Lotus wild over sakura

Lost words finding a home....

Big Breasts & Wide Hips - Mo Yan

 

Is the uterus a prime property of the dowry that a bride brings into her marital life? Fertility being its most significant asset and a son the ultimate gift of that property. 

 

“Without a son, you’ll be no better than a slave as long as you live, but with one you’ll be a mistress…..”

 

The cry of a barren womb is more traumatizing than the agony of twisted bones that sacrifice their maturity for the birth of exquisite Lotus Feet. A society, where once a woman without bound feet could not find a husband and a mother who could not birth a son would become a slave and not a mistress of the house was indeed a disgraceful place to exist. A patriarchal society that prides in its honorable men becomes a farce when these very men abuse the owner of the precious womb that have birthed these men and have constructed the very reality of patriarchy. Shangguan Lu was tormented for her barren womb. In the conundrum of physical and mental abuse where tears forget their existence and misery becomes a friend, the fight against patriarchal sterility intensifies, compelling the womb to defend its owner’s survival. When a prosperous harvest becomes essential  rather than the origin of its seed and bearing of a son overshadows the essence of survival as it crumbles in the ashes of dignity and ignominy , on that very day a fertile womb stops  being a "child-rearing bag" of contentment and becomes a ferocious weapon of survival.  Shangguan Lu, survived the war between sterility and fertility, but peace and happiness eluded her and her children. Is it then a punishable offense to be born as a woman in a patriarchal society? To the female donkey that collapses under the weight of a stallion in order for its womb to reproduce a well-endowed mule rather than a scrawny, worthless donkey, is then, possessing a womb a misery or heroic? To those women who were ravaged not only by foreigners but also by their countrymen, is then birthing sons a sin or a blessing?

 

“We all ate God’s twelfth month gruel, mine came through my mother’s breast….”

 

Breasts turn out to be an indicator of current circumstances. The supply of milk becomes the sole communicator of vitality and hardships. Throughout the book, Mo Yan strongly emphasizes on the significance of women’s breasts to the point of subtle fascination and eroticism. It is not surprising though, as Shangguan Jintong , the protagonist and the narrator, is shown to be obsessed with his mother’s breasts to the point of worshipping it and later on  suffering from ‘photism,.  Right from infancy, Jintong was possessive about his mother’s breasts, which ultimately led him to only consume only milk as his body refused to ingest other food products. To a man who has not seen anything but brutal abuse, his mother’s breasts was the only place where he found true love and shelter; a sense of belonging. Can a hypothetical conclusion of lengthened studies of Pavlov’s theories be enough to answer the deep reality of Jintong’s demeanor and oedipal fixation that was gifted to him by the inadequacies of a muddled political and religious society? Moving away from Jintong’s manic worship of breasts, Mo Yan depicts breast to be a symbol of both love and lust. A mother’s breasts that fills with fragrant milk  is crucial to nurture the young ones, transforming these bodily assets(breasts) into heavenly warmth of motherly love, a warm cocoon that keeps life’s horrendous reality afar.  A mother’s selfless love is imprinted through her breasts as she nurses the innocent infants blurring the boundaries of political discrepancies. However, these same breasts become an object of vicious lust and onset of dastard crimes and endless sufferings.

 

 

"Yes, I’ve changed,” Mother said, “and yet I’m still the same. Over the years, members of the Shangguan family have died off like stalks of chives, and others have been born to take their place. Where there’s life, death is inevitable. Dying’s easy; it’s living that’s hard. The harder it gets, the stronger the will to live. And the greater the fear of death, the greater the struggle to keep on living..."

 

North Gaomi Township has been a powerful witness to the changing landscape of mainland-China, throughout the 20th century. Mo Yan artistically scripts the journey of a mother from the feudal times to a modern society where it becomes essential to listen to the woes of your children. As the conservative land reforms  are implemented ,eradicating every existing superstitions and orthodoxy, China undergoes a massive transformation from defeating Japanese Forces (1945) to accepting People’s Republic and bearing the consequences of a vengeful political realignment that encompasses the malicious and inhumane survival during the ‘The Great Leap Forward’ and the ‘Cultural Revolution’. In the fundamental  political conflict of a burgeoning country that becomes a laughing stock in the name of liberation and peace, the one firm constant entity in Mo Yan’s political saga is Shangguan Lu – the mother who like numerous other citizens is eluded by peace and joy. Even though the war and personal conflicts flung Shangguan Lu into an  ethical quandary, she harbored no prejudices whatsoever with her son-in-laws who excelled professionally  as bandits, leaders of Nationalist and Communist party and even the sadistic mute of a demon. Mo Yan interlaces a mother’s or rather a woman’s suffering with the hypocrisy of war.

 

There are times when the reader is obligated to question the ethical stance of Lu’s pronouncements. In a savage world where the thought finding angels is as delusional as the possibility of unicorns, how could ethics find an iota of survival? Is there something such as a just war? And, if there is, then how would one substantiate the injustice that occurs in the name of a ‘just war’? What happens when lust and suffering are entangled in a muddied mess of irrationality and the sensation of a single morsel of a stale steamed bun warming a parched throat brings blissful illusions dissolving the excruciating agony of a simultaneous rape?  In a land where women and children are not the first ones to be evacuated during a war, but the first ones to have a price marked at the marketplace, do then ethics truly weigh more than endurance?  The burgeoning hunger that feeds on your soul, the mockery of love, where sex blurs the lines of humane reverence and animalistic angst, the sorrow of existence amongst piles of corpses, nothing becomes “normal” anymore. Nevertheless, the motivation to unearth the precious speck of normalcy from the chaotic existence which makes living worth every oozing laceration becomes heroic. To find a rational survival from an abyss of lunacy becomes gallantry. Mo Yan, through his intricate prose creates heroes out of every solitary living being. He makes the human body the prime symbol of valor. The mind- where silence becomes a powerful salvation; the hands – that kills and get killed; the stomach- who even though ravaged by festering hunger look for a morsel of survival; the eyes- that cry in pain and delight, the mouth – that spew abhorrence and harvest love, the heart- that never stops loving and the womb- the ultimate bearer of all the pandemonium.

 

 

“Sima Ku has his faults plenty of them, but he lived his life like a man and that’s worth emulating…”

 

 In a thunderous patriarchal milieu, Shangguan Lu pronouncing only Sima Ku to be truly “a man”; Mo Yan intensely mocks  the societal patriarchy depicting other men to be a mere bunch of nincompoops. The courage of the Gaomi women takes centre stage with their strength of mind to survive in the most horrendous circumstances. The glorious penis fails where the big breasts and wide hips succeed; protecting the spirit of continuation. Furthermore, Mo Yan illustrates other political disasters with the precise dose of satire that gets eventful with the fervor of  animal breeding ,  illustrating the recklessness of people in power who rather be busy in breeding various animal species while their own die of hunger and diseases. What is the use of the Women Right’s propaganda when their (women) basic right to live an honorable life is brutally snatched?

 

“Are women really wonderful thing? May be they are. Yes, women definitely are wonderful things, but when all is said and done, they aren’t really “things”…..”

 

 Women are not things; neither are their wombs some birthing machines. Shangguan Lu was not a ‘thing’ neither were her daughters and granddaughters. In this journey of a mother through the tumultuous period of Chinese history, every child that came from Shangguan Lu’s fertile womb is heroic, every bastard child and abandoned infant that nestled and nurtured among the warm embrace of her full breasts is heroic.  For a motherless orphan to survive in a world of anguish and misery and carry the humungous weight of being a sturdy nurturer on her perfect Lotus Feet, Shangguan Lu is nothing less than a hero and a tigress of a mother. Possessing a uterus is certainly not a misery, it is heroic. The womb altruistically births new life without any prejudices. It births loyalists, patriots, traitors, sinners and saints. Mo Yan’s motherland births all these various sons of her soil; some of whom guard her love and some deceive her faith and yet as a loving mother; the Land of North Gaomi Township tenderly embraces her dead daughters and sons when they rest peacefully under the red sorghum stalks.

 

Mo Yan was criticized for this particular work and in a controversial debate; the validity of his Nobel Prize was questioned.  Did Mo Yan rightly deserved to be the recipient of the Nobel Prize or was it is a mere favorable outcome of a political lobbying? To be honest, I really do not care for such detractors or sycophants. Personally, I have always placed Mo Yan’s works on an artistic dais. At a time when facts are altered by the very own who promise the truth, asking a fiction to hoist the flag of honesty , is akin to pleading the dead to be the prime witnesses to a crime that will never be prosecuted.

 

Mo Yan asserts:-

 “If you like, you can skip my other novels, but you must read, ‘Big Breasts and Wide Hips’. In it I wrote about history, war, politics, hunger, religion, love and sex.”

 

Although it is not entirely accurate, as his other works are quite worthy of a read, I would not challenge a man whose words create heroes from the most unlikely living beings surviving in outlandish circumstances. As an ardent follower of Mr. Yan’s literature, from the time I open his books, sometimes with a smile, sometimes with misty eyes, I eagerly await the willful footsteps of valor as it strides from the dense sways of the sorghum stalks.

 

 

 

Miyazawa Kenji: Selections by Kenji Miyazawa , Hiroaki Sato

 

 

Beneath the solitary Saddle Mountain terrain,

Soil in dampness laid, memories of rain erase,

Crimson sun teasing the amorphous clouds

Witness the birthing of a maiden rice grain,

From the new railroad, tumbles steamy mesh,

Dances to the mist, a worm in its silken nest,

Smiling at the chopsticks, await two bare bowls,

As blissful serving of brown rice and miso  grace,

Against the black lacquer, the Lotus Sutra sings,

A crow in a hundred postures, Miyazawa dreams,

Above the fragrant cypresses, wild cranes stretch,

In the realms of Buddha, an Asura incarnate sleeps,

Is this a cosmos melancholy of a peasant or a poet?

Ask, free-verse galaxy to the bodhi tree, as I silently read.

 

If reading prose pushes you to edge of your vulnerabilities; poetry snatches the throne on which your brooding vulnerabilities reign. Resembling a drop of water, that with the slightest touch of sunlight becomes a chimerical glass - a mirror, through which the world shines brighter than the spectral extravaganza of a rainbow; poetry in its concise form is a collection of these glassy droplets from which one can view the vivid colours of the life and death, each droplet being carefully harvested into a river of emotions making the worldly spectrum lucid to its colour blind observer.

 

Nature awakens to the first call of Spring. Trees birth their first tender leaves to the melodious songs of young birds. The mist on the ground breathes life to the very Earth, on which it resides. The fiery sun crackling through the cerulean aerial carpet, the first pink sakura sprinkling, the pitter-patter of tadpoles taking their first swimming lessons, the newly found giggles of children that were lost in wintery gloominess and the enthusiastic soil waiting for a prosperous harvest. Life begins in spring. Art begins. Life is art and living is the masterstroke of the artist. Miyazawa Kenji’s poems are works of such  sophisticated art that encompasses a world view  attaching human life to nitty-gritty of nature, as all living beings  come under one  mammoth umbrella of the wholesome existence of universe. Through nature one derives acts of compassion and enlightenment. The Louts Sutra of the Wonderful Law seeps through every stanza of Kenji’s poems encompassing a “world view” as opposed to the tapered “human life”, transforming nature into labour of art through Kenji’s eyes.

