Nation on the March

Nation on the March
Nation on the March

Sep 25, 2011

Twin Poets: Kalapi of Gujarat and Keats of England :

In the princely state of Gujarat in western India, in 1874, poet Kalapi ( his pen name) was born in a royal family as Sursinh ji  Gohel. He had realized  in the early age that he was not  inclined towards the statecraft and politics and so, gave away his right to the throne to remain a poet!

Kalapi  died at a very young age of 26 in 1900 and is considered even after 100 years as the poet who gave us the most recitable and memorable couplets from his wonderful poems.

His twin brother poet John Keats was born in 1795 and died at a very young age of 26 in 1821. Robert Bridges (1844-1930) , a doctor by profession and poet by passion wrote that "If one English poet might be recalled to-day from the dead to continue the work he left unfinished on earth,  it is probably that  the crown would be set on the head of John Keats". 

As some critic has well said: "Reading Keats is a luxury, a rare chance to experience the English language as a work of art." 

So immersed was   Keats  in love that he wroteI have been astonished that men could die martyrs for religion - I have shuddered at it. I shudder no more - I could be martyred for my religion - Love is my religion - I could die for that. 

Keats asserts that it's the imagination, not our expression of it, that is the most powerful  went on to write the famous lines: 

“Heard Melodies Are Sweet, but Those Unheard Are Sweeter”  and " A thing of beauty is a joy forever, its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness."

The young poet wrote, rather prophetically boasted : 

"I would sooner fail than not be among the greatest",   
The poet and his work were reborn twenty-seven years after his death 
when the first biography of the English poet in 1848 and  
in our hearts shall live on and on.......!

Of the other twin - Kalapi  , it is a lesser known fact that he had a fan  in Mahatma Gandhi , who prayed regularly twice a day, be he alone, or in public or in jail.  A collection of Gandhi's  multi-religious, thoughtfully chosen and soul-elevating prayers "Ashram Bhajanavali"  is a very popular even today in thousands of homes. 

Gandhi  had chosen a poem by  Kalapi for inclusion his prayer book, but some one, who 'mis'understood it as a purely romantic poem advised  Mahatma Gandhi against its inclusion in a book full of prayers.   Repenting his mistake, that person confided in 1932 in his jail years to the  poet Umashankar Joshi that " I have done a great injustice to Kalapi by giving a wrong advice to Mahatma Gandhi".

Here is that wonderful poem "Aapni Yaadi" - written in his last year -  which describes beautifully that the beloved's memories are here,  there and everywhere, " wherever I set upon my eyes".  It has always been  and will be always regarded as a romantic poem. There will hardly be any one who has read it and can't recite its few lines and re-live  the romance .

But, just once, for a brief while, if the reader changes his point of view , he suddenly realizes that  the beloved here  is none other than the God Almighty ( as in Sufism) ,  dwelling in each of the five key elements of the universe, namely earth, water, light, air and sky and these insights into the poet's mind render the reading of this poem even a greater pleasure than ever before. 

Be it Kalapi or Keats: such is the power of youthful poetic genius. 
One gave up the throne and another his medical profession
- both to be and remain poets . 
It is no accident that people continue to shower their unfettered affection on them 
by daily reading or remembering what they wrote, making them immortal.

My old year resolution-cum- action plan " get a big dust bin - today !"

Before the new year forces me to commit to one more new resolution, I am determined to do something this year – place a big bucket near my desk at home and demand that each compartment of my material life dumps a few things in it – and ruthlessly.

Starting with the desk, there are pencil stubs, old pens, leaking ink pens long out of use, few springs without refills or pens, marker pens that do not mark, magnifying glass that has gone hazy, a dried, empty ink pot, rusted clips, stationery papers gone dirty, crumpled or torn, unwanted Xerox copies,  damaged cables and CDs and what not.

In the book shelf, there are old magazines , clippings, some one’s books yet to be returned ( reminding me of collecting books to be returned by friends), damaged books to be repaired and plastic covers to be replaced, etc.

In the wardrobes, there are over sized clothes of my pre-weight loss era, torn and stained clothes neatly ironed but never worn, belts which have lost shine or a damaged buckle, a sock waiting to be paired with its missing partner,  empty perfume bottles, etc.

In medicine chest, there are bottles with labels faded or peeled off, drugs still there after expiry dates, tablets - in tact – but with their use forgotten, rusted scissors, droppers, non-functional band-aids, lotions from gone by era and what not.

Shoe rack has sandals with buckle lost, few laces without shoes, empty shoe polish tins, solidified shoe wax bottles, etc.

In the kitchen, there are cups without a handle or saucers, utensils with screws and rivets that have long got tired, non-stick pans that now stick, pickles and sauces and pasta packs that we bought as an impulsive fad, flours which we  now fail to recognize, and so on.

There are dry-flowers with missing petals, flower vases that are incapable of standing upright, mementos that have lost shines and memories of places visited, dusty little things we do not remember why we brought them home, etc.

In the boot of the car there are cleaning mops and shines which were bought foolishly at gas station, old petrol bills and empty bottles, some plastics, a flashlight that does not flash, some piece of tube and cable which I do not where to fit or from where it came out, etc

In the garden there are leaking pieces of hose pipe, bent and damaged tools, a handle that came out of lawn mower, broken pots, empty cartons of pesticides and garden manure, brooms that can not sweep, etc

In the cell phone, there are stored numbers which have not been used for months, old messages that are not relevant, ring tones which have never been played, pictures that were taken to please someone but never looked at again, etc.

In the computer, all the drive, C, D, E, F, G and USB pen drive are bursting at seams with documents, spread sheets, html etc pages, PDF documents, songs that are no longer played or pics not viewed, draft letters never going to be finalized, programmes and applications and utilities thoughtlessly downloaded and most of them as a short-lived trial versions,etc.

In the Face book account and mail box, there are contacts with who a hello is not exchanged for a year (and equally unlikely for one more year), garbage like exchange of useless verbosity that one can now laugh at, and what not.

And mind you, this garbage is fresh, not more than a year old, lovingly piled up by my inaction, lethargy, faulty judgment of their future utility and inertia to clean the clutter.

Finally my shallow and narrow heart and dirty mind that have become landfills of bitter memories, hurts, insults, respect or recognition not received, harsh word and unwarranted treatment received, prejudices, unrealistic beliefs and expectations, judging people as soon as they or their thoughts appear in the mind,  strong opinions about people and places and incidents , 99% of which are for sure never ever going to recur , giving unwanted advice ( which is nothing but the reflection my own prejudices and  dogmas and unrealistic beliefs and one-off experiences) and what not.

How many people must have been hurt, distracted or distanced by this foul smelling litter spread in the vast land fill!

And mind you, unlike the other garbage that is fresh, this mental and emotion garbage is as old as my mind, body and soul.

I pray my Lord, recycle and destroy that first and help me do it as I embark upon that first, leaving the visible dust bin aside for a little while , if so needed.

Before I resolve for the New Year that is little away round the corner, the time is to bring a big bucket and a strong heart to cleanse, detoxify my home and my life.

Let me stop typing and start doing it today and now.