- Germanlyrik: Begegnungen (Satis Shroff)
- 1. Das Ritual
Eine betagte Dame sitzt auf dem Boden
- und spielt ein Tamborin.
Die anderen sitzen im Kreis.
Plötzlich legt sie das Tamborin beiseite,
Steht auf und verläßt den Raum.
Sie lebt in einem Altersheim.
Sie öffnet ihre Zimmertür,
Schaut das Van Gogh Bild an
Und fragt sich:
‘Hängt das Bild gerade oder schief?
Habe ich das Licht ausgemacht?
Sie bedient den Lichtschalter viermal.
Sie geht ins Badezimmer:
Tropft der Hahn?
Dreht den Hahn auf und zu.
Habe ich die Tür geschlossen?
Sie macht die Tür auf und zu.
O, habe ich die Kochplatten ausgemacht?
Oder glühen sie?
Ich habe solche Angst.
Wo ist das Bügeleisen?
Habe ich vergessen, den Stecker heraus zu ziehen?
O Jemine! So eine Schande.
Ich muß das gesamte Ritual nochmal wiederholen,
Sonst hat meine Seele keine Ruhe.
* * *
- THE RITUAL (Satis Shroff)
- She’s an elderly woman,
- Sits on the floor,
- And plays a tambourine.
- Others are sitting in chairs in a circle.
- Suddenly, she puts her tambourine aside,
- Gets up and goes to her room.
- She lives in a home for elderly people.
- She looks at the van Gogh picture,
- And asks herself: ‘Is the picture straight?’
- Did I put out the light?
- She tries the switch four times.
- Goes to the bathroom:
- ‘Is the tap trickling?’
- Turns it on and off.
- Did I close the door?
- She opens and shuts it.
- Oh, did I put off the ceran plates?
- Or are they red hot?
- I’m so scared.
- Where’s the iron?
- Did I forget to pull out the plug?
- Phew! It’s such a shame.
- I shall have to carry out
- The ritual again.
- * * *
Ich ging in ein Altersheim
Verkleidet als ein Hase,
Mit einer roten Nase.
Ich spielte mit meiner Mundharmonika
Alte Deutsche Lieder für die Mitbewohner.
Und andere applaudierten,
Wie der Jubel kleiner Kinder.
Die alten Melodien riefen Erinnerungen,
Von glücklichen Tagen hervor.
Besonders bei Gästen mit Demenz.
‘Dank’schön!’ sagte eine betagte Dame,
Mit Tränen in den Augen.
Ihre Augen sagten:
‘Sie haben mir meine
- Erinnerungen zurückgebracht.’
O, es war so eine Bereicherung,
Den anderen helfen sich zu erinnern,
Den Altersheim-Blues zu vergessen,
Auch wenn es nur für einen Abend war.
* * *
- MEMORIES (Satis Shroff)
- I went to a home for elderly people,
- Dressed as a fare with a big red nose,
- Wearing a bathing gown like a Weihnachtsmann.
- I played old German folktunes
- On my mouth-harmonica.
- Some smiled, others stared
- And the rest applauded gleefully,
- Like small children in Kindergarden.
- The old melodies brought back memories
- Of happier days to those with dementia.
- ‘Dank’schön!’ said an elderly,
- Tears running down her eyes.
- Her blue, wet eyes said:
- ‘You brought me memories.’
- Oh, it was such a rich experience
- To help others to remember,
- And forget the care-home blues,
- Even for an evening.
- I packed my props and went home,
- With a joyous heart.
- I’ll never forget the tears of that lady.
- * * *
3. Ein kleines Kind
Es war Fasnetzeit,
Der Winter wurde vertrieben.
Die Leute trugen bunte Kleider
Um den Karneval zu feiern.
Isolde war gekleidet als ein Harlekin,
Mit farbenfrohem Kostüm und einer Blume
Auf ihrem Kopf.
