IndulgeThis curious habit of treating you like a lotus as if the muck you keep company of is somehow strategic rather than incriminating. ***
DietBiting into a cold samosa, he asks, Do you narrativise? Half expecting, a rueful assent. The unasked questions buzz around us like mosquitoes. (Is your mind an unreliable narrator? Does it tell itself stories? Does it turn on itself?) No, I tell him, sipping my tea, my cannibal mind is on a diet. ***
Sober packagingBumping past awkward silences yesterday in company The kind that make a loose talker of me I remembered a long ago evening during our early acquaintance You sitting to my right, on your phone Sparsely conversing Evening spread out before us like a giant impressionist painting Companionable our silence Hours we spent subsequently idling, flitting from topic to topic Hours as leisurely and warm as tea Only now with you gone and with me bumping into awkward silences in company I think of asymmetry of want and need of the sometimes sober packaging life chooses for valuable things ***
Goodbye in the first instanceHazy headache of oversleep that envelops without penetrating Bitter rind of sweet lemon Two tragedies to not but also to get what you want Distance is geometry Some lines longer than others some angles sharper Parallel lines leading away close never meeting Casual as the age this discontent Never piercing ***
A week late comeback or Meditations on the anger of women and the defensiveness of menI Our next topic will be feminism, the professor says, to a class of about sixty, engineering boys, mostly; I take a fortifying breath. ~ A single woman, the older she gets, becomes more of a fortress, I had read in an interview of a poet you do not think much of. (As much as you think of poetry, at all.) Are the words ‘passive aggressiveness’ flashing in your head? The words constitutive and aesthetic distance keep echoing in mine. ~ Is my ideological inclination (values, principles, believes) constitutive of me? Or like a handbag, can I keep it aside while I listen to you dismiss its tenets with a smile? ~ SB is of the opinion that intractableness of principle (even a noble principle or especially a noble principle) is not praiseworthy. On the contrary, it could be rather detrimental to the intended beneficiaries. (These activist types, he says, doing damage, inadvertently.) ~ You are curious, you say, open to good arguments; aesthetically distant from ideology. If civilised distance is clarity or a marker of certain objective receptivity, then what does blinding passion say about me? ~ Pfft, women say, at men’s rights, you had said. Pfft, at the mere mentioning of the fact that men also get the brunt end. (Unemployed men, incompetent men; not forgiven of what is forgiven to women) Why aren’t these men in the same bracket of helplessness? At least, it is fashionable to speak up for women. Pfft is all men get, you had said. ~ What occurred to me – as in the way of good comebacks – quite late was pfft was all women got for decades and decades, centuries, rather. Pfft, when they said, they wanted to participate. Pfft, when they said, they were competent. Pfft, at every turn, at every stage. Pfft, even now, at almost every step. ~ That night (because that’s the tone we have set) we acknowledged that the same system was ruining the happiness of both the sexes. Why are then only women calling out its injustices? Men are personally affected by it you admit but not enough to do something irrespective of the pfft thrown at their face? ~ What do you think would happen if men refused to bear financial burdens, that are unfairly their obligation, always? Take up nursing instead of engineering maybe, if they were so swayed. What do you think would happen if men stood up for themselves? ~ Among many things Freire got right, one: he said, it is the oppressed that have to do it, nobody else can save them. Women already have too much on their plates, without having to handhold men, as well. What do women owe men, anyway? II I see you, young and sharp, thankfully kind too, in many ways. I see you and I don’t know how to articulate (even to myself, for that matter) the conflict between affection and differing ideological tastes; both, very much present. ~ SB will be happy to know, however convoluted, the existence of the spaces for engagement. ~ I wonder, what do you think about on hot mid-March days? *** Carol D’Souza is a research scholar and an avid reader.
Read more poetry on Bengaluru Review : ‘And we smelt like guavas’ : Five poems by Nilim Kumar ‘I am a footstep on the slippery road’ : Five poems by Sameer Tanti ‘You may see the city slowing down’ : Five poems by Malcolm Carvalho