Others are masters of facts. I’m a mistress of assumptions.
Take away the neutrality of gender and more than half the best literature of the world falls apart under the weight of its own prejudices.
A writer’s job is to call a spade a thing that works when used.
Strip the mind of language and there is no mind to talk about. Strip language of the body and there is no language to talk about. The body is as real as the language used to talk about the body. Hence I must preserve your body in the home of my spirit as if I preserve a self of mine without which I’m nothing.
I’m somewhere between normal and different. Normal people think I’m different. Different people think I’m as normal as normal could be. Most people want to be different and accepted as normal. I guess that’s how I’m as well. I call myself an actor-turned-activist. My activism comes from action. I act out of a sense of delight that I cannot hide. That’s normal. I’m not acting when the lives of others are played out on the screen of my imagination. They are different from anything I could imagine. Loving makes me act without being an actor. In the passivity of a lover I’m an activist.
The things we reject with our souls are usually the ones that make us feel normal. Sons exasperated with parental affection hate the security that comes with being too much of oneself. Lovers when they separate can’t bear the feeling that things have degenerated into normalcy. We create a moment that we sustain through uncertainties however fantastic they may be. The loss of uncertainty is unbearable. The soul rebels against certainty. We go naked on streets and embarrass the world to death. Normalcy kills as prisons do. The beast thrives on certainty of instinct. To keep alive uncertainty is the nature of the person.
Love that has found a home is not love. The soul is naturally inclined to homelessness. Otherwise I would not be the migrant that I am.
I’m the wrong kind of a believer. I refute whatever comes to mind. I destroy occasions of faith with the ease that one uses a butter knife. In faith I’ve little to think of. Turn the wheel and I’m long gone before the spark disappears in the dark. I believe in the coming of an end that I do not wait for.
In an accident a person is externally more alive though internally the body ceases to work. A person is invested in the outside world more than one would like to believe about oneself. The language inside me is of a world outside myself. We’re external creatures at the end of the day.
We do not forgive women for their bodies.
Each person may be different but people everywhere are the same made different by demands of economy and culture.
Realism is sloth.
If I had to choose a character in Shakespeare, I would be the soothsayer in Antony and Cleopatra. I enjoy nothing more than casting the future in the die of the present.
The pain that is me – I am not that.
I’m a product of multiple forces – least of all myself.
Christ was right – the leprosy of wealth is without cure.
Dreams made me political. Ideas made me a materialist. Out of spirit came the revolution in my body. In embracing what seemed like the ugly face of the world I derived the sweetness of living. One dissenter is equal to a thousand that are not.
To those who loved me in life I do not intend to sound ungrateful. I leave them the bill of my coffin as evidence of love.
If emperors did not know weariness empires would not know dust.
I hate an exploiter – whether he came from my religion, my race, my caste, my nation, my family or from within me.
How can those who’re dying mourn for those who’re dead!
I made necessity look like chance.
Language is a sword. A friend can use it to protect you. An enemy can use it to destroy you.
It is easier to love all of humanity than forgive one’s enemy.
I live by the sword of madness. The madness of the sword will kill me one day.
The violence of truth is a response to the tranquility of lies.
Exploiters come in all colors; the exploited are colorless as sand.
People resist. They know better than not to.
Cynicism is the disease of the wealthy.
Laziness is endemic to the naturally intelligent.
Self-preservation is as much the nature of the oppressed as self-aggrandizement is the nature of oppressors.
The translator is the most misunderstood of geniuses.
In every choice is a destiny.
The paradise I know of is a fool’s paradise.
Mediocrity is absence of conflict.
Mediocrity is the hell of the mediocre.
Children laugh out of happiness for happiness’ sake. I laugh only in pain.
A writer is someone who listens to others.
Kindness more often than not contains an expectation of reciprocity.
Not to experience the indignation of being left out is to live like a river and cloud. A trace of salt must exist in the river for it to dream of the sea. To fall in love is not the same as being in a state of love. Pity is a bond of friendship between a world that dreams and despairs and eyes that stay awake as mothers do when children refuse to go to sleep. Compassion is neither pity nor love. The sea is equally dispassionate toward the river and the cloud.
