Monday, June 21, 2021

Our Bodies in Refuge - Poems

 



Our Bodies in Refuge. 

 

It gets better… 

It gets much better though you feel

pain stinging like massive bees

Nerves holding mist dense with cries 

of enervated body like a hive 

holds each compartment 

Hexagonal with sore eyes, numb feet 

Cramped muscles, aching belly 

A body like wrecked ship stranded

on an island of forgetfulness

where brain gives up but body resists


I hear my sister over phone 

softly telling her friend

It will eventually get better 

What she couldn't tell her is how 

Her mind forgets but body remembers

How she prefers comics and Mangas 

over trendy chic lits and familial dramas 

Why every night at the dinner table 

She says 'food tastes good' instead of 

Saying about her worries and pain

Aching body and lying to her friend

tearing the chapati from one end 

with her dove like hands, shaking 


She says food 'really' tastes good.

Bodies find refuge but never owns

transcending like a wanderer 

teen to adult to getting all old

shrugging mould to mould

We survive but never evolve 

in our own bodies we are refugees 

Lost souls and displaced homes.


Will it get better? 

Ask the father whose family wiped off 

Except his only child when city bombed

Asked the father who crossed the Sea 

only to witness his child's body

Washed off on a lonely beach Dead

Ask him if it gets better 

And what it's like to be 

a refugee in a foreign land. 


But don't hang your head in shame 

With a long held silence 

Like a boy with his brazenness 

Asked me in a single glance 

How our bodies seems too heavy 

With curves in hips and breasts 

What it's like to be bone and flesh

Occupying space still so out of place. 

And I asked him with same audacity

If he dare to live for a day

In body of a woman 

a real.. real woman

but all I got was silence. 


I know you too might have felt 

At times so great when you wished

a Syrian or a Palestinian friend

Happy Ramzan as a festive day

Ignoring the stories and the facts

Of houses ruined by the air raides


So cold.. So cold it is after the nights

Heavy rains striking my window panes

With a thud! And broken pieces of glass

Shattering besides my money plant 

I look at the clock ticking seven

And I wonder What day it is.. 

My digital calendar wishes me 

A Happy Fathers Day

A Happy Refugees Day



 

.................................................



Friday, June 18, 2021

The Cat, The Whale and The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Childrens Literature Spotlight and Remembering Eric Carle.

Mysterious, scary, exciting, nail biting, keeping us on the edge of our seats, No. Not the zombie horror movies that might be your guilty pleasure, I am referring to children's fairy tales as if happening in a different era, on a far away land, infused with magic, mystery and suspense.

As the fable enchants us and we are lost in the alter world. 'Once upon a time there was a.....'  

OK Calm down! Calm down and Come back from your trippy dream!


It can be cats and whales too why just Cinderellas and their slippers always, and beasts and beauties and castles and cavaliers and what not.. 



Cats and Whales. Really? I came across a fun language book for kids by Boris Zakhoder. His characters are so relatable, yet hilarious just like Oinky the Pig from 'How a piglet crashed a Christmas Party.' Do you know what did Oinky do on the Christmas Day? He disguised as a Boy and reached the party. Later, Garbed and spectacled, Oinky wasn't even detected until...


Oinky made a Pig out of himself! haha!


Have you heard about Kit and Kyt story? Kit in ukrainian is Cat and kyt is whale. What if we ask


“Hey what if Whales and Cats switched places for no reason? ”


Though in English it sounds nothing fancy but you can still shoot the questions.



 I often wonder, what if someone who grew up in Russia. Are they afraid of Cats, as Cats are hominem with Whales? Lol.


Even French children book have a similar concept around cats known as "My cat the stupidest in the world" and it's about all the stupid things the cat is capable of: make things fall, jump on people... Let me tell you, this "cat" isn't cat per se...

It's actually an Elephant!


How different the world could have been if we could change just one letter, as in can't and didn't. There would have been more apostrophes, because

"Hey! cool cats.. we are standing on a brink of cat-aclysmic cat-astrophe."


Imagine global trade would never have happened if there were enormous seafaring cats out there or the newspaper headlines today would read 'gigantic enormous oceanic cat are a new rage to sea surfers and sailors.' Haha!


Coming to creatures in oceans, I remember Bong Joon Ho's blockbuster (yeah, long before Parasite won Oscars. If you haven't yet watched just go, run, and watch it) .... The Host.


Good Lord! It scared me to death when I watched it first. The creature was definitely horrifying, looked surreal and wrecked havoc on the island and it's inhabitants but Government least affected by the lives lost was busy projecting their PR image and vote grabbing tactics. In between, if people die do they care at all? Naah! Blame it all on the foreign country!


Outsiders are alienated and shrugged off by the Government by demonising them, while not revisiting their own hypocrisy, instead citizens are left to fend for their lives and treated as fodder for the monster, to be eliminated once and for all.


The Host has shown, how...


Governments dictate not only politics but media, art, science, literature and every other aspect of our lives controlling, their own image in public and the first person narratives which are evidence that might be helpful in getting justice if they survive the death galore, whichever suits their best interests first.


