Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Akash Sinha writes

I slip into me

Reclining back to pre-big bang

Back to singularity.

When I close my eyes, behind the trailing soft white fog of the Holy Spirit, I see a Vedantic vermillion sun embalm my hollow lacunas. It feels comfortable.

Existence slows into quantum elasticity.

In the century old biting fog of December 

Some old stillborn awakes

Reminding me of wrinkled finger tips when I soaked myself in the pool of Virgin Mary’s tears. 

Seeking a thousand sombre sermons.

Each piano note leaves behind an ever growing ripple of tickles within my rib cage.

Carrying your personal cross isn’t new, lifting your own heavy self is compulsory reading. 

Only to be caressed by a Celtic goddess, gentle in understanding, welcoming of your own quivering vulnerability.

In some awakening quiet mist, flowing underneath temporal seas.

A garlic yawn of pungent life, home-made bloody broth inside a womb.

An old friend left his smell back in my courtyard, to keep me cosy while he traded silver nose-rings in foreign lands.

I remember water wells and red berries, which we stole from minstrels.

My abdomen sweetly aches holding camphor rivulets.

You remember how Noor Bano used to tie her piggy tails neatly every evening after she studied the shadows on the walls of the mosque.

Witch doctors from far and wide came with oils and amulets, but nobody could stop her from speaking in tongues.

Oh, how we nose-dived into oblivion in those roller coasters.

Watching the swirling red and fluorescent green of the carnival lights pass us by

Our youth was spent in weaving thrill

Our summer evenings were spent resting on the cool white marble behind the lake.

We spent our Novembers with Ouija boards and cinnamon

I know not when I found myself in the quagmire

When did silence coil heavy over the railway tracks

Leaving me to piece together the last few hours 

After my brother drank a neurotoxic potion to forget himself.

The heavy smoke over the gigantic station clock only grew denser, so much so, that by and by I found my cure in amnesia 

No more late night taxi rides around Victoria Memorial for me. No more. Enough is enough.
 Image result for noor bano paintings
 Noor Bano -- Ali Shaikh


  1. A singularity is a location in space-time where the gravitational field of a celestial body becomes infinite. According to modern general relativity, this was the initial state of the universe, at the beginning of the Big Bang. As predicted by general relativity, any star that collapses beyond a certain point (the Schwarzschild radius) forms a black hole with a singularity inside.
    Most Christian denominations are Trintarian, recognizing a three-person godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost.) “Holy Spirit” derives from the Latin loanword “spiritus,” and “Holy Ghost” from the Old English “gast;” like the Koine Greek word “pneûma “ they refer to the breath, to its animating power, and to the soul. The concept was probably associated with the Jewish “Ruach Ha-kodesh” (Holy Breath), an aspect of God but also distinct, a kind of communication medium like the wind; like everything earthly that comes from heaven, it was composed of light and fire, and the most characteristic sign of its presence was the gift of prophecy. In Genesis, God's spirit hovered over the form of lifeless matter, thereby making the Creation possible. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke (and the Nicene Creed, which refers to it as "the Lord, the Giver of Life") state that Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary. The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove during haptism, and at the end of his life he promised to send the Holy Spirit to his disciples after his departure; after his resurrection he instructed them to "make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Mark 13:11 specifically refers to the power of the Holy Spirit to act and speak through the disciples of Jesus in time of need: "be not anxious beforehand what ye shall speak: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye; for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Spirit." St. Paul developed the notion, beginning with his first epistle (to the Thessalonians). As pneumatology (the theology of spirits) developed, the Holy Spirit came to be regarded as present before the creation of the universe and through his power everything was made by God the Father through his son Jesus. The Holy Spirit inspired the writing of the scriptures and enables believers to interpret them; enables them to live a righteous and faithful life; intercedes, or supports or acts as an advocate, particularly in times of trial; and convinces the unredeemed of the sinfulness of their actions and of their moral standing as sinners. By means of Jesus’ mercy and grace, Christians receive the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, the attributes of a person or community living in accord with the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, or charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, and chastity). The "gifts of the Holy Spirit," distinct from the Fruit of the Spirit, consist of specific individual abilities known by the Greek word for “gift,” charisma, though there is little consensus on what they consist of. The "seven gifts of the Holy Spirit” (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude (strength), knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord) pour out on a believer at baptism.

  2. Wow. Thank you for such a comprehensive comment on my poem. Yes, this poem battles my core conflicts between materialism and idealism, matter and spirit, mundane and transcendental. In my own way I have tried to harmonize the growing civil war within me by writing about Singularity and God, which I believe are two names of the same thing. The poem is evidently laced with my personal grief and melancholy, for which I seek a cure. Thank you so much for taking time to read and comment.

