Ananta Madhavan

Ananta Madhavan Poems

I am not sure I ever lived, except in this imagined space,
This concoction of words that perhaps make a little sense
To a kindly heart like yours.

A day is long enough to make
Some room for rumination,
Even when waiting in a queue
To join the right queue or browse

Panting up the slopes
With the wind brewing in the trees,
And the mountain line like a row
Of aged teeth decaying,

A poet among us,
Moved by the sunset,
Sees in his fancy

I rose at six O'clock
And hastened to Chepauk
To wait and see a Test Match, but rain began to fall.
I tried to hasten back;

Others may hack and saw,
He troubled the root

In that blue little marble
My son saw swirls
Of stars.

A schoolboy called Edmund Clerihew
Bentley, as known to a very few
Lovers of English, began a century ago the fad of biography
In four lines and two rhymes, a sort of verse photography.

Awake, I found my watch and strapped it on
My wrist. Though dark it was, I saw some light
Come seeping through the fissures of the night.
Thus reassured, I guessed it was ‘Today’,

Vapours hover.
Rinsed in a shower
The air is muslin.
The sky hoards mischief

Moth on bark or parakeet on bough,
Seeming other than they are,
Teach us that nature loves deceit;
Yet priggish man exalts the truth,

English learnt as a foster tongue
Invites the novice to compose
An original masterpiece,
It need not be in prose,

The moon sometimes puts on a ruddy face
With mocking look or sarcastic grimace.
Sometimes it seems to frown as if to reprimand
The antics of a rabid mob in a lawless land.

Seasons change, summer brings the monsoon to the south of India,
From the oceans which have no boundary markers
It brings rain to the long coastline, moves over the peninsula
Departs into the sea again and whirling to other lands.

There are times when one is bereft of thought,
Rational or fancied,
A sense of being voided in mind and spirit,
Freed from sense of duty, social or private.

Lady, there's a decoy on your Life Line.
(Your palm is a thrush in mine)
I cannot tell you now what it portends.
(We shall be no more than friends)

A poet wants to translate private notions
Into colloquy that folk can re-translate
In speech their kith and pals can comprehend.
But idioms are our sequestered domains,

February advances, the shortest month this leaping year.
The aroma of spring, but the same day can show
Winter and summer compacted in a change of mood.

Touristic images pursue me in a town,
Perhaps in Culver City, Beverly Hills,
Where highways and cars have shaped
The lives of folks in varied strata.

The Best Poem Of Ananta Madhavan

'Did I Ever Exist? '

I am not sure I ever lived, except in this imagined space,
This concoction of words that perhaps make a little sense
To a kindly heart like yours.

If I was never born,
I never died. Was I immortal
Without ever being me, a person with a body, mind and soul,
Like you, but different, a unique variant?

I am no freak, no fiction, once I was a fact,
If Time can be trusted, solar or cosmic.
My tale is sad and simple. Mother's womb
Was all the world I ever knew
Before I grew to be a person,
Rather than a form of words, your words, this verse.

She cherished and sustained me
Over nine months. She boasted to her man
That she could feel me kicking inside.
If I had lived among folks like you,
I might even have twitted about my ‘kick-start' into your world.

The x-rays showed me up, a shape, a foetus,
A something or someone not quite understood.
The medicos murmured strange Latin phrases
I never had to learn. Mother swallowed tablets,
Tonics and elixirs. They warned her a to lay off
Sugar and salt and lose weight. But she, poor thing,
Could not resist a treat. Did I imperil her,
Unconsciously sneaking into a world I never made,
Never could have imagined?
Poor Mother wanted to smuggle me in,
A licit immigrant with a lifelong visa.

"The whole earth is our hospital", said your T.S. Eliot.
They would not admit me, a casualty,
Immune to oxygen mask and ventilator,
Dismissed with an exculpating sentence:
"Dead on arrival".
- - - - -
31 October,2014.

Ananta Madhavan Comments

pavan 05 January 2019

nice djbekyiunsftmiu5

0 2 Reply
A. Madhavan 19 July 2018

I have been an occasional contributor to PH, and would welcome comments from readers who agree with me or dissent. Now in my mid-eighties, I cannot retire from the world and its profuse signals - of both assent and dissent; but mostly, 'just pass on'. There is no 'aadi', no 'antha'. Existence is the essence of the Present Continuous Tense: the Everlasting 'Now'. Enjoy or Endure.. Best.