 

The phenomenon called “I”

Is a blue illumination

Of the hypothesized, organic alternating current lamp

 a blue illumination

of the karmic alternating current lamp

which flickers busily, busily

with landscapes, with everyone

yet remains lit with such assuredness...(Proem)

 

Born on Aug’27, 1896 in Hanamaki, Iwate Prefecture in Tohoku, Kenji the son of an affluent pawnbroker, had converted to Nichiren sect of Buddhism, in his adolescent years, being a staunch follower of the teachings of Lotus Sutra. Kenji perceived the world as one which connected all living organisms through a common thread of universal enlightenment. In a world where suffering has to be endured, Kenji’s poems emotes intense emotion as a vehicle that travels through conscious surroundings of practicality constructing a bond between the mind and the nakedness of radical elements of conflict. Kenji’s struggle between inner and the outer world, seeking refuge in realms of Buddhism, became the ultimate  building block of his future works. Justly, placing under the contradicting title of ‘Spring& Asura’, Kenji displays the blaring discrepancies of the universe.

 

How bitter, how blue is the anger!

At the bottom of the light in April’s atmospheric strata,

Spitting, gnashing, pacing back and forth,

I am Asura incarnate.....(Spring& Asura)

 

The above verse identifies the fundamental quandary that eclipsed most of Kenji’s life. Approximating  to an Asura ( evil deities or spirits fond of fighting and quarrels who are constantly at war with various heavenly beings...), Kenji was forever at war with himself and the superficial environmental exterior as he tried to find poise with his  internal modernist outlook and  the external conservative rudiments. Adhering to the basic principles of Buddhism of renouncing anger to gain bodhisattva (enlightenment), Kenji described his innate anger as a stubborn malevolence   that compels him to “smash the desk with his whole body” and its luxuriant red colour that later feels like water turns him into a “madman”. Kenji defines himself as “an Asura in the world of humans becoming a Buddha”.

 

Kenji’s works are diversified branching into various short plays, children’s stories; all trying to create a bridge between the fundamental intuition and practicality with a certain dose of satire. Among his numerous poems, few of my favourites are the ‘The Railroad’ – where all the living beings, be it animals, insects or humans suddenly take a break from their usual chores to give a grand welcome to the new train that passes in its steamy reverie. ; ‘The Doctor’, ‘ The Crow with Hundred Postures’ , “The Politician’, ‘Refractive Index’, ‘Haratai Sword- Dancing Troupe’ and many more that bring out the brilliance of a man who interlaced the world in a single consciousness of  life, as it is said.

 

Desolate grass ears, the haze of light
the verdigris extends serenely to the horizon
and from the seam of clouds, a variegated structure
a slice of heaven’s blue.
My chest retains the strong stab.
Those two kinds of blue
Are both the properties that Toshiko had.....(Okhotsk Elegy)

 

Kenji was most affected by the loss of his younger sister Toshiko who died on Nov’27, 1922 after a long illness.  A bulk of his poems from   Vol. I & II are dedicated to Toshiko and the anguish he endured from the death of his beloved sister. ‘Love & Fear’ was the first poem where Kenji expressed his concerns over her illness and his heartache further deepened as he penned numerous poems:- ‘The Voiceless Grief’, ‘The Morning of the Last Farewell’, ‘Pine Needles’, ‘Volcano Bay: A Nocturne’, ‘White Birds’..... as he eulogised Toshiko.

 

Two large white birds fly

Calling to each other sharply, sorrowfully

In the moist morning sunlight,

They are my sister,

My dead sister

Because her brother has come, they call so sorrowfully.......(White Birds)

 

 Geoffrey O’Brien who has written an preliminary chapter in this book, rightfully calls Kenji as “a modernist in the mountain”. Miyazawa, much to his father’s angst decided to be a peasant and lived a humble life away from the riches that he was accustomed too. A teacher of Agrarian art, Kenji wrote poems in meteorology, sericulture, crop rotations, botany, geology and mineralogy. Was then Kenji a poet who became a farmer OR a farmer who became a poet? Miyazawa Kenji brought each element of nature amalgamating into humanity, his words breathe life into inert objects; nature and Kenji became one and thus is becomes difficult to take away the farmer from the poet and vice-versa. As the philosopher, Umehara Takeshi puts it:-“Kenji saw in Buddhism a grand view of the world that is consistent with the finding of modern science”.

 

I do not want pleasure

I do not want fame

Now I just wish to offer

This useless body

To the Lotus Sutra.......( October 28)

 

During his last years, Kenji scribbled his poems with a titular date registering the day on which he wrote the respected poems. Similar to his teachings which were liberated from the conventions of mandatory textbooks, Kenji truly believed that a poem should be written spontaneously with the very first impression one gets as a onlooker. Thus, it is not surprising that the poem that gifted Miyazawa Kenji the reflection of a saint was the one that he had scribbled before his death and had not amended. ‘November 3rd or Ame ni mo makezu( Be not defeated by the Rain) acquired an iconic status that became a cultural treasure in Japan, a country that once failed to recognize the genius of this reclusive , modest farmer. The poem is compared to another brilliant poetic verse of Joyce Kilmer’s “Trees”.

 

November 3rd.

Be not defeated by the rain, Nor let the wind prove your better.
Succumb not to the snows of winter. Nor be bested by the heat of summer.

Be strong in body. Unfettered by desire. Not enticed to anger. Cultivate a quiet joy.
Count yourself last in everything. Put others before you.
Watch well and listen closely. Hold the learned lessons dear.

A thatch-roof house, in a meadow, nestled in a pine grove's shade.

A handful of rice, some miso, and a few vegetables to suffice for the day.

If, to the East, a child lies sick: Go forth and nurse him to health.
If, to the West, an old lady stands exhausted: Go forth, and relieve her of burden.
If, to the South, a man lies dying: Go forth with words of courage to dispel his fear.
If, to the North, an argument or fight ensues: 
Go forth and beg them stop such a waste of effort and of spirit.

In times of drought, shed tears of sympathy. 
In summers cold, walk in concern and empathy.

Stand aloof of the unknowing masses:
Better dismissed as useless than flattered as a "Great Man".

This is my goal, the person I strive to become.

(show spoiler)

 

 

 

Hiroaki Sato, does a marvellous job by bringing  absolute gems from Miyazawa’s poetic treasure that encompasses rural life into the art of poetry, unearthing the invisible footprints of man that were misplaced in the fleeting cosmos of ignorance and prejudices while imparting the  vibrant sensibilities to a colour-blind spectator like myself. Comprehend this book, cherish the words while you listen to the chuckles of your children, the chirping of birds, the loveable wagging of your dog’s tail, the rhythmic flow of water, the swaying of leaves or the crystalline spectacle of snow tapping your window and under the open sky when the fiery sun hides behind those wispy clouds, think about a man whose words transformed all these elements into one whole entity and ponder on how cloistered verses found a voice that is listened delightfully through decades.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spanking the Maid - Robert Coover

Spanking the Maid - Robert Coover

 

 

The tinkling of the chimes crackled through the open door pouring ample sunlight on the lazy mauve interiors. She timidly walked in with her vital office paraphernalia – mops, cleansers, brushes, all loosely hanging in her pockets. The smell of the velvet curtains tightly clinging on to the humidity of her sweaty underwear. Clenching the corners of her apron, she walked towards the smartly aligned display. An old radio station belting, “Oh, teach me, my God and King in all things thee to see and what I do in anything, to do it as for thee!”, made her bottom whimper in its soreness.  “What would the Master use this time to chastise her for the wrinkled pillow cover?,  “Would he use his hand, a ruler, his belt, cat-o-nine tail, a hickory switch , a bull’s pizzle or the leather strap that proudly shined through the glass display?”, she feared. The world is a complicated place. In this possible chaos why do humans have a desperate urge of organizing the order of chaos? Is the need to cataloging and positioning materialistic things a respite from being unable to organize life’s chaos? Is that why her Master was hell bent on disciplining her to achieve perfection in her domestic chores? She contemplated, the blood from her welts immersing in the cottony abyss. The furry toys on the counter made her sense the embarrassment she had this morning when she saw old razors lying on the bed in between the swarm of ants savoring a measly meal of crumbs.

 

The tinkling of the chimes crackled through the open door pouring sunlight on the lazy mauve interiors. She timidly walked in with her vital office paraphernalia – mops, cleansers, brushes loosely hanging in her pockets. The smell of the velvet curtains tightly clinging on to the humidity of her sweaty underwear. Above the burly stack of lotions and potions, a poster screamed, “A servant with this clause makes drudgery divine, who sweeps a room as for thy laws wakes that and tha’ action fine!”. She picked up two dainty figurines of fairies, words – ‘confusion’ and ‘disorder’ cursively engraved on their torsos. Unexpectedly, to her horror the heaviness of the air was torn apart by a loud thunder. She turned towards the perched edible lingerie; she clenched on to her apron. It was her Master!  Why was he trying out the new leather whip? Had he seen the damp towel she has left on the bathroom rack or the pillow that she had forgotten to fluff? The Master looked worrisome. “How did it all began?”,he wondered. He felt trapped in the bedlam that engulfed his vague nightmares.   The picture of the ‘bird with blood in its beak’ on the nearby wall  made him ponder if  it was God who had ordained bodily punishment and he was merely obeying by taking a refuge in the purity of its technique. “ Pain is that which brings us closer to God”, he laughed at that very thought as he aroused the leather whip by splitting the air wide open imagining the maid’s bottom quivering to as he gave her a true service to achieve freedom of perfection. “Perhaps today then……at last!”, he deliberated  as  he ached to take a  leisure stroll in the park.

 

The tinkling of the chimes crackled through the open door pouring sunlight on the lazy mauve interiors. She timidly walked in with her vital office paraphernalia – mops, cleansers, brushes loosely hanging in her pockets. The smell of the velvet curtains tightly clinging on to the humidity of her sweaty underwear. She placed the two fairy figurines on the counter. The welts on her buttocks were awakened by the sticky underwear. Her wincing to every crimson swelling was noticed by a man from the nearby table. He had notices her when she had walked in and she had seen him too.  The man went on scribbling something in a book. He was a writer; meta-fiction was his forte. He had long ago surmised that world was a subjective place with its paradoxical demeanor.  It could not be objectively comprehended in its entirety because there were too many varied narratives to sort through. Thus, through his writings he played with life’s puzzling fragments by linking the confusion through the regulation of pizzle & puzzle, humidity & hymnody, humility & humor, order & odor. Looking at the maid paying for the figurines, the writer wondered if she could be able to appreciate his written book. Would his audience value his post-modernity? Will his audience dismiss his prose as another Victorian pornography due to its titillation factor? Or would they evaluate as some religious philosophical question? The sensuous language of the prose did not bother the writer and he knew it would not bother his readers too.  His book is an open metaphor like the bare buttocks of the maid. Similar to the way the Master found salvation in the chastisement of the maid and the maid who dwelled between the mystifying roles of a master and a servant, the writer’s prose dwells on the absurd nature of myth and life. Just as the writer was about to contemplate if his book would be loved or…. a frog from nowhere just jumped onto the counter canceling the other dreaded word that was about to enter in the author’s mind. The maid followed her Master home. THWACK!!!!!

 

The writer  certainly does not have a thing to worry about……..I’m already being blissfully whipped by this miniature brilliance.

