Monday, November 23, 2020

Snapshot of my story for a fiction project /Magazine

 

Maya gave an involuntary shake as that memory flashed in front of her. She remembered every small detail of that everyday ritual. How could she not! She used to get restless to see Satish and desperately wait for those magnolias he gave her. Jaya always envied her and she went all green-eyed looking at those magnolias in her hair. That was so childish of them, she thought. Nevertheless the memory gave a reason to put a smile on her face. That face which lost the path of smiles and embraced a perennial frown.

With the letter on one hand, she got up to examine those magnolias that they planted it together. They were given by Satish’s aunt on his birthday and what did he do with that. He urged Maya to take it with her and when she gently rebuked him for giving his own birthday gift, he came along with her post school hours and planted it on his own. Robbed off all plausible excuses, she had to submit to him and his childlike requests.

The bright little magnolias winked at her, swaying to the tunes of the wind, seated like a crownless queen among the profusion of flowers in her terrace garden. She picked one and inhaled the scent of it. The scent assaulted her senses and took her to the world unknown. Really Magnolias had magic, she deciphered. She took one hair pin and pressed the magnolia stem and slid between the teeth of the pin. Gently, she pinned it on her hair.

Examining the beauty of magnolia sitting on her hair, she felt like a class 10th student again. Standing in front of Satish with Jealous Jaya by her side.

And what about those magnolias that stood the test of the day? Were they still treasured?

Maya opened the chest of drawers. The worn-out wooden furniture rattled making a grating noise. A brown coloured little diary belched its stomach as numerous sheets were pressed inside its thin figure.

The withered magnolias were prisoned inside the diary away from human eye. Bringing them to her nose and inhaling the remnant of their fragrance, she was transported to the different world altogether. Like the coffee dregs in a mug, these little memories stood tethered to her. Only difference is the water washes off the dregs but here nothing could wash off those memories. Certainly not!

Poetic Saturdays - The Frog and the Nightingale by Vikram Seth

 Once upon a time a frog

Croaked away in Bingle Bog
Every night from dusk to dawn
He croaked awn and awn and awn
Other creatures loathed his voice,
But, alas, they had no choice,
And the crass cacophony
Blared out from the sumac tree
At whose foot the frog each night
Minstrelled on till morning night

Neither stones nor prayers nor sticks.
Insults or complaints or bricks
Stilled the frogs determination
To display his heart's elation.
But one night a nightingale
In the moonlight cold and pale
Perched upon the sumac tree
Casting forth her melody
Dumbstruck sat the gaping frog
And the whole admiring bog
Stared towards the sumac, rapt,

And, when she had ended, clapped,
Ducks had swum and herons waded
To her as she serenaded
And a solitary loon
Wept, beneath the summer moon.
Toads and teals and tiddlers, captured
By her voice, cheered on, enraptured:
"Bravo! " "Too divine! " "Encore! "
So the nightingale once more,
Quite unused to such applause,
Sang till dawn without a pause.

Next night when the Nightingale
Shook her head and twitched her tail,
Closed an eye and fluffed a wing
And had cleared her throat to sing
She was startled by a croak.
"Sorry - was that you who spoke? "
She enquired when the frog
Hopped towards her from the bog.
"Yes," the frog replied. "You see,
I'm the frog who owns this tree
In this bog I've long been known
For my splendid baritone
And, of course, I wield my pen
For Bog Trumpet now and then"

"Did you… did you like my song? "
"Not too bad - but far too long.
The technique was fine of course,
But it lacked a certain force".
"Oh! " the nightingale confessed.
Greatly flattered and impressed
That a critic of such note
Had discussed her art and throat:
"I don't think the song's divine.
But - oh, well - at least it's mine".

"That's not much to boast about".
Said the heartless frog. "Without
Proper training such as I
- And few others can supply.
You'll remain a mere beginner.
But with me you'll be a winner"
"Dearest frog", the nightingale
Breathed: "This is a fairy tale -
And you are Mozart in disguise
Come to earth before my eyes".

