Friday, June 19, 2009

I sing the going home song





I sing the going home song--a translation of Gautam Chattopadhyay's (Mohine-r Ghoragulir) famous song Ami Gai Ghore Ferar Gaan
by Barnali Saha

I sing the going home song

My distressed soul calls me incessantly, asks me

Despite being miles afar

Why, why the bond is still so strong?

Thus my indefatigable body

Peregrinates day and night

Startled, I stop short

I think I hear that same old tune from somewhere

Rusty, yet scintillating in my mind

I cannot go back if I want

I have traversed countries and eons

Untraveled roads still lie ahead of me

Roads that cannot be tricked for sure

I wish I could go back to that village

To that shady bower of the Bunyan tree once more

That same old creek

The soft murmur of the breeze

Can you bid adeu to the to the grim and gay memories lying in the crevasses of your heart

Many a times I search for the lost country

I know there is no ending

The mirage flashes a thousand vague dreams

I cannot return to the idyllic childhood anymore, the road has vanished, the land is lost

I cannot go back if I want

I have traversed countries and eons

Untraveled roads still lie ahead of me

Roads that cannot be tricked for sure









Gautam Chattopadhyay is an iconic figure in the history of modern Bengali Music. He was perhaps the first Bengali singer and musician who begot the contemporary Bengali Band culture. Gautam Chatterjee founded Mohiner Ghoraguli in the 1970's when Bengali music was facing a sudden hiatus due to commercial film music taking over the market. Gautam's approach to the musically vacuum situation was new and creative. With Mohiner Ghoraghuli's advent we encountered a new genre of musical overture. Chattopadyay broke once in for all the contemporary notions of music and started singing and writing songs that have a more realistic, everyday value. Much like Wordsworth's poetry which is dedicated to nature and to common people, Gautam Chattopadhyay's songs ushered in a new movement in Bengali music where everyday life became an indelible part. Devoid of flashy rhetoric or any kind of ostentation, Gautam Chattopadyay's songs were fresh and close to the heart. The Jibonmukhi Movement, of which Gautam Chattopadhyay was an active proponent, opened a whole new world for listeners in Bengal and elsewhere. The modernization of Bengali music was once an improbability but with Chattopadyay's masterful melody the once vague dream now materialized. His compositions were an amalgamation of Baul , Jazz with a dash of English jargon to top it all. The subjects of the songs included unorthodox dealings of myriad themes ranging from poverty to politics, prostitution to love. The mentor's strong political and radical views were reflected in the music he and his group composed. Mohiner Ghoraguli borrowed certain tunes and tones from Western Classical music and for the first time used instruments like saxophone, guitar and drums in Bengali music thus proving to the audience than any kind of music can be played accompanied with only a guitar. But Mohiner Ghoraghuli failed to find its path to glory in the turbulent era of the 1960's and 1970's. The people found Gautam's modern renditions lackadaisical and fuzzy. Thus, the group disintegrated in 1981, and with time their innovative music, creative talent and new instrumental techniques became nebulous. However, the stir created by the experimental music of Gautam Chattopadyay introduced nearly two decades later new musicians like Kabir Suman, Anjan Dutta, Nachiketa and others who metamorphosed the singing traditions of Bengali Music. With them the Jibon Mukhi Movement reached its zenith of popularity. The seeds that once Gautam Chattopadyay sowed through his fascinating musical talent now became a part and parcel of Bangali music. Gautam Chattopadhyay revived his music in the late 1990's with the release of a new album, Abar Bachar kuri Pore ("Again, After Twenty Years", a quotation from Jibonanondo Das), the album critically compiled a series of fantastic songs. His musical group was now rejuvenated with young talents. The fascinating lyrics of some of Mohiner Ghoraguli's songs are sure to strike the chords. The song Television which declares in blatant colloquial language the effects of technology on Man will surely make you think over it. Mohiner Ghoraguli won its deserved accolade this time and it glued more and more listeners to its melodious notes. And Gautam Chattopadhyay played on. A series of new albums came into the 90's market thus revolutionizing the genre. Following the zeitgeist other artists and bands also came into existence. But a serious blow came with Gautam Chattopadhyay's demise in 1999; the Bob Dylan of Calcutta left his followers in a silent cradle. But the music he created continued to live on through Mohiner Ghoraguli's newer renditions and through innovations in Bengali music.

Kolkata mourned the death of the musical legend through the album Moni Chara Sunno Lage (We are lonely without Moni) Moni was Gautam Chattopadhyay's nickname and indeed he was the "Mani," the jewel, of Bengali Music.

On his death anniversary, let us take a moment and think about Mani. Let us close our eyes and sing with him, "I sing the going home song ..."


picture by Barnali Saha.

Gautam Chattopadhyay's picture is from Wikipedia

Dear God, A Translation of Amitava Nag's Hey Ishwar


Picture by Barnali Saha



Hey Ishwar by Amitava Nag
---------

Mati ekhon bali hoye jaay, dekho
Manusher kannar o seema tana thakey ,
Aar paaR bhangtey thakey -- tumi
Tokhono mepe nao jholmoley alo aar bypass er hawa
Hey Ishwar,
Ekbarer jonyo amar sathey paltey nao
Santir odhikar ||


Dear God, A Translation of Amitava Nag's Hey Ishwar

When mud is distorted to sand, see
Human sorrow is also unveiled
Breaking the bounds—you
Then consider the flickering bypass lights and soft murmuring breeze
Dear God,
For once transform with me
The right to peace.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Great Poem by Lawrence Raab


The Great Poem

by Lawrence Raab


The great poem is always possible.
Think of Keats and his odes.
But we shouldn't have to be dying,

What I'm writing now is not
the great poem. After a few lines
I could tell. It may not even be

a particularly good poem, although
it's too early to decide about that.
Keep going, I say. See what happens.

