Monday, December 31, 2012

THE DELHI RAPE CASE - CAN WE ASK WHY?


THE DELHI RAPE CASE - CAN WE ASK WHY?

There has been a large scale outburst of public anger and angst at the brutal rape of a girl in the Nation’s capital and her ultimate death. The cry has been for the severest of punishment to be meted out to the culprits. My own outrage has been such that I felt the death penalty would only bring to end the life of the perpetrators and this will not serve the purpose. I wanted them to be maimed and castrated and thrown into jail for the rest of their lives. May be my feelings were barbaric but so was the act. This is a happening in the nation’s capital and it has received the attention it deserved but what about the happenings in the rest of the country where children are kidnapped, raped, murdered and the bodies thrown away to rot on the wayside. These are acts that keep on happening and what have the police and the politicians done to effectively bring down such crimes?

In a nation with a population of more than one billion and which carries with it a history so ancient that making it fall in step with the need to adjust to changing times is a herculean task. The gathering of so many people in Delhi to protest against this crime and demanding for immediate reforms and implementation in the setup of the judiciary and police is the need of the hour. But does this end here? These crimes will continue to be committed, some reported and others unnoticed. This is because we as a people are affected by a deeper malaise. I will not stop at that, because I feel that this is a global phenomenon. Does this not happen in other countries? It does, but may be the system of policing and detection is far more advanced. Who cannot abhor the dastardly act where a large number of school children in the US were killed in a mindless act of violence and this was not an isolated incident.

So is making stricter laws that bring to justice the perpetrators of crimes immediately going to put an end to crimes? It may act as a deterrent and may be, it is the first step, towards making people feel safe. But like I said earlier the deeper malaise lies elsewhere. It lies in every home. We are being subjected to what Alvin Toffler terms as the Future Shock. Our societies are fractured and our relationships have started becoming disposables. Consumerism is the order of the day. We make what sells. That is why we have movies which depict mindless violence because they sell and who is responsible for that, of course we ourselves. We want our adrenalin to flow and titillate our senses along with the action scenes on the screen.

The media has become one of the most powerful tools that has taken over the mindset of the populace. I am not saying that this is bad, for the media is also a powerful disseminator of information and knowledge. Its role can be constructive or destructive depending on the sensationalism that it resorts to garner popularity. We should admit that without the reporting of the gruesome nature of the crime that was committed, the gathering of such a large number of people in all parts of the country to protest against the ineffectiveness of the authorities would not have been possible.

When I said every home earlier, I meant that each and every citizen of this country should be made to realise his responsibility towards the society and the nation. This is very easily said but how does one go about it? We need educators, we need reformers and we need leaders with vision and with a fierce commitment to the country. But once again, where do we find such people? Is it true that we get what we deserve?

Let each one of us make a start at our own homes. Can we pay more attention to the emotional needs of our children rather than drive them up the intellectual ladder? Are we only bothered about how well they do in their material lives? This is a question each one of us as a parent has to answer for himself. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

SPIRITUALITY - A PERSONAL AWAKENING


SPIRITUALITY -  A PERSONAL AWAKENING

My friend asked me “Is’nt spirituality a very personal thing?” I did not pause to answer and I said “yes”. In an earlier posting of mine I had written that ‘Spirituality is not about God, it is not about religion though it forms an integral part of religious practices. I could not bring myself to define or describe spirituality, for me it was only an experience, an inward journey and how can you express it in words?’. When a person embarks on a journey of self discovery, to find the very essence of his being and to define the deepest values by which he is to conduct his life you can say that he is on the spiritual path and the very process may be termed as spirituality. Why does he embark on such a process is a question to be explored. This exploration is a lonely voyage and to each his own path and that it is why it becomes so personal. As to the question why he feels the need to embark on such a journey, we can only presume that he has come face to face with a Sisyphean situation and feels the need to break out of this stranglehold. It could be a fear of termination or the sheer futility of his everyday actions. Albert Camus in his critique of Sartre’s ‘Nausea’ says “to live knowing that life is pointless is what gives rise to anguish, and if you live against the stream, the whole of your being is seized with disgust and revolt and this revolt of the body is what is called Nausea”. This is perhaps the beginning of the journey inwards.

