Saturday, 19 June 2021

കോറോണയും, നമ്മുടെ സമീപനവും

 









I wrote this poem for reciting at the June month meeting of the Kavya kaumudi International Multilingual poets meet held on 19/6/2021.It is a translation of my poem in English "Professionally Surviving a pandemic". The original can be read here

എവിടെ നോക്കിയാലും അനിശ്ചിതത്വം 

എന്റെ ജോലി നിലയ്ക്കുമോ ? എത്ര കാലം ? 

കിട്ടാതെ പോയ പ്രൊമോഷൻ എപ്പോൾ കിട്ടും ? 

ഈ മഹാമാരിയെ ഞാൻ,  അതിജീവിക്കുമോ ?            


ജോലിക്കു നേരിട്ട്, പോകേണ്ടി വരുന്നതിനുള്ള, അരക്ഷിതതത്വം 

ഓൺലൈനിൽ ചെയ്യുമ്പോളുള്ള അരക്ഷിതതത്വം 

പല ഉത്ക്കണ്ഠകളും, ഭയമായ് മാറുന്നു ... 


സ്വയം പ്രചോദനമായ്‌, നിന്ന് കൊണ്ട് 

മറ്റുള്ളവർക്ക്, പ്രചോദനമേകാം മിത്രരേ

ഈ കാലത്തെ തരണം ചെയ്യാൻ, വേണം 

ആത്മ നിർഭാരതയും സമതുലതാവസ്ഥയും

ഇതും കടന്നു പോകും ... 


ഈ സമയം, സദുപയോഗിക്കാം 

വളർത്തീടാം, നം  കഴിവും ജ്ഞാനവും 

കോഴ്സുകളിൽ ചേരാം 

സെർറ്റിഫിക്കേഷൻസ് കാരസ്ഥമാക്കാം 

കോറോണക്ക് പിമ്പുള്ള, നം ജീവിതം, പുഷ്ടി  പെടുത്താം ! 


ഇതും കടന്നു പോകും 

പ്രകൃതി നീതിക്ക്അനുസൃതമായ് 

കോറോണയും മാഞ്ഞു മറയും 

ഇരുളിന് ശേഷം അവസാനം 

ജ്യോതി പ്രത്യക്ഷ പെടുക തന്നെ ചെയ്യും ... 


രാജീവ്  മൂത്തേടത് 

NB: (1) ഇത് എന്റെ ഇംഗ്ലീഷ് കവിത "Professionally surviving a pandemic" ന്റെ  മലയാള പരിഭാഷയാണ് .
       (2) ഈ കവിത കാവ്യാ കൗമുദി ഇന്റർനാഷനലിന്റെ ജൂൺ മാസ മീറ്റിൽ ഞാൻ ചൊല്ലുക ഉണ്ടായി .


Thursday, 17 June 2021

An Enchanting, Intriguing and Exciting Journey into the Past







During the A2Z challenge 2021 organized by Blogchatter, even as I was busy participating, I took  time to quickly read the posts of fellow bloggers. As you enjoy reading them, you realize there are a couple of  topics given their content and depth, need to be read in a focused manner devoting a lot more time to them. "The beauty of Sanskrit Language and Texts" written by Durga Prasad Dash is one such book that I took my time to read and now have the pleasure to review. In his foreword, the author has made clear his intention to discuss various genres of literature in the language as there is a general perception that Sanskrit literature is all about spirituality.  

Starting with a chapter on the immortal lexicon/dictionary or the Amarakosha compiled by the writer Amara, the book  goes on to discuss diverse subjects such as literature (Bhaja Govindam, Gita Govindam,  Kamasutra, Mrichakatikam to name a few), holistic health (Charaka samhita), legal provisions on women's empowerment (Dayabhaga), guidelines on body postures and breathing exercises (Hatha yoga pradeepika), astrology/astronomy (Jyothisha), contribution to mathematics ( Ones and zeroes), Tharka sasthra (the culture of the argumentative Indian) , various types of vidya (knowledge) and many more! 

