Category Archives: self-reconciliation

A CELEBRATION OF PLATH

There are many who seem to think of the darkness within them, and all around, as being something of comfort that they can live with. Sometimes they embrace the depths of this darkness so much that it is a part of them. It follows them around like a terrifying shadow which then leads to manic depression and strange episodes which prompt others to believe that these people are losing their minds.
Yet it is no real loss of  the senses. It is merely a newer window into a form of creative genius that most dare not tap into. For when they do, they do not tame and properly reconcile with  their personal demons, this rare chance to finally see the light gives rise to the most disturbing works of literature ever produced.
Sylvia Plath (October 27, 1932-September 11, 1963) was a woman who thrived within her blackened shell. She wrote guided by her dark passenger’s hand and thus questioned much of what was possible to say within the poetic circle. This was not the horror of the supernatural that Poe was in love with but a new kind of terrifying subject had found its way into her world. This was the creation of a swirling vortex of the deep, dramatic and disturbing. Death, cruelty and even a form of anti-Nazism found their way into her writings.
Her images may be of the heart, sometimes of God, but they are in no way pleasant.

Today the WFR team brings to you a poet who is considered by most to be the patron saint of self-dramatization and self-pity.

DADDY

       You do not do, you do not do   Any more, black shoeIn which I have lived like a foot   For thirty years, poor and white,   Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.

Daddy, I have had to kill you.   
You died before I had time——
Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,   
Ghastly statue with one gray toe   
Big as a Frisco seal

And a head in the freakish Atlantic   
Where it pours bean green over blue   
In the waters off beautiful Nauset.   
I used to pray to recover you.
Ach, du.

In the German tongue, in the Polish town   
Scraped flat by the roller
Of wars, wars, wars.
But the name of the town is common.   
My Polack friend

Says there are a dozen or two.   
So I never could tell where you   
Put your foot, your root,
I never could talk to you.
The tongue stuck in my jaw.

It stuck in a barb wire snare.   
Ich, ich, ich, ich,
I could hardly speak.
I thought every German was you.   
And the language obscene

An engine, an engine
Chuffing me off like a Jew.
A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.   
I began to talk like a Jew.
I think I may well be a Jew.

The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna   
Are not very pure or true.
With my gipsy ancestress and my weird luck   
And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack
I may be a bit of a Jew.

I have always been scared of you,
With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.   
And your neat mustache
And your Aryan eye, bright blue.
Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You——

Not God but a swastika
So black no sky could squeak through.   
Every woman adores a Fascist,   
The boot in the face, the brute   
Brute heart of a brute like you.

You stand at the blackboard, daddy,   
In the picture I have of you,
A cleft in your chin instead of your foot   
But no less a devil for that, no not   
Any less the black man who

Bit my pretty red heart in two.
I was ten when they buried you.   
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones would do.

But they pulled me out of the sack,   
And they stuck me together with glue.   
And then I knew what to do.
I made a model of you,
A man in black with a Meinkampf look

And a love of the rack and the screw.   
And I said I do, I do.
So daddy, I’m finally through.
The black telephone’s off at the root,   
The voices just can’t worm through.

If I’ve killed one man, I’ve killed two——
The vampire who said he was you   
And drank my blood for a year,
Seven years, if you want to know.
Daddy, you can lie back now.

There’s a stake in your fat black heart   
And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.   
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.


It is thus extremely clear from this narrative work that Plath was deeply resentful of her father for being a Nazi supporter. He was, after all, German, named Otto Plath. He was also over two decades older than her mother Aurelia, which might have meant something to Plath herself. Clearly the narrative, which is full of short, abrupt sentences tells us that she is driving her point into us hard, and dramatically to boot.
The word “black” shows up a number of times. It is obviously a show of personal darkness, and the darkness inside her because of her father. She blames him openly for her suicide attempts. She had done many of these during her episodes of depression. By calling herself a “Jew” she is using a word for the term hatred since she hates him, and it makes him hate her as well.

MIRROR

I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful —
The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.
Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman

Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.

Poets do not regularly tackle the subject of aging and the agony that comes out of it, but in this short poetic work, Plath once again is giving us an insight into her mind. She tells us in the first line of the poem that she is “exact”. This and a continuing series of sentences and words that tell us about the “four-cornered” nature of the mirror seem to say that she has been feeling restricted and that is thus driving her insane. No artistic person likes to be restricted, or else they feel paralyzed. Plath however clearly says that a mirror is always truthful. She is growing old and that is all the mirror can tell her.
Yet her views do change within the lost time between the two verses. The word “lake” tells us that she now has a broader mirror, which has stretched out, possibly due to seeing the reality of things. Attempting to deny aging, despite what the mirror told her, was something that she might have tried earlier but not anymore. She had come to realize the all-consuming nature of old age. 
Plath also writes in the first person, and as the reflective surface itself. What really lies behind the mirror? Authors the world over have attempted to answer this question. But what is clear is that when the mirror is personified we see what Plath herself sees inside her soul when she looks into the mirror. 

