Rains

“Dirt and rain
My white visage
Your muddy soul
Some stains are indeed good”

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A Review – “The Traverser’s Memoirs”

Trains are delightful and long reads on train more so. This time, I was breaching one of my personal rules again, reading through “The Traverser’s Memoirs”, by S.M.Y Rafi, an author I kind of know personally. It is a hazy territory, going in to review a book written by a friend, or an acquaintance. There is always this chance that you will sound a tad bit harsher, that one tad bit wrong and the friendship will come to a stop. This has happened before. But, thankfully this time, I can safely say, in my honest opinion, no less, that this book is good.

Being good, doesn’t translate into being infallible. However, for a person who is writing his first book, for something that has been printed hastily, “The Traverser’s Memoirs” might as well be one of the best books that could come out of the situations. The history and geography has had a lot of imagining, a lot of work behind it, and it shows. The rich culture showcases itself in moments and the way the research has been done right down to the last detail is something that you admire. Overall, you admire the story too, it’s a fabric wound around the same thread that brings along a lot of fantasy, and yet, in its own personal way it stands out, and how brilliantly.
And Epidrae is brilliantly etched. There is something personal about this huge expansive world with different cultures. Often the author sounds boastful in the foreword, but, as a fellow author I do understand. The world building is something that really resonates well for me in this book.

Yet, it has its problems. Before the story even resonates, we’re presented with a huge info dump, which makes the story a hard one to pick up. Now, this isn’t “Lord of the Rings”, which pulls you in from the first moment into its world, and then introduces you to the rich tapestry of the world, here the history is laid out in a manner. When you have done so much work on this, it is easy to appear as a show off, and I only wish that it didn’t happen this way. This happens twice over in the story too. Another problem is exposition, more often than not, action scenes seem to be a matter of more “tell” and much less “show”, to the point when I found myself wishing that I could just skip over them.

Just compare the action to the emotional scenes and you will see the difference. While, written the same way, the emotional scenes triumph. And whatever, Mr. Rafi is, he is not a mere peddler who is begging to be noticed, there is some considerable talent in parts of the book; some pages where, I felt like I was actually getting into this universe, something that I rarely experience now-a-days with fantasy.

The characters are brightly etched, even though I choose to wish for something greater in their depictions, in the way they interact. One of the largest problems with this book is the dialogue, which appears uneven throughout. Some places, the dialogues are beautifully woven, but, in others, they are so mechanical that it affects the reading of the story. It is a shame because I believe that good dialogues could have enhanced most characters to another level.

So, yeah overall, it is a good book, and I would honestly read it again. However, it does need editing, and a careful deliberation over the good and the bad. There is a lot of meat that can be cut away from the book, as there is story that can be added into. Personally speaking, this is something I would pay money for, even though it won’t be in my list of “immediate buys” from a book store. However, simply because of the scope, the world and the research done into the world, this is a recommended reading.

Rating – 3/5

“Whore”

Whore was such a beautiful insult
When we were in sixth grade
“Randi” rolls off my tongue
Fired at a classmate
Who I heard had her breasts pressed
But, that is not why I called her that
Just that she had been rude
And being more rude made sense
But, then it is ninth or tenth grade
I bark the same at my best friend
“I am vulnerable”, a poor excuse
Shattering her heart to make mine whole
A look in the mirror when in twelfth
I regret those words said
Because they were in anger
And I suddenly love being this “whore”
The dirt accumulates in layers
“Sexual promiscuity is a disease” plastered
On my mind
“Oh how could he have had a one night stand?”
“This hook up culture would ruin us all.”
Words to dress up like a gentleman
While in dreams I wander
I dream of my lips and his Adam’s apple
A kiss where his beard doesn’t interfere
Tongue down the male sternum
Onto the slight divide between the belly and the pubes
Of being pushed up against the wall
His breath burning
Buttholes, Buttholes, Buttholess
Pictures stored in hidden folders
The freckled breasts of an actress
A year older
Cumming on a creaky bed
To the image of
“Emo gay teen masterbating”
I am as much a child of sexuality
As anyone else
There is no shame in genitalia
In the flaps of skin of foreskin
Or the nerve endings in the clitoris
Elvish queen secreting milk
Zoned out, selling sex by 5th street
“Here for casual sex”, upfront
There’s no need for money when it’s fucking
Dingy hotel rooms, 200 bucks an hour
His smell, his manhood, my mouth
“Sir, this boy is eager to please”
So, I remember my rumour
“50 bucks for one blowjob”
And laugh, for I’d have done it for less
Of only the man was right
10 bucks and an ice-cream would have sufficed
For heaven’s sake, it is hard to distinguish
When you say it like that
Why couldn’t the nympho be the nymph
And not the hatred in “Whore”
Fuck it then, I will sell my flesh for pleasure
In a country where hate manifests
In festivals, the scene of loud voices
And the unwanted touch
That is my choice, my politics
Indulgence in the warmth and body hair
Or the slight curvature of the belly
If the whore is what I must become
Then I might as well be the best at it
And “Randi” isn’t something I say anymore
And when I call someone whore
It is a pat on the back of a fellow soldier
A smile exchanged
A celebrattion
Of a sexuality that is a weapon

