poetry

Lullaby, Stranger

I recently got an opportunity to attend a choreographed concert called ‘Lullaby, Stranger’. In their own words:

LULLABY STRANGER is a choral performance, meant to be heard lying down. Moving between shared and private spaces, this choreographed concert speaks of our most intimate moments. Songs of love and fulfillment, of absence, loss and longing, of nightmares and prayer and death, weave a journey that stirs tension as well as tenderness. Through the evening, sounds and bodies appear and disappear in a symphony of small encounters.

K invited me to accompany her and I will be forever grateful to her for this experience. We left around 7:30 for the 9 o’clock show. After a short walk to the metro, a very short metro ride, a cancelled train and a cab driver who refused to turn on the meter, we finally reached the venue. K was prepared as always and took out the small joint. I asked a guy for a lighter and we lit it up.

The show was delayed by 20 minutes but then it finally started. Our phones were confiscated and we were given a bag to keep our shoes in. We entered the ‘Black Box’ – a dark room with about forty mattresses arranged in squares such that the head of no mattress faced the head of another. The mattresses were really cozy, covered in white sheets, with a comfy pillow and another white sheet to cover yourself. All of us chose our mattresses, K and I chose opposite sides of the room.

On the roof were art installations which looked like a golden colored fabric had frozen in the air while in motion. The lights were slowly turning on and off and the golden wave of fabric glittered and disappeared in sync with the blink of my eyes. I couldn’t figure when the show really started because I had no clue of how it was going to be like. People were still entering through the entry door and bits and pieces of jazz music from the cafe outside filtered in. Was it a part of the act or was I reading too much into it? Suddenly around 10 people came sauntering in and walked on the patches of empty floor in between the mattresses. And then, IT BEGAN.

The Conductor raised her hands and her team everyone else harmonized along with her. It was a goose bump raising performance – a shiver ran down my spine. The selection of songs was a carefully chosen list of lullabies from across the world (List in the end). As the performers moved from one direction to another, the sound of music traveled with them. One of my favorite lullabies was a Japanese lullaby called ‘Ho, Firefly’.

The performers changed their stances during and in between songs. They came and slept next to us, looked at us, it was slightly unnerving but slowly you eased into the whole process and you started to sync your breathing with the breathing rhythms of the person lying next to you. I had gotten really comfortable in my space and closed my eyes and listened to the music, listened to them harmonising and listened to how the voices shifted as they moved from one side of the room to another.

When the show ended, they came next to us and gave us their hand and picked us out f our beds slowly. We stood in the empty patches while they took our beds and lay down in it. And then they ended with the first song they had sung.

If you ever get the opportunity to catch this show at the G5A in Mumbai, I assure you it’s worth every bit of your time. Please don’t miss it.

List of Lullabies:

  • Because –  Lennon – McCartney
  • Wanting Memories – Dr. Ysaye
  • Hotaru Koi – Ro Ogura
  • Shenandoah – Michael Trotta
  • Trilo – Ale Moller
  • If I Should Lose you – Ralph Rainger
  • Unravel – Bjork
  • Ya Thuli Khanjar Maare – Abdul Ahad Nazim
  • Adinu
  • Der Leiermann
  • Media Vita
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Why do writers write?

Writers write to keep memories from dying.

Writers write because it’s their high.

They write because it’s easier than talking.

They write because they want someone to read them like they read others.

Writers write because sometimes punctuation is really important.

Writers write to convert words into a painting in your mind.

They write to take you everywhere they have been.

They write so that you can hear every echo in the story they wrote.

Writers write so that their words can pierce your heart.

But they also write to mend broken ones.

A few good things – Part 1

 

Desperate times need desperate measures. Here is an attempt to add some good vibes in my day by counting my blessings. 😛

  • A beautiful yellow colored butterfly that flew by my windshield while I was listening to Ek Chaand.

  • A man bumped into a woman. They apologized and moved on. The woman blushed.
  • A child ran excitedly after the auto in which his friend was sitting. The friend had his hand stretched out. He got in. They drove away laughing.
  • This video I found on Reddit that gave me goosebumps!

Summer Nights

There is this thing about summer nights, a nostalgia that doesn’t fade, be it months or years or even decades.

I remember the nights I spent at my Nani’s place, lying in the cot on the night under a starry sky, the rings of the mortein coil rising to the sky while the pomeranian who slept below my cot snored lightly.

I remember the nights at my Dadi’s house, when there wasn’t even a cot to lie on, just a hard plastic mat and sometimes it used to get so cold in May that we used to bring out the blankets from the trunk on the terrace.

It was an altogether different feeling, waking up to sunshine on your face and once in a while, to rains, when you had to wake up and rush inside, taking your bedding and covers along.

I remember the nights at my house in Lucknow. It didn’t happen often but when it did, I was surprisingly glad. No electricity meant darkness, which meant freedom, to go to the terrace, in the middle of the night or outside, to exchange some notes with people you couldn’t meet otherwise.

Summer,

A love hate relationship with you has given me memories which are equally bittersweet. There were power cuts all the time, but anything beyond the mundane life was welcome. It seemed like life got even more monotonous during your time. It was the same day lived, over and over again, specially during the vacations which we craved  for but within 10 days, got bored of.