But trying hard is one of the problems.
since it shows in the lines as a strain
or struggle that reminds the reader

too much of the writer, whereas
most readers want to listen alone.
The great poem, I think, will arrive

when I no longer care. Perhaps
I'll have abandoned art altogether,
and I won't even want to write

the poem down. But then I'll remember
what I once would have given
for this moment, and I'll go back

to my desk. And I'll write the poem
as though I were another person,
someone I will never be again.

The forgotten tears

The forgotten tears




In the gelid path of democracy

Her spirit stood in awe

With eyes open and mouth agape

She remembered the lovelorn dawn

She toiled in day and night

The lash burns still scorch

From desuetude her emotions rot

From pain her tears drop

She cried silently as she toiled

She hoped the sun would rise

Brick by brick she built the monument high

Her black skin washed the castle white

Her blood dropped constantly along with her silent tears

stained the green grass red with her old. negro fears

The pellucid jargon yielded high ambitions

Dreams she began to sow

Her superfluous expressions, her pleonasms

were never understood.

She suddenly died on one day and then her spirit awoke

She thought a mere reverie that her body was wought in smoke

She ran in that castle high across the high walled rooms

She heard the sussurations of workers inside

she reached to them and tried to talk but they never could listen

Their thin hands, black torsos silently worked on

A few white men kicked them hard and denied their daily bread

She saw them working without exhaustion, she saw them working in dream

She ushered them to the world beyond but no body listened to her

Soon the tale got over fast, thousands died in hate

The white hearts donned rich black blood and threw their carcasses away.

All the spirits reached heaven and prayed to the mighty high

And then they saw this happy dawn a fulfillment of their dreams

A man like them in that castle stand

Talk about the hopeful days that would come

The spirits gather one by one and sing their dreamy song

Now they know oppression is over and here comes a fresh new morn

Black and white, yellow and green all colors mix in this tune

Heaven conspired to make this song a fairy tale that came true

The spirits now smile and cry as they see the man march down

They once washed the castle white with tears and now their smiles turn it brown.

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Barnali Saha (Banerjee)
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All Rights Reserved


All Articles by Barnali Saha are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative
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Remembering Suzie


Remembering Suzie
by Barnali Saha

(Article Publishe din Many Midnights Magazine:http://www.geocities.com/many_midnights/story_11.htm?200926%3E%3Chr%3E%3Cbr%3E%20%3Cfont%20size=)

"The word pity has more earthly connotations that you think it has, but when self-pity comes into the scene, you are dead." These were Suzie's words, Suzy, my wife, she is dead now. They found her in her dressing room this morning, enveloped in a pool of thick red blood floating from her wrist, which she had slit open with her little pocket- knife. There was hair all over the room; balls and threads of her pigmented filaments were like russet toppings on her molten cherry blood. She wasn’t wearing her wig today, she always wore that; it was a part of her like her limbs.

Suzie was an actress, not a famous one, yet a known name in the local daily soap industry. I always thought she had great potential as an artist; she was a full package—beautiful, voluptuous, with thick black eyelids and a pair of crispy blue eyes like the ocean. She was a great actor too, a natural, always into her role, always serious with every script she was given. May be she took them a little more personally than she should have. I still remember he role as Becky, a neurotic woman in Daily Lies, who lost her husband to another woman. Suzie had received some kind of Critic’s Choice award for that role. I can recall her lines in a monologue, “A fresh cover of snow has enveloped the sordid emotions of the earth with its virgin veil, and I wait for the snow to cover me, my unfulfilled desires.” They had focused the camera on her face after the dialogue, painful tears were welling the corners of her deep ocean blues; there was so much pain in them, pain that no anodyne with its analgesic power could embalm. I had asked Suzie about that when she returned from the set that day, but she was as eluding in her reply as ever, “Don’t worry Bob,” she had replied, “I am into serious acting and you know that.”

I never fully understood Susan, she was my wife, but there was another side of Suzie that I never came to know, a side that she would always mask, probably with her wig. I thought it was a Sisyphean task on my part too to have even thought of discovering her; she was a mysterious lady like Keats’s maiden in La Belle Dame Sans Merci, a woman who was always a part of my life for over seven years but whom I scarcely knew. I began feeling the entropy of energy as the years passed by, and I had more important things to do, a business, for example, to handle, than to think about discovering my wife. In most evenings, when she would not be working, I would find her locked up in her room, sobbing relentlessly or sleeping in the dark. She suffered from pangs of depression from time to time. We went to a doctor who said that the condition was curable and that Suzie would need a baby do the miracle. But sadly, before the plan could work out, she decided to kill herself; she never thought about me. I guess I am talking too much and I cannot help it. The house is so cold and empty; I can feel the stillness in the wooden floors, in the checkered tiles of the kitchen, in the sheer white curtains lifted by the wind. I locked Suzie’s room upstairs, I wanted to sleep in her room tonight to allay my initial pain but the room was unbearable, I felt claustrophobic inside it; there was hair everywhere, in every square inch of her room. I was sick for a moment.

