Conception by Mrin A

A moment I remember.

Green leaf twinkles through a shifting breeze. Diamond studded trees. A most peculiar place. I am planked by water on four sides, nestled within a cocoon of wood and oar.

I remember having a thought. (How are thoughts had best?) It flickered momentarily. For an instance it was the only thought in this world. A thought, engulfed by water. A thought exposed to sunlight and shinning trees.

And then it was cast aside, between the cacophonies of things that were. Between the loud cackle of life’s lists of what and what-not to do next.

And I wondered then too, and I wonder as I write, is a thought enough? Where does this thought reside? Might I live with it in a land free from the chains of dirt and matter? Is a thought enough?

At night, as I slept, my thought grew. I did not know it, placid as I lay deep in slumber, I did not know it till I awoke the next day with an idea. This is how my idea came about. It was mine, I loved it. I had a pool of phosphorescent ideas, ideas that I treasured, and I laid this one down gently with the rest. Ideas were precious to me. Ideas belonged to me, to those moments and other like them, ideas fluttered like leaves in a gentle breeze. Ideas that subtly but surely transformed who I was and how I spent my days.

I remember the grey days, when, sitting at my desk at work I brought them to life. I wrote about my ideas, I sketched them out in watercolors, I experienced them within my mind, I traced their contours with half shut eyes. I sensed their presence as I steadily and constantly bore the tasks at hand, my present circumstance. I loved those drawings; I traced my fingers across those words. Like the fire of sherry they warmed my spirit. Infinite, perfect in form, light and frothy as gossamer strands. They belonged to me. But were they enough?

I travelled the world. I was a dream catcher. The days belonged to this world, but the nights were lived elsewhere, and every night I could spin my dreams to song. I sang them out loud, I wove harmonies around them, I whispered their tales softly in your ears, I celebrated my knowing, our knowing, of those worlds beyond time, beyond place, beyond purpose.

I brought the news back home. There is this place, I said, would you like to see it? Let me take you there. Perhaps that was my first error. You see, I believed in twilight. I believed that day and night would eventually reconcile. I believed that perhaps, being blessed by the gift of sight, I could help deliver a message.

Prove it, day said to night. Prove the shadows within which you reside. And night began to succumb to the heat of day. There were months where she could not speak on her dark grey light. There were months that the sun shone like blazing fire in the dead of night, nightless nights, we experienced. And the ideas, timid and fragile, succumbed like waxen wings to the anger of day. And there were nights where we couldn’t dream. One evening, I carefully opened up that box of precious ideas and they lay screaming, whimpering in agitated mutilations. And I too began to lose faith. With great effort and a chattering mind I worked them once again. I tried to cast them in stone, tried to mend them, reinvent them, reconstruct them. That is the architects job, they said. It is by weight that weight is measured. It is along the axis of day and not by nights cloudy, moody ways that this world is aligned. What is a drawing? What are but words? How can one weigh the weight of thought?

There came a moment, I remember quite well. Having been inspired in the past, having caught dreams and created dramas, I looked, with what should have been pride, with eyes wide open, at this cladded, clothed and coated place, and while I should have remembered that earlier precious moment beneath a diamond studded tree I did not. All that remained were its consequences. Objects roughly strewn along the struggle of day. Formed, fulfilled, awaiting death, orphaned and a little indifferent. Swept along the tide of stuff, with but a sparkle of a tinted past, the things I make turn soon to dust, relics, like forgotten princes that roam within defeated walls. Are they enough?

You by Mrin A

You are very meaningful. Your story inspires our stories. Your knowing is the knowledge of the trees and the stars. Thank you for being guide and staff. Thank you for the instances where our paths met and I was shown something wonderful about the essence of all things.

