Omnes una manet nox

Yesterday, someone bought a pocket watch that would have been mine at an auction. I will not know the name of the person who now owns it but our fates are now forever intertwined. On the English Crown rests the mountain of light. The fundamental principle of the world is the same as that of love: what is mine today will be yours tomorrow. Yesterday, someone bought a heart that would have been mine at an auction. I will not know the name of the person who now owns it but our fates are now forever intertwined.

I am sharpening my pen like an ancient knife. Tell me your name, you, on whose slender swan neck shines the sapphire that will be mine tomorrow. I will mount it in gold.

Lockdown Diary / Fragmented notes from the 21st or 22nd day?

The_dance_of_Shiva

Shiva dancing the Tandava, the dance of creation and destruction. 

In the small towns of the desert, children make houses of sand in the evening. Before going home, they smash those houses of sand with their feet and say, “I created, I destroyed.”

main-image (1)

From Holbein’s 1526 Danse Macabre series. The Noblewoman. 

In the last rites of most Hindu people, a close family member of the deceased has to take a bamboo stave and break the skull of the dead body already burning in the funeral pyre. It is called Kapala Kriya. What burns before you is nothing but body and so you must destroy it with your own hands.

jan_van_grevenbroeck_venetian_doctor_during_the_time_of_the_plague_museo_correr_venice

Plague doctor mask.

At the end of puja, the worshipped idols made of clay (that took months to be sculpted) must be immersed into water. They must dissolve into nothing.

Totentanz_in_Hrastovlje

There are no graves, no epigraphs, no cemeteries to be visited years after the death. The dead cannot take space from the living. The dead must be forgotten.

26629035787_f65f992c01_o

The gods’ task doesn’t end with creation alone. What gods created, gods must destroy.

e09e6786a5296b430e71940385763c6e

Even the ashes of the burnt body cannot be kept in urns. They, too, must be immersed into water. Your bones will not be found centuries later.

default (4)

In my last love letter to this mortal world, I will write, “Break my skull, my love, and light a cheap cigarette from the smouldering ashes of my pyre.”

Lockdown Diary / Day I don’t know what

viva-la-vida-watermelons.jpg!Large

Viva La Vida / Frida Kahlo’s last painting

I dreamt about my grandmother. She died 12 years ago and I woke up in tears. I dreamt about her. I dreamt about the old woman I’d met in a Bristol hostel who didn’t want me to go out in the cold. She served me a dinner of three tomatoes, two toasts, and cheese. I thought about the old man who always had rock candies in his pocket for me. I dreamt about the chopped mulberry tree. I cried for the stray dog I used to call John and leave bread out for. One day he disappeared. I dreamt about my parents’ friend who died of a heart attack, with whom I’d shared a plate of roasted chicken just a few months before while singing loudly.

I still remember the time before the pandemic. I will remember the time after. I am alone, my love, I am alone in the corner weeping for the ones no one is weeping for anymore.

Why does my heart turn bitter like Campari?

Lockdown diary / 5-6-7-8

‘mīr’ amdan bhī koī martā hai

jaan hai to jahān hai pyāre’

We have gained some perspective in the pandemic. We now know that Italo Calvino would have been more useful as a grocer. Clarice should have been an emergency doctor. And, of course, Mark Rothko should have used his time more wisely and become a rich businessman. Mir Taqi Mir should have at least composed a couplet in praise of Dettol’s scent. And Ghalib should have been a manufacturer of hand sanitizers. We have certainly gained some perspective. Pianos should be repurposed into something that will be more useful to society. I demand that from now on no resource should be wasted on the production of canvases or brushes. Every piece of stone should be used to build a useful building. I know I sound a bit radical but – hear me out – I think even flowers should be replaced with vegetables. The pandemic has taught us some important lessons. Alas, history cannot be changed! If only physics had enough funding, we would’ve been able to travel back in time and knock some sense into Bach’s head. Oh what a waste of talent! But at least now we have learnt our lesson. The other day, I don’t know why a man looked at me like I were crazy when I asked him which page of Baudelaire should be used as toilet paper first?