Sie sah ein kleines Kind vorbei laufen,
Hob das Kind hoch und umarmte es.
Sie schloß ihre Augen und summte ein Lied.
Ihre innerster Wunsch war, eine Mutter zu werden.
Jetzt hatte sie ein Kind im Arm.
Wie süß es doch war, die Wärme des Kindes zu verspüren.
Das Kind schien es zu gefallen,
Es wurde ruhig und mochte ihre Wärme.
Isolde träumte oft sie wäre Schwanger.
Jeden Morgen erzählte sie die anderen Patienten,
Und dem Psychiatriepersonal:
‘Ich habe gestern Abend ein Kind zur Welt gebracht.’
* * *
- A SMALL CHILD (Satis Shroff)
- It was fasnettime,
The banishment of winter,
When people are motley dressed,
To celebrate carneval.
Sandra was painted like a harlequin,
Wore a colourful costume and had
A wreath of flowers in her head.
She’d seen a child walking around,
Held it up and embraced it.
She closed her eyes and hummed a tune.
Sandra had always wanted to be a mother,
Now she had a small child in her arms.
What a delight to feel
The warmth of a child.
The child seemed to love it.
It became quiet and liked her warmth.
Sandra dreamt she was pregnant every night.
Every morning she’d tell other patients
And the psychiatric staff:
‘I gave birth to a child last night.’
- * * *
Sie nannten mich Hasenscharte in der Schule.
Als ich die Treppe herunter ging,
Haben sie mich getreten.
Ich kam öfters mit Schürfwunden nach Hause.
Kinder in meinem Alter
Das Monster mit dem roten Gesicht.’
Manche nannten mich sogar ’Narbengesicht.’
Wir waren Arm und Mutti betete für mich,
Aber das half mir nicht.
Ich wurde sehr traurig.
Ich konnte nicht mehr in mein Spiegelbild schauen.
Hasenscharte: Ich hatte Angst vor mir selbst.
Warum mußte ich so geboren sein?
Hatte ich in meinem früheren Leben gesündigt?
Warum wurde ich so bestraft?
Was habe ich getan um mit so einem Karma
Bestraft zu werden?
Ich betete die buddhistischen und hinduistischen Götter an.
Ich machte Opfergaben,
Aber sie blieben stumm.
Ich war ein Tharu und lebte in Chitwan.
Manchmal kamen wilde Elefanten
auf die Felder,
Um das zu fressen,
Was sie finden konnten.
Sogar Leoparden und Tiger
Kamen Nachts schleichend an,
Und nahmen Ziegen
Oder ein Kleinkind mit.
Während der Nacht
Hatte ich Angst vor den Dschungeltieren,
Tagsüber hatten die Schulkinder Angst vor mir.
Ich haßte es, in die Schule zu gehen,
Haßte jede Begegnung mit meiner Mitmenschen:
Alle starrten mich nur an.
Manchmal schaute ich ein Bollywoodfilm an.
Ich identifizierte mich mit Shah Rukh Khan.
Was für ein großartiger Held.
Ich wünschte mir ich könnte sein wie er;
gegen die Bösewichte kämpfen
Und die Herzen von schönen Frauen zu erobern.
Ein Blick in den Dorfteich oder eine Reflektion im Fenster
Und ich wurde in die Realität zurückgeholt.
Ein Lehrer sagte zu meiner Mutter,
Sie sollte mit mir nach Sankhu gehen,
dort helfen ausländische Chirurgen armen Nepalesen
Für ein paar Rupien.
Meine Mutter gab mir Hoffnung.
Dennoch hatte ich Angst vor der Operation.
Ich erwähnte es zu niemandem in der Schule.
Eines Tages sind meine Mutti und ich
nach Sankhu gefahren,
Es befand sich neben der Hauptstadt.
Die Busreise war lange und sehr mühsam,
Aber ich dachte die ganze Zeit an mein Gesicht.