Fire in Benares

They sit across each other. The older man, pupils grey and clear as soot, made pure by the fire of day, and his younger self, wild eyed, mischievous and full of passionate desire of youth. They encounter each other – child and sage, perfectly reflected and with perfect wisdom, in murmured syncopated unison. There is Sashi. Orphan at 5, roaming these streets, picking pockets, finding and losing his way every day in a noisy world that seemed larger than his fists ever could grasp. There is Sashi, in his eyes, see the jealous longing, the thief. Ah see the innocence of one small being in a city of rogues. And over years see how the tempest shifted course. There is Sashi, at 15, tired, burning and hollow. And now see those strong gales with grace begin to whisper in that small empty body-flute. ‘I met all the people that came here, and from each I understood the laws,’ the old man speaks with younger shining eyes. ‘The fires on these small streets grew with me. People came to my city from everywhere, and they came for my stories and the stories, both morbid and divine, of these streets I know so well. I made it my business to speak with them. I am fluent in 12 languages, though educated in none, never having studied or attended school. Learning language, culture and desire, starting in the little shops much like the many little boys wild on these streets, I became a merchant, wealthy enough, the provider to my family, to the streets and to this little boy I now have adopted. Here, in Benares, I have roamed the world. I am knowledgeable in all things, the French etiquette, the Spanish dances, the government in Siberia, the politics of Northern Africa. And now all these years later, prouder still, I father my three beautiful daughters, teachers of music and of the arts, they play Sitar, they too reach for the stars. This is my story of Benares.’ Eyes blue and grey, two mirrors, the boy and the man, having regained each other, sit in silent concentration, like a moment of stillness amidst the fierce and fiery streets they grew with.

 Udaipur

They were looking for the way, through the narrow touristic shopping paths of the lake city. They saw a young girl walking by and asked her for directions through the maze to the City Palace. She told them where to go. They smiled at each other and she asked them their names. ‘It is my younger cousins birthday party this evening,’ she said. ‘This is where we live. Come, if you can, later and have dinner with us.’ They thanked her, but they were on their way, they said, they wouldn’t be back in time. They had many sights to cover. As they were leaving she shouted out, ‘Do come it would be fun! You don’t understand! We don’t want your money.’

 Michael

‘For some mysterious reasons ever since I arrived in India, people have been telling me that I am special. Please don’t tell me that. Sometimes my mind tells me that I am better than other people. I love sport and train in triathlon. The exercise releases my pain, but I think I did it too much and for the wrong reasons. I see so many unfit people in India and I judge them for that. I can see now that it is my ego, and it is so very difficult to break my ego down. So please don’t tell me I am special. I have come here to learn to live in a new spirit. I am from Germany where everything is very regimented and people live by various canons, like money or a beautiful wife or how strong you are. You know, my father was in the army. He always had strong views on everything. The last year before I left Germany I changed everything. My friends, my hobbies, where I lived. I began to search. It was a time of my life when I was struggling. I was in love, deeply in love, and it shattered my being. I lived in an illusion, and it broke, and I am raw. I would have done anything for her. And it so happened that Amma was giving Darshan in Germany that day, close to where I lived. It was a chance encounter. She is the reason I came here. Through her I was introduced to this new world of life as ashram. I like doing the hard manual labour. It puts my energy in a positive way. I will go home for Christmas with my family. It will be time. I miss them sometimes. Sometimes I wonder what will be. 

The Back of Her

A passing glimpse of a young girl, maybe 10 years old, with long black hair knotted caringly in two braided pigtails, lightly oiled and glistening in the sun. Two matching pastel pink rubber bands end the bouncing tails and a string of white sweet smelling flowers are pinned like a bow dancing below the crown. Both ridiculous and playful. A gesture of love, a proud mother’s morning practice.

Amanda May

Journal in hand, a girl at the ashram reposes in solitude. The sound of music wafts through her ears like the fresh morning sunlight that colours everything sacred. Following the sound to a timid corner in the hall where sits Amanda with an instrument in her hands and a prayer on her face. Eyes closed, they bow together, familiar strangers in a united paradise of expression. Voices lifted, music is the teacher of love and of friendship.

The Secret Garden

It is a house like no other. All the animals come to visit. A long rat snake slithers through the brick pathway in the garden. A crow sits perched atop a branch of the neem tree. Watching the serpent he begins to squawk. A warning call in the dry heat of the afternoon. The snake retreats in the burrows of the cool wet mud underground. The days passes forth. A frog is on a visit to the kitchen sink. For hours he sits quietly amidst the washed utensils. Somebody crosses by, and in fright he leaps across into the open garden, dropping wet liquid along the way. He will return there, to his favourite spot in the damp sink where, free from the burden of neighbours, he can contemplate the silence of the day. A lizard guards the front door light. Every evening he grows larger, feasting on the delicious morsels that gravitate towards the burning lamp. He competes with the neighbouring lizards. Who will find the largest catch? One day he spies a large green moth, resting placidly against the exterior white walls. Greed in his blinking eyes, he stalks his prey, attacking the sleeping giant. A tussle ensues, wing against claw, until the moth too large to fit inside a small sticky jaw finds flight. Suddenly a rooster falls down unexpectedly from a tree, running ridiculously around the yard until with extraneous effort he scrunches his body together and jumps high across the dry palm fence. A neighbour’s dog burrows his way through the same fence that night, wagging his tail all around him before making his way back home half an hour later. The ants scurry relentlessly, gathering food, breaking it down and carrying through the intricate channels that lead to their chambers. In the prettiest of flowers they sit, atop the tables and along the muddy tracks in the garden, they break earth down and cleanse its habitat. No matter if man lay claim to this house, these creature of its environs continue their daily journeys; feasting, expressing, quarrelling – life, in the secret garden.