"Well I charge a modest fee."
"Oh! " "But it won't hurt, you'll see"
Now the nightingale inspired,
Flushed with confidence, and fired
With both art and adoration,
Sang - and was a huge sensation.
Animals for miles around
Flocked towards the magic sound,
And the frog with great precision
Counted heads and charged admission.

Though next morning it was raining,
He began her vocal training.
"But I can't sing in this weather"
"Come my dear - we'll sing together.
Just put on your scarf and sash,
Koo-oh-ah! ko-ash! ko-ash! "
So the frog and nightingale
Journeyed up and down the scale
For six hours, till she was shivering
and her voice was hoarse and quivering.

Though subdued and sleep deprived,
In the night her throat revived,
And the sumac tree was bowed,
With a breathless, titled crowd:
Owl of Sandwich, Duck of Kent,
Mallard and Milady Trent,
Martin Cardinal Mephisto,
And the Coot of Monte Cristo,
Ladies with tiaras glittering
In the interval sat twittering -
And the frog observed them glitter
With a joy both sweet and bitter.

Every day the frog who'd sold her
Songs for silver tried to scold her:
"You must practice even longer
Till your voice, like mine grows stronger.
In the second song last night
You got nervous in mid-flight.
And, my dear, lay on more trills:
Audiences enjoy such frills.
You must make your public happier:
Give them something sharper snappier.
We must aim for better billings.
You still owe me sixty shillings."

Day by day the nightingale
Grew more sorrowful and pale.
Night on night her tired song
Zipped and trilled and bounced along,
Till the birds and beasts grew tired
At a voice so uninspired
And the ticket office gross
Crashed, and she grew more morose -
For her ears were now addicted
To applause quite unrestricted,
And to sing into the night
All alone gave no delight.

Now the frog puffed up with rage.
"Brainless bird - you're on the stage -
Use your wits and follow fashion.
Puff your lungs out with your passion."
Trembling, terrified to fail,
Blind with tears, the nightingale
Heard him out in silence, tried,
Puffed up, burst a vein, and died.

Said the frog: "I tried to teach her,
But she was a stupid creature -
Far too nervous, far too tense.
Far too prone to influence.
Well, poor bird - she should have known
That your song must be your own.
That's why I sing with panache:
"Koo-oh-ah! ko-ash! ko-ash! "
And the foghorn of the frog
Blared unrivalled through the bog.

 

This poem by Vikram Seth, a popular author and poet, starts with the usual fairy tale phrase ‘Once upon a time’ to engage us and hook us into the poem. The message is in the details so let’s go inch by inch to get closer to the mountain of wisdom that it offers.

There are two main characters in the poem – Frog and Nightingale. All other creatures are part of the narrative.

The frog used to sing from dusk to dawn in its harsh and unpleasant voice. Certainly, other creatures did not have any good thing to say about his voice. They detested the very sound of it and they suffered greatly from his crass cacophony. The humiliation and insults, the gruesome remarks by other animals did not bother the frog as it went on with its singing routine.

It went on for days but for one night. The night which made the frog uncomfortable in its own lodging. That was the night when the sweet nightingale started larking with its sonorous voice. Perched on the sumac tree, the melody spread far and beyond and the entire animal kingdom whispered, clapped, cheered and sang praises after the song ended. The song invited attention from all the creatures from toads to ducks. They extolled and exclaimed praises with the words like ‘Divine, Bravo and Encore’. The nightingale was pleased by the applauding ceremony and decide to lend its voice again without a pause.

The next night when she started to sing with her closed eye, the frog intervened. Alarmed by the grated croak, the nightingale met the frog who chose to not take this thing lightly. The frog started blowing its trumpet and boastfully exposed its position in the forest. Nightingale, not knowing the nature and hidden agenda of the frog, did not distance herself, but asked the feedback and suggestions of any improvement. The frog, noticing the meek demeanour of the sweet bird, offered to guide and train.

The morning after, the frog commenced the training and in the name of the training abused the nightingale. The nightingale was not only exploited for the tutoring fees but the frog criticised every effort of the bird. The nightingale did not recognize the malicious intent of the frog and kept on working hard to suit to the taste of the abuser. Then a day came when the nightingale could bear no more and started feeling sad and disinterested. The creatures lost interest on such a sad voice.

