25 April 2009

The Lady Farmer

(A Continuation of the mock-epic, The Borgoad)
*
To
Our Dusky Goddess,
Cynthia,
A Tribute
*
Madame,
That which with you began,
Its end the Muse to me sang!
This, therefore, my last shall be:
Accept, O! this offering divine and thus sanctify me!
*
…A Vision of Beauty…
(An Excerpt from a Diary)
…Rested on the recliners for a while. Very pleasant. Strange thing is that I opened my eyes for a while and I saw a quite stunning Ananya in some sort of robe or something. She’s generally beautiful, but she was looking quite stunning at that time. Hmmm…”
*
I
Finally awake, the Goddess dressed,
All her regalia before her spread:
Here some Wit from Lunar spheres brought,
There some soot from hell fires begot.
With these, and others, did Shri- her dress,
From head to heel, her Di to impress.
Last, round her neck she fastened,
A golden shell in silvery lands apportioned.

Once it was of a coral part,
Then under a Konkani’s hand did it smart;
Soon in Big Foot it gleaming lay,
Where the Goddess, glancing that way,
Saw it shinning in the Sun,
Lost her heart over its beauty divine, and
Took it for her own, for all time.

This the shell which the Goddess so adored,
Gracefully round her neck she wore;
Its glory great, far-reaching, wide:
Think you of crosses? Nay, ‘tis blasphemy snide!
Look but once at the shell, and,
As I do, write!
II
So fashioned, she her self issued,
Out to the world to conquer it anew,
With charms, graces and Hecate’s chosen few.
Up she went the hill, on the pinnacle stood,
Thence surveyed the masses ranged,
From all corners assembled to do her praise.

From Dibru came tea folk in numbers great,
Habung from its medieval bowels sent Chutiya tribes;
Some still from Silapa came to honour their Queen,
As did from Nalani, Goga, and Jonai green.
Last to come, yet the most, was
The marvellous Pink host.
From a world pink, curtain to commode,
Came that mighty Borrower horde!

So stood those agents ordained,
Numbering in some thousands, flooding the plain,
Calling out to their mother, their sovran liege,
Eagerly waiting for the Communion to begin.
III
Happy and pleased, mightily gratified,
At this seemly pageant before her sight,
The Goddess went further to the dais,
To address all, without any bias.
“Hear ye, my children, hark to my Word,
My vision divine, my mission bold!
To cover again this earth in greenly expanse,
To farm every inch, till all feed from my hands!
I shall be Demeter, that goddess of yore,
Holding the secret tightly for my fold-”

“Amen!” cried the Masses, their fists they shook,
In true prime ministerial fashion, with all the proper looks.
Rousing, cheering, they stood up to dance,
Yet the Goddess’s stern command broke their prance.

“Fools!” she cried, and sparks from those orbs flew,
(The very same which have devoured a zillion chickens small)
Dangerous, deadly, black now in hue:
What Belinda, what Stella divine,
Aye, what even of Eve, temptress fine?
Globes such as these eclipse all, be it in prose, or rhyme tall!

“I may not be interrupted, disturbed or questioned in between,
Lest you I make my Scullery-queen!
My mood is bad, on mushroom curry was I fed,
Be careful, therefore, lest I go back to bed!”
IV
Hearing this, the host greatly trembled,
Fearing retribution, it haltingly mumbled.
Yet her Pinkish favourites soon a plan devised,
To sacrifice at her altar things she greatly liked.
Mushrooms they gathered, onions and pans,
And lo! in a jiffy the fried delicacy was at hand!

This they carried to her towering height,
Gave it to Bhattji, who placed it by her angry side.
The Goddess, furious, in deadly silence stood,
Resisting all, in a corner her anger brooked.
Yet, when food summons, foodies must obey,
And as Flecknoe to the son, she fell to this prey.
V
The feast over, her hungry tide fed,
(the sign a burp, though to all but Poetick ears dead!)
The Goddess her congregation again addressed-
“There are things I like, things I don’t.
Know this, then, that poverty, cowardice,
Bad food do I deeply abhor.
Take me for granted, deny me my space,
Though chivalry still be alive,
By these hands you’ll be dead!”

