Saturday, August 28, 2010

Patriarchy

she said the dogs gave her no reprieve
she said, “they hunted me down, then stared and nibbled.”
and she could not understand that bag-like quietness
or why a witness walked past like he had something to wash.
she could not understand why the dogs nibbled when they could have chewed.
her mum tried to allay her angst by applying dragon balm.
(and this was the most decent thing anyone did, mind you)
her mum said, “Nothing happened: be grateful there was no chewing-shewing.”

Her uncle said, “Take responsibility for things.
Know that you are a kind of meaning, that you make yourself mean.
And don’t blame others!"
*
It was from about this time, she reckoned, that she learnt an altered language, one in which she was both subject and agent, with the responsibility to always engender her own damage. The dogs were peripheral, they came and went, but had no account and no debts to settle.

**

Explanatory note:

Forgive me a little. I do not hate dogs or uncles or mothers. This merely came about.

Incidentally, I've been reading some Metaphysical Poetry of late (by John Donne and Andrew Marvell). They're famous for a device called the "metaphysical conceit", which refers to an elaborate metaphor in which two incongruent things are likened:

“Love is a growing, or full constant light,
And his short minute, after noon, is night” (from A Lecture upon a Shadow)

Because these comparisons are unexpected, they sometimes have the effect of startling the reader into insight. But quite often, the comparisons are prolix: the details jar with the landscape and meaning is snuffed out. I think my attempt here jars a bit.

Maybe I'll persevere.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My father loses arm-hair

all the time.
So that the floor at home is littered with tiny black or white coils of hair.

My hair too tends to fall a lot when I go home. Not my arm-hair, of course, because I can be systematic about its removal (and, uh, sturdy roots and such).

The lady who comes over once a day to clean up after us, then, has reason for disgust. The last time I went home, she stood across from me - beside a wall with two framed photographs of my parents - and struck at her head twice. Then she said "mudi", and pointed to the ground where stray hairs wandered like sheep. I was embarrassed and annoyed. I felt the need to apologise for my hair-fall although the behaviour of my hair, I notice, isn't up to me at all. And anyway, I didn't know enough of her language to express myself.

So I shrugged and smiled.

You remember that scene from The Hours where Nicole Kidman (playing the role of Virginia Woolf) gets nervous and embarrassed around her house-helps?
I feel that way sometimes.