The frog ultimately insulted the nightingale with a words that seared the bird badly. The tears streamed down and the little bird sobbed profusely. Shaking with fear, the bird puffed up once more but the death snatched away the bird and her sweet voice.

Well, the frog was too proud to take on the guilt and own the crime. Instead, it pour more insults on the little bird. The last stanza spoken by the frog makes us think deeply. The words “That your song must be your own – She should have known”. How accurate! One should never try to get so influenced by another that he loses himself in the process. The frog couldn’t bear the sight of one more creature with a singing talent far superior than its own. The frog hatched a plan to destroy the nightingale. And the nightingale, a meek character in this allegory submitted not knowing the details behind the plan. 

Let’s plumb the depth of this poem:

This poem tells us to believe in ourself, our own strength and do not get overly influenced by others. We should have confidence and faith in our capabilities and strengths. We shouldn’t get easily swayed by others opinions or criticisms. The nightingale was a submissive type who easily believed in the external influence and overlooked her own talent.

Also, it is very easy to tell others and judge others but we need to look within ourselves. To know if we are capable enough in that particular subject to give a constructive feedback. The frog was not talented enough but behaved as if he is and continued to give unhealthy opinion and that did not go down well with the little bird. The little bird was not capable enough to identify the malicious intent not it could manage to know that the frog had a poor voice.

Bullying are of different types. This poem portrays verbal bullying, showing uppity/one up-man ship and dictating terms to the less powerful character. Be vigilant of this kind of bullying. Do not be friends with this kind of company where you will be ill-treated and be looked down upon.

The frog was very wrong in taking advantage of the poor nightingale. The frog did know, from the insults that came on his way, that he was not talented enough to sing, yet his conceit blinded him. He went on singing. When the nightingale sat on his throne, the frog should have known that the bird had a supreme quality and far better than him. We can have aspirations to become an artist, a singer, a dancer or a phenom in any other field. Sometimes, we put lot of effort to become one but not always it clicks. Maybe because we are not made for that field or it is not our cup of tea. The frog, not knowing this, did all the ill things. We can stop comparing ourselves to oranges when we are apples ourselves. We can stop comparing our children to the next-door neighbour’s children, taking this as cue.

Every effort we put cannot have to be converted into reality at the stroke of midnight. Every effort of today can bear fruit the next minute, the following day, one year later, or it can take many years. We should not lose hope but be consistent in our work.

The nightingale though it stated ‘"I don't think the song's divine.
But - oh, well - at least it's mine", did not stick to this statement as it felt dejected and discontented with no praises coming on her way. She should have been firm and sang only for her heart’s content. Only for her happiness and satisfaction. This gives us one more reason not to miss this poem as it emphasizes on the key aspect of ‘If you like doing something, do it, more for yourself; try not to think or worry what others think about it’.  

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, November 2, 2020

Poetic Saturdays - Analysis of 'The School Boy' by William Blake

 

William Blake brought in usual naturalness (which was also one of the themes of that era) in this poem. A boy dons the hat of first-person and exhibits his boredom in the structured format of schooling. He prefers to explore in the wilderness, with the fragrance of the blooms, and with the chirping raga of feathered creatures or in the mountain wastelands.

 He finds joy and comfort in the routine undertakings of the morning when he says in the first stanza  “I love to rise in the summer morning, the distant huntsman winding the horn and the skylark sings with me”. 

The second stanza drives the joy away from the boy’s mood when he thinks about how he, along with his mates, will be forced to be observed under the cruel eye (which can mean a teacher in this parlance). And he doesn’t want that to happen.

The boy stresses on the problems of formal learning and thinks that there is nothing that he cannot learn in the natural world. Schooling stifles innate imagination and joy of learning, is the thought behind his verses.

He goes on describing the climate of the structured learning. He sits ‘drooping’ hunched over his bench. There is no joy in drowning in the affairs of the books. He wants to be free in the open space which he is not able to do with the heavy downpour ‘dreary shower’ being the obstacle in his way.

