Daniel Trevelyn Joseph
Mumbai, India
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Half-Sunday: A Long Narrative

This Sunday morning I got up
With the word slapsick picked up
From night-time wanderings of mind,
Transition from sleep to morning hazy,
Aches and numbness going slowly away,
And I brushed my teeth with Amar,
The Ayurvedic dental cream: stomach proving
To be still not normal after the food-poisoning in Pune
Last Sunday, decided that I should starve today
Then modified thinking to eat only bare toasts,
Actually ended eating everything, and in large measure!
Had bought Imodium, sheet of four tablets
Supposed to settle the stomach,
Been taking last four days;
It improves, and tempts me to eat freely
And become sick again!

Today is Sameer’s birthday, also my Dad’s,
Who died 13 years ago; my son-in-law Sameer
Must be completing 37 now. He is in Pune.
I called him up, and conveyed, “Happy Birthday!
And many, many happy returns of the Day”
Dotu daughter is away in Norway,
But has been reminding me and wife about
Wishing Sameer on his birthday.
We had decided to give him a cheque but Tilaka
Has already spoken that he would
Get it when he comes here next.
I told him about laptops Baiju and I saw
Yesterday in the Inorbit Mall in Malad, then
Hypercity Mall and also in Croma shop nearby,
Where I was amazed to see the public interest
In purchasing computers as a family.
Sameer discussed Apple, Sony laptops in detail
Comparing them with Dell. I am replacing,
Rather buying new one almost after three years.
My Toshiba Tecra 2
Didn’t give me a single day’s trouble
Since bought in November 2005: so, no selling it
Sameer can talk with passion on technology!
I want a portable small one with good maintenance
Assurance, at my age.

Sat on the dining table, reading Times of India,
Indian Express and the Asian Age. Then took up
Exim Today for the last three days.
While reading, once I plucked some black bit
From my nose and threw it out of window.
We live on fifth floor.
Her face exploded in anger, making her start
Her harangue and I quickly decided, though late,
I should go to gym, got up and left.

Though late, got ready, took hand-towel
To wipe the sweat in the gym,
The house-key (don’t believe it disturbing) ,
Wore sneakers, took shoe-bag, two ten-rupee notes,
And proceeded to the gym. Outside got into auto,
Reached, paid Rs 10/- with the tip of one rupee,
Signed on the register in club with SJ 010
And started on treadmill for twenty minutes
Half at six km speed, and rest at 6.5 km speed
And incline at 6.00 too. Then the stepper
For ten minutes at Resistance level three,
Going up and down at rpm 50.
Then other equipment to exercise
Legs, thighs, arms, fingers, hips etc.
At 62, if I don’t exercise for four days,
I get arthritic pain on fingers:
Also, I get sometimes pain in the hips
For over-exercising at my age. Dilemma!
Came back home by auto: had coffee
Heated up in micro-wave – I take it only hot.

Then called for breakfast, had three thin dosas,
I know sugar will shoot up for me the diabetic
If I eat any rice-based preparation:
I should, and generally do, take white oats etc
Once for a while, only one tomato and cucumber.
But sometimes I make exceptions on Sundays.
Then took tablets for blood pressure
And acidity and vitamins, for diabetes tablet
I take a little before my breakfast.
Helped my wife with Crossword again,
She does that religiously every Sunday,
And compares notes with her friends on phone.
Watching TV wall-mounted on her bed-room
(Which holds white Minnie and black Zorro) ,
And we munching groundnuts from box
She had brought to the bed:
I ate quite a lot, and very fast as usual,
Helped her only for two or three clues
And got up… when I saw an argument
Building on my reporting to her what
I said to Sameer about ordering laptop myself.
I quickly got up and went to my room
And checked the dictionary for slapstick
Scribbled a poem on it, and keyed it
Uploaded it on Poemhunter site with three clicks,
My 140th poem, starting from end January 2008.

