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Halftones

the motley musings of a maverick

hope Beckett is not turning in his grave!

The term ‘research’ being in itself so momentous, a research journal supposedly should be filled with scholarly ramblings or field observations. My journal, however, also contains a section on memories. While memories are necessarily selective and private, we are not unknown to their pleasures when shared…

So here’s a glimpse of a memory from my research journal:

It was a mid-June morning.

Our team was resolute about taking interview of a recluse (a highly revered Buddhist Mahathera) who was living in one of the remotest villages of Assam.

In case you don’t have an idea about how remote a village in Assam can be, then let me entertain you. There are acres and acres of farmlands or else tea gardens; usually isolated farmsteads or sometimes with small clustered settlements midst them and no matter where you are, you have to face the common and salient feature: the narrow potholed road, where seldom public transport plied.

One is likely to be left high and dry on the road for many hours; for the lack of a conveyance. Oh! Sorry, not dry! Those unforeseen downpours are certainly not going to

Continue reading “hope Beckett is not turning in his grave!”

under a frozen sun

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People say times have changed.

I still see toads lying flat on the roads in the monsoons. Their joyous leaps put to an end maybe by some breakneck conveyance, before they could reach their sanctuaries safely.

Rains still come down to these sanctuaries like ever: demented! Thousands of invisible light-footed spiders gambol on the buoyant waters of the earth, when clouds kiss the warmth of a frozen sun and melt.

The Sun stays put; as if some Mayan magic cast a spell and froze it. Has it not been millions of years; millions of years of a frozen Sun?

Yet summers still turn to autumns. Burning skies change shades.

In August one half of the sphere still celebrates, like ever; in mine farmers still rise early to work. Hauling ploughs in one arm and prodding indolent bulls with the other, they tramp through the loose grounds barefoot.

I still see stars in the silvery waters of the fields, between the delicate green saplings, at midday, when the frozen Sun smiles directly upon the farmers’ sweat.

Burning woods in the winter air still stir unlived memories of an ancient home in my vagabond bones. Like the splintering wood under fire, I hear my bones crackle under the weight of the unchanging time, where like the Sun I have been frozen too.

I dig my grave before the springs arrive. In a limbo I hear people say: times have changed.

नारी

सदा

एक काया मात्र ।

तुफानी बादलो को बाहो में समेटे

बंदर को तकती

बिस्मित

अस्थिर ।

असहाय प्रकृती की

चीरंतन चींख जैसे अपने लहू में लिये

चलती,

सम्भलति- सम्भालती

थक जाती ।

 

क्षणिक

स्त्ता से परिचित ।

गलते लोहे की बूंद में तैरती

एक तरनी

ओस की पहली अंकुरित पंखुरि में

दिया जलाये

बेझिजक

सो जाती ।

 

आज-कल

सदा है क्षण में बिलम्बित ।

Estranged

These days
walls melt in darkness
and the woods seek refuge
beneath earth.

Young bees wander; asunder.

for a drop of ether

Take me to your pond, I am no sunflower.

 

darkening skies mean no twilight

but they may remain for a while

and I won’t thrive.

 

You in search of your pond

did you find it?

The beggars come along

like you

asking for my favour.

But I am a wilting flower !

 

Pluck me.

Gently.

Take me to the pond

from where the beggars must drink

I’ll grow there. Gracefully;

like the Lotus

and summon more beggars

to watch me from a distance; to share

a drop of ether.

Questioning Shadows. Murmuring Prayers.

vanity. the thought

that knocked every time. romance

seldom held the dock.

childhood scurried past

with morsels of self-consciousness

biting from the future.

and the future? a dark mass of

self-doubt squirming into a mudstone

rolling and rolling

across the years, mustering fears

turning vain. vanity.

 

suffering. the feeling

always left behind. incessant rains,

paper cuts, plain pain.

acute absences unfurl

tripping down the consciousness

digging seas in nether space.

worlds where windows wouldn’t

open to skies but dark abysses

dimming and dimming

through seasons, failing reasons

into a pyrrhic pit. suffering.

 

Shakuntala, he asked me to wait

like you waited

for Dushyant*. Were there any

Annas, Catherines, Isabels

Bathshebas or Bovarys**

to remind you of yourself?

of vanities and sufferings?

are you lost?

you must have been innocent

I am not; neither there is a ring

to behold nor any promise.