Gender on the Road

The bus sputtered to a halt, dropping off travel-weary farmers in their white clad attire, black boots, large moustaches and orange red turbans to a small village in the dusty district of Dhar. Men and women with large beige sacks board the bus, settling their goods at the face of the vehicle before regaining a seat at the rear. After initial customary enquiries into their neighbours’ general wellbeing, a sense of silence descends amongst the co-passengers, each gazing out of their windows to the arid, shrubby landscapes of interior Madhya Pradesh. Suddenly, a loud bang breaks through the sheet of quiet. A beautiful sari-clad woman shouting colourful abuses in Hindi slaps the man apparently sleeping on the seat behind her. Gesticulating, she points at his toes that are sticking through the space between the back and the chair and explains loudly, to everybody on board, that he was poking her bottom with his feet. The man runs to the back of the bus, pleading innocence, and the woman begins to calm down. His ego hurt, the man mutters inaudible abuses beneath his breath. Instantly riled, she charges towards him once again, slipper in hand, cussing loudly, begins to whack him repeatedly, and he, trying to escape, wriggles out of her grasp. In a flash, another young woman follows suit and catching his arms from behind, encourages her friend to fight. Enough of this nonsense, they proclaim. ‘Beat him! Beat him! The thief and bastard!’ Drawing blood they battle to the end, slippers and nails, scratching and whacking, until all the passengers, in unison, rise, separate the three, and throw the guilty assailant out of the moving bus into the empty desert below. Shrieking, crying and laughing, they return slowly to their seats, narrating the incident, in shock and adrenalized. A sense of camaraderie settles upon the passengers, and the bus rolls rhythmically onwards, to its final destination.

Two hours later en-route to Mandu on another bus journey two young women are sharing adjacent seats. They are both preoccupied with their own happenings. The younger woman cannot seem to sit still. She is uncomfortable, sweat pours down her face and she murmurs under her breath, painfully aware of every bump on the road and every turn of the bus. A pot of green vegetables is placed besides her feet, and another woman, presumably her mother, stands next to her with a bundle in her arms. After some time the older one turns to the younger woman and unable to contain herself anymore she asks her what the matter is. ‘Well, you see, I just boarded the bus to go back to my village. I am in so much pain. We went to the hospital. I just gave birth to a baby boy this morning, and I am going back home now and I can’t sit down and I am tired and scared.’

We share some fruit and water on the bus. I feel helpless, sitting next to her, this brave girl with her newborn. She gets down half an hour thereafter, picking up her vegetable pot as she stumbles across the bus towards the village and the home where her family awaits dinner. I saw the little new born toes of the infant that lay silently in her mothers arms as she crossed me. Ten little toes that will grow up to walk this land. Until this moment I felt timid – a young girl, travelling alone in this vast land of differences. Her story empowers me. I am here, in this place. I am not little anymore, nor alone. I can do.

War Between Traveller and Typewriter by Mrin A

Curiosity (Said the Traveller to the Typewriter)

Here we are. Amidst a sea of saffron turbans that cap matted greying temples and sweaty, salty wrinkling brows. Our feet are rivers in black leather that spray silver earth over white creaseless loincloth. Pink and red skirts sway like sailing ships over soft rounding hips and a brown pregnant belly wobbles like the globe of the rising sun beneath a starched blue cotton blouse. Muscular dark arms sit wrapped and caged under white rigid bracelets like dead driftwood branches lined with noisy squawking seagulls. A single hand clutches at a long embroidered scarf to shield an unseen face like a starry night sky veiling a new moon. Loud speakers blare unseemly sounds as folk in their fineries gather on the streets like twinkling lights in the distant horizon. Shopkeepers roll down noisy shutters of closing trade stores and the yellow fire from kerosene lamps attracts a million singing mosquitoes over the sweet smelling tea stalls. Juice carts crash against the flow of the oncoming traffic and little girls with wide black eyes in heeled golden sandals dart around them like ants in a broken line.

