Unquiet Silences

I have decided to venture into the hitherto unknown (to me) field of translations. Here, I have tried my hands at translating a wonderful poem by Anamika Tiwari from Hindi to English. The original is titled, “खामोशियों में भी कुछ शोर रहता है“.

My sketchy attempt at translation is titled: “Unquiet Silences”

Even silences bear a tumult
and a rustle obscured by shadows
Still, I encounter an all consuming loneliness,
Looking back at the time gone by,
As I reason with myself again, in vain – there is no Saviour.

So, why am I alive?
An eternal flame that feeds on hope
Corpses on vulgar display
A life bound by a few morsels

Then where do I find my singularity?

What am I reading in 2016?

Every year should end in quiet contemplation over paths which we took, missed and avoided during the year. One should use the result of this brainstorming to gain a foothold into a more productive year, which lies ahead.

This holds true even when it comes to the wonderful practice of reading. Over the past few years, in order to bring some discipline into my habit of reading, I have tried to follow quite a few reading plans such as, the Goodreads reading challenge, the #100BookPact and a few others. Although, I have enjoyed them, to an extent these plans have acted as a limitation. In all these plans, one fixes the number of books one would like to read and in the process ends up reading books that need not be read, just to meet the target. This year, I have decided to draw up a list before I commence my journey.

I have decided to stick to literary fiction and non-fiction for the first quarter of this year, notable exceptions being mystery/thrillers and poetry. (Will update the list for the next quarter, some time in March). I intend to read these books in the first quarter of 2016:

  • Crime and Punishment: The first out of the three books by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, that I intend to read this year.
  • Looking Away: Inequality, Prejudice and Indifference in New India: Finally, ready to take up Harsh Mander‘s indictment of the ordinary Indian.
  • Raag Durbari: A timeless work of fiction set in India,in Hindi, by Shrilal Shukla.
  • Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies: A brief history of the human civilization by Jared Diamond.
  • The Fall: A step towards reading everything that Albert Camus wrote.

If you haven’t drawn up your list, go ahead and do it! Do share it with me. Let’s skip bogus reading challenges and read some great books in 2016.

Rage sodden reverie

He wants to write about how he would push you against the wall, press you against the wall, hold you by your shoulders, feel your breath on his skin. Intimidating. But, he can’t. He can’t write about it because he can’t push you against the wall. He would love to. But, the rage within him just wouldn’t metamorphose into hatred. Would he ever push you against the wall? If not to hurt you? Toes. Do you remember the last time he did? Do you remember how he left you reaching out for more, holding on to your pounding heart? Do you think he would want to write about that? He would not. Not anymore. A lot of bile now simmers under that bridge. The bridge is in flames. Charred. His insides are scorched. Would you claim the same for his soul? Soul. Do you think he would want to write about that? Would you try to hold on to the curtains when he brings you down? Would the rings hold? Rings. Not the ones that adorn your fingers like dismembered limbs after an ignoble war. Do you think he would want to write about that? He might want to write about it. The prints that your feet leave on his rug, the outline of your head on his pillow, a puddle of your scent on his sheets. Branded into the flesh of his reminiscence. Searing. Do you think he would want to write about that?

Would you be his muse one final time? This is not a love song.

Opening paragraphs – 1

The fascinating opening paragraph from Timothy Geithner’s, “Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises”

“On the morning of January 27, 2009, my first full day as secretary of the Treasury, I met with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office. The worst financial crisis since the Great Depression was still raging, and he wanted to put out the fire for good. The banking system was broken. The broader economy was contracting at a Depression-level rate. Consumer confidence had sunk to an all-time low, and millions more Americans were in danger of losing their jobs, their savings, even their homes. The President looked calm and reasonably comfortable after a week in the White House, despite all the bad news he was getting.

I was about to give him some more.”

Find the book here: https://tinyurl.com/ly7ftcp

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

“The Reluctant Fundamentalist”, by Mohsin Hamid is a book which gets off to a rollicking start. In this work of fiction, Hamid tells us the story of “Changez” by shuttling back and forth between the past and the present. For the most part, the narrative is taut. But, halfway through the book, Hamid starts losing the plot.

Hamid takes us through the multitudes of crises which Changez faces, all pertaining to his life as a young Pakistani man, coming through the ranks in the corporate echelons of the USA. Changez’s life takes a turn for the worse post the 9/11 attacks in the USA. The attack on the Indian Parliament, leading to an imminent war-like situation only worsens things for the protagonist. Hamid also throws in a sub-plot of a love story which is unrequited and juvenile to some extent.

All said and done, in my opinion Hamid barely scratches the surface of the complex quarry he set out to pursue at the outset. The bits about life in Lahore and New York, leave one wanting for more. The almost anticlimactic epilogue is as good as any one’s guess. At close to 200 pages, this is a light read.

Find the book on Goodreads: http://tinyurl.com/op5pvf9

Damnation

We keep on being told that religion, whatever its imperfections, at least instills morality. On every side, there is conclusive evidence that the contrary is the case and that faith causes people to be more mean, more selfish, and perhaps above all, more stupid.

Today, every word rings glaringly true. Christopher Hitchens was right all along.