The one person who disagrees with the rest of the world is a minority. The one person who is in conflict with oneself is a minority. The one person who refuses to belong is a minority. The one person who is not a stranger to streets is a minority. The one person who is unwelcome in a social order is a minority. The one person whose future is as uncertain as the past is a minority. The one person whom death has adopted as its own is a minority.
Fate is enslavement to an idea of the unknown. God is humanization of the idea of fate. Religion institutionalizes the idea of God. Men use God to oppress others. How to destroy an idea in the head is the job of philosophy.
How could I know love without betrayal! I let myself go that you may enter spaces where I linger as perfume. I betrayed my past, the group I belonged to and the person I thought I was – to persuade you that my love for you is more than words and words are not enough to love you. Thus we parted; but I walked along with you as shadows followed the light.
Politics is the sweetest of all attempts to communicate. People come together as men and women in the struggle to assert themselves as persons in the mirror of nature. Politics is the modest face of struggle.
I hated traveling. I loved journeys. My mother’s character is a broken one; my father’s is a disconnected one. I hung between brokenness and disconnection. Traveling exhausts me; journeys turn me nostalgic for music. The sea you are and the ripple of a stream I am. I made a long journey before I turned into the wave of the sea.
The joy with which I speak of myself. Ask me to describe a flower and I flounder like a child caught telling a lie. Ask me about myself and I go on as if I were a flower myself of a tree in a pristine forest that has not known the arrival of man. I can give the petty details of my life in a way that can sink you in the ground overwhelmed with emotion. My suffering – those countless little hurts that appear innocuous to the eyes of others – can make you feel that life is nothing else but the saga of my face hiding with shame and anger. None of these compare though with the joy I listen to your arrival, as if the sweetest of music with the lightness of silence, stands at my doorstep.
Drama is a perennial metaphor of truth. Paradox is a metaphor of metaphor. Truth is a drama of metaphor. Red is a metaphor of revolution. Revolution is a metaphor of sacrifice. Death is a paradox. Red is life. Red is not a paradox. Red is the truth. Free of the twin impetuses of greed and revenge, the communes of the future are dramas of red.
Names are pseudonyms. In our oneness is the fact that we’re not the same. Who are you that you should not be I? Who am I to imagine that I am not you? As I am a pseudonym of you, you’re a pseudonym of a self that is me and yet not mine. The rose is a pseudonym to rosiness as a dark cloud is a pseudonym of rain.
Picturesque landscapes turn callous when in contact with the cruelty of men. I’m stunned by the anger that explodes my veins; it seems so distant from the person for whom I feel pity. In a single stroke cruelty makes me two persons. Consumed with self-pity I can murder my best friend. Once I’ve calmed the all-too-human need of pity I can cry over the body of my friend as if it were my own. Anger takes away wholeness and replaces it with division. I divide my future with the knife of the present because my past is divided as well.
The language of lovers is fraught with uncertainties. Fate is a noble invention to compensate for the inadequacies of language. Love mocks fate as it dismisses fear.
In isolating the deed from the ritual, religion has become the witting arm of the establishment. The sacred becomes a ritual space and not one inhabited by the body of a person. The sacred is in the deed. To imagine a religion outside the institution in the sense of a private god or set of beliefs is to imagine a stone without hardness. The sacred is the space of hardness. Moral questions have to be answered in how each person evaluates her or his position with reference to others. The others are sacred with reference to whom you act as a person.
Compared to the willful devastation of men I could forgive the worst calamities of nature. Compared to the evils of patriarchy the earth coming to an end with the disappearance of the sun seems acceptable. Compared to the death in life that millions experience with their bodies and souls as a matter of fact, the scientific fact of dying seems relatively nothing.
The wolf became a raven and the raven a black dog of the darkest night. My humanity is the perversion of the perverted.
