Snake

Posted by on Oct 6, 2016 in Literature, Translation |

साँप !        अज्ञेय

तुम सभ्य तो हुए नहीं
नगर में बसना
भी तुम्हें नहीं आया।
एक बात पूछूँ–(उत्तर दोगे?)
तब कैसे सीखा डँसना–
विष कहाँ पाया?

दिल्ली, 15 जून, 1954

Snake!        Agyeya

Neither did you become civilised
nor could you ever learn
to live in a city
may I ask–(will you answer?)
so how did you learn to bite–
where did you acquire poison?

Delhi, 15 June, 1954

Translation: Namita Waikar
Pune, 6 October, 2016

 

Sachchidananda Hirananda Vatsyayan ‘Agyeya’, popularly known by his pen-name Ajneya.

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There were four she-birds

Posted by on Sep 30, 2016 in Literature, Translation |

चार होत्या पक्षिणी त्या

                – कुसुमाग्रज 

 

चार होत्या पक्षिणी त्या,
रात होती वादळी
चार कंठी बांधलेली,
एक होती साखळी

दोन होत्या त्यात हंसी,
राजहंसी एक ती
आणि एकीला काळे ना,
जात माझी कोणती

बाण आला एक कोठून,
जायबंदी  हो गळा
सावलीला जाण आली
जात माझी कोकिळा

कोकिळेने काय केले?
गीत झाडांना दिले
आणि मातीचे नभाशी
एक नाते सांधले

ती म्हणाली एकटी मी
राहिले तर राहिले
या स्वरांचे सूर्य झाले,
यात सारे पावले

There were four she-birds 

                        – Kusumagraj 

 

There were four she-birds
and the night was stormy
Bound together by a chain
around their necks

Two of them were swans,
one a royal swan
And one did not know,
what kind of bird she was

An arrow darted unawares,
wounding her neck
The dark one thus realised,
‘I am a koel’

What did the koel do?
She gave her song to trees
And bound the earth forever
to the sky above

That I am alone, she said,
matters not a bit
My song is the sun, and that,
gives me everything

Translated by:  Namita Waikar 
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Ruskin Bond – at Jaipur Literature Festival in Jan 2011

Posted by on May 19, 2014 in Blog, Literature, Literature Festivals |

Boys will be boys –  Ruskin Bond                        

Ruskin Bond with Ravi Singh settling down for a Sunday morning story reading session #JLF 2011

Of all the events, the most delightful one was on Sunday morning, 23 Jan 2011 – Boys will be boys – with Ruskin Bond who spoke to Ravi Singh, Editor-in-chief of Penguin India.  Reading  from his book A handful of nuts, the author evoked laughter among the audience as he read the antics of a lady – whose skin he likened to that of a crocodile – trying to seduce a man much younger than her. In deference to the young school going audience, he had to stop short of reading the entire passage! He shared an anecdote about his visit to a book shop and finding his book lying way below in a pile under all the best-sellers. Mr Bond, looking about the make sure the owner wasn’t watching, took his book out from the bottom of the pile and placed it on top. All his care and caution was brought to naught when the book shop owner picked up his book and told him –  unaware that he was speaking to the author –  ye book chalta nahin hain! To refute that, he bought the book, the price of which was a meager Rs 3/-

There was not much of a market for books when he began writing which was about 50 years ago, the author said, calling himself “quite ancient.” There were no festivals or book fairs then. The first book fair was in Delhi in 1968-69.
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Pride and the nation

Posted by on Dec 26, 2013 in Blog, Life |

Muzaffarnagar is the district in Uttar Pradesh,India where riots broke out in August 2013.  A chilling account of the monstrous violence perpetrated during this riot was published in a weekly news magazine in December. It was disturbing to read the extent of brutality, bestiality and bloody human cruelty towards fellow villagers simply because they belonged to another religion and community.

 

What is it that makes men turn into monsters during such situations? How do they gather the nerve to raise a weapon, thrust it through another human, hack the bodies, sodomise them and burn them? It is a cruelty that no other species on earth heaps on their kind or other kinds. And after committing such abominable actions, how do these men live their lives as if nothing has happened. How do they conduct daily acts of labour and love among their families? How do their wives, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, who may be aware of their involvement in the killing and the raping sprees, live with them in peace?

 

Living in the comforts of my home, far removed from the scenes of these riots, keeps me insulated from a direct impact of the happenings there. But after reading the accounts of the riots, I am disturbed immensely and try as I might, cannot think of anything else. Rapes and riots has become so much a part of Indian society that for years one read about them in the papers and moved on. Until the most brutal of them all woke me up along with the rest of the nation. Nirbhaya’s courage in fighting till the end during her gang rape and afterwards in the hospital shook me up last December. For the first time in my life of fifty years I went on a protest march only so as to calm my nerves and channelize my rage and feeling of helplessness.

 

My heart goes out to the survivors of the riot: women, children and men in the relief camps who are now braving the cold harsh winter in addition to their already subhuman treatment at the hands of their attackers. Even as many others who have returned to their homes are making the enormous effort it must take to achieve some semblance of normality after such harrowing experience.

 

It is disturbing that political parties are pointing fingers at each other and rubbing salt in the wounds of the victims. In recent days the entire political class, government machinery and most of the media went into a rage over a woman diplomat’s strip search at the hands of law enforcement agencies following accusations of visa fraud in the US. It is devastating to know that the very same people among the political class, government and media remain untouched by the plight of the riot affected. The pride of the nation is seemingly hurt when an outsider so much as flicks it with a finger nail, but is presumed to remain intact when our own people stab it with knives and batons.

