Daybreak

Daybreak

The chime
of the clock
at a quarter to five
the first thoughts
the walk down the stairs
and onto the desk
the words that must come out
onto the journal
or else the angst that
seeps into the work
much like the ink
leaking onto the page
and then
the work onto the notebook
until the longing
for the evidence
of a social existence-
of life posited beguilingly
the news gathering
the information plucked
and finally
the rustling up of
the family’s first meal
of the day
the announcement
of the arrival
of a fresh morning
to rousing little ones-
it’s here, it’s here
daybreak is here
as is
a transformed existence
beyond all personal parameters.

 

 

 

 

Silence – not necessarily golden

This past Saturday, at the Aronoff Center for the Arts, I watched ‘Celebrated Silence’ – a play that dealt with the subject of groping, the trauma it unleashes on the person who is subjected to it and the complicit silence of society regarding this issue.

The story was conceived by Anisha Singh, a friend of mine, who was also one of the lead actors in the performance. The script was written by Prabir Das, who was the other lead actor. Music was provided by Amita Prakash and the play was directed by Daryl Harris.

Celebrated Silence’ depicts the journey of a woman named Anisha, who is on the verge of committing suicide, tormented by the instances of groping she has endured in her lifetime. We see a dark gloomy set on stage – stark in its bareness, save for the many nooses hanging – ominous and portent – a harbinger of pain, despair and inner turmoil. We see Anisha, in white clothes, contemplating putting the noose around her neck. We see Amita, dressed in all black, remaining still and lifeless, wheelchair bound. Seemingly playing the alter ego of Anisha, she remains mute except for intermittently bursting out into songs of despair, betrayal, loss and agony. What follows next are recurring encounters with the various men that violate or invalidate Anisha at various stages of her life.

The roles of the men in the play are all enacted by Prabir Das, who seems to adroitly change personas, much like the costumes that he changes. His bearing and demeanor, his voice and mannerisms undergo mesmerizing transformations. In addition to highlighting the acting prowess of this fine artist, this concept of having the same actor play these different roles also seems to drive home a metaphorical condemnation of a manhood that finds itself subjugated to the whims of its ‘organ’ and not functioning as an independent thinking humane being – as if the beast of manhood was the same, just manifested itself with different identities.

I was deeply touched by the powerful and emotional singing done by Amita Prakash. Set to the accompaniment of piano, the songs worked to universalize the journey of one girl/ woman and situate it in a broader historical context. She was apt as the torn, troubled yet strong and willful alter ego to Anisha.

Anisha Singh emphatically displayed the gamut of emotions in her role, ranging from the confusion and helplessness of a young girl to the anger and disappointment of a wife, the pleading innocence of a daughter and finally the frustration of trying to understand the mentality of her perpetrators.

Overall, it was an impressive performance by the cast of three members who carried the entire play on their shoulders. The mood was sombre, dark and intense with moments of sharp tension and conflict. The play succeeded in evoking empathy for Anisha’s journey and a sense of disgust at the violations committed by the various men. The audience which comprised of both men and women were provoked multiple times to break the silence surrounding this issue.We recognized by the end of the play that Anisha had reached the critical point of being able to dissociate her psyche and inner self from the acts of groping that had violated her.

In this process, we see the beginning of her recovery of self-agency and as an audience we are left wanting to see more of her journey forward. Maybe the depiction on stage of additional concrete steps taken by her towards overcoming this trauma could serve to further inspire and empower the audience whilst providing material for a second act or a sequel to the play.

In all, I commend All Shades Theater for bringing awareness to this important issue.

Dream

Dream

Warbling words like a
brook of water,
the absurdity of the steep ascent
of the climb,
necks careening to gauge
the depth of the canyon,
feet planted
with perilous intent,
a rock slips by
from beneath the feet
lands with an
echoless thud at the bottom.
“Where is my anchor?”
the heart cries out,
to keep from sinking.

If only
you had kept me
from awakening.

Thoughts on Parenthood

Parenthood

  • The tender feeling in my heart upon seeing a close friend’s kid and being amazed by how wonderfully life replicates itself.
  • The mind-blowing realization that I am no longer just one person – a part of me lives, breathes in another being.
  • The life lesson that what matters is not what I say to my kids but what I do because I know that they are watching my life unfold before them.
  • The joy of sharing my interests with my children – of introducing them to people, things, places I love.
  • Conversely, learning to love new things that they experiment with.
  • Reliving the angst of innocence all over again through my child.
  • The realization that love is solely in the giving, not in taking/ asking/ demanding.
  • The life lesson that too much of anything- love, care, affection does not nourish but smothers.
  • Learning from my mistakes and learning to let my kids make their own mistakes.
  • Knowing and remembering every misstep I have made as a parent and still hearing “I love you as you are” from my kid. If only I could learn to love with that compassion and humility.

List making

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I have spent the last couple of days doing some crazy list making on the web. You see, I got this wild idea to try and document for posterity some of the books I have read in my lifetime.
So, with the aid of my borrowing record at the public library and a newly acquired Goodreads account I began to jog my memory for the most impactful books I have read.

Why do this- you may ask. Well, firstly I have never kept a reading log and now seeing my kids being encouraged to do so at school prompted me to try the same. Secondly, I wanted to examine my reading habits and thirdly, I wanted to make a list that my kids could use as a resource for their own reading journey.

The list is still a work in progress, but as I do this I am having fun seeing some patterns emerge, namely:

  • The ‘classics’ have shaped my reading preferences a lot- Dickens, the Brontë sisters, Jane Austen and the like in historical fiction have regaled me over and over.
  • I like my humor dry with a touch of snark – P.G. Wodehouse and Calvin and Hobbes style!
  • I do have a thing for completeness as in devouring an entire series or array of books offered by an author I happen to like- in childhood it was the Enid Blyton era- Famous Five, Secret Seven, Malory Towers and so on. Once I got started on comic-books such as Tintin and Amar Chitra Katha, I kept wanting more and more of the same. This was the case too with the Malcolm Gladwell phase and the Jhumpa Lahiri phase not too long ago.
  • Crime, mystery and adventure evidently intrigued me as a kid- the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes series speak on that account.
  • I sure had a lot of questions about life in the teenage years- some of which Ayn Rand answered, some Robert Pirsig, some the ‘Zen and the art of’ series- the rest I am still grappling with.
  • Design magazines and comic books made for a welcome visual relief from the heavy tomes of college and postgrad years.
  • Science fiction, fantasy, paranormal and horror are genres I have sadly never explored.
  • I like art in books- especially comic books and the genre of illustrated children’s books.I appreciate how it adds to the whole experience of enjoyment of the text.
  • And finally, the most striking observation I made- in the last decade I have somehow veered away from fiction and emphatically plunged into non-fiction.
    What’s up with that, I wonder- is it a natural progression of my proclivity towards questions about life, a shift in attitude or a reflection of increasing cynicism? I hope it is not the latter, I would prefer to believe that I now examine the realm of possibility in the poetry texts I read- a childhood love I am fondly revisiting.

That’s it for now. You can check out my ever-expanding bookshelves here, feel free to share your book recommendations!


Image courtesy of  Books  by Chris ( CC BY 2.0 )