 

 

Club Shadowlands (Masters of the Shadowlands #1)

Club Shadowlands  - Cherise Sinclair

I wouldn’t change a thing in this volume come what may. Being completely besotted by Master Z, my heart flutters even when I pen down words about him. Jessica’s fated admission to Club Shadowlands, her apprehensive foray into the BDSMers clique and enticing tutelage of Zachary flawlessly entwines a burgeoning Dom/Sub relation. Step by step revelation of a lifestyle of more than just hot kinky sex, liberating the stringent prude embedded within the cores of sexual explorations is greatly pleasing. Gosh! I am so enamored by the narrative that I can’t even be bitchy with the libretto. Sinclair observantly constructs a naively susceptible Jessica being captivated by the audaciously intricate Zachary. The modus operandi of molding a ravenous yet timorous obedient pursued by Zachary over Jessica is unthinkable and incredibly sexy. It is an all out goose bump fest culminating sinister eagerness into an addictive sexual outburst. How I fancied the prospect of Cullen joining the duo in their repressive exhibitionism. Ohhh! Silly me! I overlooked an entire manuscript chronicling Master Cullen’s fetishes. Can’t wait to get my dirty hands on it. More joy to my world!!!

Chaos of Silence - Oddments from an irresolute wit.......

 

On every sapling risen
Words to be written
Stories of the noon,
Spoken on earthly womb,
To clandestine rhythms
Chant the lone pilgrims.
--------------------------

Upon scarlet citadels,
Rest a pristine dove,
Pilgrim prayers echo
Testimony of love.

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

Friday nights,
A song in the wild,
Upon twinkling lights
Monotony smiled.
-----------------------------

The flute on your lips,
The music in my ears,
The breeze at the pier,
A heavenly souvenir.
--------------------------

Fishes’ tears fill the ocean,
Cicada’s cry fill the mountains,
With greatest devotion
I'll fill cloudless ream.
-----------------------------

Like ripples in water,
Journey is to a traveler
Muse is to an artist,
A cerebral reformer.
------------------------------

A poem is an endless knot,
Meshing love and wisdom
The godly cosmic aphorism,
As Buddha in a lotus pod.

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

Fly Away Love......Salutations!!

 

What is a mind
Without a heart?
What is a virgin
Without a man atop?

 

Like an olive swirling,
In crystalline ecstasy
Among cotton beddings,
A lone body curving.

 

Select the colours,
In their finest hues
Let the love usher,
It's newest muse.

 

Pleasuring words,
Lustful thoughts
A wish of a body,
Love without remorse.

 

Like a leafy shower,
On a autumn door
Accolades pour,
On humble notes

 

Will it reveal,
the inner zeal
A strong allure,
Of naked roar.

 

Among naked dances,
The bodies entwine
Upon virginal canvass,
A lover’s shrine.

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

Nocturnal chimera - Midnight melodies.....

 

 

 

 

Above the misty mimosa,

Swallows chasing the sun
On the gracious kimono,
A satin rose spun.

 

Upon perfect picture,
With colours aglow
The heart whispers,
Melancholy indigo.

 

“Hello” says the red robin,
To the virgin spring
Mislaid the words,
In a worldly bargain.

 

Fly you wretched bird!
The eels spin in rage
A world so absurd,
Crying at its fate.

 

Do clouds leave the sky?
From memories do dreams fly?
Though the words may die,
Their sounds beautify.

 

To sweet lullaby,
The butterfly sways
Moon on its wings,
As solitaire swell,
Is this farewell?

===============================

All bloody and wild,
Let the roses grow
Tender fields defiled.

Moistening the lips,

On the scarlet nectar

Wails the river silts.

 

If beauty chides,
The fumbling heart
Then perverse it is.

===================================

A needle in a haystack,
Shining like the sun
On a frosty riverbank,
Searching happy puns.

 

From a cloudy couch,
Roaring rain unchained
On a sultry mound,
The hearts pounced.

 

Fireflies on rocks,
Glow in the dark
Upon supple skin,
A pink watermark.

 

In these lips,
Savor the hips
Mindful stimuli,
Be love’s alibi

 

The grass shivers,
The pond whispers
Dragonflies spoil,
The watery poise.

 

In the morning dew,
Trembles pale orchids
A lust so horrid,
Cuts a heart in two.
============================

It's my fucking blog!Right?

 

 

I'm sick and tired of  Goodreads' shitty politics. So, now back to my BOOKS and crazy-ass reviews. 

Going for a Beer -Robert Coover

Going for a Beer - Robert Coover

I find myself gaping at the Kewpie dolls thinking about the devilish grin in those angelic eyes. Eight! Perfect circles of heaven. I count them twice before lining them like a bunch of soldiers. Was it that friendly man from the street who gave me these little drops of heaven? Does it really matter? Perry Como keeps calling those dolls like a lost child, “Kew Kew Kewpie dolls...She’s the cutest one of them all!!” Did I already put one of the soldiers in a grave between my teeth? Or were they two? Do I remember their deathly orgasm? The yellow stain transforms into a fluorescent rainbow through the green spout of the bottle thrust in between my lips. I can't remember the mustard on my shirt. It’s proof exposed on my shirt, the howl of the wounded dog echoing the cry of a baby for a warm bottle of milk. He hates the bar food, the taste festers a stale vomit. I serve him a turkey on rye with mustard, every time he walks in that bar. Did he eventually fuck that lady who keeps the Kewpie dolls lined like soldiers in her apartment? The smell of stale urine pervade the foggy streets, I need eight more of my soldiers. I need to drown them in a tipple chasm. Those Kewpies they follow me everywhere. In the arms of the child, on the hospital beds ,in the womb of a woman as she walks down the aisle. One more drink. A punch in the face. A celebratory drink. A child is born. Life passes by. Death lurks. Perry Como sways to a bunch of dancing puppets. I stagger on the streets with a dart stuck in my neck. Did he really fuck those women? Doesn't he remember those orgasms after the crazy carnival wins? The man at the bar. The one who remembers my mustard stain. The stench of my dried blood. The man at the bar. I don't know, maybe he’ll have another one. “Well...you know...life”; I’m going for a beer. Are you?

The Notebook, The Proof, The Third Lie: Three Novels - Ágota Kristof, Alan Sheridan, David Watson, Marc Romano
Toughening exercises....resistance....a composition.
War.....mortal solitude.....a composition
Love....objectivity.....a composition.
Truth.....lies....a composition.
Words.....immortality.....a composition.

The sharpened graphite moves silently in the dark attic on naive white paper sheets, reciting nightmarish trepidation. Every thought, every word emitting a chaotic soul finds refuge in the scribbling of the graphite. Amid the sirens of an air raid, it moves zealously. New pages are explored as the skeletons swing to the sad tunes of a harmonica like couple of wind chimes. It does not fear the stomping of the soldiers, the shots of a rifle, the abuse of an old lady. The pencil is fearless. It seeks truth, it endures lies. It keeps on moving even as agonizing cries of a rape fills the air, as pigs grunt to the sight of a shimmering knife and fresh graves are born under the vegetable beds in the garden. The pencil writes the darkest desires, the chaos of solitude. As the houses are destroyed, streets get vacant; the notebook overflows. While Harelip embraces the dog on her bare skin; Lucas writes. Claus writes. As Clara embraces Thomas; Lucas writes. Young Mathias writes too. Victor wants to write. To the sound of the detective movie Klaus . T. writes. Writing helps. Words release the excruciating pain that does not find a listening ear or an obliging mouth.

She says, “Yes. There are lives sadder than the saddest of books.”
I say, “Yes. No book, no matter how sad, can be as sad as life


It is the universal truth; nobody wants a war. Wars begin on a lie. It further creates a complex mesh of lies. The lies then slowly seep into the innocent lives and become a concrete part of the living. Wars arise from the world of Utopian delusions. People live in a deluded world that the war has gifted them. If a war is commenced to bring happiness to the land, then why does the land become a grave to happiness. Lives that find death cruel for being denied the frosty embrace, plead other lives to bless them with death. To ask a life to release another life is not the liberation that a war should seek. Kristof with her lucid text makes it crystal clear, that a war- torn land can be reconstructed and restored to normality; as if it has been untouched by conflict. Sadly, it is the shattered lives that do not get the respected privilege. The wounds of the war breathe with the people as long as they live, which at times can seem forever. The war may restore the buildings, but it cannot restore the dead. Laws can exonerate the innocent lives that were executed. But, can it restore Clara’s grey hair to its original sheen? Can the war restore the lost youth that it ravenously swallowed? The only gifts that war ever bestows on the privileged citizens are the art to kill and an impassive life, dwelling in the abyss of mortal solitude. Lucas/Claus knew the exact precision of killing a life. War had taught them the skill. At times, they would offer a vulnerable life the gift of death; if one mercifully begged. It was not something they sought to do, but absolutely needed to do. The brothers had triumphed over every aspect of pain, be it heat, hunger, cold or anything that causes soreness. They never cried even when their grandmother abused them or people in the streets heckled them with tortuous condemnations. They could defend themselves just as they defended Harelip. The war had taught them. The war had become their school. Mathias did not cry either. The war had taught him too. Kristof meticulously brings a world where one is fortunate to glimpse the next sunrise or the magical sunset. People do things not because they desire to; it is absolutely needed to. A place where nauseated absurdities thrive in normality. A place where humanity wanes in a treacherous barter system.

"Two or three hundred of them pass by, flanked by soldiers. A few women are carrying small children on their backs, or cradled against their breasts. One of them falls; hands reach out to catch the child and the mother; they must be carried, because a soldier has already pointed his rifle at them."


Kristof’s trilogy which begins with the twins arriving at their Grandmother’s house in Little Town, is a war in itself. Alongside the periphery of the country’s war, each of Kristof’s characters is a casualty of a simmering private war. The atrocity of the external war trickles down bringing an internal chaotic conundrum. Fear and grief become the only recognizable sentiments. For some of the characters the war had begun much before their country knelt to the brutal conflict. Lucas becomes an integral part in this trilogy. His life explores the inconsistent terrains of war, communist acquisitions, counter-revolution and later on the capitalist environments. It is evident when later Claus confirms the doubts by declaring, “It is a society based on money. No place for questions on life." Although, Lucas is an interesting character; it was the characterization of Harelip, Mathias and the ‘Officer’ that intrigued me the most. Harelip’s desperation of finding love ; Mathias struggle to find a place in “societal regularity” and the isolation of the Officer from his asphyxiated love , made me ponder on whether if given a chance would they hold a placard pronouncing , “Don’t come in the world of mine.”

Akin to her characters, Kristof’s prose if simple yet convoluted. Maybe, even equating to the onset of a war. Eventually, a war finds its conclusion. A war victim never gets that privilege. A war creates heroes of men, but, has the war ever thought about the women and children who have been victims and will live in deathly solitude and eternal pain. As life progresses, memories may fade, pain may diminish, but it does not disappear. Are men the only heroes of the war? Kristof audaciously makes this point.


“It’s like an illness. A sort of illness of the soul.....excessive solitude”.

‘Mortal solitude’ becomes a major salient feature of the war. Kristof gives the ‘state of solitude’ a demonic personality. The desperation that stems from loneliness blurs the lines between fact and fiction. Truth and lies amalgamate into an obnoxious lattice of desire and loss. The dead are woken up by stubborn memories that never fade; sex becomes a lucrative trade in the ongoing barter system, forlorn emotions seek refuge in objective love; the panic of old wounds reopening and the skepticism over validity of the dead that are found everywhere and nowhere. It is in this curse of solitude that one seeks the comfort of a grave. --- “The best place to sleep was the grave of someone you have loved.”

Lucas, Claus, Victor and the others struggle to free themselves from the ugly depths of solitude; nonetheless it was only seclusion what they searched to write their nightmares. Peace was a rare commodity in their lives. Is death then a better option? As one of the twins says, “I tell him that life is totally useless, that it’s nonsense, an aberration, infinite suffering, and the invention on a non-God whose evil surpasses understanding."

