Thursday, April 30, 2015

unscientific confessional

let's look for a river 
looking at which 
we can forget at times
that all histories flow and that rivers can't be wise in terms of material reality. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

‘That Boy’ a short story by Sandipan Chattopadhyay (1933-2005)

- Hey, do you have parents?
- No.
- Both dead?
- Sisters?
- Are you alone?
- yes

- what do you do?
-i beg
- how much do you get every day?
- 20 paisa. 30 paisa.
- is that enough?
- yes
- What do you eat?
-MuRi, mostly

- how much did you make today?
- i haven’t begged today
- why?
- didn’t feel like
- feeling sick?
- no.

- Nice shirt. Chains and all! did you buy it?
- No
- Did anyone give it?
- Where did you get it from?
- The drain
- O

- and the pant?
- mom gave this

- Saw your mom die?
- yes
- what happened?
- she was sick
- where did she die?
- there. there.
- what was her name?
- Gouri
- And dad’s?
-Suryaprasad Singh
- Ever seen your dad?
- No
- Mom told his name?
- Yes
- how long back did he die?
- many days
- what’s your age? Seven?
- many days.

- Are you sick?
- No
- Do you feel any pain?
- No
- Can you sleep?
- Yes
- Where do you sleep?
- Here
- On this rug?
- Yes
-If it rains?
- Let it
- do you dream?
- yes
- can you recall?
- no
- did you dream your mom?
- yes, once
- can you recall?
- no
- how’s your shit?
- hard and sticky

- heard of Jyoti Basu?
- no
- Indira Gandhi?
- no
- Shakti Chattopadhyay?
- no
- Uttam Kumar?
- I don’t know Uttam Kumar
- Never seen a movie?
- No
- Where does the sun rise from?
- Here, there, everywhere!
- Do you know the name of your country?
- Country?
- This, the land, the soil where you are sitting?
- BT Road

- Aren’t you scared?
- No
- Of no one?
- I’m scared of the police
- You didn’t beg today. So, what did you eat?
- That pipkin of curd
- The one there that the shop has thrown away?
- Yes
- So, you scraped the curd stuck inside?
- Yes

- You know that dog?
- Yes, it is my dog!
- Your dog?
- My mom used to take care of it
- What’s its name?
- Robi. Oi Robi – Ooss. Ooss.

- Remember what I asked you first?
- ‘Do you have parents?’
- One of your eyes is huge and red – do you know this?
- No
- Don’t you look at mirrors?
- Looked at one long ago

What’s your name?

Bangla text first published by Tarzan Minibook – 11 in 1980 and reproduced by Ripan Arya through his facebook profile on 21st January 2015

Friday, April 24, 2015

Song For Nathaniel Halhed

halhed! halhed! i sing for you
the sun is true and the moon is blue
your ghost flies from Portugal
and sails straight to Bally Khal
yours be the ship, admiral
shagor awthoi, TalmaTal
ratri awthoi, TalmaTal
yours be the oar and yours be the hull
your grammar book is the greatest thing
since Icarus and his wing
firang nam upkar arth
mirth takes birth on worthy earth!

Thursday, April 23, 2015


বামপন্থা -
পয়দা হতেই বেজন্মা কুত্তার বাচ্চা
বামপন্থা -
বেজন্মা কুত্তার বাচ্চারা খেঁকুড়ে হয়ে উঠে যখন কামড়ায়
মোটাসোটা হাসিহাসি মুখগুলি
হয় আরো হাসিহাসি হয়ে ওঠে
নয় কাঁদোকাঁদো হয়ে ওঠে
নয় কেঁদোবাঘের দোসর সেঁদোবাঘ সেঁধিয়ে যায় খাটের তলার স্তূপাকৃতি ডাব-নারকোল-সুপারিগুলির মধ্যস্থ নিরাপত্তায়
আর নয় তো বুড়িমার চকোলেট বোমার মতো
ভড়াক করে ফেটে যায় সামনে পিছন উপর নীচ দিয়ে
মোদ্দা কথা, খ্যালাটা বাইনারী নয়
ঐতিহাসিক রাসমঞ্চে ঐতিহাসিক পালাবদল
লেনিন বা চৈতন্য থেকে আলাদা আলাদা রস পায় আলাদা আলাদা জনগণ