Als wir dort ankamen, sah ich weiß gekleidete Menschen,
Die aussahen wie britische Sahibs.
Mir wurde erzählt, dass sie aus dem Kontinent kamen,
Wo auch immer das sein mag.
Eine nette weiße Frau gab mir eine Puppe
Mit blonden Haaren.
In Nepali wir nennen das ‘Sunpat.’
Mein Herz schlug laut und schnell.
Ich fing an schneller zu atmen.
‘Du wirst gleich einschlafen,’
Sagte eine Nepali Krankenschwester.
O, Wunder! Als ich aufwachte,
Spürte ich eine Bandage auf meinem Oberkiefer.
Mein Mund fühlte sich wie zusammengenäht an.
Als die Bandage entfernt wurde,
gaben sie mir einen Spiegel.
Ich hatte Nähte von den Nasenlöchern
Bis zu meiner Oberlippe.
Die sogenannte ‘Fissure’ Lücke war endlich zu.
Eine Flut von Tränen liefen über meine Wangen:
Ich schämte mich und weinte vor Freude.
O, Danke Interplast Deutschland,
Du hast mir ein neues Leben geschenkt.
Ich habe jetzt einen Schnurbart
Und eine hübsche Frau.
* * *
- HARELIP (Satis Shroff)
- They called me ‘hairlip monster’ at school,
- And the schoolkids kicked me down the stairs.
- I’d often come home bruised,
- The children of my age called me:
- ‘Lakhe, the red-faced monster.’
- Some even called me ‘Scarface.’
- We were poor and my mother prayed for me,
- But that didn’t help me.
- I was very sad and depressed.
- I despised the mirror:
- Hair-lips: I became scared of myself.
- Why did I have to be born with a fissure on my lip?
- Did I sin in my previous life?
- Why was I being punished?
- What had I do,
- To get such a karma?
- I prayed to the Hindu and Buddhist Gods,
- But they remained silent.
- I was a Tharu boy and lived near Chitwan.
- Sometime wild elephants would raid the fields,
- To eat whatever they could find.
- Even tigers and leopards came stealthily at night,
- Took away goats or a child.
- At night we were scared of wild animals,
- During the day children were scared of me.
- I hated school,
- Hated contacts with humans:
- They’d all stare at me.
- Sometimes, I’d watch a Bollywood film,
- Identify myself with Shah Rukh Khan.
- What an emotional hero,
- I wished I could be like him.
- Fight against evil gangsters,
- And wind the hearts of lovely damsels.
- A look at the pond or a windowpane,
- And I’d be dragged to reality.
- A teacher told my Ama to go to Sankhu,
- Where foreign surgeons helped poor Nepalese,
- And performed plastic surgery for a few rupees.
- My dear mother gave me hope.
- I was scared of the operation.
- I didn’t tell anyone at school.
- One day my Mom and I went to Sankhu,
- Near the capital city of Nepal.
- The bus journey was long and tiresome,
- But I was thinking of my face all the time.
- At the hospital there were people
- Strutting about busily in white coats.
- They looked like British sahibs.
- I was told they were from the Continent,
- Whereever that was.
- I was given a doll with blonde hair
- By a kind white lady.
- I Nepali we call it ‘sunpat.’
- My heart was beating loudly,
- I started breathing fast.
- ‘You’ll fall asleep soon, ‘ said a Nepali nurse.
- I did.
- Oh, wonder, when I woke up
- I had a bandage on my upper jaw.
- When the bandage was taken off,
- I was given a mirror.
- I had stitches from my nostrils
- To my upper lip.
- The ugly gap was closed.
- I had a new face.
- Oh, than you Interplast Germany.
- You have given me a new life.
- I now have a moustache
- And a pretty wife.
- * * *
5. APRIL 1945
Sie trug einen roten Wintermantel
Und hielt einen Gehstock in der Hand.