I guess that everyone, whether he believes in a God or not, is always on a search throughout his life. A search for perpetuation whether he believes in reincarnation or not. That is why Sartre a confirmed atheist and who says that there is nothing beyond the life we are living now, ends his book Nausea with the hero who in our parlance had undergone a spiritual experience in the form of Nausea, decides to go back and complete the book he was writing in order to bring about an authenticity to the life he is leading.

What is the experience that one undergoes and which we can term as a spiritual experience is very simply described by Hermann Hesse in his novel ‘The Glass Bead Game’ – “My awakening has a similar kind of intensified reality for me. That is why I have given it this name; at such times I really feel as if I had lain asleep or half asleep for a long time, but am now awake and clear headed and receptive in a way I never am ordinarily.”

So where does God come in to all this and what is the role of religion? If you ask me I would say- define your God and follow Your religion. If it helps you on your voyage of self discovery and helping you to chart your course in life, you cannot ask for more. The problem or confusion arises when we search for an external God to answer our questions. We may benefit from the experience of others but we have to find our own answers.

I do not like it when some one tells me that this is what one should do to attain salvation, I do not appreciate preachers but I do not mind listening and learning from their experiences. Belief in God and religion is an individual choice as long as your beliefs make you a better person.

Yes spirituality is a very personal thing – to quote Albert Camus once again before I end “ An awakening of conscience, no matter how confused it may be develops from any act of rebellion and is represented by the sudden realization that something exists with which the rebel can identify himself even if only for a moment.”

Friday, November 16, 2012

A MATTER OF LIVING


A MATTER OF LIVING

You have your beliefs,
I have my doubts,
You live your life,
As on a leash,
I live mine,
Unbound and free.

You live your life,
In yester years,
Waiting for the coming tide,
And the hand of destiny,
While I live my life
Every moment an eternity.

You have your chores,
I have my dreams,
You settle down,
To mop the floor,
While I spread my wings,
And fly away.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

ON QUALITY IN ART – PART 1


ON QUALITY IN ART – PART 1

I guess when we talk about the value of art in our present time, it is because of the astonishing prices that are paid for acquisition of a work of art be it a painting or a sculpture, whether it is the work of one of the old masters or that of a contemporary artist. We are all the more puzzled when we think about the fact that Van Gogh never sold a painting during his entire lifetime, may be one, but now his paintings sell for millions of dollars and their acquisition is not only a matter of great pride but also as an investment for an art gallery or an individual collector or a corporate house. We have even had fund houses floating art funds. Why so, what are the justifications for such a development?

Before we really come to the question of the value let us see what is it that we look for when we view a piece of art. We would necessarily talk in terms of the quality of the work involved. So what do we mean by quality in art? We always think that a painting has to be beautiful to be a piece of art, like landscapes by Constable or a painting by Rembrandt with their perfection in lighting and well defined shapes. There is technical perfection and we marvel at the skills of the artist. That is “we always assume that all that is beautiful is art, that what is not beautiful is not art, and that ugliness is the negation of art. This identification of art and beauty is at the bottom of all our difficulties in the appreciation of art.” Quality is confused by beauty, taste or style. We should beware of this confusion and avoid identifying quality with any of them.

What is beautiful varies from individual to individual. Whether artistic value can be objectively traced in a work of art or whether it is only subjectively felt and is simply a matter of personal opinion then a common agreement would fall within the realms of aesthetics and philosophy.

