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A Grey Haze Over the Ricefields by Jayanta Mahapatra

The black cow grazing with her new-born calf,
long-legged, unsteady—
or trucks going past the high road:
such things only claim
that I am looking out in search of memory,
not death. Those little kisses on our cheeks
my long-dead grandmother gave me, or
the soft dampness of my tears when
my mother did not notice me
from beyond the closed door of her youth.

Today the dangling thread stops half-way down,
where my hands cannot touch it.
It's not that I wait for judgment.
But at times I see a shadow
move slowly over these, a shadow freed
from the past and from the future,
that contains the footsteps of that childhood
so light I can only think of squirrels
slipping in and out of the mango trees.

A grey haze over the ricefields keeps it glimmering with the skies looking white or silver or the azure engaging us as usual as do the blue hills keep shining in the sunlight and attracts us so is the imagery here under our deliberation. The black cow is grazing with its new born so long-legged and unsteady calf to stand and take to. Or, the trucks passing through the highway, this is but natural, a common sight to be recalled to memory or something moving down the corridor of thought and idea and reflection. Something it is of memory and remembrance and sometimes do we remember or memorize to brood over, dwell upon or to delve far into the horizons lurking ahead or looming around us, meeting the solitary and secluded landscapes. Can we imagine of the grey haze and the golden ears in the absence of each other? The mist, fog and haze all the importance of their own. The sky and the cow with the calf add to the scenery and landscape. The trucks moving along the road visible from or in the midst of the ricefields tell of cultivation, agronomy, agriculture, the secluded rural area and its wide panorama and the automobiles plying. We see the trucks, but do not feel about their lives and those who own them.

The kisses of the long-dead grandmother he still remembers them which, but the mother too used to forget it sometimes. The child feels it most when left alone, when it does not get the company of his mother. Here the poet is differently autobiographical and Lawrentine. Here in the weeping of the child one can mark the tears of innocence flowing. The child weeps when beguile dodges itself.

But the thread hanging over he cannot pull it nor can touch it even though it stops somewhere half-way. He does not want any judgement or justice meted out to for what one did or did not even if history is repeated, shadow leaves it behind. Our past action keeps us following. One’s history leaves it not. The shadow of the past also leaves it not one is the truth. So is the visit down the memory lane or the corridor leading to the balcony of thought and idea and reflection. But a shadow freed from the past and the future moves about moving in which he can relate to his childhood memories and reflections and the imagery is like that of the squirrels slipping in and about the mango trees.

Man’s mind, man’s heart, how to read it? How to read the mind of man? How to assess the burden of life and living? How the moments heavy upon? How the normal, the abnormal phenomena? How the layers of consciousness? What does he mean to say? Where is meaning? From a base of dilapidated buildings, how to view the shattered images of life, how to dream the broken dreams of life? How to view the debris of life?

The whole poem is an image of the ricefields reflecting the grey haze spread over. The solitary sky is almost like that and underneath it the fields full of paddy crops. So is the image of the cow grazing grass with the new born calf so unsteady and unstable following it. So, the images and pictures of the grandmother and the mother and the child ruminating over the passage of time in the orchard of memory under the cool shade of the mango trees and the squirrels go up and down.

Passing images impact the poetry of Jayanta Mahapatra seconded by the dips into the layers of consciousness. The abnormal reservoir of crude and raw things, how to refine them? What to say about the human mind which keeps it changing instantly? So are our thoughts and ideas and reflections. How to take a note of the impressions configuring and deleting it naturally and how to convert into poetry those unmemorable and shaky stuffs of passing reference?

The black cow and the calf with the grey haze add beauty to the poem. Many take it for auspicious when one finds the calf sucking the udder of the cow. The black cow is beautiful from the tantric, creational point of view as dark is always beautiful. The child sees himself in the shadow freed from the burden of the past and the future. Childhood is just like the play of the squirrels going up and down and children deriving pleasure from.

Whatever be the daily affairs, the come and go of man, things will go on their own. The ricefields will continue to lure man. Sometimes so much lush green and sometimes laden with the golden ears glistening under sunlight. The scenery and landscapes shift they from time to time. The tears of innocence and simplicity ‘papa’ (sin) cannot feel it, the feelings of ‘nishpapa manna’, sinless inner mind. We are but sinful and we cannot rise above. Let it, as the world goes on its own, oblivious of. Which originates from whom, how to say it?


More by :  Bijay Kant Dubey

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