Gabriela Klein überquerte den Zebrastreifen,
Neben der neue schwarzen Unibibliothek.
Eine Kompanie von Soldaten im Kampfanzug
Kamen von der anderen Straßenseite.
Ihre Schritte verlangsamten und ihr Körper zitterte.
In ihrem Geist, ist sie im April 1945:
Die Franzosen haben Freiburg in den Besitz genommen.
Die Werwolf Hitlerjugend wollte das Schwabentor sprengen.
Freiburgs tapfere Männer haben’s verhindert.
Wie werden die Franzosen uns behandeln?
Sie hatte damals keine Ahnung,
Daß der Krieg schon vorbei war.
Ausgangssperre von 19 Uhr bis 7 Uhr.
Obwohl die Deutschen und die Franzosen
Einst Erzfeinde waren,
Benahmen sich die französische Soldaten diszipliniert.
Tagsüber suchten die Leute nach Nahrung.
Die rückkehrenden und verletzten Soldaten
Verursachten die Nahrungsknappheit.
Sie erinnerte sich, daß sie Nachts
- Felder durchsuchte um Kartoffeln zu stehlen.
Damals verwalteten die Franzosen die Stadt.
Als die Soldaten vorbei marschieren,
schlägt Gabriela’s Herz wieder normal.
Sie hört auf zu hyperventilieren
Und schafft es auf die andere Straßenseite.
‘Huch!’ nuschelt Gabriela:
‘Ich bin mal wieder am Tagträumen.’
* * *
- APRIL 1945 (Satis Shroff)
- Gabriela Klein 85 lives in Freiburg,
- She’s wearing a scarlet coat
- And holds a walking stick
- And is walking along the zebra-crossing,
- Near the new library.
- A company of soldiers in camouflage outfit
- Come from the other direction.
- Her steps become doddery and her body shakes.
- * * *
- In her mind she’s in April 1945:
- The French have occupied Freiburg.
- The Werwolf Hitler-boys wanted to blast the Swabian Gate
- But were prevented by courageous Freiburger men.
- How were the French going to treat us?
- She had no idea that the krieg
- Was over on May 8, 1945.
- No radio.
- No newspapers.
- Freiburg was reduced to ashes.
- Ausgangsverbot from 7pm till 7am.
- The French soldiers were disciplined.
- During the day everyone was foraging for food.
- The returning soldiers caused the food scarcity.
- She remembers going to the nearby farms
- To steal potatoes.
- The French are in charge of the town.
- * * *
- The soldiers march past.
- Gabriela’s heart beats normal again.
- She stops hyperventilating
- And scurries to the other side.
- ‘Huch!’ she mutters,
- ‘I’m day-dreaming again.’
- * * *
- EINSAMKEIT DER WITWE
- Die Dame mit den silbernen Haaren
sitzt vor ihrem Wohnungseingang
Und denkt über ihr Leben nach.
Ihre Tochter Androula ist wohlauf in Deutschland,
Ihr Sohn Janis lebt mit seiner Frau in Athen.
Sie lebt in Einsamkeit und Gebet,
Eine Witwe in Schwarz Tag ein und aus.
Ihre Beine sind schwach und ihr Gang instabil.
Ihr wird es häufig schwindelig.
Aber das schlimmste
Ist ihre fehlende Erinnerung:
Ich kann an meine ferne Vergangenheit erinnern,
Aber ich weiß nicht mehr,
Ob ich meine Kapseln eingenommen habe,
Wie lange kann ich noch auf mich aufpassen?
* * *
- A WIDOW’S LONELINESS (Satis Shroff)
- The lady with the silvery hair,
Sits in the entrance to her house door,
And contemplates about her life.
- Androula her daughter is well off in Germany,
Janis her son lives with his wife in Athens.
She lives alone in solitude and prayer,
A widow in black day in and day out.
Her legs are sagging and her gait unsteady.
She feels dizzy at times.
