Dry days!

If you are a writer, the worst thing that can happen to you are the days when it looks like your writing is drying up. I have been going through this phase. I feel my heart racing, my breath choking on me, my lower abdomen feels tight, I feel sleepy and lethargic and worthless. Intense loneliness grips me with life leaving me in the hands of the Grim Reaper himself.

I have been countering these dry days with more of walking, cycling, yoga, meditation, cooking, watching films, crying, reading The Gita, getting irritated and utterly bored with my companion. A well-known website has approached me to write for them regularly and I am standing lost in my inner landscape, which looks like a blank misty sky with nothing in it. I am asking myself, “What am I going to write about?” Nothing is coming up. Nothing at all. Zilch. Fog. Still humid night with no rain in sight. Darkness. Fear. Doubt. Hot and sweaty.

I thought I will distract myself from this panic attack which says to me, “you have lost your writing art, you have nothing more to write, it is all over for you, your creative life is over, your life has no meat to offer for the pages, you won’t amount too much henceforth.” So I switched on the television set to watch some shows in my mother tongue, Bengali. I miss speaking that and even hearing that so much now. I thought the language of my family and ancestors might comfort me in this lonely phase.

I started watching this popular game show that is hosted my one of Bengali cinemas better known award-winning actresses and I look at her and my panic gets even stronger. What if I have to give up writing because I cannot write anymore like she gave up acting?

And then something happened. My daughter came down to me on the floor where I was sitting and sat between my stretched out legs. And I instinctively put my arms around her. And she rested her head on my breasts. I felt a sudden relief at body contact. I brought my mindfulness practice to watching the show. I told myself, “Ok let me meditate”. I started paying more attention to the show and heard her converse with the participants. The show is a game where women, mostly homemakers, play to win prizes. They also share a lot about their personal lives to make the show more chatty. As I heard the women on the show share their domestic trivia openly, joyously and confidently, I looked at the host’s face and realized how much of her acting skills she was actually being asked to bring forth in this show. To look interested in and enthusiastic about the domestic trivial of simple Bengali mothers and wives must be quite challenging for an accomplished dancer and actress such as her.

The participants talked mostly about how they got married or how they are planning to get married, they talked of how happy they were in their domestic married lives with children and husbands and in-laws. They talked of how much they were appreciated for their cooking or not and what food their husbands loved eating. They talked of how they met their spouses and of their elopement etc. The host honed all her acting skills to look happy in the happiness of the participants. She herself is divorced from another accomplished actor. She is a single middle-aged working woman.

In the middle of the show, my daughter was hungry and I left the show to make her a snack. As I was chopping the potatoes for frying some chips for her, I told myself, “I will try to act like a writer when I don’t feel like a writer anymore. I will write about my dry days as a writer and what it feels not be able to write anymore. I will write about my fears of losing my writing. I will write about my sadness that I feel when my writing is dull and boring even to me. I will write about not writing anymore”.

So here is my writing on not able to write.

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The End?

End of hope…beginning of reality.

End of dreams…beginning of work.

End of fantasy…beginning of creation.

End of seeking…beginning of awareness.

End of ideals…beginning of truth.

End of rhetoric…beginning of toil.

End of love…beginning of compassion.

End of violence…beginning of forgiveness.

End of ‘I’…end of all.

The End?

Village in our hearts!

The longing that keeps us restless,

Is a longing for a village.

This longing is taking us

To places far away.

What does this village

Look like in our hearts?

The village that we seek

Here, there and everywhere;

How does it smell?

How does it feel?

How does it move?

How does it stand still?

How does it hold me?

How does it hold you?

How does it respond?

When you say ‘I belong to you’?

What do you say?

When the village whispers back,

‘I belong to you too’.?

Great-Grandmother!

I met her when I was five,

It was hard to tell her age

She looked ancient then.

When she died

I was 25 and married.

They told me she was 82

At the time of her death!

When I was five,

She was already a great-grandmother

To many children of her children.

She was not a widow then

Yet draped herself in White

Of soft tender cotton.

It smelled of home and spices

And wild plum pickle in jaggery.

She had skin that was dark,

Wrinkled and loose,

Tender like a young coconut,

and smelled of betel leaf and tobacco.

She never wore a blouse,

Her breasts were big and long,

A whole lot to be held within

The confines of a bra or blouse!