The fourth stanza is a reality check for the reader. The boy compares himself with a bird. Certainly, a bird is born for joy but how can it find one if it is caged. Can it throw its sonorous voice or can it fly away freely, all siting cooped up in a cage? The cage is a metaphor here drawing a parallel to the school. The school, like a cage, spoils the creativity and limits the creative freedom to the children.

The boy even addresses his conflict to his parents.  He uses new buds as metaphor. Can a bud be nipped in the infancy meddling with the joy that they are born to exude? Can a tender child be disallowed to enjoy and fancy a similar joy? Can his parents change the course of this situation? He clearly doesn’t understand if they are equipped to, but still he wants them to see some sense in his entreaties. The yearning for carefree joy and exploration still remains alive in the boy’s mind. And towards the end of poem, he clearly does not achieve any satisfaction or solution but he expresses his thought on his routine life.

A structured format of learning poses barrier to creativity. This has been achieved by many poets and not only Blake. The tendency to romanticize the nature element can be found in many poems in the period of Romanticism. You can find a poem by William Wordsworth ‘ The Tables Turned’ which is also of the Romantic age. That poem too like Blakes’ puts an emphasis on educating ourselves through the medium of nature.

 “Enough of Science and of Art; Close up those barren leaves; come to the nature, and bring with you a heart that watches and receives – This stanza in that Woodsworth’s poem strikes a chord with this school boy in Blake’s poem.

Even this was somewhat true when we were in schools. The methods were not innovative but stressed more on textbook approach. Right now, the pedagogy sees some change. The core skills and key learning concepts are devised in a way that they enjoy it with experiments and more tactile based approach.  Now there is more application over conservative approach that we all were used to in our times. Many of us have looked our school journey through this boy’s eyes. Change was very far off but it was not impossible. Yet the system did not welcome any new strategy. Right now, even with the technology and new improvised methods, the rat race has not stopped. Ultimately, children are met with the pressure and turmoil in one way or other, leading to withering of interest. Sometimes, the faculties are not given enough creative freedom to innovate and with the lack of motivation and time constraint, the learning methodology suffers.

Coming to this poem, the school boy teaches us to keep our eyes open and have a relationship with nature. There is always a way to include environmental exploration in the method of learning. The responsibility can be shared between educators and parents, both collectively. There is no end to learning and learning doesn’t stop when the school bell rings and children walk off from school. It continues and will continue for lifetime. Also let’s give some respite to this fictional school boy and keep the light of learning ignited when we travel to some place or when we are with the nature. Mindfulness is the key.

 

 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Book Reading is more than a Hobby - Article that I did for TOI

 

I recently heard someone tell that people should not be told what to read. They should not be looked down upon if they pick up anything which falls under run of the mill genre or anything which doesn’t fall under the roof of classic or profound reads.  After all, it is just a hobby which is carried out for FUN.

This is true because we do have a choice in holding a book. We do have a choice to read what we like. Like we have a choice in music, television shows and food we eat. Moreover, there are so many genres and sub-genres to choose from the vast expanse of bound volumes.

I have myself encountered many people who try to impose their liking or choice in others’ lives. They extend this quality of theirs in the arena of books too. They will not waste any opportunity that comes their way to throw their unsolicited advice. Be it what to wear, what music to listen, or what books should one read. They have their own regimented method or rules and they want everyone to follow the same. They have that smug look when they ask you what you are reading and having heard your answer, they just shrug their shoulders. And dimming your enthusiasm right away, they go on rendering their thoughts on choosing a book. Or choosing the RIGHT books as they put it. For long I have thought about this obtrusion. While I have taken it with a pinch of salt, I have seen people squirm with this unwelcome interference. Some are even hurt. And I feel for them. They draw themselves back from this group of conceited crowds in order to avoid ridicule.

Having said that, I have come a long way to realize a new perspective. And that has been liberating enough. Maybe it can suit to only a smaller niche of readers who take reading very seriously and put their soul into this activity. While I was mulling over it on my usual evening walk, my perspective for this unwelcome intrusion changed a bit. As I am a person who sees only brighter side in every adversity, I chose to wear the positive lens in this issue too. And that’s when I started reading between the lines of such obtrusion. In other words, I widened by horizon and started including the books which had been hitherto out of my comfort zone. Irrespective of the genres and subgenres of course.