All is not lost, as Kristof elucidates that beneath the ruthless layers of desperation, there lies the strongest bond of love which survives the atrocities of the war.


“Love is not a reliable word.......It lacks precision and objectivity.”

Kristof evaluates the idea of the so called “normality of love”. In the incongruous world of war could ‘normal love’ ever survive? All the characters in the book are in a frantic struggle to find love and be loved. The burgeoning solitude leads to the desperation of desiring a sense of belonging. With abandonment comes the wish for of a touch, an embrace; irrespective of the methods and act of achieving the idea of love. The pain of promiscuity, incest and at times even rape takes a backseat when it comes to being “loved”. Kristof compels you to question the normality of love. Who is to decide the regulations of love? Who is to define rationality of love? The soldier who rapes numerous women and goes home to a loving wife and a child? The men who fathered bastard children who were left at the orphanage? Or those who suffocate homosexuality? If you ask Victor or Lucas or Harelip or Clara or Yasmine or even the Officer who listened to the gramophone while desiring death, they may probably tell you that in the absurdities of love one seeks its normality, similarly as one seeks humanity in the inhumanity of the war.


“I’m convinced---that every human being is born to write a book......he who writes nothing is lost, he has merely pass through life without leaving a trace.”

Stories perish beside the bodies in the grave. While death justifies the treachery of life, it fails to recognize the agony of its journey; words are then needed bestow immortality. In this saga of love and separation, Kristof bequeaths the said honor to the lives of the anonymous war victims by immortalizing their plagued existence through her genuine words. I jot down couple sentences, stare, cry, smile and then go back to those words as if they were mine. Clutching the pages, I walk down the empty streets , the songs of the harmonica still lingering in the cafes, the blue building priding the street, the bookseller’s shop is open ; Joseph’s horse-drawn wagon lurking at the door. The desk is vacant, not a soul in sight. Next to the stack of books, a set of blank pages blush to the flirtatious breeze. A note: - ‘Chapter title - eternal words.’ The pencil in my hand smiles: - Ágota Kristóf.





Broken Republic: Three Essays - Arundhati Roy

A month ago, on a lazy Sunday morning peering through inner pages of Mumbai Mirror were a set of colorful pins neatly clipped on oiled hair, the only source of happiness I could find in the photograph flooded with vacant eyes. The women folk of the Dongria Kondh , a little known tribe in the Niyamgiri hills in Odisha must have by now got used to the press photographers clicking their faces ; their revolution against Vedanta ( a mutli-million dollar company owned by NRI Anil Agarwal) has reached its first victorious milestone. India’s first ever open environmental hearings may have been an opportunistic pawn in the political landscape where the tribe’s “sipahi” (soldier) Rahul Gandhi prosper or a simple game of ‘vote-whoring’ (the Dongria Kondh had not voted for Congress for 30 consecutive years). Nevertheless, the political move became their gold pot that put the tribe’s struggle on the Indian center-stage with the Supreme Court prohibiting the Vedanta group from carrying out bauxite mining in the Niyamgiri Hills that begin from the point where civilization as we know ends. A battle was won; a war yet to be conquered.

Time and time again I have inferred that democracy dwells in the homes of the rich. For the poor, it is a hallucinatory dais where their lives survive with a chimerical optimism. Slums spoil the picture perfect of shining India. Pavement dwellers, poor migrants are menace to the picturesque high-rise urban infrastructure. The poor swarm the cities, stink the surrounding with their filthy shanties. The impoverished population is a hindrance to the growth of India. The poor should be sent to the villages; they can’t afford to live in the cities. Where are their villages? Where are their lands? Captured by the very own architects of India shining? Their land is seized, their houses burnt, their tribes eradicated. Everyone knows the written word, ‘the poor are a menace to the flourishing society, like the Dalits who have always been a menace to the Brahmin social order’. To be a refugee in one’s own country is worst than a maggot infested slow death. Hence, where will the poor go? In which corner of the country will they be able to find a home? Are only guns or suicide written in their pitiful fate? After all, weren’t they following the orders of their country’s supreme leader, the Prime Minister who once said that for India’s sake people should leave their villages and move to the cities.

India has fought many wars, internal and external. Political analysts have speculated the 21st century to be a festering bed for civil wars. On the international podium the Indian political leaders have shown diplomatic sympathies to countries plagued by terrorism and civil wars. Yet, blatantly these same leaders chose to ignore the white elephant that strides in their own homeland. The Indian landscapes have been birthing numerous revolutions since the day Indian achieved freedom from British colonial rule. The impoverish artisans, the landless, the Dalits, workers, farmers, et al.., have been engaged in a wide spectrum over 66 years. Arundhati Roy fires up three scintillating cerebral essays elucidating the insurgent landscape of “the single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by India.”The Maoist. These members of the banned Community Party of India (CPI) are prevalent and active in Central India, dominant in areas of Lalgarh, Jharkand, Orissa and in W. Bengal . Roy who passionately adheres to her activist image asserts that the Maoist’s guerrilla army in Central India is made up of poor desperate tribal who are fighting for a dignified survival.

Nobody needs a war. Wars annihilate civilization; gift the greedy their authoritative egocentric goals. Mostly, conflict arises from a desperate need for justice; it may arise from the need for authoritative power and in some instances from the falsified ideals of the fundamentalist fraternity. But, what about those conflicts that are organized purposefully? About those wars that become crucial to the government to enhance the climate of monetary investment? Roy, claims that the mining companies need this “war” between the Maoist and the State; an old technique employed to drive away the tribal people from their land.

“To justify militarization, the State needs an enemy. The Maoist are that enemy. They are to corporate fundamentalist what the Muslims are to Hindu fundamentalist?”

To this, one is then compelled to ask as to why it becomes essential for the combat forces to target only a solitary enemy while the other make speeches on political podiums. Why are the horrendous crimes of one terror outfit vividly splashed in the media while those of the other are clandestinely swept under the carpet? If this is the case, then why are the claims of India being a ‘Hindu state’ dismissed with political fervor? Why is the Indian government treating two terror outfits with vast discrepancies? Doesn’t this scenario infer the obvious? The real problem lies in India’s race to be a superpower and the struggle to sustain a celebrated economic growth rate. India even with its 66 yrs of independence is still a child when compared to the developed First World sovereign nations that have prevailed in their freedom for several hundreds , even thousands years. Akin to a child trying to become an adult, India in its restlessness to become an adult has forgotten the adolescence years of development and advancement. This restlessness has in turn given rise to the necessary evils of corruption and other unlawful practices of empty promises. Democracy has succumbed to fascist doctrines. India’s dirty war has not only crippled its people but also the foundation of its democracy. Furthermore, supporting her stance on the India’s war with the poor; Roy articulates the oddity that arises from the governmental negativity towards the negotiation talk of ceasefire with the Maoist.

“Odd isn't it? That even after the Mumbai attacks of 26/11 the government was prepared to talk with Pakistan? It’s prepared to talk to China? But, when it comes to waging war against the poor, it’s playing hard ball”.

What a preposterous question? It is like asking a murderer who has already inserted a 6-inch knife in your stomach, whether death would be the final outcome? Why would the sadistic government want diplomatic conversations with the poor, when all they want is their land even at the cost of their life? Do the poor own nuclear weapons like Pakistan and China? This brings to the lingering question of what happens when the poor do really pick up weapons. Roy declares that it is an obvious form of combat for the poor to regain their dignity and freedom after being brutalized as there is no other “better” option rather than to fight. Suicide being a farthest option in this chaos. It is here that I find a bit discomfort in digesting the fact that if every violent action is generalized as self-defense then all the crimes would be acquitted on the ground of self-defense. If the poor who have chosen to defend themselves on their own through combat after being denied the said rights by the government then it also becomes acceptable for the victims on the other side of the conflict zone to raise their guns in self-defense. At this intersection it gets bit tricky to grasp Roy’s sentiments on the topic as in the third essay, she questions Operation Green Hunt’s self-defense theory whilst situating the clause of self-defense on favorable grounds with respect to the applicants of Maoist recruitment.

The main element in Mr. Chidambaram’s War is the establishment of Operation Green Hunt that is talked about in hush tones within the corridors of the Parliament; asserting its presence is an unimaginable thought. Chidambaram ( Union Minister of Finance) has always alleged that ‘Operation Green Hunt’ is the figment of imagination of Indian media and such an combat entity in reality does not exists. Interestingly, generous funds and armed forces have been allocated to the said eradication warfare program. The irony of the entire thing being the very existence of the name ‘Green Hunt’ that is out there to annihilate the environmental greenery, displacing thousand of tribals for the benefit for few yet influential imperialist forces.

What this country needs is revolution.

In Walking with the Comrades, Roy humanizes the brutal image of the Naxalite as she travels along with the Naxalites in the dense of forests aligning Dantewada. One can comprehend Roy’s empathetic demeanor to the Maoist and their struggle, when she questions the validity of Salwa Judum (Purification Hunt); the government sponsored vigilante groups helmed by a shrewd Congress MLA Mahendra Karma that was responsible for rapes, burning down the villages and other related brutality committed in conflicts of land grabbing. Mahendra Karma was killed in a specialized revenge attack strategize by the Naxalites to avenge the brutalities of Salwa Judum in the Bastar region. Do you think the poor tribals who worshipped their lands and mountains want a brutal war? Would they have joined the Naxalites, if their lands and homes were not seized by unlawful tactics and policies? Roy makes a strong case that stands by the helplessness of the tribes that are caught in the crossfire between the State and the Maoist. Roy’s prose is always a controversial one. Opinionated arguments have found a line of attack as far as Arundhati Roy is concerned; depending on which side of the fence one prefers to stand. Duplicitous workings of a corporation become vivid with the construction of a Cancer Hospital on the outskirts of a mining area. In the vein of a laughable diatribe one can assume the company slogan, "First we gift you cancerous cells and then we try and cure them". Aren’t they a gem of a people? It is at this point I chose to be on the same side with Arundhati , irrespective to my differences with her other political scrutiny. When Roy questions the diabolical aspects of the Maoist and tribals being different entities, it further deepens the hypocrisies and the falsehood of the Indian government. Nevertheless, to be empathetic to the Maoist becomes a transitive factor of defending the bloodshed and the brutalities committed by the Maoists.

Although the word 'terrorist' can be easily manipulated by the egoistic political power-mongers, the word should not be loosely labeled. Terrorism is a politically and emotionally charged vocabulary. Hence, it is ambiguous. But, still isn't the act of terrorism born from the desperation of need of a dignified survival? If you trace the historical events of terrorism, it is evident that the struggle has always been for the rights of people, the land, for freedom. Aren't the dreams of a terror outfit, nightmarish to the rest of the world? If we start humanizing every act of terror by categorizing them by the degree of helplessness then violence would never stop until the last trace of civilization is eradicated from this planet. Terror can never be empathetic on the grounds of self-defense. There is no pardoning to brutality on human grounds. If that ever happens, then the entirety of terrorism would be acquitted on the said judicial grounds. War would then become a way of life. However, when the question arises of its origin, one is stumped by the much thought. Yes, it is true that Maoist are not the only one who seek to despise the Indian state, Hindu fundamentalist are even nastiest than the Maoist. And, what about the candidates of economic totalitarianism, who have compelled the poor towards suicidal desperation. Unfortunately, the Indian government has singled out Maoist as a terror outfit in order to win their ‘organized war’. Therefore, on the basis of these fundaments, it becomes plausible to identify with Roy’s inferences and viewpoints. Roy also points out the cruelty of the police force being imparted on any poor tribal with even the slightest resemblance to Maoist irrespective whether they being an active member of the group. But, isn't this modus operandi works the other way too. Don’t the Maoists slaughter policemen on a slightest suspicion irrespective to their stand on the ongoing revolution? This stance has always been questionable.