Lightening again from those narrowed slits issue:
The earth trembled, Phoebus from the firmament flew.
Men fled home, consulted divines,
Even hostellers from their slumbers were awakened to pine!
VI
Yet, as it came, so did it die.
Indra called back the clouds, Surya timorously smiled,
Lit up her person, till she again was gay:
Now from those orbs came beatific rays,
Blessed her children, happily amazed.
“I know how it is, I am not angry now!
Therefore to my mission, on the plan concentrate.
We shall over the world, take it for our own,
From CP’s KFC to Kamakhya’s dome.
Everywhere have green rolling farms,
Stretching to the horizon, like unending yarns.
Therein, by my grace, shall grow vegetables all,
Rice, pulses and cereals tall.
Water in canals shall irrigate our lands,
Yet it shall be checked, so it breaks no dams.
Cows we shall have, chicken and goat,
Watery creatures that gracefully float.
Last of all, some mares new,
And, before I forget, piggies and ducklings few!

This my plan, this my view,
To commercialise farming, yet have a romantic hue!
When this succeeds, the world I’ll hold ransom,
To do as I bid, though I not be hairy Samson.
I will then my laws universal make,
No one then shall be brave to them brake!
First and foremost, good food shall prevail,
Succour for foodies, all mess cooks shall wail!
Then shall be banned societies all:
Beginning with Ramjas Assamese, all shall fall!
Next to go, the cult of Preachers:
Dominating men, unabashed speakers!
I am here, there’s Bhattji by my side,
We need none other to set the world right!

Finally when these, and others, are gone,
Universal peace on a dog-less world dawned,
Pax Borgana then shall reign supreme,
Then shall we my final commandment meet,
Then shall I, at long last, watch TV in peace!
Friends forever, Drake and Josh on Nick,
Silsila, Blood Diamond, Bicycle Thief,
Paradise Now, Page 3, the Ocean Series.
Last of all, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai cute:
Silly, yes, but, like me, beautiful too!”

At this the Goddess blushed and smiled,
Her queenly hair flew with pride.
Adjusted she her pose to once again declaim,
Yet with a “Cease!” was stopped that glorious dame.
VII
Suddenly before the Goddess materialised,
A triumvirate of men, noble and wise.
(Aye, so wise indeed that it dripped form their chins,
And all land round them turned to boggy gin!)
First a lama from snowy Kullu,
Chhuba clad, solemn as Athena’s ullu.
Then a monk from woods charmed,
Tonsured in grief, popishly garbed.
Finally a sage from Maya’s land,
Learned in lore, bespectacled and grand.
Each in his hand carried a staff,
Each of these ancient, of mark.
Each of these with divine power them invest,
Each of these with wit them bless.
VIII
Tell me now, O black-eyed Muse, what happened next,
Who amongst the three broke off from the rest?
‘Twas you, popish monk who came fore,
Cleared your throat, and in true debating fashion spoke-
“Cease thou O Maid, O Augustan Queen!
Thou flies too high, aims for too much!
Thy ambition strays thee from the unbeaten path,
Of balance, harmony, and much else that lasts!”

Now came forward Maya’s man,
Master-illusionist, in sketching grand.
“Knowing, unknown, thou learns naught from precepts,
Loves Icarus, follows fallen Faustus!
Forgets thou that there be a higher order,
Not of instincts, but of ideologies proper!”

Then came up that mysterious Pahari man,
Gravely shook his head, and thus began-
“Thou hast sinned, over-reached, lied,
Dreamt up artifice, taken it too high!
For this thou shalt suffer, for this be punished,
For this unto the powers shall thee be delivered!”
IX
At this was there shouting, uproariously great,
Forward pressed the masses, yet they were too late.

