I am back at the green bench after a weeks journey through the snow hills.
Now on the green bench I write this parchi , as they do in the commerce lingo of India’s kidney West. The parchi is a tiny scrap of paper on which key figures are written in a summary form for incorporation in the Cash book before they are finalised .
In India’s kidney West, if someone is dead , he is off . By extension if someone is new and born, he is on.
Flowers in the Goddess home are beautiful . Flowers are on duty as they breath fragrance into our nights . They are off duty if they lay beside someone who is off. On duty, off duty.
If the flowers land on the garbage pile, after duty , they are considered off duty.
A dad and uncle play shuttle ball with son and nephew. From the parrot green bench one extrapolates that everything is pretty and spring.
Morning was spring that had come as a surprise to the old man in autumn. A vernal surprise , the leaves turn light green with nipple sized mangoes on spring trees .A man gets up to go, a towel slung on his shoulder. A woman hangs out a balcony like a wet cloth drying in spring sun.
For a while ,the old man forgot all about his winter.
Old man’s autumn has fallen away.
White fluffy things roam aimlessly,
Dry white bougainvillea are paper,
Some shreds of clouds on a lazy sky.
Woman steps out hanging balcony.
Man adjusts towel on his shoulder.
A child in street plays as silhouette.
Old man counts his vernal surprises.
Spring is a surprise.
The song in the pocket went like : my king of kings in the garden , my prince of dreams etc. The seventies man has come riding back on round 2 on the song in his pocket.
This morning we came upon a certain Mrs. Porter and a Sweeny who would come on motors and horns. He might have been Actaeon who came looking for a bathing Diana. Mrs. Porter has her foot in a soda water fountain and Sweeny would sure come though he was not Actaeon nor Mrs Porter a Diana.
But at everyone’s back there is a wicked chariot. Not much purpose would be served to stay coy. How Andrew Marvels at her coyness.
The first green bench is occupied by a man swiveling his neck like a table fan. I am on Green bench 2, worn out and faded in color by several park bums. The man who sat meditating in his closed eyes on the next bench now gets up to go.
There is a watery breeze as though rain is at hand . The pipal leaves are falling yellow at my feet.
We saw this excruciating family drama playing out in yesterday’s afternoon movie. Everyone pretends he is some one else and in the confusion their combined mask falls off. The mask falls with such thud. The old man wears even an older mask. Since he is not already dead he pretends to be dead sometimes. His tongue pretends dead.
What do you want writ on your stone, asks a pretender.
Here lies a pretender who never believed he was someone else.
How about some boy-girl stuff ? You may ask. Actually ,we pretend we are not boy-boy stuff. Back home , we set the Thames aflame with our boy friends. Please do not eavesdrop on our laptops,we tell our moms who want boys rosily paired with girls. We do pretend.
Dad pretends he is not having the other woman in the dark side of his life. For reality he hits steel on the road . He pretends no more .
Green bench 1 is occupied. Now on green bench 2 ,I have a frontal view of the park goings-on. The social reformer on the stage walls there continues to wear ghoulish eyes because the painter depended upon a text book picture for his portrait .
Yellow leaves fall to no spring breeze .A man with a skullcap and his wife have just left the park. The juxtaposition has come out unintended.
This morning we thought of the humble Kinnow fruit we had come upon after descending the snow hills. The fruit is a country cousin of the orange of the hotter central plains. Grown largely in the plains of Western Punjab. Cute and innocent like a girl’s fresh smile. But sweet and dignified.
Kinnow was discovery’s girl fruit
Through the mists of car window
As fresh as a college girl in giggles.
It is poor man’s orange and flesh,
A girl’s smile in our car window,
After descent from apple country.
My painter friend says her colors are clutter and her figures do not appear. How does one get out of colors?
Our colors are a kitsch, our examples a riot of colors. We are sentimental . We are yet to receive our figures. Rembrandt’s figures make you sentimental by their clutter of colors.
In our dreams we have achieved figures minus their clutter. My mom in my son’s dream is her colorless figure. She is a mere figure, without clutter. What if my painter friend paints figures from dreams, minus their sentimentality ?
Rembrandt’s woman* has a hand on a hand on her heart. But the colors flow from her heart. On the darkness of her room.
Morning was my night spilled over as a flyover was recalled with men under it. The Kolkata flyover that spilled into the lives of anonymous victims as it came crashing on them . It was our city’s men who had made it .
An act of God? Does God do a shoddy job? Was it their God or ours in this city whose men went to build it? Why do you make me feel guilty? I am not my brother’s keeper.
There is slush before the green bench in the park. Yet I sit here because the other bench is occupied by the man with a skullcap and his wife. An unintended juxtaposition of skullcap with wife is natural language .
The song in the seventies pocket is asking lover if he can climb trees and snake pits.
This morning we recalled the garden of stones we had recently visited in another city. A paradise is an enclosed park. A paradise we have lost for our beginning sin, a paradise full of snake-pits. In this paradise ,stones were people choreographing dance and motions.
In our childhood we hurled tiny stones on the still waters to make them leap-frog three or four times. But the ripples hardly ever reached the other side.
“it’s all his fault, he was always up to some funny business”
“the new one was to give a speech, can’t see him, though”
“Kazek’s in Warsaw and Tadek abroad”
“you’re the only wise one here, having an umbrella”
“it won’t help him now that he was the most talented of them all”
A Funeral – Wislawa Szymborska
Translated from the Polish by Mikołaj Sekrecki
It is all his fault,the dead man’s.Always upto some funny business .And now there is no one to give a speech.Kazek is in Warsaw and Tadek abroad.
You are the only wise one here,having an umbrella.
They hold my time captive all right but they crap all over.
Now ,as Anne Carson never liked Mona Lisa,we too never will.But we like her brevity.She says some one’s grandmother made a diary entry in 18th century:
Finished Antigone,married Bishop