“If the cinema smelled--- then films like ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ would not win Oscars. The stench of that kind of poverty wouldn't blend with the aroma of warm popcorn.”

The poor appeal our fascination when they are framed artistically at an art exhibition or a festoon the cover pages of a book. Like the movie, we want to see the poor without their stench. We want to sympathize with their adverse fates over cups of frothy cappuccinos, but despise their presence in our backyards. ‘Trickledown Revolution’ begins with the lingering inquiry over the status of pavement dwellers being the refugees of India Shining- “people who are being sloshes around like toxic effluent in a manufacturing process that gone berserk” . Roy goes on to make a legitimate point with her analysis of the political execution of Cherukuri Rajkumar (Azad) just months ahead when the senior most member of the CPI was on the verge of negotiating a diplomatic dialogue between the Maoist and the State. Azad has said that “a ceasefire even a temporary one would give respite to ordinary people who are caught in the war”. The truth may have been lost in between the barrage of bullets and bloodshed, but one can’t deny the solid truth of ‘equality being a Utopian fantasy’ in the “other” India. The government needs this war; the tribals need their lands. With almost 100 million surviving tribal population, Roy seeks an alternative.

“Can we expect that an alternative to what looks like certain death for planet will come from the imagination that has brought about this crisis in the first place?”


Ultimately, where would one find India’s true democracy? Would it be found on the political dais at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi? Would it found in the combat of the helpless poor or in the mangled pages of Indian Constitution? Does democracy lurks through the monetary bribes given to the poor in exchange of their electoral votes? Will democracy ever cross the threshold of an affluent household? Or like Roy audaciously asserts, is India truly a ‘broken republic’

“Can you leave the water in rivers, the trees in the forest? Can you leave the bauxite in the mountain? If they say they cannot, then perhaps they should stop preaching morality to the victims of their war.”


Arundhati Roy’s words bring the best of me as a reader and the worst of me as a citizen. As a reader I may have a zealous streak while penning an appraisal , but as a citizen I turn off the news channel with the speed of a light as I’m more concerned about missing my favorite TV show rather than the anti-poverty protests happening in the city. I criticize the deeds of the very corporations while I immensely enjoy their fruits. Until the Niyamgiri revolution I was ignorant about the Vedanta group belonging to Mr. Anil Agarwal , but, I precisely knew which Bollywood star performed at Mr. Agarwal’s family function. I’m more interested in the size of the rice grain and not the farmer who committed suicide on the same land from where the rice had come. I’m pleased when slums are demolished as they would no longer spoil my ocean view. I have luxurious data about various world tribes right from the jungles of Amazon to the deserts of Africa. Yet, when it comes to knowing the tribal culture thriving in my own homeland I’m at loss of words. It is disgraceful to know that my awareness of tribes in India increases with every political conflict that is exaggerated in the media. Unlike the tribals, I understand greed. In fact, it festers within me with every monetary acquisition. The Superintendent of the Police was accurate in his conclusion about the tribals lacking the element of greed.
“See, ma’am frankly speaking this problem can’t be solved by us police or military. The problem with these tribals is that they don’t understand greed. Unless they become greedy there’s no hope for us. I have told my boss, remove the force and instead put a TV in every home. Everything will be automatically sorted out.”

It is the shameful truth! I live with it, guiltless.




The author interviewing the Maoist.

The Dancing Girl of Izu and Other Stories - Yasunari Kawabata, J. Martin Holman "As death approaches, memory erodes. Recent memories are the first to succumb. Death works its way backward until it reaches memory's earliest beginnings. Then memory flares up for an instant, just like a flame about to go out. That is the "prayer in the mother tongue."

A string of solemn words sprint from my mind onto my lips at slight picture of a funeral that passes on the street. With my hands pressed palm to palm; expressing gratitude to the death a prayer in the mother tongue, “Bless the departed soul and forgive all the mortal sins”; escapes in the melancholic air. Forgiveness, they say, is the only medicine that cures an infected heart. A prayer; a hope for betterment flickers as the mind enters into an empty abyss. When death approaches, it fetches the long lost past; nostalgia slowly creeps with the facade of first love; the fragments of a faded childhood and the tattered pages of life’s desolation are pasted in a sentimental embrace even as the empathetic mother tongue binds the corpse in ropes of convention. As a child, I was terrified of funerals. But, it all changed on the day my grandfather died. The elders thought as I was too young to see the dead and so I was sent to the neighboring apartment. I never got to witness my grandfather’s silent face; his last physical memories of this world. Not a single tear was dropped when I came back to an empty room and even today funerals never make me grieve. At funerals, I sit by the dead and stare blankly at the soundless face, searching for a fragmentary goodbye of my grandfather as my anguish never got the merited privilege of closure. Does death complete the emptiness that life always dwells in? Can death really erase all the mistakes and sins of mortality? When does a man rob the virginity of his life and then later, why does he regret it as a reckless act? Did my grandfather recollect his first spoken words in his mother tongue? The virginal call to his mother. Will I remember my first words on my deathbed? The choreographed beats of a drum lingered from a nearby tea house.

As I sat on the old steps, waiting for the youth, whom they called ‘Master of funerals’, I heard the heart wrenching cries of a child as his poured the oil out of the lamp, lit in front of the dead. The boy despised the mere smell of the oil; rapeseed to be precise. The oil was cruel enough to play tricks on the child’s mind. The lingering sweet odor brought back the dead. Unaware of his quandary, it would not be long till he smelled the rapeseed oil once again. Will he then offer a hundred lights at the altar to honor his parents? Ask the boy for whom death permeates through the viscous oil. A middle-school teen who had come to honor the dead sat besides me. He did not felt the need to put on a solemn mask like several others at the funeral. Just like me, he could not grieve the death. The rituals commenced with the entry of the ‘master of funerals’. The youth was neither a temple priest nor a shaman. The fellow was in his 20s who unfortunately had seen more funerals than celebratory sacraments of life; his kimono smelled like a grave. Amid the chants, to the horror of the mourners, the teen slammed a book in my palm. “Please, read it carefully”, he pleaded. Words were jammed up in my throat. How could he do such a disgraceful thing in the middle of the funeral? Doesn't he respect the dead? Tears flooded his aching eyes and I knew it right then, I had to read his penned diary of the sixteenth year. I could not bring myself to give him an unenthusiastic answer; I had to revere his words the way his belief resided in my approval. The boy’s grandfather was on the brink of death. Maybe, it was fate giving me a second chance to pronounce my own unsaid goodbyes. Maybe, his word would lessen the weight of my onerous memories. Nevertheless, will the teen himself be able to unload his baggage? Will the sorrow of his loneliness vanish like the tears from his grandfather’s hopeful eyes? Similar to his grandfather, would his heart stand strong for seventy-five years while the wounds of failure bled? Ask him on his 27th birthday.

The pristine images of the flowing white fabrics floated the virginal essence of life that conquered the departed soul. The soft waves of the sea murmured the melancholy of breathing memories. The urn to be used for gathering the ashes rested peacefully on the wooden mantle that once was a proud owner of an authentic Japanese watch symbolizing the courage of love. Love is certainly a funny thing. It dawns from sheer vanity of beauty and crumbles in its opulent absurdities.Frightening love. Love that dwells on fringes of insanity; love that consumes the very essence of its purity to the advent of insanity. Is love a bastard child of lunacy or an orphan seeking a home in fostered hearts? Ask the man who patiently waited for the bitter blade to touch his warm neck.

The boy, who had come with a smartly wrapped parcel containing some of his mother’s old kimonos along with his belongings, kept smiling as the birthplace bid a sorrowful adieu to one its children. Amid the ritualistic chants, the funeral proceeded onto the pompous street that prided in its mountains of silver and copper coins. The coins fell swiftly as pearls from a necklace. By honoring the dead,the honey road became an illusionary plaque of a melancholic heaven. Is then, paradise a distant path or is it found in the boots of the beggar who tonight will feast on a scrumptious sea bream and sake; the red comb a gift on her wedding night. The outlandish screeching of the cicadas interrupted the funeral procession as the villagers glanced at each other. The cries of the cicadas from the hill in the park metamorphosed into the merciful whimpers of a woman dwelling in the realms of her chastity under the roof. Once again the villagers glanced at each other. The rumor of a woman who lost her virginity three times preceded the procession.The woman who stood behind me in a white kimono grinned as only she knew the absolute truth. She had lost her virginity at the very sight of a wrinkle resting near her eye and the sting of her sagging breast bled for the first time. Not a single memory, just a flimsy shadow. Is old age the inevitable enemy of beauty that life prides upon? Do the baggage of our memories become detrimental as we head towards the dusk of our lives? Ask the woman who lost her virginity for the fourth time. Vile gossip is an illusion stemming from a nascent self-hatred .Like a chimerical ballet liberated from human errors, fantasy takes refuge into the arms of realism. Isn't it true that at times we choose to dwell in our rose-tinted prejudices? Ask the man standing in the shadow of a pilgrim in the third-class waiting room at the station. The voice of the drums seems to get closer.

The procession took a final turn on a narrow road that led to the ‘Mountain Peach Bath’; a man- made paradise. Suddenly, a wild uproar halted the funeral procession. “You worms. It's a small road just wide enough for automobiles to pass. If you were so shocked when you first realized what kind of intentions that road had, you had better open your eyes while you can and think about the intentions that lie behind that highway.", howled an infuriated young man. The public bath gave way to a newly built private bath and the Mountain Peach Bath’ could only be found in the history archives of fading memories. Somewhere, the crickets zealously chirped in a jar. The persistent odor that oozed from burning the pine boughs brought happiness to a gloomy heart. Did the ashes of the burned pine boughs cleanse the heart from the burdensome memories? Did the heart become a pictograph of purity, once again? Ask the heart who was anxious to eradicate the embedded orphan complex.

Underneath the persimmon trees, unaware of the large procession; the children played with their newly discovered half-sword. The blunt piece reminiscing in the memory of its sharpness lay on beneath the ancestral shrine. The samurai sword was chastised for tasting the blood of a grief-stricken woman. Did the sword have the right to take a genuine life? Who made the sword a messiah of justice? Ask the broken piece that drew blood.

Hurrah! Hurrah!” yelled the sisters at the gate of the inn. Did they express the similar sentiments of the soul that had just departed from a sullied body? Or were these words of encouragement bestowed on the woman who in the memory of her father embarked on a journey of residing in the inns throughout Japan. Did the inn represented her unfulfilled dream or bear the burden of her unkind memories? Akin to the way I struggle to find my grandfather’s face in the dead. The deafening sounds of the drum were excruciating to my emptiness. As I peeked into the tea house, I lost track of the funeral. An adolescent dancing girl in her teens was happily playing the drums, entertaining the tea house patrons. A virginal beauty daunting to the eyes of her admirers; the dancing girl of Izu was a nomad of beauty and cleanness; a girl yet to be christened as a woman; someday.


