rain, rain I must be really parched scorched and barren even more than the earth to welcome rapturously your advent heralded by proper ceremony of dark, overbearing clouds lightning and thunder-claps or unannounced with temperamental outbursts your cool spray on my temples through the window the sound of your caress on the mildly protesting panes and whispers coaxing the leaves to submission and the intoxicating aroma of aroused passion rising from the earth diffuse into my being and stir to life my deadened hopes in humility I feel wrapped with visions of your power infusing life or destroying it as you reign unrelentingly moodily bestowing your favours tenderly in a compassionate shower here or lashing in devastating fury there germinating now or uprooting impetuously, inexorably in a stupendous act of inclement copulation urgent, hysterical insatiate and overwhelming demanding nothing less than total surrender and even as you depart leaving the earth ravaged and ravished and fecund in pain it pines and thirsts as I do as I lie on my bed by the window crippled, wasted, discarded, empty
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, a play by Tennessee Williams adapted for film in 1958 and again in 1984, was one of the earliest cinematic productions of Williams' work. The 1958 film, directed by Richard Brooks, starred Paul Newman; Elizabeth Taylor as Maggie the Cat; and Burl Ives. It was nominated for six Oscars.
As much as the original play was recognised in the theatre, the film was a great entry into the popular imagination for Tennessee Williams. It was very polished, even though it was hard for people to appreciate Williams. He was always enigmatic, difficult to understand: almost, given the period of his creative years, bordering on mild to extreme perversion; or else misunderstood.
For more information and a plot summary, see Wikipedia.
The American Consulate in Chennai had a regular program on book discussion, where the learned heads of teaching institutions, and writers, were invited. It amused me that at the end of a discussion of Tennessee Williams' work which I headed, several of these gathered around me with curious questions: How did I know Tennessee Williams so well, when others hardly understood him? Had I met him personally? I replied that not only had I not met him but honestly, I had not even read the book, except for the text on the cover and a couple of random paragraphs.
The day furls even as it unfurls, the hours of light pass
into the depths of darkness. The same familiar cycle forever and yet often the
heart craves and the mind yearns for lasting light, for arrivals divorced from
departure, for life free of death... as if such were even possible.
But if conscious life must live, it can only do so by
denying all consciousness of reality.
And the image brings to mind an old song by Jaan Nisar
Akhtar, Javed Akhtar's father, :
Actually not one but several conversations are happening here.
diminutive adult who may have been a helper or attendant at an earlier
point and could be conversing with his memories of those "better" days
which actually may have been hard days of toil for him but considering
the ravages of time on the building and his own life, the present must
seem far more unbearable.
And then theres the
gnarled knotted tree bent but not broken and still visited by spring.
conversing with itself and with the walls that will never be revisited
by old glory.
And the doors windows pillars passages conversing together in a perennial assembly of mourning.
And the light outside and the dark shadows within, they may be conversing too.
To say nothing of the embedded traces of lives that have lived loved lost within these premises.
A baby, fallen from the nest, frightened of everything; even gentle, fond protection, trembling so much that friendly caring became cruel. Our efforts to feed nuts, and anything other than that, all were suspect. Touching it, not touching it, all failed to reassure it that we wanted to be friendly and play with it. Nothing worked until we let it escape, even as we feared that it would become instant prey.
How scared it looks of the unfamiliar protection that is being proffered.
brings to my terribly troubled mind's eye the millions of refugee
infants and children who find themselves at the receiving end of
conflicts they have no conception or comprehension of and ejected and
evicted from the familiar environs of their short life they have only
fear and mistrust of the entire human world.
In Man's history of war, peace, greed and lust for territory and whatever goes with it, a time always comes when the cause and reasoning are not only challenged, but all factual veracity is wiped out. Human tragedy in political and other arenas that he both suffers and inflicts, ceases to be within reach of comprehension, and, irony of ironies, if solutions are reached, their being right or wrong is not only ignored, but becomes meaningless.
What then, one can pertinently ask, Is History? A bunch of variable lies.
Photo-collage by me, using broken glass image by Amarjeet Singh Nagi for India Today.