It is midnight; the church clock just announced the dead hour with its loud bangs. I am on my bed, remembering Suzie. The pillow is wet already and I am cold. The coiling darkness in my room is slit by a streak of pale moonlight coming through the glass window on my right. I touch Suzie’s pillow, the warm pink color still smells like her. I turn my torso and press her pillow on my chest and try to sleep. Something brushes on my nose, I open my eyes, and it is Suzie’s hair— a strand of her hair, which she might have plucked from her head before killing herself this morning. In the darkness, I lay still in anticipation of something supernatural, like another hair. I lay still; another hour walks by me, still nothing.

I unlock Suzie’s room; I had just heard a noise, I switch on the light. The room is now a chiaroscuro of an unknown artist. I scan the room; there is an outline of Suzie’s body on the ground made by the police with a chalk or something. The maroon sheet on the bed is folded in creases by some tumultuous soul. The closet is locked and the wooden dressing table is in usual order except that there are Suzie’s hand prints on the otherwise shinning mirror. I can see the lines of her hand in those prints. I stare at them for sometime then decide to leave; the stillness is unbearable. I switch off the light, walk outside and as I am about to close the door I see something. I drag the door and peek through a small opening. I guess that is Suzie, but she is nebulous now, almost pale and shadowy like the moonlight. I rub my eyes stare at it agape. Suzie is lying on her creased bed plucking her hair like tea leaves; one, two and then pulls out a bunch of them; she couldn’t see me, she is too busy. She plucks her hair, smells it and then throws them on the ground; she rubs her hand on her balding scalp with small outcrops of hair here and there in search of long strands. She finds nothing in the right side, her hand reaches the back of her head, some strands are still remaining there, there is a smile on her lips, a cold smile in the parched corners of her mouth, and she waves her body, as if swinging to her blues. Suzie tears away the hair and rubs them gently on her gray cheeks, and then she licks them like a sumptuous meal. I cannot see anymore, I feel I am dying, my lids are getting heavy—I slam the door and rush downstairs to my room. I thump my body on my brown lazy boy chair and try to gather my senses, but even as I do so I can see Suzie’s desperation, the bald patches and small hairy outgrowth which she hid with her blonde wig, her despondence and her tenuous carcass still plucking her hair. The night is so long I need some respite, I touch my head, and there are heavy curls everywhere, and I pluck at one strand. Ouch!! It hurts. I am now holding a strand of my curly hair, I feel good, and I feel like Suzie.

Addiction

Addiction
by Barnali Saha


(Article Published in Many Midnights:http://www.geocities.com/many_midnights/story_10.htm?200931%3E%3C/ul%3E%3Cbr%3E%3Cbr%3E%3Cfont%20size=)

The strange condition still lingers in me like the frail tunes of the jukebox in the bar where I am sitting right now. I feel it has been a part of me when I was born, stretching my whole being in the rack of my mental ambivalence that wanted to disregard the potential influence of my addiction on my life. It is like those outdated rituals that people follow without even knowing why they do so. I think I have a different personality dwelling inside me, sometime talking to me when I am alone. I could listen to its voice--warm, yellow like that barmaid's blouse.

I have heard a lot of them saying that I want to kill myself----but why would I do that? I think these people are an outrageous band of intolerant folks who cannot acknowledge the dark side of humanity.

It is cloudy outside; a branch of an elm tree is bending like the rainbow. The jukebox is louder now. They are playing a hip- hop song. The barmaid is laughing behind the stand, her curly hair falling softly on her half bare brown shoulder. Her yellow blouse is too tight for her--maybe she is trying to look a little thin and hide those muffin- top bulges by wearing a smaller dress size. I light another cigarette, and blow a ring of thin, nebulous smoke to the ceiling. The smoke is slowly rising and then vanishing atop.

I look out the window beside me. The glass is stained and dirty, and blurred. I see a woman in a red coat carrying a rattan gift basket with a pink ribbon on it. I wanted to see what is inside the basket. It is one of those simple, small baskets you get on a discount after a such and such day. The woman slides her hand into the pocket; she is searching for something, and then she brings it out and looks around. I wonder if she could see me; she then unwraps her scarf and carefully ties it around her neck. The tail of the pink ribbon in her basket is shaking in the soft breeze like that one brown leaf on the grass, trembling like a coy mistress at the gentle touch of the wind. The woman looks at me for a second as she crosses the street; it is a cold stare like that of a dead dog.

I turn and face my cigarette; the tip has accumulated a long, thin residuum of ash. I shake the cigarette and the ash breaks into a loose powdery substance and falls on the white, porcelain plate, which I am using as my ashtray. I puff at the cigarette and blow another ring of smoke; it is like the billowing smoke of a chimney. The smoke is a solid substance, tangible and sticky. It is covering my gut, my lungs, and my heart with thick, gray soot. Everywhere I look, I see the dirt and dust. I see it in the lock of the barmaid's curly hair, gleaming in the light of the lantern hanging from the low ceiling. I see soot on the fiddling hands of the man sitting at the bar, grabbing the mug full of frothy beer gleaming in the seemingly dark light, and I wonder how it is going to taste. I puff the cigarette butt and blow the final smokes into the air. I reach for my pockets again and I find something inside them. I pull out my hand and put in the other pocket, this pocket is fluffy with stuffing. I bring out the cigarette papers and the brown, crumbled tobacco leaves, smelling like morning coffee, and then I bring out the magic spice. Soon, it is ready; I puff at it--I am not hungry any more, I am feeling like some ethereal being, like a feather--light and soft. I rise up from my bench and decide to leave the bar. The barmaid didn't wish me good night today; I pushed the small glass door, the bell didn't chime like everyday.

