Tuesday, February 14, 2017

History, My Story

Last year, I sent this nostalgic piece to an online poetry website. This morning, I received a polite and sympathetic rejection of my submission as well as an encouragement to submit again any time I liked. I’m grateful to the editor for considering my work—one of over a hundred thousand he receives every year. His is a tough call. I will continue to write—and write better, hopefully—and continue to send out my stuff. Hope springs from the roster of famous writers who were repeatedly rejected before they were first published. I’m still taking guard at the starting block of creative writing.

Here is the slightly modified version of my poem History, My Story.

Chronicle of past times
and all of human history.
Record of peoples and events
glorious and dark.

My beloved subject
in high school and after.
Till a teacher's misdemeanour
makes me hate it, almost.

Bell rings, class out
rushing down the aisle.
He grabs me by the collar
slams me against the wall.

What did I do?" A fearful cry
"How dare you distract!" he rages.
Pleading look, sniggering mates
they wink and smile. 

Calendars later, I still remember
the day, the date, the pain.
'twas a history lesson
I will never forget.

© Prashant C. Trikannad

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Drabble #10: A story in 100 words

For representational purpose only
Last night, I finally took out a supari on my husband. I wanted the rat dead before I'd my first sip of morning chai. I picked up the phone and speed dialled a number.

"It's over. He's gone."

"Are you sure?"

"I was there."

"Where's the body?"


"Okay, baby, get to the airport. I'll be on the other side, I promise."

I picked up my bag and walked through the hall when the front door opened and two men, faces hidden behind kerchiefs, entered.

"Who...who are you?"

"Friends of your husband."

A single bullet sliced through the air.

Note: For previous Drabbles, click here.

Friday, February 03, 2017

The Dictators by Pablo Neruda

An odor has remained among the sugarcane:
a mixture of blood and body, a penetrating
petal that brings nausea.

Between the coconut palms the graves are full
of ruined bones, of speechless death-rattles.

The delicate dictator is talking
with top hats, gold braid, and collars.

The tiny palace gleams like a watch
and the rapid laughs with gloves on
cross the corridors at times
and join the dead voices
and the blue mouths freshly buried.

The weeping cannot be seen, like a plant
whose seeds fall endlessly on the earth,
whose large blind leaves grow even without light.

Hatred has grown scale on scale,
blow on blow, in the ghastly water of the swamp,
with a snout full of ooze and silence.

Pablo Neruda, 1904-1973. Photo: Wikimedia
In the opening lines of his poem The Dictators, the Nobel laureate, poet, writer, diplomat and political activist expresses his anguish at the oppression of the Chilean people by dictators as well as democratic rulers who act like dictators. The lines speak of torture, death and decay. Pablo Neruda paints a stark and vivid picture of life under despotic regimes, such as those led by Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet who is believed to have ordered the poet's death.

Dictators, whether Pinochet, Hitler, Pol Pot or Idi Amin, put down violent and nonviolent resistance by kidnapping, torturing and executing political opponents and innocent civilians, and ruling with an iron fist. Pinochet overthrew the democratically-elected socialist President Salvador Allende in a CIA-instigated coup in 1973 and eliminated thousands of left-wing activists, in his nearly two-decade long misrule.

The cruelty of tyranny had a profound impact on Neruda who recreates the horror in those opening lines where he talks about the stench of dead bodies lying in pools of blood in sugarcane fields, the breezy coconut plantations turning into unmarked graveyards, and spirited voices silenced in the throes of death.

Neruda champions the cause of his people and raises a battle cry against fascism, both unconcealed and disguised, and warns of the vile and destructive powers of totalitarian regimes. His message is: Absolute power dehumanises absolutely.

But does a political leader have to be a military dictator and wear "top hats, gold braid, and collars" in order to clamp down on resistance? Can he not sow seeds of fear, hatred, and confusion wearing a suit and tie, and a facade of decency and decorum?

Note: For more Friday's Forgotten Books, visit Patti Abbott's blog Pattinase.