The Birth of Writing

This is not the name of a course or a reading in a course offered by the School of Literary or Cultural Studies. This is more of a testimony of my Writing. I would not be talking about the birth of Writing in a socio-historical or a so-called ‘anthropological’ sense of the term. I’ll be talking about it in my own personal capacity and how Writing was born to me or how the Birth of Writing happened to me. As many of you might already know, I have been writing in this space for the last five years now! I have grown a lot, learned a lot and most importantly, unlearned a lot. It has been a life-altering experience and I will never ever do anything thing differently if given the chance. Here, therefore, I would like to talk about my transactions with Writing and how it came to define me. 

When I read about the origin of creativity, all I read about, mostly, are words of divine inspiration or some out worldly experience being the genesis. But for me, I’d say, the beginnings were not so rosy at all. 

I met Writing as result of an act of Violence! Yes, an act of Violence.

I’m very conscious as to the connotations of that word. I remember being a school student, extremely excited to get my words out in the public domain after realizing that I could write a word or two. I had already seen my friends write regularly in the hallowed pages of the school magazine. I remember my mother requesting me to put out something but I did not really care. I believe that there is a point of time in life when maybe we’re all supposed to meet each other; even the qualities meet you at one point of time. I met Writing, one could say, when it was probably too late! I was lost in the talent hunt fiascos of high school. The gyrating opera of ‘Exposure’ as an illusory cover for unpaid labour was starting to unfurl in its naked glory in front of my eyes. I thought I would never be able to create a niche of my own in this dark comedy. 

Then it happened!

A glorious opportunity seemed to tumble down and stop right in front of my feet like a no contact delivery from Amazon. It felt like a godsend. It felt like a miracle. My fault? I was not really aware of the politics that Writing entailed. I remember sharing my first write up with some close people even before submitting. That was my mistake!

I thought Writing was meant to be shared. Now I know it is meant to be owned.

The fruits of my labor got rejected (As I naively mentioned that I had made others read. Plagiarism, however, is a monster I met much later.) Much later did I understand the deep waters I was engaging myself in. It didn’t feel as if my writing was rejected; it felt as if someone rejected me. Seldom have I cried as hard as I did that day. It kick-started a brew. A fire rising from the deep fissures in the nethers of my heart. And one day the brew got too hot to handle.  The day was 26th August, 2015. Five years ago. 

Since then, I have always tried to write my heart out and think aloud as much as I can. And No! writing in a journal does not have the same lure to me as writing in a public space does. For some people, writing is a very personal act. For me, it is public. I write because I want to make myself heard/read. Just like an artist who paints for others to see. I think of the online space as a kind of an e-c(h)osystem which enables more people to read and also a place where a text can easily morph and meander its way to find and cling onto myriad arbitrary symbols. And then, when it will walk back to you, though they are your words, you might never be able to recognise it.

Thus, thepenarchist was born. Not out of love, but out of anger and a desire to make a ‘mark’. To cause anarchy with the ‘pen’, when the ‘pen’ was not even there. The pen is the hand. It is very interesting you know, using the word ‘mark’ in the context of a virtual space. It would have been understandable had I used it for writing in a peace of paper as it would have literally left a mark on the pages following it. Metaphorically however I feel, the internet to be an infinitely e-lastic (and not plastic) place which will keep increasing no matter how much someone drags it by the ends. This e-lastic place also leaves a mark, a digital mark for that matter, not only on the next page of your notebook, but on the whole tabula rasa called the internet, where it is universally ephemeral and ephemerally universal at the same time. A beautiful paradox. It all began as ‘roywritesblog’, but I believe ‘thepenarchist’ was there all along. It was me who found thepenarchist a little bit later, or perhaps it waited for me. The existence of thepenarchist was forged in fire and it must keep burning in order to sustain itself. If that is what is needed for Writing to live. So be it.

Hey stranger! How are you?

