I Started a Joke.

Hullo, strangers.

It has been a long while, I know, and I owe you all explanations. The days, they have been bleak. Literary life was niggardly and personal life devastating, while the parents- backbone, strength, comfort- are losing faith. It’s not so easy, I find, to disappoint. It’s even worse to have terrible timing. Worst of all  is beginning something you have no skill at substantiating and no hope of concluding. I thought, almost a year ago now, that I could stand the perennial anticipation of unfinished business. It turns out delusions are made of sterner stuff than I am.

That was why I haven’t been around, in case anyone was wondering, for heartachey bogey is no fun to read. For once, I find myself agreeing with Thoreau. Tis appalling arrogance to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live. That is also why this post will be uncharacteristically terse, for said misery shows no signs of relenting and I am as despondent as exhausted. I hope to wake up soon.

Waking Up

Daylight leaks in, and sluggishly I surface

from my own dreams into the common dream

and things assume again their proper places

and their accustomed shapes. Into this present

the Past intrudes, in all its dizzying range-

the centuries-old habit of migration

in birds and men, the armies in their legions

all fallen to the sword, and Rome and Carthage.

The trappings of the day also come back:

my voice, my face, my nervousness, my luck.

If only Death, that other waking-up,

could grant me a time free of all memory

of my own name and all that I have been!

If only morning meant oblivion!

For the last few months, the brightest spot of my day has been the bits of Borges I read for inspiration. My devotion to him evident from the few published essays I wrote: September’s bookslut column, the latest Hebdomad post, even a review of the werewolves-meet-Vikings novel Fenrir. 

Other things I wrote- the first draft of a novel, a book proposal, dozens of letters and timing projects- are best relegated to the basement of all existence. These past months have been my first tussle with the life I chose. Sentences were dragged out kicking and screaming, each more misshapen than the last; other people’s words served to intimidate and oppress mine. Tis more frustrating, and feels a good deal more final, than any of my struggles with isolation or penury.

The only consistency in my life has been Hebdomad, and there is a short listing of things that appeared after my last bogey post at the end of this one. The first of them, for a bitter memory, was written after the Bombay blasts in July, and it is perhaps fitting that this post go up the day after the bombs reached the Delhi HC.  That court came within a inch of being my own stomping ground two years ago, and the earthquake in the evening has me wondering about all the 2012 natter. Maybe the world will end. That could be bogey-worthy, right?

I collected poems for that post, my point was, and this one didn’t make the final draft.  For what solace she may offer, Adrienne Rich:

Yet when the tale is told of wind

That lifted dust and drove behind

To scoop the valleys from their sleep

And bury landscapes inches deep.

Till there must follow years of rain

Before the earth could breathe again-

Or when the appetite of fire

Blazes beyond control and higher,

Then sinks into the sullen waste

Of what, devouring, it effaced,

And thinly in my palm I hold

The dust of ash grown wan and cold,

I know what element I chose,

To build such anger, mould such woes.

— “he that remembereth we are dust”

It has been a joy, it has, even when it was an endurance test, to know that my words never entirely escape me. It might be no fun writing a weekly blog from the depths of dismay, but it is satisfying to know you can. But enough already about my life. Below is the promised list of posts that appeared after Mervyn Peake’s birthday. Since then, the frequency of my blog has come down to one a week.  The list is thus more meagre and more ‘timely’ than earlier Hebdomad tidings. I’m not sure I like this format, and I shall probably change it up again by the next bogey post.

Watching the Potter movie.

“Maggie Smith is so stunning here that she redeems every Potter movie ever made. When Prof McGonagall preens “I always wanted to try that spell” during the attack at Hogwarts, it makes you want to devote your life to perfecting transfiguration (and a Scottish brogue).”

The death of  Amy Winehouse

“She was a valuable companion through the raging hangover of the next morning. Your night, however irresponsible and insane, will always pale in comparison to hers. In one song, she deplores her ‘alcoholic logic’: last night tips into my mind through the puddle in my head.

In another, ‘Addicted’ a homage to Janis Joplin’s ‘Mary Jane’, she snarls at her friends: don’t make no difference if I end up alone.”

On Capital Punishment:

“The death penalty is probably the most divisive subject within criminal law. Of all the theories of criminal jurisprudence — punishment as reform, as redressal, as deterrence — it is the notion of punishment as vengeance that is the most famous and (arguably) the most dated…As Mahatma Gandhi once noted, an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

Hugo Steiner-Prag, "Der Golem"

Midnight’s TwinsFaiz and Tagore.

But, unheard, it still kept crying out to be heard.
No one had the time to listen, no one the desire,
it kept crying out, this orphan blood,
but there was no witness. No case was filed.
From the beginning this blood was nourished by dust.
Then it turned to ashes, left no trace, became food for dust.

— Faiz, trans. by Agha Shahid Ali.

Those who have any faith in Man cannot but fervently hope that the tyranny of the Nation will not be restored to all its former teeth and claws, to its far reaching iron arms and immense inner cavity, all stomach and no heart; that man will have his new birth, in the freedom of his individuality, from the enveloping vagueness of abstraction.. 

— Tagore, and I see why Borges calls him ‘incorrigibly imprecise’, atleast in English. I discovered, while writing this post, that he wrote a play featuring another Nandini, and that there is a Bengali song in which yet another din is harassed/flattered depending on how seriously you take eve-teasing.

A woman’s history of the world (or why Delhi needs a slutwalk), a rare Hebdomad post that comes close to bogey’s, heh, chaos.

The moon shared in her daughters’ downfall.

Left far behind were the times when the Egyptian moon would devour the sun at dusk and sire him at dawn, when the Irish moon kept the sun in line by threatening him with perpetual night, and when the kings of Greece and Crete would dress up as queens, with taffeta tits, and in sacred ceremonies would unfurl the moon as their standard.

In the Yucatán, the moon and sun lived in matrimony. When they fought, it caused an eclipse. The moon was lady of the seas and the springs, and goddess of the earth. With the passing of time, she lost her powers. Now she only reigns over birth and illness.

On the coasts of Peru, we can date her humiliation. Shortly before the Spanish invasion, in the year 1463, the moon of the Chimú kingdom, the most powerful of moons, surrendered to the army of the Incan sun.

— Eduardo Galeano, Mirrors

A whiff of the old Hebdomad, “Alternate Songs” , in which I read Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness quartet in between books filled with GRRM’s overwhelming misogyny: “[Pierce’s] boys, it must be said, are delicious: regal Jon, with his sapphire eyes and midnight hair; crooked George, all wit and wickedness. Best of all is [Alanna’s] dance with the Shang Dragon, a conquest worthy of any hero.”

Willy Ronis, Devant Chez-Mestre, 1947.

And, finally, from “Cinders”, a pilfered poetry post that migrated from bogey to hebdomad to plus, some larkin’.

Ugly Sister

I will climb thirty steps to my room,

Lie on my bed;

Let the music, the violin, cornet and drum

Drowse from my head.

Since I was not bewitched in adolescence

And brought to love,

I will attend to the trees and their gracious silence,

To winds that move.

So maybe that wasn’t so terse. I remain (heh) hot blooded, or perhaps I am, well, cold as ice. One must see things through to their logical conclusion. If you want me, I’m yours in languid loquacity.

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