Need A Penpal

Consider this a “Wanted” advertisement. Here is the story of how I came to placing this advertisement.

This Sunday, in my old documents and papers, all of which I carry with me – no matter where I live – I found a blank inland letter and curiously there was a stamp pasted on it [because inland letters don’t require stamp]. The stamp has a picture depicting “Hemant Ritu” – one of the six seasons as per Indian classification of seasons. It falls after autumn and before winters. I checked the online catalogue of stamps released by India Post, and after one hour of searching and checking, I found that this stamp was released in 1996. So, the blank letter has to be about 18-19 years old.  It was torn but still maintained its integrity. I found it among a few old photographs and wondered why that letter was blank, unsent, unreceived. I knew for sure that that letter, if it were ever thought of to be sent, it was intended to be sent to my grandmother.

My grandmother has had such a profound impression on my life that whenever I recall her memories, I am pulled into a different space-time continuum. This time when her memories came rushing to me, I was reminded of letters I used to write to her and the ones she used to write to me. My sister was my first penpal and my grandmother was my second and my lifelong penpal or at least until we got our first telephone connection in late 1999-2000. I was very close to her and would eagerly, desperately and almost -pathetically wait for my summer and winter vacations to visit her and my cousins. More than the cousins, it was the lure of her food, her love and her hospitality that kept on bringing me back to my family’s town, among my cousins, well into my adulthood [mid 20s] until she left this world for a better one. After that, I have visited that town only once.

Now about this “inland letter” – Indian postal service, called as India Post,  has a facility of “Inland Letters” – a bluish foldable letter paper, having three flaps,  one on the left side, another on the right side and another one on the top side. No stamps are required. One would write their message on it, fold it, paste the flaps, put the address, put it in a letterbox nearby, and they were as good as sending a private email. These letter papers were good only for sending your letters within India, and they were delivered via airmail. There was no need for them to be put into an envelope.  I wondered whether they still existed and found out that they still do.

Many a letters were written in those days. To a number of close relatives and friends. To my grandmother, all letters that I wrote were in Hindi/Punjabi. She would write back in Hindi/Punjabi as well. The time taken for a letter to travel was really subjective. Subjected to whims of weather, India Post, post office and postman. The last letter I wrote to a friend went unreplied. It was years ago. The last time I wrote a letter [I actually typed it and printed it] was earlier this year. It was a confession of love to a now lost love.

Now – to the present. This is an advertisement seeking a penpal. Now, I might ask someone I know to be my penpal but then I run the risk of being called crazy, perhaps little demented, or may be – outright silly. Even if I am not called any of these, I don’t want to really associate in this endeavour with the current set of people I know.  They all lack commitment, passion and eagerness in any endeavour meant to be done for heart, by heart and belongs solely to the domain of heart.

This advertisement is for perpetuity -until I find one penpal- male or female or transgender – of any age above 21 – hair or no hair, ill or healthy, happy or depressed, ambitious or carefree-and one with a good supply of paper, pen and skill of at least almost-legible handwriting [or we can decide on typing/printing them]. However, I feel if we are to do it, let’s do it right way – by writing. Proximity to the post office will be an added advantage.  The person must share the passion for sharing, writing, and the thrill of communicating only via letter. Countries no bar. Religion no bar. Sexuality no bar. Race no bar. Gender no bar. Language is a bar – I will prefer to communicate in English.

So long!

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A Rant About Agitations and Anxieties

These days I am agitated for no apparent reasons. I know the reasons but I don’t want to face them or do anything about them. Not that I am terrified of facing them but I am not certain whether I can really accomplish anything by facing them. I want to run away. To a far off country. A new country where I have never been and where I spend a portion of the rest of my life. Since migrating to a new country isn’t easy in the era of rapidly globalising world, I am waiting for the day when governments world over also recognise the people running away from their lives as refugees.

I want to break all my friendships, relationships, bonds and acquaintances forever. All appear superficial. All appear a way of deluding ourselves into believing that we can count on them. All of them, as it appears, have made me a handicap of sorts. Why do we need them anyway? A self-declared and self-styled misanthrope like me certainly doesn’t need any company. I can do without company. Inside my heart, a fierce battle is on. I am leaving everything and everyone behind. It is happening. I can feel that. I know that slowly and gradually, I will leave all and everyone behind.

There is no place to seek peace. It appears that peace has been missing for long time. It went on a vacation and then forgot me. Then, I am forgettable. It is no fault of peace that it forgot me. Peace might have left after getting agitated from my agitations and anxieties. Why would it want to come back to someone so restless?

