I am just realizing that I’ve had a hole in my heart for a very long time. It didn’t fill up with the time that has passed, like I had thought earlier it would, and now i know it never will until I fill it myself. Stuff it with all the discarded waste in the world, from sawdust, rusk, vegetable peels, wasted bones from the butcher’s shop, dead bodies from wars, and all this will never have made any sense to me, how i’ll know, it will never be enough, and I will need to always press in more and more, if need be, barbarically jump on the filling and jump until everything is well in place until there is no more place for anymore stuffing, then pour cement over it. This hole i speak of, angry and obstinate, hungers for more, eats everything thrown in it, like a drainage basin, always empty. Sub holes, now, that i need to worry about. But can I? Don’t i already know where the holes all lead to? I need to die. Then the sea will finally fall quiet. And the howling beasts’ cries will begin to fade….
There is a beautiful reserved forest area in north Delhi, a wild area that has been caged within the national capital city-state of Delhi. Although it’s usually too crowded by commuters and university students, the Kamala Nehru Northern Ridge still in its vastness provides you the joy of solitude, if you take the road less trodden on. I can assure you, in this wilderness you will not get lost!
Why do you hide under a veil?
When all you could be doing is soaring on your wings?
Why do you reach for stars,
When all you could know is you have it in you to shine?
Why age them in just peering through,
Those eyes, yours, shy like a virgin, which want to learn…
The veil, that poor see through thing,
Are you letting it, or is it really caging you, against your will?
Have they tied anklets around your feet,
In gold and silver that gleam but clang like cowbells?
Tell me of your childhood, your real one.
Did you have a ‘gudda’* then, you loved to fondle around all day?
You did, didn’t you? You loved him.
Then everything changed, when your childhood was taken from you.
You were just told, what was right and wrong,
You just winked once and your lovebirds took off into the blue.
Never you got to see them ever again,
Those mad birds, soaring high, higher than ever you’d flown your kite.
Those disobedient little creatures,
But why aren’t you happy, that they’ve left you…?
You must wonder where now they live,
Have they gone away far enough to live in some other world…?
Those two eyes, two tiny little birds,
Must be wandering among all beautiful things, which you won’t know…
Those obstinate, selfish birds, that live in dreams,
Ever wondered how they bless humanity every night? They hope for us.
Resting on his shoulder, listening to the sound of our strange hearts beating softly, I exhaled my worries out for the last time. I tried to recall the words he’d spoken before and a few other things, but eventually I found that I couldn’t keep up with the side of me that was insulting me with the humongous issues that I’d so violated by thus lying there with him like that. I was aware, wholly aware of all of them, and yet there was no guilt.
I looked at his sleeping face, feeling his strange breath on my mouth. Only now I was finally getting to understand how very different we were physically. He’d warned me about it many times and yet neither of us seemed to have paid any heed to it. Our closeness now attested to the choice that we’d both made, a decision that we were meant for each other and neither of us would have it in any other way. I knew the future of this would be a difficult one, but we would have each other to take care of together. One last breath and I would wake him up and we’d pick up on what we’d left off before, and that I was sure of.
He would kill me. I knew it, that very first time I laid my eyes on him. I also knew I wanted him to. If I can’t have him, I’d rather be his memory, a delicious thought, a fantasy he would live with forever. But now I have him and he has me. It wasn’t just any situation, it was a simple, satisfying love that brought us together, in a way that I knew there was no other I would rather be happy with, than with him, in this way.
He was once my best friend, and I loved him then. I love him now, in a different way, which is all the same. Falling for him had always been easy. It could be explained to be as simple as a child’s stubbornness of not parting with her favorite toy even though it’s broken. She keeps trying to fix it, often failing, never caring that it doesn’t quite work in the same way. She just learns to love it in her own new ways, and it doesn’t matter to her – because for her, it never broke. She loves it, she’ll love it.
It was the same with Dusk. His internal world was just as complicated as mine, and maybe that’s why it makes it all too easy to just love him. He isn’t my prize, I didn’t win him. Again it was just love, the plain old kind that brought us together. Watching him sleep now, I can’t help letting go of any remnant guilt, and just breathe, and feel like suddenly we were just two kids finally happy of having won their prize.
The lotus cloud soars overhead,
Sailing across as if the sky was but a foaming sea.
