10 September 2011

A love note on eternal Tuesdays and recurrent Julys

I think it was Pablo Neruda who said that the saddest lines begin with the words ‘if only’. Come to think of it other people, poets and philosophers included, must have figured this out long before Neruda did; it’s just that I remember reading a poem by Neruda which makes mention of this truism. 

It is not just about love, though.  Human beings are frail creatures.  Burdened by ignorance and arrogance they blunder along wounding and getting scarred, with and without intention.  One might think this is as it should be considering the enormity of the collective ignorance of our species compared to the miniscule dust-speck of what we do know or, to be more precise, think we know. 

I believe though that species-ignorance in its voluminous all is not what makes us walk into trap, run at breakneck speed to breast a gummed-tape rolled in glass-shard.  Sometimes it is the truth that hurts us the most. We walk into knife not because we believe it s heart or petal but precisely because we know it is iron-made and sharp. No, not to satisfy some masochistic urge, but rather out of a deadly blend of arrogance and innocence, blind faith in knife-holder and the unshaken belief that a resolute heart will stand the test of the sharpest instruments of torture and death.


I remember an evening in the year 1971.  Navarangahala. It was the ‘interval’ during a performance of Sinhabahu. My father was explaining the story to my brother and I, 6 and 5 respectively.   I am not sure if he told the entire story right then or just what had happened up to that point.  Maybe he did a post-play recap for our benefit.  I do remember one thing.  He spoke about the Lion. He said that the Lion, upon recognizing his son, felt only love.  He said that this is why the arrow could not find its mark, did not pierce skin and kill.  He said that at that point love was replaced by anger and this was what thinned that shield, if you will (I am using this-age words and not the words I heard almost 40 years ago).  Maybe I got it all wrong.  I like the story though.

We might be dead wrong in believing that the knife-holder would not knife, intentionally or unintentionally; but if we are of resolute heart, full of love, no knife however sharp or however deep into breast it is thrust can take away life.  There are things that are more death-resistant than others. Like hearts. Not all hearts, no. Some.  Those that have resolved to accept that loving is made of giving and that a price is often exacted for the related bliss.  They are made for knifing.  Not just once, but many times.  Their hearts, as Faiz Ahmed Faiz once observed in an Urdu verse, having to know knife after knife after knife, cannot pause for grieving. 

On the ‘this side’ of that rarified land called Happily Ever After which is the least populated place on earth, there is a community of insane people who are fluent in the ways of the heart.  The clarity of their love is of a transparency that they can walk across the national boundaries that separate the sane and insane, without visa, without detection.  They do not transgress for their universes are unbounded.  They do not break rule for a heart that is ruled is not heart but mind. 

And so they err in the eyes of the world and the beloved, who even if he/she is as insane in the sanity of love and loving is as given to wandering in blind banishment.  They graze on lands made of words and silences, these heart-lost, mindless creatures whose life-breath is made of presence and waiting.  They share this earth with rule-preferred creatures who knowingly and unknowingly see and mis-see, say and slay. Slay, yes, but not heart, just togetherness. And they go as deigned by fractured orbit and un-fuelled drive, but nevertheless undaunted, convinced of another embrace, a second chance, a third, a fourth and so on. They do no feel knife because they are convinced that some encounters are embraces and some not and that certain embraces are dew-made pacts that are coated with a grace that makes it impossible to sleep and, sadly perhaps, impossible to die. Ever again.   

And so it is that some among us speak of eternal Tuesdays and endless Junes (or other days and months as preferred or decreed). They speak of recollection, vague and indelible, of lime slice and bitter lemon, words that are not found in the thesaurus, of capitulation and kneeling, penitence and the waiting for the executioner’s sword to severe head from body just so that heart will not be clouded by reason ever again.  They talk of things mis-named that bring misery and distance, abandonment and torture and yet are prompted to smile the smile of those sentenced to life imprisonment on account of heart-surrender. They speak of Tuesdays in week-less existences and Junes that did not break off from a tender May or bled into a tragic July but remained in a manner that wrecked calendars and calendarizing for all time. 

What is knife for those destined never to sleep again?  Nothing, absolutely nothing.  Just a pricking-instrument thrust again and again not to kill (because this is not possible) but to convince knifer that heart is too tender to be sent through paper-shredder and mind. 

They know all about ‘if only’. They know that it is just two words that have no meaning except in the commerce of the sane, those of the 10 year plan and the slicing of lifetime on the chopping board of reason.  They know time will not pass.  They just wait. Bathed in tears and love. 

Courtesy: Daily News - 1 October, 2010
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1 comments:

Anonymous said...

'If Only are indeed the saddest two words...' it would be good to have some heart.