Hey stranger! How are you doing? I haven’t seen you for a long time and was just wondering how are you. That is why I thought of checking on you. So, tell me how are you doing? Do you remember the last time we went out together? Do you remember that it was almost about to rain but it didn’t? Do you remember the breeze that was sweeping across our face like an artist’s brush trying to paint the emotions into a new colour? Do you remember the last time we were about to have a cup of tea but didn’t? You don’t? Okay.

Isn’t it curious that in the huge scrolls of our memory, the things that we didn’t do makes a mark ever more prominent than the things we did? It’s funny how life works in mysterious ways! One would wonder that walking by the lanes and by-lanes while taking photographs all the way and documenting or archiving the experience as if it was an archaeological site per say goes unnoticed and unremembered by the times to come, but, it is only those moments that we forget to photograph or document that haunts or replays forever in the thoroughfares of our mind! Do you remember the last time we went for a walk together at three in the night when everyone else was fast asleep? Do you remember the last time we had a plate of fries even when we were full? You don’t? Okay.

Now, when I sit looking aimlessly out of the window, it is these mundane activities that seem so extraordinary with an amount of mystic charm in them. Who ever knew that something like taking a walk with a friend would be something so coveted! We have always learned that perhaps the most valuable memories or experiences of our life will be that super expensive trip, that road trip, that flight or that foreign trip which will blow our heads off in excitement! Because that was the fantasy that we forever dreamt of living, right? Who knew that life would come back to bite us all in the ass to remind that it is perhaps not the economic grandeur or the luxury that determines the value of a memory, it is perhaps living in the moment, hand-in-hand, laughing and smiling with the ones you love beside you. That is why I believe everything has a particular memory to it! Be it the touch, the smell, the concrete, everything which can be felt has a feeling to it; has a memory in it. Yes, even concrete! when I walked with you under the bridge waiting to discover the best sandwich or, along the most decorated street to find a solace of our own; we created a memory, a memory which stays there. forever! And whenever you go back, in whichever circumstances you might be, all the moments that we have spent together starts playing in the video player of mind. But, the memory changes as we move on. We imagine new things which perhaps did not even happen. So, what happens here? Do the files get corrupted? or do we? Now you tell me, dear stranger, do you remember when we did all this? You don’t? Okay.

Do you remember that day when I was down and you decided to take us on a trip? I hesitantly agreed but and I am so glad that I did! Do you remember how we discovered our favourite restaurant that day? Now that we are locked, we feel the pain in our hearts, a desperate longing to go back and re-live those moments again! Who knew those chaotic days would be something so coveted? The mind plays stupid little tricks on you you know! When you are away thousands of miles away, you long for your roots! You long for the place which made you; but, when you return to the roots, it is the distance, it is the journey, the new experience that seems more appealing to you now. What mystery is this? What charm? What crookedness? What concoction is being prepared in our hearts that makes us want only those things which we don’t have? Why can’t we ever be content with what we have? Why should life be like this? Is this the mystery of life which the philosophers have long sought and failed to find? Is a life worth living only if there is something unattained? A last untasted dish or, a non-experienced experience? Where even during the last breath shall we be hopeful, hoping that one day we will have that! Knowing very well that one day will never ever arrive. Hey stranger, how are you doing? Do you remember us talking about all of this the last time we met? You don’t? Okay.