This is a book that is educative, informative and entertaining at the same time giving us plenty of small snippets from the life of yore. Let us look at some of them: 

  • Verses are easier to remember; Charaka Samhita ( Treatise on holistic health) has detailed prescriptions which can be easily recalled by the vaidya (doctor) as it is in verse. 
  • While giving prescriptions, Charaka Samhita gives equal importance to preventive health- examines physical, psychological and spiritual sources of diseases and well being.  
  • Women's right to inheritance has been compared and contrasted between Bengal & Assam on the one side (Dayabhaga school of thought) and the rest of India (Mitakshara school). Even in those times viz 11th century India, the Dayabhaga school recognized the right of widow to inherit husband's property.
  • The Upanishads contains discussions about the reality and the ultimate goals of human life. Since they come towards the end of the vedas, they are also known as vedantas. Information is given in more detail about the Eesha Upanishad while providing basic information about other upanishads and all the sources of knowledge and information of ancient times including Ithihaasa, Purana and texts pertaining to development of skills such as Natya (dance),  Vaastu (property), krishi (agriculture), Shilpa ( Sculpting) etc. 
  • The book also enlightens us about the plays of those times which were mostly written in verses. The author has picked up works of writers other than the famous Kalidasa for discussion so that readers get to know of other writers such as Sudraka and Bhasha. After reading the chapter on the play Mrichakatikam"  the reader will be enthused to check out the film version "Utsav" Starring Rekha, Shekar Suman and Shashi Kapoor for its interesting story line, twists and turns.
 Although I had seen it when it was first released in 1984, I look forward to watching it once again on you tube. One lesser known work of Kalidasa with a unique theme Ritu Samhara is included in the book providing information on the various flowers that bloomed in ancient India during the six seasons. 
  • Those interested in the regaling stories of Panchatantra can get more information in the book. I was happy to learn that Chandamama, a children's magazine that used to publish these stories when we were growing up is back with a website where you can get access to all of those old issues. 
  • We get to read about the Kamasutra of sage Vatsyayana (400 BC- 300 AD) that discusses two types of Kama- the ordinary and the special and is also very revealing in the sense it is interesting to note that our ancestors were lot more liberal in their approach to sex and its practice as a science. 
  • The diverse subjects discussed in this  short book is mind boggling. Even as art, health, seasons etc. are discussed, the chapters on Uddhava Gita, Yog Vasishta and Varieties of Vidya discuss  more serious aspects of life such as pursuing 'Para' Vidya, a knowledge beyond /developing higher consciousness. It does not mean 'Apara' vidya, knowledge about worldly needs is not addressed as  we discussed earlier in this post.   
  • It is after reading the book that I came to know that the  'Sutra' is a cryptic statement/ telegraphic comment which is both its strength (could be written easily on the leaves at that time)  and limitation (need help from an expert to understand). similarly, I became aware of the role of 'Stuti'  (verses in praise of deity) in providing positive auto suggestions that can create positive vibes in a person even without him/her being aware of it.     

 "The beauty of Sanskrit Language and Texts" was for me a very comprehensive book that took me on an enchanting journey into the past on returning from where I feel more enlightened, informed and proud of our country's contribution in various fields since ancient times. The author has done a big service in that youngsters can now get reliable, balanced information on a very important subject. Most information these days are from the What's app university, half baked, evoking jingoism rather than a quiet, dignified pride. 

To my mind, every Indian should be reading this book. The author has successfully achieved what he set out to do, dispel the ignorance and bring alive for the readers  " the beauty, vastness and depth of the Sanskrit language and literature"  

You can download the book for free Here  

I also participated in the # Blogchatter Carnival 2021( can access at the link) 

Monday, 14 June 2021

पिताजी








वह, जो पिता होने के वास्ते 

मर्द होने हे वास्ते 

अपना प्रेम, बाहर दिखा न पाए 

अंदर ही दबा रखे - पिताजी  


पर हाँ , बचपन की यादों में 

बहुत सारे प्यार दिए 

साथ में, खेलें , खुशियाँ   मनाये 

आफिस से आते, वक्त 

कुछ न कुछ ज़रूर  लाते - पिताजी 


युवावस्था में, ये क्या हो गया ? 

हम दूर दूर चले गए 

नियंत्रण को, न सह  सके मै

लड़का को मर्द, न मान सके आप - पिताजी 


इतने सारे सालों के बाद 

जब में खुद बाप, बन गया हूँ 

आज, मुझे हो रहा है एहसास 

आप का प्रेम, स्नेह का - पिताजी  


समय के खेल के वास्ते 

उस ज़माने  के पिता, होने के वास्ते 

मर्द होने के वास्ते 

अपना प्रेम, बाहर दिखा न पाए 

अंदर ही दबा रखे, आप  - पिताजी!   