THE ARRIVAL OF THE BEE-BOX

I ordered this, clean wood box
Square as a chair and almost too heavy to lift.
I would say it was the coffin of a midget
Or a square baby
Were there not such a din in it.
The box is locked, it is dangerous.
I have to live with it overnight
And I can’t keep away from it.
There are no windows, so I can’t see what is in there.
There is only a little grid, no exit.
I put my eye to the grid.
It is dark, dark,
With the swarmy feeling of African hands
Minute and shrunk for export,
Black on black, angrily clambering.
How can I let them out?
It is the noise that appalls me most of all,
The unintelligible syllables.
It is like a Roman mob,
Small, taken one by one, but my god, together!
I lay my ear to furious Latin.
I am not a Caesar.
I have simply ordered a box of maniacs.
They can be sent back.
They can die, I need feed them nothing, I am the owner.
I wonder how hungry they are.
I wonder if they would forget me
If I just undid the locks and stood back and turned into a tree.
There is the laburnum, its blond colonnades,
And the petticoats of the cherry.
They might ignore me immediately
In my moon suit and funeral veil.
I am no source of honey
So why should they turn on me?
Tomorrow I will be sweet God, I will set them free.
The box is only temporary.
In our final poem, we have Plath dealing with the concept of death itself. She tells the reader that it is a “wooden box” at first and then we have the image of a coffin. We also have the aural image of thousands of droning, angry bees. Of course nobody would be foolish enough to deal with a box full of bees. A large number, when irritated, can kill you. Therefore bees is a metaphor for death. The box is another means of restraint. Death is kept in restraint until the coup de grace,  the final blow when it attacks you and overtakes you completely. Plath is telling us that she has mixed emotions about dying, about whether or not to open the box. She cannot bear to hear the bees inside the wooden box. The same way she contemplates suicide. However she does say that “The box is only temporary.” 
Does this indicate that she believes in the afterlife, that death is a temporary phase? One cannot yet be sure but perhaps it is. In any case it is one of her most disturbing poems. 
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A few thoughts on Easter

About a year ago, a friend suggested that I watch the movie “Facing the Giants”.  One song from this amazingly inspirational movie remains in my “most played” playlist even to this date. To quote a few verses from this song which is titled “Completely”,

Such is the relationship that a Christian expects to have with God; a complete surrender unto Him who created us; an intimate friendship with Him who guides us through the toils and snares of earthly life.
Yet, being human, we falter along the way. Our weaknesses drag us down. Sin enslaves the best of us. Little by little, we distance ourselves from God’s unfailing love.
The season of Lent is a good time to reflect on our lives and turn back towards God. For forty days preceding Easter we engage in prayer, acts of penance, confession, fasting and other rituals to help us in this process. We commemorate “…that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-7)
Today is Easter Sunday, one of the most important days in the liturgical calendar. It is a joyful day for Christians around the world as it marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
For Christians and non-Christians alike, it is a beautiful day in spring. As blossoming flowers and twittering birds delight your senses, let today be a day of hope and new beginnings. Let it be a reminder that it’s never too late to start afresh and set things right. On behalf of the “Written for Reconciliation” team, I wish a happy Easter to all believers! May the joy of the Lord be with you all!

LABELS




Photo is property of http://yayaartpop.deviantart.com/ and was used with his permission. It will not be reproduced without the artist’s consent

(This is for the people about whom opinions are so strong that they can’t be shaken off…so strong that they are tortured everyday just thinking of what people will say next…it is not our fault…it never was…)

LABELS

Sitting in a soot-stained dragon’s maw;
Awaiting the flame that will lick me clean…

Burning rods across my chest,
Calling me what I’m not;
Burning irons molten-red,
Scorching my soul again.
See my face, but not my eyes,
Never stare into the windows to find the truth…
But sit in Court, declare me guilty,
Not wanting to see
The reality inside.

Taped across my whole being
Are seals, poisoned stamps.
You tell me “It’s all you” and I tell say “It’s really not”.
To have to read to understand,
Thus is the virtue of Man.
But Man is yet an animal;
Burning down what he does not believe.

This label you stuck on me,
This price upon my head,
Stings me now like it always did,
Telling the world a seeming truth.