Conflict Politics

It isn’t necessary to put words in bold or neon to make someone understand that conflict is perhaps one of the defining features of the human condition. The fact that we, as human beings can enter into conflict with other people, resolve them and move on without biting each other proves that we are as capable of aggression as we are of compassion. I know that this idea of tolerance as in the acceptance of difference or diversity is being challenged by the day. Events around the world make us rethink if we qualify to be seen as people after all? How can the same person, who claims to be sane be the source of such vitriolic hatred in times of conflict? It is in these junctures, that in my personal life, I try to be as self-reflective as possible. Not all conflicts can be resolved over a cup of coffee. Conflicts in real life tend to be fatal, literally. Therefore, whenever I see people at arms or trying to one-up each other, I try to reason by appealing to both their intelligence and their sense of empathy. I make sincere attempts to reason with myself to see both the sides of a dispute. Though this does not work out mostly, I strongly believe that in the end honesty is appreciated by both the dissenting individuals and groups. In a patriarchal society like ours, most of the conflicts stem from the ever fragile male ego. The inherent toxicity leads certain men to prove that they are no less, which leads to all sorts of mishaps. It has its roots in the upbringing where boys are told not to cry or asked to play with guns and not dolls. It is this inherent relation of identity with power from such an early age that makes them blind to the feelings of the ‘other’. That is why when they come into conflict with others they cannot let go of what they want which gives birth to violence. Be it acid attacks or petty gang wars, they stem from an attitude of not tolerating conflict or difference. I feel that this is the most important lesson that I have ever learnt, which is to respect opposing beliefs (to a certain arbitrary degree). Outside institutionalised education, it is Life which teaches us the most via interactions.

During the later part of my school life, I joined the classes of a rather popular teacher whom I expected to be no less than the usual run of the mill. To my great interest, my teacher did not fit that model. As I started opening up, we would often end up talking about anything and everything other than the venerable ‘subject’. We have had fiery debates and one such long-standing debate or a conflict of interest has had a long-standing impact on my life. He pointed out that our ‘English Medium’ generation is losing out on the immense beauty that regional literature has to offer. The problem lies in our orientation to our mother tongue. Since forever, we have been subtly taught to treat something ironically named as the ‘mother-tongue’ as something secondary. This treatment can only be justified if the other language was called ‘father-tongue’. The syllabus also, it seemed was very politically designed, as it contained mostly obscure texts whereas the English counterpart was much easier. The generation growing up with the illusory blanket of ‘Globalization’ must be encouraged to love their roots. This was my argument in response to my teacher that the syllabi were very politically designed to veer the students away from their mother tongue. He did agree to my proposition, but also replied that if we, do not take responsibility to start a culture which would lead to the re-popularization of the regional culture, then, who will? These words rang deep inside the chambers of my heart and made me re-think on whether I been too complacent! I saw a new window of perspectives open in front of me. Then I understood, all we needed was a little push. We did not have that. The fact that I have to resort to English as a medium of communication for this subject is very apt and deliciously ironical drives the point home even further.

As I said earlier, not all conflicts can be resolved with such ease. Certain conflicts are manufactured and installed in the social psyche to keep the hate factory alive. Such a conflict is that of India and Pakistan that has to some extent shaped our identities. With the wave of nationalism currently prevalent, some people would go so far as to say they are Indians just because they are not Pakistanis. Same was the case with me who started with ‘demonising the other’. I remembered distinctly that it started with cricket. It always starts with cricket. Any random Indian mobile cricket game would instantly pit India against Pakistan. This is how violence and conflict are kept alive through the micro spaces of culture. Whenever there is any national issue or religious tension, people indulge in the common rhetoric of hate. The idea of conflict is built into the human condition but that cannot be a basis to say that humans do not lean towards resolution. Resolution is also a part of human nature. The need for normalcy in a liberal democracy, no matter how much of a free fall it is in, is as important as the existence conflict. Unfortunately, more often than not, the hunger for the violence of conflict supersedes the need for resolution. Let’s try our best to douse the fires of hatred in whatever small way we can while weeping and bleeding somewhere inside for the sake of humanity.

Künstlerroman?

Human beings, while being individuals, are also social animals since it is but crucial to maintain relationships with other people in order to survive in an order or a system. One can be as fashionably introverted, be it influenced by the likes of Sheldon Cooper or Sherlock or otherwise, as they intend to, but at times even they have to wander outside of their fancy little cocoons in order to interact with the surrounding ‘environment’. Interaction with other people at multiple levels is crucial for one to be human in a very broad sense of the term. These interactions however, are not limited to a ‘type’ or formula which could be applied to all and sundry. No! They vary from person to person and the so-called typical interaction and its personal overtones change depending on the person one is conversing with.