 

vanity now sings a sad song

suffering seeks a star.  

 

* Shakuntala and Dushyant are characters from Indian epic Mahabharata.

** Characters from classical literature across the world.

Solus

I have come to this path; on

Your released tresses I walk

Bearing a cross in my heart

My scents disappear

Once more I live

For you.

For you

I would walk on this

Path. Tales harden me

Not; nor waters soften

Me. Let me see to your pains

Through a mirror no more mine.

dawns which never arrive

One night I left the jar; the one with a miasma from mold growth, besides the wash basin for the next dawn to arrive when I would have definitely washed it. The dawn never arrived and I didn’t wash it. Someone did after four and half months. Maybe my mother on one of her visits to the house. The space where I had placed the jar that night is empty. The miasma gone. Nevertheless, I didn’t wash it. I wanted to; on a new dawn. The dawn never arrived. I wanted to do a lot of other things, like loving you perfectly but the dawn never arrived.

উচৰ্গা: An ode to beauty

আমি ক’ত আছিলোঁ  

থকা নথকাৰ নীৰৱ সন্মোহনত

আমি নাছিলোঁ     

ক্ৰমে উজ্বল হৈ উঠা

আকাশৰ প্ৰথম তৰাটো

মই দেখিলো

ধুই দিয়া সাজযোৰ

সামৰাৰ দৰে

বিয়লিপৰত

আমাকো সামৰি আনি

সযতনে

দিনটো নৈ খনৰ বুকুত

সোমাই পৰা দেখিলো

কাক উচৰ্গা কৰিছিলোঁ

কালৈ বা উত্সৰ্গিত হৈছিলোঁ

অন্তহীন সৃষ্টিৰ শ্বাশ্বত গৰ্ভজাত

আৰু এটা দিনলে

বিদায় জনাইছিলোঁ

এক সুদূৰৰ আলিঙ্গনেৰে  

চৰাইবোৰে তেতিয়াওঁ

আদৰণি জনায়ে আছিল

Allegory of the Window

Through the glass, dimly, they appeared like a repeated motion film…

The bitch gave birth to four puppies. Gender unknown; they all looked alike, except for a swop of brown, black and waxen shades and some flesh between the four. The dog who fathered them stayed closer and played with them.

On some early mornings, a man used to come peddling his cycle, with a pot full of fishes, shouting- “do you want to eat fish?” again and again, at the top of his voice. A tad dirty but otherwise a remarkably muscular fellow; evidently he chased the fishes himself. Sometimes his shouts were answered by the punters in the neighbourhood. Sometimes his shouts faded into a collective soliloquy of late sleepers: what the hell!

During the late morning hours, mothers took their babies out to get them tanned under the soft sun of the wintry days. The babies, like the puppies, looked quite alike, except for having different mothers. Their slightly older siblings toyed with whatever they found lying in the concourse of the compound. They found their mates in the puppies.

Young people didn’t prefer roaming on the concourse, except for one boy in his early twenties. He made his usual strolls in the afternoon and seemed to know almost everyone living in the four apartments inside the compound. Or else, he was courteous enough to greet even the strangers. When he was engaged with his tablet, which often accompanied him on his strolls, he would still lift his head for a fraction of a second and chivalrously duck it in a minimum acute angle, before returning to his original position: hunched over the tablet.

Other young people: the boys who used the windows to woo the girls, met outside the compound. They gestured through a sign language, or perhaps made use of their smart phones. The girls, fashionably clad, went ahead and after a few minutes the boys, normally in their casual unkempt garbs followed behind.

There was a different sort of young people, beyond the compound, in the village: simple, shy, wistful. Windows made them wistful and reminded them of choices of lives.

The garbage reeked. Bulldozers which break up earth for construction work sometimes inadvertently took away the garbage, relieving the people and also the lone sweeper. The residents continued throwing the garbage on the same site, expecting another bulldozer to come and relieve them of the stinky air.

Construction workers did not mind the stinky air, for they needed their day’s pay; neither the dogs, nor the smug and stout local political leader. He sometimes tans his body outside in the Sun and demands his servant to clip his toe nails, as he discusses his plans with his personal assistant.

Everything and everyone moved in this particular world in a leisurely pace.

