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A collaboration over too much coffee.
coffee and pen

16 March, 2005

swimming to the other side

when you get up suddenly at 4 AM without any good reason, and
it is still dark outside and you have a vague premonition as
if you are swimming and you feel cold because it is colder
there where the waters are deep and outside the window it is
pitch black you can't go back to sleep and then the words
flow out one after the other like your arms cutting through
the water the thoughts forming effortlessly like foam on the
waves and bhimsen joshi is with you on this journey miyA ki
mAlhar and you look at the words sideways and you edit them
rippled from underwater and you wonder where all these words
are coming from and you realize that perhaps it was the
paash-baalish piece that took you back to those years on the
ganges and you want to feel the soothing touch of the water
now, here, sprawled on this bed, and the sky is still black
but the birds are out and soon there is a tinge of grey and
then you can hear them jhArooing the courtyard in the back
and bhimsen joshi is still very much in vilambit - kari mai
nAwe - you have turned it up full blast he is so good and you
wonder if the neighbours can hear it but you don't care a
hoot now when the words are flowing and you wonder what will
you do with all these words, why they are coming to you these
days...

------------------

the other shore



far away from shore
swimming for the other side
it is colder here,
the currents faster
you have to keep going
can't slacken up
no, not for a moment
really not heading for the other side
which is a cremation ground
your mustard-oiled body
angled upstream
heading for the power plant
smokestacks silhouetted
on gray sky.
head into water,
left hand stroke, and then
the head sideways
now you see yourself
cutting through the current
your right arm
arcing through air
palms curved like a sail
entering the water
without a splash
a nimble grace overwhelms you
like a ballerina
your hands pirouetting
underwater
your eyes open still
on the lookout
for the dark mass -
porpoises
that haunt these waters
the sun a blob in the grey
and your legs kicking
behind you
each time you come up
you feel the surge of power
moving forward
across to the other side
and you wonder
why you are doing this
why does one do
anything.
you who are reading this
i wonder if you
have also felt it:
embarked on a madness
there comes a time
approaching the halfway mark
when you doubt
you count your yesterdays
against your tomorrows
and you wonder
if the world will smile
if you ever get to tell her
and then you feel
you have crossed that magic
halfway mark
and its easier to go on
though a part of you
wishes you could stop
and just drift down
past the trellised jetties
past the black barges
past the tumbledown bungalows
dark arches, hoary with secrets
lined up on parade
layered stairs coming down
to waters edge. temple spires.
and then you can float
right under all those
feet marching busily -
the howrah bridge
and further yet, waiting
for the big boretide
to toss you into the heavens
but of course
you can't drift,
there's lunch
and homework to finish
now, hello - concentrate,
you are slacking off there
your kick losing
rhythm. just keep it up
your arms and your legs
in syncopated cycle
there
you can see
some smoke rising
from the other side
you are not heading
for the power plant
any more its too far upstream
you are angled now
for the ferry ghat
you catch a glimpse
a glimmer of flame
beneath the smoke
you break your head
rhythm to look forward
another bundle of carbon
returning to dust
and you wonder
in the light-headed mood
of exercise
if all this while
that is what
you were heading for

Labels:

4 Comments:

Blogger scribe said...

Right now I'm just overwhelmed. And I hope your words take over all the time - often - in torrents for you to swim through. You are powerful.

17 March, 2005 00:17  
Blogger livinghigh said...

it's a very surreal experience - writing with the flow uve described, when punctuation can simply GO HANG! ;-) it's a very freeing experience as well. i like.

17 March, 2005 12:30  
Blogger khuto said...

thanks both of you...

A few days after I wrote this, I came across an article
(http://www.telegraphindia.com/1050228/asp/jamshedpur/story_4433994.asp)
on the black ganges porpoises, which we commonly encountered as children growing up on the ganga. These are now rare and endangered, partly due to poaching. In those days they would sometimes swim up uncomfortably close (protecting their young perhaps) in slightly deeper waters.

19 March, 2005 12:41  
Blogger Praneeta Paradkar said...

You write beautifully...

Praneeta Paradkar

19 March, 2005 18:44  

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