“That poem made me uncomfortable,” said a new acquaintance who discovered it while looking for something else. “What made you write it the way you did?” she asked.
It took me back to the thoughts I had at the time…
How does something get created? Can any ‘literary’ endeavour be a visceral response? Would it then qualify as literary? One of the definitions of the word literary is ‘mythical’. Is it possible for reality to be mythical? I say, why not? If realism can be magical – or magic!
Inspiration for me is the now. What I recollect is rarely ever in tranquility. Someone taking a potshot at me said that I write my musings talking to the sky. As it turns out, the swipe went to waste – I do address the limitless expanse. The atoms, neutrons and the elements are my landscape. If perchance someone comes in their trail and stops to listen, then they are blessed or cursed – however they wish to see it.
I was working on three things simultaneously – or rather trying to, even as I resisted the lure of a few others. My mind is a kaleidoscope, each time I turn a different image springs forth. At the time, the images flashing were of flesh and bones. For a strange reason, the words ‘virgin whore’ blazed before me. It was so vivid, I started slashing the page I had in front of me. They were loose sheaves that I had taken to bed. The ballpoint pen wouldn’t write clearly, so I sat halfway up and went at it. I wrote “Fleshened bones” and the rest followed. “Mumbai, harlot”…I cut out Mumbai…I doubt if a whore is ever addressed by her name.
Would I call this a creation? I don’t know…but I have been discussing some aspects and I find myself opening up to what such writing means to me.
It truly made me happy when someone called it a “work of art”. We have such standardised ideas of what constitutes art – it usually has to be sublime and other-worldly. And if it is a woman writing then she must speak only about love (the pretty kind), about beauty (the fair-and-lovely kind), and pining (the ‘main tulsi tere aangan ki’ kind, not the ‘yeh aag kab bujheygi’ sort).
True art is artless; it does not mean there is no technique, but that technique is not something striven for. I like coal to be coal, I don’t want it to become a diamond.
However, these comments are general. What is relevant to this poem is that for me it was the immediacy that mattered. Today, it may or may not have the same potency – it may be just a lot of words that sound disgusting/exciting, depending on one’s own proclivities.
Sometimes, the point is not whether something stands the test of time, but of timing. And I won’t even go into any raw analogy here.
We respond to different things in different ways. What I see and what I convey may also be lost in ‘translation’ during that transit. But I have travelled with it. I do not believe that creativity of any kind or degree has to be necessarily adaptable…change is about the dynamics within and not those that come from outside. I am completely rigid about some ideas and it has worked for me! While I appreciate another take, I would not go along with it, mainly because poetry is more than an intensely personal expression – it is a lived- and died-with emotion. I am stubborn and possessive. Anyone reading it may rubbish the words, fight them, but the fact is that I have already devoured them.
“Mujhey khauf aatish-e-gul se hai
Ke kaheen chaman ko jalaa na de”