Sound of weaving on a loom

While I was recording the sound of the wind blowing through the leaves and of footsteps on dry leaves in the hills in Manipur for a current film project, I heard on my earpieces a weak sound of something familiar I had practically forgotten to be still existing–weaving on a loom. The sound from my childhood. My aunt, my father’s younger sister, on whose back I grew up as a child. She used to weave. (Mother too.) I often went to the main market in Kakching to buy yarn for her.

I turned my mic to specify the direction the sound was coming from, then followed the sound track, and I heard the volume and clarity of the sound increasing as I got nearer to the source.

Higher up the hill in one of the cottages a woman was there weaving on her loom. I recorded as she weaved.

Failed Comedy: Chewing Gum

Here I sit where time terminates
My tired legs hanging off the cliff into the other zone
Listening to the noiseless sounds beyond these gates
Still feeling the hard end of time’s long bone
Brooding on rock climbing, climbers and mountains
Chewing the gum over why things are as they are over the mains.

Delhi Drum Circle at Oxford Store, Connaught Place

My camera battery died too soon. I assumed it must have enough power left on it after the rock shooting on Friday and I was wrong. I had to take these shots on my tablet, which I have almost never done earlier.

Man of Word

Vysakh R on his last night (11 May 2017) at JNU, New Delhi. I designed this word-cloud portrait on the night of 14 May. The words are from a couple of my unfinished poems.

Poets on a January Evening

Poet and playwright Srilekhak (left) is experimental in his art. Sparing and deliberating in speaking, parsimonious in praise, what come out of his mouth when he speaks are like sentences from a book of literary criticism. Almost blind since the late 1990s, how he struggles to write is drama in real life. His printing press, Times Printers, (closed in 1999 due to his dwindling eyesight) at Kakching market contributed greatly to the spread of literary movements the effects of which could be felt in the rise of literary movements in non-Imphal circles across the entire valley of the state. My translations of his two poetry collections will soon see the light of day.

Poet, novelist, short story writer and philosopher Dr. Rajendra Pukhrambam (middle), I would say, is an author of several unwritten books. He is not a textual and academic type, but the words that come out of his mouth are heavy with deep wisdom. Kind and compassionate, understanding and helpful, soft-spoken and reassuring, encouraging and enlightening (without making you feel being on the receiving end of knowledge), Rajendra is one of the best human beings I have ever seen, known or heard of. Reading his literary works is calming like what you feel in saying a prayer. The experience his works gives to the reader is deep and cannot be laid threadbare by analysis and criticism. Mysticism forms a large part of his world–literary and the day-to-day. Unlike as is the case with most thoughtful people, there does not seem to be a significant difference between the world of his thought and the life he actually lives.

Usham Nirjitkumar (right) is a singer. I am not sure if he is a poet as well. I took this photograph at a literary event. 16 January 2017. I have yet to know about him.

Poet and Short Story Writer

Manipuri short story writer and one of the state’s top cops, Rajen Moirangthem (left) and Manipuri poet and sports columnist, Saratchand Thiyam on the evening of 16 January 2017.

Both of them are national Sahitya Akademi award recipients. I set out as an editor when I assisted Mr. Rajen in editing Chumthang, a literary journal published by Sahitya Seva Samiti, Kakching.

Saratchand and I came to know each other at a seminar at India International Center, New Delhi, in 2005. Organized by Katha. As a young boy–youngest among the delegates–I was a panelist in a discussion program–Knowledge Keepers and Dream Makers. Did he get a book of his released during the seminar? I don’t remember. Something like the English translation of his Nungsibi Greece was hot then.

In the Woods

Son of an impractical philosopher type of guy with a taste for literature, I got inured to hard work, privation and stoic life, and all the more importantly, as it will have consequence to the rest of my life, to abstract things, quite very early in life. When I think of my father, now a diabetic invalid, and then of myself, I can’t but think life is too vast  a field for one person to live the entirety of it, but when you choose to live only certain parts of it, that may turn out too narrow to support its own weight that you sink. An economist of an artist–perhaps a flawed one–I don’t like many things about life to form part of the art called my life (for example, I hate earning for survival, detest eating, hate me being wished unmeant and meaningless good mornings and birthdays, the formalities of life such as schools, colleges, universities, jobs, making friends, chit-chats, workshops, conferences, etc.), and I don’t want to go through these processes, and without me undergoing them, I have to pay for it, by ruining my own life, and that is what I am doing, most of the time. That is why I am in a troubled relationship with life.

As a boy, I wanted to become a painter, philosopher, sculptor, dancer, filmmaker. Some sort of artist. But I always wanted to live in the woods without much contact with the world. Then at school, another ambition caught hold of my mind–a scientist. A physicist. Working in the field of energy. I read a lot. Actually a lot. Infatuated. I did not know what formalities it took for one to first go through before one reaches there. You need to pass through a lots of gates, and the gatekeepers don’t let you pass that easily. I took up science at secondary school, where my first ever ambition was shattered. A lot of things happened. I gave up that ambition. Streaks of that desire still swell weakly in me, once in a while. Quite a familiar stranger now. A sleeper in me. Deep sleeper. One thing that has made sleep beautiful for me is this sleeper inside me. In deep slumber, turning over once in a while.

