Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Not wanting to let her go...

On 14th August 2020 it will be three years since my mother, Renuka Devi Barkataki, left us, suddenly, quietly, without bothering anybody. I had arrived at the hospital straight from the airport that hot summer afternoon in 2017 only to find her hardened mortal remains.  In the midst of the bustle, it had suddenly felt very cold and lonely. That feeling has not gone away. There have also been other major disasters in my life since, but somehow I am still not finished with Ma’s going yet.  That house in Panchabati that used to buzz with activity all the time mourned her for a while, before killing itself. Now it has transformed itself into a bad-tempered, unhappy ghost – shrouded over, musty and dark, waiting silently, to be exorcised.


Sunday, 19 July 2020

When life itself is on the line

In these corona-infested times, besides the gloom and the nervousness, there have been some incidents that have been uplifting -- stories of courage and exceptional kindness, stories where one has put one's own life at risk to save others. And there have been others that have forced one to stop, take a step back and ponder about the deeper meaning of our existence and about why we live and how we die.

Who can forget that young Mumbai hospital doctor who took off his PPE kit and risked getting infected in order to try to revive a dying corona patient.


Monday, 13 July 2020

Not about his poetry

He had surprised us all when he said, ‘I don’t care too much about poetry. What I care most about is human relationships.’

When asked why he wrote poetry then, he told us, ‘I write because I have to, but the emotions do not go away. They stay, choking the throat, dimming the vision, making the voice tremble.’


Sunday, 28 June 2020

International e-conference on Solidarity in a post-Covid world

The Solidarity e-Conference organised by Professor Mirna Džamonja from the 22nd to the 26th June 2020 was a platform where 'engaged intellectuals and cultural workers could give their personal vision of the world after Covid-19'. It was possibly the first such conference of its kind and was successful in bringing together more than forty experts from many different disciplines, many countries and many ideological inclinations to the same platform. The aim of the conference was There were musicians, artists, writers, lawyers, journalists, theatre directors and philosophers besides mathematicians and scientists, all of whom tried to grapple with the idea of the post-Covid world in their own ways. The central theme was global solidarity, which the conference assumed to be the only way forward in order to survive this crisis, and the conference was described as ‘an international video conference where selected leaders from the world of science, culture and civil society would meet and offer their vision of the world after the crisis’.


Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Covid revelations

The corona pandemic has taken everyone by surprise. But in India, it has not made the system collapse, rather it has exposed that we did not have a system worth the name to begin with. Here is a quick list of what else we have learnt about ourselves, our leaders and the state of our countrymen and the nation in the past two months...


Friday, 8 May 2020

Faultlines of a burglary

It was on the night of Monday 27th April that robbers broke into my parents’ home in Guwahati, in the northeastern state of Assam in India. These days the rooms are used as a Senior Citizens’ Club, which had remained closed for the last several weeks because of the Covid 19-induced complete lockdown that was still in force in India at that point. So no one came to any bodily harm but they ransacked the whole house, opened each cupboard, each drawer and each box and left with what they could find – some cash and a huge amount of bell-metal and copper articles – most of them priceless family heirlooms belonging to my parents, many over a century old. The caretaker’s family was asleep in the adjacent room, I was also in the flat on the first floor directly above, but we heard nothing. So they must have had some idea about which rooms to avoid and must have also worked out a time-interval when everybody would be asleep.


Monday, 2 March 2020

Precious lines

It has been a long while since I have felt like posting anything on my blog. When the brain is blocked with sadness and worry there is no way to be creative. And I don't always want to be negative in what I write. But a few people have said some unusual things to me in the last months that have helped me to cope. They need to be put on record.


Monday, 25 March 2019

A bag of apricot stones

A story of hope and friendship -- between two women from two different countries -- who have never met, and who know very little about one another


Tuesday, 20 November 2018

There and Here

There it was a healthy tree, full of life and vitality,
but it chose to uproot itself and move away;
     But the alien lands were hostile and forbidding
It could do no better than become a parasite
to what it thought was a healthy tree, here;
     But one day the healthy tree began to rot 
     and with it began to wither the parasite that lived on and off it;
It had not taught itself to spring roots to survive on its own, here
Nor were its dismembered remains strong enough to strike root again, there
    Uprooted tree or starved parasite, you have no chance!


Thursday, 12 July 2018

Facing up to the scary truth

Some ghastly incidents in the last few weeks, one in Thailand, the others in Assam, and some sobering conclusions that we can draw from them...[with thanks to Bodhisattva Sarma for some of the inputs and for goading me on to write]