Something pitiable about the body– the way it crouches beneath the personae. Asleep the body is maskless. Awake it is a heap of faceless masquerades. Like a child I put my hands through the gap of the tent to touch the vulnerable eyes of a beloved afraid to face the world.
In the most decadent of situations a person retains something of the innate poetry of one’s nature. Even the man that visits a whore envisions something greater than himself. Stark reality is transcendent in its immanence.
Civilization is a policeman in plainclothes. To touch a policed body is to feel watched through the sockets of my eye. My eye is humiliated because it is drained of the power to look back. The feeling is murdered. My body is humiliated because my eye suffers. These prison walls are my truth. My poetry must respond to walls before they can reach out to rhododendrons. My knees are bent against the walls. My gods are the helplessness of walls. My anger comes from the injustice of walls. My compassion toward the oppressed comes from seeing through walls.
Pangs, whether of hunger or birth, stretch the body to its limits. Marks show on the belly though the hollows of the face are placid as a hill. Radical discontinuities are aspects of birthing and hungering. The hunger of snakes after birthing shows the limits of nature. The poor snake must abandon the young lest hunger get the better of it. In the hunger of the oppressed is the desperation of a snake. In the hunger of a spirit in fetters there is a snake that rushes away abandoning familiar worlds. It strikes the heart then the head finally comes back to the heart. I suffered as I lived with the presence of another being in my belly. I held on to life for the sake of another. I was no more after that. I was myself the day before my birth. I was the void that birthed me into existence. The hunger of my nature can break any system. Kill me but I cannot be contained. Like the snake, my true nature will show itself with time. Hurt me so that I cannot rise. My nature will protest with the cries of a wounded bird. Drug me so that I forget my nature. In that drugged state my body will dream of streamlets with paper boats floating on them. In one of those boats I’m a droplet clinging to the paper. Thus I go my way to the end of the world.
You begin a story with the sense that you can never write anymore. And then like a paralytic man you make an effort to push the limbs into performance. The rush of blood in your wooden limbs and the force of life in the moment. One word and the body falls back utterly exhausted. What seemed like a miracle was your effort not to die. The words that happen almost say nothing, detached as they are from the blood of the body.
If I weren’t a performer I would have this feeling of death closing over my being. I was wrong. Death was in my character. I would walk the streets and give myself to the air that people breathe. I would lose myself in stories they told. I would laugh with their lips and weep with their eyes. The earth will revolve on its axis whether I perform or not. My performance is death-like therefore. The mad desire of celebration came from weakening bones and paling flesh. What do I care if I must die! All I care for is to watch you dance in the early hours before dawn when sleep is at its heaviest.
Evening after evening I made stories of you. Somebody would mention a sari with the color of turmeric. You would come to mind and the stories followed. Some others would speak of a village by the sea shore. The woman with turmeric sari would appear on a sandy beach. My eyes do not look at her. I’m thinking of wild goats. For some reason stories defy reality. It is as if we’ve plundered the senses from the house of reason. The story I liked the best, like matter, evolved from the soul. Ask me what the soul means and I say it is the eyes of a woman in a story. I gave my life to momentary performances like the stories of Kawabata no smaller than the sea and no larger than the palm of a hand.
Maybe they never happened – these stories. But they did and you know that. I cannot rely on my own knowledge that anything ever happened. I implied what I had to say, often keeping quiet when I had so much to say that the world would be dark if my thoughts covered the sky. Inside me I was you. The story had to make its way out like a hibernating animal coming into the open to the slightest feel of heat. If my words do not reach you that doesn’t mean you’re not the source of my words. The river does not go back to the mountains. It goes to the palm of a hand. The letter I wrote had you in mind. My hands trembled to the thought of you in the background. Freed of the constraints of the mind the hand took you as the source of its being. Having come to the sea I had nowhere to go. Time is irrelevant to matter as thought is to word. I had to leave the story incomplete because it is meaningless to put an end to words.