The journey of BOOKS starts from the writer and ends with the reader.

The books are definitely written by the pen of a writer but the ink of that pen leaves an indelible mark on reader’s mind. The impact is powerful and everlasting. Writing may be a solitary journey, technically one person’s job or relationship with a pen/computer or any gadget that he/she uses in writing but once it is out in open, published for the public to lay hands on it, the solitary journey ends. Readers get into the world of the writer when they start reading the work. Readers trespass, interfere and usurp the solitary space when the book falls in their hands. They nod, disagree, contemplate, ponder and argue with every written word or a phrase. Unknowingly they all happen in the reader’s head. A strong neurological activity takes place when a new idea in the book comes face to face with the reader. If the thought aligns with the reader’s thought, it does not change much but if there are some unfamiliar thoughts that a reader happens to agree on, not saying just acquiesce, but fully agrees with them, then a new perspective or a narrative gets formed. A new person with new frame of mind is born right there.

Strong NARRATIVES enrich a human mind

We all have been the torch bearers of strong narratives. And historically, literary society has played a pivotal role in building and acting as an anchor to steer the ship of mankind to a right direction. Also, the narratives form a skeletal framework for the values that one aspires to live by. For example: Louisa Alcott’s little women delivers a lecture on compassion, empathy and following one’s dream. Similarly, Nesbitt’s classic Railway Children is all about feeling for others, doing good deeds. They are fun, adventurous and full of strong morals. Railway children is a big hit among children and adults. These books not only get embarked on a journey to reach a reader’s mind but it changes the all round personality of a reader making him/her more compassionate and kind. There are many examples of poets who reigned the different regimes and many of the poems born on those eras are still relevant. The strong narratives are uprooted and placed on a reader’s mind unknowingly getting into their subconscious space. It appears and raises its head in their everyday living. Take an example of social media which brims with requotes and retweets from poets and writers from bygone era. The humanity is layered with the narratives from our historical past.

Different HUMAN NATURE co-exists in the world of books

As I mentioned above that books encompass the world of human nature, let me elaborate more. The detail and classification of human nature is vast. A reader gets familiar with different human nature that’s been ruling our mankind when he/she drowns in that vast expanse. The love and affection of Doctor Dolittle, Peter pan’s innocence, Little women Jo’s passion for writing, Dicken’s Pip, an ambitious character, logical and witty Sherlock Holmes, Railway Children’s Roberta for optimistic quality, The Swiss Family Robinson’s family dwelling on survival skills and togetherness and many others. A reader gets drawn to vivid description of a character and their mental makeup. In life, we encounter many human beings and books act as a compendium to identify the human nature hidden behind the superficial façade of goodness.

All books are divisible into two classes: the books of the hour and the books of all time – John Ruskin

Books may be divided into two sets. The litmus test of time paves way for some to traverse through many generations and for others, they satiate the thirst of the hour. I would say read both the sets as you get a perspective each time you come across a new text. But remember, the books of all time will enrich your personality like no other. The obtrusion is unwelcome but that should not stop or make you averse to the unlimited volumes strewn all over the ocean of life.




 

Poetic Saturdays - Analysis of Robert Stevenson's Poem and importance of Environment in Child's development

 

Children, you are very little,
And your bones are very brittle;
If you would grow great and stately,
You must try to walk sedately.

You must still be bright and quiet,
And content with simple diet;
And remain, through all bewild’ring,
Innocent and honest children.

Happy hearts and happy faces,
Happy play in grassy places–
That was how in ancient ages,
Children grew to kings and sages.

But the unkind and the unruly,
And the sort who eat unduly,
They must never hope for glory–
Theirs is quite a different story!

Cruel children, crying babies,
All grow up as geese and gabies,
Hated, as their age increases,
By their nephews and their nieces.

The poet is giving a firm instruction to all children. He tells them to cultivate good habits. He adds that they should walk sedately which means slowly in order to reach the heights of greatness. A simple diet works great to be happy and content. Happy faces and happy hearts do make one grow into a kingly state. Not only that but king’s and sage’s courtyard are always filled with greatness and abundant knowledge.