এবার বল শালা তুই কোন সাইডে!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Early Morning Photograph

you're so beautiful that love seems to be the running force of life
you fighting for the world
it's like Turgenev's mom-sparrow fighting for her baby
like light rising from darkness
like blind soldiers seeing the source of light
unlike mooby hairy bald pervs quoting Russian literature for you and thinking of you as Margarita
unlike moobier hairier perver pervs selling faith for votes
Adonis goes hunting with Angulimala
many houses burn within a radius of 100 kilometers
burn, Radha
my love is so selfish that it romanticises fire and hates real flames
i'd rather look at photographs of you fighting for the world to come together and sing,
think that things are all in place in the universe
despite knowing that the construct of balance is elusive
and knowing that some people will forever walk the world
and see how the coldest, softest moment of the night turns blue in the sky in a few whiles
and see how mom-sparrows go out to fight for their babies
and see how the warmest, softest moment of the day turns blue in the sky in a few whiles
and see how mom-sparrows come back to fight for their babies
the house where i had stayed from birth till high-school ended had an occasional readhead Krishnachura swaying a headful of flowers in the green rain beside the window that opened to the South and an occasional orange-head Radhachura swaying a headful of flowers by the one that opened to the North

by the time i came to know that all trees are hermaphrodites they weren't there
but poetry with endless blue skies rolling overhead and words filling a few blank spaces up  and all blank spaces wrapping words up - have always been there and so have memories of a couple of Bangla poets who would look at the skies and at the streets and feel hermaphrodite
the streets took one of them
life took the other
and poetry took both
it's like that, something taking in the binaries and the void - love is

and then, the roads are always thirsty and none of them lead to anywhere specific,
except for people who believe in battles, and for fools and philosophers
and for the moon behind the mirror
and for all lamps that flicker
and for the uneasy relationship between storms and nests
and for the easy relationship between the sea and the seagulls
and for the relationship between fishes and the water where ease and diseases flow by, like life, like Eliot's women for Prufrock and Yeats' horsemen passing by
unlike mooby hairy bald pervs quoting English literature to feel good about loving you,
the transparent cold of death wraps eyes of fishes
i have seen them staring at blank spaces from the other side of highly polluted slabs of ice

and in Lorca's city there's everybody asleep
and Pagla Meher Ali screams: 'Beware!'
and flames of devotion burns the sages
and hot streets burn musafirs
in the city the times are harsh. they sing songs of Lalan with greed for fame
and five odd timid stars sing and dance their carnival of sadness out in the five star sky of a dead poet's novel, their sadness melts in cheap cosmetics of sweaty, beautiful women from the streets, along their sweaty necks down their flabby flaneur-fleshes - i call them Shujata and think of them as mercy
April is mostly a cruel month in any case
Even sparrows don't talk much and crickets don't sing much in April cities.

But i'd rather think of the void and be happy
I'd rather look at a photograph of you fighting for the songs and for the baby-songs and think that there is something called balance and that the universe is in perfect balance now
and be happy
you're so beautiful that love seems to be mom-sparrows and baby-sparrows singing songs and baby songs of life

And so on

(Or like Mr. Wren or Mr. Martin had once written in their book of grammar:
Yours, etc)


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How the Brahmins Got Screwed Over in Jajpur