This?

I am fair, O mortals! like a dream carved in stone,

And my breast where each one in turn has bruised himself

Is made to inspire in the poet a love

As eternal and silent as matter.

 

Or this? 

I’m like a painter whom a mocking God

Condemns to paint, alas! upon darkness;

Where, a cook with a woeful appetite,

I boil and I eat my own heart;

Lockdown diary / 3-4

 

We are falling like pieces of domino. We are being buried in mass graves. Our immune systems are killing us instead of them. We cannot breathe. The earth that we thought we had conquered is closed off to us. Tigers are laughing. Fish are dancing in circles. Roses are more fragrant this spring. Sun ripened grapes are juicier this month, the deadliest of the pandemic. This good news has reached even the honeybees who are planning a wine party tonight. Mosquitoes are doing the cha-cha-cha. Wolves are urinating on our burning pyres. Deer and panthers have congregated on the outskirts to see the magnificent spectacle. Marie Antoinette’s severed head is rolling on the streets. We are the earth’s aristocracy. We must be shown our place.

Lockdown Diary / 2

Red roses and hyacinths are in bloom. There is a cool breeze on this sunny day. I am cooking chicken with preserved lemon and olives. Lola is dancing Salsa and Cha Cha Cha out in the garden. There is a black and white photograph of my grandmother on the wall. The sea is not far. We will go swimming soon. My son has brought a pelican from somewhere in the wild. There is a party tonight and I don’t have enough wine. The phone rings. Government has issued a ban on private vehicles. There will be a curfew from Wednesday. I hang up. There is a black and white photograph of my grandmother on the wall. I am cooking chicken with preserved lemons and canned tomatoes. Three roses and four mandarins on the balcony. I touch them, then sanitize my hands. The scent of Dettol fills the room. We will soon go swimming in bleach.

Lockdown diary / 1

I saw 20 million infected bodies. I saw 2 million deaths. I saw my thirty year old body and I saw 2 million deaths and 20 million infected bodies. I saw the body of a baby goat float on the Sundarbans Delta. I saw a crow eating the body of a cow floating on the Ganges. I saw 20 million infected bodies. I saw a helpless horse standing beside a dead white horse on Esplanade. I saw 2 million deaths. I saw a dream I was six years old picking flowers. I saw a man feeding pigeons in front of a homeless man. I saw a tiger drinking water. I saw 20 million infected bodies. I saw a woman collapse on the streets of Paris. I saw my face in the mirror. I saw 2 million deaths. I saw my locked door. I saw government advisories. I saw the quarantine stamp on a woman’s wrist. I saw a bottle of Polish vodka. I saw 20 million infected bodies. I saw the Spanish Flu. I saw the man I love fall in love with another woman. I saw 2 million deaths. I saw myself fall. I saw my unborn child. I saw Hiroshima. I saw a dream that I was six years old again. I saw my hand write. I saw 20 million infected bodies. I saw Vermeer. I saw myself. I saw 2 million deaths. I saw a sheep chew thorns.

Joy in the age of apocalypse

When our infected unloved bodies collapse on an empty street in a deserted part of the world, we will laugh like Zorba laughed at the collapse of the mine. Swans will roam the canals of Venice, gold fish will appear in the Thar desert, flamingos will walk the pink streets of Jaipur. We will see men we loved buried underground with their wives, we will say goodbye in unknown tongues to children we will never have, we will burn our parents’ bodies in hazmat suits. We will not live long enough to pluck even the unripe mangoes. We will dance in the empty Louvre on a Cuban song till the police come to pick our corpses. We will kiss Mona Lisa on the mouth.