Here we are. Drops in a sweeping monsoon sky. Dark thunder rolls to the footsteps of men chasing uninvited scavenging cows; raindrops pelt thrashing windscreen wipers as dripping shepherds navigate sharply swerving cars away from their bleating soaking sheep, sheep and cars encountering each other as ions in a thick white cloud. The nostalgic scent of wet dry earth mixes with urine and dung, the sights and sounds of animals and people co-inhabiting. Climate, weather, time, life, and place dissolve into a single un-captured instance that echoes freely across the arid desert-scape.

Here we are. Like scarecrows hanging on a line, like broken signs across a roughly littered path. We are the narrow roads that wind languidly across ancient shrubby hills and the sandy tracks that halt pointlessly and abruptly at placeless sandy dunes. We are the bursting tires that fire through the still dry air, we are the trucks in search of a way, we are local farmers en-route to the field that direct us through the unpaved trails. We are overhead electric cables that sizzle in warning. We are running milestones narrating like fortune cookies. Directly ahead, atop our flyover we are the oversized vehicle that has crashed into us, a large herd of buffalos, and we lie stinking and dead, not buffalo but corpse. We are the large white sacks of fly ash from our containers that lie scattered across our highway interspersed with our broken flailing bodies of we the keepers and we who were kept.

***

Anger (Said the Typewriter to the Traveller)

A blue mirage in the land of death. With lights and hues that are vivid too. An orchestrated hallucination of sharp technicolored precision.

Have you sailed those rivered black shoes?
Have you been choice-less and voiceless as a floating log in a thrashing current?

Oh fine connoisseur of spirit; you in little glass bottles amass instances of somebody else’s force. I spot bottles of hope and hopelessness; tagged, named, pinned, documented. Blood samples from the sati palms imprinted on their walls (what did history do here, we wondered); peeling plaster from broken blue homes with quaint copper utensils, (everyday their rooms flood and their father is missing after heading for the city in an overloaded truck); orange fabrics that matched the hem of the skirt of the girl whose face you never saw (she cooked for you, one hand on the stove and the other on her purdah).

Does tragedy accessed outside yourself make you feel alive?
Does your proximity to their stories make their stories yours?

You love to visit these shades and hues. You love to stare. You long to own the stories for a day. You ache to experience their depths, without enduring them. You cruise along these fables. Ah, naïve tourist, you are the visitor to our stories; you come to look and leave. Tourist, like an insurance salesman you love to distribute our stories, don’t you.

***

Wishing (Says the Traveller to the Typewriter)

Tell me, cynical typewriter, have you never wished for the gift of a thousand lives? You see in the suit of a traveller I roam immortal and infinite. In my body I house a hundred heroes that I may encounter. In a single lifetime I feel what all men ever have felt. I hold your suffering as I would a tender bird in the cup of my hands and it is here that the clay of your frail tale is cast into battle epic and evermore. Through my eyes pinks turn to crimson, greys to silver and yellows to gold. I am the prism that splits your shadows into rainbows. I am the prism that refracts unadorned emotions to superhuman proportions. As I roam, the myths of your strange lands flow like veins across the body of the world. Don’t you understand, cynic, as fresh blood to the brain, as fresh air to the lungs it is these tales of the unheard and these notion of the un-worded that awaken the world to new life each dawn.

Hey you cynic, are you afraid of the men and the women? Do you not see their strength? If they endure, as you say they do, would they be harmed by a gaze of another like me?

***

Conversing

Cynic: “Oh the grand tales you tell us, do they belong to this humble place?”
Dreamer: “Nay, in dreams do they reside.”

Sceptic: “And are they more or less than the truth?”
Weaver: “Truthful are they, in sentiment and compassion. But narrower and less imaginative that reality.”

Sentinel: “Do the sounds of you alter the sense of them?”
Spy: “We try to remain quiet, we try to see without being seen.”

***

Oh Monster Global (The Outburst of a Typewriter)

Remain quiet spy? Your heroes are naught but the devils of time. Never were you quiet as you think you were, typing signs over my open unknowing leaves. Never unique, not even knowing of truth. While you live in the worlds of dreams, here in my daily life, everything is distorted. The stories you wrote never were mine.