0 2 Reply
Sochukwu Ivye 05 October 2017

Your energy is uplifting, dear beautiful mind. Carrying everything in style, attentive to details, gracious and considerate, your presence is simply comforting. Thanks for being you. A joy to connect...

0 1 Reply
Valsa George 15 October 2014

I enjoyed the opening stanza.... So realistic! When there is only faint light one feels the rotund chair tops and the hulk of the table while proceeding to the balcony.... The mist covered sky being compared to a white washed canvas is a great image and the hills and trees slowly emerging from cover is beautiful! That obscuring veil of mist becomes A diaphanous gauze of translucence, Asserting hill-crest and hill-rock Along my trans-urban horizon. A picturesque description of the scenery watched through a diaphanous gauze of mist!

2 1 Reply

Ananta Madhavan Quotes

'All truths are partial and the last, the most.'

'Today is the Tomorrow of Yesterday And the Yesterday of Tomorrow'.

1. 'It is not we who catch up with age; It is old age that catches up with us', As the over-taker said to the undertaker. 2. 'Middle age is when you are old enough to to envy youth, but not too old to stop caring about the loss of youth.' 3. 'One consolation of middle age is to watch the parallel of ageing of contemporaries'.

A Zen Quibble. There is no point in this Zen story. That is the point.

'I am securely anchored to a grooved Orbit of days and seasons; I shall hold Fast to my functions, my place in the sun, Observer, object, subject, substitute For the vanishing void in the centre.'

'O Woe, we owe you overmuch That crippled Happiness should take you as its crutch'.

'Some of us predict the Past, imagine the Present, Historicise the Future too. But our dates are mythical, Our imaginings are private fictions, our predictions are irrelevant. Time that is measured is only is only a strip of a Perpetual Calendar, a fictional chronometer, a mood too subjective to serialise as the last Act in a play without an Epilogue.'

Arrest. We want to catch Time and wind it round a wrist and keep watching it. Time takes its revenge on us by watching us constantly.

Truly Singular. When you can count the hairs on your head rather than speak of your head of hair, you are truly balding. Everyone has plural selves, but each is truly singular.

'The world is a vast artifice, constantly under renovation. We are the architects of its demolition and the artisans of change in our imaginary nooks, crannies and private cubicles.'

'The music of the spheres Is not for human ears.'

On certain days, you can feel life flowing from your finger-tips, like a spell, and the whole day is liquid and the corpuscles float in and out of your body, which is itself but a limb of the universe.

PUN POEM, EXCUSE INDIFFERENCE The elephant carries its trunk, The snail its home, The tortoise its citadel, The oyster its pearly self; The orphan her homelessness.

In fiction and drama, the narrator may be unaware or unsure what the protagonist was thinking or planning. The author and the reader or audience are equal in their 'cognitive ignorance'.

'There are two modes of experience: direct knowledge and indirect knowledge. Neither is possible without imagination. There are two directions of enquiry: inward into the self and outward into the other. Both are halted by one obtuseness - lack of integrity. There are two styles of living: struggle and surrender.

In trusting, there is no half-way house. Trust is white and permits no shading, no qualification. Two Either-Or qualities: Faith and Trust.

The rapids of history leave us breathless as they happen. If we are long-lived, they will rush by again in future.

Patience is a virtue enforced on a person who has No other way. We end up by tolerating what we cannot Prevent or overcome.

Temporal Guilt Here are the 'tempicides', killing time, Sad, solemn, grave, whipping their disasters In self-assaulting loneliness to break Their lend-lease of life.

Torpor In the high tower the chains crumble And bind no more. The prisoners Are free, but make no move. I know this torpor. It is the will Turned stone, making limbs inert, Even when the gate is wide open.

Time Sense 'Time that is measured is only a strip of a Perpetual Calendar, A fictional chronometer of a mood too subjective to serialise As the last Act in a play without an Epilogue.'

Seeking Tao (or 'Dao') A man in search of Tao Saw this dilemma: "If I would have Tao, I should not seek Tao. If to have Tao, I don't seek Tao, I shan't have Tao".