Then follows the great dragon, flapping its brazen wings
Its talons reach to snatch the lotus flower.
Breathing out its nostrils full of flame.
There’s a battle going up there. Of chaos with peace.
Of the beast that tramples innocence.
How many battles must have been fought thus?
What of victors, what of who’s been paying for it,
No answers, my mind is already somewhere else.
The stars were once plucked from the ashen grey skies.
They shine on lips now, and in eyes which cannot cry.
The sheen of all the silken dresses was extracted, and torn apart.
Making the poison that flows in the waters to mix in the dirt.
Every heart has slept, every bedside lamp extinguished.
It’ll be just one last time, that we would get to dance…
The paper fire’s shriveling up in the dusty grate,
We’re burning up our old love letters to warm us tonight.
Come on, baby, dance with me, this’s that one last time,
When it’s time to bid goodbyes for good and smile.
History ends tonight, civilization will die with the ghost of us,
Tonight there will be no words, just two couples of teary eyes.
And we dance, silently, until we fall, of exhaustion.
Two finite hearts finally, slowly dying in each other’s arms.
It was this last week, taking a long stroll across Delhi, lamenting for the short time I’m left with that I’ll get to spend in this very fine city, that I finally visited Nizamuddin Auliya’s Dargah or Mausoleum. It was an accident of chance. I found a friend willing to go there with me and thus we ended up at the antique milestone in Indian history, where the greatest of the Sufi saints of the Chisti wilayat was laid to rest under waves and waves of timeless prayer offerings and ‘duwa’s.
I wrote earlier about Hazrat Nizamuddin’s curse on the abandoned city of Tughlaqabad, and it only seems justified to write about the Saint’s lifetime that steeped in love for the Creator and Humanity.
The saint was born in Barayun now a part of Uttar Pradesh in the early 13th century. He came to live in Delhi, still a child, with his mother Zulekha Bibi after the death of his father Ahmad Barayuni. His life is chronicled by the Royal Mughal scribe of the court of Jalaluddin Mohammad Akbar in his most famous 16th century literary work, The Ain-i-Akbari.
At the age of twenty, Nizāmuddīn went to Ajodhan (the present Pakpattan Sharif in Pakistan) and became a disciple of the Sufi saint Fariduddin Ganjshakar, commonly known as Baba Farid. Nizāmuddīn did not take up residence in Ajodhan but continued with his theological studies in Delhi while simultaneously starting the Sufi devotional practices and the prescribed litanies. He visited Ajodhan each year to spend the month of Ramadan in the presence of Baba Farid. It was on his third visit to Ajodhan that Baba Farid made him his successor. Shortly after that, when Nizāmuddīn returned to Delhi, he received news that Baba Farid had died.
Chilla Nizamuddin Auliya, residence of Nizamuddin Auliya, towards the north-east from Humayun’s tomb, Delhi. Nizāmuddīn lived at various places in Delhi, before finally settling down in Ghiyaspur, a neighbourhood in Delhi undisturbed by the noise and hustle of city life. He built his Khanqah here, a place where people from all walks of life were fed, where he imparted spiritual education to others and he had his own quarters. Before long, the Khanqah became a place thronged with all kinds of people, rich and poor alike.
Many of his disciples achieved spiritual height, including Shaikh Nasiruddin Muhammad Chirag-e-Delhi, and Amir Khusro, noted scholar/musician, and the royal poet of the Delhi Sultanate.
He died on the morning of 3 April 1325. His shrine, the Nizamuddin Dargah, is located in Delhi and the present structure was built in 1562. The shrine is visited by people of all faiths, through the year, though it becomes a place for special congregation during the death anniversaries, or Urs, of Nizamuddin Auliya and Amīr Khusro, who is also buried at the Nizāmuddīn Dargāh.
The tomb of the Mughal Shahzadi, Jahan Ara Begum, the eldest daughter of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz also lies next to the Dargah. It is only justifiable for anyone to lie down to rest, for it is the only place in Delhi where one can find a spiritual wholeness with the centuries of love and peace hanging in its air.