I remember that when I was in Paris on a short visit, I had gone to the Louvre and since I did not have that much time I had to literally run through the museum, but I did manage to spend quite some time in the Italian section. When you arrive at the museum it appears that all roads lead towards the ‘Mona Lisa’ but for me this paled into insignificance when compared to the massive religious paintings adorning the Italian section. The next day I was at the Musee d’Orsay and as I stood there in the halls surrounded by the paintings of Monet, Manet, Renoir, Sisley, Cezanne and other impressionists and Van Gogh it was a pilgrimage fulfilled for me.

So what was it that made me spend more time at the Italian section and the Musee d’Orsay then the rest of the Louvre? That was because that’s what I preferred, that’s what I liked. A subjective appreciation, is’nt it? Both the museums consist of various other priceless works of art and so do all the museums in the world. Whether I like them or not they are undoubtedly of great value. So over and above subjective appreciation there is an objective element which defines the value of art.

Jakob Rosenberg in his book ‘On Quality in Art’ when talking about artistic value says “Artistic value or ‘quality’ in a work of art is not merely a matter of personal opinion but to a high degree also a matter of common agreement among artistically sensitive and trained observers and to high degree objectively traceable. Our value judgement is a composite of ‘subjective’ and ‘objective’ elements.

Quality may be sensed in a work of art without a proper approach and analysis, but it cannot be fully appreciated without these means and without a thorough and definite effort on the part of the observer.”

For any individual the most important part of his psyche is his imagination, this is what allows him to explore his subconscious. For an artist it is the urge to convey, create a work through which he is able to translate his feelings or emotion. Each one of us is different and we see things and feel differently. But it is the artist who is able to express and connect with an audience.   

Our mind functions in two different ways while trying to understand a work of art. One is the through the direct experience of the external world, i.e the immediate perception of an image and through symbolic representation i.e the image plus its mental associations. It would be relevant to quote Van Gogh’s own words here to help us understand and feel through the artists own eyes “a painter as a man is too absorbed by what his eyes see, and is not sufficiently master of the rest of his life. I myself am quite absorbed by the immeasurable plain with cornfields against the hills, immense as a sea, a delicate yellow, delicate soft green, delicate violet of a ploughed and weeded piece of soil, regularly chequered by the green of flowering potato plants, everything under a sky with delicate blue, white, pink, violet tones. I am in a mood of nearly too great calmness, in the mood to paint this.” (From his letters to his brother Theo). This is a mood of direct experience which he is talking about and when we do gaze at this painting we are also overcome by that mood of too great calmness which he talks about and translated it into his paintings. It is this capacity to retain and express it through a medium that distinguishes the artist from others. Each one of us have felt carried away by certain direct experiences but our ability to sustain it is limited.

At the other extreme we have the artist who translates his experiences of the external world into symbolic representations associating his experiences with his consciousness, beliefs and emotions. Herbert Read while quoting Whitehead says “an artist of the symbolist type is creating a combination of forms and colours which will convey a meaning, and in art this meaning always has an aesthetic or emotional tinge. Art of this kind may therefore be defined as ‘the symbolic transfer of emotion’, and this definition is at the base of any theory of the aesthetics of art.” We can see the significant shift towards symbolism with the latter day movements of Surrealism and modernism, whether in the paintings of Salvador Dali, Kandinsky, Mondrian or Paul Klee.

For a true understanding of the quality of a work of art, apart from our own subjective appreciation, it would be necessary to understand that the development of art has run parallel to the evolution of human thought through the ages. I intend pursuing this in my subsequent postings on this subject. (Reference – Herbert Read’s ‘The Philosophy of Modern Art’)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

MERE WORDS!



Mere Words!

