I’m not even ashamed to admit that I have a very limited patience for poetry. But some poems make me wonder why only a few people can create something as beautiful as a poem. Suresh Bhat is one of the notable Marathi poet, also a Marathi Ghazal writer, who has written many beautiful pieces that I find intriguing. ‘Kevha tari pahaate‘ is one of them, later turned into a beautiful composition by Pt. Hridaynath Mangeshkar and sung by the legendary & my favourite, Asha Bhosle. Again, I don’t know why, but here’s my attempt at translation :
केव्हा तरी पहाटे उलटून रात गेली मिटले चुकून डोळे हरवून रात गेली
Somewhere around the dawn, night came to end, I drifted off, though for a moment, and the night was lost to me..
सांगू तरी कसे मी, वय कोवळे उन्हाचे उसवून श्वास माझा फसवून रात गेली
I can think of no way to describe; the dayspring was juvenile still, the night escaped in stealth, undoing the seam of my breath..
कळले मला न केव्हा सुटली मिठी जराशी कळले मला न केव्हा निसटून रात गेली
How did I not see the loosening embrace? How did I not see the night slipping away..?
उरले उरात काही आवाज चांदण्यांचे आकाश तारकांचे उचलून रात गेली
A few whispers of a few stars, that’s all that is left in my heart; the rest, the whole universe, the night took it all..
स्मरल्या मला न तेव्हा माझ्याच गीतपंक्ती मग ओळ शेवटाची सुचवून रात गेली
Couldn’t recall the verses of my own poem, silly me; but the night, before leaving, hinted at the last line for me..
A small flower bravely confronts ‘The Sun’ to tell him that it will bloom on terms of its own and no one else. The flower demands that the sun has to leave his ego aside & puts its own conditions for him to comply with, if he wishes to befriend it.
The original Marathi poem is written by veteran poet Mr. Mangesh Padgaonkar. I know I’m nowhere near Mr. Padgaonkar or any of the existing poets; but just making a humble attempt at translation because I want everyone to see the beauty of it..!
जरी तुझिया सामर्थ्याने ढळतील दिशाही दाही मी फूल तृणातील इवले, उमलणार तरीही नाही
So what if your might could rise and set down the whole world? So what if I am but a tiny flower in the grass? I still refuse to abide and bloom..
शक्तीने तुझिया दिपुनी तुज करतील सारे मुजरे पण सांग कसे उमलावे ओठातील गाणे हसरे?
Though everyone bows down to your immensity and power; tell me, oh mighty sun, how would it make the beaming song bloom within the lips?
जिंकील मला दवबिंदू, जिंकील तृणाचे पाते अन स्वत:स विसरून वारा जोडील रेशमी नाते
The dewdrops and leaflets shall win my heart, the breeze shall abandon the boundaries of remembrance, and forge a bond soft as silk..
Jack is a cute 5 year old kid from “Room”, a movie based on the novel “Room”. He has been isolated with his mother in a room since his birth. And one day, suddenly, he gets out in the open, the ‘World’. You can read some of the interesting conversations in the movie here. The movie has beautifully expressed a child’s emotional rollercoaster while viewing the ‘World’, through Jack’s monologues. Most of them and directed to his mother. I am compiling them here because I want everyone to read them and be ‘awww’ed…
“Once upon a time, before I came, you cried and cried and watched TV all day, untill you were a zombie; but then I zoomed down from heaven through Skylight into Room. And I was kicking you from the inside. And then I shot onto Rug with my eyes wide open, and you cut the cord and said “Hello Jack..!”
Egg snake is our longest friend and fanciest. Meltedy spoon’s the best to eat with because he’s more blobbier. Labrynth is twistiest. And she hides things so I don’t know where they are. Toilet’s the best at disappearing poo. Lamp’s the brightest, except when the power is out. You (ma) are the best at reading, and songs, and lots, except if you’re having a ‘gone day’. I am the best at drawing, jumping, growing, and nearly everything!