Pride

Among the 100 “”fuck you”s I yelled today
I am shamed to say almost 90 of them were hate
I am ashamed to hate because that causes death
So much death
But, how do you respond then?
Your brethren lie in blood, tears and shit
Wishing for some sort of reprieve from this slaughter
That people have directed at them for centuries
You can turn 10 “fuck you”s to poetry
To verses recited at the top of your voice in front of
A group of people who would molest you
If only they had the chance
You recite your words and make them into thinkers maybe
You turn about 50 “fuck you”s to tragedies
Songs and movies written over the backdrop of love
And loss, Rock Hudson and bitterness
The image of Schyuler and moonlit sidewalks
At the heart of a beat stricken Castro
The 20 “fuck you”s are about caring
About hand in hand after the long night
Talks about eternity and how he would survive
One more shooting, ten more still
Because he hasn’t told his story yet
The last 10 are problematic though
I guess they are reserved for the ones we hate so
To turn our hatred into speeches for knowledge
Into standing up at the roaring opposition
And telling them
“We are here for love’s sake
And my lover lies dying, God knows we do not
Have a lot of shot. But, remember how you love your wife
I love him the same, with the same intensity.
And I know you think it is wrong, that our sex
Is more important than our feelings
But, can’t you see? In these tears we don’t just hide
Our yearnings for a fucking penis
Can’t you just see a little more through praying
That we’re fucking perverse only in our bedrooms
But, even without that, we are so much more”

Almost Infinities

This is a part of the series of posts about Rabindrasangeets that have influenced me, I am not even a speck of what the bard was, but, I try…

 

I believe I feel like a river joining the sea whenever I encounter you in my thoughts. You are impenetrable yet, inevitable, and our paths are always going to collide. You are the burst of divine greens before my untimely death, and yet, I seek you out for there is little purpose to me without you.
Yet, we are meant to be separate. My thoughts, my fishes do not mingle with yours, and in the small parts in spaces where we can pretend that we are lovers, you remind me so harshly that it is never to be. Your tornados, your typhoons, ravage me and my lands. I overflow with emotions, I let the banks drown out the pain that you cause whenever you are on a whim.
For I miss the summers, the calm when you are going to sit and drink in your own image, speaking of words that I do not comprehend. You would breathe so deeply in thoughts that would make me feel so insufficient, and yet, fulfilled. We are meeting uninterrupted, and happiness reigns.
I wish that it would be so always.
Yet, inevitably the seasons of the negatives blows over us. You push me back with force, I fume and rage. White froth, cold rage and the deaths.
I am stubborn, but, you fail to move too.
The third glass of whiskey makes you want to sleep it off, and make me want to go on and make love; make love till the sunset takes us into her arms like another who has had enough. You are ever an adult though, always a “No” waits, and I break. A piece of my bank becomes sand, a piece of tress falls into my way, I block myself.
This prevents me from wanting more, for I do deserve less.
However, I do not complain much. It is the endless nights when the Baul plays his mad music in the heart of mine, and your shores are alighted with campfires of newlyweds; you still welcome me to your arms. I dry off, and drench myself in tears we mingle. Then, the replies stream into an insignificant memory upon my person, and like the ever flowing water, it also floats away, and I breathe a sigh of relief.
Perhaps, this is the nature of waiting for the inevitable. You save me from being inadequate when you prevent me from getting too close too soon. It is a cautionary tale, it is a truth. And it makes it ever so sweeter, because some days you open yourself. Our thoughts play along. Our books remain unopened and we sing songs that are the truth as a whole.
You refuse me so, and that is enlightenment, for my losses make me love you ever more. You do not let me flow into expectations that overwhelm, you do not let me become less, we are just alright, almost there, and no one asks whether we are there yet. And I cry through your blessings in a drunken night, I adorn your pictures with thorns, I rage and rage. Yet, when inevitability pushes us together, I know that it has come in the right time, in the right place. And our kiss doesn’t smell only of my lipstick, but, of happiness. Every time I dive into the saltiness of your beard, I fall more for you again.
I guess, this is why I await, even though I wish I could escape, for you feel like a chain that does not yield, for you yield rewards when it is a midsummer’s evening, and we both are too late.