NB: इस कविता को मैं १३/६/ २०२१ को  काव्य  कौमुदी  चेतना  हिंदी  मंच में प्रस्तुत किया था |   



Sunday, 6 June 2021

Epitaph








Introspect man, said a voice in the head

with so much happening so fast

anyone could leave this world 

for the eternal abode, anytime!  


What would you like to be known as? 

the successful? famous? powerful? 

"Not at all" said I , "let me think" 

OK, there are two things that come to mind 


Would love to be remembered 

as the one who never was

never wanted and never will be

in the rat race... 

perennially climbing ladders 

to find a rat or two always ahead!  


The second wish is to be remembered  

as that guy who always 

had his head on his shoulders 

and legs firmly on the ground!    

NB:  I recited this poem during the on line World Poetry Conference III held on 6th June 2021.  




Friday, 4 June 2021

Life 24 Essays - Book Review







As I was looking at the serene blue river on the book cover of "Life- 24 Essays" penned by Tomichan Matheikal, I thought to myself "What an important and lovely subject to deliberate on..."  Everyone of us  would like our river of life to flow smoothly; if the book could give insights on how this is possible what more could a person ask for? Often times, we are busy being in the thick of things, immersed in the day to day challenges of living that we fail to take time to question as to whether we are living a fulfilling life that brings happiness not only to ourselves but to others as well. "Life - 24 Essays" provokes us to do just that! Touching upon varied and diverse aspects of life ranging from 'absurdity' to being a 'rebel' ,  'naive realism', 'delusion' 'spirituality', 'humanism' and many more, the book educates, debates and at times challenges our intellect with a call to rely on reason rather than on blind belief.  

These are some of the lines from the book that I found very relevant, poignant and insightful about "Life" and living.  

  • Anyone who loves life generally cannot but be a rebel  ( saying 'No' to certain unpleasant realities and louder 'Yes' to better alternatives). 
  • Only those who have traces of innocence left in their hearts can actually rebel. 
  • You don't rebel for what you can achieve, but for what you are at heart.
  • There is a dearth of rebellion in the world.That is why the irrational and the absurd flourish. 
  • As more people come to believe in something, others hop on to the bandwagon (desire to be on the winning popular side, be it politics or consumer brands).
  • People love to hate those who are different from them in some ways. Politicians know this truth and use it effectively to create marauding bandwagons. 
  • Many of our sorrows are our own creations (need to learn to accept oneself and others). 
  • Most rulers behave as if they are the owners and masters of their territories and people ( A very common delusion). 
  • Fictional finalism (Guiding self ideal) is good; we all need guiding ideals and goals, but they should be realistic and achievable. 
  • The offence of sedition cannot be invoked to minster to the wounded vanity of Governments (Quoted from the court judgement).
  • Naive Realism: The idea that one's views of events is unbiased and correct and when others disagree they must be wrong.
  • You can convert your wickedness into  holiness just by convincing yourself and significant number of others that your act is a divine retribution for the wrong doings done by any community.
  • The world wants 'The Good Children'. Moulding good children is apparently the only purpose of the very existence of parents and schools ( Subdued existence- being good for somebody else/ being somebody else). 
  • If you really want a genuinely good life for yourself, you may have to be 'bad' sometimes. 
  • Humanism: it is informed by science, inspired by art and motivated by compassion ( Reason rules- moral code does not require other trappings like God and religions). 
  • Intelligence is not enough- some social skills are essential for success.
  • We need a paradigm shift today from "Self centeredness" to  " Cosmic outlook". 
  • We create our Gods in our own images (Quoting Greek philosopher Xenophane). 
  • Each day is a new day, a new opportunity to start life afresh. 
  • Life is a passion to be experienced, not a riddle to be solved. 
  • Eat, drink, make merry. Have a passion and live it; just don't mess with other people's hearts!
It is not surprising that the author relies on psychology and philosophy frequently to drive home his point of view. After all, in the early part of life, his basic training  was in these subjects although he  subsequently branched out to teaching ( I came to know this  from reading Tomichan's very interesting autobiographical memoir titled "Autumn Shadows" published in 2019). Various concepts are discussed in the book supported by references to appropriate novels, research finding and experiments retaining the interest and engagement of readers. One such interesting study included in the book is the study conducted by Prof Keith Chen on monkeys at the Yale- New Haven hospital. Want to know more ? Well, you will have to read the book that is downloadable for free. 