I’ve been in the World for 37 hours. I’ve seen and cakes and stairs and birds and windows and hundreds of cars and clouds and police and doctors and grandma and grandpa… But ma says they don’t live together in the hammock house anymore. Grandma lives there with her friend Leo now and grandpa lives far away.
I have seen persons with different faces and bigness and smells, talking all together. The world is like all TV planets on at the same time (TV planets – TV channels). So I don’t know which way to look and listen. There is doors and more doors. and behind all the doors there is another inside and another outside and things happen, happening. It never stops..
Plus, the world is always changing brightness and hotness.And there is invisible James floating everywhere. When I was small I only knew small things. But now I am five, I know everything.
There is so much of place in the world. There is less time, because the time has to be spread extra thin over all the places, like butter. So all the persons say, “hurry up, let’s get going..”, “pick up the pace finish up now..” Ma was in a hurry to go boing up to heaven. But she forgot me, dumbo ma! So the aliens through her back down. And broke her.
when I was four, I didn’t even know about the world. And now me and ma are going to live in it forever and ever, until we are dead. This is a street in a city in a country called America. And Earth, that’s a blue and green planet, always spinning, so I don’t know why we don’t fall off. When there is outer space. And nobody knows where is heaven.
Ma and I have decided that because we don’t know what we like, we get to try everything. There are so many things out there. And sometimes it’s scary, but that’s ok, because it’s still just you and me..”
‘Room’ is a movie based on a novel ‘Room’ by Emma Donoghue. This beautiful movie has a cute 5 year old kid named Jack who had been isolated with his mom in ‘Room’, and one day they break out of that to the ‘World’ – watch the movie (available on Netflix and YouTube) trailer here. This blog is a compilation of the conversations in the movie.
“Where do we go when we are asleep?” Right here in Room. “But dreams.. do we go to, into TV for dreaming?” We are never anywhere but here..
“Jack, do you remember the mouse? Do you know where he is? He is on the other side of this wall..” What other side? “Jack, there’s two sides to everything” But not at octagon.. octagon has 8 sides.. “Yeah, but.. a wall.. a wall like this, we’re on the inside and the mouse is on the outside” You mean, in the outer space? “No.. in the world. It’s much closer than the outer space” I can’t see the outside-side.. “Where do you think old Nick gets our food?” From TV, by magic! “There is no magic. What you see on TV, those are pictures of real things, of real people. It’s real stuff..” So… Dora is real for real? “No, that’s a drawing. Dora is a drawing. But other people, they have faces like us. Those are pictures of real things and all the other stuff that you see on TV that’s real too.. that’s real ocean, real trees, reat cats, dogs..” No way! Where do they all fit! “They just do. They just fit out in the World.”
“There’s a leaf. Do you see that?” Dumb Ma! That’s not a leaf. Leaves are green.. “Yeah, but on trees. But then they fall and they rot, like salad in the fridge.” Where’s all the stuff you said? Trees and dogs, cats and grass.. “We can’t see it from here because skylight looks upwards instead of sideways.” You’re just tricking me.. Liar, liar, pants on fire! “Jack! I couldn’t explain it before because you were too small.. You were too small to understand, so I had to make up a story, but now I’m doing the opposite. I’m doing the opposite of lying, I’m un-lying, because you’re five now. You’re old enough to understand what the World is. You have to understand. We can’t keep living like this.” I want to be four again..
“Do you remember how Alice wasn’t always in Wonderland?” She fell down. Deep in a hole. “I wasn’t always in the Room. I’m like Alice. I was a girl named Joy. And I lived in a house with my mom and dad.” What house? “A house. It’s in the World” A TV house? “No, a real house. Not TV. Are you even Listening to me?” I want a different story. THIS STORY IS BORING..! “NO! This is the story that you get… I’ve been locked here in Room for 7 years, do you understand? Jack, the World is so big, it’s so big, you won’t even belive it… And Room is just, one stinky part of it.” Room is not stinky! Only when you do a fart. I don’t believe in your stinky world.
