Monday 26 March 2018

Malfuf wa Malik: Min Zamaan

First off, here is Farah Yousef, a young Syrian singer, a runner up at the Arab Idol 2013. Read more about her here.

Today I am posting an old, old short story I wrote for a guest post the same year Farah here bagged the runner up's place. Wrote it a few months before I left Cairo. The blog where this was published first, transitioned to a different platform, and then my computer broke when I moved from Cairo in 2014, and not all my files were recovered from it, so this story was lost to me. I know, I am bad at housekeeping both real and virtual!  But today something clicked in my brain (talk about tubelights!) and I recovered this from a place I hadn't bothered to sift through before - the sent folder. So, here it is, for the final installment of MwM ~

Min Zamaan*

Monday 19 March 2018

A-Z 2018 - Theme Reveal

Hi folks! Today’s the official pre-party before the real A-Z monthlong party begins. This is when all A-Zers (who have a theme) get together for the theme reveal and yup, I’m joining in (for my 5th year!) and yup, I have a theme.

Last year, my theme ‘Arabiana’ was a tribute and trip down memory lane as I completed two decades in the Arablands. I steered clear of poetry on the blog for one whole month (a greater challenge than the A-Z!) but the results were surprising – I didn’t shrivel up and die, had a fun time in fact, and, if I may say so myself, so did my readers, relieved at not having to read the versification probably :)

Anyhow, this year I thought I’d skip the torture of skipping poetry, and delve a bit deeper into my past. Sadly, I’ve led a pretty boring life so no juicy tidbits... don’t worry, M-i-V will continue to be itself - a totally family-friendly place.

Talking of places – I’ve spent a large chunk of my life in Africa, all but a smidgen of my schoolyears have been spent there. I’ve sent my child to school in Africa as well. Apart from living, I’ve holidayed there, and read about it, and still have many things about it occupying prime positions on the bucket list. Always been fascinated by the continent since age 6, and having spent such life-changing times there, I see no reason to downsize the fascination yet.

The Africa I’ve been privileged to know is not limited to dictatorships and disease, poverty, unemployment; soaked in crime, scams, tribal conflicts and cynicism. I’m not saying some of these aren’t issues for Africa, they certainly are in many places. But there’s so much more to Africa than just the poverty and the problems. The Africa I know has a deep joie-de-vivre that you’ll find nowhere else, a passion for music and dance, the richest of histories and legends and literature, the ability to snatch joys from the sharp jaws of crippling life situations. And my god, it’s gorgeous! – its wildernesses are mesmerising, ask anyone who travels regularly there.

Well, if you haven’t guessed it by now, my theme for this A-Z is….

~ Africana ~

Come with me again as I travel down memory lane to the continent of my childhood and my dreams. Come on a safari of literature and poetry and song and music. Of the deepest history and natural history, more than 3 million years old! - so ancient that the mind can barely grasp it.  Of majestic and varied geography, of stunning wild landscapes - the magical beauty of rolling grasslands and deserts, and lush rainforests. Come tripping on a land of depth and diversity that are beyond breath-taking, to a land where all our origins lie, the grandmotherland of humanity. Come on a safari that’s a feast for the senses and above all, the soul.

Posted for the A-Z Theme Reveal 2018

Sunday 11 March 2018

Observe. Record. Marvel...II

Who can tell what makes the finger tremble
or if the fault’s partly in the shutter -
the eyes mist over when the heart is full
and daylight seems to fumble and flutter;

how will you know what exact part is played,
how much of which and what’s responsible
and where the share of credit must be laid
for the error, if something’s erred at all.

It’s plain enough that the takes are blurry,
how will you know which of the lenses fogged?
Was the tremor in awe? - or for worry
that it’s all too vast to be catalogued.

Is there room for poetry to be blurred?
to accept neither hand nor lens has erred.

Continuing my theme from the last post - meta-poetry mixed up with archiving and photography...Have a restful Sunday and a wonderful week!

Sunday 4 March 2018

Observe. Record. Marvel.

This was one of the images that coloured my Holi. Loved it. Don't 
know the source, using it here with due respect.

I’ve understood the job – it’s to record
as clearly as I’m able, and marvel,
it should spill over my eyes and the work
even when I’m trapped in downward spirals,
and distracted, ask ‘how long?’ and not ‘how?’
it should still be a reflex to applaud
whatever passes above or below,
and wherever the craft chooses to park.

And here’s the first draft over halfway through,
I see you’re taken aback – there’s just this?
a few blurry takes, rather hit and miss,
these bullet points too cryptic to construe.
But those who stand tongue-tied could be amazed too,
and love mayn’t be just a sharper focus.

One March over the A-Z preparations, a brainwave struck - to draw upon the expat experience and record it through my first Bengali poetry. And I am pleased to report that the first draft is nearly complete! Dozens like the experimental sonnet above, but in the mother tongue. Writing them has been a special thrill!

And yes, this March too I am recording and marvelling while I prepare for the A-Z, only not just in poetry. The A-Z Challenge is such a neat excuse to indulge!

March started off with the Indian festival of colours - Holi, a most joyous and a favourite festival. I observe and record and marvel as thoroughly as I'm able. Happy Spring!