Destiny Cannot foretell what may happen tomorrow. Fate Is a fallback excuse for futures grown obsolete. Every day we visit a country called ‘Later'. It has the same landscape as ‘Yesterday'; But we still want to go there, O where? .... Enough that we lasted long enough to wish That the last day, last hour, comes a little later. But in the process of postponing Death, Let us not postpone Life itself. Life is Now, This moment we cannot encompass in time.

'Human being'is a neutral term which is not only a name for our specific species, but also a moral imperative for us to be humane.

'The pure and simple truth is that Truth is seldom pure and never simple.'

Ennui, utter tedium, drove me to crime: I stifled a yawn and then killed time. On Saturday afternoon at three I felt like a picture by Paul Klee.

Some show their wisdom in the choice of their folly.

The sin of Impulse and the sin of Will Are both unpardonable.

The Philosopher Others may hack and saw, He troubled the root With a question mark.

There will always be some exception to every rule, except this one. Work that out as a logical or illogical conundrum; or as a moronic oxymoron.

The worst cruelties are unconscious. The sting is not so much in the infliction of pain as in the unconsciousness of them.

Poets are intellectual refugees in a commercial world. Like some poor tribals in a settlement in alien terrain, they produce handicrafts, garments and toys with hours of patient effort, things which are not really wanted, but bought as souvenirs or mementos and praised out of kindness.

I call this 'the Quantum Complex', the tendency of some sociologists and pundits to think of people in the aggregate, as statistical data, like a physicist thinking of particles whose movements are under study. But people resist labels like 'suburbans', 'illiterates' or even 'sociologists'.

'Surely, rhyme has a reason. Clarity is like chastity, A virtue of exclusion. The best poets have been Mixers of metaphors.'

'As knowledge grows, so does ignorance.'

'I', the slimmest letter in the English alphabet, the slimmest word in English: but how bloated with meaning!

'Event is comment: Cerebration is not celebration'

'Desperation brooks no morals.'

The complexity of mechanical things hardly daunts the modern citizen. This man or woman will use the phone and drive a car, or gawk at a TV screen. video or film without any guilt about his or her total incomprehension of the know-how, the way they work. This ignorance gives us a new immunity from Faustian madness.

'Ego'. There U-go and V-go. Are we all serving a life-sentence in the dungeon of the Self? But we have treasures and pleasures, of dreaming and discovery, Reason and Imagination. And we realise suddenly that we can escape, and the door is open.

TIME that is measured is only a strip of a Perpetual Calendar, A fictional chronometer of moods too subjective to serialise as The last Act in a play without an Epilogue.

We grow older every day. After say, 'three-score and ten', the challenge is to grow old, alone or with coevals, without becoming infantile, more dependent on nursing, medication, elixirs. I don't do 'time-pass'. I let time pass me by. There is no time to be bored.

'Life is limitless, like the sky. There is space enough For you and me.'

Artificial Intelligence - - - - - - - - - - - - A French writer of the 19th century, Auguste Villiers de l'isle-Adam, wrote a play, 'Axel's Castle', which had a character saying, 'Living? Our servants can do it for us'. I have amended it for the age of Artificial Intelligence like this: 'As for living, trust a robot To enact a waiter for Godot.'

Families divide Property; but Property divides families. A. Madhavan

The Future True, "the Future's not ours to see", but It is ours to speculate upon and imagine. That can be a pleasure.

Come Weal, come Woe, My status is quo.

Reading biographies is a consolation prize for those who rue their obscurity and the public neglect of their qualities and worth. They can trail their fingers on the uneven course of the famous who left a mark on an epoch. It is the flattery of the failures of the famous.

Diplomats 1. A diplomat's motto: Expect everything, including the best. 2. Diplomats and political leaders professionally forfeit the right to be taken by surprise. However fantastic the news reports, they tend to believe that they had envisaged that particular permutation of history. Perhaps, engraved on the heart, they bear the text, 'I told you so'.

It is a kind of arrogance, impudence, pride or vanity that keeps us going in the face of impossible odds. I think it needs greater courage to run away from battle than to stay and fight, and probably lose.

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