The worst thing is her failing memory.
- I can recall events of my life,
But I can’t remember,
Whether I took my capsules or not.
How long can I look after myself?
- * * *
- 7. Die höhe Tannenbäume
- Zwei Damen streiten über die Tannenbäume.
- Wir leben im Schwarzwald,
- warum brauchen wir Bäume im Hintergarten?
- Um das Haus zu schutzen.
- Vor was?
- Vor dem Erdrutsch.
- Wegen die höhe Tannenbäume kommt keine Sonne durch.
- Ein Haus und die Bewohner brauchen doch Licht.
- Warum leben Sie nicht im Wald?
- Die Zeit vergeht und die zwei haben aufgehört
- Miteinander zu reden.
- An einem stürmischen Tag
- Gibt es Blitz und Donner.
- Der Blitz schlägt zweimal auf die Bäume.
- Die größe Äste fallen auf’s Dach.
- Die Reparaturenkosten sind enorm.
- Hätte sie die Bäume bloß gefällt.
- Es ist besser die Bäume im Wald zu lassen.
- Seitdem hat leidet die Frau unter Depression.
- * * *
- 8. Bewegung
- Als ich Jung war
- Kletterte ich auf Berge
- Ich sprang und tanzte.
- Nun bin ich Alt
- Und mir reichen zwei Beine nicht.
- Oder vier Beine mit Nordicsticks.
- O, wenn ich nur wieder tanzen könnte,
- Wie früher mit Alfredo.
- Schade, daß er letztes Jahr an Krebs starb.
- Noch kann ich lachen und gehen.
- Ich muß mich bewegen.
- ‘Motilität,’ sagt mein Arzt.
- Ich bewege mich
- Bis ich nicht mehr atmen kann.
- * * *
- Fünf Männer die Karten spielen (Satis Shroff)
- Fünf Männer spielen Karten in der Sonne,
- Oben ohne.
- Die Sonne kummert sie nicht.
- Da sind Franz, Adolph, Paulus
- Hermann und ich.
- Eins haben wir gemeinsam:
- Unsere Bierbäuche
- Und Kahlköpfe.
- Fünf Männer spielen Karten in der Sonne
- Wir sitzen im Kreis
- In unsere Aldi Stühle,
- Trinken Bier und meckern
- Über die Menschheit.
- Wir reden über Frauen,
- Urlaub und Flüchtlinge,
- Politik und Fußball.
- Paulus hat Fettsucht,
- Adolph ein neuen Herz.
- Franz hat eine Knie OP
- Und ich habe eine neue Niere.
- Fünf Männer spielen Karten in der Sonne
- Wie lange können wir Karten spielen?
- Fünf Männer spielen Karten in der Sonne,
- Gegrillt wie Hamstern.
- Wem kummert es.
- Denken wir an das lange Winter,
- Fünf Männer spielen Karten in der Sonne
- * * *
- 10. Giacomo der Kellner (Satis Shroff)
- Ich mag Giacomo der Kellner
- In meinem Lieblingsrestaurant.
- Er bringt Pizza mit Frutti de Mare,
- Risotto, feinste Polenta.
- Und schmackhafte Weine.
- ‘Ciao, Giacomo!’ sage ich,
- Da er eine fröhliche Seele ist.
- Kam nach Deutschland als Gastarbeiter
- Aus Sardinien.
- Er heiratete eine deutsche Bionda
- Und hat zwei Kinder.
- Der Sehnsucht nach Sardinien plagt ihm:
- Die Seeluft, die Meeresfrüchte
- Aus der Mediterranien und Tyrrhenia Meer.
- Ah, in Cagliari zu sein.
- Aber seine Frau und Kinder
- Wollen lieber in Freiburg bleiben.
- Restaurante Sardinia ist sein Königreich,
- In das land wo die Leute Kraut essen.
- ** *
- 11.Luigi der Jäger (Satis Shroff)
- Luigi ist ein Jäger
- Die Jägerverein feiert ihm.