He pulled us out as crystals
From our darkened wombs,
With light dancing off us.
Man the Kaleidoscope walks this earth,
Rotating lights shining as a hall of mirrors
In this blackened carnival of dirt.
The aura shone off every of my facets,
But with this new label was the glow
All lost.

And with this carving that you etched,
There ebbed away another shaft
Of perfect crystal light.

Damned to the depths you shall be
If ever a label again you stick onto me!
Where is the room?
How many prices can one good have?
You engraved it into my skin;
I screamed and prayed,
It would not go.
Wounds will heal, but scars won’t fade,
Like this brand they stay.

If another is put on us all,
The blood on the mirror might just be real.

RAKSHASA-Part 3

(The story of the misunderstood man continues.. ..)

“I’m here, always here,” she slurred with a rasping hiss, shifting and ghosting out of her son’s firm and powerful grasp.
He grunted as he sat down heavily, looking at her with an accusatory glance. “Reassuring,” he grumbled, “but right now I want you out. I’m going for a walk.” Standing up, the man sighed heavily as he padded out of the cave. The rock he was on, was no more than a little inselberg, an isolated mountain cut off from one of the major chains. It was one of many in the center of Lanka, the vast expanse of the untamed Malayadesha wilderness.
No mighty hero kings ruled here. It was the hellish heart of a paradise isle, with thick forests as far as the southeast, as far as the distant Galha Nadee and the mighty peak of the sacred Samanala Kanda.

In short, no man’s land.

This green carpet cloaked the highest mountains as far as he could see, and right now he was walking right through it. He and his mother had fought predators from leeches to leopards, and he knew this terrain like the veins on the back of his hand. Coarse, impenetrable, waiting to burst out under hard stress. Pushing angrily through the close-growing vegetation, he never let it brush his terrifying face. But every now and then, he felt his mother’s whispers surrounding him, tearing away at whatever humanity remained in his mind.
He halted for an instant beneath a huge, ancient jak tree.
What if he could finally admit to himself that he should lose whatever made him a MAN? What a feeling it would be to strip away his dirty sackcloth tunic, his rusted, twisted bracelet, and the bead necklace which he used to count the number of days and months he had before dying, and just allow the wild to really grow on him.
To lose his collection of stolen Sanskrit scriptures-rotting as they were-his inkwells and styluses, and turn manly speech into bestial obscurity would be a perfect salvation. The slippery rocks were in his path. Under his mother he had slipped away into the stream of violent beastliness, but now…

A memory once more.
He hated these.
They carpet of  his conscience rose suddenly, and no matter how many times he attempted to sweep the dirt of his sinful past beneath it, it kept clawing its way upwards. It was a memory that could be awakened by the grunts of a wandering herd.

Cattle in the forest.
With a farmer, singing hoarse songs to the spirits as he trudged down the leaf-littered paths.

The soft touch of his mother chilled him again. “What are you waiting for my darling?” she whispered, clinging to his body, stroking his hard back and chest softly. “Go on, show me what I have taught you.”

His muscles tensed at the sound of this, as his footfalls became as soft as a cat’s…

Dedicated to a special group…


Perhaps the cause of reconciliation is more important to one group more than any other- the group of young lovers who come from different races. No matter how intellectually matching they are, the stereotypical attitudes and beliefs of elders forces many of them to strangle their feelings. Maybe it was unwise of those lovers to let feelings develop between them, yet “love is blind” as the saying goes.
This poem is dedicated to all those lovers who go down in the annals of time as war victims- similar to soldiers whose shrapnel wounds hurt them from time to time, their young hearts would ache with yearning long after they are forced to forget a person who was almost their “other half”.
Photo credits: http://dmatxi.com/05/behind-every-love-story-and-broken-heart.html
 “The cloak of insecurity,
Wraps its folds around me,
Shutting out the happy sounds,
Blinding me with tears,
Wiping the pretty smile off my face.
Everything starts to remind me,

Of you,

And all the good times we had.

Carefree were we with time on our hands,

Caressing each other’s minds,

Deep into the night.

Wit and laughter,
Giggling like an idiot,
Blushes spreading from cheeks to ears,
Growing rosy and mellow,
In the dull light of a screen.
Glowing like a star,
Though darkness threatened to overwhelm.
And overwhelm it did,
Not just one day,
But day after day after day,
The bliss that was once there,
A festering wound,
That took ages to heal.
Thousands of poems stored inside me,
Yet no one to understand,
Not even you, my darling,
You who understood me more than anyone.
Years down the lane,
Maybe you’ll be another dull memory,
Of a person I loved.
Towards the light at the end of the tunnel,
I’ll travel alone.”

