Poetry in the Time of Working From Home

As many of us continue to self-isolate and work from our homes, the prolonged lack of human contact, conversations, and laughter can really begin to weigh us down. In order to break this cycle and its negative impact on our mental health, we at HUL have been experimenting with daily group video calls where we share thoughts, anxieties and experiences with each other and attempt to make sense of this moment in a collective manner. Today all of us shared poems in English, Malayalam, Assamese, and Hindi – poems that we revisit in trying times, poems that help us make sense of our present, and poems that help us move beyond our immediate circumstances towards universal concerns.
Bharat chose American poet Jorie Graham’s poem ‘The Geese’, finding in its juxtaposition of the texture of our bodily perception and the lofty sweeps of our conceptually attuned minds, evocative echoes of our current predicament. Kabeer chose Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s ‘The Day is Done‘ for its embracing of the ordinary and mundane in the face of a world that only knows to celebrate the extraordinary. Dr. A chose Adrienne Rich’s ‘What Kind of Times Are These’. Shriya read out a poem in Assamese written by her mother Sumitra Das, titled ‘Nara Pichash’ (The Human Demon), which captures all her frustrations with the seemingly endless series of crises that have rocked us this year. Meenakshi shared Malayali poet A. Ayyappan’s haunting poem ‘Ente Shavapetti Chumakkunnavarod’, while Ravi read out a poem in Hindi from a new monthly newsletter started by young people in Bhopal. Lastly, Ma’am B shared a poem she wrote in 2005, inspired by the aftermath of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina titled ‘Another Tale of Two Cities’.

New York and new orleans
both new but not quite equally so

a calamity in New York
restructured history geography and economics in the world
as the us of a discovered a mission
a catastrophe in new orleans
reinforced the basic premise of world order
that the poor are a problem

the flames in New York
leaped across continents
to kindle democracy at large
the floods in new orleans
established equality among the poor of the planet

from the ashes of New York was born the religion of homeland security
from the debris in new Orleans
marched out an army of homeless  

मैं उन भयावह क्षणों की साक्षी हूँ
जब केदारनाथ सिंह कहते हैं
जाना हिंदी की सबसे खौफ़नाक क्रिया है
मैंने जाते हुए देखा है उस सदी को
जिसमें उन्नीस सौ इस्तेमाल होता था
उस सदी में जन्मी मैं
मृत्यु के लिये किया अगली सदी का वरण
जाना किसी का भी ख़तरनाक होता है
फिर वो संसार से जाए या जीवन से
जो जाकर नहीं लौटते
उनका जाना अवश तरीके से ठहर जाता है
आप असह्य विगत में टंगे होते हैं
और जाने वाला आपको कभी नहीं छोड़ता
विगत दरअसल एक भ्रामक स्थिति है
उसके वास्तविक होने के लिये
जाना ज़रूरी है स्मृतियों से
लेकिन स्मृतियाँ कहाँ जाती हैं
और इस तरह जाना कभी नहीं जाता
यूँ जाने और न जाने के बीच
जीवन तमाम उलझा रहता है
हाँ..जाना हिंदी की सबसे खौफ़नाक क्रिया है
जीवन का सबसे दारूण अनुभव
मुझे चुनना हो तो
मैं इस क्रिया की साक्षी नहीं
कर्ता बनना चाहूँगी
जाने का साक्षी होना जीवन की सबसे खौफ़नाक घटना हैश्रुति कुशवाहा

-श्रुति कुशवाहा

P.S. In the time of Working from Home will be a series and we will be posting new independent pieces under this category.

Self Expressions in the time of Working from Home- https://hydlab.in/blogposts/self-expression-in-the-time-of-working-from-home

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