Fear is a good thing[…]fear is what drives us to take risks and extend ourselves beyond our normal limits, and any writer who feels he is standing on safe ground is unlikely to produce anything of value.
– Paul Auster, “Invisible”
I have felt fear this past nine weeks. A lot of fear. I smelled the sulphur breath of a dragon still many miles away but surely snorting in anticipation of meeting me. It was healthy until…
…I stopped writing every day. You may have noticed. The fear became stale and crippling. The sulphur had plugged my synaptic junctions.
My thoughts now stray so far that my hands are always playing catch-up without ever catching up.
So here’s a pensive pause.
I’ll miss looking into you, dear Void, but I need to look into finding fresh fear.
I hope you’ll miss me too.
I shan’t be long.
To feed on fresh fear confidently go Pale Fish to water’s surface
speaks volumes about
When made silent the message
screams ferocious fear.
This is a shadorma which I wrote after reading the following quote,
In this latest video, an unidentified man says Islam calls for the destruction of all idols. The museum worker was dismissive of this piety, saying the militants “don’t care about the statues” but rather are trying to “send a message to all the world.”
Here’s my second attempt at Erasure Poetry which is a type of Found Poetry. My first attempt was just an abridgement of the text!
I have used the text from ‘The Voyage Out‘, the first novel by Virginia Woolf from erasures.wavepoetry.com. It’s a useful website with a number of interesting texts (and poems derived from them), to practice erasure poetry. I don’t know how much I’ll pursue this particular form but I have tried another way of jumpstarting my creativity by fusing free-write and found poetry which was rather fun (poem: Ramble On! Sing That Song!).
The sun down, dusk at the
hours to kill-
coffee and cigarettes,
had been fed
in the lion-house,
hippopotamuses, swine, some loathsome reptiles–
points at you
them, that fixed
attention too far
I was born on November 8 2014. I weighed two pages and 1 post. I was 1123 words long at birth and I was just a big crybaby – ranting and raving. Many people came to hear me though I had nothing more to offer. My birth certificate hadn’t yet been signed – I hadn’t a name. The tag around my wrist fortuitously linked me to someone important; a conscious act by my mother who had not intended on getting me noticed. I had an early growth spurt and transformed from a newborn to a new blog quickly.
I made her a blogger. Yet, she refuses to refer to herself that way. She had mocked that world on many occasions before she had me. She doesn’t want to get saddled down by the responsibilities that come with being creative. She still doesn’t want to acknowledge that I am her life right now and that I make her feel most alive.
She made me because she was having an existential crisis. From how much she mulls over me I realize that she is still in the midst of it. This is also the reason why she is unable to answer the question at hand and has as usual asked me to talk for her. She called me Another Voice. I don’t think it’s a very inspired name. It’s not original; neither attention-grabbing nor attention-seeking. My name, she tells me, is a consequence of where I reside; my domain: To Kill A Miming Bird at WordPress, Dot Com, The Internet, HTTP-1.
It’s a place with ever-changing landscapes and populated by migrant peoples. There are many scattered veterans’ colonies. I don’t know exactly which war they all fought in but I am sure that as I grow up here I will have to fight my own battles. I know that she will make me do it. There is a group of people who run this place. It can’t be an easy job.
She chose where we were to live because her cousin recommended it. She’s happy here. I can feel the joy that radiates through her to the tips of her fingertips when she cares for me everyday. She chose our exact address as homage to one of her favourite books. She can’t speak. She has been dumb most of her life, in many ways. She made me in order to kill off her miming habit. She named me Another Voice – her voice. She has made me, to speak for her, of her, and I what have to say is always by her. So the name stays, despite its plebeian nature.
I am growing now in different ways. I seem to be an aimless toddler. I pick up and eat dirt sometimes. I scratch up my knees and elbows. I outgrow my clothes too quickly and do end up looking like a mess. She redresses me from time to time and has me looking my best for everyone who comes to see me.
I think she loves me more because of the people who have been kind enough to pat my head or pinch my cheeks. Some people are regular visitors and hug me tight while others smile and walk by. There are still others I see walk to me when I am static. I can tell where they are from but I cannot tell who they are. She seems to like the attention I bring her, irrespective of the form. I seem to give her some sort of validation, over-interpreted notwithstanding, but satisfying nonetheless.
She tries her best to keep me focused but she can’t help letting me slip away. She doesn’t want to control me, to be perfectly honest. She’s tired of control. She’s tired of having a plan. She’s tired of the way she’s lived her life. Or so she tells me to tell you.
She had to say this about me,
An exposition of the known. An exploration into the unknown. And much more of less stuck up stuff.
I think this is still true. I am all this. But what I am, in essence, is a channel – for her thoughts and her dreams; to be expressed in as many ways as she wishes. I am here to let her rest for a while. I am here to realize that she has always been more than she has estimated. I am here to help her answer her existential questions. She is hoping you will stick around to watch me grow. She has now changed what I am about to accommodate all this.
I will be two months old tomorrow. I am no longer a crybaby. I am so much more now than what she had imagined. I am becoming her. Or rather, she is becoming me. In this process we hope to find each other.