And if they do not listen and continue cultivating the bad habits by being unkind and dishevelled by hearts, not maintaining healthy eating habits, then they can never aim for wisdom and satisfaction in their life. They will lead a miserable life. They will never grow to be a kind individual but rather would be ill-shaped. Their behaviour will only breed hatred in their kin’s mind. Their courtyard will be barren. The love and care will not find a home in their land.

Let me state a case study to elaborate the key role of environment in an individual’s life.

Children are tiny miracles we know.  In a hospital room, there are many bassinets where babies are wrapped warmly with their swaddling blankets. They look heavenly with their shut eye. Sometimes they open their eyes and look around. They do not understand anything of the outside world. Let’s take example of two babies A and B out of those bassinets. Their lay in front of them a whole world. A raw and undefiled world. In that world, there are promises, potential, gains and losses, wisdom and conflicts and many such things.

Few years later, A and B grow and become adults. A is very positive in his life. He thinks he has potential to reach greater heights. His can-do attitude always gets him new opportunities. Mind you, B is a direct opposite to A. He is very cynical about his journey of life. He thinks he can never achieve greatness. His negative mindset attracts more negativity in his life and the people around him.

Now let’s go back to the hospital room where A and B were little babies in their respective bassinets. A and B were two babies who had lot of potential and promise in front of them. They were ready to take on the world.

What happened then!

The genetic expression has always been in the picture which led us to believe that children inherit the qualities of their parents and their kin. That may be true. Science does its part but there is also one more aspect which takes control of the situation and nudge a child to become a stronger and positive individual. It is a backbone to good habits and kindness. Environment! Genes cannot be altered but right environment can be provided for child’s growth. Studies have shown the significant role of environmental stimulations in the trajectory of child’s life.

Yes. Environment that a child lives in, plays a key role in shaping a child and its behaviour. The kind of environment they are exposed to, will be deeply imprinted in the child’s brain. What they see is what they believe and what they believe is what they will follow. It is as simple as that. The environment is one ecosystem in itself. The immensity of benefits that a good environment provides, was very underrated. In the past, it was often slighted and the error of omitting that important element had a lot of negative effects on a child. If we want our child to pick up good habits, then it is dire necessary to implement the habits ourselves. We need to be the best version of ourselves because placing them as a window, the outside world gets a peek at our personality and beliefs. The routine that we live and the choices that we make will rub off in our children’s day to day life. They see us as their role models and want to ape us in every aspect.

For a child, good habits and bad habits do not come with a label. A child cannot make out which one to choose and which one to avoid. He/she can only make out the difference seeing us and our life choices. Watching and observing acts brilliant. The healthy eating habits, the instrument we play, the reading habits, the passion for any art academic excellence and many more such developmental activities we want our kids to adopt and make it as a part of their routine. Definitely, the sentiment is valid. But we as parents should try to make way for those activities in our life too and seeing us enjoy those, our child will fall in love with the same. In the end, those nurturing habits will enter their world.

Family atmosphere is one of the crucial agents in raising healthy children. Let’s give our children a right environment and build a strong base so as to get a result as in the poem ‘ Happy hearts and happy faces’ eventually making them wise and kind.

 

 

 

Monday, October 19, 2020

After Eight Years Of Marriage - Poem Analysis

 

After eight years of marriage

The first time I visited my parents,

They asked, “Are you happy, tell us”.

It was an absurd question

And I should have laughed at it

Instead, I cried,

And in between sobs, nodded yes.

I wanted to tell them

That I was happy on Tuesday

I was unhappy on Wednesday.

I was happy one day at 8 o'clock

I was most unhappy by 8.15.

I wanted to tell them how one day

We all ate a watermelon and laughed.

I wanted to tell them how I wept in bed all night once

And struggled hard from hurting myself.

That it wasn't easy to be happy in a family of twelve,

But they were looking at my two sons,

Hopping around like young goats.

Their wrinkled hands, beaten faces and grey eyelashes

Were all too much too real.

SO I swallowed everything,

And smiled a smile of great content.