RAKSHASA-Part 1

(Six months of drama are finally over, thank the gods. But I’ve just walked into exams, so this small bunch of posts will be a filler for something bigger and cooler.
This is a small story in a series that will be posted here. Don’t know how often, but still. As for that demon mask….I don’t know what possessed me to put it there)

(A rakshasa is a demonic humanoid from Indo-Sri Lankan mythology. It is either malevolent or benevolent, but is almost always depicted as a dark-skinned, fearsome-looking beast with a taste for human flesh. But what if the demon we all feared, was a human with merely the desire to be loved for what he is?)

The memory kept on playing itself a million times over in his mind as he felt the hardened, puckered scar tissues on his left cheek. The crinkled marks stretched down to his mouth, and pulled the slightest bit of skin towards the orifice full of big, powerful teeth. Images kept flashing again, cutting deeply through even his most jovial dreams.
Dreams of a mother.
A mother who was wild, pale and naked, cradling her offspring in her lap. That same cave, over twenty years ago was where she had fled.
That same cave where she wailed and wept into the inky night as her belly grew with him.
That very cave where the only ones who watched her scream with deathly agony were a small family of bats hanging from the left wall of the cave roof, wings obscuring their tiny faces.

He had been right here from the very start.

Warm milk flooded his tiny mouth as she cried again, the moon’s stray beams highlighting the monster she bore in her arms.
Raw, red eyes always half-closed.
No chin, but heavy brow ridges and nose.
Hair matted with blood.
Thickened gray patches of scarred and ridged skin; a strange, inhuman disease no doubt.
A terrifying child who could never be part of the world around him, given to her as a blessing by some infernal god.

But she still wept as only a mother could as the stench between her legs filled the cave. She kissed her bestial son a hundred times, whispering Buddhist prayers into his ear. And as she felt her vulva, caked with blood and membrane, she also heard his tiny heart beating with hers, a drum in that dark and distant night.

“Nothing will happen to you,” she promised him over and over, stroking the rough skin on his torso. “I promise, as long as you are here, I will forever keep you away from evil men.” The moon was at its peak.
Here was the glorious white eye in the sky telling her that it was them month of Vesak, a holy month. But even on the most sacred nights, she knew, some fiends from hell could cast their wretched spells on the weak and unknowing.

(Next part continues later)

In Memory of 30 Years since July 1983

This post originally appeared here on the writers personal blog ‘My Little Pink Notebook’ on the anniversary of July 1983

(This post is dedicated to the memory of those who suffered during Black July and the torturous events that followed) Yesterday marked 30 years since the blackest day in our nations history – we call it Black July. This marked the true beginning in many ways, of an ethnic conflict that leaves our earth soaked in blood, our families ravaged and worst of all – our children hopeless.

 I am one of those children. When I was born – like thousands of others – I would grow up never knowing what peace was. Bombs exploding, people dying, anger and pain were all a part of my day to day life. And I grew up in urban Colombo which was in many ways a hundred times better than anywhere else. I was desensitized to violence, in many ways I still am. Images of Siriya, Iraq etc. that cause the world to avert their eyes – cause the children of Sri Lanka to shrug and carry on. We’ve seen worse. We’ve survived worse. And sometimes – that’s something no one understands, we survived against all odds, so can you blame us for building an arsenal of weapons, like apathy? How else would we have survived?

 But if there is one thing I wish that someone would take away from this post is this – we are survivors. Our parents stayed and fought. Others did the same in ways they knew best. Sometimes from here, sometimes from away – and we survived. And now we need to heal and flourish. But to heal we must forgive, and this I say to the children of Sri Lanka scattered across the globe, their souls rooted in this island. The children of my generation, you were even luckier than I was. You grew up away from the fear and the pain and the de-sensitizing. And you were blessed for that. But when you call us apathetic, I disagree. It’s not that we don’t care – it’s just we see the bigger picture, we’re painting it. We know that we are an imperfect nation, and the pain may never go away. But we are trying, so please try with us. Try to see the good, and celebrate that too.

 Sri Lankan’s we all need to learn to be. Before we are Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher. Before we are Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, or even atheist. The first lesson we need to learn is how to be Sri Lanka – that’s how we move forward together.

 To quote me from earlier this year in ‘Being Sri Lankan’ – “To me – I have never imagined myself as any less Sri Lankan because I was from a minority That was not how I was raised, and that was not how the people around me saw themselves. But what scares me is that as a nation we spend so much time drawing lines around our communities, that we forget the things that bind us together”