Friday, 6 January 2017

In my house there are a hundred half-done poems



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.






18 comments:

  1. Hi Nila - thanks I looked up Om Puri - he has led a very productive and colourful life ... I can feel your sadness at his sudden passing. Poems or blog posts half done ... so much is 'sitting here' ... I don't think any of us finish our life's work ... it seems to add each year ...

    Take care and looking forward to more poems, new or dusty ones ... Happy 2017 ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Some lucky ones do, most don't. Puri's death at 66 feels very untimely. Older than but still rather like George Michael and Carrie Fisher, though of course he was less well know globally.

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  2. Sorry that this world has lost such a great talent. There is too much for any of us to finish in our lifetime.

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    1. Indeed. Lucky the man or woman who actually finishes all s/he wants to in one life.

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  3. I think we are always applying a fresh coat of paint to our creative homes. Sorry about the loss of such a talent. But the body of work lives on and inspires.

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    1. Yes, so it does. And many of his early performances are in arthouse films which turned out be classics worth multiple viewings. He was versatile, and powerful.

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  4. Hundreds and hundreds of half finished poems. Each carrying a fragment of their creator. Each laden with promise...
    I am sorry for the loss of yet another talent, and grateful that the world knew him (and all the others).

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    1. Oliver's definitely laden with promise! :) Her poetry is life-changing, must read for all poetry fans.
      Puri was an amazing performer - rooted, local, you'd think he wouldn't transcend borders. Yet he worked in Hollywood and UK and got an honorary OBE for his contribution to Brit cinema.

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  5. "Has the loss of Western artistes that characterised all of 2016 somehow infected India now??" Let's hope not. I've had enough death to last for a while... if there's ever an "acceptable" amount.

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    1. Yeah, far too many obits and tributes. Not a good sign less than a week into the year.

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  6. Let us take a moment to say farewell. Then honor and celebrate a great man for what he left us.
    Yes - that is a modern sonnet

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    1. There is indeed much about him to celebrate. It's sad when childhood icons pass - and so untimely.

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  7. Nila, it's a wonderful tribute to a talent silenced by death. But your poetry goes on. I hope you find the time to complete some of those scribbled thoughts. We'll all be the richer for it. :-)

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    1. None of my poems ever feel 'finished' enough to me :) I am always fiddling around with things I thought I completed years ago!

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  8. It is sad when a talented person we invest in dies. Lovely tribute.

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    1. The deaths of those we love in childhood are always hard to face.

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  9. I didn't know Mr. Puri, but I'm sorry you have to start 2017 this way. Half-finished works are the artist's way I suppose. We should try to live our lives that way.

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    1. Not just artistes, but everyone. Hopefully, the rest of 2017 will be better..thanks for your wishes.

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