Saturday, May 13, 2017

April Reveries

The melancholy of a forgotten bauble left over from Christmas in an abandoned room, the dust covering the sticky side of a half-peeled tape, or photographs on the wall bloating and distorting in these humid afternoons, of your absence chiseling into the air, concave shapes where your laughter used to hang.   Nature seems to be in a state of deep meditation. A hushed, almost frightening glory. It is not the bridal glow of colours and festivity but the austere, intense beauty of nunhood. The elegance of lines rather than colours, of slow marcescence rather than blooms, of echoes and modulations rather than songs.   The way back seem to have grown longer and petal-sprinkled. Shadows are cleaner, sharp, every tendril detailed over the road unlike the soft, smudged shadows of November. This is April - the month of screaming flowers - their loudness etched into the air, stabbing the eye. It is the season of sleepless nights, damp armpits, strange epiphanies, headaches and rotting fruit.   My weary bicycle creaks and crunches over the leaf-clogged ruts. The late afternoon sun turns the road into a silken ribbon, a light so bright that it tugs at my nerves. The quietness intensifies; broken only by the rustling of trees and a leaf-laden wind carrying the spice of April. Everything seem to be suspended in a magnificent pause. Silence swelled, brimmed like a held-back tear. Nature has become diffused and haunting. There is a stark, startling beauty of bare branches clawing the sky. Flowers eagerly wait to be gathered by the arms of the wind and swept up in a delirious gasp before floating down. The sides of the road are stained with a paste of crushed, decaying petals and leaves - a sweet, vegetal stench bringing back memories of a childhood so fleeting before coerced into reluctant adulthood.  I pause to gather the delicate seedpods of a Crape Myrtle tree (I am learning the names of trees), examine a slightly spotty leaf closely. It is the season of seeds, waiting to spawn, sprout and flourish. In the presence of that gently expanding enormity, that intricately connected web of plant life, plant dreams and plant time - I suddenly felt small. My life seemed too sudden, jarring, a rush in a crowded train from birth to death, a snap of the finger or a twig.   I wanted to wander inside this moment for an eternity. I wanted to adore the shape of things -the inner diagram, the core clockwork, the pared-down quintessence of a thing - explore that finest distillate, the pith that remains when everything else is stripped away. I want to examine the secret timbre hidden under a bark, the sigh under a pulse, a twitch under a jaw, the faint whisper resonating from within, the first synapse, perhaps.   Someone whistles, I hear a bike slow down. For a second sheer terror creeps into my heart. The road is rather lonely. I mentally test all possible defences that I have (screaming, imploring or using some kind of Sherlockian mind-game). Thankfully the bike moves away. I take off my shoes and cycle barefoot through the winding paths smothered with dry leaves. One of the loveliest pleasures of life is the feel of wind between ones' toes.  The bicycle squeaks on into the small, uneven mud path and then crosses the enormous water tank where the road becomes tarred again. I put back my shoes there. Bits of my sojourn clung to me for the rest of the day and eventually seeped into my dreams mutating into fantastic beasts and landscapes full of distorted mirrors.   April is the month remembrance. This is my letter to you. The crumbling cathedrals within my ventricles remember prayers of bygone times. A rusty bell chimes and I turn the echoes into hymns. I too have folded up; wrapped in the cloak of nunhood, shedding all festivities, shutting all windows, lowering the lantern for a pared-down existence in quiet despair of you. I have retreated into the hush of my cloister, waiting for you.

Curiouser and Curiouser

St. Foy abbey-church in Conques, South France is a fantastic architecture, built between 8th and 11th century AD, it was a popular stop for medieval pilgrims. It is a lovingly and quirkily built church with carved pillars, galleries, exquisite ceilings and arches all filled with scrumptious carvings of human and animal figures, strange creatures and angels. It is a feast for the senses- coils, convolutions, curlicues adoringly coaxed out of stone a long time ago. One particularly amazing carving is that of the condemned being eaten by a Leviathan and excreted into Hell. Although what happens to the virtuous is not too vividly portrayed, the tortures of hell are depicted in all its delightfully horrifying and splendid details. 
Compared to the utilitarian austerity of contemporary architecture, this church may appear as an extravagant, unnecessarily elaborate structure, built at a time where days moved slower and artists had time to manifest on stone, every detail of their imagination. 
What I found most quaint and whimsical among all the figures were those small sets of carvings of tiny beings seen on the tympanum. Known as 'Curieux', these figures can almost go unnoticed and they appear to be peeking at the visitors. The photo of this little one is too irresistible and touching because it seem to be existing for no reason than the whimsy of the sculptor and for the pleasure of the discerning, curious spectator. I wish I could meet the person who imagined this. It exists almost as a little inside joke, a small, dear secret, only to be passed along to a chosen few in every century. Oh, this ache. My little muse.

Image: Google.

Small. Static. Soft.

"Run your fingers through my soul. For once, just once, feel exactly what I feel, believe what I believe, perceive as I perceive, look, experience, examine, and for once; just once, understand.”
                                                                                                   __ Anon

With all this regressiveness, aggressiveness and downright stupidity that seem to be happening all over the world, I think it is time to announce that I don't identify as any gender, with any religion or race. I am but a harmless lump of cells functioning as an organism pulsating along through life in the most self-effacing, goofy fashion. If I have to identify as anything, then I am a sad, exceptionally inconsequential nihilist meme or the physical manifestation of a bad, slightly obscure pun.
I stand for "raw, unalloyed, agenda-less kindness", intelligent and informed empathy, that pause before deciding to lash out, to abuse, mock and destroy. I stand for that understanding that "speaking one's mind" is not an excuse for cruelly breaking down someone, of the importance of taking time to look carefully, patiently and critically and give a clear, precise feedback which is constructive rather than destructive.
In a world where increasingly people are forgetting to listen, where most opinions, arguments or suggestions are dismissed unless forcefully and powerfully presented, where too much importance is given to talking than listening, I stand for bringing in a culture of listening - careful, intelligent and deeply involved listening.
I stand for that sense of wonder that comes with the utter emptying of oneself, the total dissolving of every preconceived notions, assumptions or that sense of 'I' in the presence of beauty (of that odd, soft, crumbly kind), sheer brilliance (the kind I witness everyday from the young people around me), pure thought, a leap of imagination. 

Image: From Tumblr