A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet.

In the caption of this article I’m quoting American actor, director and writer Orson Welles. This quotes can never make more sense if you read it after watching a beautiful, mysterious, simple and yet sumptuous Korean movie called ‘Poetry’. As the name suggest, theme of the movie revolves around poetry and how to be a good poet one must feel, see and connect with world that goes around him.

Immensely popular French writer Marcel Proust said The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes‘. A novice poet with an ambition to write a poetry, which can pierce the skin of the reader should pledge his life on these concepts. The protagonist of the movie, Mija, a sixty-something grandmother who is suffering from the early stage of Alzheimer wants to be a poet and desires to write at least one poem before the disease affects her language facilities due to memory loss. She joins a poetry community class, where on the first day of lecture she is taught about, how ‘To write poetry, one must see well’

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Story complicates itself with a death of a teenage girl which is somehow connected to Mija’s grandson who lives with her. As the movie progresses, Mija’s find a alien and vague connection with the dead girl, which in turns grows her poetic inspiration and channels her feeling to write a poem at last, which I felt was extraordinary and raw.
Poem is called Agne’s Song, which is originally written in Korean language by Lee Chang-Dong who is also the director of this movie, I’m pasting the English translated version below

How is it over there?
How lonely is it?
Is it still glowing red at sunset?
Are the birds still singing on the way to the forest?
Can you receive the letter I dared not send?
Can I convey…
the confession I dared not make?
Will time pass and roses fade?
Now it’s time to say goodbye
Like the wind that lingers and then goes,
just like shadows
To promises that never came,
to the love sealed till the end.

To the grass kissing my weary ankles
And to the tiny footsteps following me
It’s time to say goodbye
Now as darkness falls
Will a candle be lit again?
Here I pray…
nobody shall cry…
and for you to know…
how deeply I loved you
The long wait in the middle of a hot summer day

An old path resembling my father’s face
Even the lonesome wild flower shyly turning away
How deeply I loved
How my heart fluttered at hearing faint song
I bless you
Before crossing the black river
With my soul’s last breath
I am beginning to dream…
a bright sunny morning…
again I awake blinded by the light…
and meet you…
standing by me.

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A poem from the movie

Like majority of us, I too have been in a lockdown, since the noble virus has taken over our day to day life in my country. Nothing much have change for me though, just that I am no longer getting dressed up and commuting to work, which spare me good amount of time. I am indulging myself more in books and cinema, earlier i lost my fondness for the latter in the daily chores of life.

I got my hands around a beautiful Irish movie released last year called “The Souvenir” which narrates a relationship about a girl in her mid twenty and a man much older than her. Movies is full with amazing monologues and dialogue exchanged between various characters and also contains few eloquently written poems. I am posting one such poem, I personal got attached with. This poem has a sense of longing and suffering in it, which one can relate to, ever so in the current situation where most of us are locked in four walls of our home, with a sense of longing and melancholy which never cease to stop.

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Days fading into Night,
Fading into days,
days and night creeping together
to a gray nothingness and no thoughts
only each minute’s fear of the next
So tired after six days without a moment’s rest
And so restless
Through the slow hours of night
I lost any consciousness of will
And then nothing at all
A gray nothingness
I didn’t even have a second to measure pain by,
There being now no time without pain,
Thus pain cease to exist.

Pigeon on my balcony

Writing is a continuous process. You start with a struggle of not being sure where to start from. I sometimes give up after writing a random thought. trying to consolidate on a line, but surrendering ultimately. I have always believed our average daily monotonous life kills the creative. I remember using this logic in conversations while debating my lost aspirations.

We exists in a time, where consumerism is inseparable from our life. After all we calculate nations progress based on how efficient consumers have we become.  Although, we should try to be as less of a consumer as possible, unless we are talking about consuming art.

Pasting a poem here, I wrote the other day.

There is a pigeon on my balcony
spending Saturday night alone.
is he disliking the weather,
are these hours meant for his own.
I guess I just feel like
he is here today
to take a breather, watching the moon fade away

There is a pigeon in my balcony
but why will you care?
Since time is on your side,
you say it heals the pain.
but wait!
there is no cause of concern,
he found a company, and they flew away.

 

 

Faiz, the poet of Love and Revolution

Mana ke yeh sunsan ghadi sakht badi hai ,
lekin mere dil ye to faqat ek ghadi hai ,
himmat karo jeeene ko abhi umr padi hai.

Before I can explain what Faiz Ahmad Faiz, means to me and how his poetry has changed and more importantly helped me in time of grief, I wonder what should I write about such a personality, how to justify the situation where a novice writer like me whose blog is read by handful of people tries to encapsulate work and life of a great socialist poet admired by people across the world, specially in Asian subcontinent.