Come into my body and do not leave unless you choose to do so. You come in as the warmth of my uncertain night. You ennoble me with your coming. Oh, do not leave, unless you must in the vastness of your will. Leave me the memory of your shadow that I may dream my days away while my body is hardened working with the fallow ground that one day will be my grave. You come and together we shall bring the land to fruition. Together we make the communes that I may be I in the spirit of you and you may choose to be within me as long as you desire to.
A sensitive writer pleads for compassion. How can a woman forgive thousands of years of patriarchy as if it were coming to an end sometime soon! The psychology of a rapist, who cannot feel that he is a man unless he exhibits power, is the essence of patriarchy. The garbage pile of discourses that justify oppression against women and minorities would fill many such earths. Discourses that lock the gates of the future must be broken down. Freedom of the body is a reality as ice is to the Himalayas. I appeal to the part of my being that is a spring to give me strength in a violent time. If water can wear the power of stone, in the end patriarchy will wear out, thanks to resistance of its victims. I’m one with the past and future. If not, I would be nowhere near the present.
Why would it matter to me that somebody cried! If you cried I would fall on my knees to embrace your knees. I would not leave your face alone for a moment. What if you were somebody and I passed by not knowing it was you. I would never forgive myself to the end of my days. Therefore, I embrace every face on the street imagining I touch you. The instant I hear a cry I’m on my knees asking the weeping face not to feel lost in this cruel world. I take the face in my hands and hold the heart in my breast. No one weeps because it could be you. I pray that someone somewhere must not leave your eyes alone for a moment just as I accompany the suffering many as if it were you in them.
The dishonesty of the body that must play games out of fear makes me sick to bone. I must be freed of the marrow of the lie that goes to the depths of my soul. I’m free to choose my love. But I cannot look into hurt eyes. I lie to avoid hurt that turns me a liar. I’m watched as I lie. I utter a lie by giving hardness to my voice. I pity my desperation. I’m angry at my helplessness. I lie and I’m wrecked by the distance of my voice from the rest of my body. I could bet my life that my body was not my own. Fear made me a thief. I thieved in order to overcome fear. The more I let fear enter my bones the more I conformed to morals of the order. I could feign to the point of death. I could feign my death as well.
Why had I to root myself in the flux if it were not another word for the goddess of death! Writing is politics though it is not the same as living like the poor. You write as if you have swum into the deep and are ready to let the water get into your body. That’s the furthest you could’ve gone. You put yourself into words with that dying energy. The waters have taken over body and soul. Inspired by the goddess of death I gave myself to the moment.
Revolutions are personal like one keeps a secret love. You treasure a moment and make worlds upon worlds in that moment. Revolution is a moment that opens doors to every other moment. The body has decided to give itself up to the love of other bodies. Such a passion regenerates itself in every age and space. Cut my body into a million pieces and disperse them in the dark of the universe. I can only see the world as one moment of space. Every part of my torn body converges into that one moment. That is my idea of a revolution. I’m the machinist of a broken world. I invoked the flux in my brokenness. My revolutions are not about memory and return. My revolutions are about whirling in orange seas of twilight.
Think of a number that surpasses the weight of zero. That kind of poverty I gave to my heart. I’m no admirer of heroes though I admire what people stand for individually. I admire ways of life that are reconciled to waiting. They learn the most valuable lessons from their so-called opponents if that includes the animal world as well. Ghost and vulture are reconciled to the births of children. Nights are welcome and shadows are not unnatural. The cobra is mother to the rat that it devours for survival. The cobra perpetuates its species. The rat attains the sanctity of memory in becoming food to the cobra. Most of our lives pass away in making sense of waiting. Cultures that detach themselves from the orgasmic bliss of ecstasy give sanctity to waiting. The moments of exhilaration are contained in the waiting. Waiting is not looked down upon and the one that waits stands on par with the worm in the complex rituals of the tribe.
The cruelty of eternal childhood. The nostalgia of incomplete adolescence. In the absence of affirmation how the body passes through time! The solutions that came without contact with light. Dark days and darker nights. I’ve nothing to protest about. Knowledge has ripped the core of my feelings. The futile wisdom of futility. The experience that I keep repeating – the revolving doors of my pasts that keep a polite distance from the present. I can’t even see that brokenness is brokenness. My vision is comically close to the chicken that I chased as a kid. I could never get it. It crossed the road in the meantime.
