This year, I learnt a little bit more about kindness. I learnt also, to close ranks, and become a hurtling stone, when it felt necessary. I wrote feverishly, and poetry became a way to meet others and to sit together on the cusp of chaos. I revisited again the joy of curated learning - a novice, I practiced sign language with deaf friends, only to discover how seeing can turn into care. I understood that you can always find a peepal sapling peeping out between chipped concrete, and that there can be stillness in transit. Many times I surrendered, without realising, to moments too colourful to translate, and it felt like flying.
Like the surging fingers of the ocean, my friends and soulkeepers cradled my questions. They held them gently, shared their own, and we laughed together, lest we took ourselves too seriously. I met artist friends in chaotic cities, between endless cups of tea, dessert, chakhna and other intoxicants like twilight. I ate and drank, sang and mused, with those magicians who quietly archived the world, before unleashing it as fantasy, and as fissure. I learnt from their curiosity, I danced in their wonder. In a country that is growing more and more predatory, I found those fearless eyes whose gaze was lightning.
I learnt itminaan from a cat. I also learnt from him that the whole world is a game, and the only way to love is to play.
I found hope and laughter.
Here is a song that I listened to more often than any other, perhaps, in the last year: Cherathukal from Kumbalangi Nights.
I have culled a few fragments from the last year in the form of poems/excerpts of poems, and some images. tread softly…
if there's one thing I've learnt
from the ghost that roams around
seeking the fertile loam of a quiet mind,
it is to never come in the way
of the light that streams in
through a door that I had forgotten
from ‘Things you can tell people who want to know what I do’
…Freelance leaf collector
Consulting editor to the city: spin doctor to the left-leaning zephyr
that chronicles the passage of light on human faces
Archivist of lost experience and forgotten alleys,
single chappals and traitorous playing cards that have deserted the pack
Financial advisor to boredom
Chief Sweet Talker
Conductor, the Barrapulla morning spring quartet
Director, School of Incarnadine Traffic Signals
Field Associate, Ennui Association, Department of vacant eyes
Acknowledger of Wags
Ruffler of fur
Convener of the conference of squirrels and yesterdays
Rapporteur to the soliloquy of unpeopled parks…
I like cooking kori da gassi
it reminds me of my grandmother
grinding love into curry
but most of all
I like to see the white of coconut
meet the red of bedagi mirchi
and flush orange
that is why
if you ask me about my favourite colour
I will have to invite you home to dinner
from “A poem should start with Light”
“The warm shock of your hair on my
arm is a place where even silence
cannot reach. In sleep, your lips curl
into a grin. I want to wake you up
with the news that the jamun tree
outside our balcony
As you unstick the day
in lazy entitlement, pulling me closer,
I see the wooden Gabriel on the shelf
Song of the Free
only when the words
have been rinsed from your
tongue, when there is nothing left to know.
from “more smiles per pack”
“At the end of the path when we meet in the forest
again, walk ahead of me so I might find
the clearing, where we do not need to remember
names and night is a quite person watching you
from the shadows, remember to whisper softly
in my ear that flight is not voluntary. And if i forget,
help me with the instructions the way green
hands tend to plants with music
and tomorrow in their wild eyes.”
from “light le”
“Sometimes before opening my eyes in the morning
I shard into dream, the pointy end of my spirit seeps
into the day before it has awoken. I step out, open
the door and wrap myself with the morning…
… The city is a person with a bunch of keys,
carefully unlocking each being, making space.”
about poets who disdain capitals
they know about the cummings and goings
of desire, those poets who forget their own names
and nerve into the breaking of metaphor, the first point
of contact, driftwood in the skyswirl of learning by heart
what is seen, and felt as fire, held by some temple of skin
and emptied out shell, that turns soul into stirfry animal.
when a great tree falls in the forest and the shaking
ground is an earthquake for no one, these poets
don't really care, because they're elsewhere
in the shadows, counting the leaves, searching
for yesterday's light in an understory
teeming with the firefled night.
Aranya is a poet, and curator of Poetly.
Time Capsule 2021 is a series where I invite artists, poets, photographers and people who have inspired me through the year to give our readers a glimpse of their year that was.