Category: Personal

My mother always says, “It would be difficult growing up, but you must.”

“Don’t Grow up … There are too many rules and restrictions” –   Hugh Hefner

“It was then that I declared, resolved, and determined that I would never under any circumstances be a politician, much less a grocer; that I would stop right there, remain as I was–and so I did; for many years I not only stayed the same size but clung to the same attire.”

Oskar Matzerath, the protagonist of Gunter Grass’ The Tin Drum recounts his third birthday when he decided to “stop right there”- in that moment of time and space, in that year. Oskar willingly stops himself from growing above the age of three. His unwillingness to grow during the times when losing innocence was vital for survival justifies his resolution.

We too, like Oskar, have moments of personal insights when we wish we could keep the day to ourselves and stop where we are. The feeling gets stronger with every passing year and often a part of us resolves not to grow. While we confront every next birthday that marks another year gone, we choose not to keep track of numbers anymore. B’days become redundant, uninvited, burdensome.

Growing up is difficult, I agree with mother, but why “must” we grow? Can we not seize a part of ourselves, and keep it entirely to our own?  And as we keep losing ourselves in the process of ‘growth’, can’t be become less careless about things we have and want to have?

Time grows; and grows fast. In the moment of (in)decisiveness of growing and not willing to grow, we are huddled into the mechanical process, often losing track of ourselves. As we grow, years appear to shrink and days pass by like a freight train. When I was a kid, every single day seemed a thousand years long; every year, a light year apart. Every moment offered a life altering vision, every experience was life itself, and every other person appeared to gift something irreplaceable. Every day was a birthday.

Sometimes, while sitting on my favorite childhood bench, carelessly observing the surroundings with overburdened eyes and reading the daily newspaper, I suddenly hear the chirping of birds and the distant dog barks, the rattling of kitchen utensils, unexpected chuckles of my grandmother, and the sound of a silent wind, and for a moment, I am in the time which I thought to have left far behind,  I am a child patiently imbibing the world around me, listening to the careless sounds, at peace with myself and the world.

Such fraction of moments, which get rarer with age, are life altering; they bring upon a realization that time is stagnant, and so is the world, and we are growing up, and growth is taking away everything that was once beautiful. In that moment of time travel, I want to be like Oskar- stay where I am; seize time and care no more about losing it; retaining innocent vision and watch the world outgrowing its apparel.

With another birthday, I am not sure whether to take heed of my mother’s advice and resist my irresistible passion for immobility or succumb to my world that refuses to grow beyond this year.


via Mehran Qureshi’s blog  BARQ

God to Man:


You have your desire and
I have my desire.
My desire shall reign.
But if you surrender yourself to my desire,
I shall bestow upon you your desire.
But if you oppose my desire,
Then I shall tire you of your desire,
And ultimately,
My desire shall reign.

This post by Mehran Qureshi set me thinking. The quotation appears in an Islamic text Hadith e Qudsi , a compilation of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (words of God ‘expressed in Muhammad’s words’*). No literature, I think, expresses the contrast of free will and determinism so well.

When making sense of the world in and around us, we are bound to confront the dilemma of essence and existence, of free will and determinism, of active struggle and passive submission and we are left questioning “In His will is our peace, Is it?”.

“Teach us to sit still / Even among these rocks, / Our peace in His will” Thomas Stearns Eliot resonates the age old wisdom in the poem Ash Wednesday quoting Dante from the Inferno, “In His will is our peace”. The Hamletian ambiguity whether “to be or not to be” seems to reach a resolution here. For Dante it is indeed “nobler in the mind to suffer”. The Hindu scriptures and hymns echo a similar understanding of our day-to-day indecisiveness and reach an unambiguous solution: “jahi vidhi raakhe raam, taahi vidhi rahiye”.

The emphasis on merging one’s will to the higher entity, to succumb to one’s circumstances rather than rage against them seems a coward thought at first. What comes of it might not be happiness, sure, but neither can it be called peace. Are happiness and peace, then, only the product of battles fought against destiny and won over or they are the results of a life that is left unquestioned? Whatever answers we get to our own questions, the question remains.

When I first read (15 years back) a popular Tao saying**, appeared in a daily editorial- “Those who flow as life flows, need no other force, they feel no wear, they feel no tear, They need no mending, no repair”- I assumed it mocked passive submission to one’s fate or what else is life without struggle, I thought.  Life was yet to be. For with time, I realized passive submission was much more difficult an act than practicing free will, I learned that “to do nothing is not a passive state. It is the highest activity of which soul is capable, the deliberate and sustained effort of the soul to suffer, in the sense of allow, all that God may will to effect upon it.” (Thomas Stearns Eliot, Murder in the Cathedral)

* According to as-Sayyid ash-Sharif al-Jurjani, the Hadith Qudsi differ from the Qur’an in that the former were revealed in a dream or through revelation and are “expressed in Muhammad’s words”, whereas the latter are the “direct words of God”.

