25 August 2009

rumi's ramadan

by Rumi

There’s hidden sweetness in the stomach’s emptiness.
We are lutes, no more, no less. If the soundbox
is stuffed full of anything, no music.
If the brain and belly are burning clean
with fasting, every moment a new song comes out of the fire.
The fog clears, and new energy makes you
run up the steps in front of you.
Be emptier and cry like reed instruments cry.
Emptier, write secrets with the reed pen.
When you’re full of food and drink, Satan sits
where your spirit should, an ugly metal statue
in place of the Kaaba. When you fast,
good habits gather like friends who want to help.
Fasting is Solomon’s ring. Don’t give it
to some illusion and lose your power,
but even if you have, if you’ve lost all will and control,
they come back when you fast, like soldiers appearing
out of the ground, pennants flying above them.
A table descends to your tents,
Jesus’ table.
Expect to see it, when you fast, this table
spread with other food, better than the broth of cabbages.

nice imagery- i like thinking of us as lutes. i also like Poetry Chaikhana's description of how food affects our thoughts, emotions and consciousness, and how he links that to the poem.



O moon-faced Beloved,
the month of Ramadan has arrived
Cover the table
and open the path of praise.

O fickle busybody.
it’s time to change your ways.
Can you see the one who’s selling the halvah
how long will it be the halvah you desire?

Just a glimpse of the halvah-maker
has made you so sweet even honey says,
“I’ll out myself beneath your feet, like soil;
I’ll worship at your shrine.”

your chick frets within the egg
with all your eating and choking
Break out of your shell that your wings may grow.
Let yourself fly.

The lips of the Master are parched
from calling the Beloved.
The sound of your call resounds
through the horn of your empty belly.

Let nothing be inside of you.
Be empty: give your lips to the lips of the reed.
When like a reed you fill with His breath,
then you’ll taste sweetness.

Sweetness is hidden in the Breath
that fills the reed.
Be like Mary – By that sweet breath
a child grew within her.

on that note, ramadan karim!

19 August 2009

maeve binchy

i'm nearly done with maeve binchy's latest novel, 'heart and soul'. for some strange reason i thought it would get me through ramadan (whether fiction should be a part of ramadan or not is a matter not to be addressed at present), but really, it is a one-sitting read. a very enjoyable sitting, i should add.

it has been some time since i read binchy's work. the first chapter of 'heart and soul' took me back to my first binchy book (read while in school), 'the lilac bus'. that was an awesome read, with each chapter covering a passenger on the bus. not only do i like this way of exploring the characters, but i love the sense of community her novels portray. it is a sense that i cannot say i have ever truly experienced. her work is also satisfyingly black or white; even gray areas in her worlds merge into one or the other.

there are not many authors i read as a secondary school student whom i am still reading now. the lack of intellectual matter in binchy perhaps adds to my pleasure in reading her novels. her stories are heart warming, and i can enjoy them without intellectual distractions.

i will be sad to finish 'heart and soul'. the characters will live with me for some time after the last page has been turned, and i will perhaps make up new scenarios for them. what else could i ask from a novel?

09 August 2009

narrow world

i am tired of trying so hard. surely these things should just come naturally? if i look at the close friends in my life at present, with none of them did i try to be friends. and those few people who i did try with, we never truly gelled. surely this principle must apply to other relationships as well?

and yet, the fear (and expectation) is always there: if i don't try, how will i get to where i want?

i want to be wanted. to be enough.

i want my world to expand. to include new people, new perspectives, new roles.

if only my wanting made it so.

i am done trying however.

07 August 2009

mohammed hanif on pakistan

i just finished reading mohammed hanif's 'a case of exploding mangoes'. i like his writing style, although i found the content too military focused for my liking. this morning, i came across a wonderful piece he wrote on his return to pakistan from london. it's long, but so engaging that you don't notice. i wouldn't be able to summarize it in a way that does it justice, but here is my favorite para (which should be read in context):
Walking along the Karachi seafront after returning from London, I worked myself into a self-righteous rage at these young women in black burkas hanging out at the beach when they should have been at school or in some mosque praying for our collective salvation. But then I looked closely and found out that many of them were on a date. Some were actually making out, in broad daylight, with men with beards. Covered from head to toe in a black robe, this is quite a spectacle – and provides just the right combination of challenge and opportunity. Walking on the beach with my wife the other day, we stared at a couple who were exploring the full possibilities of the burka, using their motorcycle to lean against. With the Arabian sea lapping at their feet.