Anyone familiar with the writing of the author knows that Tomichan is forthright, does not mince words, is unafraid when expressing what he thinks is right. You may love his views or hate them but you simply cannot ignore them, given the  intellectual brilliance of his arguments supported by facts. Even those bitterly opposed to his views would  do so with a grudging respect. In a world that is becoming increasingly divided and polarized, Tomichan has been batting for universal happiness and well being. He can be best described as a noble soul "with his heart in the right place" and  "Life -24 Essays is a testimony for it! 

The book can be accessed for free here. 

I also participated in the # Blogchatter Carnival 2021( can access at the link) 

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Book Review: Melody of a Muddled Mind

When  the grand release of books happened on 21st May under the  aegis of the #Blogchatter E Book Carnival 2021, I downloaded a bunch of books that interested me, for reading and  hopefully reviewing some of them.  I first reviewed the book "Tech tales" by Jayanthi Manikandan followed by "Colony kid" by Meena Chatty. How about a different genre for the third review? I asked myself. How about poetry? and what if it is the maiden book by the poet?  Said the voice in the head "All the more interesting and exciting!" So that is how I zeroed in on reviewing the book "Melody of a muddled mind" by Kashish Mahtani. 

On leafing through the book, you immediately come to know that the book is all about love. It discusses the excitement of falling in love, the challenges of engaging in a 'love' relationship, the pangs of separation and finally being able to move on - rising from the ashes of pain and despair a la phoenix  the mythical bird from the Greek folklore!  The poet has divided the book into five sections: (1) Whimsical whispers (2) The heart's rhapsody (3) Seque into chaos (4) Death knell and (5) The Phoenix song. 

As the author has mentioned that her creation "is a work of fiction"and a product of her imagination, I would like to treat the book as conveying the story of the protagonist. There is a continuity and flow in the thoughts from the first section to the last. The first section "Whimsical whispers" tells us about the kind of person our protagonist is. The first poem "I am that Girl" describes the protagonist as a 'dutiful daughter', 'reliable friend', 'loyal devotee', 'an unwavering fan', 'the committed kind of  lover' and ends with these lines...  

" Your worries, let me share 

I want you to know, I care

A compliment may make me melt

But my 'weakness' is my strength 

Mess with me, I'll make you pay

Treat my right, I 'll mould your way

I am that girl, 

Your entire world 

Loyal to a fault, by you I'll stand

I am that girl; that girl, I am 

This first poem gives you an idea of the character and nature of the protagonist that continues to be reflected in most of the later poems. There is another interesting poem titled "Trouble is my middle name" in this section, the content of which is obvious from the title- "For everywhere I went, with me troubles surely came". In the poem "Angel Incarnate" the poet, discusses people of  various nature and personality  ( compulsive, selfless, trying too hard, socially awkward etc) and says that she "knows" them and can relate to their situation. Another poem in this section "Goddess of the skies, Songstress of the Seas" gives a call  to acknowledge the value of women in her various roles and give her the due place of equality and dignity in society. 

The section "The heart's rhapsody" oozes with romantic poetry and is sure to touch  a chord with those romantic at heart! How does the protagonist see/ place romance in her life?  It is revealed in the very first poem of the section titled "Shakespearean Sonnets in a Millennial Mind". 

"I believe I am a coy little girl

steeped in simple joys of the world; 

I believe in a love that's pure-

No quick fix, no hangover cure; 

I believe in a beloved who stays    

One who brightens the dullest days; 

I believe in reverential ties 

Glimpses of heaven in a lover's eyes; 

I believe in sonnets and bird song,

scribbling limericks across the walls "

It is interesting to note that here is a millennial, who is not reluctant to admit her preference for the seemingly old fashioned values in terms of love. She has also happily embraced the rhyme scheme  in respect of many of her poems at a time when  rhymes are held 'old fashioned' by some. Personally, I enjoyed reading the rhyming lines employed often times in the book. "Perfect paradox" ( You are my guilty pleasure, a cursed treasure), "Stealing: All's fair in love", "Sucker for love" and "A Ballard reserved for you" (The music in my soul is reserved for you) are some of the interesting poems in this section. However, I would like to quote below a few lines from the poem "Fill my heart with love"  

" You fill my heart 

with a love so sweet

It trickles down my spine

And tickles my feet!