I want to burn all my books. I have deleted many of them from my Kindle and iBooks, but then there is something similar about technology and life that you just can’t get rid of things you don’t want. They are preserved in cloud. If your memory is strong and spacious, you cannot get rid of them at all. I can download them at a single stroke of my finger. I tried burning a book that I hadn’t finished reading. As I set its top right edge on fire, I was agitated by the agitation that will be borne out of burning a book unfinished. I am still unable to leave everything and everyone behind. I trampled the burning edge of the book with my fingers and resolved to finish it before setting it to fire again. Now, I am agitated by the space it takes on my shelf as I procrastinate finishing it.

I am not given into halves. I am unable to do anything half-heartedly or leave matters unfinished. Last night I cooked an egg dish – a large amount of it – so that I can also eat it the next day but I cannot leave one half of it in the refrigerator. I finished it all. I cannot leave my food and drinks unfinished. It agitates me. My refrigerator is always empty. The two days before that I spent whole day without eating or drinking.

I am a spiteful man these days. I have run out of benevolence. It may be because it has not been returned to me by the people I made receiver of my benevolence.  All I am left with is malice. I also think that maybe there never was benevolence in me from the beginning and that malice is all I am actually made up of. Malice and spite.

I am uncertain. Only matter that I am certain about is that I want to run away. Very far. Forever and I will. When I have gradually walked away from all and everything, when I am comfortably estranged with all and everything and make everyone and everything estranged from me, I will run away to far off land. I will have no regrets of leaving the matters unfinished then.

Or this all may be my restlessness and anxieties talking.

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Being Rhetorical!

I will forever be in debt of Mark Forsyth. For it was his innovative book – The Elements of Eloquence – on rhetorical figures that set me on a greater curve in learning and understanding literature and not only of English language but also of Hindi and Sanskrit. Not that I hadn’t read about rhetorical figures before I read his book but the significance and ease of applying these indispensable tools of language were not made clear to me in the fashion Mark Forsyth did through his wonderful book. I have read this book – cover to cover – thrice. I also use it as a handy reference now. So, I might have gone through some chapters tens of times.

While reading this book time and again and while reading authors who make liberal and mesmerising use of rhetorical figures, I have come to mark some rhetorical figures as my “favourite”, and actively seek them and analyse that how varyingly they have been applied by different authors. Here, I will list my favourite rhetorical figures:

1. Alliteration 

This rhetorical figure is my most favourite. This may seem simple to apply but one can make a joke out of himself/herself if this figure is not handled carefully and not applied with wisdom and genuine innovation/research. I have doubts too. How many repetitions make one call the pattern as “use of alliteration”? I consider that the repetition of the sound must at least be thrice to make a proper alliteration. Another confusion is how long the interval should be between two consecutive utterances of the sound? Unfortunately,  I have no answer to that. Some examples:

Full fathom five thy father lies – [from Ariel’s Song]

From forth the fatal loins of these two foes – [from Romeo and Juliet]

Apart from Shakespeare, Charles Dickens was a big fan of alliteration e.g., The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. 

2. Periodic Sentences

This is the rhetorical device that I use the most. This comes naturally to me. Does it tell something about me? Perhaps that I am a maniac who likes to pile noun up on noun and up on noun and noun further up on nouns and make the entry of verb and the object seem like climax of a thriller. Many of my sentences, the various blog posts that I have written, here and elsewhere, in praise or procrastination or to express my love to someone, or the one related to my love to English language, all serve as good examples of this rhetorical device. One famous example is Rudyard Kipling’s poem – If.

3. Diacope 

The most famous examples of use of this device are: A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!  and Romeo! Romeo, Wherefore art thou Romeo? . And of course, the most famous diacope of 20th century: Bond, James Bond. As one might have guessed, diacope is repeating a phrase or a word after a brief interruption. This makes the expression forceful and memorable.

4. Epistrophe 

Repeating same word, or same clause at the end of each sentence is epistrophe. With regards to paragraphs in succession, repetition of whole sentence in the end of each paragraph is epistrophe. When you become obsessed with ending sentences or paragraphs with same words, it is epistrophe. Your doctor may call it obsession but a linguist will say that it is epistrophe.

If I have to stress a point, I use epistrophe. If I have to show that I love someone immensely, I use epistrophe. If I have to irritate someone, I use epistrophe. If I have to sound humorous in a particular situation, I use epistrophe.

5. Syllepsis

This is a funny trope. I have often seen its usage or used it myself to humorous effect. Mostly, because in its most basic form, it’s a pun or indicates a pun or play on a particular word. I am here going to quote the example given by Mark Forsyth in the book:

“A shocking affair happened last night. Sir Edward Hopeless, as guest at Lady Panmore’s ball, complained of feeling ill, took a highball, his hat, his coat, his departure, no notice of his friends, a taxi, a pistol from his pocket, and finally his life. Nice chap. Regrets and all that.”

