Constance: Of Inner Revolution & Outer Evolution

Those were the days
That flew upon the breeze
Scented with platters
Of words-worthy feasts

Them wintry special editions
Of home cooked meals
Warmed up like Enid Blytons
Seasoned with John Keats

The lazy summer afternoons too
Sprawled with Agatha Christies;
My bread and butter
Your wine and cheese

The popular cliques’
Nancy Drews were just
So sickeningly sweet,
They squatted prettily
Like jars of jam
Languishing in ignominy

That was when Sherlock Holmes
Was the gentleman’s gentlemen
And John Grisham a treatise,
And David Baldacci was as legal
As you could get
In a thrill baker’s paradise

But Shakespeare was
The Indians’ Chinese soup
All slurped down in delight,
Until pig’s blood like misogyny
Left ’em squirming in surprise

That was when Austen and Bronte
Were the Julia Childs of English Lit,
Deliciously piquant in delivery despite
Their obsession with etiquette

In contrast, the desi summer retreats
Became a much needed respite,
Cutting through the western sensibilities
With spicy mythological strife

Their sensationally spiritual plots
And samosa-eared pages of lore
Could wage a Game of Thrones
With more honour and less gore

Where Satya Jit Ray sprightly sleuthed
From fortresses to chawls,
Arunadhati Roy bluntly sluiced
Variety with liberal over hauls

Then came Chetan Bhagat
To conquer cinema with realism,
But with grammar like pirated pizza’s
He posed Adiga little competition

Thusly, the experiments with
Fictional truths grew by and by,
As I kept up with nuggets of
Phantasmagoria on the sly

It was the best of times, indeed,
It was the worst of times,
To have swum through the Trojan wars
Yet have doddered into Twilight

It was the age of wisdom, truly,
It was the age of foolishness,
Where the literature of examinations battled
To gain foothold in my reading lists

This fascist state of poiesis
Kept me winded and on my toes;
With History and Future in a flux
I spent hours thinking fast and slow

And through this epoch of identity politics,
Cultural wars and Digital putsch,
That the fad of Harry Potter thrived
Became a universally acknowledged truth

– Akanksha Gupta

The Clothes We Wear

Capture

We enter

Wearing nothing

But flesh, blood and bones

We are then adorned

With a myriad garments

That they tell us are clothes

Later we learn the fabric

Was made with a swarm of threads

Of them, some were so fine

That even subtlety would’ve reddened

Gradually we observe and learn

The clothes everyone wears

Most follow the fashion

Some never catch up with it

But there are some who sweeten

The fabric and reinvent its ilk

We call them the leaders

And strive to be copy-artists

We too attempt to stitch

For, by and to ourselves

Only to realize it’s easier

To choose ready-mades from the shelves

We are happy to follow for a while

Good sheep who may never stitch

But every now and then to get by

We give the lone threads a twist

Where we had learned to wear

Smiles, frowns and courage

We have now also learnt the art

Of weaving and wearing politics

Oh this as an important life lesson

In case a thread comes loose

Or there’s a wardrobe malfunction

Because smiles, frowns and courage

Can sail you through

But only politics alleviates dysfunction

And with every political mutation

That makes the fabric twitch

The clock hands turn and tick

To wipe off an irascible itch

The fabric thus grows fainter

And starts losing its sheen

The threads come loose

It’s time to come clean

For some, that time never comes

Until they must exit

And their dirty laundry

If dirty enough

Is washed in full view of the public

But some stitch their garments

So cleverly embroiled with each other

That even after their exit

Their clothes either are buried with them

Or bury an unfortunate other

– Akanksha Gupta

TO VOTE OR NOT TO VOTE

Politics is messed up and in return, I am lousy at it. It is a very healthy relationship I assure you; of being uninterested, apathetic, uncaring, and indifferent and all the synonyms you can find in the thesaurus for the word “voter”. Do note that the word ‘voter’, here, not only refers to those who vote but also those who can but prefer not to.

And I appreciate the voters who don’t vote. After all, they must have more pressing concerns such as working to put food on the table. They have no reason to care about which candidate gets elected or what schemes he proposes. Those schemes are never going to bear them fruits. But yes, if they must, they would rather vote for the candidate that delivers promises before the elections even begin. After all, he ‘shows’ promise despite his track record. Now, while most cultures may call this ‘bribery’ and condemn it for being a despicable act, the truth remains that nobody would admit but everybody is guilty of it. And that makes the whole world which includes those who vote and those who don’t equally and unequivocally a despicable lot. Since everybody is born this way, no-one is alone in being lazy and dishonest. Thus, without shame I can confess to you, one voter to another, I’m one who’d rather not vote.

THE UNVARNISHED TRUTH BEHIND AN ELECTION MANIFESTO

I will get up

And wash about

Me, my house

 

I will drink

To the health

Of me, my house

 

I will eat

To fill the tums

Of me, my house

 

I will work

Hard to earn

For me, my house

 

Day after tomorrow

I will do all I can

For me, my house

 

Tomorrow I will plan

The how-to-do

For me, my house

 

And I will want today

Your support

For me, my house

 

For what is mine

Is yours too

Even me, my house

 

And together

We sink or swim

That is our house

 

Coz ‘everyday’ comes

But the day after ‘tomorrow’

In this blessed house

However, I vote. Despite the fact that the higher echelons of the society are infested with petty politics of a silver tongued governance riddled with corruption, I vote. After all, the media has spiced it up into a soap opera, irresistible even to the likes of me. And I absolutely despise it; a love-hate relationship. Moreover, I want to feel like Santa Claus. I want to know which candidate has been good and deserves a gift. It gives me a perverse guilty pleasure to note that no politician deserves it. Still I vote; partly because I am inclined to put up the pretense of a nice active voter who cares and partly because if I am to give up my nation to vultures I’d rather choose the least greedy one. So yes, while I am lousy at politics and would rather not dirty my hands with it, I refuse to sit on the sidelines and accelerate the rot. Who knows? Once in a blue moon, the tide may change and long-sought changes may be wrought.

BIRDS OF A FEATHER

Look at those giant feathery folks

That poke their beaks into businesses

That bother them not

And rather than lay an apology

Thickly and swift

Their tongues erupt into

Hackneyed discourses and juvenile diatribes

That fail to eclipse their wilted wit

So much so that these long weathered ears

Grow wary of potential permanent abuse

Especially as their voices grow louder

And their stilted stature elevates

Mayhap it’s their nearness

But as their beaks elongate

I wonder how many of us

Are blind by choice

And how many oblivious

But it is quite certain that the giants seem

(Beyond their bulbous beaks)

Unable to see

Or care about

Our apathetic visage

And a pathetic state of affairs

~ Akanksha Gupta

(PS: This article was published in HKUST Wings 23.1)