Nearly after a somber hour, the funeral procession came to its end. Reminiscent to a soul noiselessly leaving a body in all its glory, the setting sun slipped into its watery grave leaving its memories in a violet sky. The soft waves of the sea melodiously hum a lullaby to the princess of the dragon palace who slept in the cerulean depths whilst a fairy tale was penned on a lover’s grave. On my way back from the cremation, weary laborers walked from the mountains into the village; a girl sat terrified of the sea, wondering if there would be someone caring enough to take her away from this place. The nightfall glistened in the moonlight. The moon shimmered in its loneliness; its virginal baggage getting heavier with every star that cropped up in the nightly ecstasy. As the moon pondered on its forlorn fate, the horse beauty flew like an arrow towards the moon. The drums of the dancing girl welcomed a new life in to this world as it gave its first virginal cry. That day, I had witnessed both, the echo of life and the stillness of death; everything in between lay scripted in the unread pages of the diary that fervently fluttered in my lap.


"Put your soul in the palm of my hand for me to look at, like a crystal jewel. I'll sketch it in words..."

When I embarked on the Kawabata journey, I was determined to read each of his literary works, come what may. I desired to view Kawabata’s primary strokes of his literary painting. A writer’s first work resembles the monochromatic background splashed on a bare canvass; its image yet unknown. To discover the root after cherishing the grandeur, the essence of the root is placed on a critical dais. Alas, I had seen the painting first and not the bare canvas. I was handed a completed art and as I sat there trying to decipher and classify every color that amalgamated in the quest for a divine nothingness , I listened to the silence that lingered between the scripted words, comprehended the lingering sentiments and the opulent beauty that flowed with every stroke on the bare canvas. At times when the silence consumed me, I could observe the anguish of a soul that shimmered like a crystal jewel amongst the sketched words. To comprehend the meaning of nothingness, a cry of a lonely heart, to evaluate a character without any prejudices, the quest for a virginal soul, to hear the earthly grave that now bestows the divinity of a grain that feeds sons and grandsons; a need for the “ears of a Buddha”. A privilege that Kawabata sometimes bestows.


The Master of Go - Yasunari Kawabata, Edward G. Seidensticker
Two stones....two individuals. One game.....one world. The yin-yang philosophies sprouting from the wooden bowls on to a 19 x 19 arena. The small stones carrying the burden of altering destinies. In the realm of shōsetsu, Kawabata chronicles a factual reportage of a decisive championship game of Go held in 1938, between Honnimbō Shūsai and Mr. Kitano Minora. Abiding the culture of literary fiction, Kawabata confers fabricated identities to the players as well as to himself (Mr. Uragami) in this epic struggle that spans over the period of nearly six months.



**(Title holder Honnimbō Shūsai's last official game , his opponent being the 7th Class Mr. Kitani)**


“The game of Go is simple in its fundamentals and infinitely complex in the execution of them. It is not what might be called a game of moves, as chess and checkers.....”


Intersection

The game of Go commences with the stone being placed at the intersection of the vertical and horizontal squares. The Black stone always taking the privilege of an opening move. The devious tap of the stone on the wooden grid echoes the hysteria of a transitional era. New laws and new tactical regulation overruled the aristocratic stubbornness by refined trickery. The strategic moves alternating the white and black stones delineated the struggle of aristocracy vs. liberalism; youth vs. old age; new vs. old; and art vs. gaming pragmatism.

“Shusai the Master would seem in a variety of meanings to have stood at the boundary between the old and the new.”

The frail and ill Master who revered the tradition of Go as a way of life and art , painfully observed the transition of his beloved painting into the commercial entity bound by scientific regulations and competitive aggressiveness. An inhabitant of the Meiji Era, the Master finds himself standing on the edge of modernity that challenges traditional mores and progress in a strange world with cries for equality. Mr. Uragami, in his reportage addresses the Japanese landscape that is suspended between the resistance of the old cultural mores and the democratic post- war revolution. The Master who was accustomed to conservative prerogatives struggled to rationalize the tactical moves of his young adversary Mr. Otake. The unorthodox Black-69 move struck like a spray of black ink spoiling the rhythm of the Master’s harmonic artistic play. Uragami wonders if the “invincible” Master was now as feeble as the scrawny legs that marred the authoritative illusion. Were the long recesses and the venue changes between the games, a defense from the fury of the Black stones? The Black stones were insensitive to the pleas of an aged clamshell stone. The exhaustion of insomnia that ravaged the serenity during the four day long recesses was now curious about the loneliness that sprang from the nostalgia of a waning art. The frail Master with all his might hung on to the last threads of his invincibility.

“In that figure walking absently from the game there was the still sadness of another world. The Master seemed like a relic left behind by Meiji”

On the bridge of transition was the battle of the Master to restore the vitality of the very game that made him bleed, justified? Is the birth of nostalgia, the loneliness of change more agonizing than physical death? Mr. Uragami poses a baffling question whether the metaphoric notion of “sealed in cans” would make our lives happier without our territories being invaded or are we equipped to forfeit our conquered territories to smell the fresh winds of change?


Territory

Go is fierce; it is a territorial game. Territory called “ji” in Japanese is formed by a continuous line bounding the adversarial stones in a captured territory.

“Had Go, like the Nō drama and the tea ceremony, sunk deeper and deeper into the recesses of a strange Japanese tradition?"

Go becomes the medium through which various boundaries are pitted against a strategic battle of sustainability and perishability. Otake’s robust and patiently timed moves paves a path to a modern strategic system that abides the essence of time and laws challenging the Master and capturing territories by abstract conditions of Justice. Mr. Uragami take this territorial battle further into the lives of the players and the existence of Go as a traditional art and as a embedded culture of a nation. The Game of Go that has its origins in China about 4ooo years ago is now an inhabitant of the Japanese culture. It has been explored and improvised by the Japanese societal mores for more than 12oo years to be an important artistic heritage of the Japanese cultural territory. The threat of this game being captured by foreign territories becomes conspicuous when Mr. Uragami expresses his skepticism over whether a foreigner (Dr.Dueball’s Germany- the game had attracted players from America) would do justice to the game of Go as he will be unaware of the history of the game and would treat it is a sheer game and not art that had become a way of life to many Japanese Go players. Does the mystery and the nobility of a game is diminished if played away from the land of its origin? Is a sovereign heritage greater than the art of the game? These similar worries was expressed by the Master when in a bid to reclaim his genius over the game, he witnessed Otake’s severe game brimming with scientific precision and slyness. The striking of the stones was echoing the violence of a tragic chasm of a competitive world that had bestowed the title of “invincibility” to the Master crafting a grand super-powerful figure. The Master became a citizen of a hallucinatory world where he achieved a winning immortality; a world where he believed he could not afford to lose. The mentioning of the fact that the Master had not played the Black stones for more than 30 years; inferences can be drawn of a possibility of the White stones being the honored territory of a Master. Is then this illusionary territory that brings tragic consequence when the sanguine vagueness is marred by the loneliness of reality? When does the player become larger than the game? When do the mores of cultural heritage become greater than its sovereign nation? When does the move ‘Black-69’ strike like the flash of a dagger piercing into the safeguarded territory of the player capturing his stone wall?


Contiguity of Stones

The continuity of the stones is established by placing them in row in a horizontal and vertical manner. Diagonally placed stones are vulnerable for a territorial captive attack.A lonely stone is unfavourable to the playing contestant.

“Don’t you suppose he was lonely?”……. “Yes. But he (the Master) was always lonely.”

Did the loneliness, the thought of him being the probable last surviving ‘Master of Go’ from the Meiji era made the Master vulnerable to Otake’s stubborn ambition? Like an isolated stone that becomes less powerful, did the seclusion of his artistic prowess in the modern world made him defenseless?

Mr. Uragami contradicts the play of contiguity by illustrating a breakage brought by modernity in the world of Go and its players. In the play of black upon white and white upon black, the threat of forfeiture prevailed right from the personal feelings of the players to the fate of the game in the altered Japanese landscape. In the emerging new age and fresh vitality of Go would the frequent threat of forfeiture interrupt the contiguity of history and traditions leading to the collapse of the stone’s sanguineness?


Life and death of the stone

A stone has a life and can be killed when entirely surrounded by the adversarial stone. In the war like game the stones and the players amalgamate into one whole existence. The notion of “sealed in tin cans” depicted during the play keeps the player from external disturbance. The game and its strategies follow the players until the game is over and even thereafter, as in the case of the Master. For a Go player each free moment is a risk management session increasing the pressures of time and the deliberation over the future moves brings certain quirks and nervous addictions. The sanity of life is found in the madness of Go.

“He is not just a genius. He is inhuman”

Unlike Mr. Otake, the Master was bled by the game of Go. The shadows of Go followed the Master hovering into the vagueness of his existence. As a true artist sculpting the Go art, the Master resisted from judging the persona of the opponent as it perverted the sanctity of the game. The Master calculated his every move even when he played a game of chess, billiards and mahjong. When the Master played his moves and the game consumed his life, at times making him lose the realization of his own identity. The stones had sealed his destiny as a ‘Go Master’ in a can of loneliness and the shrewd game has made him a sort of a martyr. Mr. Uragami who himself was an ardent fan of the Master, infers that there are two types of players: - one who are complacent with their game output and the other who meticulously enhance their art; the word satisfaction being a rarity in their game. The Master belonged to the latter. The Master had become a tragic figure, a ghostlike existence. Novelist Naoki Sanjugo who wrote himself to death asserts,-
“If one chooses to look upon Go as valueless , then absolutely valueless it is ; and if one chooses to look upon it as a thing of value , the a thing of absolute value it is."

So where does a player stop from not letting the game consume him? Is the art of the game that creates martyrs of its soldiers? The pleasure of the game brings seclusion from worldly exhilarations of life. The unadulterated sleep of a child is far fetched blessing in the cursed insomniac world ridden by chaotic configurations. When does the harmonic monochromatic ballet of Go become a war of spirit and destiny? Is then life greater than a man or is the man greater than the life? The long coarse white –hair on the Master’s eyebrow; the symbol of life’s longevity knew the answer and so did White-130.



Under the morbid tides of destiny the death of a stone. The game ends. Hope ends..... A new stone is astutely placed on an intersection. Once again, the game of Go begins , deciding a new destiny for its Master.

Confessions of a Mask - Yukio Mishima, Meredith Weatherby
“What we call evil is the instability inherent in all mankind which drives man outside and beyond himself toward an unfathomable something, exactly as though nature had bequeathed to our souls an ineradicable portion of instability from her store of ancient chaos.”- Stephan Zweig.


The air grew heavier as the blood soared; the sensuality insect crawled with an unprecedented ardor blinding the intoxication that arose from a monstrous swell. The naked flesh bled to the wraith of arrows and while tranquility festooned youthful fragrance, the insect stirred a storm that thundered as cloudy-white patches filled the empty spaces. The musty smell of the ejaculated sperm mingled with the stale cigarette stink that dangled between the tender lips of an eight-year old squatting on the broken stairs, smoking the discarded stub wondering if she could touch the voluptuous breasts of the woman who smiled at her. A topless Barbie lay besides, the naked breasts of a doll immersed in nicotine fumes. Upstairs, a man admired the lacy lingerie beneath his striped shirt and the adored swell of the breasts hid under the layers of a tightly woven bandage far from the reach of the little girl. A worn sponge was being a dutiful servant to the slapping fingers; white mist covering a bare face.

“Indeed of all kinds of decay in this world, decadent purity is the most malignant.”

