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Archive for February, 2012

I’m a Lesbian

February 29, 2012 6 comments

That’s exactly what one of the school divas came up and told me one fine morning at a posh school in the 11th standard.

The reasons for the rumour are as follows:

(1) I was always reading big fat books whose names they didn’t know

(2) I did not have friends (which is part of the vicious circle)

(3) I was ugly/ungroomed/unwaxed/unbrowed

(4) My uniform skirt was not folded bikiningly above the thighs

(5) I had no interest in girl talk

(4) Nothing interesting happened in my life

(5) I carried an outdated vocabulary – without ‘fuck’ ‘condom’ ‘shag’ ‘masturbate’ etc on them

(6) Most importantly, I did not have a boyfriend

 

At this very moment, I want to be a little more proud of myself. Just give myself a tighter hug. And tell you guys who’re trying so damn hard to ‘be different’ or ‘do your thing’, that it’s mighty lonely out here.

 

Yours,

Sreemanti Sengupta

 

P.S. – I came home and checked on the lesbian bit. I am straight. Every little comment and click on this site gives me a fresh breath of life. Thank you and god bless 🙂

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Whew!

February 29, 2012 4 comments

At last. At long long last. I manage to appear on an e magazine for poetry.

Read my poem Cheshire Trains on Bare Hands Poetry.

Don’t forget to tell me what you think.

Whew!

 

Yours,

Sreemanti Sengupta

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Take me home…

February 22, 2012 2 comments

Your home misses you. Your homespun mother. Your overtly tough father. Your simple playful sister. You may be enjoying countless rebellious evenings lost in dry martinis, streaking your hair in the best of shocking colours, wearing clothes that reveal a tad too much for your family’s tastes, but you will forever be forgiven. Trust me, there’s no place like home.

I can tell you this for a fact. For am one of those who’s tried most tricks out of the book to get away from my home. Away from Baba with his rule books, from Ma who hasn’t grasped technology as yet, Didi, who’s an irritatingly eternal child, grand folks who live by my achievements. Yes, I have gone away and got lost like Little Bo Peep’s sheep. When Baba was diagnosed with his liver problem, I was happily downing cans of beer. When my grandma passed away I made sure I cared a rat’s ass for it. But when I returned home, tainted, failed and jolted back to reality, home welcomed back their girl. I once asked my colleague what’s it like to be a mother. “Well, you’re blank the moment the child is handed over to you. You’re frightened too. This tiny thing, incessantly crying away, where did she come from? And I was pretty angry because she was crying in her mother’s lap!” And she smiled her mother’s smile. Nothing can really surpass the experience.

I usually judge a movie by the impression it has on me. I am a bad movie critic, you may say. Because I do not like to discuss the ‘story’, the ‘techniques’ and so on.  In fact, people find me an inconvenient reviewer because I keep conspicuously mum after a movie. Some have now learned to take my silence as sheer joy. I just watched Black Swan.  It was beautiful. More so, because I saw myself in the protagonist, Nina. Now, the preceding sentence in itself is the mark of a movie well made. When you can recognize elements of your life/mental makeup of the characters, the imitation of creation is perfect. All artists are imitators. It’s a matter of getting it right. The film is everything and nothing about ballet. It is about a ballerina’s struggle to get the lead in the famous ballet composition Black Swan. Nina, a young and beautiful ballet student leads a life strictly under the protection of her mother, who shares with her the vivid dream to see her daughter as the Swan Queen on stage. The film proceeds with how Nina gets the role, is seduced into the big bad world of sex, drugs and rebellion and eventually dies at the end of her best ever performance as the Swan Queen on stage. Quite predictably yet sensitively the storyline of Black Swan runs parallel to Nina’s struggle. A beautiful white swan is in love with a fair prince. But she is lured into the alluring dark world of evil by the black or evil prince. She turns to the evil Black Swan, struggles through her life and finds freedom in death.

When the co-actors crowd around the dying Nina, her face is calm and beautiful, the hall is wild with applause. Nina dies with the words, “It was perfect!” This in particular reminded me of what I felt when I saw my parents at the airport. I had taken the impulsive decision to return. They were too shocked to speak because I had given them a 2 hour notice and myself 15 minutes to pack my life up and come back home. I guess I had too much ego to break down then and there. So I broke the silence saying, “Why didn’t Didi come?”

Wherever you are. However high your ambitions soar. Whatever you are or not guilty about. However far you have strayed. Whoever you have become. Your home still waits for you. Between birth and death, this and only this is absolute. May it remain so.  Amen.