 

This is inspired by the song “Ami Bahu Bashonaye”, you can listen to one of my favourite renditions below.

If not a mother, who am I?

I guess I am not much of an Indian

But, then I have never been enamored with the culture that has been trying to fit me into it

And apparently listening to Sitar tunes in the morning before I start my work was never enough

Neither was all the literature I amassed over the years

So, when my philosophy diverges so, and I wish to protest against someone

In the street, with a drunken heart that wishes for someone to listen to my screams

I guess, I forgo my right to my Indian-ness

I lose a part of me as a Bengali too

Because I dare critique the poets they hold so dear

Because I dare interpret them sexually, I dare to wear their devotion songs as my source of erotic

So, when I sing a tune or two, drunk again, this time in my sexuality

Standing before my lover, the one I sacrifice myself to, I am allowed to recite Rumi

But, the intelligent “public” doesn’t want Rabindranath soiled thus

And me in my brassiere become an icon for the wasted youth, the worst delinquent

My mother doesn’t consider me either

Because her “good boy” husband chosen for me, chose to leave me alone

When I was just beginning to grow around the belly

I guess I am still not Indian enough to turn to other cheek to the demands he made on me

But, these do not hurt, I have been shunned by those closest to me before

I have been told by a serious friend that he is leaving me because I could not love him back

I knew I was hurting him then, but, my little heart had been broken by another man just before

Years after, when I messaged him, he just smiled, I was just another “Read” message in his profile

It is not that I look for love either

I look for something that resembles, I look for something that makes me feel the same

Sometimes it is trysts with unknown men, some days it is music, some days it’s my daughter

Who has grown so much, and does not complain when I entertain

This motley of non-serious friends I have made

I am not a person

At least not until I am married

Or so my landlord says, when she comes a knocking every first day

Thankfully, they do live far away, and I can still bring in some of my friends

Yet, the comments she makes, makes me cry so much

So much so that my teenage child takes over when I get out that day

I guess it is my fault too that way, I never learnt not to be unruly, and was never taught anything against

I have lost all rights as a human too, in the process

It is easier to rationalize to myself

That the stares are inevitable no matter what comes by

But, it becomes harder when you say the same to your 6 year old child

Because mommy does not cover up because of the stares, which she can rationalize by evolution

But, a theory is not enough satiation for the hole created by the women who tell her their life stories

I try to keep her away, and keep myself in check for the longest stretches of time

But, you need love too, and that’s when I indulge

I think she learnt a few curse words from me these last few weeks, and that hurts me

Hurts me more than this guy who was the nicest man in the bar, starts slapping me, and I have to chase him out

And my 6 year old looks on, at her mother’s nudity, she probably knows I am not much of a woman too

Oh, did I tell you? I am not a woman

I am fear, I am strength, the internet fables speak of me as a hero

And forget to tell them of what a fucked up person I became

I guess, the fact that my daughter knew how to recite the English alphabet first is more important

But, is success measured in that alone?

