Monday, 7 November 2011

The Blind Fishes


I thanked God and
The Avatars of God that
The morning breaks everyday and
The sun shines on the earth

I said hello to the
Rays descending from the heaven
And with them
I set foot on the world tour,
We decided to go first to
Where we had not gone before

We went together to
The cave of Kutumsar,
Cave was deep down
Below the terrain
The rays could not
Tread the winding steps,
And when I went down
Alone with a lantern,
The blind fishes swimming
In the stream of darkness
Grumbled that they
Were troubled by the light

We went to the
Forests of Philippines,
It was impossible to
Go deep insides but
I could hear
Muffled footfalls of a man
Walking in the woods,
And dried leaves murmured
In my ears- he does not
Live in your times and
He will continue to wait
For his emancipator

We went to ancient scriptures,
To the comic books, and
To the wilderness of
The North Pole,
There were caves allover
Inside dark forests, where
Sun-rays were forbidden,
Banned was waking up
Those sleeping, and not
Allowed talking with
Those awake

We went to a
Cinema hall in Delhi
And I told the sun-rays-
I want to watch a movie,
You better go home

It was a new theatre
Built with a new technique,
Several movies were being shown
On several screens, and
Each spectator was watching
A chosen movie,
Ensconced in a chosen seat

I too joined the audience,
Sitting in a new luxury seat in
The new building of the
New cinema house,
I realised that
I too, should chose a screen
And a movie

Around me, in the front,
And in the back, and on sides
Spectators were watching
The movies- enthralled,
Mesmerized, in pin drop silence,
And hubbub was on the screens,
Scenes were changing rapidly,
Changing were the actors and the events,
There was light on the screen and
The audience was soaked in darkness
I, too, with everyone else

There was this movie on
The Second World War, and
A soldier of General Tojo, 
Fearful and panicking,
Jumped out from the screen
And hid in the darkness
Spread around me and the audience

Raavan closed the pages of Ramayan &
Kumbhkarn came down from the screen*
His loud snores were floating
Over the hall

Stayed on the screen
Gurran- the monkey dwarf-
With his tribesman and
The mighty Phantom left
The theatre with his wolf
On the prowl of the world

In the hearth of pit-less cosmos
Burnt on the uneasy sun,
The rays were in slumber and the
Darkness boiling, bubbling in the
Cauldron of the sky,
Oozed out of the theatre
On the streets of the globe

I was alone in the hall
And I was scared,
This was dead night and
My lips were muttering
The names of God’s incarnations

In the security of the Phantom
Spectators had reached safely
In the caves of their homes,
And in Kutumsar
The blind fishes
Were sleeping cozily

In Lapland and Lanka
It was the time for all
To go to sleep,
Those already in the
Lap of sleep, had no
Need to arise,
And wide awake I, alone I
Was cursing myself,
I could not
Stay in the theatre, nor
Could I step out on the street,
I was afraid of
Meeting the fate of Abhimanyu*

Perhaps, at this point
I should have chanted mantras
To invoke the gods,
But I had not learnt
The art of waking the stones,
I did not know either
How to fight with wolfs
Or the phantoms,
I did not know that
In Hindi movies,
Shetty- the goon
Rises and re-rises from the ash
On the orders of the don,
And Lothar- the prince, needs
The magic of Mandrake 
To stay alive

I had never gone to discourses
Of the curly-hair swami,
Nor had I learned the trick
Of floating in the space,
I only knew Anand- the magician-
And his innocent tricks

I was standing alone at the
Threshold of the theatre,
I was not born to riches,
Nor the blood flowing in
My veins was pure

In this long night on earth
I wanted to save myself
And to live a full life,
In this darkness when
Even the stars were not seen,
I was praying for the sun
To appear on the horizon

I had toured the world
With the sun-rays, but now
I was waiting for the
Net of darkness to be cut
And when I wanted to
Remember God and his incarnations
I did not know that
This was the time for
The wolfs to laugh.

Notes- 1) Kumbhkarn, younger brother of the demon king Raavan, myth says that he slept for six months at a stretch. 2) Abhimanyu, the teenage heroic son of Arjun, the hero of Mahabharat war, was deceived and killed against the rules of the war. 3) Kutumsar caves are in dense forests of my state where blind fishes have been found, perhaps adapting to the darkness. 4) Raavan ruled in Lanka as the myth goes. 5) A Japanese soldier was indeed found in the forests of Philippines thirty years after the Second World War. 6) Gurran and Lothar are characters from comic books

Written and translated by Lalit Surjan