Now, there is watermelon in the evening, followed by finally switching off the A.C., when Maa came rushing in to tell us to get some fresh air. We reluctantly go to the rooftop and listen to some music until it is dark and the mosquitoes attack. And then we go back to our artificially created atmosphere.

I do miss you, it is true. I miss the feel of heat on my skin when I came back from school, craving a chilled glass of sherbet. I miss sitting on the staircase playing cards with my cousins because we couldn’t watch TV. Most of all, I miss the darkness of the night, where everyone gathered around together, because they had no screens to look at, no instruments to distract them, and we could just be there, in the moment, waiting for the light to come back and at the same time wishing that it does not.

I miss you, Summer.

Sober Notes 9: Twilight

Why do lovers wait for the moon to have a conversation?

I think sunsets are equally beautiful.

Sober Notes 8: Home

When my words became another brick in the wall that you built between us,

I realized it was time to find a new home.

Writer’s Block Part 2

When you overcome it, you write this:

I was trapped between pages, crisp and white – the ink hadn’t even dried yet.
Between lines- handwritten with loops and curls made with love and care.
Between words – big and small that held so much more than meanings in the dictionaries.
And finally I got lost amidst punctuations – deep, dark and complicated, which almost burst through into the next page.
This was what life had come to. Would it be a full-stop or just an ellipsis? Was it the beginning of “The Ends” or was it just another “To be continued. . .”
The ink stains had started wearing off. The pages began turning frail and yellow.
Overcome the commas and don’t limit yourself within parentheses’. Exclaim with joy, find happiness wherever possible. Do not be afraid of questioning things. Don’ let the semicolons delay your journey to success and turn the period into the ellipsis which will guide your way.
Turn the page!
Start a new Chapter!

If you were a book

If you were a book,
I would bookmark
all the good memories.
I would cover you in the finest jackets
And keep you at a place nearest my heart.

Everywhere I went
beaches or mountains
you would be there by my side.
A book that precious
could neither be exchanged nor replaced.

I would mark the first page with my name
and leave little notes on the rest.
Every night before going to sleep
I would look at those notes
under the light of the moon.

My favourite passage would be read
on the day that I die.
And even that wouldn’t be the end
because the sequel would yet remain to be read.

Kuch Ban Jaate Hain

Going through the channel ‘Hindi Kavita’ on YouTube today, I came across another gem. Credits again to Varun Grover. This was one of the poems he wanted to make into a song in the movie ‘Masaan’, but for some reason couldn’t. It is beautiful nevertheless. If somebody could find/give an english translation, that would be amazing.

Hindi Transcription:

Ignore the spelling mistakes, if any, this is my first time typing in Hindi 😛

तुम मिश्री की डली बन जाओ
मैं दूध बन जाता हूँ
तुम मुझमें घुल जाओ |

तुम ढाई साल की बच्ची बन जाओ
मैं मिश्री घुला दूध हूँ मीठा
मुझे एक साँस में पी जाओ |

अब मैं मैदान हूँ
तुम्हारे सामने दूर तक फैला हुआ |
मुझमें दौड़ो | मैं पहाड़ हूँ |
मेरे कंधों पर चढ़ो और फिसलो |
मैं सेमल का पेड़ हूँ
मुझे ज़ोर ज़ोर से झकझोरो और
मेरी रूई को हवा की तमाम परतों में
बादलों के छोटे छोटे टुकड़ो की तरह
उड़ जाने दो |

ऐसा करता हूँ की मैं
अखरोट बन जाता हूँ |
तुम उसे चुरा लो
और किसी कोने में छुपकर
चुपचाप उसे तोडो |

गेहूँ का दाना बन जाता हूँ मैं
तुम धूप बन जाओ
मिट्टी-हवा-पानी बन कर मुझे उगाओ
मेरे भीतर के रिक्त कोषों में
लुक्का छिप्पि खेलो
या कोपल होकर
मेरी किसी भी गाँठ से
कहीं से भी तुरंत फूट जाओ |

तुम अंधेरा बन जाओ
मैं बिल्ली बनकर दबे पावं चलूँगा चोरी चोरी |

क्यूँ ना ऐसा करें
की मैं चीनी मिट्टी का प्याला बन जाता हूँ
और तुम तश्तरी
और हम कहीं से गिर कर
एक साथ टूट जाते हैं सुबह सुबह |

या मैं गुब्बारा बनता हूँ
नीले रंग का |
तुम उसके भीतर की हवा बन कर फैलो
और बीच आकाश में मेरे साथ फुट जाओ |

या फिर ऐसा करते हैं
की हम कुछ और बन जाते हैं |

Sober Notes 7: Lights

During these nights when the moon is red
The sky is black but there is a halo around the moon
It seems confused, trying to be black
But red forces its way through
I saw an electric pole today
With those bright red lights
That are used to warn airplanes!
Only, this one didn’t flicker
And guess what? They became the red stars
And the pallete of the sky was complete
Never had I thought that man’s intervention
Could give birth to a scenery so beautiful
Bright shining red shining against the pitch black
Need I say any more?

-S.