Well, what more can I say!
About silence, so much has been said,
Mere words, they strike my eardrum,
Bounce back and fall down dead.
Nothing penetrates through that wall,
For I do not hear even the clarion call,
As I watch the bugler’s cheeks rise and fall:
And when I walk this city’s street,
I feel the step not the sound of feet,
Nor the sound of the automobiles
Or the curses of the imbeciles.
Mere words! what are they,
For I do not hear what you say
I look at you and you look at me,
The eyes meet and the heart speaks,
And I feel the softness of your cheeks.
Mere words they can never sing,
The song that my heart sang,
Or cry like the child therein,
For in that silence that surrounds me
I see my God there within.
Mere words they fail me when
On the paper I place my pen,
To translate the thoughts that flood
The recesses in my head.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

UNLEASHING YOURSELF



UNLEASHING YOURSELF
I was reminded of William Henry Davies’s poem ‘ Leisure’,

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
---------------------------
----------------------------
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Sometime in February 2012 when I was in the United States my daughter took me to a concert at the Fox Theatre in Saint Louis. She had planned it well in advance for she knew I would enjoy it. It was a performance by a musical group called the ‘Rain’ and it was a ‘Tribute to the Beatles’. The group was very good as they recreated the aura of The Beatles not only by the sheer excellence of their musical performance but also through their appearance and showmanship, in fact while playing numbers from ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ they wore the dresses as appearing on the album cover. Throughout the show my wife was watching me and my daughter looking at me expectantly that at any moment I may get up from my seat and start dancing with the crowd. As an elder I was supposed to maintain a certain decorum. But funnily a large portion of the crowd there belonged to my generation, we had grown up with the Beatles music and I could remember nearly all the songs and the lyrics. There were a lot of young people also and as the concert progressed many in the crowd could not restrain themselves and were up from their seats waving to the beat and that included me. I enjoyed myself, at that moment there was no inhibition and it was sheer joy. My daughter was happy and my wife was relieved that I did not go on to the dance floor.

We have all watched a child when it laughs. There is nothing beyond that laughter, there is no analysis, no inhibition. The child laughs because it felt like doing so and it is sheer joy for all of us when we watch the child do so, so full of innocence, so truthful. I got wet in the rain the other day while I was walking along the beach and for a moment there was exhilaration as I went back to that day when I was a child of five dancing in the rain and believe me I had no clothes on at that time. Of course I cannot do that now, that is dance with my clothes off, I would be taken to the nearest mental asylum. But the sheer joy was there for the moment. Now I may be worried that I may catch a cold and be lain down with fever. When the rain now comes we run for cover.

Have you ever gone to a children’s painting competition? It is an experience as you watch them painting totally absorbed. I had the occasion to be a judge at one of these competitions when I was in Ahmedabad and as I was walking among the participants observing them, one particular child caught my attention and I stood watching him while he drew a scene obviously from the Mahabharata for the serial was being aired on the television during those days. There were two chariots and he showed two persons fighting with the arrows flying across the page. He was so absorbed in the painting that I am sure he transformed himself into one of the warriors there and it must have been Arjuna, for Krishna was also depicted in the painting. He was not bothered whether anyone was watching him or of the people around him. It was not technique or an analysis that was involved here, it was just purity of thought. Of course as we grow, we perfect the techniques and come out with more realistic paintings closer to the original, but in the process of course the innocence is lost.

        We all have a child within us, but we have locked it up. We have forgotten that pure childish joy, innocent, spontaneous. We can no longer laugh our guts out, we always feel watched and our actions are constrained by our surroundings. We have forgotten that tender teenage sensation of first love, we have forgotten to fall in love. We conclude that these are sensations that can no longer come to us as we have grown beyond all this, we have grown old. I can still fall in love, in fact I do that everyday. Sitting here as I write all this down, I also walk across the mountains feeling the cool breeze and breathing in that mystic silence. I sit by the brook as it begins its journey downwards and listen to its gentle song as it caresses the pebbles and flows over them. I stoop down and put my hands on its surface and feel the beat of its heart and as the clouds slowly drift in enveloping everything in its fold I lose myself to that everlasting stillness. I know you will call me a dreamer, but this is what makes me want to write, to paint, to sing and even dance.