The half-decayed street is lonesome again, except for the blurry- eyed lamp posts there were no mortal beings around. A crushed Coke can is lying on the sidewalk; I kick it hard. The street is a lonely devil-- my permanent sojourn; but I seem to be lost today. I cannot find my shadow, have I left it in the bar? I turn back and see nothing, I slide my hands into my left pocket, a half dead cigarette is waiting to be puffed; I bring it out, light it, and walk on. I am ambling down the ordinary street, I am in no hurry. I was walking down this street earlier this evening when something exploded in me, it was a deafening crash. The collision left my vision blurred-- am I getting blind or something? I have this innate fear of losing my sight, I don’t know how I gathered it, but it has always been there. I now take the road that turns off at the highway; I puff at the cigarette and whistle to myself all the while.

"Oh there you are," I am startled by my own voice. I see myself, yes, it is definitely me. I lean to have a closer look; the stink of the dustbin is making me sick. I see myself lying on the ground, beside the bin, cold and pale. A number of maggots have accumulated on my sunken cheek, which now look hollowed, almost has a skeletal resemblance. My half opened eyes are staring at me, as if trying to decipher some hidden code of life. My body is stiff and empty; the ants are eating it away. I guess people haven’t noticed it yet, maybe they will find me tomorrow, I reckon what they will do with me, will they throw it in the bin like a dead dog or will they send it to the morgue and preserve it as a specimen-- I wish I could talk to them. Wait, there is something under my hands, I see some white paper like think under my hollow palm, hiding beneath my bony, thin fingers. Oh, it is the half-smoked cigarette I am smoking now. The cigarette is almost dead now I take the final puff and throw it beside my body.

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse


Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse - Book Review by Barnali Saha



Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse


(http://www.great-inspirational-quotes.com/siddhartha-by-hermann-hesse-book-review-by-barnali-saha.html)


Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha is a timeless tale that takes to your life's quest of that Holy Grail, Nirvana. The book, written in simple language, talks about knowledge we derive through our daily lives. As we walk in the daily path of life, we may not be fully aware of what we really want, this book, spiritual to its core, is the quintessence of human wishes in this earthly quagmire. The protagonist of the book is called Siddhartha; he is a young Samana who wants to lead a spiritual life like none other. He leaves his home with his friend with the urge to learn from his own experiences rather being inculcated by some learned Samana. To him knowledge from some other person is incomplete, thus unworthy. The story speaks about his journey, his disillusionment. Siddhartha's tastes earthly life, carnal pleasures and money and then realizes what he really wanted.

Two other important charters in the book, who, according to my book left an indelible mark, are The Buddha, and Vasudeva, the ferryman. Gotama brings Siddhartha face to face with unspoken challenge and Vasudeva taught him, despite being a simpleton, how to learn from the sounds of nature, how to translate the rippling sounds of the river.


The book teaches you some important lessons about the spiritual journey of life, that life is a deep spring, a fathomless ocean of identity. It is your soul that is the ultimate illusion that is there in you but you are aware of its demanding presence. You are seeking the ultimate goal of Nirvana, an illusion itself, without realizing that Nirvana rests in human mind. When human mind breaks the shackles of time and sentiment, it reaches the ultimate, all powerful entity that dwells inside it. In a sense all manuscripts, however prolix they might be teach you that one thing, all religions of the world, beyond the veil of nice worlds tell you that in you dwell the Bhramha, the creator. In you weave your thoughts, your ideas, your goals---you are what you think you are. You are thy creator; it is just that you won't recognise it. In the deepest depth of your mind, in the inner core, you are sentient of your thoughts. Every one is, a criminal, a psychopath, a wise man all are aware of what they do and what they think. You cannot become a wise man if you so choose to. Your thoughts would implore you rather push you to become one, then when the whole mental puzzle is solved and you see what you want, when the riddle is clear then you see your goal--a sterling, iridescent path towards self appraisal. Human beings are what they want themselves to be, god is but a reflection of the inner self and as we believe, God guides our movements, by that, we actually mean, that he guides us rather our minds to judge and decide by itself. As without hard work, luck cannot lead you to success similarly without strong will you can never have an understanding of the world. Willingness to understand is important, the penchant for listening rather than talking, silently accepting others views, and evaluation a given circumstance is important. Until you listen, you cannot be wise. The world is always not about saints, they can never lead you to the ultimate illumination of soul, to the sense to being mingled with the holy entity. They can chant the mantras, utter incantations but unless you are willing to submerge and inundate you inner self in the thought of that holy entity you believe in, you can never be a follower of god, a believer, a son or a daughter. Feeling the mighty strength of god inside you, in your mind is most important.

