by Prakash Kona
Table of Contents|
Part 1 appears
in this issue.
You begin a story with the sense that you can never write anymore. And then like a paralytic man you make an effort to push the limbs into performance. The rush of blood in your wooden limbs and the force of life in the moment. One word and the body falls back utterly exhausted. What seemed like a miracle was your effort not to die. The words that happen almost say nothing detached as they are from the blood of the body. If I weren’t a performer I had this feeling of death closing over my being. I was wrong. Death was in my character. I would walk streets and give myself to the air that people breathe. I would lose myself in stories they told. I would laugh with their lips and weep with their eyes. The earth will revolve on its axis whether I perform or not. My performance is death-like therefore. The mad desire of celebration came from weakening bones and paling flesh. What do I care if I must die! All I care for is to watch you dance in early hours before dawn when sleep is at its heaviest.
Evening after evening I made stories of you. Somebody would mention a sari with the color of turmeric. You would come to mind and the stories followed. Some other would speak of a village by the sea shore. The woman with turmeric sari would appear on a sandy beach. My eyes do not look at her. I’m thinking of wild goats. For some reason stories defy reality. It is as if we’ve plundered the senses from the house of reason.
The story I liked best like matter evolved from the soul. Ask me what the soul means and I say it is eyes of a woman in a story. I gave my life to momentary performances like the stories of Kawabata no smaller than the sea and no larger than the palm of a hand. Maybe they never happened these stories. But they did and you know that. I cannot rely on my own knowledge that anything ever happened. I implied what I had to say often keeping quiet when I had so much to say that the world would be dark if my thoughts covered the sky. Inside me I was you.
The story had to make its way out like a hibernating animal coming into the open to the slightest feel of heat. If my words do not reach you that doesn’t mean you’re not the source of my words. The river does not go back to the mountains. It goes to the palm of a hand. The letter I wrote had you in mind. My hands trembled to the thought of you in background. Freed of constraints of the mind the hand took you as the source of its being. Having come to sea I had nowhere to go. Time is irrelevant to matter as thought is to word. I had to leave the story incomplete because it is meaningless to put an end to words.
Come into my body and do not leave unless you choose to do so. You come in as warmth of my uncertain night. You ennoble me with your coming. Oh, do not leave, unless you must in the vastness of your will. Leave me the memory of your shadow that I may dream my days away while my body is hardened working with the fallow ground that one day will be my grave. You come and together we shall bring the land to fruition. Together we make the communes that I may be I in the spirit of you and you may choose to be within me as long as you desire to.
A sensitive writer pleads for compassion. How can a woman forgive thousands of years of patriarchy as if it were coming to an end some time soon! The psychology of a rapist, who cannot feel that he is a man unless he exhibits power, is the essence of patriarchy. The garbage pile of discourses that justify oppression against women and minorities would fill many such earths. Discourses that lock the gates of the future must be broken down. Freedom of body is a reality as ice is to Himalayas. I appeal to the part of my being that is a spring to give me strength in a violent time. If water can wear the power of stone in the end patriarchy will wear out thanks to resistance of its victims. I’m one with past and future. If not I would be nowhere near the present.
Why would it matter to me that somebody cried! If you cried I would fall on my knees to embrace your knees. I would not leave your face alone for a moment. What if you were the somebody and I passed by you not knowing it was you that went by. I would never forgive myself to the end of my days. Therefore I embrace every face on the street imagining I touch you. The instant I hear a cry I’m on my knees asking the weeping face not to feel lost in this cruel world. I take the face in my hands and hold the heart in my breast. No one weeps because it could be you. I pray that someone somewhere must not leave your eyes alone for a moment just as I accompany the suffering many as if it were you in them.
The dishonesty of the body that must play games out of fear makes me sick to bone. I must be freed of the marrow of the lie that goes to the depths of my soul. I’m free to choose my love. But I cannot look into hurt eyes. I lie to avoid hurt that turns me a liar. I’m watched as I lie. I lie giving hardness to my voice. I pity my desperation. I’m angry at my helplessness. I lie and I’m wrecked by the distance of my voice from the rest of my body. I could bet my life that my body was not my own. Fear made me a thief. I thieved to overcome fear. The more I let fear into my bones the more I conformed to morals of the order. I could feign to the point of death. I could feign my death as well.
Why had I to root myself in the flux if it were not another word for the goddess of death! Writing is politics though it is not the same as living like the poor. You write as if you have swum into the deep and are ready to let the water get into your body. That’s the furthest you could’ve gone. You put yourself to words with that dying energy. The waters have taken over body and soul. Inspired by goddess of death I gave myself to the moment.
Revolutions are personal like one keeps a secret love. You treasure a moment and make worlds upon worlds in that moment. Revolution is a moment that opens doors to every other moment. The body has decided to give itself up to the love of other bodies. Such a passion regenerates itself in every age and space. Cut my body into a million pieces and disperse them in the dark of the universe. I can only see the world as one moment. Every part of my torn body converges into that one moment. That is my idea of a revolution. I’m the machinist of a broken world. I invoked the flux in my brokenness. My revolutions are not about memory and return. My revolutions are about whirling in orange seas of twilight.