 

Confessional poems are straight from the heart and talks mainly about the issues that encircles the poet’s life or state of mind. Here the poet wilfully speaks out his/her conflicts and demons with or without the help of a figment of fiction.

Mamta Kalia is a poet from Mathura and writes in both English and Hindi. Her poems revolve around relationship, complexities of her own life, and personal experiences. Her poems portray her life and gives a context to her relationship with other people in her life.

This poem vividly essays the discontent state of a married woman. The married woman acts like the poet’s prop in enlightening the details of poet’s life to the reader.

“After eight years of marriage, the first time I visited my parents” – says how that woman is caged and cultured to be in her marital home. The wings are clipped and the movement is restricted. Nevertheless, she visits and the first question crops up is very emotional. The woman is certainly not happy with this question and tries to bring humour by saying “And I should have laughed at it”. But again, the question doesn’t sit comfortably in her mind leading her to breakdown with tears. The tears only stay in the corner of her soulful eyes. Like her, they have grown a steely spine over the years, not to stream down her cheeks, but only standing and watching the world from distance. The thoughts, however, gathered and she wanted to tell her parents, share her life stories with them.

She skilfully atomizes her state of mind one day at a time. The following lines in the poem will tell you that.

“I was happy one day at 8 o clock.

I was most unhappy by 8.15”

The truth about human mind and its tendency to change according to the environment and external aspects is made clear.

And sometimes, the sorrows were so deep and so damaging that she wept all night. Now this shows how lofty hearted woman are. However unhappy they are, they will not breakdown in front of their loved ones. Only the pillows stand as witness. “I wanted to tell them how I wept in bed all night once”

The married woman is in a joint family where there are cultural distinctions, disparity in world views and values. They are overwhelming for her but she is expected to adapt to this situation and move on with this kind of life. The first time in her parent’s house makes her want to pour down her  feelings, the bottled up emotions,  but she purses her lips, swallows them like a bitter medicine and smiles to avoid springing distress at her parents.

The parents look at the woman’s children who were full of life and rhythm. Like two young goats. The reality dawns on her. She swallows the clouds and pictures a bright, clear sky in front of parents. Seeing her contented smile and her two cherubs, they heave a sigh of relief. The poem pictures a balance of grief and joy, felt in the depth of the woman’s heart. The fluctuating feelings of anxiety, pain, happiness and satisfaction, is what human feels be it in a joint family or a nuclear family. We can hardly say a person is bereft of happiness completely or he/she is bereft of sorrows in life. Extreme happiness is utopian world and, in a way, extreme distress or pain can mean a dystopian view. They both are a state of mind and cannot always, make a home in a person’s mind. So, this married woman in the poem also feels the same thing in her marital life, with spouse, children and her extended family.

However, if we see those last few mines in different light, the poem can mean a disillusioned sense of a society. A poem can also determine a stereotypical frame of mind which existed in distant past and is still in existence, maybe in not a better-ordered world around you, but in hinterlands or a conservative family setup. Taking that cue ahead, let’s delve further. The last few lines give us a picture of parents of the woman smiling in satisfaction after looking at her sons. The parents endorse the stereotype which is the science between happy marriage and children. The bun in the oven signals a happy marriage. And a balm to withering marriage is always a child. Child will rescue two souls and bring life to the dead equation. Somehow society buys this concept and the generations inherited this thought blindly.

 In contrast, a child in an unhappy marriage will never mend the agony but will put an enormous pressure to already burdened woman’s life. And the thought developing in a woman’s mind to escape out of this unhappy marriage will not be welcomed by the society. The questions and opinions like “How can a mother leave out of her marriage and breakdown the family? She should have at least thought about her child” will always cloud her, obstruct her way, pushing her into an abyss where no hands can reach her and would not want to reach to pull her up. This is only a way of gaslighting a woman. A tale woven by unemployed society who cared two hoots to the relationship and mental sanity of a woman. A relationship that is unsalvageable cannot be salvaged by a child. We need to grow out of this distorted worldview and change the narrative. Resolve and mend the relationship before you even strike a conversation of bringing another human into your marriage. Do not put a burden on a child to do that for you.