This is where, I believe, the question of identity crops up. Identity can be seen as the kind of a person one is when he or she is with another individual, shaped by the perceptions each one has of the other in any given situation. For example, I being a student and interacting with a teacher would be different as compared to the same ‘I’ interacting with a friend. The interaction alters if and when the surroundings are different. I talk with my teacher differently in the presence of other students, than how I do when I am by myself. Little roles and the codes, be it of conversation, attitude or behaviour in general alter in relation to the people around an individual. People close to us such as father, mother or partner share a linguistic code with an individual which is strictly personal and could appear indecipherable to an outsider. In all these cases of interaction, the identity of the individual actually morphs its way from one to the other in a seamless manner. What actually remains, if there is a ‘type’ at all, is that of the fluid identity of the individual who has in themselves, imbibed bits and pieces of all the attributes from all the little ‘roles’ that they play on a regular basis.

Does identity only comprise who a person is when he or she is with someone else? In other words, is my identity derived through the process of mutual interaction with my fellow beings or does it have an intrinsic character to it? I would vouch for the view that the core of one’s identity lies mostly in how we relate to ourselves! The relationship that an individual has with him or herself largely determines the dynamics they share with other people. If the intrapersonal relationship with one’s own self is in constant sync then there should be no difficulty in sustaining the fluidity of one’s identity in relationship to other people irrespective of who they are. Therefore I would consider, the central and strongest aspect of my identity to be the relationship of me with my own body and mind. If we are true to who we are and can live with it then there is nothing to replace that sense of accomplishment and well-being. This is easier said than done as the mind is a foxy little thing and can very well play tricks on you. One needs to work these things out with oneself and with others in the most careful manner possible where one’s individuality and social togetherness are in tandem with each other. It is in times of fragmentation when we are unsure of the course of action we need to take that we have to ironically fall back on our own selves to transport us of the dark dungeons of pure self-indulgence. It is only if we are able to work things out with our own selves that we are able to navigate the little roles that society has bestowed us with. Thus, me and myself are always in a constant dialogue with one another which often induces reflections on the world around oneself.

If I see my writing as but an expression of the self, then I would say that what I write interrogates my identity to the same extent that my identity interrogates how I use words. Feel free to disagree but as someone who uses writing as a tool of self-expression, I strongly believe that it is out of this inner dialogue that the ‘creative’ in my writing is born.

Dance

Sharing a short little verse that I had written few days back in the train for Ink Elan

Image Courtesy: https://www.pathofshe.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Imbolc-Teaching-Shadow-Dance-Blog-02-18-550×343.jpg

Midterm Elections

Dr Partha Banerjee wrote an article in Bengali for the Abp on 31st October 2018 on the American midterm elections, here’s the link to that:

https://www.anandabazar.com/international/us-midterm-elections-2018-i-hope-my-prophecy-will-prove-wrong-1.890021#.XGhCxcGB1iM.link

I, in turn, had translated it to English, which was uploaded to
HUMANITY COLLEGE here’s the link to that as well:

https://humanitycollege.org/2018/10/31/november-elections-hope-my-ominous-predictions-are-wrong/

Read any at your convenience and let me know.

Image Courtesy: https://a57.foxnews.com/images.foxnews.com/content/dam/fox-news/midterm-2018/bg-1280-2x.png.img.png/0/0/1524864838003.png


Maha-Alaya

This post was written for the occasion of Mahalaya for Ink Elan

Here’s the link:

Kaashi: the city that wasn’t!

Kaashi, or Varanasi, is one of those places to surely feature on anyone’s Freudian bucket list.

It is one of the oldest cities in the world and it makes sure you understand that while roaming about in its organic lanes and by lanes and by by by lanes and so on.  My last trip to this place wasn’t my first, but I can say that it was the first time I looked at it through my own eyes. I won’t be documenting the various places of “so-called” worship because everyone does that.

The hotel where we stayed this time was a remarkable one (hold your hats folks!). It made me wonder about a lot of things, most of all, I wondered if Dante had decided to include the 10th circle of hell, it would have been something like our place! Sounds Warm, doesn’t it?

