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Tuesday, 6 March 2012



    I am restless.Don't know what to do. There's so much in me that wants to take the shape of some poetic words. But it just slips down like mercury and disperses in tiny globules which can't be collected.
  angry with myself I dress up and go out to college library.I wander listlessly,mumble a feeble 'hello' to the desk clerk and head for the reading room.Still restless, I pick up a volume of 'Encyclopaedia Brittanica'.You are safe with any volume of an encyclopedia. Turn any leaf and some interesting information is there to keep your mind occupied. I come to a page about the Egyptian Sphinx. I stare into her kohl-lined eyes and find Cleopatra hiding behind them! I soon get lost in her thoughts....
   an irritating screeching sound of a chair being pulled jolts me out of my trance. I look up with a frown. The next moment my eyes are wide with wonder. Before me is the smiling face of a middle-aged man, may be of my dad's age. He is smiling more with his sky-blue eyes.
 He asks gently, " May I please sit here?"
 Then I remember and exclaim,"Sir, you?"
 "Yes, me. Do you know me?"
 "In a way yes and no, sir."
"Then why did you exclaim like that?"
"Oh, we had met sometime ago at that 'poets' conclave'".
"I do remember! I had noticed you, your restlessness, your fidgeting and leaving midway abruptly before your turn."
 "Oh, my god! Do you really remember such trifles and an unknown girl like me?"
"No, usually I don't. But that day I could see the reflection of my own unease in you and  felt better  to have at least one like minded person there in that gathering. The only difference was that you could leave but I couldn't. Being the guest of honour I had to stay rooted till the end."
"Oh, sorry, sir, I now regret having unintentionally insulted you that day.A poet of your stature-"
"Shh! not so loud! I don't want to draw attention! This time I've come as a curious visitor to your university and while taking a round here I noticed you and couldn't resist saying 'hello' to you. Well, may I ask you something? If you don't have anything else to do or any objection, let us go out of the campus to some  nearby hotel for a cup of coffee or something? I just feel like talking to you."
    I stare back at him.There is something pure and innocent about him. So I agree and walk with him to a nearby hotel. We take our cups of coffee and reach for a corner table.
 Some minute just tick by in silence.I squirm in my seat and say,"Sir, you wanted to talk."
  He says as if remembering,"Oh, yes, yes. I was just arranging that in my mind. That day you left that 'poets' conclave' as if in annoyance. I wanted to say something in that context."
 "Sir, I didn't mean to insult those other poets or their poems."
" Did I say so?Oh, no! To be honest, I myself wasn't too pleased with all those poems. Actually I am against such conclaves. I honestly feel that poetry isn't for public recital. For that there are songs, lyrics, ballads-"
"Sir, don't they also come under the umbrella of poetry? Just different modes of expression!"
"Agreed, but I'll put it this way. Suppose you meet a very dear person after a long time. Will you break into a song and dance to express joy publicly?"
 I understand what he means.
He continues,"No,you will become speechless!You will just sing in your heart and that person will listen to your inner song by his heart. That is what is called a poem. Any experience which leaves you speechless gets expressed in some art form like poetry and while putting it in words,'the spontaneous overflow of emotions' has to well channelled, subtler the better.
 " Now, take the example of the sea. It has those ever restless waves on its surface. But the more we go deeper the more its water gets calm and then almost still as those rocks at its bottom. We can swim or float upon the waves but to see the real treasures we have to dive deep into the sea, putting aside the fear of drowning.
"The same applies to the poetry. There are those surfacial poems which are to be recited or hummed in public, only to be forgotten after a short spell of applause and then there are those poems which compel the reader to dive deep into them to reach to the jewel of their profound meaning. Such poems say much without any bombast and that too from the blanks between their lines."
  I stare back at him in wonder because I find the reflection of my own thoughts in his words. Well, I couldn't have put my thoughts in such a nice manner.
 I mumble as if speaking to myself,"I too think so. How a poem should be?Well, just me and that poem, like two friends gossipping together, and when it ends it should begin again in my mind."
He laughs lightly and asks, "what do you read generally?"
I say, "Oh, I read a lot! But I prefer to go back to the classics again and again.Every time I find a different meaning of some lines!"
"See, you prove my point! You have to dive deeper and deeper to find such jewels! And these classics are so long lasting because they have been written lovingly for those who love literature. Those writers knew their responsibility as well as their limitations. They valued each and every word of theirs. you know, Shakespeare stopped writing at the pinnacle of his career. He knew that his poetic talent was really a gift which was not meant for squandering away. Just like these 'Irises' printed on your skirt. These flowers are so precious! They remind me of a painting of these flowers by Van Gogh. Have you seen that painting?"
"Then please see it. Its print is available on your Internet."
"What is so special about that painting and the irises?"
"Well, see it attentively and draw your own conclusion. that painting is a wonderful poem with a profound meaning."
............After he leaves, a realisation dawns upon me that I had been in the company of a famous poet! I tentatively look at the 'irises' printed  upon my skirt........

                                                       (IRISES-by VAN GOGH)
                                                                                     -AUTUMN ELIZA


  1. Such a wonderful story...pearls of wisdom...thanks Eliza.

    1. Yes, dear Ms. Janaki, I learned a lot that day.

  2. Autumn Eliza....very good! Now listen to your own words and your writing develops.