Homes with freshly painted walls and the smell of new furniture. I like the sofa in the living room though the idea of spending the night on a settee never appealed to me. The best of company stands apart in the incandescence of joy even in the worst of situations. I would sit down on the floor and watch the face of love on a settee in the semi-dark with silence for music. What is it that the sons of our mothers seek that they hope to find in homes in the protective shapes of maternal bellies? Why must mothers resent their sons’ artificial loves? Why must sons run from street to street for the peace of warm waters? My father is the son of his father but I’ve the fate of a mother’s son. The loneliness of her age I carry in my heart. The death of her body I live each day as my eyes open to welcome dawn. But I’ve no sons to mother and my body is barren for all purposes except to produce words. I make words to ears of a world in deep sleep in the hope that a sentence of mine will slip past the dreams of the sleeper. That puts me at a greater loss than I can imagine. A maternal streak in me is touched. But this body of a man will not allow me to go any further. I must destroy it before I can reach the world of the sleeper. I can know you as you are in my destruction. I must perish in my manhood before I can touch you. But how can I expect your affection for this disembodied manhood of mine? What is my personhood outside this body of mine?
You’re the person and I’m the son with a maternal body injected into the blood. There are two things I cannot stop being. One is a son to my mother and another is a mother to you. How often I’ve drunk from bitter streets, tears that have consumed the lines of my face! You will pass through moons of your life. In one of those moons of a night you will know how my man’s body suffered in an imaginary woman’s heart. How I struggled with the passivity of the oppressed that seemed natural to my body! The sons of the bourgeoisie must pay the price of their fathers’ angst. How one familiar object in a strange place affects me and I’m ready to die! How I reject familiarity as if it had the smell of death in it! How I reject the illusion of my body! How I fall into ecstasy touched by the slightest gesture of affection that this body receives like the hungry mouth receives food!
My aesthetic is a dead one. My love of sounds is not. I could be sick and dying in a dungeon. A simple tune can rouse me to perform. My aesthetic is a delineation of character the way a tailor cuts a piece of cloth. My love of song is of a naked, timeless moment. My presence is a formality. In my absence I haunt you to death. I write of the critical states of my body. If you enter at any point, I am willing to let go of this body. Words are sad. You remember and suffer. You suffer that you may not forget. The heart refused to age. My thoughts were fertile as loam. Why do you insist that I change! The conflicts that plague me are miniscule in the dark. Tie me to a pole and skin me alive for being what I am. I cannot change. It is the nature of the dog in me. My conflicts are dog-like too. I cannot rise to the depths of what drives me from sea to cloud and back to sea.
Romance is an empty vessel. You cannot romance with emptiness. You can romance with the truth, the most romantic of words. You’re invigorated to believe. That’s the romance of truth. And it never stops with that. You empty the core of your being of language. That state of mind without language is a romance. You’re not thinking or trying to. The fullness you require is no fuller than an empty vessel. My romance with truth complete, I was subtle as silence in a musical composition.
The day extracts the life of my body like a sugarcane juice crusher but will not free me of the desire to pass away without a trace behind. My sense of humor made me a poet of death. If I were dumb for sounds my eyes would twitch to make you mad with discomfort. If my eyes were closed, my whole body in its dying strength would move as if touched by the wind. My death is a relatively peaceful one for a life riddled with nightmares. I could resolve the most irresolvable of questions by confounding them to silence. The something that gripped me at the core would not go away. I waited for the bird that could sense a body wasting in the dark.
May the eyes not cease to smile at the sight of a friend.
Prakash Kona (born July 14, 1967) is an Indian novelist, essayist, poet and theorist who lives in Hyderabad, India. His fiction is highly unusual, an experimental combination of free-floating emotion and political theory that can depict, for example, a city or a love relationship in an ambiguous, flowing, non-concrete and yet highly personal and heartfelt manner.