“No, you’re not sorry! You have no idea what’s going on in my head. You don’t need me, you’ve been doing just fine without me.” How can you say that? Do you think you’re the only one whose life was destroyed? “Actually, that’s exactly how I feel.” Really? How would you feel of somebody took Jack away from you? Look at him! You should be thinking about him.. “Don’t you tell me how to look after my son. I’m sorry that I’m not ‘nice’ anymore. But you know what? Maybe if your voice saying BE NICE hadn’t been in my head, I wouldn’t have helped the guy with the f****** sick dog!”
Nothing.. Just a bunch of dialogues from the movie Puzzle.
“You’re so much more comfortable when you’re solving puzzles, aren’t you? Why?” “You ask a lot of questions..” “Yeah.. that’s how you get to knowsomeone” “But I don’t ask you any questions..” “Go ahead!” “I can’t think of a question right now..” “That’s my point. You’re uncomfortable around me..” “Well.. I don’t know you, but it’s not just that.. I’m not comfortable generally, because I.. Normally my mind is.. I don’t know..” “Because normally your mind moves so fast, you don’t really know where it is going. There is nowhere for you to express your mind. No one to express it to.. It makes you nervous.. So you focus on menial tasks.. Puzzles are menial task for you so you can focus. The results are aesthetically pleasing, and you like it..”
“Do you know what it’s like to spend all day, not doing what you’re good at?” “So what would you rather do? What are you good at?” “I don’t think I’m good at anything.. I want to cook mom..” “What?” “I watched you cook my whole life.. I watch cooking shows when no one’s home. I think I’d be happy doing what you do, not what dad does..” “But I don’t do anything..” “Are you f***ing kidding me? Mom, you do a million things, and you’re good at all of them..!”
“..And I never wanted kids anyway” “Why not?” “Frankly, I don’t like kids” “How can you say that? You were a kid yourself once!” “Right. And I hated it.. Not everyone’s supposed to have kids you know.. And not for only selfish reasons. Sometimes it’s for the kid’s sake. In this town, kids are an ornament, a fashion statement, an accessory, a check box.. Honestly, I never felt the need. Does that make me weird?” –Ziggy’s phone call– “Was that your son?” “Yes. My oldest ‘accessory’.. And no, it doesn’t make you weird. Just different. Different from everybody I’ve ever met..”
“Why are we wasting our time doing puzzles? It’s a childish hobby for bored people..” “You know that’s not true.” “Tell me you are not a bored rich guy.. Tell me I am not a childish housewife” “No that’s not what we are..” “You have much more important things to do. You are a man of ideas, why do you do this stupid puzzles?” “It’s a way to control the chaos–“ “That’s ridiculous” “Come on Mata you are missing the point.. Life is messy, it doesn’t make any God damn sense.. Sorry to break the news to you, life is just random.. Everything is just, random, my success, you here now; there is nothing we can do to control anything. But when you complete a puzzle, when you finish it, you know that you have made all the right choices. No matter how many wrong pieces you tried to fit into wrong places; at the very end, everything makes one perfect picture. What other pursuits can give you that kind of perfection? Faith? Ambition? Wealth…? Love…? No. Not even love can do that, Mata. Not completely..”
We all were heartbroken to hear about the female elephant that was ‘fed’ pineapple filled with firecrackers, they got exploded in her mouth and she succumbed to the injuries. To add up to the tragedy, later postmortem reports showed that she was pregnant. It’s insane to torture animals whichever is the method, it’s insane that somebody could come up with such an idea.. BUT, later it was found that those pineapples weren’t actively “fed” to the elephant, they were meant for something else. They were kept as a snare to shoo away/attack/scare the wild boars and other animals who damaged the crops, the elephant just happened to have come across them (read the report here).