What do you want to do in life? I ask myself. Nothing. Seriously, nothing. I can paint, think, dance, and believe I can still do sculpture. Clay. Wood. That’s just the force of life. Primitive. Like the wind blowing, dogs barking or wagging tails, stone just being hard on the cold ground. They serve no purpose. I have no purpose in life–not just mine, I see no purpose in life and this is making me feel empty. Just purposeless, I don’t want to enjoy life. Gay abandon. Eating around. Sleeping around. Fucking around. No carpe diem for me, please. No advice.

Why is it that humans, at least some of them, want to die when they have nothing to do in life? Do they want some job to do in life? Do they want to be busy? No. It’s not that simple. To exist, to undergo the process of existence in the stark meaninglessness, is a torture. Injustice. It is irritating. But why don’t I just commit suicide? Why not just blow my brains out? I wonder why I don’t do this–kill myself? Seriously. I don’t know. It seems like underneath I am a detective, justice of the law of the universe, that senses something is not quite right and wants to figure this out and fix it. Sort of some buried anger deep inside me. A quiet but burning desire to bring the culprit–if we can call it so–to justice. This is the violence in me. The cool violence. The icy cold stiff die-hard, stoic in me. Waiting patiently. But punching once in a while into the walls, on the floor, breaking my valuables all of a sudden. As if madness emerging out of nowhere. The violence in me.

Art gives me solace. I am an artist. I live as an art. My life is a work of art. There is pleasure in this art, this me. And I am not for show. How does art give me solace? Art distracts me from the meaningless elements of life. I remove parts of life I think do harm to life. Weeds. I live like an editor of life. Artists are editors of life. I edit my life. I live in my edited world. But it is also true that I want to die along with art–this art. This art is too delicate for the wake-up knock on the door. The membrane between the rumbling life and this dream called art is too thin and fragile. But I do not know how I come to the conclusion that death puts everything to rest. What is that logic? I am not sure. No, I am not sure.

I have no ambition in life. That’s true. No ambition. That did not result from any failure or fear of failure or any kind of fear. I just don’t like much about life. But that much of life I like, I want to live that much in the woods. Raising a small family. Raising birds and animals, too, as part of my family. Fish. Feeding them. Flowers. Trees. Farming. Producing my own food. Being part of nature. Dying of snakebite or being tiger-food. Or dying in the lap of my wife, surrounded by my children and grandchildren. Or dying alone in a cold bed. Unseen by any, except fruitflies. That would be a pleasing one. That is the life I am looking forward to now.

Two Years Worth a Lifetime

4 January 2017. After I had avoided humans, particularly those who are by default called friends in every sphere of my life for a very long time, Preety Jankeepersand and I met, had tea and paratha at Brahmaputra and walked for long in many secluded areas in the JNU campus. Preety, a kind and self-conscious girl from Mauritius,  has been a friend of mine who has been helping me when and where no other person would actually give a damn. Most friendships demand mutual investment and that reciprocity needs to be simultaneous lest the friendship expires. Preety has proved a different person–in her characteristic combination of quiet and frankness, and affection and aloofness, she would repeatedly and patiently get through my silent irresponsive solitude and do a few things to help me (calling me sometimes, writing to me often with some important information I need to act on) before she leaves quietly. She knew without somebody helping me I would not do certain things despite the consequences. Not many people would be so generous as her at least to a person like me–so aloof, so unpenetrably silent and incommunicable. I would ever remain indebted to her. So happily.

That afternoon we talked about a lot of things. Life in general. Plans for future–what we wanted to do in life, after the linguistic course. I had my camera with me too–I told her I wanted to take a few photographs of her. To remember her by. The easier way.

I had photographed her before too. This evening was calmer and quieter and we were more relaxed. But unfortunately, when we arrived at this particular place–a beautiful one, one we would unlikely visit on any other day–the sun had already set and I had to turn the ISO up and lower the shutter speed. Far beyond I would normally go for. (We did not plan to come here–some beautiful peacocks attracted our attention and we followed a couple of them which we saw and we ended up here.)

Though I wished we got to this place earlier, she was so cool and beautiful in her blue shirt and jeans in that twilight. We agreed we would come to this place again. Earlier. We have not yet gone there again.

I took six or seven photographs there. She was calmly beautiful in all of them. In her quiet and cute beaming beauty. Now the course has ended and she will go back to her country and I will muddle through following my dream. In difficulty. The time has come for me to publish the few photographs I have taken of her. Here are two of them. Up above.  I will add the other photographs too here. And various versions of the same photographs too.

I will remember this friend of mine. Ever in my life. Clearly. Without a cloud.

In Full Bloom

In full bloom. One of the few physical parts of JNU (New Delhi) I like.

The linguistic course I took up at the JNU (New Delhi) has finally ended. It did not eat my daily hours up but it kept hanging over my consciousness for the last two years and the things I had kept on hold had piled up all around me. Now I have to go back to my life–life has called me back and I have to answer. I have consciously lived a crazy life like a kid for two years. That was fun. Well now, that has come to an end. I will be busy doing what I love. For the rest of my life. Mostly quietly.

Knowing fully well that I may not have any reason to come to this place again after all my formalities are done with here in one month or so, I sensed last afternoon that it is probably the last JNU spring that I will see and I felt I should photograph this part of JNU. Almost a bower-like formation.