Desultory

Must slip into
The realm of slumber
I am not tough enough
To stay awake
And face your wrath.

The vacuous stares
Hidden beneath your eyes
Unleashed again
To send the ripples
Of nothingness
Through my desultory being.
Every word not enunciated
Thrusts me more
Towards my demise.
And yet the words evade
Putting me in sleep
Letting me forget
To discern the life from death.

coup de grâce

I was born on the day God died,
The vagrant boyhood of mine
Wandered through the streets
Looking at the dilapidated shrine
Where the idol was no more
Only anarchy reigned.

My adolescence whisked past me
Compelling the lost soul
To enter the lascivious world of
Agony, disdain and growl.
Looting the meagre wealth
Left in the arid world,
With sighs captivated inside
And tears that never fall
I saw my reflections
Running behind the curtain,
The demise was long due,
And the course was certain.

Looking back to the invisible: Remembering Ralph Ellison

Ralph_Ellison_photo_portrait_seatedI read ‘Invisible man‘ a couple of years back and what I strictly remember about the my encounter was my serendipity to find a distinct voice contemporaneous to the two American masters: Faulkner and Fitzgerald that I found more relatable.

My earlier venture into the world of ‘American literature’ conferred me the role of a rather distant viewer. The kinship I felt for Whitman or later T. S. Eliot did not transpire when I endeavoured in the world of novels.  It was impossible for me to place myself in the shoes of any characters of Yoknapatawpha and though I appreciated the southern Gothic voice, got mesmerized by the tremor of ‘The sound and the fury‘, felt unlayered by ‘Absalom! Absalom!‘, I never felt that I remained there, inside the story. The characters of Faulkner never became a part of me whom I may approach in a time of my personal crisis. True, the same thing cannot be said about Fitzgerald and his magnum opus. The rootless ethic bankruptcy of certain J. Gatsby or Nick Carraway moved me quite a lot, but the internalization of their tales never took place, partially because the cultural, socio-political, geographical distance between my space-time and theirs were irrevocable, partially because their novels were meant to remain of a period and never desired to be transpired as universal. And hence, whenever I embarked on a great American novel, be it by Toni Morrison or Philip Roth or Alice Walker or anyone else, I felt somewhat of a veneration that made me stand aside and watch them with the eyes of a casual onlooker rather than an involved absorbed admirer.

All that changed with ‘Invisible man’. There was an air of  something else in that novel, something that I never encountered in the works of any of the American novelists. First I felt that it was the Dostoevskian tone of the novel that is ruffling me to this extent. The underlying similarity with Dostoevsky’s celebrated work ‘Notes from the underground’ was obvious. But it was not merely that, for even Fitzgerald has a certain Dostoevskian tone in his craft.  What made me want to stand in the shoes of the protagonist was not his colour or his past or his rootless rambling through the dingy streets of Harlem marginalized in the vast metropolis; rather it was  oozing of experience of walking the boundary of shadow and luminance and then choosing darkness over the fake light. How the protagonist remained invisible in the eyes of his beholders, how he failed to register as a person and remained but the representative of a myriad whom his beholders seen yet never seen, is a story that is universal. How many of our lives are entangled in this same drudgery of being tagged, named, identified as a representative of a creed or a race. How many of the individuals die inside these shells that society and hegemony bestows upon us in the alias of various identities that do not represent us at all. But the society is never about the identities representing the individuals, it is about the individuals representing different identities. And after almost a century of Ellison’s time, this still holds true almost universally. And hence, the novel remains more of a reflection than a remembrance of a time past.

 

Constellation

I wonder how beautiful
The misery and sufferings
Might look from galaxies away.

I used to observe
The mounds of
Ceaseless fire burning bright
And see nothing but dots
Of serene snowy light
Arranged with artistry.
I use to praise
The magnanimity of the universe
That never pitied
My insignificance;
That never pay heed to
Our excruciation.

Now I have an altered vision
Looking above at night
I only see now
The dark empty space surrounding us,
Waiting in vain
To engulf.
And a few twinkle of
Luminescence gleaming coyly
To allure me.

I look away and move on
Knowing that I will prevail
For my agonies would
Never let me melt away.

 

Condescension

Through the darkness of reverie
I lookout and see
Millions scrolling beneath me
Creeping under the burden
Of servitude to their
Ultimate master: uniformity.

I lay awake
Not engulfed, not pertained
Out of the eternal circle of conformity
Excluded like a renegade.

Nobody cast me away
Nobody flinched at my presence
Nobody dared to look at my eyes
And command me to depart.

It was I who chose
To inflict the banishment
From the cycle;
And to rest at the zenith
Watching the miserable
Lesser beings crawling underneath
And take the sigh of relief
For I fended the lust
To belong.

A casuistry

I taught myself to be in order
Stand in the line,
Wait for my turn
To watch the world burn
And keep my mouth shut.

They had offered me gold
They had offered me all the treasures
That could buy everyman’s dream
Though I still wonder
If I got enough
Treading my soul
Against the riches of the world.

I stopped believing that you were there
That once I laid my eyes on you
And started believing in the impossible.

Impossible is dead;
Inevitable and inevitability are
The new rulers of my world.
I don’t care if you had survived
All the ordeals that had compelled me
To be shattered;
I don’t care if you still exist
For I had chastened my wild heart
And learnt to be dictated.