I am not really a shutterbug, but an entire canvas of myriad experiences made me want to document this unusual journey.

I have heard a lot of talks, especially from the foreigners that they come to Varanasi to “find” themselves! This time I realised a teeny tiny bit of how that happens. One fine evening, I found myself sulking in the audience of the evening prayer, which happens at the ghats. Therefore, I decided to take a walk by the ghats and explore the literal margin of this antique city. I jammed my earphones in and started to walk. What song was I listening to you ask? Oh, I was listening to American Idiot by Green Day. Is this Globalisation? Multiculturalism? Post Modernism? Frankly, I don’t care.

Look at this boat, sailing the lands forever!

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If you stand with your back towards the river and look up towards the skyline, believe me, for a moment I thought I was there in favelas of Brazil!

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Nature, I believe, has its own rhetoric. A place called “juice bar” is promoting their brand by showing the way to the burning ghat of all places. I am not going to elaborate on this beautiful irony and destroy your poetry.

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Let me remind you, this graffiti is in Varanasi, beside the Vishwanath temple, on the lap of the Ganga.

I’m j-u-s-t saying!

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These two holy souls are here seen drawing their daily dose of inspiration from a heavenly conflict between Ray Mysterio and Randy Orton.

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I have never had the guts to visit a burial ground, you can call me a coward in that respect. But, here, an inexplicable urge led me on towards that “fatal” place. Is this the force that nature has? Was this what Wordsworth meant?

I kept moving, felt more alive as I did. And when I reached I felt a wave of souls moving through my body. Scores of logs were stacked on all the sides, as the vehicles for the dead. Looking at them made me wonder, someday some log would be mine too!

I don’t really know if dusty the real term to describe the place, because the dust has- me, you, and everyone: the biggest family on earth.

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Bodies piled on another, wrapped in white, all set to be launched into eternity. A “grave” situation you’d wonder, right? I am not sure if I can say that because as the enlightenment was dawning upon me, my castle of glass was immediately shattered by a nonchalant tea seller nasal screaming “lebuuu chaiii” (lemon tea). Oh yes, who wouldn’t want refreshment while disposing of the dead!

The power of this place was such that I wanted to go there day after day to drink life from the dead.

Also, every damn creepy house I saw above a few flights of steps, I thought that it was the abode of the great MOCHLI BABA! ALAS! I never found it. Sad.

I have finally reached a moo point

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amar kotha ti furolo
note gaach ti murolo

By the way this was the most stylish guy I found there:

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oh, the swagger!

All the pictures as you have already noticed are shaky. No! I am not imitating Mrinal Sen or something. It’s just that I wanted to give a feel of the bustling life through these pictures. The city was moving and so was I.  This definitely not all, from a personal perspective, this trip also featured one of the best co-incidences I have ever seen in my life. I couldn’t believe something so poetic could ever happen to me! What the co-incidence you wonder? Maybe, I will tell you someday over coffee, but it has to be your treat!

I hope you enjoyed this trip.

 

 

 

FROM DENYING RUSTICITY TO RONALDO

Ink élan is at it again by launching another fabulous series called  “Bishwo cup of tea” (world cup of tea)!

Like the previous immensely successful “Baishakhe chander haat”, I have also contributed here with the story of a very inspiring individual!

After reading the post, I can assure you that this guy is a “keeper”.

Read it here:

https://www.facebook.com/inksfromyoursoul/posts/1842219349150679?notif_id=1531931262050235&notif_t=mention

This time my post has been illustrated by the very passionate Sayan Mukherjee

|Narayan Kotha|

Amader Ink élan r Baishakhe Chaander Haat er 10 nombor porbo ti amar sesh obodan ei series e, asha kori bhalo lagbe Narayan babu k nie amar ei lekha ti, bhalo lagle ekta like deben please!

Ebare kintu bangla horof eo lekha hoeche!

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1728057193900229&id=986575891381700

Artwork by Sourin Das and Designed by Arghadeep Saha