The ending of the book is equally interesting when Siddhartha comes to know about his own son, also named Siddhartha who refuses to obey his father and eventually steals the ferryman's money and runs back to the town. It was a shock for Siddhartha who now understood what the essence of life which like the river flows through various courses and finally it reaches its destination. The course of life is compared to the river and Siddhartha learns from the river and its sounds. Relationships play an important role in the book; Siddhartha's father pines when he decides to leave him and so did he when his son runs away, thus bringing to life the concept that incidents in life flow in one eternal circle and that the earth is sentient of all our deeds. Friendship between Siddhartha and Govinda, the loyal love and admiration is also unique as is the relationship between Vasudeva and Siddhartha which is almost like a pupil and a teacher relation learning from each other. The balance and the simplicity of the novel is appealing. The presence of Kamala, the beautiful courtesan who gives birth to Siddhartha's son is symbolic; she represents the earthly aspects of life, the labyrinth which draws the human hearts to certain pleasures in life. Kamaswami the shrewd business man also represents the vague earthly pleasures that draw Siddhartha thus blurring his spiritual eyesight temporarily.


The novel is a masterpiece; an in-depth analysis of the spiritual life of a man and how difficult it is to leave the earthly mystic maze. It is the novel of realization, of faith, of love and relationships. Devoid of lofty ideas and arcane verbiage, the book is a delightful read appealing to all readers' eyes.

The Melting North


The Melting North

(http://www.voicesonglobalwarming.com/themeltingnorth.html)


Serenity prevails

A quaint feeling of loneliness

The white epithet dwells in peace

Among tranquility with dozed off lids

The sun now touch the zenith high

The cold numbness utters a sigh

Milky rays mingle with the milky white atmosphere

Ecclesiastical designs curve the snow, innately

Suddenly a storm arise, blizzard strucks the snowy high

Huge masses of ice start to melt

As the sol now inundate with burning rays

The little seal seek to hide

From the warmth, from the fight

Its mother had been killed the day before,

Harpooned like a fish

Now it seeks a place to hide, a place to rest in peace.

The ice now breaks with deafening sound,

Rubble fills the air; blocks of ice shatter into pieces

Can He mend the mess we have caused?

Can He cool the global warmth…? Alas if He could

In South the Chimneys swell, billowing black clouds percolate the sky

The unused plastic in the corner rest, dumped with rotten garbage

Which go to landfills and stink the surrounding hill

The baggage are then burnt to dust, and dust fills the air

The air then travels to the horizon high

Breaking the ozone with restless might

We see the North again as we ope our eye

The Polar Bear seek a little help, a little ice to survive and rest

Alas we are stronger than the world, a heartless, ridiculed race

We bend to prove our mettle and strength

Yet, we forget the world we reign

A nimiety of niceties we hear

A nebulous, unconcerned plan from every other person

But the snow never ceases to melt

Never stops the ice to break

Global warming a phenomenon is

Many fail to affirm that

Countless laugh and say it an outrageous fact

The Northern lights now dance in the sky

A dance of death it is

It seeks to kill all it finds

It seeks to lull the North to sleep

The Polar bears now hide in pain

Not from the earth, but from us

A repugnant human pursuit

Seek to demolish the animal race

Killed are Seals, killed are bears

Stabbed is the environment

Not by god, not by Satan

But by that heartless human.

By
Barnali Saha Banerjee
Nashville,TN

copyright http://barnalibanerjee.sulekha.com/blog/post/2008/12/the-melting-north-voice-against-global-warming.htm

If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name by Heather Lende


If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name by Heather Lende


Book Review by Barnali Saha



"There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!"
-- Emily Dickinson



Hether Lende's "If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name" is a mesmerizing memoir where she talks about her life in Haines, a small town in Alaska with a population of 1,811.

Lende paints about life in a canvas of Alaska and writes thoughtfully about her life, family, faith, neighbors and small town conflicts. Lende's work is calm and composed as well as enticing. She begins her story telling in an enthralling manner. I have always wanted to know about life in Alaska, and this book not only served my purpose, it took me in my dreams to that chilly town as well.

In her book Lende talks about her family, her husband and her children and how they cope with the harsh Alaskan climate.

The world of Haines in a strange world by itself, it seemed that Haines is not part of the world we live in, partly because of the fabulous and beatific nature that Lende describes with passion, and partly because of it being located so far away from the core of the United States of America.

Lende works in the local newspaper and also at the NPR station in Alaska. Apart from that, she is a great homemaker and I learned how to make the "perfect egg-salad sandwich" from the book, together with the art of smoking salmon.

Lende's other profession, which gave her tremendous insight into human lives is being an obituary writer. In the book Lende talks explicitly about death. Death is a part of life and how Lende experienced the passing away of her neighbors, her friends is a part of the book. Lende passionately talks about the death of a young fisherman boy and how his mother weaved the loss of her son in a quilt with colorful threads.

The book may not fulfill the hunger of mystery or thrill, but once you pick it up and start reading you cannot but finish it. Lende's soft voice resonates throughout the book and her portrayal of her life is vivacious. The book is factual and I loved the "duly noted" section of the book where Lende puts scrapes and bits of daily news about Haines and her dwellers.

Family and friends are the yardsticks of Lende’s life and she talks about them. The local fishing spree, the skiing in winter, the picking of berries in the first day of fall — all these descriptions make the book an interesting read.

The dark nights of Alaska give way to vivacious morning, and Lende talks about morning, about hope. Life in a small town can be difficult; the place has no malls, no good restaurants, no public transportation and hospitals, yet, it is a paradise for Lende. The pristine and serene beauty of Alaska is beyond comparison — Lende calls it a blessing of god, and a blessing truly it is. Her insurmountable beauty and her snow capped mounts makes the Last Frontier state a reflection of the Virgin Mary.