Sounds too familiar. Right?


Burning pyres, Corona virus and the Indian government best at what they do, hiding the death numbers, while propagating their 'goodwill' on media channels which act as government mouth piece during elections but since last two terms it's forever an election campaign season going on since last seven years.





During WWII in Germany, Abstract and expressionist art were verboten. All art was forced to support a propaganda.. a regime's message, devoid of free minds, free hearts and thinking. 


Inspite of that, there were wonderful scholars and scientists working, keeping themselves low key and there were teachers who secretly showed their students,"the works of so-called degenerate artists." as recounted by Eric Carle, the very famous Children's Author.


When childhood is filled with light and hope, while walking through nature, holding their parents's hand, listening stories of forest fairies, of ugly toads, glowing fireflies, noisy cicadas and ever wandering grasshoppers.. and of green lions, pink rabbits, purple foxes and polka-dot donkeys, it's a piece of art that children carry throughout their lives, inherited through time.



Like a hungry caterpillar who had eclectic appetite and who pops from his egg and eats through rows of fruit and cake and ice cream, even pickles, Swiss cheese and salami until it find it's way to becoming a vibrant butterfly, caterpillar who had one apple but was hungry again, had two pears and still hungry, Children too learn to have a hunger for knowing things, for questioning, for growth, eventually becoming healthy individuals, ready to face the world with powerful yet inquisitive minds. 


It was Eric Carle's father who introduced him to the natural world. As a small child Carle's father would take him by the hand, out into the nature and would show him worms and bugs and bees and ants and explain their lives to him. His stories are tribute to his father who gifted him a world full of wildlife. The lives of animals then became transformational stories,  a love for nature that later infused his work.



His paintbrush had an extraordinary flare to write and make the world better. Enormous thing or the tiniest ones both are now within the grasp of each and every one of us.


 Take pain and become joy, take suffering and become learning, take rage and become the kind of love that makes children smile, in our own little ways, we all get to come home.and be the children we always were. 


Carle was born June 25, 1929, in Syracuse, New York. His parents were German immigrants, he was six when they returned to their native Stuttgart, where Carle grew up under Nazi regime, witnessing horrors of World War II, digging trenches at age 15. 



“During the war, there were no colors,” Everything was gray and brown.… Houses were camouflaged with grays and greens and brown. 


Thanks to his  high school teacher, Herr Kraus, who introduced him to Modern art, secretly showing Carle, works by German Expressionists, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Paul Klee, and other artists who were declined and deemed degenerate by Nazis.



Speaking of cats, One of his last books was 2015′s The Nonsense Show, which centered on a parade of flying fish, cat-taming mice and circus animals. 


When one of our great creators dies, we might comfort ourselves by saying, ‘At least we still have their books.’ In the case of Eric, we still have his museum—which exists because of Eric’s lifetime of generosity.”


Unfettered joy that he has brought to so many children he had shown that the art can be a perfect reflection, a way you see the world  Aware that other countries too had museums that honored children’s book artists, Eric decided to create such a museum in United States. He will be missed, but his spirit and his love for living creatures, big and small, will live on through his books, his art and his museum for generations to come. 



With his passing, the world has lost not only an artist but a beautiful human being, according to a delightful story shared by writer Lara B. Sharp, about how a stranger helped her over the phone and he kept searching for the cat and even listened to her, while she sobbed for her lost kittie, which was later found near an Italian restaurant. When the writer called up the stranger to thank for his support, he asked her to meet the lucky cat Shmoop, and he came over, to her home. 


After he met Shmoop, as he was leaving, he handed her an envelope... Inside was a beautiful book, called 'Have You Seen My Cat', signed by a familiar name, non other than, the famous author Eric Carle.


The revelation was shocking and embarrassing that she never phoned him again out of shyness. 


To be treated like a daughter, when She never had a father, by such a loving person, who cared about her and and searched endlessly for her kitty, whom she loved so dearly, meant everything to her and she struggled to express, what all she felt that time...


 Years later, when Shmoop passed away, the writer cremated Schmoop with an Eric Carle postcard of 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar'. The story was so precious and deeply personal that she kept it to herself. 


But.. She shared it the day Eric passed away, because of love, admiration and respect she had for him, she would never ever forget him. The most cherished moments for her was those five whole days, when she had the world's greatest dad ever. 


Her mind knew well that Eric had gone but her heart and eyes still longed to see him again as she asked - 


'Have You Seen My Eric Carle?'


It was hard, not to shed a single tear to witness immense kindness of an individual with a heart, so tender that it aches seeing pain of a fellow being. It's a story that gives us a glimpse into humane character of a person, known to other as a well regarded children's author. What a lovely, moving and heart touching tribute it is.

 


What a life he lived and what a legacy he's leaving behind that will make him immortal in the hearts of millions of kids and their parents who've ever read him. Oh Eric...


In the moon lit sky, among the brightest stars, an illusionist of dreams and vivid imagination, travels across the horizon, leaving a trail of thousand little rainbows, like a forever hungry caterpillar.