Think of a number that surpasses the weight of zero. That kind of poverty I gave to my heart. I’m no admirer of heroes though I admire what people stand for individually. I admire ways of life that are reconciled to waiting. They learn the most valuable lessons from their so-called opponents if that includes the animal world as well. Ghost and vulture are reconciled to births of children. Nights are welcome and shadows are not unnatural. The cobra is mother to rat that it devours for survival. The cobra perpetuates its species. The rat attains the sanctity of memory in becoming food to cobra. Most of our lives pass away in making sense of waiting. Cultures that detach themselves from the orgasmic bliss of ecstasy give sanctity to waiting. The moments of exhilaration are contained in the waiting. Waiting is not looked down upon and the one that waits stands on par with the worm in the complex rituals of the tribe.
The cruelty of eternal childhood. The nostalgia of incomplete adolescence. In the absence of affirmation how the body passes through time! The solutions that came without contact with light. Dark days and darker nights. I’ve nothing to protest about. Knowledge has ripped the core of my feelings. The futile wisdom of futility. The experience that I keep repeating the revolving doors of my pasts that keep a polite distance from the present. I can’t even see that brokenness is brokenness. My vision is comically close to the chicken I chased as a kid. I could never get it. It crossed the road in the meantime.
The sons of our mothers and daughters of homes with freshly painted walls and the smell of new furniture. I like the sofa in the living room though the idea of spending the night on a settee never appealed to me. The best of company stands apart in the incandescence of joy even in worst of situations. I would sit down on the floor and watch the face of love on a settee in the semi-dark with silence for music.
What is it that the sons of our mothers seek that they hope to find in homes in the protective shapes of maternal bellies? Why must mothers resent the sons their artificial loves? Why must sons run from street to street for the peace of warm waters? My father is a son of his father but I’ve the fate of a mother’s son. The loneliness of her age I carry in my heart. The death of her body I live each day as my eyes open to welcome dawn. But I’ve no sons to mother and my body is barren for all purposes except to produce words.
I make words to ears of a world in deep sleep in the hope that a sentence of mine will slip past dreams of the sleeper. That puts me at a greater loss than I can imagine. A maternal streak in me is touched. But this body of a man will not allow me to go any further. I must destroy it before I can reach the world of the sleeper. I can know you as you are in my destruction. I must perish in my manhood before I can touch you. But how can I expect your affection to this disembodied manhood of mine? What is my personhood outside this body of mine? You’re the person and I’m the son with a maternal body injected into the blood.
There are two things I cannot stop being. One is a son to my mother and another is a mother to you. Daughter of a home where you’re mothered in the shadow of your father, how can I tell you how often I’ve drunk from bitter streets tears that have consumed the lines of my face! You will pass through moons of your life. In one of those moons of a night you will know how my man’s body suffered in an imaginary woman’s heart. How I struggled with passivity of the oppressed that seemed natural to my body!
The sons of the bourgeoisie must pay the price of their fathers’ angst. How one familiar object in a strange place affects me and I’m ready to die! How I reject familiarity as if it had the smell of death in it! How I reject the illusion of my body! How I fall into ecstasy touched by the slightest gesture of affection that this body receives like the hungry mouth receives food!
My aesthetic is a dead one. My love of sounds is not. I could be sick and dying in a dungeon. A small tune can rouse me to perform. My aesthetic is a delineation of character the way a tailor cuts a piece of cloth. My love of song is of a naked, timeless moment. My presence is a formality. In my absence I haunt you to death. I write of critical states of my body. If you came at any point I am willing to let go this body. Words are sad. You remember and suffer. You suffer that you may not forget. The heart refused to age. My thoughts were fertile as loam. Why do you insist that I change! The conflicts that plague me are miniscule in the dark. Tie me to a pole and skin me alive for being what I am. I cannot change. It is the nature of the dog in me. My conflicts are dog-like too. I cannot rise to depths of what drives me from sea to cloud and back to sea.
Romance is an empty vessel. You cannot romance with emptiness. You can romance with the truth, the most romantic of words. You’re invigorated to believe. That’s the romance of truth. And it never stops with that. You empty the core of your being of language. That state of mind without language is a romance. You’re not thinking or trying to. The fullness you require is no fuller than an empty vessel. My romance with truth complete I was subtle as silence in a musical composition.
The day extracts the life of my body like a sugarcane juice crusher but will not free me of the desire to pass away without a trace behind. My sense of humor made me a poet of death. If I were dumb for sounds my eyes would twitch to make you mad with discomfort. If my eyes were closed my whole body in its dying strength would move as if touched by wind. My death is a relatively peaceful one for a life riddled with nightmares. I could resolve the most irresolvable of questions by confounding them to silence. The something that gripped me at the core would not go away. I waited for the bird that could sense a body wasting in the dark.
May the eyes not cease to smile at the sight of a friend.
Copyright © 2005 by Prakash Kona