It’s been almost three years, since the first time my feet touched these peripheries, and it came to own me, even though to be bluntly honest, that first time, I didn’t dream I would be spending all this time here, in Kamala Nehru College. First off, I was so far off from home, and all this while I’ve had just so much going on, on my mind, that inadvertently I ended up not wholly appreciating the privilege I had been goaded with, to be forever, a part of and be one with all the past of KNC, my college, and its future as well.
To the common man or woman it’s just a college, another building in a lush sub-urban neighborhood, but for me, it’s my identity, my bridge towards reality. Every morning, walking through the front gate, out of time and breath, I step in and rush around the front porch and conveniently dash up the stairs in the search for my class. Well, it’s my fault, that I lead two very disjointed lives, that I appear like a lost lampoon at the beginning of every class, but then, that’s my story, and it’s entirely irrelevant here. This is the story of my college. So breathe, I’m almost there.
But I am an observer, I am at one with the human spirit as well as the spirit of all things on the earth and over my time at KNC, I’ve grown closer to nature than to my classmates. The lush campus of my college provided a very good setting for me to explore the minute things of life. The bustle that thrived all around the big college building, always instilled a kind of unusual feeling in my heart, that first year, that coming home for the vacations, I learnt was “homesickness” and my own house, seeming to feel smaller because unknowingly the place had come to own me, made me acknowledge it as my home. I knew I could never be at peace for the months I was away from college.
I am not a very studious person, but I read, oh I read…and reading I’ve spent hours reading, just curling up under the big willowy trees in the fields with yellowed collections of old, very old poetry, and lose track of time entirely. I, who’s usually very concerned about a low battery on my phone, could forget about my dead phone, and let it stay dead for forever, while I lay down on the soft greens of our playground and feel the sun warm my closed lids on a wintry afternoon. I admit it, I am lazy, and I love to waste time – specially, when I am witnessing, or while being a part of, something that with my soul, I wouldn’t hesitate calling beautiful.
The college grounds proved to be a great place for me to practise photography as well, since it was very convenient to carry along my camera for beginners. It was just ridiculous thought that I was found by people to be looking into every crevice, searching for treasure. Haha, that’s just me saying, because with every good shot, I’d be up there, beaming like Napoleon Bonaparte, as if I’d conquered a nation, bursting with glee. Even though I wasn’t really expecting a round of applause from people around, me, I was still a small town girl. But it didn’t take me long to realize there was no one with me in my bubble and I walk around, learning more with every step that took me away…
The canteen was where I always went in search for comfort. People have this strong notion that I eat a lot, and why shouldn’t that notion exist, I am a foodie, and I love good food. And especially it was the aroma circulating around our college canteen that drew me on like a moonstruck vagabond follows the moon goddess. My classmates would testify to the fact that I’m wholly addicted to our canteen, my favourite momos with the red sauce with the lemon iced tea, the chicken tikka rolls of the Coke Studio, the rajma rice, and the perfect combo of the samosa and coffee from the Nescafe stall, that we get after we exact it with the coins – those twelve, well spent rupees, are all the fuel we need to sit through the tiresome back-to-back classes on the late autumn afternoons when the rest of the world is cosily taking a nap in their warm beds…
Now my college days are drawing to a close, and it’s like a cold, harsh gust of wind whipping across my face. I would miss my college and I will miss the people of my class. But then life goes on…like time and tide waits for none. KNC will forever be the longest chapter in my life, my hard earned prized that I forgot to cherish while I had it… But then that’s my story, which is an entirely different one. KNC, will always stand, and I’ve loved it in so many other ways, it’ll always make me speechless; like right now, I don’t know how to conclude this…since the story hasn’t ended, nor, it ever will…
It’s been great, after all these months of painstaking juggling between college life and the hassles of getting published, that finally it’s all over and I’m past the phase I used to be a closet poet and novelist. The journey though has been filled with difficulties, I have no regrets, and it adds a little more credit to my patience that I didn’t give up halfway and back out of the deal I signed when I had dared to dream of reaching out to the masses with my thoughts, ideals, dreams and words in print. It makes me immensely happy that finally I’m almost there where I had envisioned myself to be, and exactly at the right time I had wished it to be.