Unleash yourself, for the joy of living is in living without rationalising each and every action of yours, bring back that child in you which you have kept hidden for such a long time. Express your affections openly, for this is infectious and tends to spread around you. Happiness can be shared but not so hate. Hate can only bounce back and hit you. Be a child, nobody hates a child. It required a Munnabhai to tell us that there is nothing wrong in hugging a person to tell that I am there for you, it is more effective than just reassuring him or her by saying “don’t worry I am there for you”. Mere words come from the mouth but the feelings are from the heart and by hugging I guess you have a direct access to it.

It is better to be crazy and thought to be so then to be dull and inconsequential.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

MOMENTS - 2



 Moments - 2

There are moments,
When no words spill,
There is only silence,
That alone speaks,
To find that ardour,
The heart alone seeks.

A  deafened world listens,
As the bow moves,
Back and forth,
On the strings of life,
The player fallen prey,
To an everlasting strain.

On the stage the pantomime,
Struggles to keep alive,
His rhythm and rhyme;
As a muted world gazes,
At his desperate acts,
To make his silence speak.

The colours on the canvas,
Spread rich and bright,
But the sightless world seeks,
In the dead of night,
All that passion that had flown,
Now nowhere in sight.

The muse in the midst,
Of his musings sat,
His eyes closed,
In his silent world,
As the listless world outside,
Wanders to and fro.

As the warrior wields his sword,
The poet plays with his words,
Mowing down the barriers,
Of the body and the mind,
While the world finds it self bound,
To the tethers on the ground.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

MOMENTS



Moments

It is when the light and darkness meet,
When the day and night merge,
It is when twilight reigns
In that moment you submerge.

It is when the man and woman unite,
In the shadows of the night,
The silence broken by a moan,
In that moment of ecstasy,
And the ride to fantasy,
The stillness after the storm.

It is when I held your hand,
Ever so delicately,
Lest my heart stop its beat,
And the moment took my breathe away.

And as I led the blind old man,
Right across the street,
That gentle pressure on my hand,
Told me many a tale,
Where light was only darkness,
As the moments ticked away,
And as a smile lit his face,
I knew he was there,
In that moment of darkness,
Lit by divine grace.

Every moment, a lost moment,
And they pass you by,
They have frozen in time,
Though the clock keeps ticking away,
Defined the meaning of your life.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

THE JOY OF MOTHERHOOD


THE JOY OF MOTHERHOOD

I write this on the eve of the first birthday of my grandson ‘Moksh’. I was prompted to write this by a mail which I received from my daughter. She rang me up in the morning and asked me to read her mail at once, she said “Dad I just wrote a poem and I want you to read it immediately”. I was pleasantly surprised, for I had thought her very earthy, very grounded for her to indulge in such pursuits. Emotional she is, and she would express it with a good hug or through tears in her eyes. But with the birth of Moksh I found a new resolve, a new strength, a new purpose on her face and in her movements. She seemed to radiate a happiness that seemed beyond definition and I understood that it was ‘The Joy of Motherhood’.

All said and done fathers do love their children with equal passion and they also do express that in different ways, they always project that element of protective cover in their actions. But the bonding between the baby and the mother starting with the umbilical cord can never be replicated in any other relationship. The birth of the child brings in that fulfilment, a deep sense of release after having undergone the pain of labour of pregnancy. She sees a part of her, her very own in her arms when she holds the baby after birth. The bond strengthens as she continues to feed it from her own body. I as a man cannot fully understand the emotions that she undergoes, I can only watch the subtle changes that come over her personality and try to understand but can never experience.

Thus I have watched my daughter over the last year change, into a woman with a passion, a purpose and a face lit up with a sense of fulfilment. She had also found a way of expressing those emotions in the form of a few lines which she thought would be etched into the memory of her child as he grows up to remind him of the love she will always have for him. A fitting gift from a mother to her child on his first birthday, What better gift can there be?

