Waiting

One day, I hope not to wait

Watching as you erase  me

In new faces, places and stations.

I do not want to always hear

Your hurried goodbyes, two and a half minute

Long conversations about how busy you are,

While your friends laugh in the background.

.

I do not want to watch my days go away

As I watch my phone to make it ring,

My decision to be cold and not pick up

Evaporating the moment I hear your hey.

.

One day I hope to be you

Letting places and people push me around

Then I will not have to try

To make you a memory, it would be too easy

To forget you in the time I am busy.

 

 

The Lovely Lady in Grey

Writing201: Poetry

Day#6 Prompt: Hero/Heroine, Form: Ballad, Device: Anaphora, epistrophe

.

The children loved to wait in the way

Where walked the lovely lady in grey

Their lives were mostly sad blues

The lady’s smile gave it a brilliant hue.

.

The children were poor, you see

Their clothes were torn and dirty.

But when walked the lovely lady in grey

They felt the beam of the brightest part of the day.

.

The children in wait every morning lay

For there walked the lovely lady in grey

She brought food, she lingered a while

They loved it best when she would smile.

.

The children led rough lives in mean streets

And slept cold beneath tattered sheets

So when here walked the lady in grey

Her smile was like a pretty bouquet.

.

One day the lovely lady in grey looked in the mirror

And decided life wasn’t worth living with all the horror

Her death mattered to few, no flowers on her grave except

The wayside flowers picked by the children who wept

For the lovely lady in grey.

Moulds and Shapes

Writing 201: Poetry

Day#3 Prompt: Trust, Form: Acrostic, Device: Internal rhyme

Deliberating, her eyes raised and hand stretched, she waits

I grab hold firmly. I don’t want her to let go now.

Shakily she stands, her quivering hands, my heart wearily pants

The anticipation of what will come, the weight of what is done.

Rotten memories cloud us both, they will mould us

Unwilling we are to let them shape us, we tighten our hold

Striving to change our shapes, to be what we want to be instead of what we must

Till at last we can learn to trust ourselves not to let the world shape us.

Maugham’s “The Door of Opportunity” as a Colonial Adventure

Adventure stories were extremely popular during the colonization period. Written for boys and largely peopled by male characters, they addressed boys not as readers but as future servants of the Empire. A journey to an exotic and foreign land, facing a challenge in this land and solving the problems there, and then making a triumphant return to the mother country was the basic structure of a classic adventure story. In a time when colonialist discourse was significantly similar to the language of adventure stories, these stories inculcated, from young age, a desire in boys to set out on “adventures” to foreign, strange lands, and bring back glory for themselves and the Empire. Somerset Maugham’s “The Door of Opportunity”, being set in a colony, becomes a part of the repertoire of writings not only about colonization, but of adventure. In this story, Maugham takes up the format of the adventure story and inverts it to underline the reality of colonial practices and present a critique on colonialism.

Alban in “The Door of Opportunity” is a symbolized as a race marker, an ideological construct to stand for Englishness itself. His interest in literature, love for music, eagerness to learn the language of the natives as well as his physical appearance – the “fair hair”, “blue eyes”, “fine head”, “prominent Adam’s apple” (Maugham 44) – are shown to be distinctively English. He is also pitted against the other officers in Sondurah, and their average minds, petty jealousies, dull pastimes and uncultivated tastes serve to emphasize the idea of Alban as superior. Yet, it is Alban; the same Alban whose wife took for granted will be the governor one day and whose abilities were grudgingly appreciated by the very people who called him Powder Puff Percy; who fails as an imperial agent. Unlike the hero of an adventure story, he does not emerge triumphant from his journey to an exotic country; instead, his is a narrative of loss. Through the characterization of Alban as innately superior to others in the same profession as him, Maugham is perhaps suggesting that the best cannot triumph in an imperialist world: only the brash can. The importance of a careful administrator like Alban as against a forceful conqueror like Van Hasseldt is also ignored by the greed of imperialism.

A conventional adventure story begins with the undertaking of a journey. Maugham begins “The Door of Opportunity” at the point where an adventure story ends: at the time of return. But unlike an adventure story, in Alban’s return, the expected triumphant homecoming is missing. While Alban is visibly excited about returning to London, Anne feels embarrassed by the “friendly little smile” of a woman fellow passenger from Singapore, and notices how nobody will share the train carriage with them. Coming back to the mother country is not a comforting return to a comfort zone nor an arrival back home, but a realization that everything you imagined home to be is a myth. Alban and Anne are in a sense, exiled to London because he has been dismissed from service. In fact, Alban and Anne had been at home at Datkar, an isolated district of Sondurah, where he had been appointed as District Officer. They fell in love with the place from the beginning, and engaged with the people there, discovered that their days were effortlessly filled with activities they both enjoyed and made frequent tours of the district. The place also succeeded in bringing them closer together than before. Datkar was their true home: largely isolated from judgemental eyes of fellow countrymen and accommodative of their shared as well as varied interests. However, Datkar is a part of a British colony, and can never permanently be the home of the colonizer, whose primary function in a colony is to discharge his duties to the glory of the Empire and utilize the resources of the colony for this purpose. Alban and Anne can thus be seen as colonial agents enjoying the perks of the Empire. From this perspective, their relationship is superficial as it is sustained only in a place away from home; during the course of the adventure.

