It is a gloomy Wednesday morning in the city of skyscrapers I call my home. The sun is invisible, hidden under extensive sheets of cloud that shapelessly and starkly embroider the firmament. Seeing it now you would not even guess its watchet past, its wooly cloud infested corpus stretched taut over a happy looking green earth.
I have often found myself gloating on the atmosphere and the colors of the day: the greens unleash creative thoughts, the blue vintage memoirs; I find brown sanctimonious and grey difficult to interpret. A cool breeze playing on my face during an evening walk makes me stop and savor the sweetness of those balmy fingertips. As I abstract myself from virtual reality and delve into the indwelling actuality of the world, I feel more real myself. There is no cooked-up happy thought to allay my disturbed senses; when pain comes I must accept it as frequently occurring episode. For days I have been following the news of the great deluge that unleashed havoc in Uttarkhand. Having once visited the shrine myself as a young lady, I feel the mayhem of nature as something too emotionally disturbing to handle. The sight of the corpses inside the peaceful temple, the sight of death in such close conjunction with impressive natural beauty, surprised me. I still remember how apprehensive I was of climbing the steep terrain that led me to Kedarnath, for the road is unpropitious and even dangerous. I can still see the silvery river snaking at the foot of the hill, the same river otherwise calm that has burst into deathly activity like some dormant volcano coming to life. Maybe nature too has a breaking point; may be it too reaches that stage when the elastic band gives out and there is a tear. The country steeped in corruption and crime, the environment reaped off its milk and rendered scarred and marred by human hands may have caused even the gentle sleeping god to awake and dance his dance of death and destruction. This is a purely romantic view, I know, but not being an atheist or an agnostic, I am prepared to consider all possibilities—logical and illogical.
The video footage flashing on television news channels of two-storied buildings crumbling like a house of cards remind of Dan Brown’s Inferno, a text I just finished reading. The antihero of the piece is bent on relieving the earth of its surplus population. But we don’t approve of such arbitrary excision, such amputation of human life on a massive scale. I wish we could communicate with the supramundane agency and ask it to rear life not unleash death and suffering.
My readings of Renaissance literature have made me regard, though momentarily, Sir. Thomas More’s Utopia as a thing possible; who knows, I say myself, in some future time may be we can have a perfect country with a benevolent government unheeding to discrimination. But Utopia means nowhere; and discrimination is all we see nowadays—Paula Deen’s racist ideology is a living proof of that. I never believed that Mrs. Deen, whose cooking show I so enjoyed, would turn out to be a racist Southerner. The mask of forced pleasantry being pulled off, I now see her as an ugly white lady devoid of compassion. I always think literature makes you compassionate and in this world where disillusionment is inevitable, literature (fiction) gives us a temporary womb to rest before we are thrown out into the horrible real world, so to speak.
As we dwell this morning in my random thoughts un-clocked by the grey looking sky and these tall buildings with tapering heads reaching for it like the leafless emaciated fingers of branch reaching up in desperation. The daily thousand-word routine being the first thing I tackle every morning, I get to see the myriad emotions of the mind lying bare every day. On some mornings, gaiety is profound, and on certain days all I discern is despondency.
As I vacillate between the extremes, I see the virtual papyrus slowly getting populated with words, one word after another forming a sentence, one sentence after another leading to a paragraph, and so on. And however much incoherent and meaningless the word-structure strikes, I am never induced to erase them. I feel close to these words, a sort of invisible umbilical attachment connects me to them that prevent me from destroying them. In my own little world of words I act like a minor goddess refusing to accept the truth of death and deletion.
Reading my random free-written thoughts one may laugh and doubt my sanity, but I wonder if not sanity is overestimated. Come to think of it, are we all sane? A deconstruction of the term sanity will lead us to a labyrinth of significations none of them correct in totality, and finally, to a den of aimlessness when we must give up our quest altogether. Such heavy thought on a breakfast bereft stomach is painful for me. I must get back to contemplation after the nourishment of the day is partaken. I totally believe in Virginia Woolf’s words that one “cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” The intellectual Woolf must have got this right, she being a great cook herself. I remember reading an article somewhere about Woolf’s cooking and how wielding the skillet made her happy. We all have our little pleasures, those activities that give us incessant happiness and make us forget all that’s wrong and ugly in the world. Call it escapism, but it surely has its merit. For me this little activity of free-writing every morning, gardening and decorating my home form a triad of happy exercises Reading and cooking are extended arms of this triad that help too.
I look at the clock and see my hour of writing is slowly reaching its finale. The day stretches before me like the desert with things-to-do rippling before my eyes like the illusory vision of an oasis. So, I bid you all adieu and hope you all have a good day! Here is one of my favorite poems for you to enjoy:
by Anne Sexton
There is joy
in the hair I brush each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
that I rub my body with each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook
in the outcry from the kettle
that heats my coffee
in the spoon and the chair
that cry "hello there, Anne"
in the godhead of the table
that I set my silver, plate, cup upon
All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
and I mean,
though often forget,
to give thanks,
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.
So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.
The Joy that isn't shared, I've heard,