Lust, they say corrupts the purity of love. Puberty brings lust; maturity bestows love. Love is a shapeless sensation that at times normalizes irrationalities. Love has always been an anomalous creature; sensuality flooding sanity into passionate disorders. If so, then why are we adamant to categorize this amorphous divinity with standardize regularities? What is “normal love”? Who decides its normality stance? We, the so called societal gurus ; prisoners of our very own sins. ‘Confessions of a Mask’, is a convoluted mêlée of a remorseful conscience between the standardized societal normality and abnormalities.

“How would I feel if I were another boy? How would I feel if I were a normal person?”

Kochan keeps referring to himself as an abnormal person. For Kochan, the sensuality of a woman is equated to the same emotion that arises from viewing a “broom” or a “pencil”. He was fascinated with “tragic lives”; a feeling of nothingness that emerged from self-renunciation captivated Kochan. The night-soil man in his dark-blue trousers, the smell of sweat that reeks from the marching soldiers, Omi’s armpits filled with copious youthful hair, fishermen with their naked torsos; seductions that enhanced his puberty. Masturbating to the vision of a young male teacher and not to the thought of a naked woman, made Kochan question the legitimate normality of his pubescence. Mishima keeps homosexuality afloat in the stormy waters of social mores. In a homogeneous spiritual Japanese society, the existence of homosexuality was even more unimaginable than an actor’s factual face in a Kabuki theatre. The protagonist’s continuous struggle is heartbreaking to read, particularly, when in search for a normal life he imposes a Spartan-like self-discipline to evade the indulgence his “bad-habit” (masturbation) and his alter ego masquerading in a costume gala establishing a pre-amble to a counterfeit existence. The idea of being a stranger in a crude savage land seemed more plausible for an unflustered life. The commencing of a platonic love affair with Sonoko further propels Kochan’s remorseful conscience in a claustrophobic existence. The desire of an impassive kiss from a woman; the desperate need for an embryonic feeling of heterosexuality. The prose made me furious at times, to glimpse a world ridden with hypocrisies of insecure minds. A world where rape, incest is placed on a identical immoral dais as homosexuality is certainly a malignant society. A man should not be made to feel guilty if his heart craves the touch of another man. A woman should not be ostracized for loving another woman. Love is a warm shadow where we find refuge from our own wars. So, how dare the heterosexuality elites try to shackle a shadow? If, “normal love” only flourishes through the sole act of a viable reproduction, then what right do we have for pompous declarations of ‘man being the most evolved species’? Why demean the animals when we bestow the same courtesy to our fellow members? Why do we designate homosexuality as a ‘criminal with a death sentence?’ The red lacquer is meticulously spread over a snowy visage amid the cries of a featherless parrot chastised for flying with the robins. Death being the only rescue.

“It was in death that I discovered my real ‘life’s aim’....”

The gory images of mutilation and blood filled hallucinations had always ravaged Kochan’s mind. Right from his childhood, Kochan had an affinity to grief with death being the ultimate seducer of his sensualities. It was as if fate had made him fond of the sinister dwellings of death; a sort of an admonition of his burdensome future. Death plays a dual role in Kochan’s clandestine existences. At times, death becomes the ultimate escapism; a respite to his chaotic predicaments and then there are moments when the thought of death compels him (Kochan) to ponder on the possibilities of an honorable life. Similar to the face of a Kabuki actor that metamorphoses with each dab of paint into a supernatural being, the snippets of death from Kochan’s empathetic soul transcends death to be the pinnacle of eroticism.

The salient features of the ongoing Japanese war further enhance the foundation of death. Death becomes a coveted symbol of equality, demolishing societal discrepancies and at the same time a harbinger with a prejudicial mask.

“With the beginning of the war a wave of hypocritical stoicism swept the entire country”.... “The condition they has faced and fought against there --- that of a life for a life had probably been the most universal and elemental that mankind ever encounters.....”

“Life for a life”; the Hammurabian ethics that rule the entire system of a war, exemplifies the sadistic hypocrisy that thrives in the human society. In order to validate the significance of our own lives and its choices, we condemned the lives of others and curse their preferences. Mishima compares the absurdities of the war with Kochan’s dissolute commotions. In a peculiar way, the onset of the war brings a solace to Kochan with the hope of an annihilation of his secret life. Whereas, the restitution of a peaceful aftermath evokes a personal conflict that Kochan would have to face in on a daily basis. Mishima gives an enlightening inference of how assorted masquerades of life are vanished when humanity dwells at the gates of death.

“In the fire, these miserable ones had witnessed the total destruction of every evidence that they existed as human beings. Before their eyes they has seen human relationships, love and hatreds,, reason, property, all go up in flame....”

Although war might bring the annihilation of human prejudices with life then becoming the utmost valuable thing, yet, the very origin of war lies in festering prejudices and sadistic verdicts.

“And at times it had not been the flames against which they fought, but against human relationships, against love and hatreds, against reason, against property. At the time, like the crew of a wrecked ship, they have found themselves in a situation where it was permissible to kill one person in order that another might live...."

War had become an identical apologetic entity of auto-hypnosis and self-deceit that Kochan himself had metamorphosed into. In order to save a life it was permissible to kill another. In order to keep a façade of “normality” it became permissible to obliterate the true-self.

It is not surprising to spot the element of death taking the centre stage at many instances. Being, Kawabata’s protégé, Mishima employs similar philosophies seen in Kawabata’s prestigious works – Beauty in death and its opulence lost in its own excessiveness. War, being the perfect example of fading allure of death. The seducer being deceived by it own seduction. In Seppuku, a suicide ritual also exercised by the author himself; the samurais embellished their faces with subtle make-up before succumbing to the self-inserted sword. The samurais ached that their death would restore the very same honor and beauty that life had stolen from them. Given that, this book is also perceived as a semi-autobiographical sketch of Mishima , one can notice glimpses of Kabuki ; a theatrical art that Mishima often viewed as a child along with his grandmother. The decorated mask-like visage being a significant representation of this ancient Japanese art.

“Everyone says life is a stage....”

The freshly sculpted mask stares ardently into the mirror. It viciously smiles in nostalgic moments of twelve year boy masturbating to the standing picture of St. Sebastian and the nascent obsession of an eight year old girl. It howls as it hypnotizes the soul into a mass of self-deceit in a machine of falsehood. Similarly, as the ownership of a travel is lost with its commencement, the journey of mask becomes a reckless place for riots and revolutions.

“Why is it wrong for me to stay just the way I am now? I was fed up with myself and all for my chastity was ruining my body. I had thought that with earnestness”...... “I was feeling the urge to begin living my true life. Even if it was to be pure masquerade and not my life at all, still the time had come when I must make a start , must drag my heavy feet forward.....”...Be Strong!!”

At the end of the day, the mask had cursed the face.





The Old Capital - Yasunari Kawabata, J. Martin Holman
The sting of the needle was lost in the delicate crimson stream. Not a wince or a slight whimper. The strange words bounced in my ears resembling songs of exasperated crickets. The harshness of the sun did not bother my skin anymore, neither the rain puddles that ruined my shoes. Not a drop of tear, not a speck of anger. Could this happening so soon? The one thing I feared the most. Did Kawabata finally overwhelm me? Did the silence consume me like a ravenous shokujinki? As I walked home, the frogs happily croaked on the walls of a nearby pond even as heated clouds swarmed the sky. I ran; my tears competing with the fluttering of sparrows. Windows were being angrily locked, doors shut with a thunderous bang. Those bell crickets!! These lucky insects. How will I ever isolate myself from this vulgar world? Why couldn't I be those violets who grew in the hollow spaces of the maple trees, priding in their blooming beauty amid the vulgarity of the overgrown moss. Would my carefree life just be a beautiful illusion existing in my heart? Has the opening of the lid brought an end to my enchanted world? When will silence finally annihilate my aching memories? Will it be possible to stand tall and straight like those majestic cedars even when its branches are cut to build tea rooms? Will a man ever cease from being an “emotional creature”?

Bell crickets with violet garbs,
Grasshoppers in empty hearts,
Sullen memory patiently birth,
Pristine illusions of a universe,
Above the friendless pagodas,
Lonely red pines call the sun,
On sode of gracious kimono,
Bright tulips delicately spun.

Serenely, Kawabata weaves the threads of beautiful illusions that refuse to depart from our existence. With torrential flow of sordid emotions comes the want for a sheltering mirage that overthrows the repulsiveness of realism. The vanishing exuberance of Kyoto saddens its citizens as they try and hold on to the memory of Kyoto’s last streetcar; embellishing it with flowers and holding onto the photographic illusion of the newly christened “flower train” ; the lonely roads cry in nostalgia. The clean streets that once festooned to the picturesque festive parades and rice cake showers from the festival floats were now endangered to being darkened by ubiquitous friendless inns. Would the crickets ecstatically chirp if their glass palace ceases to exist?

“The time never comes when a beautiful illusion turns ugly”.

Why would someone want an illusion to turn ugly? Isn't its loving glory that becomes an escape from everyday life? Would Hideo ever want to recognize that Naeko is simply is an illusion of his long harbored love? Would it bring grief to the cherry blossom to see their ephemeral fantasy being trampled by those who had earlier been mesmerized by its very magnificence? It saddens Takichiro to see his world metamorphosing into an unknown entity. Was it his efforts of holding onto past memories, an effort to eradicate his loneliness? Was Takichiro’s attempt of drawing cacophonous kimono patterns, a cry of his illusion for a fading art? Was the Kodaiji Temple embracing the illusion of its festively lit streets?

“You can't kick or tread on an illusion that you harbor. All you can do is overturn yourself.”

The demise of illusion births realms of loneliness. The chimera of cherry blossoms vanishes with the falling of its petals. The beautiful spring brings harsh summer and even a harsher winter. Kawabata eulogizes the waning of obi-makers in poetic precision as their journey is scripted from once being the honorific institute of an emerging empire to now kneeling at the mercy of governmental sponsored ‘Intangible Cultural Treasure’. The spirituality of Kyoto is misplaced amid the rise of capitalism. Chieko gets swept by waves of loneliness when her romanticized illusion of being a foundling is broken by winds of pragmatism. When Hideo critiques the inharmonious design that Takichiro drew for Chieko’s obi, the illusion that Takichiro could draw a fashionable obi design is shattered even with the inspiring abstracts of Paul Klee and Chagall. Weeks of seclusion in a convent could not redeem the sanctity of Takichiro’s imagination for its beauty was stained with conflicts between a warm heart and morbidity of reality. To erase the stubborn chimera one has to be toppled. But, when does that become necessary? All those motifs that we bring all along our way to find an escape from our mundane lives, occasionally some of the motifs overrule our very existence and then there is a dire need to overturn ourselves. To think of those bell crickets that chirp every summer, what would they do if someone opened the lid and made them aware of their crystalline illusion? Would that destroy their universe in that jar?

“Universe in a jar” in which there was a palace in a vessel filled with fine wine and delicacies from both land and sea. Isolated from the vulgar world, it was a separate realm, an enchanted land."

Kawabata validates the application of an ancient Chinese proverb, “universe in a jar”. Chieko had been raising bell crickets in a jar for past five or six years. The lifecycle of these insects flourished and perished in the jar itself. Every July, eggs would be laid amid the glass interior and luminous August would welcome the raring young. Through these crickets, Kawabata delineates the reality of a sheltered life that we humans live until we face the malice of the outside world. As kids we are protected by the warmth and love of our parents and as parents we bestow the same to our kids. Chieko led a similar sheltered life and so did Takichiro when his father’s business was flourishing and above all the city of Kyoto, when its people safeguarded its splendor and spirituality from any kind of vulgarity. The crammed lives of the bell crickets made Chieko question her survival. Her loneliness was compared to the violets that grew in a cramped manner within the hollow space of an old maple tree.