I saw cattle everywhere in this desert. In image and in word, we were the oranges and lemons, colours to you; we were the oceans of millions that you touched. We wished you would take away our morbid sense of destiny, we wished you would greet us and meet us and sit by us. We wished you would make us, as yourself, ever-changing neon light; and also we laughed at you and hated you for it. We became those traders that you met and we opened our markets and our stores and we filled them up with the things you might desire, things that we would come to desire ourselves, we filled our pockets with your currency, like pimps we sang and we danced for your entertainment, and to you we bequeathed the best of our women and the worst of our stories. Under your gaze we called you the individualists and the capitalists and ourselves we called as you called us, as you would have us call ourselves. Sometimes we saw ourselves in you and you in us, but only for a fraction, and the course of our lives was altered once again.

You are a sweeping wave of globalisation that destroyed my geography.
You are the observer and the performance, both the tree and the forest in which it resounds as it falls noisily.
You are the mirror to my inner most self-loathing.

***

The Situation (The Poetry of an Inspired Traveller)

Here we are. An instance that swells like furling smoke into an infinite sky. An instance when your eyes cross mine, and we encounter each other and we stare, eagle vs. vulture, spy vs. spy. And in that instance we are child like lovers and playmates, small, young, vulnerable human life. That is the infinite instance that we live for and die by. Uncloaked, undressed, all colours to white, all truths to black, no longer you or I, but us, together, love. We may snap out of it quickly and fight the war of the traveller and the typewriter, the war of east and west, the war of inner and outer, the war of spirit and substance. But there it was. The situation. I came across the universe to know you, and I do. We part ways, we both do stray. And for an instance we are this situation we created, this place, this time, this geography, this history, this cloak that allowed that wandering heart an encounter with another as itself.

An awkward moment, a raised lip, a single inhaled breathe, a slight hesitation. Here we are, this instance. We are a situation.

That Deepest Darkest Mystery by Mrin A

That deepest darkest mystery
Is hiding everywhere

I met her
In the pleasure of the afternoon in an old blue house
Amidst the oldest hills
See! In dewy dog eyes
See! Whispered beneath the restless voices of the unhappy wise

 Did I believe a mystery white?
A virgin Truth, a deep bright light?
The deepest darkest mystery
Is hiding in plain sight

 I found her here
In the way we cut vegetables
In the way we washed and walked
In the way we read to each other over meals

 Did I believe a search so deep?
An elusive Truth, did I conceive?
The clay is black not white
And Truth, she is the open vessel of the night

Sing to her in scented, starry fields of sunshine
Sing to her in tiring throaty trembling rhyme
Sing to her, verse for verse sublime
Read her truth, so Truth will chime

 Did I believe an order kept?
A righteous Truth in ranks that wept?
I know black clay that shows
Black clay dark snow is everywhere
That darkest white shines in plain glare.

1s Feb 2013
New Delhi

The Fool, The Fiddler and the Great Fortune Teller by Mrin A

The Fool
Asks what adults call silly questions,
Like when we were younger and I would say but why mama?
It was like a game that led us both deeper and deeper into mysterious wells
We didn’t have the answers

*

And the Fiddler
Ah the fiddler on the rooftop
Why does he play so fine?

He hears the sound of eternity

And there with his fiddle he fiddles through notes and notes and song and sadness. He makes me cry, but still he fiddles.
He takes my foolish questions. And whispers them in anguish in the dark. He is beautiful. He doesn’t see me. He simply fiddles.

*

Ah and some days how I dream, I dream of the stars
And of the great fortune tellers

They show up in films and documentaries too
The fairy godmothers of this world,
They wave around and E turns to the square of mc
Their words inspire, they see the future, they tell us what its like

And dear office while I sound absurd, think about it.

I saw the most beautiful sight a few weeks ago in Mandu. Yes, it was great, a historical site with 72 kilometres of fortress walls protecting a city of 9 lac folk and with over a 1000 palaces, Mandu was the centre of Mughal rule for 6 years before Shah Jahan moved the court to Delhi. However, in all it’s glamour including great palaces built like ships (Jahaz Mahal) and large reservoirs and lakes that fed the dry city, it was a relatively insignificant detail that caught my attention. The image that will remain imprinted in my mind forevermore was their great little Hamaam. Concealed behind the walls of this Mughal spa were systems of heating and pumping for water so that steam sprayed out through tiny fissures in the walls like a sauna. The central dome was about 20 feet across, and at its centre was a small circular void representative of the moon, and all around that, cut through the stone so that you could see the sky, were sprinklings of stars that grew smaller as they approached the peripheries. And yes, this is what they called a shower. The hot water was raised from steaming walls and fell from the stars. And once upon a time they placed colored glass and candles along these voids so that each star lit up at night and twinkled in a million hues. And my guide told me poetically, “mano ke taron se hi pani barasta ho”, it was raining from the stars.