I know how she would suffer if any day she wishes to have her passport

I know my mother would tell her to stay for longer periods of time because she fears I will…

I am a mother still

I scold her when it is too late at night

I only bring men in when my friend in need has told me she has gone to sleep

I don’t drink as much

And cigarettes I smoke only two

I want to her to respect my nakedness but, I hide it so that she does not fall prey to someone else

I am a mother still

I fear for her when it is late at night and my cab is late in arriving

And I miss two of her poetry recitals because office kept me so busy

When she tells me, chastises me for being myself is when I am afraid the most

I am hardly an Indian, slightly a Bengali, not at all a woman, barely a person, so except a mother, what could I be?

 

 

 

The Ones we Love

It is easy to cheer for the side which appeals to your basest of senses. It has always been the easier route. The side that eggs you onto this fictional battle of Good vs Evil, projecting themselves as the messiahs that shall be our redemption, the side that tells you that all they will be doing are for the greater good of the community. It is easy to believe those sides, because that is what the stories tell us about.

We have all awaited our Supermen, and perhaps somewhere, only recently we have given up on the All-Good, All-Seeing messiah, only to settle for anyone who promises to take away all our problems. It is simple. We like our icons unblemished, and only when they are parts of of histories do we start circulating pictures, news, all about the blemishes they carried back then. However, as they rise, we close our eyes and let them come into the foray with an undefeated love in our heart. I think it stems from our need to believe in something greater than ourselves, something far more purer, that we try and ignore transgression after transgression, well, until it finally stings.

Heck, we put in apologies from our own side as we go along.

I know he is stupid some times.”, “I know he is not always perfect.”…

Yet, somewhere in all those excuses there is a “But”. As if the good things somehow make the bad things disappear. We rejoice when the other party showcases transgressions too. We build them as arguments after arguments if our icon fails to achieve great feats. Our excuse simply becomes, that because they had failed to, our icon simply does not need to achieve that; as if the failure of someone we hate is a proper justification for the failure of a person we love.

The problem is, personally I understand. It is hard. If someone walks up to me and says my best friend molested someone, I would not believe them either. However, it is never going to stop at that is it? We need to question ourselves. We are allowed to remain sceptical, but, can we, without seeing any evidence simply, decline the claim? Should our love an praise for somebody be so strong that we nullify the existence of another is order to avoid getting paint on the image of our loved ones in our mind? Is it a proper way?

Yet, we keep mum. For the human mind seeks consistency from the people we have erected as our idols, as our icons. We keep mum because we trust that these are only “small” faults. And yet, as the faults become monumental, we make our memories more and more volatile to suit our heart’s needs, until we have sacrificed our logic at the heart of an icon. We conveniently shut our ears, our eyes, to the arguments, we make heartfelt declarations of our love, we abuse anyone who decides to fight with our opinions. We smile and let it grow like it is the only way to do it.

So, when a leader proclaims, “Can those girls be molested? You have to be worthy to be molested”, we turn a blind eye to that too. For us, they are simply some “problematic” elements, “idiots” who would not matter, “Angry little boys” reacting to false charges. And that’s how it begins…

I shudder to think about how it will end.

niemoller_pppa

The way you started as a fairytale, I almost wished that you never became my reality.

And yet, here you stand, four years hence, with the same smile on your face and you have not changed at all, and I am still trying to hold onto the shores while you become storm after storm. Would you believe if I told you that I have cried more for your sake than I did for my stupid depression? It’s fucked up really, and I feel like I need a smoke before I even sit down with these stupid posts.

I remember that night, I guess it was three in the morning and you asked me to a dance. I don’t understand why I danced. You hair was messed up and the music was some stupid indie band you were recently obsessed with, and I looked like a zombie out of hell. You swore you were not high that day, but, you left me with a hit that was bigger than all the smokes I had had in the past five years.

You motherfucking piece of shit you, God, I love you.