Now the questions that I have are:
Why do people have so much against wild animals that attack their lands? Whose land is it anyway? Who actually hijacked it, common people, corporations or greed and ambitions of human race? Is it okay if the wild boars get injured the same way as the elephant? Would we feel similar remorse? Do wild boar’s lives matter? Are there any provisions for elephants (or any animals) to get proper and safe access to food? What if a human child had come across that pineapple snare? Should we feel the same amount of pain or we’d first check the background status of the child and then decide how to respond? And most importantly, who gets to decide whose life matters more?
Do we really care about animals?
Not really. We only care about the momentary adrenaline that rushed through our veins when we heard that “sansani khabar” (Oh my God! How can someone do such a thing to the poor elephant? People are so cruel!) Earlier this year, it was reported that government is soon going to permit farmers with licensed firearms to shoot the wild boars and other animals who wander into their lands. There have been several incidents when tigers, leopards and other animals have fallen prey to haphazardly placed snares around farms and even wildlife corridors.
It’s a fact that people love violence. It’s just that the half of us don’t like to actively participate in violence, we just like to hear the story afterwards – the more the gore, the quicker we respond.
The whole incident reminds me of the recent webinar arranged by ISPP on Healthcare infrastructure and policy. One of the speakers, SY Quraishi (former Chief election commissioner of India) gave an example of public reaction on a similar ground.
They all had gathered for some conference related to children’s welfare, where a few socially woke artists were also present. He decided to conduct an experiment. He told people in the conference that around 300 children died in a blast in Syria’, and observed their responses.
Obviously people got panicked and were shocked to hear this, expressed their grief, and frantically took out their phones to maybe tweet or to search more info.. Mr. Quraishi then told them, it hadn’t happened that day, he just wanted to see their reactions.
Then he said these many kids die almost daily in India because of starvation, malnutrition, even a minor illness because there is no all accessible public health infrastructure. But we don’t pay attention to these news – mostly they don’t even get reported. It’s almost as if it’s okay or just normal to die of hunger..
Whenever we hear about incidents like what happened to the elephant, we don’t like to give it a minute and actually think about it, or try to find out the factors responsible, or take an initiative to solve the problems. We only pop our eyes out when we hear about one heartbreaking incident, which is actually the tip of the iceberg, and then move on. The problem remains unsolved.
PS: In a parallel world, when the teacher will ask "Who is the strongest animal on the earth?" the student from any of the marginalized community would answer with "elephant, because it could melt hearts of millions of Indians and even celebrities who don't bat an eyelid when human beings get murdered in broad daylight in the name of gender, caste, religion, 'honor'.."
मेरे पुरखों की विरासत का भरम रहने दे तू हवेली को खुला देख के अंदर मत जा . A verse from the Ghazal by Qaisar-Ul Zafri (Book: Agar Darya Mila Hota). Read the whole ghazal here. . Translation:
Let the legacy of ancestors stay in illusions at least, Don’t invade their mansion seeing the open doors .
This verse is apt for the relationship between humans and other creatures. Nature does not discriminate against any species, whatever it has, is there for everyone. Yet, humans have exploited and hoarded Nature since the very beginning..
I interpret this verse as following –
Nature and all of its inter-dependent elements are dying fast; their legacy is now almost as good as an illusion because of us Humans. So the poet says ‘पुरखों की विरासत का भरम रहने दे’ – let it exist in illusions at least.
Just because nature is there for all, just because nature’s doors are always open to all, ‘तू हवेली को खुला देख के अंदर मत जा’ – don’t take it as an open invitation to exploit it.