Well isn’t it a fool who would say that?
And isn’t it a poet who would love those words enough to fiddle away and play them to dawn and cast them in stone?

There are many kinds of people, and just that many varieties of creative ones. And today I spoke with a 70-year-old gentleman named Antonio E Costa. He paints abstract landscapes (stunning, think sky, neelam) and has trained in architecture and urban design too. And his ways are quite different from mine and from him I am learning to release design, sometimes, from my own clutches. “Let the earth be earth,” he says. “It is the nature of the earth to push forward if you try to restrain it. Understand its force.” They are building their home in the tea plantations outside Coonoor, near Ooty in the Nilagiri mountain range, so we go on site and mess around. “Let the staircase tuck around that corner niche, like a snake, let it wriggle and give it room to move around.”

Well that kind of talk got me thinking about all of this. In Suparna’s words, how much do we let a brick be a brick, and when do we, like seagulls, or rather like one particular seagull name Jonathon, choose to soar? You see there are many kinds of designers. For some, everything belongs to design, that revered mistress. The art, the composition, the lyric, that is the essential, and everything else pays tribute to love her. Some let the material lead the way, they are servants to the force, they investigate, they are the detached observers and theirs is the joy of understanding and foresight. And there are few, the ones that like to play, that like to lead and be led, that jump too far forward only to be swallowed by the greatest of whales, and scorched by the strongest of flames, that fool around, unstable, shifting, wondering why the sky is so high and where all the black bears nest. And perhaps there are more kinds, really.

Or perhaps, as they say, there is only one great being, and the stories of all beings, and all these dilemmas and each game here, each tug of war of design, designer and dreamer, of the real, the imagined and the dreamed,  belongs to that singular being, that I or us.

The fool, the fiddler and the greatest of fortune-tellers, we got together, and we’re making the absurd seem likely, we went off on an adventure and we call it a new name everyday.

Essays on Force by Mrin A

"Find a balance between effort and relaxation. This is the philosophy of asana.” My teacher spoke as he made us extend further, taller and calmer. “Yoga is an art. And art is ever moving. Reach out, straighten, stretch. Find the spaces inside you. And ever quieten the mind. Life is suffering. Life is stress. And so with your practice. It is all right to feel pain. However, it is your body and your pain and you must set its limits.”

There is a space that I found between the effort and the relaxation. And I have considered this space. It is this space where the chest opens up, aligned. It is the space where breath is gentle and simple, where movement is slow and sadness is graceful. This space isPrana. This space is called life force.

And I am considering this force. I feel its presence all around me. Is it the sunlight that feeds the plants that penetrate the cells in my body? Is it a breeze that swiftly flies, leaving the door ajar and the curtains rustling? Is this force specific, directional, numerical, empirical? Could I account for it in my financial register, every act described in volume and intensity?

***

I have a somewhat insignificant genetic blood condition called thalassemia. This makes me permanently anaemic, and prone to fatigue and dizziness, although I remained undiagnosed for most of my life and thus never considered myself that way. But looking back, I acknowledge how often I felt simply exhausted by the end of the day. You would roll your eyes every time I would say that. I would say, “Oh my, I am simply exhausted today!” And more often than not I could simply shut my eyes and fall asleep in the wink of an eyelid. And you would shake your head at me as you rolled in bed searching out slumber.

Does the force leave my body sooner than it does yours?

Perhaps this force in here is a storm that tears the house apart as it hurriedly escapes outwards to freer skies. Or perhaps the force here is weaker. Trembling it resides within me and with a murmur it evaporates every night. Or else perhaps its volume was measured to begin with, a scientific account of my blood and its levels of iron giving an accurate description of my loss. I read that the iron in our bodies was brewed in the stars trillions of years ago. Perhaps then, it is the business of some goofy star-matter. Romping across the Milky Way these gases may have drifted astray and been consumed instead by the force field of some unsuspecting meteor, thus resulting in my specific condition.

***

In any case, the mystery of the missing bytes did illuminate something rather interesting that I never had considered before:

Look around you right now. If you are indoors, observe the peeling paint on the ceiling, gaze at the random patches of form that appear on walls, the little tear on that chair at that particular spot, the plate of freshly cut fruit on the table that await the attention of your palate. The shuffles, the burns, the wear and tear, the odd baits, the pokey places. If you are outdoors notice that particularly strange scratch across that particular branch of that particular tree. Look at the patterns of the movements of the ants. Look at the earth and the gravel. Peel your eyes and absorb everything that you see.