It had always been a cherished childhood desire to be like my grandfather, Tarini Kanta Bhattacharya, one of the most revered men in my life, a noted figure in the literary scene in Assam, where I come from. In my teenage and late adolescence I took up the pen to experiment with poetry, and failed a lot many times. And this year, 2013 being his 100th birth anniversary, I’m overjoyed to dedicate my book to the beloved legend, who never got to see the garden he had planted so long ago, flourishing so late, as me, a granddaughter he never got to lay eyes on, lives her life on principles he had once taught to his little children, which he himself believed in.
My wish to have a successful career in the world of science was in shatters, when I realized more than anything I’m an artist at heart. I was born to write, and I don’t know from where it just came to me, the desire to write about beauty, and love and anything that draws the soul to question monotony. Dreams, that’s where it all began. And harshness of the world, and still beauty that tore through all that. The complexities of human life, and the organism, that can think and yet with unthinking brutality, like just an animal indulges in savagery in the name of civility and all things holy.
By the time I reached my teenage, I’d seen enough, even at my home, the presence of a different kind of love other than the kind commercial Indian movies portray, but quite understandable by now, and petty squabbles. Even reading different story books and observing fellow friends in my school, made this desire grow, and gave me a silent voice that could be recorded only on paper. I wasn’t very good in my English lessons in school, and used to be despised by my teachers for tormenting them with my dullness and non-responsive behavior, and as you probably guessed, I was never a bright student; always average, at the corner, like a spectator than a participant.
In the romance department, I was worse than the advanced kind of disappointing. My fellow friends would be talking of their boyfriends and I would be pathetically eavesdropping on their chatter, creating in my mind, judging, contrasting, modifying on the basis of the existing kind, a new kind human being, who, as a lover would make up for anything anyone has suffered in their lives, the lack of adventure, the monotony of always doing the same thing, and following the same roads that lead to the grave, having no newness to the institution, and that guy, that kind of guy, I had in my mind, that I wanted for myself, actually never existed.
Then there’s a very famous writer, my idol, Joanne K. Rowling, who spoke through the fictitious Professor Albus Dumbledore, in her book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” and that just changed my life towards the path I finally decided to take. This moment that I took up writing seriously, the year, 2007 also being very significantly important in my life.
Fanciful were those days, and also so memorable!!! Naive as I was, and pure of my unadulterated heart, foolishly I happened to stumble into the student activity room in my new school, my eyes opened to a sight like I’d never seen in my life so far… In the far corner of the room there sat this young boy with funny hair and the most carefree laughter scribbling on a desk with a couple of his friends and that sight, and with a glimpse of his eyes and smile, and my heart hasn’t been whole ever since. He fitted the mental image of my perfect lover, that I’d had so early in my head, with whom I’d begun writing my first story…the image of Dusk, and ever since I’ve never seen any other sight lovelier than that stranger boy sitting there laughing off with his friends, his entire guard down.
I wished to know him better, but then I wan’t very good at making friends, and retaining them. Especially people, I’m drawn to so fatally. IT didn’t last, but over these past six years, I’d had enough, to know he wasn’t at all that much the hero I had in mind, because I wasn’t that image, he had in his. Nevertheless, that love in return blossomed me into a woman, enabling me to write of my passions, and desires, and of love, to the closest degree I can mimic. My book is complete, the first one that I wrote to describe that ideal boy and introduce the chief character of my very first story, that is still under construction.
I wished to do a lot of things, and I’ve tried a little bit of everything. And I have no regrets. I’ve got a life ahead and I will live it as long as my time permits, and will do everything that I’ve ever had a wish in my mind (well, not everything…specially not those which are illegal, haha) to do. Beauty has always been my companion and my strong belief is that it’ll always continue to be for me who is one Libra born, and I believe in myself above all else, that I’ll never change for me, for the world, maybe yes, I might seem, but for me, it’ll be just choices that I made, which in my heart I’ll always remember, what I went through to decide standing on a crossroad.
Chaos it is when I give it a thought,
As to where we’re headed, that fate has wrought.
Peace that I feel in they words’ embrace,
To think, it grieves me, our love for thee is just thy vehemence!
Delirious, moonstruck, blinded by desire,
I feel sacrilegious, accompanying thee,on this godless voyage.
Damned we are, condemned by fate to live in doom forever,
Infernal is the wait, to find that horizon, to bring us back to mortal age.
But the sun is not setting and the endless main of waters, ceaseless ahead–
What scares me is that, I don’t see a wish either, a wish strong enough,
Since the wheel is in thy hands and I’m just a guest on thy anchored barge.
