I cannot be a poet

This poem mostly wrote itself while, after reading a Facebook post, I thought about the (perceived) rights of poets to speak about issues.

I cannot be a poet

No, I cannot be a poet.
From the endless fount of issues
that may plague the skin of my brothers,
I can’t write a poem about any one of them.
My pen, my fingers, my mind yield nothing.

Don’t get me wrong, I can write.
It’s just that I’m not qualified to write about these issues.
Says who?
So say the poetry clergymen.

I have never been raped,
so I can’t write a rape poem.
Never been depressed to contemplate suicide
so I can’t talk about how hopelessly dark a mind can get.
‘Hell, what does he know of depression,’
I hear the critics say as they hammer the gavel
and shuffle uneasily on their selfmade pedestals.

Being male rules me out from talking about female infanticide or sexism,
being straight rules me out from talking for the LGBT community.
Maybe being human rules me out from taking up animal rights.
But hey, I love dogs,
so I and all you animal activists have to be reborn as a dog, a talking one,
so we can talk about our animal troubles.
Experienced firsthand.
I don’t believe in rebirth, but for the sake of my right to talk for animals, I’ll assume this might work out.

Somehow somewhere,
the arts came up with these rules.
Maybe it was a place where the cult met,
where everyone wore the same dark robes,
and entry was only by invitation.
The cult decided
I could write only about issues I have faced firsthand.
Who made this cult? I don’t know.
I see their rules being waved around like axioms though,
like unbending rays of light,
like the only valid letters in the alphabet.

What made my voice wrong and theirs right?
What made their voice a part of the melody,
and mine a jarring note?

Yes, I cannot be a poet.
You may think I’ve given up too easily, but no.
I asked the art custodians if empathy would do when I didn’t experience their plight firsthand.
‘No no,’ they said,
’empathy can only get you halfway.
If you haven’t faced it, you can’t write about it. Even what you write will be wrong.’

What about actors then, I asked.
What about our movies, our literature, our music?
Do our novelists, our filmmakers have to grind under the yoke of oppression
before they write the first chapter,
before they script the first scene?

And the judges said,
‘They are the maestros, the veterans, so they can bypass this rule.
But if you, my young artist,
if you’re creating a work of art,
we, doubling as your peers and your judges,
we won’t let you get off that easy.
Stick by the rules.’

So dear custodians,
If I have to abide by your rules,
I’d rather not be a poet.
I’d rather not chisel my voice
to speak on your podium.
No I cannot be a poet.
I cannot be your poet,
not the poet you want me to be.

How to be an internet intellectual

First,
Embrace an ism.
Any ism.
Nationalism.
Feminism.
Atheism.
Fundamentalism.
Communism.
Okay that last one’s almost dead. All the more likely you will stand out.
Stick to this ism
like it’s an extension of your skin,
like you would not exist had this newly discovered creed of yours hadn’t existed.

Second,
Voice your opinion.
On
every
social
network.
Proclaim it,
our country gives you the freedom of speech.
It is what gives you a forked tongue
so do not put a leash on it.
If however,
someone questions your line of thought
or produces a pile of contradicting data,
hurl buckets of titles at them.
If it’s a woman who questions patriarchy,
call her randi, bitch, whore.
If it’s a man who questions feminism,
call him an asshole or a chauvinist.
Say you are ashamed of him because he does not agree with you.
If he rejects your model of nationalism,
send him to Pakistan.
If it’s technically possible send him to Mars.
Knock them off their train with your vitriol.
Again, it’s freedom of speech.

Third,
Voice your opinions frequently.
Does not have to be something different.
You can repeat the same argument for weeks or months.
If you don’t, you might run the risk of being forgotten.

Fourth,
Use words that will have people reaching for the dictionary.
Deliberately bamboozle befuddled souls with obfuscated words.
Simplicity and clarity is for the naïve.
Sophistication will paint a halo around your head.
If you’re a writer, write because you want to change the world.
Anything less will not cut it;
If you’re funny, don’t let it seep through.
Limit that to the coffee table with your friends.

Note. You may not enjoy all this.
Who said being an intellectual was easy?

NaPoWriMo 2017, Poem 18

Careful

IMG_20161009_232607.jpg

In response to the daily prompt: Careful

Careful,
think twice before you push that button.
It might suck you in,
the screen
with its rambling,
yelling,
screeching,
ranting,
demanding,
voices shrieking,
the tenor rising,
shouts silencing,
never stopping,
never yielding,
never retreating.

Even if you ignore
its incessant chatter
and build a wall
around your ears,
or learn to silence
the voices blaring from the tube,
someday it might be too much of an effort.
Someday,
those voices might just merge
with the one in your head,
some day
you might end up
with your bottom glued
to the couch for hours,
and your eyes magnetized
by the hypnotic screen.

Melodrama masquerading as entertainment,
Screaming anchors moderating a political debate,
(mis)shaping the voice of the nation,
Fists rattling desks,
Words just stopping short of abuse,
because hey, its television,
We’ve gotta be civil.
How will the kids learn right from wrong?
We’ve gotta teach them.
How will the nation know how to be nationalist?
We’ve gotta teach it.

At first,
it might feel awkward.
Relax, TV virgins feel that way.
It’s an acquired taste,
so sit back,
push up the volume on your remote,
soak in the spirit,
feel the adrenaline rise.
And when you feel the rush
so strong you can pound your desks and tables too,
congratulations!
The transformation is complete,
welcome to the brotherhood
of chest thumpers,
of angry righteous men,
of TV vigilantes.
Relax and enjoy the show,
You’ll be sedated real slow.