 

The people ofIndia, all of them – which ever class, caste, region, political affiliation – need to realise that the honour of our whole nation is violated when some of us turn into beasts and brutalize our women, children and men. Neither any attack by terrorists in current times nor invasion by armies of other nations in our long history has injured our pride or hurt our humanity more than our own pathetic inaction towards our own people’s attacks on their fellow citizens in the name of religion and/or caste.

 

The “Bharat Mata” we so reverently hail on each national occasion or political rally is engulfed in sorrow and shame over the brutal conduct of some of her people through decades since our independence. There have been riots and brutalities all overIndiasince 1947 till date. Some of us with intellectual attachments to different political ideologies or affiliations to different political parties like to compare different riots through the years in terms of scale and extent of brutality. Debates are conducted and columns written about which riot was bigger, more heinous, lasted longer and who is more to be blamed. A kind of “your riot is worse than mine” argument and often political game. The details of extent of damage, number of victims and position of people who instigate the riots are important and legally to be handled to see that the perpetrators are punished. But the damage done to our nation and its so-called pride is equal whether one person is brutalised by another in the name of religion or caste or gender or if 200 or 1000 people are brutalised. The extent of damage is more but the hurt to the nation is never less because a lesser number of people are affected. Unless we realise this and accept this we cannot change anything.

 

Every time we hail the mother who symbolises our nation and say “Bharat Mata Ki Jai,” the wounds on her body aggravate in pain, for our words are in complete divergence to our deeds. Those among us who brutalize others share a big portion of the blame. But the rest of us, who watch helplessly without raising our voices against such inhuman abominations that go unchecked and unpunished are almost equally to be blamed.

It is high time we Indians made serious efforts to inform and educate our own people to join hands and together fight against this beast of riots that is let loose by chance incidents or cruel machinations of a few against the vulnerable amongst us. It is time we formed a movement not unlike the movement against corruption: a movement for prevention and containment of riots. For only when we make efforts to stop the beast and neuter it forever can the social and spiritual health of our people and the pride of our nation be slowly repaired and restored.

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Got the nerve?

Posted by on Aug 20, 2012 in Blog, Writing |

This morning I read a quote by Margaret Atwood
“You Need A Certain Amount of Nerve to Be A Writer” It drew me in and I clicked on the twitter link (courtesy AdviceToWriters, Jon Winokur) to read the whole thing.

“You need a certain amount of nerve to be a writer, an almost physical nerve, the kind you need to walk a log across a river.”

So true and a bit scary. Quite a bit scary I would say. There are times after I finish writing something that I get this feeling. Is it really me writing this? What nerve? I have often wondered if other writers have ever felt this way and there, Margaret Atwood has answered that question.

Its almost a year since my last post which was on the second day of the nanowrimo 2011. At the end of the challenge (yes, I did win, for those curious to know the outcome) I felt quite exhausted. It took me nearly a month to start writing again. Now as August moves slowly towards September, I already have that feeling at the back of my neck, am I ready for the challenge a second time? I find that I am going to take the 2012 challenge.

And I agree with Ms Atwood. Completely.

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The NaNoWriMo Challenge

Posted by on Nov 2, 2011 in Blog, Writing |

For those trying to figure out the mouthful – NaNoWriMo  – It is a challenge that writers the world over take up every November to write each day and complete atleast 50,000 words of a novel length work in the month. I have taken it up for the first time this year.

It started in 1999 in San Francisco and come November, a quarter of a million people turn into “Wrimos.”
Details are available on the NaNoWriMo website.

In India, there are writers in Pune, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Delhi, Kochi, Kottayam, Ahmedabad and possibly others who have joined in.

Why did I take the challenge?

It took me over 10 years to complete my first novel. It started in June 1999 and was my first attempt at writing. I went through much of writerly angst, self-doubt, self-ridicule, insecurity, frenzy to be published, writer’s block, the list is long. Learning about the craft of writing was possible by reading articles on the internet, interviews of published authors, publishers, agents and subscribing to writing newsletters. It was also during this period that I finallly accepted writing as a long term vocation that I will work at along with my career in business and project management and running a home.  Finding my writing voice happened somewhere along the way. I dabbled in poetry and short stories. I wrote monthly articles and features on India for a magazine published in New York that nobody in India ever got to read. Except for a few colleagues and associates who spotted my writing by catching the magazine on a flight or a hotel in the US. When they told me about it, it was a great high! I had got my desire to be published channelized by these writing gigs.

But the novel remains central to my writing existence. The first one is almost complete and I have started to submit to publishers and agents. With the NaNoWriMo challenge, I have kick-started my second novel. It is an idea as yet undeveloped. But the book will emerge now, as I write everyday of this November. I want to do in a month for the second novel what I took years to do for the first.  Its audacious, over-ambitious. But I am raising the bar higher on myself and want to reach it if I can. I am going to try my hardest best to reach it. For, during these years of struggle with the first book, I discovered the joy of writing. A line or a turn of phrase or a paragraph even, that brings a smile to my face as I go to sleep. A turn of phrase that pleases me.

Writing is the one thing that I hope to keep doing until the day I die.

But let me not get carried away with all these happy thoughts. There’s writing to be done.
So now,  back to Day2 of NaNoWriMo 2011 !!

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