A li'l bit of anarchy:
This was in the 13th century. 5 centuries had passed since Shankaracharya had plagiarised the Buddhist treatises on Nagarjuna's Madhyamika from his guru Gaudapa and had his forces turn the guns against the sanghas, monasteries and koumos of the Bhikkhus. Vijay Sen had risen from the Barracks of the last Pala kings of Bengal and had set everything on fire. The Brahmins established their rule over the feudal gentry. There was much blood.
The bhikkhus had to save their wisdom. Many took it with them and went to the hills. Tibetan Buddhism had kept the gods of Vajrayana that had, till the 10th century, prevailed in Bengal. A few of them became the Nath Sidhyacharyas, and a few wrote the Charya songs in crypted texts and in a misty language that was to become Bangla and Assamese of today. The ancestors of the adherents, and also many of the 'pa' wizards like Dombipa and Shabaripa were, before the advent of Bodhidharma, from the lower castes and the tribes. Their gods were all there too.
But the Brahmins were making fast inroads. The monasteries had to be converted to Maths. The monastery in the hills had fallen to them and had become the temple of Badri. The one by the Ganges had fallen and had become the temples of Kashi-Vishwanath. The one in Puri belonged to the Shabar (Soro) people. The wooden god of the Shabars was captured by ugly, powerful people who came to the sea with chariots. The thunder-scepter of Heruk was burning and so was the lyre of White Tara. The Hor people of the eastern wilderness, who are the Santhal people lost their king Adisur/Adur to Durga. Today the east has been tamed by 'civilization' almost in entirety
Nalanda stayed up for a while. Scholars like Tilopa, Naropa, Milerapa et al had managed to hold Nalanda for a while, aided by the heritage and legacy of Atish Dipankara, who had moved from the soft plains of Dhaka Bikrampur, had taken the long hard journey across snowy peaks and killer passes to Tibet with the words of Bodhidharma in the 10th century AD, and had stayed over as Chiyo Rimpoche - one of the initiators of Tibetan Buddhism. But, before long, Nalanda wore off. The Brahmins were mighty and scary.
Then came the 13th century. A period of anarchy, one demarcated as the 'Dark Ages' of Bengali Literature by all the Hindu Indian Nationalist Bengali post-partition scholars from West Bengal. Established scholars from East Pakistan like Mohd. Shahidulla had chosen to maintain stoic objectivity.
So, in the 13th century, the Brahmins kept getting stronger and stronger, and then, one day, Bakhtiyar Khalji rode down to Bengal. Suddenly, the people who were being browbeaten back to the caste system by the Kulin Brahmins found some hope in the anarchy. The poem Niranjan-er-Rooshma by Ramai Pundit tells a beautiful tale of resistance against the Brahminical exploitation by the people of Jajpur. He had to tell it in a tad cryptic form. Thank goodness for that, or else it would surely have been burned in course of the eight centuries that have followed!
Here's the poem:
The plaintiff is from Jajpur, Sol Shah’s family has read the Vedas
He asks, why this tax?
The harlot goes to the South, can’t find a home
She curses the earth to ashes
More taxes in district Malda, everyone has to pay
Nets can’t tie the sides up!
They are strong, they gather in handfuls
They destroy SadDharma
Vedas spelled out, flames circle up and gather thick
Saw and trembled in fear
Deep meanings held in mind, all say to keep Dharma
Who but you can be the salvation?
Thus the Brahmins wrecked everything
And injustice grew strong
Dharma, who stayed in paradise got the sign
and all darkness became Maya
Dharma turned Muslim, he donned a black cap,
He rode the three barreled cannon
and arrived – the three worlds began to quake
in the name of Khuda
Niranjan, formless, became Avesta-avatar
And spoke of the Dum, his words had the Dum
All the gods became one in mind
and got the Izar of Ananda
Brahma became Mohammad, Vishnu became Nooh
Adam became Shiva
Ganesh became Ghazi, Kartik became Quazi
All the sadhus became fakirs
Narad threw his disguise away and became Sheikh
Indra became Haji Malna
The other gods like Chandra and Surya became footsoldiers
And they all started making music!
Devi Chandika, herself she turned into Haya Bibi
Padmavati became Bibi Noor
All the gods became one in mind
And entered Jajpur!
And thus the war began
The temples were smashed, the prosceniums were looted
Sounds filled the sky: ‘catch ‘em bastards!’
Ramai Pundit holds the vessel of Dharma
and sings:
I don't know where the Jajpur mentioned here is situated. It must have been a site of incredible anarchic resistance against the upper-castes! Jajpur is also the name of a district in Odisha. Kalinganagar, where Tata had unleashed much bloodbath on the night between the 1st and the 2nd of January, 2006, is situated in Jajpur.
From Jajpur to Jajpur, it all seems like a bloody straight ramrod!

Monday, April 13, 2015


ধূসর পাণ্ডুলিপি রেখে যাও কিছু
রেখে যাও আধক্ষয়া চাঁদ, 
ভাঙা রঙপেন্সিল 
রাগী রাগী বাবাদের মতো মেঘ
দুখী দুখী এলোচুল মত নদী
পুরোনো শহরে মিছিল মিছিল ঘ্রাণ
পাণ্ডুলিপি তবু কথকতা
ফুরোনো শহরে টবময় বিস্বাদ
এইসব বুকে ধরে ও-দেওয়ালের মান্ধাতা
অন্ধ জ্ঞানীর পাপ গভীর জননীতে 
এইসব ভিটামাটি অখণ্ড পৌরুষ
সমুদ্র সমুদ্র স্বর, পৌনঃপুনিক
সিংহের মত চলকে ভলকে কালনিম জ্যোৎস্না 
কাঁটা চেপে থমথম অমর প্যাঁচা
ক্যাঁতামুড়ি জবুথবু অমর বেড়াল
চাঁদ বলে চাঁদনীকে - আয়নাও সত্য
শূন্য যা কিছু আজ, দিল ও মনন
ভাব ও অভাব ঘেরে স্মিত বিচরণ
নদীতে নগর ছিলো, নগরে নদী
নদীতে প্রাসাদ ছিলো, প্রাসাদে কিরণমালা 
বোকারাই একদিন পৃথিবীর রাজা হবে
ভালোবাসা একদিন ফুল হয়ে ঝরে যাবে 
জেনেছে কিরণমালা, সুগভীর বোধে

