Welcome! - to my A-Z Challenge 2020 where my theme is India in 26 Objects as I blog alphabetically through April.

Friday, 29 November 2019

বাংলায় - আমায় দাও



On the way to Queen Elizabeth National Park from Kampala.
Image credit : Valley Isle


এই ছবিটা  আমায়  দাও - খোলা আকাশ,  বিস্তীর্ণ  তৃণভূমি,
বাতাসের ছোঁয়ায় নোয়ানো এলোমেলো ঘাস,
পৃথিবীর কপালে কালো তিলকের মতো কাটা এক পথ;
বিষুবরেখা এফোঁড় ওফোঁড় করে চলমান শরীর থেকে বিচ্ছিন্ন  মন,
বাবুই পাখির বাসার মতো ঘন রাত,
তার বুনোটের ফাঁকে ফাঁকে অজস্র তারা,
অন্ধকারের ভাঁজে  হাতির অবয়ব, সিংহের গর্জন,
অতি ক্ষুদ্র পোকা মাকড়ের অনাবিল জীবন।
এই কবিতা আমায় দাও, এই প্রগাঢ় প্রকান্ড দিন,
লালমাটির মহাদেশে হঠাৎ দেখা
লালকমল নীলকমল সুয়োদুয়োরানীকথা,
কোনো অচেনা শিশুর চেঁচিয়ে নামতা পড়ায়
শৈশবের সাদা কালো ঘোলাটে গল্প আভা।
এই ছবিটা, এই কবিতা, এই আফ্রিকার
নিগূঢ় নির্মল সৌন্দর্য, আনন্দকণার  দীপ্তি,
আমাকে এক মুহূর্তের জন্য হলেও দাও।