I want to sound edgy and make a comment that makes sense, I want to wear a gown to our wedding even though it seems impossible. But, moreover I want to wake up next to you like this, again and again until my breathlessness on seeing you is the norm and I don’t feel so scared anymore.

Heres to winters honey, heres to lovers galore and all the little things that sems to matter to you.

 

Batman vs Superman : On imagery

This post is filled with spoilers.

 

 

 

While we begin the movie, we see the distinct difference between how Superman’s and Clark Kent’s faces are lighted. Clark Kent is lighter normally, the features are softer and calmer. When Clark smiles, you see hope linger in his eye, you see him believing. Come Superman, keep shadows creep across his face throughout the movie. He is an outsider, there’s no splitting hairs about it, in fact people would have us believe that it is the point of the movie, and yet, this alone distinguishes the two.

Somewhere in the first half, Clark brings grocery home. Smile on his face, he is hoping to surprise the love of his life. Lois is worried, she asks him about the future, about the questions that are building up on them. They talk, Clark smiles. The cut ends in sex. For once, Clark seems to be having fun.

However, Superman seems angry at something, questioning himself. For the quintessential hero that has saved the world, someone who is portrayed so well by the papers, he seems apathetic. Only person he likes saving is probably Lois (and some times his mother). It breaks in, you are uncomfortable. You are uncomfortable because not much later from the first scene he flies full speed onto a terrorist, who is pushed through a solid wall. If Clark Kent even dares to believe in the power of press, Superman is so insecure that when full-metal armoured Batman pushes onto him, he throws him away (despite declaring that he just wanted to talk).

You can discuss about how toxic the masculinity is in this movie.

Snyder talks a big game, and there is imagery to support it.

While, Batman broods, branding criminals, and becoming one himself. Alfred justifiably questions his actions, however, batman’s attitude is unflinching, he is too far gone to come back. Superman is showed as Jesus. Everyone hammers that in. In a scene, you see Superman hovering over the flood victims. He is illuminated by the light from the back, he is heavenly.
Yet, Snyder does not believe in his own imagery, he hammers in the point through a series of interviews on TV, where one person brands him as a saviour.

Batman’s actions have gone completely rowdy, somehow he appears even more apathetic than Superman. In a strange sequence we see him move over the victims of a sex trafficker, only to interrogate him and brand him. He does not care about saving innocents, he cares about the “greater good”, a toxic concept when you are dealing with icons that have been altruistic for the majority of their runs.

But, we move on. Batman guns down people without mercy. If the original Batman comics show him as the Detective, here that goes out of the window. We have another icon, a Rambo-ish figurine who believes that guns are the best solution to the problem. At some point the question is raised, whether this vigilantism is necessary, but, that dies down. This is a film that is not interested in asking those questions. Even after compromising both of the icons morally to the point that they are cruel, it does not manage to ask the moral questions, which makes you wonder, what kind of universe are we really bringing home.

When we see the first sequence Martha Wayne is shot in the face as Bruce looks on. A scared Bruce runs, only to be saved by the bats which take him to the light. The second nightmare sequence denounces this immediately, Bruce doesn’t wish to be Batman anymore, and the Batman imagery leeks out of his mother’s and father’s grave, after all “mommy and daddy issues” is the one psychology that really connects the two heroes.
One wonders why does he do it at all. None of the superheroes are really interested in doing this. Batman wants to get the deterrent to Superman and he does not care much about Justice, heck, at some point I even believe that he would let everything go just to hit Superman.

Superman is so angry when he looks at people, the lighting on his face showcase him as a soldier, a soldier doing his solemn duty. One wonders why this duty needs to be done at all.

A nightmare sequence showcases Superman as an evil fascist, the parademons rain down. A homage to Darkseid.

Then we get Luther. Eccentric in everything he does. Yet, not effective. You can see him pulling the threads but, no where does he get character development.