The Philosopher’s Nose

Rene-Descartes

The man sitting by the window in a meditative pose was on the verge of solving the mystery of the universe when he suddenly sneezed. That last piece of the puzzle had finally occurred to him in a flash but the faint thought he was about to grasp disappeared into air, lost again. It had been happening for years, just as he was about to understand everything about everything, right at that moment a damn sneeze would disperse his carefully arranged line of thought, making his eyes weepy for hours afterwards, and sometimes a blinding migraine accompanied this madness. He never told anyone because it was embarrassing; a great philosopher like him prevented each time from revealing the final meaning of existence by a sneeze. No, no, who would believe such a thing? People would think the almost-old man has gone mad. The end of genius, it was generally believed, was usually a descent into madness, maybe this was the beginning. He had been to numerous doctors and healers over the years, he had visited gypsies and sometimes, secretly, even fortune-tellers enquiring if there was any end to this strange ordeal of his. The doctors were of the opinion that excessive wine consumption was the cause, though it was equally likely that too much thinking over the years had corrupted his brain and soul and there was nothing that could be done. He stopped visiting the fortune-tellers after one of them, peering into a crystal ball, had told him that whatever it was that was bothering him, its full extent would only be known in the year 2014. After hearing this, he had understood that this mystery-sneeze had pulled him into the depths of unreason, and for quite a few days afterwards, he could not see himself in the mirror without lowering the eyes, feeling an immense shame at betraying his own rational philosophy just for a sneeze.

 

And then, liquid flew from his nose. His doctor, a Dutch trained in Padua, called this epistaxis. A heavy, fat, opaque blood, black as death, metallic like war, warm as love. A blood that did not stop flowing drop by drop, staining clothes, books and manuscripts. In the beginning, he played, drawing with his pen in it, making kabbalistic forms, drawings that others would have called alchemical. But he stopped on the edge of reason, a man like him could not get lost in these meanderings of thoughts. Yet this blood, that blood which kept flowing, transforming his pillow periodically into a vermilion tissue, would this blood cause him to lose the course of his philosophy, this idea of the ordering of the world, that metaphor which explains everything, this mathematical sentence which regulates the order of things? Was not everything becoming a drop of blood?

 

He was assured with confidence by his doctor that whatever it was, it was not life threatening, but each time now as the great philosopher sat down to think, all that appeared inside his mind was black blood. If he even dared to contemplate on the final mystery of life, he was seized by the expectation of a sneeze at the final moment, and the woman he so deeply loved he could not kiss, scared of staining her red mouth with his disgusting blood that appeared without warning, without pattern. His own reason, it seemed sometimes, made no sense anymore. By the year, 1650, he had lost almost completely the will to live, submerged completely into the thoughts of his own nose and nothing else.

 

 

In 2014, it was reported in The Lancet by a group of researchers that a CT scan of his skull had revealed a dense radio-opaque mass in the right ethmoidal sinus of 3·0 cm × 1·8 cm and 1440–1840 Hounsfield units. After a comparison with modern radioanatomical and forensic cases, they proposed a diagnosis of osteoma. They concluded, “such an organic lesion probably had no role in the cause and circumstances of death of René Descartes, who died due to an acute pneumonia in Stockholm, Sweden, on Feb 11, 1650, at the age of 54 years, without having solved the mystery of the universe.”

Devil’s Daughter V

“क्या यह अधर्म का मार्ग छोड़ दूँ, सार्त्र?”

Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle notes that the more accurately one tries to measure the position of a particle, the less accurately one can measure its speed, and vice versa.

The more accurately one tries to measure the devil’s daughter’s movement, the less accurately one can measure her stability. The more accurately one tries to measure the devil’s daughter’s beauty, the less accurately one can measure her intellect. The more accurately one tries to measure the devil’s daughter’s fear, the less accurately one can measure her danger. The devil’s daughter’s father asked in his book, “Should I leave the unrighteous path, Sartre?”

A black hole forms wherever the devil’s daughter stands signifying the end of Time.

In the city of Zurich, where the devil’s daughter is holidaying these days, black holes appear and disappear like a menacing dream. Whenever a physicist at CERN tries to write an equation on the white board, this phrase appears instead: “The devil is dead. Long live the devil.”