Thursday, November 17, 2016

Amitabh Mitra writes

Prose Poems, Stranger than a Sun


And then finally when night stood still, an evening, its reign of suntrance years, of wealth, wilderness and glory of many campaigns left in a river of subterfuge, its long sinewy columns rolled down the glitter in a night borderless on stealth and stubbornness. I have been living years of such understanding, that one day in a cover of duress and despair, time might conclude a hasty retreat, its tiny droplets may not even join and sections of unrepaired horizons would differ as nights and evenings revise a no-dissolving pact. The Volga at Tatarstan had refused time and again to curtail the living with the living, different voices sharing a confluence of similar strengths, Tartar warriors stood on banks stretching to sea, and the sea to many a skies holding aloft such spoken memories such relived lives. I had even forgiven you, you who once called upon words to reopen old forgotten closures. In an ageless complete, you are the reversal, you remain the scroll, and you are the substrate of my many lives.


Hillbrow at Johannesburg faces darkness with such ferocity; lights clamour over each other’s shoulder holding a falling sun, for here there can never be any nights. Forever evenings scream in shrill rejoinder, a clay complexioned Ethiopian girl with a long neck revises proximity from a cabaret number. Men from Abuja listen with shaking heads, some even recite silently. Colors of evening find asylum on foreign surfaces. The scarred white girl rolls her eyes and gives voice to expanding vessels. Living is defiance. Illumination is not just a street here and curtains part revealing revelry of age old explanation. It cannot be the same as it was at Gwalior or even Old Delhi.  Each living stays far behind in closed alleys and assembling those, leaves foot steps that can never return.


Living and loving is a distant rite, I had often agreed to. Like a stranger living, loving too returns in such uneven evenings and dawns. Like the river bells or boatman’s voice traversing the dark, like the ruins at Hauz Khas in a sudden flutter of pigeon wings, like the crowd at Karol Bagh talking to people behind us, loving is sleepless in corridors, in trains when a blue azure sky turns maddeningly grey. The first drops of rain I could never catch, you decided then the victor is still pardonable. Defeat is loving and loving, the first drops of rain slipped past our many lives, many a times. Defeat is your eyes, your smile, your silence in such sand stretched storms. Living itself remains a defeat of times, eras always build up again.


What would you say if I tell you that I am back again? Again shall we ever decide, closeness can it stay as a legend, a Pashtun legend, dust and stories make even beautiful burials. Going back means untelling many such legends. Barren as it is on such bad lands, life once moved balanced perfectly on dewdrops. Dryness remained covered in sheaths of our talking. And in such moments once happened, surfacing again takes even longer. Yes, what did you say when nothing was really there except us. What did you say when a sky hiding us just turned back, what did you say when loneliness of a raven flashed once in the dark. What did you say then?


Yet we are forever lonely. We were lonely even when we were together. Your sudden laughter at an afternooncafe in Connaught Place on that day made people turn and look at us. Your whispered smile said, Aren’t we all structures, trying our best to resemble each other. It was then my turn to laugh, spluttering Nescafe on your face. Loving was the ultimate loneliness then struggling to keep up with desperate evenings. And as we shared our nights of gentle violence, gentle killings, an evening took us back repeatedly to where we had never lived.  This is the evening I try to share with you today. When the train comes to a screaming halt, these are evenings we could never correspond. Loneliness takes us over again with an avenging belief.
 Tartar Warriors -- Xia Taptara


  1. Tatarstan Respublikası is a federal subject of the Russian Federation located in the Volga Federal District. (The Volga river is known as the Idel to the Tartars.) During the Soviet period it was Tartariya. Their name probably originated among a nomadic confederation in the north-eastern Gobi desert in the 5th century from “tata,” a name of the Mongols for themselves, and was first recorded in Old Turkic as “TaTaR” on the 8th-century stele at Khöshöö-Tsaidam erected by their eastern rivals, the Kok Truka (“Celestial” or “Blue” Turks) [Göktürks], to relate their legendary origins, golden age, subjugation by the Chinese, and their liberation. They became one of the five major tribal confederations (khanlig) on the Mongolian plateau in the 12th century, but were subjugated by the Mongols in the 13th century and driven westward; they became the Turkic-speaking population of Tartary, the lands ruled by Mongol élites from the 14th century until their conquest by the Russians in the 18th and 19th centuries.

  2. After the 14th century the Chinese called them the “Dada,” but in the 8th century that was the name for Mongolian-speaking peoples of the northern steppes; they also had trouble distinguishing among the various tribes of the nomadic Shiwei confederation, which included Mongol, Tatar, Khitan, and Tungusic peoples who inhabited far-eastern Mongolia, northern Inner Mongolia, northern Manchuria, and the Okhotsk Sea area from the 4th-13th centuries. Among the “20” Shiwei tribes were the Da (Great) Shiwei, who may have been descended from some Rouran tribes who fled east after being defeated by the Kok Truka in alliance with the Chinese states of Qi and Zhou in 555. Eventually, ”Tatars” was the name Russians associated with the Turkic Muslims of Ukraine and Russia (descended from Muslim Volga Bulgars, Kipchaks, Cumans, and Turkicized Mongols or Turko-Mongols [Nogais] and other Northern Turkic-speaking peoples (Siberian, Qasim, and Mishar Tatars). The largest group are the 6 million Volga Tatars of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan.