Faith like death is also an indispensable part of the book. The local Christian church and the Sunday service, the woman priest all add to the colorful picture that Lende paints. But most importantly it is about the myriad people, living strange lives that become the lub-dub of the book. Surely, if somebody had lived in Haines or even had died there, Lende would know his/her name.

Heather Lende’s first book is a masterpiece. No doubt the book already won a number of awards and is still a chart topper. Her style is clear and honest, much like the lives of the people she talks about. I give this book a five star and recommend it with all my heart. A final caveat for you, be aware of the occasional welling of your eyes as you read the later chapters of the book.

By
Barnali Saha Banerjee
Nashville TN
© Barnali Banerjee, all rights reserved.

Birpurush, The Brave man

Birpurush, The Brave man

Translated by Barnali Saha


Imagine we made a journey together

Mother and I are going to somewhere far

You are riding the palanquin, my mother

With windows kept ajar

I on my mighty red stallion

ride next to you with valor

Clouds of red dust rise from the road

As my stallion's hooves forward strode


Twilight dawned and sun went to rest

And there we came extensive twin pond plain

Wherever I look desolation reigns free

No trace of life my eyes could see

In your mind you are anxious, and think, in what strange land have we come?

I tell thee, don't be afraid mother, yonder lies the bed of the withered river


Wild thistles and brambles deck the field

In the middle the meandering road is build


No cattle graze in the desolate terrain



They must have left for the village after sundown



Where we are headed no one knows



For in murk nothing is discernible



I thought I heard you say, "What light I see by the ponds?"







Just then, there they came raising a hullabaloo



Trembling with fear in a corner of your palanquin



To heavens you pray for divine backing



The bearers leave the palanquin and flee



In the adjacent thorny bramble they skulk and shudder



I say to you, mother, "Don’t be afraid for I am here."





They hold clubs and have disheveled tresses



Hibiscus flowers are tucked in their ears



I tell them, "Beware, don’t you dare step forward



Watch out my sword, I will cut you to pieces."



With retorted scorn they leaped up and raised a tumult





You say, "Dear son, do not go!"



I say, "Wait and watch."



Valiantly I goaded my horse into the iniquitous mass



The swords and shields clank and hit



What a terrible fight it has been



You will horripilate when you hear



So many were beheaded, so many escaped





You thought, your son is dead



Fighting with the villainous brigands



Drenched with blood then I debouch



And say, "The fight is over."



Hearing me you step out



Lift me and embrace me hard



You say, "Sonny dear,



what a disaster it would have been if you hadn’t been near."





Everyday so many things happen



Trivial and not so important



Why can't for once this be true?



Oh! Then it would be a great story



People would listen with bewilderment



Brother would rail in disbelief



"How can this happen, he is not strong"



But the neighbors would rave and say, "Thank god, sonny dear went along."

Why are career-focused women being written off as bad parents? :My ideas to the question asked by Team Sulekha

Why are career-focused women being written off as bad parents? :My ideas to the question asked by Team Sulekha