**Though the quotation in reference to Taoist philosophy has an entirely different context and interpretation.

How personal can public writing be? No matter how close we are at relating and sharing our personal experiences, writing our impressions of the life around and inside us, there is a constant self demand of depersonalizing oneself; a persistent fear of sounding stupid, senseless and sentimental. In the process of looking for the thickest veil to shadow the indulging self ego, any artist is at danger of becoming insincere to his/her emotions.

Personal experiences and emotions emanating from them act as primary impulses that trigger a chain of thought, but how much emotion actually remains in the final product varies from one artist to another. And how the intensity and amount of residual emotions determine the quality of the creation is an enigma.

When people read poetry they have a natural inclination to relate the writer to the persona in the poem. To argue otherwise, seems to me fighting a lost battle. The difference in the relation of the writer to the poem needs to be taken far beyond the superficial and literal connotation. The question “what made the writer come to this vision?” seems more pertinent than taking the vision to be an exact manifestation of the writer’s experience. But the question remains, is the creative product still a reflective of one’s personality, emotions and experiences? And if it is, how far can it be a study of the writer’s life and personal traits?

Writer’s personality, if not directly reflected in the work, determines the process of the creation of a work. A reserved, self-seeking, introvert person is more likely to look for ‘objective co-relatives’ and other artistic equivalent to share his/her personal experience, as compared to a gregarious, and outspoken individual who will find the use of literary devices an unnecessary interruption in the communication of his/her first hand experience to the reader. The latter technique will produce a much simple form of poetry, though intense for a particular set of emotion and audience; in contrast to the former method where poetry takes a much complex and multiple narrative forms, opening itself to a fresh interpretation with every reading.

Similarly, writing poetry in oneself is another phenomenon where the writer enacts his or her creations, unconsciously.  How often does it happen that we come across a work of art that speaks to us despite the absence of a shared experience?  Such works stay in our sub conscious and if intemperance ensues, it leads to the work’s manifestation in one’s life. The overpowering emotion transferred from the art object rests in the recesses of the mind in search of a first hand experience. F. Scott Fitzgerald is said to have lived through the plot of one of his novels. This is as if a writer can foresee the impulses, which are likely to be taken over in reality, in his/her moments of creative frenzy.

© Copyright, Tina Rathore.

Call me Ozon Nokobi
no! call me Ozon Bron
just call me Ozon
don’t call me at all.

I may be God you fear
so much you revere
or i may be a devil
singing for you a prayer.

Do not call me your friend
your secrets my heart can’t bear
or a stranger-

Please don’t take away my life
from pieces i repair.

Ozon Nokobi, Ozon Bron
Nokobi. Bron. Ozon
I wear so many names.
Ask them if they wear me
for attire’s all i care.

Perhaps don’t ask them
i’ll tell you a better story.

There was a man
Ozon Nokobi
who called for other men
remembered strangers, forgotten friends
you and me, may be.

He said he’s giving them life
who have ceased to be.
not from cemetries, tapered coffins
flesh now fire.
But from what
we have ceased to be
what we could have been.

Life he gave, life he took
from scraps he mended pieces
shaping in a whole
calling it Ozon Nokobi.

© Copyright, Tina Rathore.

I organize papersfire_or_ice
carelessly scattered
on my study table.
There is one paper
bearing burden
of a heart-
eleven year old.
I read it again, a hundredth time.
The world of stars
and galaxies
has shrunk itself
in pink and blue
four lined paper.
Just a few words,
of a boy- little lone.
He is asking me, over and again

“Will you tell me madam
what is the definition of a family?
Mother says
there is
a destinyuniverse460x276
a dream
yet to be fulfilled.
A sole journey
to eternal happiness
yet to be accomplished.
She says
‘When you really want something
the whole universe conspires
to help you achieve’.

Madam will you
tell me
‘Does universe conspire for everyone?’
We all have dreams
my parents toocosmos
have one
or should i say two?
Different dreams
Directions different
‘Are different universe
conspiring for them?’

Is it just one
in many roles.
Wretched universe
where is mine?
No geography
No Physics
No mathematics
could answer me
just so simple
a question.”

Just to ease
his troubled mind
I asked him
the other day
What he wanted to beuniverse4
when he grows up
like all of us.

“An astronaut.
for i will go
in search
of my own universe.
May be of my parents too.
I will reconcile
both of them
and find a destiny
that everyone shares.”

%d bloggers like this: