Poetry is what we live for!

Nostalgia is a sweet ailment. Only twisted minds savour the bitter-sweet taste of past. But, sometimes, it is all you can do. Especially when you get to stay in your home town again.

Staying in this idyllic city of Nangal made my childhood an extraordinary experience.

Naya Nangal, Punjab
The Satluj river, Nangal

But, I didn’t know it at that time. I was busy daydreaming about the “perfect adult life”. Yet, I still had moments of absolute calm and happiness:
an adventurous hike to the school, cycling around the beautiful town lined by the gigantic river Satluj, the hospital nearby where we played hide and seek (maternity ward is the safest spot!), a passionate Biology teacher who took us to multiple bio-hikes (he could tell the name of each and every plant in the town and beyond), and a teacher of English literature who didn’t just read poetry.

He savoured every word of a poem, created a big spectacle out of it, and made me fall in love with English literature every single day.

I remember a poem that he narrated to us. It felt like the poem was the only thing that mattered at that moment.

The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes:

“The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees.   
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.   
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,   
And the highwayman came riding— …”

“The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor”, has stayed with me for longer than I imagined. But the best was yet to come;

“One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I’m after a prize to-night,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,   
Then look for me by moonlight,
Watch for me by moonlight,
I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way.”

I can still hear the suppressed giggling of my classmates when he decided to dramatically blow a kiss.

I guess that’s what nostalgia is all about! Many of my classmates have gone ahead, and became engineers and doctors.

Yet I still find myself there, sitting in that class over and over again : awestruck, giggling, trying to memorise every single word in the “Oxford dictionary”, and falling in love with poetry as we know it.

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Model School, Nangal

The epic movie “Dead poet’s society” is as close as it can get, to the kind of passionate childhood we got to live. Sir Prasad to me, is an epitome of the art of teaching, and in his own ways, he clearly conveyed the “secret” to those of us who were listening:

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute.

We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race.

And the human race is filled with passion.

And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.

“To quote from Whitman, ‘O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?’

Answer. That you are here — that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.

What will your verse be?”

The question is still relevant,.“What will your verse be?”

 🙂

 

Copyright © [Meru]. All rights reserved.

The Guest House by Rumi: Sufism

The first glimpse of Sufism

I remember it. My first glimpse of Sufism. An unusual book was lying on the table, with the name “Bulleh Shah” printed on it. The name struck a chord. Just like the name “Rumi” did later on. Bit by bit, poem by poem, the love for his poetry solidified into supreme devotion, and a new gate opened for me – the golden gate of Sufi ecstasy!

So, who is a Sufi ?

Is he the one immersed in deep meditative silence? Or is he the one whirling in a divine ecstasy? Or perhaps the one whose dance has solidified into a deep silence?

images

As waves upon my head the circling curl,
So in the sacred dance weave ye and whirl.
Dance then, O heart, a whirling circle be.
Burn this flame - is not the candle he? 
- Rumi

A Sufi can be just anybody: a wanderer, a saint, a beggar, a poet, an ascetic. He can easily fit into any of these categories. Or he can transcended all these mind-imposed categories & move into the realm of nothingness.

“The Guest House” by Rumi is a stroke of genius, an enchanting lyric, a masterpiece that started a life-long addiction to Rumi and his works.

The Guesthouse by Mewlava Jallaludin Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
 Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
 As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
 Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
 who violently sweep your house
 empty of its furniture,
 still treat each guest honorably.
 He may be clearing you out
 for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Note: The image has been sourced from the Internet. No infringement intended. 

Bereaved Grief: Suicide, a personal moment

We all have our share of moments when we grieve; for the loss of a loved one, for the loss of a dream, or the loss of an identity.

But to be able to pull that final trigger, to bid that final goodbye, to not to hold on to that last shred of hope, is a momentous moment, tragic in its essence, yet final in its completion. 

For what looks like a sudden tragic last-minute whim is but a grand finale of a series of small death-like moments – moments that can make or break us!

In a world full of people, more people, social media connectivity, self-obsessed selfies and check-ins, it is hard to believe that a person can be alienated enough to let go.

But then,

Suicide, is such a personal moment, that any commentary from the outside, is like an arrow drawn from a set of broken fingers. 

Yet,  we humans, the mystical over-thinking beings, are the ones who’re drawn towards it & commit it every day.

Sometimes I think about Kurt, why he pulled that final trigger (if he did at all) ? What was the last thought that shook him to embrace that final annihilation ? Was there not a shred of love/hope left for him to hold on to? With the kind of creative genius he was, did even his art fail to speak to him in the end?

Am I, as a fan, scared to death when I witness his story because somehow the jigsaw puzzles of his life fit into mine ?

To me, a man’s last moment can be surmised in the lines Kurt sang so brilliantly, and with  a bland expression in Nirvana’s The Man Who Sold The World –

” I spoke into his eyes, I thought you died alone, a long long time ago…”

An eccentric genius & a rare charmer that he was, I hope he witnessed the ever-pervasive peace which can only be found in the stillness of death.

“If you die you’re completely happy and your soul somewhere lives on. I’m not afraid of dying. Total peace after death, becoming someone else is the best hope I’ve got.” – Kurt Cobain

Copyright © [Meru]. All rights reserved.