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Image from Google 

Faiz is the most famous contemporary Urdu poet of twentieth century. His poetry  appeals to both common men as well as elite critics of poetry. Faiz was a committed poet who regarded poetry as a vehicle of serious thoughts rather than a pleasurable pastime and often used it to the cause of socialistic humanism.

Faiz was born in upper middle class society in West Punjab (now in Pakistan) in 1911. In Contrast to the vogue of upper middle class society in those days of travelling to Europe for college education, Faiz gained his education  from famous college of Lahore, where many other renowned poets like Ahmad Faraz also studied.  He breathed the air of his country and knew its people more intimately than most others. Faiz was found of poetry of Mir Taqi, Ghalib and Daagh. He was voracious reader of the novels of Dickens and Hardy.

 

In his prime age Faiz was a part of time when Anti-British, or nationalistic sentiment, the desire for freedom, to rid the country of the foreigner, was in the air and so were the Left-wing or Communist thoughts. The struggle against foreigners, poverty and the fight against the forces of capitalism gave young Faiz’s poetry a sense of direction and home to his political spectrum. Faiz as a poet was not alone who was influenced by The Marxist ideology and who wanted to bring a social difference through his poetry. Some other well-known names were Sajjad Zaheer, Rashid JahanKaifi Azmi, Sardar Jafri, Muhammad Ashraf.

These intellectuals belonged to different regions but shared the same ideology and the same dream: the world needed to be changed, and Marxism was the force that could bring about the change. The Progressive Writers’ Movement, founded in 1935 in London by Sajjad Zaheer, and Mulk Raj Anand, among others, was the literary form of that dream.

Faiz deepen his bond with progressiveness and socialism by marrying Alys George, an English socialist.

His life took a steep turn in 1951, almost ten years after his marriage when Faiz along with Sajjad Zaheer, both part of Progressive Writers’ movement were arrested on charges to overthrow the government of Pakistan. He was sentenced to four years of vigorous imprisonment.

guloñ meñ rañg bhare bād-e-nau-bahār chale
chale bhī aao ki gulshan kā kārobār chale

qafas udaas hai yaaro sabā se kuchh to kaho
kahīñ to bahr-e-ḳhudā aaj zikr-e-yār chale

Above lines are extract from Faiz’s famous gazal, which he wrote during his imprisonment days.

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Image from Google 

These years of incarceration, however turned out to a blessing in disguise. Creatively, they were the most fruitful years of his life. 

In below lines, Faiz talks about the good side of imprisonment

fikr-e-sūd-o-ziyāñ to chūTegī
minnat-e-īn-o-āñ to chūTegī
ḳhair dozaḳh meñ mai mile na mile
shaiḳh-sāhib se jaañ to chūTegī

fikr-e-sūd-o-ziyāñ :- Anxiety of loss and gain
minnat-e-īn-o-āñ :- pleasing everyone 

Khair:- Wine
Dozakh:- Hell

Due to his revolutionary and progressive poetry and statement, Faiz suffered imprisonment and exile from Pakistan even in later stages of his life. He finally returned to Pakistan in  1982. Couple of years later he passed away after suffering from asthma.

Soon after his death, both progressive and conservatives were keen to own him up and show that Faiz was their poet. In this context one is reminded of Kabir, after whose death both Hindus and Muslims argued with each other to claim that he belonged to them.

Throughout his life as a poet, Faiz had a firm believe that poetry must serve a cause, that it should serve as a “beacon to poor humanity’s afflicted will”. However he has also written lot on love and the sadness born with it.

aur kyā dekhne ko baaqī hai
aap se dil lagā ke dekh liyā


wo mere ho ke bhī mere na hue
un ko apnā banā ke dekh liyā

it is hard to choose one, so I am posting one more

donoñ jahān terī mohabbat meñ haar ke
vo jā rahā hai koī shab-e-ġham guzār ke

ik fursat-e-gunāh milī vo bhī chaar din
dekhe haiñ ham ne hausle parvardigār ke

 

A night with Bandhu

With utter remorse, I state the fact that moon is generally invisible from my balcony. Though I can only see one half of the sky, I feel dispassionately content with the fact that many people here live with balconies showcasing the chivalry of men boxers getting sun-dried on the opposite side. A good way to communicate your favourite colour to your front facing neighbour.

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Pic from Instagram

It’s around 3 AM, the alleged haunting hour . I can hear series of barks by the dogs roaming around on streets as if they are protesting against the capitalist Monday which has already started.

