Eyes hold a strange fascination for me. The way the pupils expand and contract, the million messages the eyes convey through the play of shadow and light and the beauty of the flare of the irises. Over time, I have studied the eyes of willing subjects- seen the way the browns carry flecks of gold, the blacks absorb light, the greens with a coppery timbre. I have seen faint rings of white- crusts of sugar- building a moat- one that will one day need to be broken down. I have seen bright, perceptive eyes acquire the stillness that age brings. The confusion that ageing parents have while facing a biometric, PIN-encoded, app- governed world, begins in the eyes.
It is also in the eyes that intentions lurk. The sudden shift of the pupils, the slow crafty veil that descends, the gleam of smug satisfaction, smiles that don’t reach the eyes- shallow eyes that give nothing away.
I suppose this fascination for the eyes is a widespread one, why else would there be so many songs about eyes? This interior monologue about eyes came about from the memory of a day nearly seven months ago. It was a day like any other. The sun and all the elements in their place and so on. I drove along a busy road in the morning and went about the day. But by early afternoon, clouds began gathering. By evening, the sky went dark, and soon it began to pour. I was driving along the same busy road, and it was different. There were people on bikes and scooters only, they were not hurrying to save the world, just scuttling to avoid the unexpected showers. The plants along the road were a fresh shade of green, the dust washed off them and the road seemed to be pelted with sparklers. I spotted a paper boat floating along the gutter. Everything was suddenly about the water. The rain spattered down on my windshield and shattered the scene in front of me into a million fragments. Each raindrop was a world in itself, containing its own realities.
I thought of the journeys I have made during monsoon. How in a public bus, the shutters would come down, passengers stick to each other, the lights come on, brownish lights and outside, though you cannot see it, the rain pours out its heart. Trains have their own poetics of rain, through the glass you see lives passing by, people at level crossings with an air of anticipation. Passing through the Western Ghats as it rains is an experience in itself. I have seen the spectacular dawns and dusk that bleed out on to the canvas of the sky and felt a pain like no other. As though it would not be possible to witness yet another daybreak or night fall like this. As though this train, its lights ablaze would hurtle through the darkness with such ferocity that everything thence would feel ordinary, banal.
Reading the poems of Goirick Brahmachari has made me think of this young poet as a person who has gone through this sense of urgency. As one who wishes to go through life taking in as much as life itself would allow.
In a poem, interestingly titled, What Do You See?, he writes,
What do you see?
End of the world
How do you feel?
(Madras Courier, What Do You See? | Madras Courier)
I have found the visual to be an element of singular importance in the poems of Brahmachari. The questions he raises of remembering and forgetting resonate in a world where we keep the dead alive through memories, through written words. To break out of chronology and be remembered is aspirational. In the end only our names remain. And sometimes not even that. In a poem published in Berfrois, Brahmachari writes,
Should I lose my memory
Let it come back to me in nonlinear
April has gone missing, September is dry
December asks questions in nonlinear
Wake up to punishments, sleep
Through class—that seems much easier
Now there are no rivers, there are no skies
Only this life that is linear
This city has wearied, the travelers are gone
Memory, come back to me in nonlinear (Should I Lose My Memory)
The image of the poet or his mind tramping through mountains, wading through rivers, floating through a sea of humanity gathering sights like fallen flowers is the prevalent feeling you get.
Nothing like a sitar floating into your ears for
hours, falling over your head and then leaking
onto your veins, cooling you from within, like
a chilly Shillong morning, like years of
solitude in rain. The table licks the space-
measures its coordinates and draws a
thousand circles in vain. It grows on you like a smoke of an incense stick that floats away from your face in slow motion, reminding you of sagely old men who sit by the road smoking pot by the side of Ganga on the way to Sarg Ashram.
(A Trip Through Indian Classical)
To be able to travel like that, carrying a niggling feel that a destination is close at hand, but never quite reachable is what I most associate Brahmachari’s poetry with. The poems that we feature here today also carry this sense of unsettling, eternal quest. As I read them over and over again, I realise that the traveller within Goirick Brahmachari is perhaps, not even looking to come home. The promise of a destination is what keeps him going. That and the memories he carries in his eyes.
Sonya J. Nair
All evening I walked through the fabric stores at Nehru place
In search of the absence of you.
The stores lined up one by one,
Reminded me of your disappearance.
Textiles of all colours, varied shades of you.
So much forgotten, so much to forget.
Pixelated memories. Blunt realities.
So many burns, colours. So many months
– between rehabs and hospitals.
Yet this mad desire to trace
Your disappearance, months later, confounds me.
I remember you had said that you saw me properly when I was reading My poems.
While I Must have unseen, you little by little, every night
As we made love through the winter’s mist.
It is winters again and the mist has grown murkier.
Meandering across fabric stores
Is all I do now to return.
On the bus from Metro
A shadow of a shadow of a shadow
A reflection of a reflection
Cars and vehicles move
Torsos, heads and hands
At different pace and sizes
Lights can pass like city nights
Love and forgetfulness
A rush of blood
from the rumbles of ridicule
jealousy small talk
Snoopy elastic rumours
Like stretchable gums
Like concretes that spike up
Through our miseries
Skin and rain
Faces move, patchy roads
May the body remain unwashed
By the wetness of their visions of our reality
May the reality remain unwashed
By the wetness of their idea of our body
May the troubles be swallowed every morning after the rage
May the pain givers collide, infest
May we breathe in their smog and breathe out their fiction.
No conviction in this brothel
Of the word and syntax
The structure of loneliness
I sit here, in a familiar cemented sitting place in market 1 where there is no one. Sipping ginger ale and smoking a wave cigarette, waiting for someone to get some more of what I need to make things just perfect. Some weed, smoke super stars, some waves, phoebe bridgers’s kyoto and the entire album. I guess this is how apocalypse looks like. Barricades and cars parked in the middle on the roads. Not even a dog barks. But, sitting there, it felt like a dreamy, beautiful song. Like a woman who somehow manages to get me home safe when I am like shit and drunk beyond a sea. And the rest of the night goes nursing my headaches. Waking up to a smoke can just be a super star or a choti gold flake, and not wave. But, the window overlooks the view from one of my recent rooms at vashisht. You can see a bit of old manali and a few hills may be. Not the majestic Rohtang la view which you get at dharma’s. The kind of view which is like a beautiful intro to song names like spiti or ladakh. But this will do- Even double dutch would do. It’s 8 degrees and I am okay with old manali or vahisht. Just lay there. in the bed, listening to phoebe to remember: how we used to travel.
2. But instead I am here, listening to phoebe, sitting on my wooden reclining chair, at my home as she sings confidently that she knows the end. I believe her. Sometimes, I listen to moon song and cry. This is what this lockdown tastes like. If some fruit juice and cigarettes can help in forgetting some unsettling memories, then I may be able to bear it for now. Let it be a clean slate. Let it be a clean slate.
Goirick Brahmachari’s debut collection of poems, For the Love of Pork (Les Editions du Zaporogue, Denmark) won the Muse India – Satish Verma Young Writer Award (Poetry) 2016. He is also the winner of the Srinivas Rayaprol Poetry Prize, 2016. Other collections of verses by Brahmachari include joining the dots, 2016, Wet Radio and Other Poems, 2017 and A Broken Exit, 2019. His poems have appeared in magazines like Berfrois, The Bombay Review, Nether, and Café Dissensus, among others. ‘The Nightwalkers’ (a collaborative volume of verses along with Debarshi Mitra) is forthcoming from Writer’s Workshop, Kolkata. His poems and essays have appeared in various journals, magazines, blogs and pamphlets.