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Weep, River

thoughts knot up in head
a bit of time dies with time
a lot of wisdom dies with time
a few musafirs, a bunch of gypsies 
and a listful of nomadic tribes also die out
while roving with their shadows, 
because the streets are private property of civilization
shantih is a private property of law
the green valleys have boundary walls
and they kill you if you cross
and they kill you if you eat fruits from their trees
and they kill you if you eat birds from their skies
(it doesn't really matter that you love the birds and that the birds love you too. loving and eating are not linked all the time though living and eating are.)

and now there are clouds 
and the winds are strong
and dead people howl from the skies
and live ghosts howl from the earth
the skies won't rain fire for a while
and the earth won't bleed for a while,
a tiny bit while
but that's good enough for the shadows
to feel good for a while
and play around the silhouettes in sunlight

the walls will still be there
storms will break it 
and then they'll build new walls
and roaming the world will still be a crime
as will stealing fruits and birds that belong to other humans 

but the ghosts - they'll still howl
and the silhouettes - they'll still dance dances of hanged men
and the guns smuggled out by Rimbaud will still kill us, kill them
and Giordano will leap out from his stake
and he'll leap on the killers of wisdom forever
and Lorca will play a flute from his unmarked graves
and he'll play for all the unnamed humans sleeping in all the unmarked graves of the world forever
and sweaty heaps of coal will blaze their songs out from all boilers
as the ship goes down
with all its walls, 
and with all its humans caged behind all its walls

the hills might be all blasted down for gold and money
and the woods will be gone to make way for progressive leaps of science, technology and coordinate processes of production 
but i won't think of all these now
i'll be Lorca's kid and you'll be the gypsy moon
and i'll tell you to run when the bandits come
and i'll be Rimbaud's spider
and i'll turn into a little kiss and play on your throat
as you sleep; there'll be sunlight on your throat and on your neck and on your whole body
and there'll be some moonlight too
and there'll be some starlight too
and i'll be sunlight and moonlight and starlight and be on your body
and our slave-minds will speak slave-words to each other
and our minds will kiss like our bodies do
and you'll be a river and i'll drown in you

as the shadows get longer, 
come closer
and whisper stuff that we can feel but can't understand
we'll know of the dystopic shivers and ancient tales but we won't have words to speak them. we might have some silence though. 
or we might have a lot of silence
and other sounds - like, say, the sound of cosmic waves breaking against dead radios
the sound if real waves breaking against dead toxin-factories
the sound of rain washing hot blood from hard asphalt 
the sound of unicellular life dividing up
the sound of the archeopteryx as it flaps its wings
because it yearns for the horizons
the sound of the homa-bird as it cries 
because it yearns for the earth
the sound of pens scratching asses of papers as another Stalin, another Roosevelt, another Churchill as they sign on another treaty
the sound of horse-hooves echoing on stormy mango-forests as another Clive charges out against another Siraj
and so on and so forth

point being, homer can only nod
he can't die
and the ship can only go down
it can't kill the shadows with crime and punishment

so weep for the world, Cinderella 
we'll find out your tiny shoe someday
and the gypsies will not die 
and we'll all sing and dance under the open skies someday
and our carnival of death will rage mad in every naked road of the world
and lightning will turn your face blue like it turns the rivers blue
and i'll weep with you because you are beautiful, because the world is beautiful
and because the rivers are beautiful
and we'll weep together for everything that's beautiful
because that's all that there is to this madass badass being and belonging everywhere.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

From a High Roof

on a high roof
there's nothing to look up to
and you can live
and you can die
and the rats won't bother
and the history of the universe won't matter
the ways and means are all the same
but the ladders are all broken
and the bulldogs are all dead
and the sparrows are all Philomela 

on a high roof
we won't fight for land and bread
we will look at the stars and tell ourselves that the war is over
despite knowing that there's no 'the war' 
and that it's never over
much knowledge we have tumbled through
pillar to pillar, ash to ash - imperious, ecstatic
we have seen and heard it all 
and we have felt it all
but from a high roof
the world is a whiff of orange 
a little child plucks it from the shores
and gives her voice to the waves in stead
you can call her Komal Gandhar
you can call her Philomela 
or you can not call her anything at all
and see her eating oranges
and feel like Lorca does from his open window

from a high roof
stars die and fall, 
and some shoot in happy rage,
towards all wombs 
and towards all graves
and towards all pyres
and towards all city-snakes that slither their way
towards their bitches
and some don't shoot at all
and go catching those mad butterflies in the brain
or steal the thunder of Heruk to make a garden of love in stead

ergo, goblins of the world, unite
you have nothing to lose, not even love,
and winning has never really mattered in any case.