Uncategorized

Ventures into Verse

****“ഒരുദിനം **ഒരു **മൺ തരിയാ പാറച്ചെരുവിൽ നിന്നുമുതിർന്നു മറഞ്ഞു ….”;  

So went a poem I wrote while I was in the 8th standard in the CMS High School. The poem had a philosophical mooring and I went on to say that the attrition, particle by particle went on until the rock cliff disappeared, though nature was aloof. On showing the poem to my Malayalam teacher, he advised me to forget about poetry and concentrate on my studies. Kanam E J Philip, another teacher and an established novelist gave more pragmatic advice. He said poetry would not sell and that I should try writing novels.

The trauma of that rejection lasted until 1989 when I ventured into poetry again. In 1989, we commissioned the ADITYA tokamak, a fusion device that produces plasmas at temperatures of 5 Million Degrees at the Institute for Plasma Research in Gandhinagar 1989. The poem I wrote was a technically correct depiction of how an electrical breakdown of a gas starts and a plasma column get formed. It is written from the perspective of the ‘stray’ electron, which starts the whole process. “Song of the Stray Electron” describes the discharge process as:

During a visit to Washington in March 2003 as a part of my works at the IAEA, I visited Smithsonian Gallery in Washington D.C. This was my introduction to Matisse’s Dance, a circle of people dancing while holding hands. After attending an erudite talk in one of the halls, I had this vision of how the stick figures I drew on the margins of my book, start squirming and start crawling towards the centre of the sheet: 

My ancestorial home is by the river near the Karapuzha Bridge, the witness to our fun and frolics, while very young. I was standing by the bank, holding my grandson’s hand And explaining to him how we used to play in the river. This led to the poem, “The River” written in 2006. 

I wrote “Google Map” in the same year after I used the app to explain to Susan, my visiting niece, the lay of my ancestral house near the river and how we, as children would play all day by the river. It ends with the nostalgic note: 

Rajan, my younger brother stationed in Coimbatore departed suddenly in 2007, while young. I tried to passivate the trauma through an effort at poetry: The Chariot of Death 

On occasional visits to Cham near Zurich to visit my son and his family, I go to the cathedral at Einsiedeln, which has “The Black Madonna of Einsiedeln”, a late gothic sculpture from the middle of the 15th century. Many of the worshippers are Shri Lankan refugees! 

Once during a visit to Kottayam and on my way to my ancestral house, I suddenly remembered Jameela, a childhood friend; with springy hair and violet eyes. While attending the wedding of my niece, I met another Muslim girl from the neighbourhood. When I asked her about Jameela, she denied that there was anyone in that family by that name. My wife asked why I had to invent Jameela. A poem followed: 

Science says that Homo sapiens left their African homeland two million years ago and dispersed in the world in a great migration. Why doesn’t humanity feel the bonds? In the poem “The Tides in Us”, I imagine that: 

An encounter with a Chinese historian, who made a living by reciting the saga of the Chinese workers who built the Trans-Continental Rail Road in the 1880s prompted the following poem. This happened during a visit to the memorial to Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo at the lighthouse at Point Loma in San Diego.

“The End of Time” was written after a road trip to Camargues with my son Joseph and our families. While standing on a hilly precipice in the Gorges du Verdon, as the mist swirled around me and the vision dimmed, I almost felt everything winding down to a strange stasis! I speculated that

“The End Programme” was meant as another version of the apocalypse, termination of human civilization by Artificial Intelligence made possible by Silicon chips: 

The Padma awards are given in the Asoka Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhavan in a glittering event of unparalleled grace. I wrote the poem “Under the Painted Ceiling” after the event. The poem begins with: 

I spent two summers in the sixties at Kothamangalam, teaching Physics at the Mar Athanasius College. Years later I had to pass through the town while visiting an old friend and on a whim visited the Jacobite Church at Kothamangalam. That memory resulted in a poem: 

My poem “Grace” reflects on an existential problem:

What do you get when the past crystallizes out of the future? According to George Ellis and Tony Rothman, theoretical physicists who propose a new model of the universe that combines relativity and quantum mechanics described, the answer is the present.

And finally, “Yakshi” was inspired by the memory of The Pala Tree at the edge of the compound of my ancestral home in Kottayam which had inspired many weird stories and speculations!

Written over two decades, my poetry is a wistful reflection on life, people, places and the past. Occasionally, I brood philosophically on issues of humanity and science. All these poems are posted on my website: https://www.pucadyil.com/poems.

Standard

Leave a Reply