- Er ist der älteste und beste Jäger
- In Taranto.
- Er hat mehr Wildschweine erlegt
- Als jeder andere.
- Jetzt ist er alt geworden
- Und braucht ein Spazierstock.
- Er geht gerne zu den Ortstaverne,
- Wo die Männer sich treffen
- Und Geschichten erzählen.
- * * *
- 12.Die Renter
- Wenn wir Rentner sind
- Halten wir zusammen,
- Spielen Karten und schwätzen,
- Gestikulieren und lachen.
- Wir schauen Fußball im Fernsehen an
- Und feiern unsere National- und
- Ortsmannschaften an.
- Wir singen und tanzen,
- Wir loben Dichter und Sänger
- Und lieben unsere mediterranische Küche.
- Lesen Sie Dante’s dritte Kreis.
- Die Zunge kostet die Speise
- Als wäre sie Musik,
- Sagte Hippocrates.
- Wir geniessen den Geist, das Essen,
- Die Getränke, die Kleider,
- Die Sexualität und gute Musik.
- Unter all diesen ist das Essen
- Das aller wichtigste.
- Buono Appetito.
- * * *
For those readers who are unable to follow the often confusing timeline of US/N Korean shenanigans, the following is a timeline (induced almost entirely by whatever is in Life in the Boomer Lane’s head this morning) of presidential Tweets, N Korean bleats, and administration tap dancing feet, regarding N Korea: […]
Source: Un călător / Irina Lucia MIHALCA
Satis Shroff: Towards Transcultural Togetherness Through Poetry
Key words:-pablo neruda award 2017 lyrics, ehrung von satisshroff, schwarzwald, katmandu, culture prize, freiburg-kappel, himalayas,mahabharat mountains, freiburg,crispiano,italy london
You have received the Neruda Award 2017 in Cripiano, Italy. Tell us about your journey as a poet. When did you start writing poetry?
I live in Freiburg, a small university town in south-west Germany. I’ve studied Zoology and Botany in Nepal, Medicine and Social Sciences in Germany, and Creative Writing in Freiburg and the United Kingdom. I’m a mediator between western and eastern cultures and see my future as a writer and poet. Since literature is one of the most important means of cross-cultural learning, I’m dedicated to promoting and creating awareness for Creative Writing and transcultural togetherness in my writings, and in preserving an attitude of Miteinander in this world. In the past I’ve lectured in Basle (Switzerland) and now in Germany at the Academy for Medical Professions (University Klinikum Freiburg), VHS-Freiburg, VHS-Dreisamtal. I’ve also worked at the Center for Key Qualifications University of Freiburg, as a Lehrbeauftragter for Creative Writing and Scientific English. I received the Pablo Neruda Award 2017 as well as the German Academic Exchange Prize. I was awarded the Social Engagement Prize of Green City Freiburg and was nominated by Stadt Freiburg for the German Social Engagement Prize 2011 in Berlin.
At school we had to learn English by rote and was never taught or inspired to write poems. We did the Lake Poets, Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, Shakespeare and other works by colonial authors but I really started writing poetry through a chance meeting with an American professor named Bruce Dobler at the University of Freiburg. He was a Fulbright Scholar teaching Creative Writing at the local university. After the lectures we’d go to the Irish pub for a glass or two of Guinness stout. He inspired us to write poems and short-stories. I found it fascinating.
What did you learn and what impact did it have on your craft?
I learned that there were poets from different parts of their world, each writing in his or her own language and the impact it had on my was that I got a boost for my writings. I know why I write and that you’re expected to start playing with your words, pushing it to new realms, breaking up the lines, metre and to play with the white space. What I learned is that you have a cultural and traditional role to play in your poems no matter where you’re from. You’re obliged to examine the limitations of the people you’re describing and their context in time and space. Vive la diversity.
