Friday, August 5, 2011

the unusual poet and a book about a dying teacher

Two unusual scholars have gifted me two unusual books. both these scholars are elderly, both are bengalis and both are connected to EFLU. i don't know how and why they have picked me as their friend but that they have is my biggest fortune. i like meeting people at various stages of their evolution and these two scholars are in their own devastated way at a stage of evolution when enthusiasm is the biggest life force. without the enthusiasm they might just give up, fall flat, look for meaning in a Hiroshima after the atom bomb. 
their enthusiasm for life and literature reminds of my graduation days when i thought i might end up as another Rushdie any day. their energy to read and absorb literature is rare in India where half way through you give up studying literature and look for call centre jobs. 
it strikes me suddenly that the lives of these scholars are other way round. i mean generally we study and after that we look for a job. but my two friends gave up their jobs when they were 35 or 40 to start studying anew. 
i find this amazing. i find this urge to renew oneself, to at least to make an effort at reclaiming the residual aesthetic sense in you, to at least make an attempt at putting the clock back, unrusting yourself , a superb habit. 

sajalda in my room
first let me tell you something about Sajal Dey. he had been a medical representative with established pharmaceutical companies in india. he gave up his job to study russian in EFLU. now he is in shantiniektan doing a phd. by the way he is domiciled in shantiniketan and his wife is a professor of Viswa Bharati.

my second friend is Kingsuk Basu whom i met few days ago while having my lunch at the mess. he had been a globe trotting software consultant. now he is going to complete his M.A. in Spanish at EFLU through distance mode. he lives with his wife (a French teacher) in Kolkata.

Sajalda is a poet. i have his book of short poems. i like his sense of rhythm. i like the sudden drama in his momentary ideas. he has published the book with lot of care. the care of a passionate man. he also gave me Tuesdays with Morris by Mitch Albom. here an old sociology professor and his favourite student talk about love, compassion and friendship. the professor is dying and the student is accompanying him to his journey towards his end. their sympathy for each other constantly  reminds me of the love we lack.

Dag hammarskjold
Kingsukda  loves to read poetry. i remember to have discussed Rilke's Duino Elegies the first day we met. impressed, he had handed me a thesis he had xeroxed somewhere on chinese poetry edited by ezra pound. i confess i have not read it yet. probably i am afraid of connecting myself to poetry. i confess i have been too poetic for a long time. i confess i don't want to relive the emotional miseries poetry brought for me. 
kingsukda has also introduced me to Dag Hmmarskjold, a swedish diplomat who kept a personal diary. The rescuers found the diary clung to the dead body of Dag after a plane crash which killed this remarkable man. he was a UN diplomat running across the world looking for possible solutions to battles in Arab-Israel and Africa. Kingsukda wanted me to read his diary (published and edited by an eminent poet) to understand the gloominess in the movies of Bergman. "Since Bergman was also Swedish you'll find similarities in their gloomy vision," Kingsukda said. "I know about Sweden and i know how hard living can be under the snow. it's too much of  melancholy," he would add. 

i still don't like bergman but i like Dag's poems because his fears, anxieties, momentary philosophies are like our own. a man desperately trying to pursue the world to come to some sense and then losing out, yet smiling and then waking up in the morning and saying hello to himself in the mirror, the first thing in the morning. his poems are like the vaporized guilt of a diplomat. 

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