Sleeping Home

When you can’t carry your own weight
against the earth’s call for a fall
life is reduced to the weight
of flesh, blood and bone.

The old man settles into his unmade bed,
made only by the fussy wind from the sea—
a bundle of wrinkles among the messy folds.
Old and spent, he sleeps the last sleep.

No snore. The folds and wrinkles at rest.
It feels like time has done with all its fuss—
there is nothing stirring in the bedroom,
in the living room, the corridors, the kitchen,
on the stairs and the cornice—the white silk curtains
in frozen stirs at the windows, and the breeze
caught in the cobweb of the air.

None will hear and the air won’t feel touched
when the old door creaks again to close
when you’ve walked home in your sleep.

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.

Unfinished Poems

1

A child was born with death, a poppy birthmark
tattooed cutely on its tender skin adding art to flesh.

Pulling long carrot roots from the soft mulch
one weary evening, the boy saw sleepy time,
inveterate as an old hoary smoker, drowse across the valley
like a lucent birthmark floating free of skin.

2

What’s the body to the earth?
It reaches for and slips down to the floor
when breath begins migrating
and the blood slows down to a thick stop.

The accordion, singing voices, loud laughters and cries
and brisk and elaborate movements of dance
have made it a warm winter in the suburb pub.
The cold of the floor creeps up his cheeks
in exchange for the warm flow from
the cooling hole in his heart—
he is drowning in his own life.
A dancing girl takes a break, sits down
at a stool by the counter and tosses a swig
of red-blood hot life into her life-sucker.
Crimson seeps through the cotton clouds
slowly revealing the sky bleeds—
crimson drops trickling down the cold earth.

3

Death is quite different when you’ve survived
Several suicides and several other deaths—
Death is so useless; life—you’ve nowhere to go!

I died there in that city, in that small, dark, boring room
In those monotonous restaurants
Those parks, those benches, those thorns
Those hospital beds, corridors and clinic rooms
Those same boring streets, same boring traffic
Day in, day out. Year in, year out!
I lived there, across the city, digging a grave across it
I died there, across that city, in that grave
Buried my dead body there, in that grave, across that city
With the body of my dead love—
Love, nowhere to live, nowhere to die.

A piece of me still moving—a sure sign of life,
Like a dead actor in an olden movie.
Something doesn’t quite let it alone—life, death,
And I love it and I hate it—it just confuses me.
No name! My heart just pumps it, and it flows
Through my veins and capillaries all over my body!

Quiet like a dark mountain at night.

Running away from Time

Those fingers—those—
The fingers of time—
They press me out of life.

The light from the stars—from ancient miles—
And the present glitter in my eyes—
They meet in a kiss—
Sucking the breath out of me—life.

I run away from time
From bodies of time creeping around,
and here in the dark
I struggle to plug every hole
with time-tight tissues
I have torn away from my heart
to keep myself warm
and untouched by decay
until I stop my breath.

Ways of Dying (“Died” in the passive voice)

One of the most emotionally fragile day. I consider myself as one of the simplest, naivest persons in the world. Perhaps verging on stupidity, if not stupidity exactly. A caveman. I am exactly a caveman, and this world is not for the types of me. Not about good or bad–I am just a misfit here, and my world often caves in and I get buried in the rubble heap. I just feel like dying. Especifically, death coming to me, to do his own job. I don’t want to do his job because I trust no place. Bad trust everywhere.

When my death comes, I die. I is the grammatical subject doing the action of dying. The dier. The doer of the action of death. But thematically, I is not an agent; it is an experiencer. I experiences death. I undergoes death. Something I has to. Something I cannot escape. Something like emposed on I.