This haunting song (see the video and English translation below), with music by Khayyam and lyrics by Kaifi Azmi, is considered to be one of Mohammed Rafi's best. To recover from the melancholy of it takes longer than one usually expects. Rafi's selection of a high octave from the start, as opposed to starting at a lower pitch and gradually reaching a climax of hopelessness, was a novel experiment. It was close to Kaifi Azmi and Rafi's hearts.
jaane kyaa dhoondhti rahti hain ye aankhen mujhmein
raakh ke dher mein sholaa hai na chingaari hai jaane kyaa dhoondhti rahti hain ye aankhen mujhmein raakh ke dher mein sholaa hai na chingaari hai
ab na wo pyaar na us pyaar ki yaadein baaki aag yoon dil mein lagi kuchh na rahaa kuchh na bachaa jiski tasveer nigaahon mein liye baithi ho main wo dildaar nahin uski hoon khaamosh chitaa jaane kyaa dhoondhti rahti hain ye aankhen mujhmein raakh ke dher mein sholaa hai na chingaari hai
zindagi hans ke guzarti to bahut achchhaa thaa khair hans ke na sahi ro ke guzar jaayegi raakh barbaad muhabbat ki bachaa rakhi hain raakh barbaad muhabbat ki bachaa rakhi hain baar-baar isko jo chhedaa to bikhar jaayegi jaane kyaa dhoondhti rahti hain ye aankhen mujhmein raakh ke dher mein sholaa hai na chingaari hai
aarzoo jurm wafaa jurm tamannaa hai gunaah ye wo duniyaa hai jahaan pyaar nahin ho saktaa kaise baazaar kaa dastoor tumhen samjhaaun bik gayaa jo wo khareedaar nahin ho saktaa bik gayaa jo wo khareedaar nahin ho saktaa jaane kyaa dhoondhti rahti hain ye aankhen mujhmein raakh ke dher mein sholaa hai na chingaari hai jaane kyaa dhoondhti rahti hain ye aankhen mujhmein raakh ke dher mein sholaa hai na chingaari hai
I do not know what your eyes keep seeking in me In this pile of ash There is no spark There is no ember There is no love now Nor memories of it The fire that devastated my heart Nothing of it was left Nothing was saved The image you have in your eyes I am not that lover But his quiet pyre It would be good if this life passed joyfully But that is not to be It will pass in sorrow I have saved the ashes of my devastated love They will scatter away If you nudge them again and again Desire is a crime, Love is a crime Yearning for love is a sin In this world there can be no love How should I explain the rules of the bazaar One who has sold his soul Cannot pretend to be the buyer
The year was 1968, give or take one, and Sholavaram held its first, perhaps India's first, international car-racing event. Madhavi, you were about six-eight years old? Your parents, Mukund and Geeta, and some friends, I don't know how, succeeded in forcing me to go with them to see the races. Having zero if not minus interest in the zoom-zoooom-zzrrrooom proceedings, where I could not even zzzzzzz, I spend my most of my time looking at people. I was timid about taking photographs without permission, so I mostly took pictures within the group where I was a reluctant participant. I think I remember your name, Madhavi? Having already taken some of your wide-eyed pictures, I got this one, and have prized it.
Like passengers in a railway compartment or at a station, where culturally and linguistically different, divergent people meet and part, our lives also peeled away.
I have several pictures of your mother Geeta, and your grandfather, Pratap Rai Mehta, both in my collection and posted on my blog, as well as a couple of yours. I saw your mother, father and your brand-new (to me) brother last in 1995, at my one-man show sponsored by the US Consulate at Bangalore, but learned very little about you. I wanted to know about you, and more, but in the crowded hall, except for pleasantries, nothing much could be exchanged.
By chance, if you recognise this picture, me or my name, contact me: I am very eager to know about what happened, and is happening, to you. You must be in your early 50s by now; a mother perhaps, and why not also, maybe, a grandmother. I hope very much that life has not wearied you, and that you have still not lost your wide-eyed curiosity.
Vanishing appears to me to be ice eggs nestling in a complex hydrological womb.
soothing to the eye but almost ominous to consciousness because all our
pretensions notwithstanding, we are most certainly melting down with
the planet and faster than we would like to acknowledge.
whether or not time withers you before you perish, all animated life, its renewal, rejuvenation, reproduction, which has continued for countless centuries is counting down to the end of survival in any form