That moist evening

Amit Sengupta

If memory moves in semi circles, desperately looking for a circle of abstraction to end this repetitive, relentless journey of life's unfinished, finished story, it does not always end in a circle of success or achievement: hence, a geometric QED: Quite Easily Done. In that sense it is not mindlessly moving into a repetitive circle, round and round and round, but finding edges and jarring notes and thresholds of neurosis, searching for anti-catharsis, the absence of presence, the fulfillment of longing, the zone of possibilities, the happiness of unhappiness. The semi circle thus often becomes a rectangle, an upside down pyramid, a superstructure without a base, a back to square zero phenomena, where zero is neither beginning nor infinity or the end of hope. 

In Gaston Bachelard's poetics of space and reverie, for instance, there is no end of hope, like a staircase you climb endlessly in a dream, or a corridor you cross, or a bridge which arrives from nowhere in a surreal landscape, or a bench outside a friendly amphitheatre where you can recite your poetry aloud and all alone, not for a minute wanting an audience. You know you have never been here, and yet you know this place so well, like a chronicle of a dream foretold. 

As in Pablo Neruda's poetry, Albert Camus' exile and kingdom, where a smile can make his day, and a fire grows inside his belly, or the classical light in Vermeer's painting, transcending the map on the wall, moving out of the window, beckoning the socially 'caged' woman inside the room into the world and the worldview outside, so tempting and so distant, like the promise of a promised renaissance. 

Read Neruda and you know what it means:
I did not know what to say,
my mouthhad no waywith names,
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
deciphering that fire,
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure nonsense,
pure wisdom of someone who knows nothing

When seasons change, the mappings in the mind change too, and we all become borderline cases with no line of actual control. Like the aesthetic unconscious buried inside the soul of an ancient trunk, filtered through the soft roughness and smell of old clothes and familiar fragrances, half-moist with the smell of rain-soaked mud, a million streams of consciousness enter the eyes, the innermost repressed zones of the self, the crushed republics of memory and utopia inside time-present and time-past, and suddenly you realise that in this shoreless shore you are not the same person you think you are. Like Jorge Louis Borges, whose own name in the catalogue in the archives is not the name of the man he knows and lives with and shares mind space, you are a different man too, a different time and space, a different smell and longing, and yet so familiar.

Desire flies on wings. Primordial longings return. You want to become fragile, soft, sensuous. The faces of women you knew come back, the songs you whistled in the dark reappear in the dark, and the clouds hiding the sunshine are no more empty and shallow. They are full of water, the possibility of water, moistness, wetness, flesh, flower, flood, fusion, fluid and fluidity, a rain which must come and heal the wounds of the mind and the earth; it cleanses, drenches, removes every trace of the salt and the dryness and the barren substances inside the soul. Water, the sound of water, has such healing qualities, like rivers and streams and waterfalls, like leaves swaying with monsoon's dew drops, like trees grateful for the thirst which must now end. 

Everything moves in this non-unilinear spiral, refusing to turn into a circle, forever incomplete, like an unfinished sentence. Everything comes back like it must, if not through touch then through a faint fragrance, or forgotten music, or words written on a rolling stone, and the seasons tell you that it is not the time to die, but the time to rejoice and celebrate, in quietness and in song, solitary or in chorus, like spring in winter, like school kids suddenly afraid and trapped in an unknown forest graveyard, all alone in the dark, singing together to scare away the spirits.

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: AUGUST 2010