For each observation that you make, it is possible to find a trail. I call it a ‘Trail of Consequence’ but perhaps a slightly less gory title could also be ‘Acts of Prana’. To think that even the smallest of quirks holds a memory, a historicity. It was a winters day when I sat in that chair and you had a habit of nudging me and one day I almost fell over and I shrieked and you laughed; and as I grabbed your hand my pencil came down over the fabric of that chair and a single stitch came away. But neither of us saw it, and two months later with consequences piled atop each other there it was, 4 stitches and a noticeable odd rip in the chair that nobody thought about until you just did.

And if I added every instance to the place where you sit right now and read to you its tales we might find that these threads, these ephemeral strings, these threads connected every thing, every day, every act and every person in a finite, numerical kind of way. And would we call these beads, these glowing strings of action, would we call them the force of life? So could we say then that this place where you sit, this interior room or that beautiful garden is such an act of shared force, the sum of all forces that ever have acted upon this world?

***

And if that place where we sat and observed, if that was you, instead of that interior room, do you think we could find every act that eroded and built you up too? Wouldn’t that be a complex algorithm! For not only have you been acted upon, weathered, my friend, by multiple external forces simultaneously and all through your life (the breeze on your morning walks, your inspirational school teacher, the classroom bully to whom you gave your pocket money to every month and the girl next doors who grew up to love you but whom you crushed) but also, you would have some element of choice in the matter now, wouldn’t you? They say that we humans learn to live in large metaphorical castles, and we draw the bridges up and down as we let people in, out or keep them at bay. And so do we get to decide what hands unravel our stitches and where the paint will begin to peel? Or else, much like the brick, is it simply a matter of constitution?

Perhaps my yoga teacher was very wise and all of life simply is a matter of balancing our pains with our pleasures, adding here, subtracting there, calculating, experimenting; and all the while trying to maintain an inner sanctum of peace. Perhaps the force of life not only enables us to perform the individual acts of addition and subtraction, but also provides us with that operating table that delivers these actions through.

***

Ah this elusive word. I see it in action when we make moves and when we make decisions, when we sing from the bottom of our hearts, when we engage and we speak to each other in mellow voices and gentle touches. We play with force, we make it sweet and we make it race too.

They say that there are only four kinds of forces: strong, electromagnetic, weak and gravitational.

I am thinking about this. Perhaps, I laugh to myself, there are only three kinds of forces. Life, death and love.

***

If I had to give form to the force that I experience inside of me, I would perhaps show you a high-beam laser that requires large amounts of electrical recharges and produces intense, penetrating light. Perhaps you feel that way sometimes? It has been my habit to shine intense light on the slightest of things that I see. Everything engages me until I want it wholly, and I feel one with the object I shine. This depletes me too, and sooner or later I need to switch off completely. Alarm bells go off. The river floods its banks. Some days the fire is just too hot. I call it ‘Experience Overload’.

***

I love being a traveller. Every inch of me loves being this person, this wonderful, adventurous, exciting person! Every monument I observe seems monumental, every experience seems destined. Yet there is a new kind of light that I gaze at in the distance. The force is the same, but the flame has been dimmed. It is a simmering flame. A slow kind of fire, where food may be cooked and boiled over hours, deepening its flavour. What would it be like, I think, to be that simmering flame?

How I am and how you are and who I am and who you are, what if these differences were mere consequence of turning the same fire higher or slower?

***

Perhaps this is the miracle of being human. While I am naught but matter and I am built constitutionally, I do have these spaces of quiet inside of me. While I have been focussing on the right kind of balances and the right actions too, what if force was more than direction and acceleration? Concealed beneath a narrow beam is an ice burg that melts slowly, thoughtfully, majestically into all the waters of the world. And that glacier is you and I, and eschewed from identity, we are mere consciousness, and that is the force that makes a wrong a right, a force that alters the future and the past, a force unscarred and untouched, a force that moves the mountains to the ground and the oceans to the skies, a force that makes star dust into stone.

Understand by Mrin A

I am not a woman; I belong not to a country, a place, or a situation
I am not white or brown or a light beige that you would call me
I am not even a traveller and neither do I search for the prettiest
Of breezes nor the highest of cliffs.

These feet walk where they are led
And I am these roaming feet

And while I roam I will take location, of gender, of place and whatever.
And I will be the voice for the millions of mute
And I will raise my head and salute.
I will take up each cause I will turn you around
Oh I will be the fire fighter.