I try hard to use these figures of speech in writing but I am not able to do that quite often. Robert Louis Stevenson said that style is synthetic and I am not quite there yet. I hope, one day, I will be able to develop a style and use the rhetorical figures/devices frequently.

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Birth of a Poem

A poem, having no name, was enmeshed in a heart, waiting to break free from its shackles. While her verses floundered about the lips, she was being betrayed by her own words who were refusing to be put down on the foolscap. They were restless and desperate, and were changing with every moment, transforming into another and from another to yet another. The poem would live in one moment and die in the following, and then live again only to die in the following moment once again. One couldn’t tell whether there was a poem at all. 

The meter was absent for the rhythm was indifferent because of the ever changing words or rather for lack of words. Yet, the poem desired to live for she knew that if she managed to escape from the heart to a foolscap through a poet’s pen, she will live forever. She decided to set out on a mission to find a meter for the meter will seduce the rhythm, which will then string the words together so that they settle down, on the foolscap, in a rhythmic pattern. However, the capricious words needed something else so that they may take a definite pattern and give meaning to their meaning, and impart a form to the poem.

By serendipity, the poem realised that to cause her own birth, she needs to go deep inside the heart where she is enmeshed so that she may listen the words from a memory that has been buried alive deep inside the heart and then arrange those words in accordance with the mood and music of the memory. The poem undertakes the journey to the core. She went from deserts of despondence to the oceans of hope to finally find a memory that could cause her birth. The memory was stored in form of images, smell, a voice, a music and a unique taste. The poem went ahead. She embraced the memory and kissed it passionately. She sat down with it while memory whispered in her formless ears and the poem started to come alive. The mood of the memory set rhythm and meter of the poem.

The poem was no longer enmeshed. She now had her separate existence. A unique life with record of only one memory in words stringed in rhythmic pattern.  She was now ready to take form and hence, the poem was born.

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About the Unsaid

I have published 94 posts since I started blogging on this new platform. They have generally reflected the state of my mind and heart. The intervening period between them too reflects the same. The longest gap between two posts was of 4-5 months. There was a time when I wrote a weekly diary, and there was a time I wrote my own ‘eulogy’. Then I had described my love for the English language. Here, I also worked on writing poems and sonnets. Sometimes, I indulged in my regular haughty, arrogant and inconsiderate self and published tosh. However, I still haven’t said all what I wanted to say or have got to say.

There are, as I write this, 89 drafts in my blogger. I sometimes wonder whether I will be able to publish those drafts ever. Some are quirky, some are bizarre, some betray my inbuilt arrogance, some expose it, some are herculean in task, some are as simple as algebra. There is a pending open letter to the open letters, and then there is incomplete essay on box and innovation. In one pending post, I uncover my personality and I have titled it “Uncovering”. There is a poem titled “As I collect” pending for I am not yet done done with collecting. There is a short story I titled – Beast of Burden – whose only three paragraphs I have written.

One day I talked to myself about story with no ends and the conversation is incomplete. Then there is a post seeking answer to fight or embrace the absurdity. There is a pending poem titled “Anomaly” pointing out ironies and anomalies, and then a collection of prose titled “Perplexed” at about the same time also lies pending. I started an essay, but humorous [and little scholarly], titled – Best Discoveries of All Time. The essay is yet to go beyond the list of 5 discoveries. Then there’s a pending “experimental version” of Sonnet LXVI. One pending posts roars about the “Need of a War Cry”. Then there are pending rumblings on death, aftermaths of breaking up, a poem on solitude titled “Fortress” and a long rant on “The Selfie”.

One post telling my favourite rhetorical devices has been left hanging in the air. I have an almost incomplete schizophrenic dialogue on “Regrets”. At one time, I indulged in, through way of writing, developing a process of forgetting. Then, there’s the writing about The Lament, a post explaining my “constant grudge”, and then a long pending rumbling against “Photography”.  A sonnet that I grandly numbered as III is still pending while one pending post describes my preferable way of dying. One meditation on “Vairagya” is also not complete and  so is post on how different professionals will express or profess their love on Valentine’s Day. I have a grand post pending titled as “Review of Mankind”.  The Queen of ALL pending posts is named-“How to kill people non-violently: A lecture on peaceful and pragmatic misanthropy”.

In the end of it all, I have only one thing left to say:

How many posts must a (wo)man publish, before you could call him/her a writer? 

The answer, my friend, is buried in the drafts; the answer is buried in the drafts. 

So long!

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