  3. The Vedas ("knowledge") are a large body of Sanskrit texts composed by the Aryans; they constitute the oldest works of Sanskrit literature and the oldest Hindu scriptures. In some contexts, such as hymn 10.93.11 of the Rigveda, the term means "obtaining or finding wealth or property," while in some others it means "a bunch of grass together" as in a broom or for ritual fire. A related word, Vedena, appears in hymn 8.19.5 of the Rigveda, was translated by the 14th century Indian scholar Sayana as "studying the Veda" and more recently by Ralph T. H. Griffith as "ritual lore." In parts of South India they are called Marai ("hidden, a secret, mystery"). Hindus consider the Vedas to be apauruṣeya ("not of a man, superhuman," "impersonal, authorless), though the “Mahabharata” credits their creation to Brahma, and the Vedic hymns themselves (the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda and the Atharvaveda) assert that they were skillfully created by rishis (sages) after meditation and inspired creativity, just as a carpenter builds a chariot. Some south Indian communities, like the Ivengars, include the Tamil writings of the Alvar saints among the Vedas. They are also called śruti ("what is heard") literature, as distinct from other religious texts, which are smṛti ("what is remembered"). Various Indian philosophies and denominations have taken differing positions on the Vedas; astika (“orthodox”) sects cite the Vedas as their scriptural authority, while śramaṇa traditions (such as Lokayata, Carvaka, Ajivika, Buddhism and Jainism), which do not regard them as authoritative, are referred to as nāstika ("non-orthodox").

  4. Jesus’ mother Mary is often portrayed in a sorrowful and lacrimating affect, with seven long knives or daggers piercing her heart, often bleeding. Devotional prayers that consist of meditation began to elaborate on her Seven Sorrows based on St. Simeon’s prophecy alluding to the crucifixion; he was a "just and devout" man of Jerusalem who, according to Luke 2:25–35, met Jesus and his parents as they entered the Temple for Jesus’ presentation on the 40th day after his birth; Simeon had been visited by the Holy Spirit and told that he would not die until he had seen the Lord's Christ, and on taking Jesus into his arms he uttered a prayer (the “Nunc dimitti,” Now you dismiss) and told Mary, "Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed." The Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows may have begun among the Benedictine monks in the 1th century, and the first altar to the Mater Dolorosa (the Seven Sorrows of Mary) was set up in 1221 at the Cistercian monastery of Schönau. In 1233, seven youths in Tuscany founded the Servite Order (also known as the "Servite Friars", or the "Order of the Servants of Mary") and, five years later, took up the sorrows of Mary, standing under the Cross, as the principal devotion of their order. The Servites developed the two most common devotions to Our Lady of Sorrows, namely the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows and the Black Scapular of the Seven Dolours of Mary. (The Black Scapular is a symbol of the Confraternity of Our Lady of Sorrows, which is associated with the Servite Order, Most scapulars have requirements regarding ornamentation or design, but the devotion of the Black Scapular requires only that it be made of black woollen cloth.) The formal feast of the Our Lady of Sorrows was originated by a provincial synod of Cologne in 1423. The “Mater Dolorosa” are Simeon’s prophecy, the flight of Jesus’ family to avoid his being murdered by Herod the Great, the accidental 3-day abandonment of 12-year-old Jesus in the Temple in Jerusalem during which time he amazed the elders at his learning, the meeting of Mary and her son along the Via Dolorosa ("Painful Way") he traveled en route from the Antonia Fortress to his crucifixion, his execution on Mt Calvary, the piercing of his side and his descent from the cross, and his burial.

  5. Julius Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico (The Gallic War, 52–51 BC), using the Roman names he was familiar with, named six of the Celtic gods and their functions. These included Minerva, who promoted handicrafts. But their actual identities are largely unknown, since the nonliterate Celts produced few images of their deities and these lacked inscriptions. After the Roman conquest, more images were made, some with identifying inscriptions, but most of them were given Roman identities. Links can also be made between ancient Celtic deities and figures in early medieval Irish and Welsh literature, although it was all produced long after Christianization. At Bath, known to the Romans as Aquae Sulis ("the waters of Sulis"), Minerva was identified with Sulis, whose cult there centered on the thermal springs. She was both a nourishing, life-giving mother goddess and an effective agent of curses. (About 130 curse tablets have been found asking the goddess to punish the known or unknown perpetrators of a crime until reparation is made; she is asked to impair their physical and mental well-being via sleep deprivation, to cause normal bodily functions to cease, or to kill them.) Her name may have meant “Eye” or “Vision,” cognate with the Old Irish “súil” (eye or gap), perhaps derived from the Proto-Celtic prefix“sūli,”which may be related to various Indo-European words for "sun,” and her association with sight, civic law, and epithets relating to light have caused researchers to identify her as a solar deity; due to her syncretist association with Minerva, she may also have been a goddess of wisdom and decisions. However, a statue found in Bretagne seems to depict Brigantia (“the high one”) with attributes of Minerva though she was usually equated with Victoria; and Senuna, who was unknown until 26 votive offerings were found in Ashwell End in Hertfordshire in 2002, was explicitly named on the five of them that had inscriptions, but almost ½ of the 26, including the five inscribed ones, depicted Minerva with spear, shield, and owl. Nevertheless, unlike the gods, Celtic goddesses were rarely paired with a multiplicity of Roman goddesses. Many other Celtic goddesses were “mother goddesses,” who were often portrayed as full-breasted (or many-breasted) figures nursing infants, and their offspring may have been dangerous or helpful to the Celtic community, but usually motherhood was a minor attribute; some were deities of warfare and slaughter, or of healing and smithcraft, and were at times symbols of sovereignty, creativity, birth, fertility, sexual union, and nurturing.