Even though modern women are a champion of free ideas; they are often victims of scathing social issues like choosing a career over a family. From the point of view of Women, I see not a thin or nebulous line, but a thick line of discrimination underlying the veins of society. Women are expected to be a certain stereotyped version of themselves: to cook, to clean, and to pet themselves and most importantly to produce babies. Many women in today’s society choose to be different: they prefer a career, a job and a way to be independent over a family life. And I see no wrong in it. If a man is the corner stone of a household? Why can’t a woman be one? But posing this question will usher in a series of furtive glances from the society and they will bring in issues, like a careerist woman is a bad parent or a woman who see a life beyond her chores doesn’t have parenting skills. Now, let me ratiocinate the point of view from modern Indian perspective. Indian women today are independent in all aspects, they have equal rights, freedom of speech and expression, they are well to do and they are living a cosmopolitan life. But then, why is it that we see this idea, or what ever it is, in our daily sulekha digest, “Your call: Why are career-focused women being written off as bad parents? A recent study says that working mothers lose custody of their children in divorce courts?” The study whoever conducted it shows that despite social revolutions of women and their innate metamorphosis, the basic idea that women should be women is still the same. It further states, women who choose to stand on their own feet and disregards influence of men are “bad” women. And such bad women are inhumane and they fail to take care of their babies, partly because they are busy and partly because their career is important. Now my question is do we think the other way round? Are we comfortable in conducting a study where our male counterparts do not have the time or incentives to take care of their kids that in the long run most of those men turn out to be “bad” fathers who read the business headlines at the break of dawn rather than change the nappies of their babies? If our idea is that men are meant to behave in a certain way: they have to be careerist, solid and authoritative. What happens if he is otherwise, if he indulges in effeminate works like if he has interests in household chores, or if he likes interior decoration or Food Network? I mean what happens if he is different, would he be the pariah of our state. May be not, since we may say that he chooses to be that way, he chooses to be different for a change. But when it comes to women choosing to be different we have a box full of labels to paste. The very fact that women should watch ‘Sex and the City’ and be interested in “Beauty and Grooming” or better in “shopping” is another lame label. I think ‘Sex and the City’ has more social connotations than we think it has. It is a hemisphere of women, where we can and we are different. We can be whoever we want-- a foxy Samantha or a sober Charlotte. We can choose a career and raise a baby like Miranda or we can write a book like Carry Bradshaw. We have a lot of options you see, options we otherwise don’t get, that is why we all love ‘sex and the City’. And those four ladies are just reflections of female wishes and aspirations, be it sexual or social. But even those ladies have a label on them; there is no running way from that. So the ideas that career focused make belief women aren’t perfect either, poses a threat to us. Let me ask you the question, many of our sulekha ladies are well established in society. Did it ever happen to you that you have seen raised eyebrows when you tried to cut the umbilical chord that connects family and office? You may have, or may have not. It’s like the modern idea of racism; you see and hate but don’t tell. We all are part of this same lame ocean where we are but the daily specimens of dust, polished, skilled but underneath discriminated against. So, I feel it is nothing but the idea of discrimination, the idea of labeling women which is the main cause for career-focused women to be called bad parents. A woman who can take care of her job is bound to be responsible and focused. How can then a perfectly rational individual say that she cannot take care of family and kids? To make up for her time she may do more special things for her kids than the father does. So, who is now the bad parent? Though many kids fumble about their parents not having time for them and that made them delinquent or social drop outs; I believe to eradicate such feelings both the parents should sort out the issues. They could spend the whole weekend with the child, and talk to him or her at the end of the day or in the evening. Daily communications will clear the kid’s ideas about life, and prevent him from being a social drop-out or a delinquent for that matter. But in most cases, at least according to Bollywood, who does this communication thing? It is the working mother. Yet, at the end of the day, it is she who has to be under the social microscope not the father of the child. Finally, what happens is that women give up their job and career and frown at the twilight of their life saying, “You know I had a career, I destroyed it for my son or daughter, what a sacrifice!” Who would acknowledge the sacrifice, Nobody. Not even the baby! Well, honey that’s how life is. So who are we hiding from but ourselves? We are afraid to be vociferous against the age old ideas of society, which need a tyrannical Amazon to be destroyed once in for all. A woman is a corner stone of a well-balanced society; she has all her rights, responsibilities and wishes. So I think if society needs to progress, much more importance should be given to logical ideas and ratiocination of the role of women in modern society. Else, we will forever smother in the social fire of discrimination and we will see many more studies conducted everyday showing the pitfalls of working women “women being written off as bad” wives, mothers, persons in general, and many more. Women such ideas will point to us indirectly that a woman shouldn’t think of a "career". If such a think happens, we will then not only lose the custody of our kids but also the custody of free, independent spirits.




By Barnali Saha


© Barnali Banerjee., all rights reserved.

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Barnali Saha (Banerjee)
©Copyright
All Rights Reserved


All Articles by Barnali Saha are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative
Works 3.0 United States License.
Let Me Touch the Flower of Thy Feet--Translation of "chorono Dhorite Diogo Amare"
by Barnali Saha

Le t me touch the flower of thy feet
Don’t taketh it away
I will embrace them with the veils of life and death

The load of stale wishes and anticipation
I carry the burden to and fro
Make thy garland by thyself
Do not scatter me away

Full bloomed wish and pain
Save their death by slaying them
Let the last victory rest with that victorious one
Let him lose to thy generous self

The sold out days and nights
Wail with me in my tiring heart
Make me a part of you
And put that garland of death about my neck
Le t me touch the flower of thy feet
Don’t taketh it away.

© Barnali Banerjee., all rights reserved.
Creative Commons License

Barnali Saha (Banerjee)
©Copyright
All Rights Reserved


All Aricles by Barnali Saha are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative
Works 3.0 United States License.

Monster-in-laws, what to do with them??

Monster-in-laws, what to do with them??



A very wise man called Mark twain once wrote “Adam was the luckiest man; he had no mother-in-law.” A deliberate study of female society made me weigh the idea in my mind with thoroughness and care. And after my sensitive pondering on the issue, I cannot but agree with Mr. Twain in saying that Adam was one lucky chap. The problem is that the 'in-law' species are a strange set of unjustifiable creatures always on the lookout for an opportunity to prowl on you. History asserts that in this world 60% of married women hate or has hated or will hate at a point of their life the in-law species. Now, elucidating this untamed relationship may bring in a shower of dubious comments; nonetheless, I must use my freedom of speech and expression to the lees.



When a woman is married she feels her dream has come true, and that she will be overwhelmed with happiness as she will embrace a new family. But dreams are always figments of one’s imagination, thus she soon realizes that the labyrinth of reveries look good only in movies and books. Because she is face to face with the unholy part of holy matrimony— the monster-in-laws. We expect to be automatically welcomed into the family. While some people may be fortunate enough to be welcomed with open arms, many daughter-in-laws are not. Getting to know the new family takes time and endurance. And both the daughter-in-law and her new family should understand that.



