Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sanson ki mala

प्रीतम, हम तुम एक हैं, जो कहन सुनन में दो
मन को मन से तोलिये, दो दो मन कब'हूँ हो

Preetam, hum tum ek hain, jo kahen sunan mein do
man ko man se toliye do do man kab'hoo na ho

On loop today, one of my Nusrat favourites, this bhajan called Sanson ki mala. There are many versions of this song - Nusrat and party have sung it at many concerts, certainly whenever they've particularly wanted to please a prominently Indian audience - but like a gosling, the one I like best is the one I heard first. It was on a world music channel on yahoo radio - a slow, mellow rendition - and I interrupted my work to make a note of its details. Greatest Hits Vol 2. And a link, if it will open on your browser, is here.

My mother loved it too. I played it for her one afternoon in the last weeks of her life. Towards the end, music didn't always succeed in distracting her from the pain, but this time it did. She nodded, chirruped and shook her head - such familiar gestures, such typical meiotic signals of deep appreciation.

हाथ चुढावत जा'अत हो, जो निर्मिल जानके मोहे
ह्रदय में से जाओ तो, तब मैं जानू तोहे

Haath chudavat ja'at ho, jo nirmil jaanke mohe
hriday mein se jaao to, tab main jaanoo tohe

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The only moving thing

I bring down this haiku by Edith Bartholomeusz that graced this header space these past weeks:

into the sun
where eyes can’t follow
a red tailed hawk

In its stead, one way of looking at a blackbird from Wallace Stevens' Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.

The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.

I didn't understand this wonderful poem when I first read it; perhaps I still haven't fully. I turned it round and round as if it was a beautiful locked box, left it lying on the shelf a while, went back to examine it. Then one day when I was old enough, brave enough to let go of structure, it came through.

When poets talk, I feel sometimes, it is rude to stare at the words themselves, beautiful though they might be; that you must look politely at the spaces in between while you listen.

In this twelfth way Stevens offers, sometimes I see a rough but vivid charcoal image - the river is moving. The water is choppy, but fleetingly, fragmentedly reflected in the waters... a hint of a black bird.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Albeit a very persistent one

The world of dew—
A world of dew it is indeed,
And yet, and yet...

~Kobayashi Issa
(Trans. Lewis Mackenzie)

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

First rains

Are these the monsoons then? The skies are appropriately overcast, there are distant drumrolls but it is only the first of June! The grey clouds weren't expected here till the fifth. But they came to Kerala a day early and they must've sped indeed to be here this quickly. But the first rains have been slightly blah so far - such a slight drizzle, it took half an hour to even completely wet the ground. But slow and steady's ok - I'm willing to take the good over the interesting.