I had eyes only for her boobs

They marveled me so much.

I watched her bent to pick up

A fallen towel from the floor

And wonder how her nipples

Almost touched her toes.

Nipples that had fed

Fifteen children.

Two of them she buried,

Only after a few feeds.

I peeped often from behind a pillar

As she sat near the bath area.

She poured water over her

From a bucket she pulled

Out of the deep well.

The soft white cotton clinging

Wet to her body’s enormous folds.

Her breasts covered her knees.

Once I asked her,

Baudo dida why don’t you swing

Your breasts over your shoulders?

May be you can clean you belly and chest

With soap then.”

And all the women in the large house

Laughed out in giggles.

 

 

Leaves that fall!

I don’t know what is courage,

But I know of leaves

That wait it out,

On the branches of trees,

Shivering in the raging storms.

Green bright new births,

In the still of summer.

Dripping with droplets,

In the wet rainy days.

Longing for companions,

In the bare winter chill.

Overshadowed by blossoms

Of flaming reds and soft violets,

In the bursting colors of spring.

Twirling like a ballerina in a tutu,

Gracefully in the dance of fall.

Does the falling of a leaf,

Make its life on the tree worthless?

She held it!

She held it for her son,

So that he could learn,

To pee into the pot

Without getting himself wet.

She held it for her lover,

So that she could guide

For pleasure, for babies,

His and her.

She held it for the old

And feeble of health,

With no control left,

So that they may pee

Into the pot.

How about both? Oh dearest!

He touched her breasts

And whispered

He likes them

And can’t figure out

If to nibble at them

As fruits

In his breakfast bowl

Or smell them

As flowers

In a wild forest.

She held his face

In her warm palms

She kissed his forehead

And then brushed his nose

With her dry parted lips

She gulped her heart

Back into her chest

Her eyelids

Closing in on her

She whispered back

Into his ears,

‘How about both?

Oh dearest!’.

Please forgive me for my art!

As I sit to write these words that I am going to write now, I am trembling within me, for the vulnerability that I am being inspired to express. I am also fearful of rolling eyes and raised eyebrows and pressed lips of judgement. I quiver with shyness as I express the feelings so intimate to my body, mind and heart. I blush to let the world know that I am a human being with breasts that tingle, a lower abdomen that feels fuzzy and warm with erotic thoughts, a vagina that has its own monologue, heart and life, a heart that tightens to be released in a lovers embrace, lips that quiver to behold another warm pair.

Why do I feel this kind of tentativeness?

Well I am a woman, I am a single mother, I am vulnerable, I live in a world with perverted and emotionally dysfunctional men, and self-righteous and asexual women, I live in a world where fear of sexual exploitation abuse and rape lurks in corners for women and children, I live in a world that is violent and intolerant to explicit sexual expression in literature, poetry, art, cinema.

I live in a world where the men, women love and get related to, want their women to be passive in beds and never demand IT of them. I live in a world of gay men and women, hiding in closets and pretending to be straight, out of fear of being ‘found out’. I live in a world where men are children, who were abused by their fathers, brothers, uncles and live with numbness in their genitals and feel inadequate for ‘loss of manhood’.  I live in a world of men who were smothered by their mothers, and thus lost their sense of masculinity and developed hatred or fear towards their feminine selves. I live in a world where daughters were not loved purely by their fathers and sons who were asked to behave by their fathers.

I write this to awaken the God and Goddess within me to cleanse me of all fears, so that my poetry is elevated to divine pedestal, so that I be not dammed by the bigots that walk this planet of ours, so that my children be spared the shame of being their mother’s innocent babies.

I pray to be the divine Radhika to the erotic Krishna that sits in my spirit playing His divine flute.

Will the world forgive me then for wanting to write erotic poetry?

 

 

A man I loved!

When I close my eyes

I see him,

Facing the river

Hose pipe in hand,

Loving his garden

Of lemon grass

And sweet frangipani.

Blue shirt of

Air Force colour,

Loosely worn

Over Navy blue jeans.

I see him

With my eyes closed,

His salt and pepper hair

His grey Calculus moustache.

The scent of his perfume

That he wore,

As I liked it on him.

With the kind summer breeze

It reaches me,

And I weep for him.