 You fill my mind 

with a song so mellow  

My fingers drum the tables 

While my soul strums a cello "

  As we move into the next section "Segue for Chaos", the strains, insecurities and challenges of love have begun to manifest and this can be seen in the poems included here. In the poem "Love sick fool"  she writes thus:   

" I am afraid of walking away 

Because you won't follow

I worry about ever leaving 

Because you will never ask me to stay  

I am anxious when you are out of reach 

Because you won't reach out to me"   

In the poem "Lying love,dying love", the lover is seen as an irresistible devil to whose charms you fall even as you know that it is not good for you. As I read the lines of the poem I was reminded of  the Tom Jones song "Delilah" (The jilted lover kills his girl and asks her why, why, why Delilah, it had to come to this- He had succumbed to her charms even as he knew that the "girl was no good for me")  . The lines of the poem in "Melody of a Muddled  Mind" goes like this:  

" Every time you say

 "You are mine!" 

Blindly I lap up the lie 

For I want to believe 

The words you say ,

Knowing fully well, 

It'll kill me one day"   

 Other notable poems in this section include "What can I do to make you stay?", " Can't stop, won't stop" ( Letting you go was a mistake. what do I do to bring you back?), and the 'Stream" where as she watches the stream and recounts past memories, she contemplates taking her life "to reach where you have gone". In the poem "You walk away", reminiscent of a Tamil song of the sixties "Engirunthalum Vazhga" the protagonist says: 

" If you walk away 

Still, everyday I will pray;

Wishing for your well being

Each step of the way "

 The next section of the book "Death knell" seals the break up between the lovers. The poem "Cesspool of emotions" goes thus:  

"We have come a long way

From a whirlwind romance

To a whirlpool of grudges 

Lost .. in my temperament

And your temper 

In the poem "When I am gone", the protagonist says:   

" My darling, this affection

That bothers you so; all my attention

You've come to know- before the morn 

Before long, you will miss me when I 'm gone" 

Other poems in the section that demands attention are "Life without colour", 5 steps of grief, "Does God really care?" (I scream, beg, cry, can't you hear my voice?)  and "Count yourself lucky". In the latter poem she tells herself to be grateful that she has one man who would always stand by her 'no matter what'- her dad! 

In the last section "The Phoenix song" the protagonist gradually  comes to terms with the reality of her separation. A touching poem in this section is " Happy Within/Without" the protagonist asks her former lover whether the 'new' person in his life has all the qualities and behaviour that she was exhibiting towards him, if so she is happy for him. 

" Does she hug you like 

You're the only one she needs? 

Does she seek you out in a crowd 

And go home if you are not around 

Does she leave you alone

When you ask for space

But cling to you when you are low

Like her life depends on that delicate balance" 

In the process of achieving a closure, in the poem "Sister code" the protagonist says " It's okay to cry over a boy: A boy who had been your reason to smile, a boy who now resides in your rhymes." Again, in the poem "Closure" she says:  

"Please let me go back

Just one last time

I have unfinished work to do 

Loose ends left to tie 

Take me back to my city

The city of love and joy! 

So that I can see it one last time

So that I can say good bye"  

Towards the end the protagonist is able to reach a stage of being ready to "Weep and let go" ( It's alright to weep, but then let it go). Eventually she reaches a place of no longer being affected by the actions of her former lover. There is no longer a feeling of being slighted or ignored as revealed in the poem "Off I go.."

"I like how you look through me

It doesn't hurt

Strangely, you are setting me free

I like how you love me no more; -

So I release us both

And off I go"  

In the last poem of this poetry collection titled"Rise, Phoenix rise!", the protagonist  reminds herself of her power, the power to rise again like the mythical bird again and again! Here are the last four lines:   

" Remember your power,

Sing the Phoenix song 

For it's time to dust off

Rise, and be reborn" 

The readers who have been with me so far, would know without an iota of doubt, that I enjoyed reading this book by Kashish. In her debut book, she has weaved a tale in poetry that has all the dramatic moments of a typical Indian movie. Why, it could even be recreated on celluloid! I wish the poet the very best for her future endeavours! By the way, only a poet could have conjured up a title like this " Melody of a Muddled Mind"!      

Readers can access this melodious E book for free here.  

Happy reading. I also participated in the # Blogchatter Carnival 2021( can access at the link) 

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Real Vs Fake

 

Reel heroes can be very impressive

chests strutting, takes on

ten opponents single handedly 

shouts out challenging lines to villain 


It is when they have to face situations

in real life, that they stand exposed 

reel heroes run away when the going gets tough

the one who wanted to do everything himself

runs away, distributing problems

for others to handle... 

 

Never trust, confuse reel heroes for the real ones

you do so at your own peril

empty lines and chest thumping

can be of very little use 'real time' 

after all, you cannot eat, satiate hunger

from  a  sumptuous meal 

printed on the page of a glossy magazine!