एक दिन मैं तुम्हें बताऊँगा समुंदर वहाँ से शुरू होता है जहाँ से ख़ुश्की नज़र आनी ख़त्म हो जाए फिर हम जब चाहेंगे नज़्मों की किताब से एक वरक़ फाड़ कर कश्ती बना लेंगे और दूसरा वरक़ फाड़ कर समुंदर . ख़ुश्की – ज़मीन – Dryland वरक़ – पन्ना – Page कश्ती – नाव – Boat नज़्म – मुक्त छंद कविता – Unrhymed poem . (अफ़ज़ल अहमद सय्यद की नज़्म ‘हम किसी से पूछे बग़ैर ज़िंदा रहते हैं‘)
One day, I’ll tell you, The ocean begins where the sight of parched land ends Then, whenever we please, From the book of poems We can tear one page to make a boat and Another page to draw an ocean..
Do you witness the beautiful dawn that promises hope? Or your window is more fond of sunsets? Do you enjoy the glimpses of the afternoon? Or does your window love to expose you to the merciless wrath of the Sun?
What do you see from your window? Another window? Buildings? Trees? Birds? Nests? Mobile towers? Brazen, barren branches? All of these? Or none of these?
Does your window show you the roads? Do you see the people running like ants, struggling to follow their routine? Or is your window too high off from the ground that you can’t see what goes around the Mother Earth?
Do you see trucks, carrying the basic necessities of our lives? Do you see municipality’s garbage trucks? Do you see the quick rush of adrenaline in people when the RTO contractors inspect the street for vehicles parked in ‘no-parking zone’? Do you see the grin on the faces when they pick someone’s bike or car? Do you see a group of people asking if people can’t even read the signboard? Do you see the other group arguing that there is no space left to park? Do you see a third party of people that look somehow content that they don’t possess any vehicle and convince themselves that a simple life is better because they don’t have any choice anyway?
Do you see the street vendors from your window? Do you turn and take a peek at what they’re selling? Do you see the posh humans coming in their cars to bargain with those street vendors for smallest of the small things? Do you see the rush of street vendors to run away when someone comes with the news that police is coming? Do you see the evil grins of the customers who were buying stuff from them just a minute before they had to run?
Do you see the railway tracks being the permanent residence of countless humans? Do you see their children playing on those tracks for doing which you’d forbid your own children?
Do you see the scavengers entering the potholes which are full of your own shit that you flinch to deal with? Do you see that waste-picker woman who curses you under her breath for not sorting out the waste properly?
Do you see the coal black smoke making rounds in the air you breathe? Do you witness the rare times when flocks of birds decide to take the risk and fly the sky that we spoil daily? Do you see the rats and pigeons crashed under the cars that spoil the sky for birds?
Do you see the street dogs attending a late night conference? Do you see the empty streets that look peaceful the whole night?
Do you see the marches of people asking for humanity? Do you see the mobs whose specific aim is to smash every aspect of humanity?
Do you see the funeral processions rarely passing through the street? Do you see the young couple taking home their newborn, overwhelmed and overjoyed?
Do you see that lone labourer who drinks on the street to forget the day’s endurance? Do you see the rich kids who decide to take a stroll through the road on the empty streets of night on their new bikes? Do you see the nervous woman returning late from work, constantly looking behind and checking every direction? Do you see that corporate employee walking home after recieving a big scolding from his boss, plotting how to punish his family for his bad mood?
It’s the birth anniversary of honourable Jotirao Phule. We are in the middle of a global pandemic, and it strongly reminds us of the time when his wife and a great social reformer Savitribai Phule selflessly helped people during 1897’s plague epidemic and later succumbed to it. That was true sacrifice, many say, and I agree. But he was long gone before that plague pandemic.
I am not here to count Savitribai and Jotiba Phule’s social contributions or achievements; people have been doing that quite efficiently. I am just a nobody who wonders how and why they were what they were. How they could function the way they did, while in today’s era I am yet to find an example with even an ounce of similarity. I do think about this a lot, because the very fact that I am sitting in front of my laptop, writing, that too in English, is because these two rebeled against centuries of oppression of women and the marginalized and gave them the torch of education.