Cried the monk “With this, my tap,
Thy masses freeze in time,
To remain here standing, statues now of lime!
Thus!” So he tapped his staff but once,
And all that teeming crowd was to lifeless stone turned!

Cried the sage “With this, my tap,
Thy retinue morphs to shrubs and trees,
This Shri- to mango, this Bhattji to tea!
Thus!” So he tapped his staff but once,
And both of them instantly foliage bred!

Came then the lama, to this now-tragic Goddess said
“Now to you, O over-reacher Maid,
With thy own curse thou shalt be laid!
Thou to unending sleep I consign,
To dream of a candlelight dinner, for two designed:
One Ocean, Rachael the other,
You their cook, waiter, tapster,
Serve them delicacies, yet taste not a feather!
At the end of each meal, ‘twill start again,
The candles, the table, the guests twain…
This shall go on, and so shall you sleep,
Till at last comes a man, aproned and clean.

This will be a chef, of great renown:
For you shall he make duck fry, aari and chicken chow-mein,
For you shall he pluck a mango and leaves,
Turn one into shake, the other iced tea.
Finally for you shall petha he make,
And, then, these toils complete,
In the final labour engage-
To open your sealed lips and push down your throat
A spoonful each of these delicacies fine.

Thus served by your suitor, your ideal man,
You shall again rise- a better maid:
This time a girl, not a Goddess great,
This time a woman, not a Queen to hate!”
X
So pronounced that man his judgement strange;
Tapped the last, and she fell fain.
The monk uttered over her sleeping form a charm,
To keep her, like dead Hektor, from all harm.
The sage then drew near,
The stage for some maya made clear
Moved his arms in strange designs,
And lo! from his lips issued a wind fine.
It carried her up, round and round,
Till sufficiently high, it changed ground:
Now over the cliff, the frozen masses,
Over Dhillika, Awadh and Siliguri’s passes,
Till back in Axom, her own blessed land,
To a certain room, hidden, yet not bland,
It flew her in and gently deposit,
Onto the bed, this sleeping beauty,
The Lady Farmer.
*
Notes
I
Para 1-
Line 3- Things lost were, during the Augustan age, supposed to be on the Moon. The Goddess has to get some Wit for herself as she indulges in her daily "rite of pride" (Raghunathan)...
Line 8- The Department of English stayed in a hotel called Silver Sands during its trip to Goa in 2009.

Para 2-
Line 3- (Big Foot) A local tourist site with a mythical/divine history.

Para 3-
Line 4- The famous cross which Pope adores his Belinda with- "On her white Breast a sparkling Cross she wore,/Which Jews might kiss and infidels adore.”
Lines 5 to 6- Sidney's Astrophil and Stella, Sonnet 15- “But if, both for your love and skill, your name/You seek to nurse at fullest breast of fame,/Stella behold and then begin to indite.” While Astrophil beholds Stella and so wreaks his harms in “ink’s poor loss”, this poet but looks at this glorious shell, and writes.
II
Para 1-
Line 1- (fashioned) 'There is no merit in God-given beauty; it may be enhanced- there's nothing wrong in fashioning oneself' This the sum of the Goddess's defence of kajal.
Line 3- (Hecate) The Greek Goddess of the Night, with all its sinister associations...

Para 2-
Line 2- In that blessed land of Assam, there indeed lives a tribe called Chutiya!
Line 6- The Goddess' sanctum sanctorum, the innermost recess of her private domain.

Para 3-
Line 2- As the Brahmaputra overpowers Dhemaji, and much else in Assam, with its waters, so did these agents flood the plain.
Line 3- (mother) Mother Assam?
Line 4- In context of The Borgoad's infernal associations, Communion gives this meeting an ironic tinge.
III
Para 1-
Line 5- As God uttered the first Words, and it was as he said, so for the Goddess!