While Datkar can never be a permanent home for Alban, neither can London. His is an adventure story in which he is sent into exile and doesn’t return to rest, comfort and glory. Instead, a narrative of personal, social and political loss is the end result. Because his adventure was unsuccessful, he loses his wife, who is now so ashamed of him that she cannot stay with him, whose love has turned to loathing “the very sight” (Maugham 67) of her husband. Already mocked at for his sense of superiority and cultivated tastes, now he is ridiculed for being a coward and a fake. The people who used to concede grudgingly that he was a good administrator now have tangible proof that he is just a fraud. He also fails as an imperial subject because he lets down the interests of the other colonizers. This, when coupled with Alban’s own limited understanding of Englishness and scorn for his community, renders him totally isolated. Home itself becomes a space for exile, and under the trajectory of an adventure story, all he is is a failure.

Maugham inverts the entire structure of the adventure story. The story begins with a return – a defeated return to be precise. The home can no longer be what it used to be and transforms into a place of exile. The hero of the story in the end does not achieve glory, but instead, is pervaded by a deep sense of loss. By using the very trajectory that was popular to propagandize imperialism, Maugham succeeds in collapsing the myth if a glorious adventure and the national self. Instead, the very idea of the mother country becomes questionable.

Works Cited

Maugham, Somerset. “The Door of Opportunity”. Ed. Bhattacharji, Shobana. Anglo-American Writing from 1930. Delhi: Doaba Publications, 2005. Print.

If I Lay Here

Response to Writing101 Prompt: Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?

I wouldn’t call it my favourite song, but Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol is one song which I have listened to over and over again and still haven’t gotten sick of. Sometimes, the meaning of the lyrics change. Sometimes, I realize that each line has many more layers to it than what is just on the surface. It’s a beautiful song, mostly because of the meaning its lyrics hold which transcends to the music. But my favourite lines are these:

If I lay here

If I just lay here,

Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

People come and go in life. There are people with whom you have so much of fun that every moment you spend with them is soaked in stomach aching laughter. There are people who irritate you so much that their mere presence clouds your face. There are people you call friends when you’re in the same place, but whom you forget once you move away; and when you finally realize you’ve forgotten, you know they didn’t matter anyway. There are people you think would be by your side till the end of your life, the people you imagine you’d die for, but who slowly fade away as you try desperately to hold on through awkward phone conversations and one-line texts. There are people who make you wonder why you put up with them, yet to whom you stick to, maybe merely as a force of habit. There are people who make your heart beat so loud you’re almost positive they heard it when they smiled at you. There are people of whom you’re so insanely jealous that you already hate them before they’ve said a word. People come and go in life. It’s difficult to accept this, but it is inevitable.

But the ones that stay, the ones who even after they’ve gone, have such a grip on your memory that you’re overwhelmed when you think about them, the ones you know have unmistakeably, irrevocably changed your life are the ones who’ve passed the Chasing Cars test. It’s the person who lies with you, amidst the rush and the noise, amid the people and the pain, and forget the world with you. And you remember them mostly, for that time you forgot the world together.

Silent Raindrops

Crowded corridors, its darkness disturbed

By noisy footsteps and colourful jackets.

Loud chatter, disrupting the sacred silence,

Clashing with the grim, dark sky.

 

Walking amidst the noise, amidst the colour,

I long for a minute of quiet and a hint of grey

But the people around almost mute out

The perfect silence of the day.

 

But suddenly, as if heeding

The quiet cries locked up in me,

The sky broke apart to let it rain,

The pattering of the rain blending perfectly

With the silence of the sky.

 

I watched the raindrop fall gently down

Sliding shyly to kiss the grass,

And I realized that it was alright 

To feel lonely in a crowd,

To cry without tears.

 

I will find you one day,

Amidst the crowd and the colours,

We’ll meet in silence, invisible, 

Like raindrops drenching the earth.

Your Voice

Your Voice

Write about a noise — or even a silence — that won’t go away. (We’ll let you interpret this in different ways…)

 

Amidst others, amidst laughter, amidst the everyday

I realized with a start

That I had forgotten what you sounded like.

So I seek you out with a hesitant smile.

But when you open your mouth and show your teeth,

I cannot recognize your voice.

 

I become annoyed, I shake you

But your voice has changed for certain.

I slap you. “Talk to me like you used to”,

I plead, my eyes gleaming with frenzied despair.

You look at me and blink twice

I seize you, I search your face

To find the voice that had resonated within me

For all these years, through all this time.

Then it hits me, and I let you go,

As I realize I will never get that sound

Out of you, because it had never been yours.

I found that voice inside me, and know now,

That it was me who had been whispering

For all these years, through all this time.