Give me this image - open skies, expansive grasslands, 
haphazardly waving grass touched by the breeze, 
a road cut like a tilak across the forehead of the earth;
a mind detached from a moving body that pierces the Equator through and through,
a night woven as dense as the weaver bird's nest, 
innumerable stars caught in its warp and weft,
the shape of an elephant in the folds of darkness, the roar of a lion, 
the inexorable lives of the tiniest insects.
Give me this poem, this intense, immense day, 
fairy tale characters suddenly spotted 
in a continent of red earth, some unknown child's singsongy
repetitions of multiplication tables
dredging up the black & white, blurred glow of childhood stories. 
This image, this poem, this mystic, clean African beauty, 
sporadic beams from fragmented delight, 
give them to me, even if it is for a split second.


~~~




I know it's a bit strange coming back from Cal and writing about Africa :)  - Writing in Bengali because I was in Bengal, and Africa because it's Africa and has this overwhelming place in my life and affections. 

While I was in Cal, a nephew, a keen and excellent photographer from days prior to digital cameras, who's also visiting faculty at Iowa State Uni, travelled to Uganda with a group of his students for a study abroad programme. He posted some of his images online. So I asked him if he'd be so kind. So that's the explanation...








Thursday, 14 November 2019

Just keep writing...just keep writing...



Oh yes, I have been writing...I have. Only not poetry...only not at this blog...

Firstly, I've been a bit busy wrapping up the October Challenge at Write...Edit...Publish... - I had hosting duties for the Horrible Harvest Challenge.


I've also been writing to the Words for Wednesday meme over at Elephant's Child's for the past three weeks... building up the same flash in three sections. It is unbelievably lovely and liberating when someone else dreams up the prompts! :) They have been provided by Margaret Adamson for all three parts, thank you. And thank you, EC! I earnestly hope you are better soon.


So here’s the whole flash together in this post. The prompt words are in all caps. Hope you enjoy it. 


WfW 1 (30.10.2019)

I went in for the CONSULTATION and made it quite plain that I wanted one like the heroine in that MYSTERY MOVIE but the hairdresser – awful, awful man, made the HAIRCUT into a horror film! The weather is too MILD still to cover it up with a scarf - I don't know what to do. Life is all about living with UNCERTAINTY and bad hair. No JOY in it.


On the SURFACE, it's such a paltry thing. But actually it's more than just appearances. Covering up hair or wearing it loose or whatever - it's never that simple, is it? Women's hair is more than just hair, d'you know what I mean? From crowning glory to political statements! Didn't Saki say that hair was like a husband, so long as one is seen to be in AGREEMENT in public, the private differences do not matter? Well, something like that. My differences with my hair have stopped being private, screaming from the rooftops, more like. And there's a new FRECKLE the size of a continent to cope with as well.

But it's not just the haircut. Or the skin. Ghastliness happens in threes. Henry's partner decided to go SOLO suddenly, and that's another catastrophe. Well, from his point of view anyways. I personally think it's a golden opportunity to get the FIXTURES changed, they've been coming unstuck for years now, not living up to their name at all. Those two could never reach a consensus about anything lately. I would have thought it would be a relief, but no! He’s going around with an expression between a whipped mongrel and a constipated criminal. I mean, men! Hairdresser or husband - the root of all my problems.

WfW 2 (06.11.2019)

Hairdresser, husband and to top it all, hubby’s business partner. Melvin is normally quite CHOLERIC, not exactly a ray of sunshine at the best of times. First he decided he’s done, then two ticks later, he came LOLLOPING back, perky eyed and smiley faced, super-suspicious! I knew he’d come to push the same weird AGENDA. Clearly, the INVESTMENT consultant had shot down his ludicrous project. Now he wanted me, us! to get involved in his hare-brained scheme. One is quite ARTICULATE but some people can render one speechless with their cheek!

He bounded in on Sunday, I was struggling with CURLERS, trying to minimise the damage done by that Oblivio hairdresser –  I had meetings the next day. My allergies were really bad too, nose like Rudolph Reindeer. Not a good time, I told him.

He paid not a jot of attention and made himself a drink, nonchalant, as though it was his house and not mine. Started the same old spiel. I told him nothing doing. A product based solely on ACKEE extracts is too extreme niche for this market. Trust me, I know. He said I should stop behaving like an overprotective HEN with Henry ha ha and open up to the potential life has. Open up an express route to the PAWNBROKERS more like it! Besides, ackee can be toxic, he’d never make it past the rules or the RULERS.

Just then Henry came in and I escaped. Which was a mistake. I heard them SPEEDING off not ten minutes later. Henry was unusually solicitous when he came back, all kinds of fuss with cushions and wraps and soups. As if I was pushing eighty or something. And he actually said, very almost-pensive-casual-like, maybe we should reconsider this ackee business? Might even be better ROI, pioneer advantage and all that. What?! Excuse me?! Men, really! Living with ANOSMIA and bad hair is easier than living with them! 


WfW 3 (13.11.2019)

They ganged up on me, even Oblivio hairdresser – not satisfied only with messing up my hair majorly that last time, he took a stab at ruining my life as well. But it’s Henry and Melvin I’m really cut up about.

First Henry and Melvin fall out. Then two seconds later, all that vehemence about going it solo if no-one else is interested etc etc vanishes into thin air. Mel tries to insidiously win Henry over through the backdoor, thinking I would grease the hinges. Only he is much mistaken if he thinks I am a backdoor, not for him, not for Henry, not for anyone. I made that plain. I also explained, in detail, over and over again why this ackee line wouldn’t work, but would the pair of them listen? A men’s cosmetic line based on a fruit that smells like scrambled eggs? I mean, seriously? I told Henry I’d have nothing to do with it. Money, unlike ackee, doesn’t grow on trees, have they noticed?

I don’t know how Mel convinced Henry. Hang on. Maybe  I do.  All you have to do is to somehow hint Henry’s being a stick-in-the-mud and letting the old boys’ club  down and that’s it, easy as a pie. I saw them hurtling off together and magic! When Henry came back he’d lost the hang-dog look and was singing around the house like a tone deaf nightingale. I had my suspicions, but kept a very neutral face as I asked him the reasons for this sudden inexplicable cheerfulness. Oh nothing, nothing, glad to be home, he said. I was a treat for sore eyes with the new hairstyle, he said. Yeah, right. Pull the other one.

I found out later, much later, when everything had gone belly up, they had convinced that Oblivio hairdresser about the whole ackee caper, how men’s cosmetics were booming and he was missing out blah blah blah…. He’d obviously been doing quite well out of his business of ruining women’s hair. I’d changed my salon, went to Sofronie’s after that debacle, feel much safer now. But I saw the men’s section coming up next to the old  salon, and then the ackee based cosmetics in the window. Of course I came back fuming. Of course it was bound to fail. When I pointed that out, I mean what man would want his hair smelling of scrambled eggs?

Henry looked acutely uncomfortable, the initial uptake hadn’t exactly been euphoric. But he said, NOTHING VENTURED NOTHING GAINED. No-one was queuing up to have his hair or other body parts perfumed with ackee, however, even months later. Good money down the drain, thank goodness it wasn’t ours. I knew I shouldn’t be, but I was sneakily glad it was Oblivio’s head on the block this time. Well, there’s a sort of poetic justice to it, you’ve got to admit.

But do you know what Melvin said? How was a woman with anosmia qualified to give marketing advice on men’s cosmetics, that too based on smell?

Talk about adding INSULT TO INJURY! Honestly, men! 


~~~

I'm travelling for the rest of this month and will pop in as and when. Hopefully, back soon. Stay well and happy writing.