  3. But at first they called all the Turkic- and Mongolian-speaking peoples “Tartars;” from the beginning, an extra “r” was present in the Western forms and had its origins in the Turkish and Persian “tātār” (mounted messenger) or in French via Latin, most likely due to an association with Tartaros, the deep abyss “as far below Hades as the earth is below the heavens,” (according to Zeus in “The Iliad” – Hesiod asserted that it would take 9 days for a bronze anvil to fall from heaven to earth and another 9 days to fall to Tartaros) where, according to Platon, Rhadamanthus judged Asian souls, Aeacus judged European souls, and Minos judged Greek souls after death and where the wicked received divine punishment. Earlier it was also a primordial deity (younger than Chaos and Gaia [Earth] and older than Eros [Love], according to Hesiod, who claimed that the monster Typhon was the offspring of Tartaros and Gaia, and when Zeus defeated it he threw it into "wide Tartarus;" Hyginus said Tartaros was the offspring of Aether [the air] and Gaia), and in the mystery schools the unbounded first-existing entity from which the Light and the cosmos were born. In the “Aeneid,” the Roman poet Publius Vergilius Maro (“Virgil”) described Tartarus as a gigantic place surrounded by the flaming river Phlegethon and triple walls to keep sinners from escaping, guarded by a 50-headed hydra at a screeching gate protected by columns of solid adamantine; inside was a thick-walled castle and a tall iron tower guarded by one of the Erinyes (Furies) lashing a whip. In Hellenistic Jewish literature, God placed the archangel Uriel in charge of the world and of Tartarus , the place where 200 fallen Watchers (angels) were imprisoned.

  4. Hillbrow is a residential neighborhood in Johannesburg, South Africa, notorious for high levels of population density, unemployment, poverty, and crime. In the 1970s it was a "whites only" area but soon became a "grey area" where people of different ethnicities lived together and one of the first identifiable gay and lesbian areas in urban South Africa.

    Gwalior, 319 km (198 mi) south of India’s capital Delhi, has long been a strategically important city ruled by a succession of dynasties and kingdoms. In the 8th century BCE, on a secluded hill, the sage Gwalipa came upon prince Suraj Sen and led him to a pond, which cured the prince’s leprosy. In return, the sage asked him to build a wall to protect the sages from wild animals that disturbed their rituals. Later the prince built a palace inside the walls and named it after the sage. The city and its environs became a prominent place for religious practices, cultures, and other spiritual disciplines, as well as a military center. Babur, the 16th-century founder of the Mughal empire, called it "the pearl in the necklace of forts of India and not even the winds could touch its masts." For a long time, it was considered the birthplace of the 0, based on a circle inscribed at a temple in Gwalior dating to the 9th century, but in 1931 George Coedès discovered another 0 in Cambodia in an inscription clearly indicating the year 683.

    Hauz Khas (in Urdu, “water tank” or “lake” plus “royal”) is an affluent neighborhood in South Delhi, named after the reservoir built by the Turkic (Afghan) ruler Ala-ud-din Khilji to supply water to Siri Fort, built ca. 1303 (the 2nd of the 7 cities of medieval Delhi). Its construction allowed him to be one of the few rulers to withstand repeated Mongol assaults. Subsequently he advanced deep into Mongol territory in Kandahar, Ghazni, and Kabul and conquered much of southern India. The fort’s name was derived from “sir” (Hindi for “head”) because its foundations were built on the severed heads of 8,000 Mongol prisoners of war who were trampled to death by elephants before being decapitated. In 1303 he besieged Chittor, the largest fort in Asia, in order to abduct the beautiful wife of Padmini, one of the 15 wives of Rawal Ratan Singh, the ruler of Mewar, (modern Rajasthan). Padmini refused to meet Ala-ud-din but consented to let him see her reflection in water. He used the opportunity to survey the fort’s defenses, and then took the king hostage to be exchanged for Padmini. After a rescue mission failed, Padmini and the other ladies of the fort committed jauhar (self-immolation by leaping into a fire), and the men, dressed in saffron robes, marched from the fort and were slaughtered. In 1540 Malik Muhammad Jayasi used the incident as the basis for his epic poem “Padmavat,” the first important work in the Awadhi dialect of Hindi.

    Karol Bagh is mixed residential-commercial neighborhood in Delhi, known for its shopping streets. After Delhi was made capital of the British Indian Empire in 1911, the government began planning the construction of New Delhi. In the 1920s, Madhoganj, Jaisingh Pura, Raja ka Bazaar, and other villages were evacuated to build the city’s main commercial area, Connaught Place, and the former residents were relocated west to Karol Bagh. Named after Arthur, 1st Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, the third son of queen Victoria, the empress of India, construction of “CP” began in 1929 but was not completed until 1933, after the new city’s inauguration in 1931.

  5. maaaad...haaaa....loveliness...becomes words

  6. You're very welcome. Please send us many more!


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