Monday, January 30, 2006

A Long Evening Walk...

Under a cold-blooded sky
pigmented with your thoughts
I walk from stillness to motion

but with each step the truth peels off
as colors do from mildewed buildings,
as the skin does from freshly healed wounds

and I wonder,
in a mist-gathering hug,
was the world more colored at standstill?

© Dan Husain
January 28, 2006

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Two hundred years from
The first aerial bombing
We would have burnt
All the earth’s gasoline
And yet our thirst
Be unquenchable.
We may then slake it with blood
Flavored with our own hate-fables.

© Dan Husain
January 21, 2006

Saturday, January 14, 2006


There is this little boy
Who stands everyday
At the same intersection
Selling the usual ware.

He smiles at me, winks,
Taunts, even pleads
But I just ignore.

But then I wonder
It can’t be hope alone,
Someone must be buying too
For him to stand there
Day after day
And weather indifference.

© Dan Husain
January 11, 2006

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Fan

In your head
There is violence,
Malice, jealousy,
Unquiet silence.

And you think
The same for me.
It strains your
Casual repartee.

How you wish a knife
Twisted into my guts.
Spit on my face, see it
Sullied with your insults.

But when we meet,
“Oh! I love your poetry!”
“Ah! Just wordplay!”
I quip with feigned modesty.

©Dan Husain
January 7, 2006

Friday, January 06, 2006

Mother: The Idea of A Poem

The poem generated much discussion at a writers' forum Caferati. Finally, I thought the debate merits a response from me - the poet: the original mischief-maker. I am posting my response here for your perusal. Thanks & best regards.

The Idea of A Poem

I think I had some inkling that this poem will generate much discussion. And I also knew that the reactions would be varied.

I am not into lengthy post-creation discussions. They bore me to death. I think they’re best confined to classrooms. But often there is a widening gap between the instinctive gut-felt acts of an artist and the informed nitpicking of a critic. And I guess for sake of fostering understanding (I am not sure what ‘understanding’ I refer to here!) it’s best that the artist speaks for his or her act.

The Genesis of ‘Mother’

Yesterday, I had some time at hand before I had to leave for my play’s rehearsal. So, I picked up Amitava Kumar’s book ‘Passport Photos’ and continued reading from where I had left last. The book is an insightful peek into post-colonial literature, the travails of immigrants, and language and the idiom that it acquires for people across social, national, economic, psychological, religious, racial, gender, et al barriers. The book is innovatively structured. Each chapter reads as an entry in a Passport.

I was at the chapter titled ‘Sex’ when I stumbled upon a discussion on the Dalit (I hate this categorization here but I think it is relevant in the context of the point that I wish to make) Marathi Poet Namdeo Dhasal and his collection of poems called Golpitha. Amitava was talking about how Dhasal brings forth a whole host of issues in his poetry – brahmanical hegemony, patriarchal family structures, gender repression, violence, etc. He intends to shock and at the same time throw it in his readers’ faces and disconcert their smug social superiority and indifference.

The poem that particularly hit me is Dhasal’s “What Grade Are You in, What Grade?” In Amitava’s words, “In this poem, almost in a ritual manner Dhasal very powerfully details what the Brahmanic Hindus consider defiling: a menstruating woman, a dead cow, meat, sex.” I quote the translated poem for you.

“Fucked a menstruating woman? Fucked her?
Dragged around the dead cattle? The dead cow?
Rubbed the grindstone? The grindstone?
Known what hayale is? Cow gut?
Saved stale bread? Ate it?
Sucked the marrow? The marrow?
Fried the giblets? The giblets?”

It also serves “to document what had been the duty of the Dalits, the pariah castes condemned to the outskirts of Hindu life, performing the tasks of traditional scavengers.”

While all this was having its effect on me, my thoughts kept hovering around the violence against women in recent times that few of you have mentioned here. Strangely, the poem also reminded me of a line from a dialogue from my current play “Where did this come from? I thought we had guzzled every drop of alcohol in the house!” And also about the Ummayyid Caliph, Yazid, who allegedly raped his mother in an inebriated state and about the movie ‘Gladiator’ where Nero is making advances towards his sister. The violence of these thoughts erupted inside me and everything strung together as a poem.

The Post-creation Blues

There is again a lengthy discussion as to how the original version got transformed into its current form. I do not wish to get into that as this apologia of mine has already run into two pages.

Nevertheless, at times art is a conduit for importing larger issues from inaccessible, often intellectual and elitist, spheres into more knowable territories of mass cultures. I guess I was attempting to weave in a grave issue like gender violation into something as perfunctory as an act of reading newspaper and sipping our morning tea. And shock ourselves in seeing that apathetic face of ourselves where we feel by maintaining a steely veneer or an ostrich like attitude we’d get the better off the situation.

But the last I am looking here is poetic brilliance or an attempt to resort to sensationalism to promote my poetry.

I am only experimenting with ideas, issues, forms and see how wider perspectives, that may serve some purpose, be incorporated into my poetry.

Thanks for bearing with me.

Best regards,

Dan Husain

PS: Oh! One last thing. Poets and Actors don’t have any morals or speak from a moral hierarchy. We can’t burden ourselves with such weighty things. :-)

Thursday, January 05, 2006


The Original Version

Have you ever guzzled
The last drop of alcohol
And raped your mother?

This is what we do,
When we grease a palm
And cut a tree.

© Dan Husain
January 4, 2006

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Have you ever guzzled
The last drop of alcohol
And raped your mother?

This is what we do,
When we read
The morning news
About a woman’s rape
And sip our tea

© Dan Husain
January 4, 2006

Sunday, January 01, 2006

A New Day

The street yawns a new day
Pouring soot that smells of hope
As it slithers and wakes slowly
To grimy walls and early morning smoke.

We stretch in slanted morning sun,
Hanging freshly washed dreams on clothesline
Peeping just above meshed wires, neon signs
And kiosks selling fortunes for a dime.

The groggy flight down the stairs
To pick milk, news and the bread
Is greeted with swirling eddies
Of dust, scrap & stench instead.

Amidst morning tea stall stoves,
Mendicants & gaping passageways –
Life draped in diesel fume
Is a Hobson’s choice, a shifting sand dune.

© Dan Husain
March 9, 2005