twice and making merry
Once with the drunkard,
Once with the teacher?
Are you the girl my pal seems to know?

Or is this just another prank
That my pal is known to frequently pull?
Or is it true this, which he says
The naive, too weak, they want to shy
Away from the pain of the truth?

Tell me are you what you are?
Or are you what I think?
Or are these, as I hope and pray
But just the same!

Are you the angel I think you are
Or a prank of the setting sun?
Shadows, they are known to play
Tricks on men,
'Specially those
Longing to be tricked

What matter it is to me now?
My pal, he chides me knowingly
Why trouble writing a poem on you?

When whizzing past a metre away
Is someone else's death
Which could as easily have been mine?

I want to laugh, with gaiety too gay
I'm tempted to think you're a mirage
But here I am just a minute away
From a bullet that demands truth!

You are.... you are.... you are...

What are you, in this moment of truth?
The bullet, there it seems to help!

I know!

You are not the girl my pal sees
Nor even the angel that I think.

You are the question that you raised in me.

The answer I carry to my grave.

The bullet, the truth, and you in me.

Kids These Days

I was walking to the Ice Cream shop with the cousin in tow. Smart chap. Nags now and then. He was incessantly talking.
"I have this girl, bro. Real smart. I am quite smitten by her,"
I stopped.
"You have a girl."
"And you are in the fifth grade now."
"And, your girl, she is in-"
We resumed walking.
Times they are a' changing.
"Err..." - Me.
"Hmmm?" - He.
"Nothing... err... don't you think the age gap is- "
We resumed walking.
We reached the Ice Cream store.
"2 candies, please. And, bro, for you?"
"I... err... well, one would do for me."
This guy is one weird chap. Its actually been a year since I've seen him. My uncle's family moved to Delhi a year ago, and I live in Chennai. They come here every winter. That is, winter there in Delhi, not in Chennai. In Chennai, there are no winters.
Roshan finished half of one candy, and slurped the dripping liquid from the other candy. The melting liquid was running down his hand.
"Roshan, you could have got the other candy later. See, its dripping now, and half of it'll go waste before you finish the first."
"That's the idea," he said.
He continued slurping.
"It’s about time," he suddenly muttered, to no one in particular.
I heard a bus pull up behind us. Roshan straightened. He hurriedly finished off his candy, eyeing the melting one.
I looked on. The bus belched as it came to a halt.
The pollution these days. I remember when I was in school, I went in the good old cycle rickshaw. The only smoke came from the driver's Beedi.
And here, the bus coughed out a final puff of black, stinking mess. God!
I turned to Roshan, wanting to ask him about-
He wasn't there.
I turned around searching for him.
Where the hell-
He was standing near the door of the bus.
This was puzzling.
He stepped aside as the door opened. A stream of school uniforms unloaded. Pink stripes - must be the primary kids; Grey for the seniors. One thing that will never change however modern the schooling becomes. Pink for toddlers, grey for learners!
And this girl especially, she looked cute in her pink.
Her hair was done up in a nice, bouncy cut. She was smiling at-
Roshan was handing over something to her. I can't quite make out, he has his back to me. What is he-
She seemed to go at it immediately.
Two hours later, Roshan and I were walking back home.
"How do you know she liked the Mango flavor?"
"All girls do, brother, all girls like mangoes."
We were just a foot away from our house.
"Err, Roshan."
"Two things, buddy."
"What about Sheeba?"
"Oh, she's back in Delhi, na."
"But won't she feel kind of-"
"No, she won't. I'll get back to her as soon as the vacation is over. And hey, not as if I've gone on a date with the girl. Rita, pretty name, na? Just got her Mother's mobile number. Rita's mob was stolen in class last week, apparently. Anyway, don't worry about Sheeba, bro. I am going steady with her."
"Good. because, I just-"
"No, probs."
"That’s settled then."
He opened the gate. He could barely reach the latch at the top. He stood on tiptoe.
He looked at me.
"You've been here only a week, how did you know-"
"The gaming center's just down that road. Spotted her getting down there everyday. Smiled at her the first day. She smiled back the second. We both smiled the third, and then-"
"I get the drift."
We walked in and stood near the door.
"This you have to do. I can't reach the bell, bro."
"Sure, I'll do it."
Thank god, there's something this kid could not do. I rang the bell.
It would take a minute for the maid to open the door.
I had a minute left, that's all.
"Err, Roshan."
"On the way to my gym, there's this Infosys bus that comes."

The Only Lesson

"Teacher, teach me just one thing."

"Now, that's quite a task."

"Why, it would not exert you much."

"Think so? That increases the ask!"

"Stop them riddles, teacher, for once."

"Straight to the truth, you want to go?"

"Just get me to the dough."

The teacher scratched his chin, and saw, the student did the same.

"Son, I know what to teach you."

"Good! My dad always judges right!"

"But the lesson you should learn correctly."

"Trust me, I have never known to fail."

"Fail once. That's the lesson."

"That I fail to understand."

"Good. You have started learning."