This dying that happens when death comes is different from the kind of death that happens when the subject is the agent of the act of dying. That is in committing suicide. In death, the responsibility of the transfer of being (if being continues) from one state to another or from one plane to another or from one place to another is with what causes death–nature or God, just for the lack of term and undrstanding. When the subject takes their own life, nobody else is responsible for the transfer and I personally don’t know where I can put what I have snatched from this uncomfortable life. There may not be any place. There may be places, good or better, bad or worse than the ones known here. I just don’t want to do other people’s job. I am lazy. On my own. I don’t even want to be the fucker when having sex. I wanna be fucked. (By the way, I hate bed hopping, and I am not a guy to drink from a greasy cup. My life in this regard is clean and smooth–if a fly happens to setyle on me (=my morality), it, with all its six (or eight?) legs will slip and break all its legs on the floor. I ain’t being funny. Serious.) There is just one thing where I hate to be passive–if I am a gay, I will always be the giver and never the receiver. That is it. Otherwise, I don’t want to do anything, let alone committing suicide, which also involves pain and things like that. I once hanged myself from the ceiling and that painfully bruised my neck–I looked myself in the mirror after my father and brother hijacked my flight to death.

I would love it if death comes to me like I got lucky in a lottery. Somebody picks up my number and the other the winner’s what-do-you-call-it. Like a heart attack. Unfortunately I am damn healthy. I pump iron in the gym everyday–exerting all my angry and frustrated energy in pumping iron. I wish I die in a nightmare–an anaconda or something swallowing me whole in a dream and me dying. 😀. Unfortunately, I am an insomniac. And if I sleep, I almost never dream. I wish somebody just kills me. Unfortunately, nearly everybody seems to love me, except a girl (but she won’t kill me to be a murderer–so kind), and a politician or two, but they don’t want to incur trouble killing me. So sad. I have got to do a heavy-weight thinking about ways to get “died,” dying in the passive voice. I am serious. Though smilingly.

Silence. Wordless. My language now.

Throes of (Child)birth, Smart of Taking Life

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Photographer unknown

A young, recently married woman committed suicide, the News Nation reported last evening.

It was the final rites of a neighbor yesterday–he took his own life successfully in the second attempt after the first about five years ago. His body was found hard and stiff in the rain hours after his last breath, in the dark narrow space between a barber’s shop and a big abandoned car at a small junk yard.

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Photograph by Sally Mann

His brother had tooken his own life, too. I can still hear the sounds of women crying in his family sneaking weakly and quietly into my room one quiet evening in the early 2000s–I was reading (or writing something?) in my always-quiet room which I had turned into an indoor garden with plants collected from deep forests all over Manipur besides the ones I got from professional gardeners and plant lovers including my brother’s father-in-law. His body was found hard and still in his farmhouse (bolted from inside) days after his disappearance. Before he finally could take his life, he had been often seen walking drunk with a poison bottle in his hand. One foggy late-winter morning, he was found asleep on a cremation furnace platform on the cremation ground in my neighborhood. He had a poison bottle in his hand.

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Photograph by Sally Mann

One son of the eldest brother of these suicide brothers had also put an end to his own life a few years before that. He had hanged himself by the neck from the ceiling of his bedroom, survived by his wife and two very small kids–one was just a newborn.

These three later cases are just what comes to mind when I think of suicides I know personally, actually close ones. Just convenient examples. I can make a long list of names.

About the same time, a friend of mine from my neighborhood–a good humorous person–took poison and it was too late when his family returned home that evening.

Suicide is a very regular phenomenon, and the rate is reportedly highest in Guyana (where people reportedly “die like flies” followed by Japan (Brandon Bridglal). In my state (Manipur, India), statistics says, suicide rate is highest in Kakching. I alone have many friends in my town who committed suicide. A couple of childhood friends from Wangoo, too. That village on one lake farm in which I lived my childhood.

Conversely, when I look at nature closely, I see every speck of life–even the tiniest ones–struggling to live against all sorts of odds. Under the microscope, I see microorganisms struggling to live. On the wooden wall panels of abandoned houses in the woods or on the red-brick walls at the base of the foundation of every building where the minimal conditions of life are present, there are always life forms–at least in the forms of moss and organisms so small visible only to the eyes looking for tiny lives–struggling to maintain life.

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Lichens struggling to live on a dead sliver. Photograph by Thoithoi O’Cottage

I see both life and death around me. Struggles to live and to die. The throes of childbirth, and the first cry of the child. The act of taking life, one’s own or another person’s, negating its birth by another person, a life-giver, a mother (with a father).

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A wild creeper struggling to cling to and draw life from dry mountain-flank rocks. Photograph by Thoithoi O’Cottage

To be continued…