Dear Dogs,

I have full solidarity for your protest and I firmly believe that every society needs coherent revolutions, but the fundamental of your protest is wrong. If we have to tag any days of the week with capitalism then it should be our “weekends”.

It is the night of first October and Delhi has subtly decide to absolve the unabsolvable people of hers. While Summers are passing into winters, October acts like an eunuch month, portraying  both the seasons in one-way or the other. Morning are getting shy, Nights melancholy.

Author who is born twice a year.

15th August is one of the most important date to every Indian. Independence which came to our forefathers after centuries of struggles from consecutive tyrant rule of various regimes, was finally attained on 15th August, in the year 1945.

Apart from this magnanimous event, Readers and fans all around the world celebrates birthday of Khushwant Singh, the larger than life writer, with fan base of every age on 15th August. One of the most read Indian writer, famous for his wit and historical and political satire turned 103 today.

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Unforgettable Khushwant Singh, Pic from Instagram

While many of us enthusiastically celebrates his birthday, Khushwant himself was not certain what date exactly was he born. In his autobiography, Truth, Love and a Little Malice, Singh wrote a piece regarding his birth and all the confusion which comes with it.

“Where I was born, I have been told by people who were present at my birth. When I was born remains a matter of conjecture. At the time I was born records of birth and death were not kept in our villages. Unlike Hindus who note down the time of birth of their offspring so their horoscopes could be cast, we Sikhs had no faith in astrology. Years latter, when my Father, Shobha Singh, had to fill a form for our admission in a school in Delhi, he gave my date of birth out of imagination, as 2nd February 1915. Year later, my grandfather told me that I was born in Badroo-Sometime in August. I decided to fix it in middle of the month, 15th August and made myself a Leo. “

Many of us supporting his fathers imagination, celebrates Khuswant’s birthday on 2nd February. Dispute over the date is prominent over the web as well. While Wikipedia quotes his birth date as 15th August, IMDb refers that Singh was born on 2nd Feb.
Well, for me, he is a author who deserves to be celebrated twice a year.

If not now, when?

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Pic from Instagram @me.and.bandhu

I’m like you,’ he said. ‘I remember everything.’

I stopped for a second. If you remember everything, I wanted to say, and if you are really like me, then before you leave tomorrow, or when you’re just ready to shut the door of the taxi and have already said goodbye to everyone else, then, just this once, turn to me, even in jest, or as an afterthought, which would have meant everything to me when we were together, and, as you did back then, look me in the face, hold my gaze, and call me by your name


Ending with the above lines, this book will leave you with a passionate, naked, exquisite, obsessive and an unorthodox love story. After reading Call me by your name, I was left with a feeling of longing and empathy, striking chords with my past and present feeling of solitariness, producing a gloomy yet familiar state of mind.

I decided to write about this work almost a month later after reading it. I was so overwhelmed by the thoughts and notions of Elio’s (the protagonist), described over 248 pages of this book. The major part of the story is picturized in a small town in Italian Riviera somewhere in the mid-1980s, where Elio’s father spends his summers with his family every year. Oliver (the co-protagonist) visits their place as his father’s guest from America.

Andre Aciman ( An Egyptian born, American writer) has portrayed  the geographical details with such delicacy and elegance, that one can’t help but be awed with it. One will fall in love with the summer house, the swimming pool, the beach, the peach garden and various lanes of the town. With all credit to the writer, I vaguely remember the tunes on the piano which Elio played, all the literature he reads and talks about and all the poems of Dante which were brought to life in the book.

‘Call Me By Your Name’ can be described as Elio’s version of the story, articulating his unrelenting obsessions and fear, inexplicable notions, digging deep inside his heart and head. The writer pours out Elio’s thoughts with such eloquence and feebleness that the reader will find themselves sympathising and simultaneously astonished at this pensive obsession and wordplay.  I am reading out a Elio’s monologue from middle of the story, depicting his state of perplexity.

“What had been in my head for so long will now be out in the real world, no longer afloat in my foreverland of ambiguities. I felt like someone entering a tattoo parlour, taking a last, long look at his bare shoulder.”


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Pic of Timothee Chalamet, playing Elio in the movie Call me by your name.

In comparison to the movie, also named Call me by your name (adapted screenplay of this book, and more popular in the masses), the book is more realistic form of the story, with more vivid accounts of expressions and details. Being a person who watched the movie before he choose to read this literature, I’ll advice you to read the book first, if you haven’t already. However, I will be forever indebted to the movie for introducing me to the music of Sufjan Stevens, who has composed two major popular songs for the movie, Mystery of Love and Visions of GideonOh, what a bliss it is to write about Call Me By Your Name while listening to Sufjan Stevens. 