 

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Richard Cory - Poem Analysis

Richard Cory - Title

We all have been the victims of our own judgements. We wear the green glasses when we peep into other’s fence leading us to dwell on the famous cliché ‘The grass is greener on the other side of the fence’.

We think that the life others are leading is supreme, highly ordered, impeccably designed and to make it worse, we glorify the negatives of our own life. The word ‘Compare’ takes birth along with us. We compare our lives with others. Juxtaposing our life and other’s life, we tend to magnify our negatives. What we don’t have is always glorified, while we underline the positives of others. The grass of my neighbour is always a shade greener than our grass. And we wrap our heads in distress. We suffer. In other words, our judgement makes us suffer.

This poem, adequately rhymed and metered, is all about our judgement. The fallacy of our judgement. The poet includes himself when he states “We people” in the second line. Why? May be because he thinks that he too has judged many in his life. He too has fallen victim to the wrong judgement.

Richard Cory was impeccably dressed man with good cultured disposition. He exuded positivity in his surroundings. He was a man with gentle manners. Edwin Arlington Robinson, an American poet, has augmented the effect of that statement by saying ‘from sole to crown’. What a good use of metonymy here! To enlighten you readers, Metonymy is a figure of speech in which a related term is used in place of the actual word. Example: from cradle to grave. This means from birth to death. It is generally used to give an added flavour to the text.

Richard Cory was very rooted when he talked to others. His air of propriety allured everyone. He never prided on his pomp and glitter. A level headed persona that he was, he did not have any shortage of wealth. The line ‘he was rich – much richer than a king’ vouches for that.

As our shallow thinking pervades us, we start to think that wealth equates happiness, people here too had a similar thought. They thought what does Richard have to worry about as he had everything from good property to rich life. And amid all of these, they cursed their existence. They hated their lifestyle and did not see any worth in slogging from dawn till sundown. They judged a book by its cover literally losing their mind and sanity over it.

And one day Richard Cory after his day’s work, he went to his abode and triggered a bullet. Triggered a bullet and smashed the judgement of each and everyone to pieces. Sadly, people did not realise that Richard too had puffy clouds hanging over his head. The quiet and elusive Cory did change the perspective of the people on that day when the cloudburst happened.

The poem also talks only about his virtues filtering out his vices or maybe Richard Cory was a person who wanted to keep his dark secrets to himself or it also says a lot about a myopic role of our eye. Our eyes always view the glitterati and glam but what lays inside those is overlooked.

Richard Cory suffered deeply from something which was not known to public’s eye. His death dawns on us, signifying mental health is far more important in our life. Everything is secondary. Mental sickness dwells deep.

This poem is so relatable to our circumstances and the world we live in. Especially social media adds fuel to this turmoil. The people who we mindlessly follow, the glitz and glamour of this Instagram society and every whereabouts shared on facebook as well as other platforms, one can easily be trapped like the people in the poem. One can easily make a judgement of a book by its cover. What we do not know is social media is just or even less than 1 percent of one’s reality. A person wearing a red lipstick might have given her unused crib for sale. A person having a picture-perfect Instagram page might be battling with autoimmune condition. A person posting a travel picture might have just served a notice period and is jobless. Social media swallows all of those and gives out an eye candy picture of one’s life as a residue. We should throw out the judgemental lens and be happy with our current life and standing. Every day when we see ourselves in mirror, let’s say it aloud “The grass is green on my side of the fence too”. Because it surely is. Let’s do this and remain stress free in present and the remainder of our life.

Richard Cory is everywhere. Be in corporates, our society where we live, the college corridors or the place where we travel during our vacations. He is everywhere in the form of people we meet. But do not get carried away like the people in the poem. Do not judge their state of mind from the attire they wear and the car they tour on. They might be suffering too. We all do. In different ways.


One more point is let’s not be this Richard Cory who just showcased his positives or glamourous social status to the people around us. Know your circle, build a small community wherein you can share your vulnerabilities and seek help when in the time of need.

I heard yesterday this line “It is time we gather because we are in the verge of losing ourselves”.

Invest in your small circle. Do not fire the bullet.

#PoeticSaturdays

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