“Chieko herself had placed the bell crickets in a jar, but why had the violets come to live in such a cramped spot?”..... “To be born in such a place and go one living there”…..A natural life.....”

Kawabata metaphorically elucidates the normality of a life that thrives in its accustomed habitat. The crickets in the jar never knew a life beyond the glass walls, the violets never knew the joy of blooming in a field, the obi-makers could not imagine a world without silken weaves and kimonos, Chieko could not have conjecture the veracity of her abandonment, the cedars never knew a life beyond that of being a mere crop and the city of Kyoto never knew the existence beyond festive seasons. Would a mountain accustomed to the warmth of a rising sun know the tranquility of a breezy ocean bed embracing a sleepy sun?

“Good fortune is short, while loneliness is long....”

Unlike, the flowers that have transitory lives, we humans do not bloom yearly with fresh and untainted lives. Thus, in the course our lengthy lives, monotony takes over our dynamism and at times the thought of feeling alive fails to enlighten, even when the blood flows into little test tubes. Kawabata presses the need to look beyond our natural existence and face reality. At a certain point, it becomes necessary for the crickets to realize a life beyond their jarful existence. The cedars can never have the charmed life of the camphor trees. Chieko’s confusion about finding Naeko delineates her desire to break free from her sheltered life. Takichiro’s desire to buy a smaller house and Naeko’s trepidation over Hideo’s love illuminates the realization of a harsh reality. Moreover Chieko’s comparison with the two solitary violets that would never ever meet elucidates her remoteness that comes along with the pondering about being a foundling. Picturing Chieko as an abandoned child, Kawabata puts forth his own vulnerabilities.

“Maybe all people are abandoned children. Perhaps being born is like being abandoned on this earth by God”.... "They do say we are God’s children. He abandoned us here, and then tried to save us...."

Being an orphan himself, Kawabata was always a wanderer; spiritually. His nomadic existence shines through his prose where he pursues his quest to harmonize the simplicity of nature with the complexity of human life. Through Chieko, Kawabata seems to spiritualize the universality of life in its entirety. Nature once again plays a significant character in this eloquent text; the isolated existence of violets not only depicts Chieko’s sentimentalities, but the impossibility of the two violets ever meeting equating Naeko’s failed love. The congratulatory chirping of the crickets when the two violets unpredictably meet. The purposeful cultivation of the Kitayama cedars symbolizing the misery that comes through the unawareness of an uncharted life; the green pines that comfort Hideo’s monotonous survival and the tulips that help Takichiro to find solace. The reader can identify proverbial traces from [b:Thousand Cranes|14027|Thousand Cranes|Yasunari Kawabata|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1361254763s/14027.jpg|25753548], alas, I desist from making such comparison and placing the two books to be entirely singular literary units.

The silence discovered in [b:Snow Country|14028|Snow Country|Yasunari Kawabata|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1327908632s/14028.jpg|1855151]‘, steadily seeps through the lattice doors of Kyoto .The mind has always been a slave to delusion. Our falsified visions bring corruptness of religion, stubborn superstitions and egotistical sentiments that glow brighter than the lanterns at the Gion festival. Right from ridiculing the superstitious omen brought by twins in rural Japan to Takichiro being somewhat a misanthrope; Kawabata wants the reader to comprehend that mankind at times can be very frightening. A man no matter how gentle can never let go of emotional complexities. Through Naeko, Kawabata questions the possibility of a land free of humans that would thrive in all its naturality.

“Why did the man come into this world?”.... “It’s frightening....mankind.”

A world without a man would be filled with virginal forests and carefree fauna. No crickets would have to live in a jar, none of the elegant cedars would bear the pain of their severed branches and mountain would no longer live in fear of eradication. Nevertheless, it is the man who built tea rooms, the Heian shrine, the temples, the Kamo river where lively tulips bloom; the streets that dance in celebratory lanterns and celebrate the virtue of life. It is humans that appreciate the beauty of cherry blossoms, question the loneliness of violets, capture the serenity of nature in the magnanimous silken folds of a kimono, decorate the last streetcar, embellish the boulevard with festive colours and give meaning to the existence of nature. Without a man, there would not be beautiful memories that keep the past alive, no illusion of happiness and hope. Without a man, there would be no Kyoto. The beauty of human existence marred with the ugliness of emotion.

“Man is certainly an emotional creature”.
The Door - Magda Szabó
Johannes Brahms can make autumn leaves dance in one of nature’s most graceful circle. The chill in the air was about to birth the season’s very first snowflake. The clatter of rusty shovels being removed equated to the asinine banters of old women gossiping on the porch. After the death of its final leaf, the trees lay barren like a country that had abruptly lost its people. There were no birds to be seen, yet I heard them chirp a summer song. The fervent barking of a mongrel was followed by a pair of impenetrable irises; blue as the deepest ocean. The frost on my eyes made it tricky to see the peculiar lady carrying a christening bowl with glistening chicken soup. I rubbed my eyes to wipe the frost and something terribly stung me. It was morning, again!! The sunlight on my pillow showed beads of sweat on my arms and the frost along with the barking dog and the lady magically vanished. While poor Brahms still played his 'Lullaby' at my bedside, Emerence saw that I still stayed in bed. It’s been couple days now that I sleep with Emerence’ s ‘mirror-like’ face and wake up trying to experience the sound of her soprano voice. When I open the pages of ‘The Door’ , my heart beats faster than the breeze on my window and my lips are bitten while I take deep breathes, for Emerence brings out my emotional vulnerabilities ; letting my scars bleed through someone else’s wounds.

“Sometimes the strongest women are the ones who love beyond all faults, cry behind closed doors and fight battles that nobody knows”- Anon.

Indeed, the silent , big-boned lady with an impenetrable face and having the persona of a Valkyrie ; Emerence was the strongest of the lot. A mystery that deepened the moment the door was shut. What kind of a flower was Emerence? A rose or a white oleander that tenderly grew around the fence. The now tranquil garden had once seen the dishonorable terror of red and white roses and the bloodbath that a few revolutionary chrysanthemums caused as they tore apart the fair camellias. They were bruised petals scattered like feathers of a hunted dove; each time when a flower revolted, irrespective to their colour. At times it was better when the pristine flowers hanged themselves from the devilish vines because shootings never seem to work all the way. And , “ if you don’t die straightaway, they have to come over and beat you to death or shoot you back”, till all was left were trampled saplings.

“How can I truly describe her, or trace the real anatomy of her compassion — this woman who peopled her home with animals?”


Emerence comes across as an eccentric, arrogant lady bearing an unfathomable obscurity. When the writer hires Emerence as a caretaker, a series of love-hate relationship flourishes between the two ladies. The oddity of Emerence‘s demeanor created a haunting mesh of rumors of what really thrives behind the closed door of the villa. With every tiny window that Emerence opened,it led a draft of fresh air into Emerence’s concealed life whilst the writer gaining confidence of someday being the owner of the clandestine key. But, was it this wretched key that the writer held firmly in her palm, be the very cause of her disloyalty to Emerence?

“I killed Emerence…….”


Szabo creates a marvelous personality through Emerence. Like a mother who bestows her true love at the rarest moments in a child’s life, Emerence spreads her loving arms ; her kindliness becomes the healing medicine for a hemorrhaged life. Her eyes were so intense that they could win battles and a heart that was warmer than the sun on a spring morning. Emerence was authoritative yet lovable; she was irascible on the verge of being bi-polar, yet she was comical and angelic when she smiled. She had an innate goodness that shone through her being a dedicated soldier to her profession and when she saved a helpless life from a deathly ditch by giving it a home. The porch of her villa became a dais for culinary entertainments. Her loneliness was veiled among the silken folds of her compassion. Her uprightness was stricter than the commands of a lion tamer and her honor came from her ambitious vibrant Taj Mahal. She valued the idea of absolute love because it is only love that saves, even through betrayal and death. The fragmentary chronicling of Emerence’s life demarcates the historical events that led the foundation of a burgeoning country and its people. I believe that when one comes across a commendable book, it becomes essential to cherish the prose with intellectual finesse and not mockery as it silently pays a tribute to the efforts and thoughts of the author. This book certainly deserves the said gesture.

"It is just that, as well as love, you also have to know how to kill”.... “ Lord kills too..."


Szabo makes it decisively known to the reader, the mindset of war victims and people who were spectators to the bloodbath of a country’s egotistical power battle and their probable abhorrence to religious validations. These sentences in the book, makes you think the legitimacy of religious norms adhered to find a welcoming acknowledgement and defining the presence of God, even if it means to sacrifice the well-being of human life, the very own premise that celebrates God’s worship. If it us humans, who ultimately authorize the matter life and death, choose to love and hate as per as our fallacious opinions and annihilate the very foundation of survival, then why do we use the pretext of the Lord to define our mortal egocentricities. Szabo’s prose is not only hypnotic but memorable, as her words follow you like a willful shadow never letting go even in the darkest night.

“You can't give anyone a greater gift than to spare them suffering...."

It was these among numerous other words that made me fall in love with Emerence. It may sound harsh even horrifying maybe, but when a blood drenched body lies on the gates of death, breathes gasping for its finality an additional bullet or a stab may just bring a smile on the departed rather than the sorrow that engulfs a slow death. When Emerence reminiscences her past while she stitches , I cry ; when she reprimands either Viola or the writer and shows a speck of her blooming affection ; I smile and when her eccentricities peak with obnoxious childish acts ; I laugh.

‘The Door’ is a powerful metaphoric representation of a woman and several others like Emerence who rather live a restrictive yet dignified life dwelling in the opaqueness of a wooden door than drowning in the nakedness of merciful alms. Emerence was more than a categorical flower; she was “a truly great lady, pure as the stars”.

Szabo’s writings make me reflect whether we who belong to the generation that frets on the mere number of ‘likes’ acquired on a social website, ever tried to know people like Emerence who have seen a country grow, perish and once again grow? Is it too late before an entire generation is wiped out and their stories are just mere sentences in newspaper archives? When a country is in its most horrendous turmoil and when innocent lives are cut short, isn’t it becomes necessary on the part of those alive to give a significant burial and carve memorable tombstones so that the perished do not have wasted lives. Is it too much to ask to honor the dead? Emerence makes me wonder about the degree of pain to be suffered that eventually dries up a human’s tear ducts. How many heart wrenching cries does it take to have a single serene bath? There are several who have move past the atrocities of egotistical power hoarders and have a flourishing life, but what about those who have closed all doors and have lost the key of faith along the way. With every inch that Emerence opens the door of her life, floodgates are opened within me, hurling me in a vortex of emotions. It is here that I wish so dearly to be sitting with Viola, Emerence, Polette, Sutu and Adelka on the porch, and while Emerence poured tea in her prettiest china I have an earnest desire that I was the sole owner of the key that would open the door to all of their precious lives.

“Like a truly great commander she settled everything around her in person, with a single impressive gesture………. Humankind has come a long way since its beginnings and people of the future won't be able to imagine the barbaric early days in which we fought with one another, in groups or individually, over little more than a cup of cocoa. But not even then will it be possible to soften the fate of a woman for whom no-one has made a place in their life. If we all lacked the courage to admit this to ourselves, she at least had done so.....”

Ladies and Gentlemen!!! Emerence Szeredás..



(** Actor Helen Mirren essaying the role in the namesake movie).

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