Monday, 27 April 2009


A cidade é igual às moedas de prata
que passam de mão em mão.

[The city is like a coin of silver
that passes from hand to hand.]
- Cecilia Meireles

It all started with Cecilia. On a downswing, Friday morning, I reached up to my shelf of poetry and found this:

- Cecilia Meireles

I sing because the moment exists
And my life is complete.
I am not gay, I am not sad:
I am a poet.

Brother of fugitive things
I feel no delight or torment.
I cross nights and days
In the wind.

Whether I destroy or build,
Whether I persist or disperse,
-I don't know, I don't know.
I don't know if I stay or go.

I know that I sing.
The song is everything.
The rhythmic wing has eternal blood,
And I know that one day I shall be dumb:
-Nothing more.

This was my destiny, I thought. And the moment needed to be celebrated. Even if only that I was alive. I shared the poem at work as 5.30 pm rolled by and then I was staring at this weekend of emptiness.

But then as I beheld a charred capsicum subji I had tried to make from a recipe from the net, the effervescent Kallol - here in Delhi for a week from Calcutta - called to invite me for lunch across the Yamuna at NOIDA, Uttar Pradesh, on Sunday. He was now fitted out with artificial legs after his encounter with the Kalka mail last year about the same time.

It was there over lunch that I played 'Vincent' on my guitar - after a very long time. We also read Meireles (1901-64) in the original Brazilian Portuguese. The visit redeemed my being. Here was poetry, and music, and food - succulent arra fish curry and chicken curry with white rice made with love- and sausage pulao, that I had made and taken along. Life was infinitely precious, prefaced by red Port wine from Goa.

I bubbled with an inner joy as I got home and went for the 11 pm late show to see Elegy (2008) starring Penelope Cruz suffering from breast cancer - with ample views of her breasts to drive home the point. The other day Google put out its website in Morse, viz. _ _ . _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ . . _ .. . We live imperfect lives, but there is infinite value in our contribution, however small we think it is. Like Antoine in Antoine's Diary (France, 1972) we need to decode the gestures of our life which will once more animate our being. We only have to look at the stars to know our path - even if we are, like Vincent, in an asylum . . .

Starry starry night
Paint your palette blue and grey
Look out on a summer's day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul.
References: From 'Cego em Haiderabade' / 'Blind Man of Hyderabad' in Travelling and Meditating: Poems Written in India and Other Poems by Cecilia Meireles. Translated from the Portuguese by Rita Sanyal and Dilip Loundo. Illustrations by Milan Khanolkar ( New Delhi: Embassy of Brazil, 2003) ; 'Motive' by Ceceila Meireles from Modern Brazilian Poetry: An Anthology, trans. John Nist (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1962); 'Starry Starry Night,' Painting by Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-90), courtesy; See 'Kallol: Comeback Kid', blogpost of 18 May 2008 ; 'Vincent' (1971) - Singer and songwriter Don McLean


Anonymous said...

"how you suffered from you sanity!" Oh how i love this song!

vipin said...

I liked this piece very much.I have found that one of the best ways to get rid of emptiness in your life is to identify and support those who want only that much which you never thought was worth giving.These small gestures are a big part of the ultimate truth of life which is Love.

In a world full of people judging eachother on the basis of profitability(the basis of which is 'earning for yourself')small gestures of 'giving' are a big thing.And there is so much suffering out there that if you really wish to reach out and lend a helping hand,you would easily find scores of them.

By 'suffering' I don't mean people suffering from poverty or disease.I am refering to people suffering from ignorance and believe me most of this ignorance comes in the garb of intelligence.Infact if you combine these two factors i.e. 'Love' and 'Ignorance' you can very well see LIFE in a totally different perspective viz.(L)ove & (I)gnorance (F)or (E)ver!