“To Moksh my son on his first birthday

As the year passed me by,
I looked,
For a purpose to standby,
And now I look to see
the future in your eyes.
My purpose today my son,
Is to widen your horizon,
To be able to see the stars,
Invisible to the naked eye.
Happy Birthday Dear Moksh.”

(written by my daughter Svaathi) 

Friday, September 7, 2012

AN ODE TO ‘THE SPARROW’



Nearly a month ago there was a newspaper report which said that sparrows are rarely sighted nowadays and as per the latest census of sparrows based on sightings there were only about two thousand and odd of them in Chennai and were seen only in certain areas of the city. I read it and did not think about it very much at that time.

It was therefore a pleasant surprise when in the morning I heard a chirping sound on the balcony, an unmistakable sound. I knew that it was a sparrow so I tip toed and peeked into the balcony. There it was sitting on the grill and chirping away and was soon joined by its mate. A sighting which gave me immense joy. I realised that I had missed my feathered friend all this while. The last time I saw a sparrow was a few years ago and that to under tragic circumstances. As it chirped and flitted across my drawing room it suddenly came within the range of the ceiling fan, was hit and dropped down dead. As I slowly picked up the lifeless body, took it to corner of the garden in the colony and placed it there, I was overcome by a sadness which I am unable to explain.

I watched both of them as they tried to build a nest in the pocket of my trousers which was left there to dry. I could not afford losing a pant and thought that I would give them a better option when I hung a pouch there for them to build their nest. They did inspect it for a day or two as I watched their efforts. I was hoping that they would take permanent residence there but after three days they did not come. I am still hoping they will return as I wait for the chirping sound in the mornings. I am waiting.

Sometime ago I had written ‘An Ode to The Banyan tree’ and posted it in my blog. Even now I remember the Banyan tree with fondness and due reverence. The two banyan trees that come to my mind are the banyan tree in front of my school on whose branches we used to climb and swing down its branches, and the great Banyan tree in the Theosophical Society in Chennai which is more than four hundred years old and could accommodate more than three thousand people under it.

Imagine a tiny little insignificant sparrow sitting somewhere on one of the branches of the banyan tree. Both have left their imprints in my life. The Banyan Tree has symbolised all that was parental and overwhelming, evoking feelings of reverence and awe, while the Sparrow has symbolised all those undiluted joys of childhood.

So it is with sadness I watched them go, one with the sorrow of having lost a parent and the other a sadness at watching your children grow up and go away.
                                                   
An Ode to ‘ The Sparrow’

My dear little sparrow,
Where have you been?
It’s many a morrow,
Since you were seen?
Have you been robbed
Of your little nest,
A place to comeback,
And take some rest?
A place you can call,
Your very own,
Watch all your kids,
Till they have grown;
And finally one day,
They would fly away,
To find their own mate,
To find their own way;
As you sit gazing at the sky,
You hear your mate’s far away cry,
Then you spread your wings,
Soar away once again.

So it was with joy,
And a strange sort of thrill,
I watched you sitting,
On my window grill,
Then chirping and flitting,
From wall to wall,
Searching for a corner,
In my dining hall.
Soon you found,
There was no space,
You flew away,
To find a better place.
So I hung a little pouch,
On the balcony wall,
Hoping that you would find
This closer to your call.

Oh! where have you gone,
My dear little friend,
For there are no nests,
In and around,
Have you been driven away,
To a far off land,
Or have you just gone,
Never to return.

The pouch still hangs,
On the balcony wall,
And I wait every morning,
To hear your chirping call. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

A MATTER OF OPINION


A Matter of Opinion

Let me not sermonise,
What is right and what is wrong,
For your life is only Yours,
Its for you to live and die.

Who am I to tell you why,
The grass is green,
Or blue is the sky,
You may think it otherwise.

As I sit on the shore,
I find the sea so sublime,
You may say it frightens you;

As I listen to the waves lash,
I feel the stirrings of the soul,
But you may say,
Its marking time.