Yours,

Sreemanti Sengupta

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Because I feel mellow

Lobo is playing. Some of the best mellowed romantic numbers that consistently make me go weak in the knees. Marriage and Love and Sex are supposed to be different ‘games’. You’re supposed to get up and give your wifey a peck on the cheek, hand her some rushed currencies for the ever hassling kids, bills  et all, and then hook up with an expensive young thing. I’ve tried hard enough to accept this. The gushing effervescence on Valentine’s, volumnising the greeting card sales. Is that it dear reader? I hope there’s something more than that. Like the way am able to say that Akira Kurusawa is brilliantly simple. The film Ran, it left me in tears. Behind the grandeur and all the devices, it is essentially the stor of a father and his 3 sons. I’ll tell you more about it when am a little less dreamy. Back to the book now  🙂

 Yours mellowly,
Sreemanti Sengupta

Dear Blog

February 18, 2012 2 comments

I have some news for you. I am trying to reclaim bits of myself and write a book. And as a result I may not be able to give you as much attention as I usually do. I’m sure you will understand what I mean. I have shared with you my life, my influences, my thoughts, my inclinations, many a solitude, many lonely times. Now, I would like to mould myself, submit myself to a book. So what will I write about? I’m not sure dear. And I’m enjoying the unsureness of it all. I may not too deep into life, too grayed in my temples, but the age that I carry surpasses most of the physical signs. I will not write an out and out autobiography. That would be boring. I am trying to discover a language of pungent pain that lies deep inside, a language that I deny, the language that terrifies me, a language that will shock even me, a garbled primal cry escaping through my pen. I want to strip off the lace from the pretty petticoats or the girdle wires inside the Victorian dance dresses, that balloon them up. Because inside, we’re all the same. The same flesh and blood, with the same desires, the same pain, the same hungers the same fears. I guess even Freud and Jung found it enormously difficult to step down from their genteel chairs and admit that we are essentially a naked tribe. Do not mistake this rant to mean that I am going to write a book filled with insane abuses. No, that would be the easiest way out. I will discover the language and write what it demands. It may demand Victorian austerity or tribal uncouthness. I am no novelist, am merely trying to receive myself in this journey. I cannot be bold enough to compare myself to the greats, but the 60s do fire my imagination, only I am trying to unstrip layers of scandalous superficialities to get to the root of what made people look at themselves once more, over paint their delicate lips, shake their hands on the immaculate bone china. I am trying to find me. Please stay with me in this journey. I cannot even tell you the date and time it gets completed. I remember a particular movie where an abstract artist is being interviewed. The interviewer asks the artist, “How do you know when you have finished a painting?” The artist says, “How do you know when you’ve finished making love?”  I also take this opportunity to thank all my readers, clickers and facebook friends who’ve kept me on the ‘writing diet’ in my toughest moments. I hope I am able to write myself. Amen.

Today, I unstrip myself. I am Sreemanti Sengupta. Thank you. And bear with me.

Yours,

Sreemanti Sengupta

It’s Scary

The thought of actually starting a book for real. In fact, it’s very very scary. It feels like am putting my most precious thing at stake. I do not know why I feel like this. Maybe, I am not successful in detaching myself from the art of writing. I have bragged about it, romanticized and thought that there’s one, just one book lurking inside me, one book. I have wondered how writers churn out one book after another? Do they lay out life like a huge bread loaf, and use a knife to cut it into different sized pieces? Something like ‘saving up some bits of life for the rainy day when no material/fodder comes my way’? Or less cynically, can they really empathize to such a degree that they’re able to live out their’s and other people’s lives as well? How do they ‘research’ for a book – as in, how do they even know what they’re looking for? Do they plan? If they do, it is repulsive, the sheer linearity of the affair. But some authors, write like scared puppies, with their words reverberating their inside entrails, a lapse of lightyears between the heart and the pen. I can only but bow to them.

I’ll try not to dwell in indulgent self pity and end it here.

Watch out for my book 🙂

Yours Joblessly, The Jobless Ideator

the non-virtual identity:  Sreemanti Sengupta

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Looking Back In Anger

February 12, 2012 6 comments

This is a special post for me. Firstly, it’s sort of a comeback – I was suffering a wordless hiatus and a long depressive bout, when I decided that the best to break it was to put my hands on the keyboard and go tap-tapping. Secondly, this post is dedicated to a disturbing poet, one who I dare not fathom. Whatever, I put down here goes farthest to what I gauge of Malay Roy Choudhury,  Bangla poet, scholar, main propagator of the Hungryalist Movement in Bengal in the mid-sixties. He, along with companion poets, erupted in the sixties Bengal with an angry plea for change in face of a decadent society.

Malay Roy Choudhury

I quote below from Wikipedia,

“ The Hungry generation literary Movement was initially spearheaded by Roy Choudhury, Samir Roychoudhury (his elder brother), Shakti Chattopadhyay, and Haradhon Dhara (alias Debi Roy). Thirty more poets and artists subsequently joined them, the best-known being Binoy MajumdarUtpal Kumar BasuFalguni RoySubimal BasakTridib MitraRabindra Guha, and Anil Karanjai.