  6. “Noor Bano” was a Pakistani drama serial written by Seema Ghazal, directed by Faheem Burney, and starring Mahnoor Baloch as the title character. She is an orphan who was raised by her uncle Agha Ji, was forced into to an unconsummated marriage to his son Murash, who later seduces her, causing her to give birth to a son, and she disappeared for years, with everyone thinking she is dead.

  7. The Ouija board was commercially introduced as a parlor game in 1890 by Elijah Bond; in 1901 his employee William Fuld started producing his own boards under the “Ouija” name (combining the French and German words for “yes”) for the Kennard Novelty Company; Charles Kennard claimed that “ouija” was an ancient Egyptian word meaning “good luck” and that it had been acquired via use of the board itself. In 1966 the Fuld estate sold the brand to Parker Brothers, which was acquired by Hasbro in 1991. The Ouija is a flat board marked with the letters of the alphabet, the numbers, the words “yes” and “no” and “goodbye” (and sometimes “hello”), and various symbols and graphics. It is used in conjunction with a small heart-shaped piece of wood or plastic called a planchette. Participants place their fingers on the planchette, and it moves about the board to spell out words. A similar method of automatic writing was used in China from ca. 1100 as a means of necromancy, and similar “talking boards” were widely used by mediums in Ohio by 1886. But in 1853, while investigating table-turning (a séance practice in which participants place their hands on a table and wait for it to rotate in response to a recitation of the alphabet) Michael Faraday (responsible for discovering the principles underlying electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism and electrolysis, among other scientific achievements) had already described the psychological effect of ideomotor response -- an unconscious muscular reaction to a thought or mental image. Early in the 20th century Pearl Curran popularized the use of the Ouija board as a divining tool, claiming that she had used it to maintain contact with Patience Worth for over two decades to collaborate on novels and poems. In the 1918 edition of the “Anthology of Magazine Verse and Year Book of American Poetry “ William Stanley Braithwaite included five of her poems, along with works by William Rose Benet, Amy Lowell, and Edgar Lee Masters. Braithwaite's index of magazine verse for 1918 listed 88 poems by Patience Worth that had appeared in magazines during the 12-month period, only two of which he considered to lack distinction; the same index listed only 10 poems by Amy Lowell and 5 by Edna St. Vincent Millay. More significantly from a literary point of view, in 1982, James Merrill released an apocalyptic 560-page epic poem, “The Changing Light at Sandover,” which documented decades of Ouija messages; the book received the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1983, but it had already appeared in three volumes: “The Book of Ephraim” (1976), which contained a poem for each letter and appeared in the collection “Divine Comedies,” which won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1977; “Mirabell: Books of Number” (1978), which won the National Book Award for Poetry, and “Scripts for the Pageant” (1980).

  8. In January 1901, on the death of queen Victoria, empress of India, the colony’s viceroy George Curzon (1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston) suggested the construction of a memorial with a museum and gardens, “a building, stately, spacious, monumental and grand, to which every newcomer in Calcutta will turn, to which all the resident population, European and Native, will flock, where all classes will learn the lessons of history, and see revived before their eyes the marvels of the past.” The Victoria Memorial was designed by William Emerson in the Indo-Saracenic revivalist style which used a mixture of British and Mughal elements with Venetian, Egyptian, Deccani. and Muslim influences. H had earlier designed the Crawford Market in Mumbai (1865), the All Saints Cathedral in Allahabad (1871), Muir Central College in Allahabad (1873), the Nilambagh Palace in Bhavnagar (1894). His assistant, Vincent J, Esch, the assistant engineer at the Bengal Nagpur Railway whom Emerson had engaged to sketch his original design in 1902, designed the bridge of the north aspect and the garden gates. The gardens were designed by David Prain, a professor of botany at the Medical College of Calcutta, and Algernon Freeman-Mitford (baron Redesdale), a cousin of poet Algernon Swinburne and possibly the father of Winston Churchill’s wife Clementine. In 1904 Messrs. Martin & Co. of Calcutta was contracted to build it. Construction was delayed by Curzon's departure from India in 1905, though in 1906 the future George V laid the foundation stone. Work on the superstructure began in 1910, and the building finally opened in 1921.


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