Crazy, is one word I can think of, when I think of them and countless other humans who were way ahead of their respective times. May it be Siddhartha who went on exile to prevent his family’s exclusion from Saakya clan because of his anti-war stance, or may it be Yuang Chwang’s (Xuanzang) 4 years of deadly venture through the desserts to communicate Indian Buddhism with that of Chinese, or may it be Maharshi Karve’s Periodical “Samaaj Swasthya” to create awareness about sexual health or Dr. Ambedkar’s firm stances on every issue concerning humanity (including his resignation in support of Hindu code Bill that was supposed to be women’s legal liberator, or his support for LGBTQ rights and the case he fought for Karve’s Samaaj Swasthya)..
Can you, dear men, wrap your head around the fact that Savitribai lit Jotiba’s pyre in 1890 when most of you still don’t allow women to even visit the cremation in 2020..? Can you understand how ahead of their time they were when Jotiba asked the Brahmins if Brahma menstruated through his mouth (along with other three parts from where other castes originated) since they so enthusiastically claim that they’re high because they originated from his mouth?
Can you dare to ask these questions even today? Can you even think of these queries today in 2020? Do you even acknowledge them fully? Can you sleep after limiting them to their specific castes/religions and pretending that they don’t bother you? How does it feel to look them in the eyes-though in photographs-while garlanding them on their birth/death anniversaries? So many of you sing praises of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s bravery and welfare state, how many of you know that Jotiba Phule had found his tomb and initiated celebration of his birth anniversary? How many of you can claim with evidence that you follow them to the fullest? How many of you know that his name was Jotiba/Jotirao and not Jyotiba/Jyotirao (“Joti” meaning plough, a peasant/labouring caste metaphor) ? Today’s elite Marathi women remember Raja Rammohan Roy, Agarkar, Tilak, etc when it comes to male social reformers; do they remember that Jotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule must have helped the past widows in their families who were victims of abuse? Do they remember that Tilak was opposed to the idea of women’s education and ridiculed the work of Jotiba and Savitribai?
Can you imagine yourself sharing every resources and opportunities you got with your wives like Jotiba Phule did? Can you tolerate your wife having her individual existence like Jotiba Phule promoted his wife to have, so that she could help rise countless other women and the future generations? Can you imagine sharing your dreams, your interpretation of the world with your wife to have a common existence to uphold the society?
Can you notice the stark contrast that Jotiba and Savitribai founded Balhatya Pratibandhak Griha (infant/child-murder Prohibition Home) for pregnant rape victims to help deliver and save their children, while we still have to impose ban in 2020 on sex determination of foetuses to prevent female foeticide AND the politicians still win elections by promising suspension of this ban? (The authorities have found a new excuse of the pandemic and suspended the ban for two months at least, without taking the possible misuse of it into account. Funny, isn’t it?) Can we pause for a minute and think how brave of them it was to question the British power back then; while we, in 2020, mutely accept that our leaders continue enduring all the bullying by the so called superpowers?
You, who impose that women should cover their body in front of male ‘family members’; you, who still wrap menstrual hygiene products in a paper and insist that women should smuggle it from room to room as if it’s heroin or cocaine; you, who simply glorify women’s suffering instead of making the society equal for all; you, who deliberately overlook the statistics of the overall oppression and exploitation of women while repeatedly disbelieving their complaints; you, who resort to illogical whataboutary and violence when anyone questions or threatens the irrational existence of your authority, you can never ask these questions.
A friend of mine said once that love for a person and love for the society cannot be mingled. He strongly believes that once you fail/are denied love from a person, then you go on a ‘spiritual mode’ and start believing in the love for the society and help the society. I DON’T agree. Look at Jotirao and Savitribai; Jotirao unlearned all the norms and stereotypes enforced by the society and shared his dreams and passions with Savitribai. Savitribai took it further, and together, they made a beautiful world-no matter how surreal it seems even today-that keeps motivating those who seek it. It’s impossible to study their social and personal existence separately. If they could do it, we have no excuse..