Saturday, August 12, 2017

A. V. Koshy writes

Swapna Sundari

(First Draft.)

In the first place

We were stretched out on the grass of

Kodappanakunnu palace

This was Thiruvananthapuram, in my early days -

on a tree was a van and the van had a drum -

during Rose Day (5) times

your head cradled on my bosom

and you asked me

who are you?

I am a genius, I said

The people who were passing by looked at me

and thought I was mad

talking to myself

No one ever saw you

with me, in those days

but you were the one always

driving me on

hanging over my shoulder

reading what I wrote first

before the ink dried on the paper

my muse

and though you called me Don Quixote

you believed in me

And then I told you

that I would be mistaken for a love poet and Romantic

but the deeper layers would be there

They dig for them only if you come from 

I ended

and you looked solemn for just a second

but we were both young

and you too were only growing up, still, actually

somewhere else in Kerala or Calcutta or Delhi or Dum Dum

Fate had not zeroed in on where exactly you came from 

and we had no time

to waste

on grief

except what the world gave us

that we could not escape

like, for me, by my sister's death.

(5) Rose Day was a popular event in TVM. (Thiruvananthapuram, or Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala).
  The best one in my memory was held at Kodpapannakunnu palace.

 Visions of Quixote -- Octavio Ocampo 


  1. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi called Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala, “the Evergreen city of India.” Its name derived from the Malayalam “thiru-anantha-puram” (The City of Lord Ananta), referring to the deity of the city’s Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple, the world’s largest: Vishnu in the "Ananta Shayanam" posture, the eternal yogic sleep on the serpent Adisheshan (the nagaraja or king of all nagas, who held all the planets of the universe on his hoods and constantly sang the glories of Vishnu from all his mouths; when Adisheshan uncoils, time moves forward and creation takes place; when he coils back, the universe ceases to exist. In Sanskrit mathematical texts "Shesha" implies the "remainder," that which remains when all else ceases to exist.). Poovar, its port, has sometimes been identified as Ophir, where Solomon’s ships landed in 1036 BCE. Kudappanakunnu is a residential area in the city. The name comes from "kuda" (umbrella), "pana" (palm tree), and "kunnu" (a hilly area containing kudapanas (Corypha umbraculifera), also called talipot palms. Monocarpic (flowering only once), they blossom between 30 to 80 years of age; it takes about a year for the fruit to mature, producing thousands of round, yellow-green fruit 3–4 cm (1–1.5 in) in diameter, each containing a single seed, and they die after fruiting. Traditionally the leaves were used as manuscript material, thatching, making palm wine, and used as umbrellas for agricultural workers.

  2. Valentine’s Day is an annual holiday celebrated on February 14 and is recognized as a significant cultural and commercial celebration in many regions around the world, although it is not a public holiday in any country. It originated as a liturgical feast day honoring various martyrs named Valentinus, including St. Valentinus of Roma, a priest who had been imprisoned for performing illegal weddings for soldiers (who were forbidden to marry) and executed in 269, and bishop Valentinus of Interamna Nahars (modern Terni, 104 km [65 mi] from Roma), who was executed in the same year. In 1382 Geoffrey Chaucer was the first to associate the day with romantic love in his “Parlement of Foules,”written to honor the first anniversary of Richard II’s engagement to Anne of Bohemia ("For this was on St. Valentine's Day, / when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.") Charles VI of France issued the “Charter of the Court of Love” in 1400, which described lavish festivities on 14 February that included a feast, amorous song and poetry competitions, jousting, and dancing; amid these festivities, the attending ladies would hear and rule on disputes from lovers. In 1797 “The Young Man's Valentine Writer” contained scores of sentimental verses for young lovers unable to compose their own. The customs associated with Valentine’s Day thus developed in early modern England and spread throughout the English-speaking world in the 19th century; in the US it became the first of the nation’s commercialized holidays. The practice did not become widespread in India until around 1992, promoted by TV channels such as MTV, dedicated radio programs and love letter competitions, and an economical liberalization that allowed the explosion of the valentine card industry, though Hindu and Muslim traditionalists, as well as leftist intellectuals, continue to oppose the practice. It has evolved into a weeklong event that begins on Rose Day on 7 February, followed by Propose Day, Chocolate Day, Teddy Day, Promise Day, Hug Day, Kiss Day, and Valentine’s Day itself, when lovers exchange flowers, greeting cards, cakes, heart-shaped gifts, doves, and winged Cupids. Roses have been assigned specific meanings based on their color, variety, and number.
    Don Quixote was created by Miguel de Cervantes as the romantic, impractical hero of his satirical novel of the same name (1605). His name meant "thigh" or “cuisse" (a piece of thigh armor),derived from the Latin “coxa” (hip). His name led to the adjective “quixotic,” meaning foolishly impractical especially in the pursuit of ideals, marked by rash, lofty, romantic ideas or extravagantly chivalrous action.

    Dumdum is part of Kolkata (Calcutta). Previously it was Domdoma, and during the 19th century the area was home to the Dum Dum Arsenal, the British Royal Artillery armory where, in the early 1890s, Captain Neville Bertie-Clay developed an expanding bullet with the jacket cut away at the tip to reveal its soft lead core. It expands within the body of a person being shot, thus causing additional damage. It was prohibited in international warfare by The Hague Convention of 1899, but is still widely used by police forces.


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