When you feel like this, my brother,
stand up,
blow a kiss to the television
and on bended knees,
sing paeans to it.
After all,
the moment must be celebrated,
the moment when
the idiot box finds another human counterpart.

So your choice then.
Given the reward at the end of this trip,
Would you want to be careful at all?

Faking it!

So, Faking News published this piece I wrote after the incessant rain in Bangalore this week.

Fishing poised to replace IT as Bengaluru’s top industry

Any more heavy showers next week, and we might see water sports mushrooming in the city too.

Let our country sleep

59ccebac-573f-4d75-a8fa-6db489fac217

Take this.
Nationalism.
Wear it like a medal around your neck.

If need be,
take it off and use it to strangle those anti-nationals.
You can use it any other way you wish.

Roll it into a ball,
and gag anyone who sets loose his evil tongue
against your decrees, your beliefs, your definitions.

Or take all of your medals, melt them, and make batons.
Beat the rascals who question, who differ,
who look through the glass of reason.

Silence them before the epidemic spreads further.

Get rid of them.
Yes, all of them.
For all we want is one united voice.
Just one voice.
Your voice.
We’ll make it ours.
No differences, no deliberations.

Invite them to debates where they must only agree with you.
Tune out their harsh voices; we need more of a melody here.

Give them dictionaries that define
the only words they can say,
they must say.

Yes, do give them freedom too,
to paint themselves in any colour they like.
Let all of it be saffron.

In that land of plain homogeneity, our guardians, let our country sleep.

Aamir, you stole my limelight

HateMonger

Yes yes, I am angry with Aamir Khan. Who isn’t?
I’ll tell you my reasons.

But before that I must confess,
nowadays I am also in deep confusion.
Why these TV people are following the film stars?
There are so many other people no?
Why they listen to Aamir only?
Arre baba, you know all those things he said that day,
I myself have said that to my wife several times for years,
Should we leave the country and migrate to Kaneda?
Or to the London?

Why, even my neighbour Sharmaji has similar thoughts no.
That D’cruz even has a plan to settle in the Middle East or New Zealand or Australia.

Why these news reporters are not putting us on TV then?
For years, we have been saying and doing what this Aamir’s wife has thought of now.
Why journalists are not coming to us?

Why they are going to this traitor?
The damn rascal has even stolen our idea.
And just no credit for us.

You know,
I can tell you which other places we can move out to:
America, France, maybe even Germany.
I hear Antartica has very little population. It will become popular migration target soon.
So much better living conditions in these places,
and we can make quick buck too.

Okay, what?
What are you saying now?
Why I am angry with this Aamir?
Arre, it is okay for us to want to migrate, even actually migrate.
We are common people no.
But these movie actors should behave more responsibly.
How can he even think of moving?
How can he say what is on his mind?
He is a public figure no.
It is okay for common faceless man like me to think like that.
Even criticize him on social networks,
and send similar Whatsapp forwards to my friends
whom I have not seen since 2010.
Aamir cannot do such things.
He is a perfectionist, he must rehearse his lines before he speaks in public, and say what the audience will like.

Okay, now I have to go.
Time for Skype call with my brother Sandy.. I mean Sandesh.
He will tell me how to get American visa.
Then I go shopping in the evening.
Have to look good when I go to the US no?

Jai Hind!

Another mahasabha initiative for Valentine’s Day

VDay

Couples looking for a quick easy divorce will soon be able to do so on Valentine’s Day. The Chindi Mahasabha (CMS) has announced a new initiative wherein scouts of the CMS would be patrolling towns across India on Feb 14 to identify divorce candidates. To avail the services, a divorce-seeking couple just needs to turn up in a public place and avoid all of the gestures mentioned below:

  1. Holding hands
  2. Kissing
  3. Hugging each other

Couples who stand at least 5 feet away from each other will be given top priority and will have a fast-track divorce.

The service has been welcomed by couples who had been waiting for their divorce cases to come up for hearing in the efficient-as-IRCTC courts. A 45-year-old said on condition of anonymity, “This is really a godsend for me. I have been having an extramarital affair but just could not apply for divorce since the alimony would leave me naked for life. Now this CMS service will ease my burden.” He further disclosed that after he had got the quick divorce through CMS, he would engage in PDA with his new lover in another public place where the Hindu Mahasabha (HMS) could notice them and get them married. Several sociologists have welcomed the CMS initiative saying it will be a true ghar wapasi for the separating couple.

The announcement has also polarised public opinion. A-knob Goswami in his show “Goswami wants to know” questioned the CMS panel about their true motives behind the program, but predictably never allowed them to answer. Hrithik Roshan and Aamir Khan expressed disappointment that the CMS divorce scheme was not launched earlier while Salman Khan thought it was too early. Scores of men in Haryana were indifferent to both the schemes – they were still searching for a bride thanks to the skewed sex ratio in the state. PETA activists staged a protest outside the CMS office asking why pet dogs or cats were not granted the service.

The CMS and the HMS have each pledged their support to the other. As part of this support a couple from the HMS will get divorced under the supervision of the CMS. A couple of hours later, a dating couple from the CMS will have an HMS pandit preside over their wedding rites.

News just coming in has reported a surge in depression among divorce lawyers and wedding planners. Many of them are mulling a career switch and might join one of the Mahasabhas.