Many modern women feel that the scathing problem of abusive in-laws are over, but a study of women and an analysis of their daily household problems often reveal that the problem still exists. Now, by abuse I am talking about verbal, emotional ones, like being told, “You are an ugly woman,” “you have no self-esteem,” “you are a total fiasco with no qualities what so ever to marry our son.” Such scorching comments might burn your skin and veins, but we often try to forgive and forget. But I feel the forgetting part never happens, keeping in mind the fact that we don’t suffer from acute amnesia. I believe the generation gap and the treatment of the respective families’ ex-in-laws have a stronghold in forming their opinions. And the root of this problem is the idea that in-laws are forever a damned species, always bad, nagging, abusive and evil. But ratiocinating the point will show that many women also have personal problems themselves, they are often extrapolating the relation leading to further breakup and more evil-effects. At a point of our lives we learn to desensitize ourselves from our in-laws mistreatments. But being submissive to our conscience doesn’t always help. I know talking can resolve problems, but not always. Many of us have faced incidences where our feelings were hurt and we have been treated as if we were not part of the family. My logical thinking tells me to avoid friction and maintaining a cordial relation, it is important to keep your distance. Keep the visits to a minimum. One should not put any more emotional effort (than needed) into trying to have a good relationship with ones in-laws. It also helps to feel sorry for them because in the long run, the person they are really trying to hurt is themselves. But many modem women, people like me, hate the idea of abuse and are often dejected to the in-law issue of divide and conquer still ruling in our society. However much we hate it, a sea change doesn’t come in a day. People never change in one second. So couples should be more supportive of each others opinions in case of in-law trouble. The sticking together prevents an undue break up or divorce in the family. Seeing a marriage counselor also might help. Many web search and news paper articles show that the in-law problem is an active social dilemma. Many women are tortured, tormented, mutilated and even killed in domestic violence. Such undue acts in modern cosmopolitan society show a darker side of the society. In such cases, seeking helps from Ngo’s and lodging a complaint in the local police station are two best options. Section 498 (a) of Indian Penal Code typifies the protection of women against domestic violence. Though the act has been called faulty and dubious, yet it is a good one to be kept in mind. But many girls like to suffer inside; they may be pummeled day in and day out by obnoxious remarks and scathing abuses and would endure without a word. Our Indian society, especially my Bengali society taught me the eternal truth—when a girl is married you must, must endure every bad experience you encounter in your new family. But in 21st century when we are vociferous about feminism in our blogs, it falls upon us to raise our head and live. I believe this timeless truth mentioned above is lame and bogus. It disregards totally the ideas of morality and self-respect. So, at the end of the day , I feel if you are inspired and confident about you, nobody can hurt you. If you know who you are and what you want from your life, you are a well balanced individual with an ability to prove the abusive world your innate abilities. All human beings are born with certain good qualities and latent talents, and no abuse can take that away from you. As for the abusive in-laws: they need to be considerate and respectful. Hurting someone’s feelings, making her feel bad doesn’t always bring perpetual happiness; this is the universal truth the monster-in-laws should realize.

By Barnali Saha

P.S.: The article is entirely based on my opinion. I donot intend impose my ideas deliberately on anybody.
© Barnali Banerjee., all rights reserved.

What’s with age?

What’s with age?




These days I see a lot of rambling, a kind of social-turnover of ideas, if you will, regarding thirty or forty something women falling for young men. The modern lexicon has metamorphosed the word “cougar” which initially meant a feline creature with paws, like a cat, to brand these women. They are now the recent most talked about people, the sophistic-cat, the sybarites, a clan of successful, attractive women going for young boys to woo their senses, and let loose the carnal urges, The urban dictionary defines her as “An attractive woman in her 30's or 40's who is on the hunt once again. She may be found in the usual hunting grounds: nightclubs, bars, beaches, etc” Now does this really mean we are now finding another ingredient in the social hodgepodge of this already disorienting world we all inhabit. I am particularly transfixed by the idea that men may reach their sixties and still date and women who are doing the same are called ”cougars” The word has already raised several eyebrows, many women think the work is despicable, that it’s a sign of distorting the growing power of women in society. It is always held that for a successful connubial bond it is important that one of the mates is older than the others. The mental maturity of the older male will help the other one deal with difficult situations in life. And the older member has always been the male member. We are perhaps born with the erroneous idea that the male member is more mature than a woman of his age. And now, when many women seek to break the social customs they are banded as “cougars.” Why is this notion of female-choosing-young male suddenly the talk of the town? There is now a television show, several music videos and stuff like that. I wonder why these women are so intriguing and strange like gays. I mean people look at them with the same strangeness that they look at gays. I don’t get it, has it ever been encoded in strict terms that women cannot go for a younger mate. The talk is women who are forty-something are getting old and losing the electrifying spirit of life thus she goes “hunting” to pick up a young male member who will make her feel young again with his immaturity and youthful gestures. But does that really happen. Many of us are married with male members who are older to us and I think when we love truly from heart, age, and the branding, really seem stupid. But we are so into the social canons that women should be younger to men as shown in movies like Prime, that woman can not make a relationship work if her partner is young to her. I was wondering, when we first tied our social contracts many years ago was age this important as it is today? Or is it with industrialization and modernization of our lives we are being scotch taped to a seemingly intolerant Republican notion of the day, that all that is different is bad? Or are we doing it for self appeasement. That could be the reason, in a new world where entrainment spice is a must in your daily diet, the news makers seek to cloud the senses with a lot baseless stuff. But it is strange why many independent minds are taking the urban, so-called, funny ideas seriously as to going ahead and creating TV shows. May be we are all being commercialized in a way or the other. It is the modern zeitgeist to create mindless un-philosophical yet entertaining new words and thoughts. I think the overuse of media is making us go into a complex star-trek world of alien existence.
© Barnali Banerjee., all rights reserved.

Creative Commons License

Barnali Saha (Banerjee)

©Copyright

All Rights Reserved



All Articles by Barnali Saha are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative
Works 3.0 United States License.