If I grasp the injustice I will lend a limb
If I know so, I will speak
I will burn out the dark
I will burn out the dark
A woman I will travel alone,
And I will feel the breeze and climb the highest of mountains
And everywhere I go will be home.

Understand this my friend,
There is power in truth.

Oh how Power turns to fire…

Understand this my love, I am free
Look at me your fire fighter.

Banaras
November 2012

Dark Light by Mrin A

Austere rock, shivering absorbing, inhaling, unyielding, unspeaking.

Chaotic chatter. Demanding, moving, shape shifters.

Sparkles and sprays, and glitters in the sun, and simultaneously with invisible spreads and forces the invisible being, the magnificent one, rests in my stomach, and I within hers.

Deliciously I watch her. A block of grey granite. Physical matter, meat. I touch her material. Grainy. Pockmarked and aged and yet cool as youth and soft at my fingertips. And yes, instantly and gradually over time, I come to love what coats this earth. The rubble, the stubble, the ways we stumble, the divinity in the dead grey rock. I love her. I love her death. Her coldness. Her elusive tricks, her illusions. Haltingly and with odd quirks and eccentricities that cloak her stillness, she leads me and leaves me.

Kerala
October 2012

Texture by Mrin A

The effect of the contact between two elements – The bark of a tree exposed to air. Ripples in the sand, wrinkles in my dripping toes.
Texture is consequence.

Texture is the adaptability of matter.
Touching, and being transformed, pounded, beaten and eroded.
Antonym of inertia…

Look anywhere, at anything. There is a difference between a texture and a pattern. 
A pattern is a performance with a cast.
A texture is the self-mutilation of a single atom that slowly, painstakingly altered itself in and of itself to interface another.

Sand, beating itself into water shapes, proof that she did spend the tide.
Water too, creasing and waving to the groove of the celestial.
Salt, undulating foamy residual carpets over oceans.
Texture is a rhythmic abrasion.

Textures change and age over time, and sometimes combust also.

And so the flower is now a fruit.
The smooth bottoms of babies turn to saggy middle-aged thighs.
And textures may be subtle as the fine grain of my hair.
Texture is personality.

The wind tonight made room for my mind to wander. And I remembered the blows that cast this body blue. Each one altered the course of my present.

Texture is the blood that flows in beats and pumps in and out of your heart.
And texture is the riverbed of events that made you bleed and mend.

A Man of Love by Mrin A

I met a man with eyes like lakes and spirit all about him.

And he spoke these wise words, he said, “Mrin, always have courage under ALL circumstances.” And he underscored the ‘all’.

And sometimes I am unable to distinguish between pleasure and pain and between the stars and the city lights.

The wise man told me that to know is to see with your heart and not your eyes, until your heart lies etched in pools and lakes upon yours eyes and you know everything that you see.

There are some things I do know. I know a wise man. I know the sun shines. I know there are lakes made from love.

Meditation by Mrin A

Unblinking gazes spear through the violet black body of the flame.

Nothing is sought.

I weep tears of pain. The white light burns past my demons, and under its incandescent halo I am confronted by their marching shadows.

Whom have I housed in my darkest of hearts? With the room momentarily clear, I spot my foes in a flash. Anger, jealousy, judgement; and how I wished them away and how much longer they intended to stay.

So I clasped them in my arms and heartily greeted them in stead. For the fire that brought them to light and the flames that brought me to tears, left in their wake, a gift. Head bowed, humbled, I am a better fit.

Body by Mrin A

Imagine all of life, all of creation, the stars, the trees and their varieties, yea, the body of this world itself as a being; growing, learning, remembering, mutating and evolving.

And perhaps it is possible to call the entirety of this being, with its physical and subtle manifestations, God.

So then imagine God with a learning curve.

Moon by Mrin A

The moon is the king of the sky. Carried forth by chariots of white vapour clouds. Why does the moon empathise with those mean old watery ones? This is the question in my mind.

Why does the moon empathise with those mean old watery ones?

“Because it is the clouds that carry the moon.”

Could it be that the moon exists merely as consequence of those dark storms? Ah and then what gratitude does light cast upon the shadows.

Stars by Mrin A

Last night I dreamed about stories of the stars. The sky and the lake were two mirrors. Nothing in themselves. Black holes. Together they spoke about all of being. The stars, the moon, the city lights and the fireflies.

The stars twinkle behind a cloudy night sky.

This is the truth of the stars. Even in sadness, nay even in doubt, the truth, infinity, is concealed just beneath the shadows.

“The stars twinkle, behind a cloudy night sky.”