So who am I to tell you why,
For your life is Yours,
Its for you to live and die.

When I listen to that soulful tune,
As it comes floating from afar,
The song of that solitary reaper,
Evokes a melancholy in my heart,
Memories of a day that made us part,
But I know you will say,
Its nothing but a woman’s cry.

So who am I to tell you why,
For your life is Yours,
Its for you to live and die.

When I stood and gazed,
At the painting on the wall,
In wonderment of the hand
that held the brush,
And brought to life
all the shades of the sublime,
You just stood, then moved on.

So who am I to ask you why,
I had stood and you moved on,
For its your life and you decide.

Friday, August 31, 2012

GITANJALI - AN ANJALI


AN ANJALI TO GITANJALI
Born in Meerut on 12thJune 1961
Died in Bombay on 11th August 1977

Yesterday I was cleaning and rearranging the first of my bookshelves, taking the books out dusting them and putting them back in their rightful place in the shelf. They are arranged more or less in chronological order with the date of purchase and the place on the first page of the book. They help me travel back in time as each book has a tale to tell apart from its own. I skim through them before placing them back. I stopped as I took out the book ‘Poems of Gitanjali’, kept it apart for I wanted to go through it again and I did. As I went through it at night I could not help control the emotions that resurfaced once again after a lapse of twenty eight years. Yes, this book was presented to me by one of my friends when she visited us twenty eight years ago, the date 19-4-1984.

I am named
GITANJALI
After the famous book of Tagore
I wish and pray
Oh! help me God
I so live that……..
I live up to the name.

In his introduction Pritish Nandy writes, “Gitanjali went through the prolonged agony of dying of cancer, but not in vain. Her poems are a testament of youth in all its courage and faith. Only by knowing she would die could Gitanjali have achieved these poems which speak for all who have died young and to all who grieve for them. For the rest of us they have an uncanny power of putting life into perspective”.

It appears that her mother found these poems several months after Gitanjali had died, hidden under the mattress in the little corners of her room.

When I go through these poems which I have done a couple times before I am moved by the utter simplicity of the language and the extraordinary in ward journey of a child who was only sixteen, who had loved life and all things around her and ultimately accepting the finality of death – a conscious death one may say. And when she went, she went finally in peace with herself her only regret being that she would be leaving behind her grieving parents and friends. Some of the poems also reflect the extent of concern she has for people awaiting a similar fate as hers. All the poems are introspective, there more than a hundred of them. There are no pretensions which a lot of us resort to sometimes to sound authentic, the poems are pure and come straight from the heart. Her belief in God is un wavering and she speaks to him often and that was her constant source of strength till the end.

I can only reproduce a few lines here from a poem titled ‘Farewell my Friends’

“It was beautiful
As long as it lasted
The journey of my life.

I have no regrets
Whatsoever save
The pain I’ll leave behind.”

Or these lines from the poem ‘Dreams of a Dying Heart’

“Beneath the heavy
Load of pain
Beneath the emotional
Stress and strain
Beneath the ache
Lies a heart
Inside this heart
Lie the dreams….
….the dreams……
Of a dying heart
Dreams of a……
Budding flower.”

I suddenly realised that this is the twenty fifth anniversary of her death, this month August. And why does this move me so much? Coming close on the heels of my last posting on Akash Dube  who also died young of the same ailment, it makes me wonder at the kindling of the inherent strength in them which helped them face the finality of death and accept it with dignity.

The wonderful foreword to the book written by Pritish Nandy sums up saying “Despite our different Gods, our different perceptions of life and truth, each of us walk the same way. Poems like Gitanjali’s occasionally light up the darkness and show us that all sorrow is universal. Just as love is”. It was he who had first published Gitanjali’s poems when he was editor of the Illustrated Weekly of India.

Need I say more. Tagore would have been proud of her.