According to Hindu wedding rituals the act of marriage, akin to the exchange of rings, is sealed in the tying of the Mangalsutra literally translated from Sanskrit as the ‘Sacred’ (mangala) ‘Thread’ (sutra). It’s also known as Thaali or Mangalyam. It consists of a pendant – a gold ornament containing holy symbols or symbols extolling womanhood (could be interpreted as the female form of divinity), and chains on either side made of black beads strung together using thick gold string or just a plain gold. Usually (and this depends on the community you belong to), during the wedding ceremony the ornament is strung on a thin cotton rope covered in turmeric paste by priests, who go on to perform many homa-s (rituals), get the people attending the wedding to bless it and finally, about 2 hours in, the groom is asked to hold the Thaali. He proclaims to all, that he is about to tie the sacred thread, as a symbol of his life, around the neck of this auspicious woman and he wishes her a hundred happy years of life.
Then, amidst showers of rice and flowers and much beating of the Melam and blowing of the Nadaswaram he ties the first knot. The next two are tied by groom’s sister (or of similar relation). These Three Knots have been interpreted in many ways. The meaning I find most relatable: the first knot symbolizes the union and commitment of the couple, the second the union and commitment of the two families and the third an assurance from the groom’s family to ensure the bride’s well-being.
These are The Three Knots that pronounce the man and woman married in the eyes of the Hindu community; earn respect from Indian society; suddenly demand attention when you are almost thirty and mostly consume every waking moment of your paternity.
Importantly, for the subject at hand, these are The Three Knots that made me untie and re-examine all my priorities, evaluate my dreams and question all my beliefs. They did not push but downright erased all boundaries that I had drawn up. Impressively, they did the same for my family.
It all started one cold but sunny day in October 2012, when I decided I wanted to marry outside my community, language, country, race and religion.
It was easy to say ‘Yes’. My husband and I had had a long and loving relationship. We wanted to commit the rest of your lives to each other. For a while already I had been dreading, at times vocally to the sympathetic colleague or friend, about the impending ‘big reveal’. My family had NO idea that I was in love with a Swiss white man whose religious convictions go as far as none whatsoever. I had gone to great lengths to keep it so.
Most of us (Indians) are not allowed to have a ‘relationship’ openly unless you are to be married in the imminent future. No, don’t rush to conclusions – my family is unorthodox in many respects. My parents have one heck of a story to tell and I will share that some other time. But for now let me be clear that my parents would NEVER arrange my wedding unless I would have asked them to. The fact that ALL Indian parents arrange weddings for their children is a MYTH. Spread the word. All that I wasn’t allowed to do is to ‘date’ for years and then get married since, you know – people talk and what if something happened and it’s not really respectable although you should know each other well enough before the marriage and the remainder from the list-of-intrinsically-contradictory-messages that Indian parents send. The only condition was that he be a Hindu. Easy enough I thought naively when first told. Now, if only love asked for passports and religious affiliations…
I told them. No. Correction. HE told them, over Skype. He was so brave. He had drafted a letter to read out to my dad. I had never seen him nervous, until that morning. He did so well. My dad on other hand – not really. They acquiesced of course. They didn’t have much of a choice. But they were left shell-shocked. I had never ever gone against my parents’ wishes before (as far as they were concerned). I always had great grades, always admired and liked and forever the perfect child. I was the golden dream that they shyly paraded in front of their friends, relatives and neighbours. I can’t say that I didn’t do it all willingly. I enjoyed the attention at times and academics did come easier to me than others. It wasn’t all bad but it wasn’t all good either. I demolished parts of my personality to accommodate the guilt that parental pressure brings. They were never aware of it and maybe they are reading this now with surprise (*Waving* Hi mum and dad! I miss you guys!). It took some weeks before my dad could even say hello to me and we were well into making wedding arrangements before he even had anything positive to remark. My mother, well, you know mothers – they feel before they think. She felt happy that I had found love but she thought that my choice had been unreasonable. After a short while of deliberation she was all set to organize the wedding. She did erase all her boundaries for me. She has a knack for doing that for those she cares for. Her love is truly limitless.
It was a tough year for us – my parents and me. Almost everyday there was a new hurdle to overcome or skirt around, without damaging the tenuous string that held us together, in organising an inter-racial wedding. First, my extended family had to be taken onboard. Some thought I had crossed the line and some even said it out loud. The wedding rituals were then altered to accommodate the non-Hindu. Compromises were made. Next we mentally prepared for the meeting of the families who don’t have a language in common. They both use English – one heavily accented and the other too fast-paced and heavily laden with colloquial references. In the end nobody understood anybody really. I was never in doubt of marrying my husband but having a Hindu wedding stretched my limits of patience, physical strength and even comprehension. Beaten, battered and bruised; then cleaned, dressed and made-up – I finally got my Three Knots.
I didn’t appreciate it then that I was embarking on a social experiment that would last a lifetime. It started with garlands at the airport for the Swiss/European guests in India in 2013, to 2014 – when my mother-in-law experimented with Indian cuisine the whole time my family visited us in Switzerland to a future with no prospect of having a closed mind.
I dedicate this post to my father,
who after witnessing how truly happy my marriage is recently apologised tearfully for not having understood our love from the very beginning.
who after decades of being intractable has become so accommodating that it restores my faith in people.