Through the glass, dimly, every story repeated itself, only occasionally providing a break from the regular. Like, the other day, a fellow beat the father dog senseless for no fault of the dog, as it appeared through the glass, dimly. The fish seller disappeared since some days and two of the puppies too.

Yet, it was not irregular. The moon stood pale in the sky, like ever.

Behind the window, she stood painfully aware of the change of seasons; of coming and going; of gains and losses; and

Wishfully thinking of Cynthian moors away from the trite.

She wanted to be an anchoress; to stay away from the world. She had turned out of her life all the probable windows to the outside world. But the world travelled along with the little window, behind which she stood for light, like all prisoners of the ‘known’.

Waterfalls as potential alternative sources for hydro-electricity in Northeast India

It was during my college trip to Mawlynnong, a village at the Indo-Bangladesh border when I was exposed to the magnificence of another natural resource of Northeast India, besides the mighty Brahmaputra River, its tributaries, tropical forests, fossil fuel reserves and tea gardens.  And these were the waterfalls.

Even if I had my share of admiring the beauty of a few famous waterfalls in India, during my travels, I hadn’t had a view such as the one I am going to describe:

They were a bunch of waterfalls. You won’t believe the existence of the others, if you go closer to one for they existed miles apart, separated by the mighty walls of one hill from the others in a range but they existed nonetheless and this I could witness during my drive to Mawlynnong.  It’s unfortunate that I didn’t own a camera during those days.

During the first phase of my journey, until I reached the point where roads forked with one going towards Mawlynnong and other towards Dawki, my whole attention was riveted by these numerous waterfalls in the distant Khasi and Jaintia hill ranges. They were visible from the high altitudes of the Shillong to Dawki road towards southern Meghalaya and they appeared toy like miniatures of real waterfalls from the great distance. In short, such beauty was beyond my wildest imaginations and didn’t feel real, although I could faintly hear the force of the gushing waters.

Some of these waterfalls are already declared as tourist attractions by the Meghalaya Government Tourism Department but from what I noticed, there must be innumerable others which survive their naturalness far away from human habitations and which are not easily accessible.

Even if I do not support causing damage to such beauties by exposing their naturalness to the manipulation of technology for harnessing energy, yet they seem plausible alternative sources of energy in a place where rivers are seen as sole sources for hydro-electricity production.

When seen from the point of view of Physics, the more vertical the fall, the faster the conversion of potential energy (stored gravitational energy) into kinetic energy, which can thereby be used for spinning the turbines or any other similar mechanism for generating electricity. Therefore, it is granted that any source of water flowing from higher elevations than those flowing from angular or lower elevations where the potential energy (stored gravitational energy) has already been released as kinetic energy is a more suitable source for generating hydroelectricity in lesser time.

Water from waterfalls with accessible water course can be channelized and stored in reservoirs and can be manipulated using the same mechanism as that of dams built in river bodies to produce electricity. This ensures a continuous production of energy for industrial as well as domestic purposes and at the same time does not hold any of those fears that building dams in a river pose. For instance, there is no question of erosion of river banks, lack of sedimentation downstream and thereby flash floods. Moreover few people settle down near waterfalls, thereby expunging any threat of displacing settlers or of encountering land disputes between two contending parties, for hilly terrains can seldom be sought by people for permanent settlement.

Of course, there is this foremost problem to be solved: that of figuring out how to properly channelize the water or build reservoirs in hilly terrains; how to avoid/utilize gorges and ravines, which is much difficult than building dams over rivers. Nevertheless, it won’t be any feat for present day technology which is achieving unimaginable wonders across the world.

Government of India, having already used technology for harnessing energy from waterfalls like the Shivanasamudra and Jog falls, can venture out to these lesser known places with numerous potential energy sources for development instead of jostling for control over river water with unwilling indigenous people and wasting time. If it is not for political or strategic reasons and for developmental purpose of people, there are ample of alternative natural resources waiting to be used.

Note of regret: Since I didn’t have a camera with me while I was on the trip, I couldn’t collect photographs personally and hence the wiki links to the places.

Amen

At a distance,

the timeless

breaths and shadows

stills

in the eternal wait

and the weight of the world

stills

in the kites’ cries.

The sky, trapped in a drop,

turns

into a song.

In the circles of a ripple,

I see my known.

There I’ll merge.

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