All of these poems unfinished, spaces crammed
full of half-uttered words, inert, tongue tied.
Interrupted windows, staircases jammed
with mindless tics and turns and asides,
with untaken steps to retrace, strengths untried
to fling the whole purpose away, start again.
Nothing feels it’s honed to a polished end,
tightened so well that it won’t spring open
next season, at the touch of buttons. Fattened
enough for blades. Lean enough to be deadened.
A hundred of them precarious, unravelled -
each memory in its groove wrongly filed;
some thumbsore, others ignored, mishandled.
The woods and cells and walls poorly styled,
imperfect the rhymes and rugs, unreconciled.
Nothing finds a closure in a short lifetime -the entire house left open by a crack of rhyme.
First thing in the morning today I read about Om Puri passing away, and the title line which is from a famous Mary Oliver poem called 'Thinking of Swirler' flashed into my mind. And that line kind of ambled into this poem. A sonnet-ish form of my own, with an extra line after each quatrain. Fattened, if you like, ready for the blade.
'Each of us leaves an unfinished life.' Indeed. Om Puri was a favourite in my cine-going days in Delhi, when I frequented the Indian Panorama at the film festivals, because they were the cheaper tickets - available for two-three rupees each. The foreign films too of course, as many as I could afford. Om Puri was starting out those days, and rose to a major force in Indian Parallel Cinema. I remember some mesmerising performances by him - Aakrosh, Ardh Satya, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, Sadgati, he was flawless in every film.
As I left India mid-nineties, my relationship with Indian Cinema became a little distant subsequently. I haven't watched any of his later films, but I have followed his career. Beyond saddened at his passing, and a little shaken too - has the loss of Western artistes that characterised all of 2016 somehow infected India now??
Mr Puri, you will be sorely missed.