The student now was mighty dazed, and saw the teacher savour.

"Teacher, there you go again."

"Displaying my wisdom?"

"No. Enjoying in my lack."

"Son, now, learn the lesson. It starts the moment you ask."

"I give in. Pray tell me now."

"Fail once, that's the lesson. Failure, the teacher."

"But failing, what penance that needs?"

"Failing requires toil not, but ... failing just once?"

The student stopped. The teacher smiled.

"Fail, ye, and fail again.
Yet fail not in the path you walked.
Find in the world new paths to get lost!
Yet flounder not on the walked path.
Flounder never on the walked path."

The student now did not fail, to understand the teacher.

For good student he, he knew he failed the same way once before!

Kamal Haasan's "The Fire", and my Translation

Fire told me this tale.
It was the day Sita was asked to prove her chastity to the world. By Rama, her husband. Because of Ravan, her lover.
Using me, her …
But I jump.
First things first. How I met her.
Ravan’s attendants wanted my warmth. The most cold terrains ever seen, the most bitter winter the forest saw. Shivering, they kindled me with the cold sticks picked up from the sticky earth. Fed me oil.
I blazed. They slept. Sita lay awake.
With me.
After everyone had slept - the guards do sleep after all – Sita would sometimes just keep gazing at me. Into me. And I…
I would writhe. The lust that her gaze aroused was sweet. The oil, the wet earth, Sita… and I, slithering in heat.
The morning breeze and the fresh dew douse fire. I would lay spent.
Once, I got so angry with the man, Ravan, that I decided – lust blinds – I decided to burn up his home!
I caught on to Hanuman’s tail, and tried bringing down Sri Lanka. In vain. In vanity!
But I digress.
The point: I stand witness to Sita’s chastity. The nights she spent with Ravan, she spent with me. Nothing happened. I know. I should know. I lusted. .
Not a word she spoke. To Ravan. To me. Ravan never laid a finger on her.
But she gazed at me, oh how she did! And I writhed.
In fact, the first time she spoke to me, was that day In Rama’s court. When in front of the whole nation, he – the fool – asked Sita to show him that which his trust doubted. The fool!

"I who am Rama’s, my nakedness, his. I, who have not a thought of adultery staining my love, today here I am, asked to strip. By my husband. I am asked to strip my soul. And I do it in you. Your lust, let it consummate today. Take the nakedness of my soul, and prove the integrity of its body."

Love is strange. It can happen like it did between the frog and the rock, unknown to others. It did now.
It put a thought in front of my growing lust, stalling it.
A memory, actually. Of my first love.
I lost her, my first lover, because I loved her. You see, I wanted to hold her in me. I did. But only until, to my shock, I saw her burnt ashes at my feet.
My love destroys.
My lust burns.
But this knowledge could save.
As Sita stood there, waiting for me to slake in her, I paused to consider.
That which I hungered for, yes she waits, waiting for me. But in her I see anger.
The Sita that gazed in the sultry nights, she was the one I wanted to take.
The Sita here, no, she needed my shoulder to weep on that’s all. But she is angry. And angry women don’t know what they are saying.
After all, Rama – the fool – what a thing to do?
Poor Sita.
All she wanted was somebody who knew her, and for that she is ready to trade her… her… I can’t allow it.

"Why are you hesitating. Take me. You lusted for me, Here I am! Take me and make love to me all you want, and show my husband, my dear husband, that I am chaste."

Sita, you poor lady, if love were to consummate only by union – of soul, of body – then Rama – the fool – would not have done this to you! Maybe that is the nature of love. It slowly fizzles after union.
My dear Sita, if I drench in lust, engulf myself in your wetness, I would die. You would return to your mother, this earth.
Unlike others, I harbour no hope of union with you.
You, like me, are beyond rules, explanation. You should remain pure. My love should remain.
And for that, we should never…
Just walk past me quickly. Rama – the fool – waits for you at the other end. Hoping you would walk through, yet thinking you might perish. Doubtng your sex.
And as you walk into me, as you do precisely what I have dreamt in heat, I shall be staunchly unfeeling.
I know it sounds bizarre. In this union-less union, of lustless consummation, of touch that dare not seek any meaning or hope, in this moment beyond explanation, only one who is beyond the norm can dictate the terms.
Listen to me.
But there’s something more.
In memory of … of… in memory, I will present you something.
I will give life in the form of Draupathi.
As I said this, I saw Sita touched by my love for her.

"I have never felt so much love before, nor seen a man like you. I doubt I ever will, again. After you die, I shall carry you in me. In the land of people like Rama, my sex can only wither away, so arid these loveless souls! Take my sex and preserve its life and give it to our daughter – Draupathi, you said?- when it is time for her to marry. It is a mother’s gift to her daughter. Her untouched sex."

Her tears fell heavy on me.
She left.
I never saw her again.
I will ensure our daughter Draupathi is never asked to prove her chastity by a doubting husband.
Will not allow her to die inside the cave of doubt that a husband forges.
Sita did.
My Sita.
Rama – the fool.