But the sun is not setting and the sea is dead, no winds for the lifeless sails don’t bluff.
Moving nowhere, standing still in the ocean of utter desolation, scares me.
We’re trapped in this nightmarish reality, I have no luxury of waking up.
Maybe I don’t want to wake up, I love thee for all I know.
I can’t shatter all those cherished dreams for this one nightmare.
Knowing I have nothing to wake up to, except the fact,
To learn which, will shatter me across the ocean.
Knowing our love was just my imagination I indulged in,
Wishing and crying for slumber to murder my obsession.
The air simmers, blisters. Induced hallucinations.
The cracked open mouth of wounded earth,
Seeped with blood red and covered with rust.
Centuries and eons of memories clouded by dust.
The fragile lines were breached once long ago,
The tempest had once rushed into my shore.
It’s been long and time has swept away the resort
The floods and waves of tide haunted me to drown.
Then the sea is just a embittered memory,
And it was a heap of sand I’d leapt into. Not death.
See, the passion had been sung well to drone.
To arise and laugh back, when mirages mock.
It’s been long I’ve lived scared to scraps and bolts.
It, the post traumatic stress disorder in me craving blood.
But I’m ready to go all out again, for surfing in the sea of love.
And she has to come out too, the madwoman locked in my head…
The fighter in me. The rebel. The poet. The lover.
The unchained philosopher, her storm unleashed.
Night has finally settled bets with daylight
There right there, fate’s let my midnight sun dawn.
Now again the tempest blows ashore, from the east.
The distant roars of the hungry cranky clouds resound
After flashes of desire reflecting his heart and mine.
After a long time I know, it will rain and it will rain.
Wishes to forget the past wounds wont bear fruit, I know.
Like hopes don’t germinate from wet ashes.
But thinking of you, I really wish, I could forget…
I shiver at certain thoughts, my wishes, some dreams.
Because, again to give it a thought, it’s impossible,
And can’t exist.
Like I’m Calypso reincarnated,
Cursed by the gods for all ages…
To live in an all consuming solitude.
The fates, ever so cruel have left me,
Absolutely no chance at redemption.
Now, as my saviour, they’ve sent me you.
But I know you’ll go away as well.
You have to.
But, I’ll always be here,
Not thinking, not hoping.
Scared to even give it a spare little thought.
Terrified, I’ll ruin the spell.
The fateful moment has cast between us.
But I will never tell.
Like Midas I turn everything I touch, to cold metal.
Which, like statues, start dying on me.
Here I tried writing something…so here it goes :-
My eyes wish to behold, again and yet again, the grace with which, thee, my sweet lordship, unfold thy deepest, most wondrous mysteries. My fingers wish to trace your fair skin, under which the blue veins snake their way through your flesh, more fragrant than all of Persephone’s grove, by far worth more than Hades’ treasure trove…
And it’s thy heart, made of the densest gold, harder than the hardest diamond, but it’s just that I wish to win. Thy lips, that speak so much, thy eyes, express. I wish to smoothe out that delicate tensed brow. I wish to sort through your beautiful long lashes and to fill thy sweet mouth with gentle kisses. And there lying around in some far away meadow, shall we have our sweet recess. We will share little sweet promises, sweet little breaths exchanged. How, lying there on the warm, moist grass we would make wagers on our lives.
It’s a sport of young lovers, such as ourselves to let Passion, Love’s hot headed brother override our sane rational minds. Take oblique decisions, the orders, our hearts fail to obey. I know this will someday end, the rat race of passion and morals clashing will end one day. Like thee, ever so gentle, so noble, may someday just walk away, for my goodness’ sake. But it’ll be me here, rooted to the scent of this meadow, and the lingering aftertaste of your kiss on my tongue.
I’ve really attempted to write prose after a really long time. Could use an opinion if anyone could offer any regarding the progress of the piece. Thanks.
I’ll be that bird, sailing across the sky and into the Dusk.
The flecks of red won’t distract me; the color of blood and rust.
Darkness is beautiful, resonating peace for me.
To you, love, will I be return; strong and sure, my wings,
My spirit exhausted, from the violence I’ve witnessed.
Take me in your arms, in your warmth.
Heal me, time and again. Numb the pain.