Rain – A Vastness Soaked in Memory

tumblr_mo6cfozrWK1sv6lhpo1_r1_1280By Ankush Arora

The rain evokes many emotions — for the gluttons (like my colleagues, including myself) it’s yet another day to feast on pakoras, followed by steaming cups of milky tea; for the photographer, it’s time to update her photo gallery; I will skip the reference to lovers, however, because for them an opportunity lost is doubly gained the next time; and for the poet — like Rahul Singh — the falling raindrops is probably an autobiographical swim into his inner thoughts that may or may not be in line with the general sense of happiness the monsoon heralds.

Here’s what Rahul Singh, a full-time journalist and nocturnal poet, wrote on the weekend:

This rain
is a vastness soaked in memory
spells of shower,
half-remembered songs
a diffused refrain.
But not far away
a river rises again
breaching the embankments
of faith and lost honor
It will sweep the cries away
once more
flooding the grave
submerging even the hope
of consolation in eyes
now suspended
in pain.

There’s no doubt about the absolutely vivid and brilliant imagery of these lines. The first half seeks to personalise the rain into an episodic memory, punctuated with “half-remembered songs” and a “diffused refrain”; as if the monsoon is awash with the “vastness” of something bygone.

And yes, at the risk of flattering my fellow worker, it does remind me of a nazm written by Gulzar for ‘Ijaazat‘, one of the grand old Indian poet’s best creations:

पतझड़ में कुछ पटों के गिरने की आहत
कानों में एक बार पहन के लौटाई थी
पतझड़ की वो शाख अभी तक काँप रही हैं
वो शाख गिरा दो, मेरा वो समान लौटा दो

Patjhad mein kuch paton ke girne ki aahat
kanon mein ek baar pahan ke lautayi thi
Patjhad ki wo shakh abhi tak kaanp rahi hain
wo shaakh giraa do, mera wo saman lauta do

It’s the same register of nostalgia and memory that Singh evokes in his poetry, except that it is passive unlike Gulzar, whose lines are situational. In the film, it’s a letter by Maya who wants everything back from her so-called boyfriend – including false promises or a night mentioned in a letter – that leads into this classic song in Asha Bhonsle‘s haunting voice.

The passivity and the palpable resignation is more than evident in the second half of Singh’s composition, when he says: “But not far away/a river rises again…It will sweep the cries away/once more/flooding the grave/submerging even the hope/of consolation in eyes/now suspended/in pain.”

The poet becomes the narrator, rather a soothsayer, when he predicts the devastation that won’t even spare the mourners at a grave “suspended in pain”. The imagery is powerful as it transforms the alleviating power of a romantic monsoon into a tsunami of sorts that will “submergey even the hope…”. There is death in these lines, as also in another poem he wrote earlier:

And when it rains this time
you will not smell the earth
but corpses waiting for deliverance
on lands where history
bleeds dry.

It isn’t a mere co-incidence that Singh, a journalist, is writing about death in his poetry in the past week that saw the shooting down of a Malaysian Airline flight mid-air that killed nearly 300 people, and Israel’s continuing brutal military offensive in Gaza strip.

“Television images of the rebel-held (Malaysian jet) crash sites, where the remains of victims had lain decomposing in fields among their personal belongings, have turned initial shock and sorrow after Thursday’s disaster into anger,” Reuters reported

“Deliverance”, indeed.

(Follow me on Twitter @Ankush_patrakar)

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Ankush Arora

Delhi boy; dreamer, nature lover, photographer. Development communications professional. Ex-Reuters, NDTV. This is a personal blog.

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