Roy Choudhury is to the “Hungryalist Movement” as Stéphane Mallarmé was to SymbolismEzra Pound to ImagismAndré Breton to Surrealism, and Allen Ginsberg to the Beats. The movement is now known in English as Hungryalism or the “Hungry generation“, its name being derived from Geoffrey Chaucer’s “In the sowre hungry tyme”; the philosophy was based on Oswald Spengler’s “The Decline of the West”. The movement’s bulletins were published both in Bengali and infrequently in English as well as Hindi Language by Roy Choudhury since November 1961. The movement, however, petered out in 1965. Thereafter Roy Choudhury ventured out, apart from poetry, into fiction, drama, and essays on social and cultural issues that Bengali people have been suffering from.

Howard McCord, formerly English teacher at the Washington State University and later professor of English language and literature at Bowling Green University, who met Roy Choudhury during a visit to Calcutta, has succinctly traced Malay’s emergence in these words in Ferlinghetti-edited City Lights Journal 3: “Malay Roy Choudhury, a Bengali poet, has been a central figure in the Hungry Generation’s attack on the Indian cultural establishment since the movement began in the early 1960s”. He wrote, “acid, destructive, morbid, nihilistic, outrageous, mad, hallucinatory, shrill–these characterize the terrifying and cleansing visions” of Malay Roy Choudhury that “Indian literature must endure if it is to be vital again”.

 

That should give you a fair idea, atleast much fairer than I would give you on his life and times, firstly, because I believe in the immediacy of feeling to write something that would attack the reader’s sensibilities, and secondly, because I believe my immediate interaction with him in the cyber world is of utmost relevance to this post.

I was fortunate to meet Malay Roy Choudhury or ‘Malay Da’ as I like calling him through Facebook. This incident has somewhat mellowed my acidic rejection of ‘social-networking’. My initial contact with Malay Da’s work was through a learned source, a year or two back, which I can characterize as one of the turning points of my life as yet. One that pushed me off the brink of a cliff of reason into the abyss of somewhat frenzied knowledge where am still trying to get my hand hooked to a creeper and terminate a dangerous free fall.

The first body of work that I got acquainted with is the translation of ‘Prachanda Boidyutik Chuttor’, or Stark Electric Jesus’ on the net. I quote the lines that made me blush and where I covered my eyes and felt heat steadily climbing up to the roots of my hair,

Shubha let me sleep for a few moments in your violent silvery uterous

Give me peace, Shubha, let me have peace

Let my sin-driven skeleton be washed anew in your seasonal bloodstream

Let me create myself in your womb with my own sperm

Would I have been like this if I had different parents?

Was Malay alias me possible from an absolutely different sperm?

Would I have been Malay in the womb of other women of my father?

Would I have made a professional gentleman of me like my dead brother without Shubha?

Oh, answer, let somebody answer these

Shubha, ah, Shubha

Let me see the earth through your cellophane hymen

Come back on the green mattress again

As cathode rays are sucked up with the warmth of magnet’s brilliance

I remember the letter of the final decesion of 1956

The surroundings of your clitoris were being embellished with coon at that time

Fine rib-smashing roots were descending into your bosom

Stupid relationship inflted in the bypass of senseless neglect”

I hadn’t read anything like this before. The first thing that I did was to look around and see whether The Orthodox of my family was peering down on her haunches on my screen. My eyes screwed up in little dilated balls as a graphic brain converted the lines in voluptuous images. What is this man writing? He’s raving mad!” and then for several hours afterwards, I tried to come to terms with the fact that I had been scandalized, raped by a few lines. I wasn’t alone. Malay Da had suffered court trial and punished for being ‘obscene’, in a historic trial where some of the best names in Bangla poetry spoke against him.

After a week of hot, sleepless afternoons, I kept returning to this poem, like an adolescent who’s just discovered the secrets of the body. The firs animal instinct to touch the opposite sex, to plunder a body, to grow insane in wild desire. The power of his language had paralyzed me, forever.

And then, I met him on Facebook, and a strange fear gripped me. Frankly, I am dead scared of such people. There is a community of artists who’re too real in their artistry. This class that charts names like, Allen Ginsberg, Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain and many others are Art Extremists, a term I’ve coined for them. They exert an irresistible attraction towards the opposite sex, who’re drawn to the edgy and dangerous involvement they have with their art and times. Pablo Picasso is often compared to the Minataur, the half man-half monster. Like the Minataur he demanded women to be ‘sacrificed’ to him, a view that is corroborated in his tumultuous personal life, that left behind a trail of agonized wives, mistresses and children. Malay Da told me of a woman who was 20 years his junior and who had threatened him with suicide if he didn’t marry her. She kept her promise and drank toilet-acid.

