The Summer, the Desert and the Digamma

The first time that I read this post, I couldn’t read beyond the first few lines. I was speechless and unable to do anything at all for a few minutes. I felt everything that I had prided myself on, until this moment in time, was futile. I felt a strange helplessness…a strange awakening in me.
The last several years of my life have been about self-preservation and survival. While I helplessly watched a beautiful and emotional world fade away from my life, I found myself driven by the need to survive and to protect my self-worth in a world where there was no place for vulnerability. I succeeded in the survival game, but there were nights when I would desperately fight the anxiety that seemed to appear out of nowhere and frighten me. I couldn’t figure out the cause of this anxiety for a long time. It was much later that I realized the anxiety was born out of the numbness that filled my moments of nothingness. My mind was so accustomed to the sublime emotions that had filled these moments of nothingness in the past that it was anxious at the numbness that had replaced them. I slowly reverted to reading and to films. Where else can one find emotions in the modern world? Like Mini describes in this post, the desert within my mind and its longing for the green. For what once was, and now isn’t.
I have never asked Mini why she has never published a book. But then, that doesn’t come as a surprise in today’s world. In a world where formula and market-driven goals decide the fate of art, the artist is uncelebrated. After reading Mini’s posts, it has become difficult for me to easily like anything. Most of the time, I find my own words very hollow. Recently, someone recommended a blog post that they found overwhelming. I couldn’t find anything in it. And now I know why standards are important in art. Art should set very high standards because only then will true essence find its way to the minds of the vulnerable minds that need it. I have realized in the course of my life that vulnerability defines life. And only vulnerability is capable of preserving the beauty that characterizes life. It is the vulnerable souls who need art to preserve their own spirit. The only responsibility we have towards this planet is to preserve the stories- stories that capture the essence of all our lives, in the words we write or the memories we create- the medium is immaterial. Mini, I can never thank you enough for the life your words instill in me- the patch of green that they awaken in the desert of my mind.

shoes 'n ships

Desert sky

We entered our sixth year saddened and in pain.

Every day my son asks me,

‘How long my father, until we return?

I miss the children of our street,

I miss the taste of our water

And the weather of our gorgeous country.’

Shiva read out the lines to me this morning. Written by Salam Ashara, a Syrian refugee. It was part of an article on refugees in an old edition of Gulf News, one that fell out of a shirt that came from the laundry. The launderers here fold the clothes around newspapers while ironing – perhaps for ‘structural support’ as Appu insists, or, as I suspect, for the fresh, crackling sound it gives off when you touch it.

Just a few lines of poetry, crisp like a starched and ironed cotton shirt. Lines written by a father who wants to keep his country alive for his children. How…

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2 thoughts on “The Summer, the Desert and the Digamma

  1. Vidya, I’m touched beyond words – by your words as well as your generosity. My eyes are full as I type, and I cannot find the words to tell you all that I’d have liked to. I hope to meet you in person someday, and get to know you better. So stopping now, with a humble ‘thank you’. And much love.

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