Saturday, March 2, 2013

My Trysts with Poetry -- Part 1

The first complete sentence that gurgled out of my lips in my infancy was, as is well known in the close family circle, in verses. This information, of course, do not find place in my own recollection. I was too young to remember those fateful moments. Nevertheless, the account can be held as authentic as it’s coming out of the horse’s mouth since it did the next best thing – it came out of the horse’s mother’s mouth.

That sentence, lest my biographers fail to notice this aspect, also clearly indicated my unambiguous choice of place in the food chain, that is, at the top, to which I stick unwaveringly to this day of going to press. The morning had shown the day, and the day remained faithful to that promise.

“Aang maang khaang” – was not merely a child’s prattle; it contained all the emotions –- pathos, yearning, determination, tears -- in short all the things that claw at one’s heart, things that true poetry calls for. Translated into plain Bengali (as Mother obviously had to do), it stood for a more prosaic “Aami mangsho khabo”, or “I shall eat meat.” That such earnest yearning, accompanied with clenched fists and ruddy cheeks, had had to be doused at the earliest, goes without saying.

Poets have always craved for their toothfuls of flesh proper, as is historically and globally well known, regardless of what the vegans and climate-changers would want us to believe, and yours truly was no exception to this rule -- both in his poetic phase and out of it.

Besides love for flesh born in land or in water, the next dearest thing in my line of interest has always been, well, the rains. Another poetic attribute I’d say, and in saying that poets (especially in a hot country like India) have always loved a bit of rains coming his or her way, I do not fear inviting defamation, such is the strength of truth inherent in that proclamation. Besides poets, I have always enjoyed comparing my fetish for rain with a similar trait in the colourful peacock, though the mischievous lot among my friends (and I have quite a lot of them, due to a gigantic lapse on the society’s part to strangle such pests at birth) have equally forcefully dismissed such a pleasant and truthful notion, only to substitute it, in their obnoxious way, with the traits of a less glamorous citizen of the amphibian world. But I do not mind even that. If my friends find some affinity between me and the frog, may that be. The similarity must be between our vocal cords, and not anything else!

Now, where does all this lead to? All this leads my readers, in case you are still with me, to an April’s afternoon, with the season’s first nor’westerly sweeping down upon our small town with full gusto. The wind twisted the tops of the slender betel-nut trees and snapped many of them; half-ripen mangoes were brought down to the ground, as if answering the prayers of the kids. Darkness at noon prevailed, and to turn the show into an even grander one, the sky relentlessly cracked with lightning. I watched this awesome dance of nature from our inner verandah, cozily perched atop a cane chair, as a few wayward hailstone splinters tried to reach my feet. As the wind grew fiercer and hailstones bigger, my poetic urges struggled to find expression. Against such a backdrop, I, a boy of eight then, penned my first comprehensible poem.

As I have often told or written about, I was given an exercise book by Mother to write stories and to draw sketches – in other words to put down on paper the gushes of creativity that so often forms inside the tinny head of a child and eventually dies within, unexpressed. Here, on the very pages of this exercise book, I had first discovered that writing poems in Bengali was not a difficult thing at all. Sentences usually ended with verves, and verves ended with ‘ch’ or ‘chh’ sounds, thus rendering rhyming into child’s play. If you look at it the other way, any attempt to keep one’s lines un-rhymed is well-nigh impossible.

On that tempestuous afternoon, Mother felt awestruck on reading my impulsive output. Mothers go all gaga over things like that, as the mothers among you must be knowing. The Mother of Valmiki, or of poet Kalidas for that matter, I am sure, felt no less elated when their little devils scrambled their respective first poems on.. er.. sheets of bhurja-patra.

Thus began my tottering steps towards a life of part-time poethood, and with an occasional drop here and a sprinkle there, was making a steady progress that would have resulted in a fully-blown poetic phase, unless… but before I disclose the stroke of providence at that juncture, just think of the consequences that would have taken place! My poetic ambitions, uninterrupted, would by now have seen the length and breadth of blogger or facebook being ceaselessly carpet-bombed with 'pomes', sending my friends scurrying for cover at the merest sighting of my name in their inbox.

Well, such horrors would surely have taken place, besides other more horrific happenings I shudder to think of, unless Bapu (one of my best friends of that time and not Gandhiji -- an aspiring poet in his own right) stepped in at the right time to, as the saying goes, stem the rot. 


vaidegi j said...

Wow ! That was mind numbing, to say the least! Just not fair, never did put down one of your full blown explosive poetry. Waiting.

Shoumitro said...

v, thanks a lot...:D
you inspire you to write more..