WHAT do you subscribe to? Most of us today subscribe to money. We think it is the biggest game-changer. We suck.
Many of us subscribe to life. We want to live long and happy lives with our seniors, children, and grandchildren; the world at our feet. We don’t want to keep suffering and driving ourselves into an early grave or cremated pile of ash long before we are actually dead.
Many of us are romantics and that keeps us young forever. We subscribe to love, even if most times we don’t even recognise it there under our nose! We grow up believing in it, scorning or spurning it. We think it’s there in our lives one moment, the next it’s vanished like a mist or a fog. We wake up every now and again questioning its relevance, wondering whether we even love one another. They say love does not die; it must be killed by neglect or bad treatment. We are busy killing off another’s love for one reason or the other, and then love hardens into indifference or hatred. The truth is, somewhere along the pathways of growing old we get caught up in so many insecurities that we forget how to live, love, and we turn into stone, hurting ourselves and everyone else.
The challenge at all times and all ages is how to stay warm, soft, keeping our life and loves as innocent and true as youth. How do we do it? Valentine’s Day is here and we think about love in a myriad ways, complex and simple. Remember in Hindu lore it is not a day of love but a season, stretching from Vasant Panchmi to Maha-Shivratri (celebrating the marriage of Mahadev and Parvati) and finally to Holi. It’s a fascinating story for springtime which is almost here to beguile the senses. It is worth reading up and imbibing, not as gospel truth of course, just as a magical story of the ages of another time.
It is the perennial springtime of feeling young and in love anew. A time to soften up mind, body, heart, and soul, even those bruised and hardened with years of heartbreak, frustration, desperation or despair. True, we cannot help growing old, but we need not grow old in the worst sense of the word!
Love has always been around. You should feel blessed if you have even a bit of its magic in your life. You probably do! Here’s some more in the reading of poetry. These poems are from a selection edited by Jerry Pinto and Arundhathi Subramaniam – Love Confronting Love Poems. They offer a variety of tones, moods, textures, and approaches. As the authors say, they were chosen “because we like them, because they surprised us and continue to do so, because emotion has not overwhelmed craft. And most importantly because craft has not driven feeling out”.
‘Love Confronting Love’ is an excellent collection of 70 poems, from poets both young and old, writing modern poetry in India. This is a soft cover Penguin booklet priced at `125. You can gift it to your loved ones for an educating and enchanting read this season of spring, love and romance, which comes alive in nature and is reflected no matter we look.
– Tara Narayan
Selected from ‘Love Confronting Love Poems’, a selective anthology by Jerry Pinto and Arundhathi Subramaniam:
A K Ramanujan
Love poems, he says, are not easy to write
Because they’ve all been written before.
Words play dead. The seasons are trite.
Love poems are not easy to write
For anyone present: their lips are sure,
Hearts elsewhere, or just full of spite.
And love poems are not easy to write
For absent ones: can’
T remember any more
The color of their eyes, try as one might.
Love poems are not easy to write
For the dead: after the stint of sorrow,
Ironies of relief, one’s stricken with blight.
Turning over and over tomorrow
And yesterday, day is already night.
Love, unwritten, cataracts his sight.
And even now,
When a dozen years have passed,
Love has nothing to say:
It’s simply the day
Waking beside you, unaware of itself,
The warmth after sleep and sleep’s slow reckoning
Of where it has been:
It’s the day waking with the light
On the two still interwoven figures we
As we drift into sleep, drifting through the night
Towards the foreseen and forgotten morning
When our bodies stir again,
Touched by the sun,
And I lie there waiting for your eyes
To open, two brown pools
That lighten inwards
THE AGEING LOVERS
They move with deference, as being aware
Ach that his body is his, and is the other’s,
And to comfort the other, must be moved with care.
Therefore no recklessness in their win motion
Nor passionate haste to undo the other
Into the youthful luxury of possession.
For in the withering night, under the dimmed stars
That makes them old, they must be one another’s
Restraint against their acknowledged mortal fear.
Therefore no child’s fury of ownership
That argues `Forever’! they are lent one another
Only until their expression close in sleep.
Therefore conduct themselves with ceremony
Of gentleness, embracing one another
Through a darkness of inseparable love and pity.
It shakes their hearts. Therefore even when they are
Most truly the lips and tongues of one another,
They kiss through losses, and they move with care.
C P Surendran
I’d just fought this war and come back
I was minding my own business
And drinking beer.
Then I met this girl
Who wrote poems
On the back
Of paper napkins
Show me your heart.
Don’t have one, I said.
But she said hearts were what made her go.
Finally, I dug up the old, dark thing.
And she said, oh, but this is a grenade.
I told you, I said, and bit the pin.
LOVE AS RESEARCH
E V Ramakrishnan
In the archives of your looks
I study the manuscripts
Of your sideling glances.
The documents of your eloquent
Gestures pile up in my
Study. I subscribe to the bound
Volumes of your serial
Moods. I fumble and misquote
As I learn more and more
About your less and less.
There is no coming to terms
With your ancient scholarship.
Our love was like kiwi fruit
you gave me that I in the kitchen,
the secret sharer, partook.
The same quotidian covering
of plain brown paper as our lives
were then; a humdrum innocence
so deceptive that when you took
a knife to it and split
it into halves, beneath the fuzz
an elsewhere jewel opened up.
Soon, as time ran out, I had
to leave, with a packed suitcase,
a packed heart and one long kiss,
simple in the car.
Now there is only languor
between assignments and the boredom
of expectancy. To this world
turned alien without you
I am a skin, one among many.
Only at night when the knife
of longing pierces me,
and you freeze in the film
of remembered gestures, does it
begin to breathe, this greenness
within me, something soft.
OF THAT LOVE
Of that love, of that mile
walked together in the rain,
only a weariness remains
I am that stranger now
my mirror holds to me;
the moment’s silence
hardly moves across the glass
I pity myself in another’s guise.
And no one’s back here, no one
I can recognize, and from my side
I see nothing. Years have passed
since I sat with you, watching
the sky grow lonelier with cloudlessness,
waiting for your body to make it lived in.