Went to the other room to listen
To music on my Panasonic system
First Handel’s Hallelujah chorus – in
My dad’s heaven they were always playing this! –
And then Norwegian Grieg’s Morning
Spreading light on the mountains,
Mahler’s Symphony No 5 Adagietto
To Dvorak, to the bouncy, springy tune
Of Prokofiev in Peter & The Wolf,
Mozart, and Chopin’s E’tude that tests skills,
Faure’s Requiem: Pie Jesu, then Ravel
To the loud Habanera of Carmen by Bizet,
Again Mozart with his clarinet concerto,
Then to sweet-sounding Mendelssohn
With his Hebrides Overture and lastly
To Strauss and his Blue Danube
Which my wife used to play on the piano,
And which we rushed to see in Parvati Theatre
In Kolhapur in mid-seventies,
Where I was District Collector for four years:
Was Great Escape the title of that movie?
The music of river swept me along, I remember.

Then to volume 2 of Absolute Classics
Starting with my favorite Hebrew Slaves
That became the Italian national anthem,
Of Verdi, Mozart Piano Concerto 21, Faure,
Offenbach, Brahms, Prokofiev, Handel
To Chopin’s Fantasie Impromptu,
Which plays a great part in that movie of his,
Then Rodrigo’s guitar and Massenet’s
Haunting tune on Meditation in his “Thais”
Thereafter from Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky,
The Opera I saw in Albert Hall with Reshmi,
And ending with Wagner’s Walkyrie.

I heard these pieces undisturbed
In the company of Chinky, one-eyed cat
In patches of light brown and white,
The most agile among the seven handicapped
Cats at home, more precious that grandchildren
Or VIPs. Chinky sits between music system and me;
Though friendly with me, she is still ready to scratch!

I turn behind to the steel shelves
To search for books to read: poems
I had in mind: saw copy of Tao Te Ching
By Lao Tzu, paperback. Took it out thinking
That I should keep it along with Bhagavad Gita
Dhammapada, Diamond/Heart Sutras for daily read.
Meanwhile read some part of it before putting it aside:

“One who boasts of his own ability has no merit”.

“Sage does his work, but sets no store by it.”

No amount of words can fathom it,
Better look for it within you.”

“Lingering like gossamer, it has only a hint of existence;
And yet when you draw upon it, it is inexhaustible.”

“The highest form of goodness is like water.
Water knows how to benefit all things without striving with them.”

“If you do not strive with others
You will be free from blame.”

Then, laid hands on Lewis Carroll’s
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Read the words of the song, I wanted to use
Once in IMO General Assembly, but didn’t
Since dissuaded by my boss!

‘You are old, Father William’, the young man said,
‘And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head –
Do you think, at your age, it is right? ’

‘In my youth’, Father William replied to his son,
‘ I feared it might injure my brain;
But, now I’m perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again.’

Said Caterpillar to Alice
“One side will make you grow taller,
And the other side will make you grow shorter”
One side of what? The other side of what?
Thought Alice to herself.
”Of the mushroom, ” said the Caterpillar,
Just as if she had asked it aloud.
On eating a little of the right side bit,
She felt a violent blow underneath her chin:
It had struck her foot!

Kept it aside for more reading, picked up
R K Narayan’s “A Story Teller’s Word”,
Read first piece in First Part, Fiction Writer
It is so true: I was born and brought up in South India.
Then read introduction by Australian Syd Harrex
Read more pieces such as ‘The Indian in America, ’
On to the ‘Problem of the Indian Writer’.
I have seen the movie “Guide”in 1966 in Madurai
More than once, was thrilled with Waheeda’s performance
And the lyrics, but had not read R K Narayan’s
Either Guide or any other book or novel.
Now I find I have missed out so much, considering
His grip on his themes, and sharp observations.
Should read this book and some more at least now.

Tried to read lying down in my bed
With the AC on. But knew it sure leads to
Cervical pain, and quickly got up, rested against
The wall, and finished the problem of Indian writer
And covered myself with two thin rajais
And asked light to be put off.
Soon I was asleep, without having had lunch.

Half of my Sunday is gone... Macavity isn't there?

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4/12/2021 7:53:27 PM #