Unveiling is child’s play

Night veils yet again hinting subtly at rot and day gets back to digging the roots:
the problematic of the East is shaken up from slumber; the child is now available.

The game of light and shadows hints subtly at joy making no excuse for the carnage:
the piling up of one inexhaustible crust of discarded flesh on another; the child responds.

Problem solving is child’s play, and as day betrays the child’s gleeful mourn it knows:
understanding the lot is not needed; only the play of light and shadows is its lot.

The child has no complaint no regret as it goes about imagining its mirthful art:
the problem is solved for the day; tomorrow we shall play again, shall we?

The wretchedest

The poorest of the poor of the wretchedest of the wretched; those eyes and those smiles meeting the wrinkles around the corners of your mouths.

The wretchedest of the poor, and the gloat, the theory of development, of the foundation of giving.

the downtroddenest looking up to the temple of the few to the god of the few who will save the few.

The few who conquered, mattered, are mattering, battering the theory of development down the throats of the wretchedest.

And all those in between, the us, the them, the gray; history speaks only in stutters, in theory, in bunches to the us, the in between.

The particulars of the many are snubbed out by the categories of the few.

Noori and Jam Tamachi

(From Sheikh Ayaz’s Urdu translation of Shah Abdul Lateef Bhitai’s ‘Shah jo Risalo’)

The story
Noori, a fisher-woman from a poor Sindhi village, catches the eye of the ruler Tamachi on one of his outings. He chooses her as his bride. Soon his harem is jealous and proposes a competition to choose the best dressed bride. Noori, dressed plainly, wins and is declared queen.

The context
Tamachi (1367–1379) was the fourth ruler of the Samma dynasty (1335–1520) in Sindh, Pakistan. Towards the end of the Samma rule, the Swarankar community settled in Sindh which is believed to have led to the beginning of Sufism in Sindh.

The out-of-context
It is Tamachi the king who chooses the queen and not the other way around. Sufic verse will remain a cosmetic fad unless the patriarchal bias that informs Sufism is undone consciously, deliberately.

The story of the moral
Humility suits the powerful. Exhorting subservience is chapter one of Exploitation 101. This is the subtext that has kept the Risalo – like other Sufic texts – acceptable to the feudal mindset of the land.

The amoral of the story
The Risalo is interspersed with bits of verse (named waai) where the woman speaks in her own voice of her very earthly longing for her lover. This is Subversion 101 and the subtext which speaks directly to the humanity of the village folk keeping the embers of Ishq alive in spite of the kowtowing of tradition that constitutes the bulk of the text.

The tangent
Voice of un-reason is sound – and fury perhaps, but that comes later. Right now it is a whisper. The listless whisper which darkens the shallow attempts at homogenization. The glisten, the sheen, the disposable wrapping that underlies stone and dirt and water. Trying to contain the overflowing ooze. This in not a warp but a singe. A voluminous dribble in a paper cup wanting to be full.

The Tao
Know the high, stick to the low.

In thrall to the East-ish

The thrallish-en-dom pity is over-ish
We would have much liked it to endure
And though the facts stay respectable
The consequences, just a tad impure.

The thrall once again is done for
All good things must come to an end
So no worries, ’tis but an over-thrall
Our crawlishness, thus we have to depend.

The tra-la-la is another thrall-en-dom
Its trinkliness is of another age
You take out the tra and the la-la goes
No mantra, no trace even of rage.

A bit of thrall mind you is linger-ish
It persists in spite of it all
Not treason to bank on its emptiness
But reason, the core of the call.

Wandering off on unexpected tangent-ials
The la-la ahead of the tra
Lo some and then your beholding
Off key, so-la in place of the fa.

The ghost of the East is up now
Shrugging off the yawn to pray
The forest has beckoned, thrush too
East, wakes up to answer to-day.

Remnants of the East – Picking up the pieces

The lost child is the poor child is the dark child is the savage
savaged, needs salvaging. Enumerating rules of love will not do. And there’s only so much chicken soup you can douse your soul in before it pukes.

History is not a fad. It is dust thrown in your face. Eyes need to open when the dust has settled.

Some semblance of a wave

Some semblance of a wave, some remembrance of sensibilities, torched by the sea when the wave starts receding. At each deliberate turn the murmur of the word is guided by the swoosh of the underlying sea.

(Habarana to Nilaveli, Sri Lanka; Aug 6, 2013)

There is only a gnawing roar that separates the film from the gash.

(Nilaveli, Sri Lanka; Aug 6, 2013)

– Depth is two parts subtlety, one part deception.
– Poverty is two parts humanity, one part misery.
– Play upon the these words as they mean less the more they start meaning more.

(Nilaveli, Sri Lanka; Aug 8, 2013)

Where do the compromised poor stand?

They stand less proud than their children, less sure than the path that will one day be surer than theirs. But their path (let alone the path of their children) is not your path which is more treacherous and less in tune with the forest when it chimes with the wind.

How is the song of the unsung heard? By dreading them. How is the the gulf breached? By submission to the dread. There is semblance of choice when it is time to choose. Choose the apparition of choice, and choose well.

(Habarana to Trincomalee, Sri Lanka; Aug 6, 2013)


– The structure is daunting, towering, compelling. Not death — yet. It does not seem to seek life yet speaks of it. Compel the structure itself to yield to softer things.

– The body is not the wound; the discourse is not the whole; the rot is not the core — yet. Find another apple, look for another tree, seek another orchard.

– Seize this moment of separation amid lush trees, quiet road and cloudy skies, where the contemplative dog watches cars and bikes and trucks pass by; where wayside coconuts are getting bored waiting to be sold; seize these tangents to triangulate your course and look the odd passer-by in the eye.

– Touch the coursing error in your veins while immersing yourself in the sea of faces glimpsing joy in snatches.

– To rather be a little lost than a little sure, altering the rules of engagement.

(Nilaveli to Colombo, Sri Lanka; Aug 8, 3013)

Rinklety Dink Rinklety Dink

Rinklety Dink Rinklety Dink
The camel is laden with bags stuffed with gold
The burden is heavy and the diction is old
Thoroughly worn and unsuitably told

Creature of habit and burden it is
Burdened with fable and verse
Dinklety Rink Dinklety Rink
Burdened with fable and verse

Dare to speak camel and grunt as you like
No one save you will mis-understand
Perhaps that consoles, perhaps not
Tinkledy Link Tinkledy Rink

Shave off your wisdom, delight in the day
Minkledy Sink Minkledy Sink
The burden is heavy and the diction is old
Thoroughly worn and unsuitably told

Ask of the camel if he has any wool
He will stare back at you as if you were a fool
Wrong fable, dear seeker, now off with your head
Rinklety is gone and Tinkledy dead.