Instead in a scene we get him throwing the tortured pictures of Superman’s mother at Superman, throwing perhaps the entire pathos of the character along with it. This is a clear homage to “The Killing Joke”, and a clear homage to the fact that the women here are only plot points and not characters. Lex is erratic, he would harm anyone and let anyone be killed for the sake of killing Superman. However, somewhere that is lost. His actions seem to be designed by a teenager who has one too many psychopathic movies. Lex’s character is like everyone else’s in character development though, throughout his conviction is never shown, and a lot of it seems to just appeal to the viewer visually. There is after all a more “fun” visual in a psychopath getting an elderly woman tortured, than the largest genius on Earth who misunderstands its greatest hero.

The movie doesn’t care though. it is a juggernaut. Batmobile mows through criminal after criminal like it out of a “Death Race” movie. Superman and Batman fight in a sequence that resembles a childish brawl in WWE.

When a 75 year old history of Lois Lane is thrown out to make a “damsel of distress” character. When the way to shut down Senator Finch is with a bottle of piss before her and a large bomb. When every single female character seems to be a stupid plot point. One begins to wonder if this morally reprehensible universe created by the same company which gave us much of our childhood? But, then as DC 52 moved onto the dark and gritty territory, morality has taken a secondary space to the “cool”ness factor.

No one is “cool” in the film though.

Except when Wonder Woman enters.

In a movie filled with testosterone, she becomes the only person you kind of care about. When she appears to fight in the movie, her motivation is clear enough, she is a warrior returning to war after a long time, and she rejoices. However, she also worries about the people in the city.

Snyder is worried too. In an attempt to stop the criticisms about MoS, the words uninhabited are hammered into our heads by different characters.

You walk out of the movie theater wondering what you have watched. Even when you have pushed out every character out of your mind, the images remain. We have reached the age where violence trumps over kindness. Where the question of xenophobia and vigilantism can be subverted because of a fist fight.

When Wonder Woman says “They do not know how to honour him”

DC itself seems to be the culprit.

We have lost, badly.

As human beings, we have lost our quality of selflessness and instead given into this cynical world. Apparently grounded in reality has come to mean that only the bad sides of the people matter, and not the good. Even our heroes dare not be good, since, in this world, that is not someone relates to. After all this WAS about the fight.

A Batfan in an interview proudly proclaims his plan to kill Superman and “win”

One wonders who wins over whom, finally.

One wonders if we were even allowed a battle field.

Till the answer comes, the fan in me believes in Wonder Woman, for she seems to bring the only dawn in the film

I didn’t want to write this…

… but, I have to.

Last night was a difficult one. I was out with friends and something happened with me. And that is there. But, I guess I have to give a little background so here’s how it went.

Afternoon, I got a panic attack because of seeing a guy messaging. it was weird, since, I really do not know what resentment I hold against the guy, except the fact that it exists and it is bad enough to give me instantaneous panic attacks so, yeah. Later in the day as I was recuperating, my friend asked me out to a university’s fest. I figured it was OK.

I thought I would smoke weed and get the panic out of the system and that didn’t happen, and since, I am trying to quit, that is kind of a relief so.

Surprisingly, there were school friends there. One who I hadn’t met for three years. And first time we saw each other he called me an asshole. Well, to be honest just waking up from a panic attack had meant that I so spaced out that I could not react well, and I went along with it. There was rum at least.

I think halfway onto the first peg he asked everyone to poke me, something which happens fairly often in college and I don’t mind all that much. But, then this other friend who does know me groped me instead, and it was a buzz kill. It was scary, I was silent, i could not react or interact with them.

It was just…

They were not bad people but, I felt like way and it was getting to me.

Then my friend who I had not seen for 3 years was drunk as fuck and there was a fight? I don’t know, I don’t remember doing much except getting smothered. He smelled nice I guess. But, that was it.

I was fucked up.

And I need to say this here, now.

I walked home feeling unclean, smoking as many cigarettes as I could, but, I couldn’t manage to get anything out of them. By the time I reached a crossing and called a Uber, i think I was exhausted enough to pass out.

I just…

There have been incidents in the past I have wanted to rub off, but, this one was terrible enough.

In other news I was messed up enough to says I liked this guy, and it didn’t pan out well, I don’t mind that really. It happened, and all things need to happen.

I just really needed to write this. So, yeah