Para 2-
Line 1- (Masses) The ironical juxtaposition of good and evil continues.
Line 2- Refer to the History of the Most Ancient Borgohain Clan.

Para 4-
Line 1- This the Goddess's command to her versifier.
Line 4- Once asleep, it is prodigally difficult to awaken her, as The Borgoad conclusively established.
IV
Para 1-
Line 3- Of the self-same mysterious room referred to in Canto II.
Line 6- Mushrooms are preferred fried- this universal law.

Para 2-
Line 5- Dryden's brilliant invective of mock-epic proportions, MacFlecknoe, starts thus- “All humane things are subject to decay,/And, when Fate summons, Monarchs must obey:”
V
Para 1-
Line 1- Bhattji had once lectured on The Hungry Tide.
Line 2- The ascent of Belinda's sacred lock is noticed by none but "Poetick Eyes".
Line 8- The Goddess and this humble poet have often discussed this momentous issue, whether or not chivalry be alive.

Para 2-
Line 4- DU hostellers are, as is known all over, notorious for being late sleepers and still late risers. The Goddess, of course, is, as elsewhere, a paradigm, "the Best", here as well.
VI
Para 1-
Line 2- I come, after all, from a Hindu background!
Line 11- (unendying yarns) Like this one?

Para 2-
Line 11- Preachers like this poet...

Para 3-
Line 2- Of the few things which the Goddess and this humble mortal share in common is a marked aversion to dogs.
Line 3- A natural evolution of empire- Pax Romana, Pax Britannica, Pax Borgana...

Para 4-
Line 2- (queenly hair) The poet once had occasion to compliment the Goddess for her exceedingly beautiful hair.
VII

This triumvirate is modelled not on any Roman precedent but on the Elfish example afforded by Tolkien and on the trio of the Good fairies in Disney's version of the story of the Sleeping Beauty. The Goddess, on being complemented upon the fairy-like quality of her hair, had retorted saying that this poet must have read "horrible fairy tales". I rest my case, gracious Lady, with claims to acquaintance with the most superior fairy tales, all sweetness and light. I also hold that judgement delivered upon thy hair!

It was, therefore, fitting thought that the Goddess's chastisement should come at hands of a trio of good fairies of sense and wit.

Para 1-
Lines 3 to 4- Wisdom, like all things in excess, doth become a malice; a useless thing which irks more than instructs.

VIII
Para 1-
Line 4- Our popish monk, of course, is renowned for his rhetorical and debating skills.

Para 2-
Line 2- This sage is well-renowned for his prowess in sketching.
Line 6- Be it known to one and all that the Goddess hurts men not in accordance to some base ideology but under the sway of overpowering instincts.
IX
Para 2-
All those acquainted with Disney's Sleeping Beauty will know the beneficial curse of the Good Fairies, which puts all to sleep until Aurora be awakened by Philip's kiss.

Para 3-
Metamorphoses abides!

Para 4-
Line 1- Fallen and isolated thus, the Goddess is naught but tragic.
Line 6- George Clooney of the Ocean series fame and Jennifer Aniston of Friends legend.
Line 4 to 8- Tantalus Revisited, with a Sisyphean touch!
In Greek myths, Tantalus, for wretched greed of good food and that dastardly feast, was condemned to eternal solitary stay on a small island in a lake. He can neither taste the fruit of the solitary tree, nor drink the water of the lake. Sisyphus was condemned to eternal toil, of rolling a boulder up a hill- as soon as it reaches the top, it rolls down and he has to start again.

Para 5-
Line 7- As Hercules' Twelve Labours in mythical Greece, so these labours of our ideal chef-suitor.

Para 6-
Heed this para- the moral here is enshrined!

2 comments:

Creation said...

You were right- this, definitely, is the best!

Won't say anything else.
Cheers! :-)

Prashansa Taneja said...

I doubt that I am mistaken, but, isn't your profile picture that of the 9-A Block park?