I entered the Malay Da’s cyber territory stealthily, careful to remain a shadowy admrer and not get myself dangerously embroiled in insanity. I’ve not been quite successful. I asked him the ithing question at last: What is the role of the explicit use of sex in his poetry?

His answer was surprising in a daring nonchalance:

 

“It procreates the poems from my intercourse with the tantalizing body of language.”

 

Again, I grappled with wordlessness. I went to his sites (all enlisted in the ‘Blogs with Jobs’ tab) where people had rejected his poetry as “obscene rants”. Again Malay Da had asked them,

What exactly is the non-obscene?

Is placing good-sounding, pleasing/romantic visions in a few lines called poetry?

You better practice reading. It’s an art.

 

He reminded me of Kamala Das, the only other poet who has had a similar effect on me. She too, crossed shackles of Acceptance to write her voice. For these people, Poetry is an extension of Living. It is, or so I think, as normal as bitching about your friend, grumbling about your boss, brushing your teeth or urinating. These are people who cannot bear to cover up the unpleasant for the sake of earning popularity or admiration. They are dangerous, the character Ammu out of Arundhati Roy’s God of Small Things, a insane edge, a reckless energy, like a brother and sister making love, crossing the Love Laws.

I am reading Malay Da’s Chotoloker Chotobela (The Childhood of an Indescent Man) on his childhood. It is a lucid

Hungryalist Poetry Sessions

account of his poignant childhood, warm in recollections, rigid in opinions, surprising in honesty and chilling in sarcasm. Malay Da grew up in a seedy corner of pre-independent India in Patna, Bihar. He describes the world seen through the boy Malay and changes narrative to the now, author, wizened, roughened, merciless in honesty. His family, from the Sabarna Chodhury line was typical in their false prejudices of forgotten riches, striving to bob up their heads above intolerable poverty. He speaks of poverty, his first sighting of a nude woman from the window, a pair of mute and deaf  Muslim tailor brothers who stitched clothes for the entire family, the absurd and tedious bathroom rituals, the keen adolescent absorbing visitors touching genitals of Greek statues at the Patna Museum where his eldest uncle was the Keeper. Anything, Nothing and Everything you would expect from a book that starts with the poet’s 15 year old cousin getting caught red handed when he was seeing off a prostitute at the door, at the death of the night.

Malay Roy Choudhury is disturbing to say the least. Sometimes, I am repulsed, almost nauseated by the images he draws with his pen. I am forced sometimes to believe that his poetry is almost fradaulent, a meaningless rant, negative and sensationalist. And then I come back to calm evenings when everything falls into place – the time, the anger, the mistrust in the human situation.

I feel angry and frustrated when I talk to this man, now a septuagenarian living as a retired government officer with his wife in Mumbai. How dare he be so startingly honest? What gives him the audacious liscence to be irresponsibly independent? When ask him these questions, I can almost see his silent laughter in his reply:

“ Have you thought of as to who can be the person in your life whom you hate and love at the same time ? I am like a sinister animal who enjoys being attacked ! Have you noticed that the alpha male always uses it’s head butt to defeat it’s opponent ? Bison, Jiraffe, Lion, elephant, Rhino, Croc, any animal with power. I survive like those animals who are at the head of a Pride. Like the lion, I am a loner. I utilize my head. For writing, go on writing whatever you want. The reader is irrelevant. It is the LANGUAGE with which you are in love.”

 

And just like that, he’s decided to call his recent category of poems, ‘Alpha Male Poetry’. Just Like That. This man is irritatingly simple. There is no gestation between his heart and hand. Somebody has lapsed the lightyears between his feeling and his pain. We, the ‘rational’ ones can only but gape at such insolence. We can call it frenzied rants, we can rile and write pages on controversy, put him behind lock and key, stop people from researching on his work, but we are powerless in claiming their pens, their angst, their pain, them.

I once asked him, does he behave like an ordinary family man? Does he go to the bazaar, sip on strong milk tea? Etcetera. He answered me matter-of-factly. His wife takes care of marketing. And he has liquor tea. And being a family man is better than living on the edge.

I cannot forgive him for evading my deeper concern, Is he for real?

This post is an order from the man himself:

 

“Read your page on Picasso. Great. Why don’t you write a page on me, now that you have read my books in original. Write freely. don’t worry about my reactions. I am Gandar-chamra*  writer. You have good command over your thoughts. So go ahead. Give me a ‘piece of your mind’.”

 

Gandar-chamra*  – Bangla proverb meaning ’ as hard as the skin of a Rhinocerous’ or ‘one who is thick skinned/unaffected by criticism.

This is my small-something to you, Malay Da. I’ll wait for your comments. Long Live Obscenity.

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