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Pic from Instagram @me.and.bandhu

I liked how the writer romanticised the love wrapped in lust, obsession and fantasies.  How he portrayed such natural, beautiful and unfortunately so criticised love relationship between two men. I liked the longing feeling that the book stirred in the mind of the reader, echoing the Elio’s phrase “If not now, when?”

Tree and the Tomb, a love story

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Ramshackled Tomb of Lodi and his companion Tree, pic from my Instagram 

 

And it may seem like that they both are in love.
How else can you explain the sorrow that the branches of this tree depicts.
Since the day of his inception, the tree has seen this tomb getting fade away from its glory.
And even though people still come to visit this tomb, they are mostly unaware about his agony of  getting old.
But the tree understands it all.
For he bears with him all the seasons, from lonely cold nights to the rain and the storms..

Anna Karenina — “If she may be at peace”

(Post contains spoiler)

When Anna died seven hundred and forty pages inside the story, I felt an urge to quit reading the book anymore. Few chapters of the novel were left, but I decided to give myself a break from daily routine of picking Anna Karenina up after paying bills to live a socialised life. Day in and day out , I remember myself going to the book after coming  home from office, or indulging with it on the silent afternoon of illiberal summers of Delhi.

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When I lived with Anna for almost 2 months, and she took me back to the 19th century Russia. (pic from my Instagram)

A reason of my recent entanglement with classic literature is also because of the fact that one can live and evolve in the prolonged process of completing the novel. An average reader may take twenty days to two months in completing this classic by Leo Tolstoy. Possibilities are that book may have a effect on you in an uncertain way by the time you complete it. You may feel stirred or overwhelmed or grieved, may be sympathetic or overwrought, may develop a cynical prejudice for people, or may discover bygone love for yourself by the time you get to know the complete story of eponymous protagonist and  Konstantin Levin, a co-protagonist driving the more psychological part of the novel. It is believed by many critics that Konstantin Levine was a abstract character portraying  Tolstoy himself. 

While watching a documentary on Jawaharlal Nehru, I noticed Indira Gandhi quoting

 “Out of a person quarrels with the world comes Literature,
And out of a person quarrels with himself comes poetry.”

Being the person that I’ve become, I went through a some of the Tolstoy’s work, to name a few – ‘The death of Ivan Ilych, Boyhood, Anna Karenina and Rosamund Bartlett‘s biography of Tolstoy,  to my understanding of him, he was a person with a constant conflict with himself as well as with the world. His realistic psychological style of writing is full with evidence to support above observation. Anna Karenina will always be one of his best masterpieces which sits on a title of pinnacle of realistic fiction. As Victor Terras asserts, “Tolstoy wrote in the realist tradition, which is characterised as “a reaction against romanticism,” and a wish to bring out the meaning in mundane realities”

 

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Picture from Google

Tolstoy too died at a train station where, famously, his character Anna Karenina came to her end. Except the man didn’t throw himself under the train and get run over in gruesome fashion. Still, it’s almost fitting that the author and his character were somehow linked in the end.

“I felt a wish, never to leave the room,
a wish that dawn might never come,
that my present frame of mind might never change”
~Lyov Nikolayevich Tolstoy

 

 

 

A Monologue by Bandhu

One Sunday, on a sunny afternoon, despite the heat and boredom, ‘Me and Bandhu’ decided to visit Agrasen Ki Baoli , an archaeological site situated in Delhi. One can always be amazed by the Historical places and can’t help but to think about those thousand stories each place has to offer.

Taking refuge in the shadow, we sat on one of the many stairs, in a queer silence. The random observations we made about people present around us, robbed our silence. We mechanically stumbled upon the discussion about how living alone in big cities redeem the feeling of melancholy in one’s life. “It bewilders me how, even around all these famous places, glittering lights and millions of people, a sense of pensive desolation never leaves me.”

Now while I am writing this, I feel that compassion and love is what one needs to overcome the desolation feeling. Interestingly, I must also tell you, that as per me, love and compassion are not found in abundance is this world. However I am saying this in perplexity, I can never be sure about the facts when it comes to topics such as love. I want to quote a monologue by a person I adore a lot, which depicts my state of mind.

“What do people do to find love?

Do we make deliberate attempts?

Or do we just sit and wait?

And if we were to attempt finding love then what would be the procedure?

So while these questions remain unanswered, I just choose to go with the flow.”

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Countless stairs of history

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Every Sunday they gathered around a big tree and recited poems of love and despair.