The person Satis Shroff has various faces, of a singer, author, poet, medical lecturer, artist. Which face is near to your heart?
I like writing which means sitting down and typing what you’ve thought about. Writing is a solitary performance but when I sing with my croonies of the MGV-Kappel it is sharing our joy and sadness and it’s a collective song that we produce and that makes our hearts beat higher during concerts. When an idea moves me for days I have the craving to pen it. I get ideas when I’m ironing clothes and listening to Nepali songs or Bollywood ones. When I don’t have time, I make a poem out of it, for poetry is emotion recollected in tranquillity. When I prepare my medical lectures I’m transferring knowledge from my university past and bringing them together verbally, and I realise it’s great fun to attain topicality by connecting the medical themes with what’s topical thereby creating a bridge between the two. That makes a lecture interesting, which is like a performance, a recital in which you interact with the audience.
At school I was taught art by a lean, bearded Scottish teacher who loved to pain landscapes with water-colours. Whenever I travel during holidays, I keep an ArtJournal with my sketches and drawings, and try to capture the feelings, impressions of the place and people I meet, and it’s great fun to turn the pages years later and be reminded how it was then. I like doing all these things and they’re all near to my heart.
What does literature mean to you ? Literature is translating emotions and facts from truth to fiction. It’s like a borderline syndrome; between sanity and insanity there’s fine dividing line. Similarly, non-fiction can be transformed into fiction. Virginia Woolf said, ‘There must be great freedom from reality.’ For Goethe, art was art because it was not nature. That’s what I like about fiction, this ability of transforming mundane things in life to jewels through the use of words. Rilke mentioned one ought to describe beauty with inner, quiet, humble righteousness. Approach nature and show what you see and experienced, loved and lost.
- Normally a scientific mind and literary heart do not go together. How do you manage that? (since you were student of zoology, botany and medicine)
At school I used to read P.G.Wodehouse (about how silly aristocrats are and how wise the butler Jeeves is) and Richard Gordon (a physician who gave up practicing Medicine and started writing funny books). For me Richard Gordon was a living example of someone who could connect literature with bio-medical sciences. Desmond Morris, zoologist (The Naked Ape, The Human Zoo) was another example for me. He has also written a book about how modern soccer players do tribal dances on the football-field, with all those excited, screaming and jumping spectators, when their team scores a goal. That’s ethnological rituals that are being carried out by European footballers.
Since I went to a British school I was fed with EngLit and was acquainted with the works of English writers like Milton, Shakespeare, Dickens, Hardy, Walter Scott, RL Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, HG Wells, Victor Hugo, Poe, Defoe, Hemingway, and poets like Burns, Keats, Yeats, Dante and Goldsmith. Since we had Nepali in our curriculum it was delightful to read Bhanu Bhakta, Mainali, Shiva Kumar Rai and other Nepali authors. At home I used to pray and perform the pujas (rituals) with my Mom, who was a great story teller and that was how I learned about the fantastic stories of Hindu mythology. At school we also did Roman and Greek mythology. My head was full of heroes. I was also an avid comicstrip reader and there were Classics Illustrated comic with English literature. I used to walk miles to swap comic-books in Nepal. It was mostly friends from the British Gurkhas who had access to such comics, gadgets, musical instruments they’d bought in Hong Kong, since it was a British enclave then. Science can be interesting and there is a genre which makes scientific literature very interesting for those who are curious and hungry for more knowledge.
In Kathmandu I worked as a journalist with an English newspaper The Rising Nepal. I enjoyed writing a Science Spot column. One day Navin Chandra Joshi, an Indian economist who was working for the Indian Cooperative Mission asked a senior editor and me:
‘Accha, can you please tell me who Satis Shroff is?’
Mana Ranjan, the editor, gave a sheepish smile and said, ‘You’ve been talking with him all the time.’ The elderly Mr. Joshi was plainly surprised and said, ‘Judging from his writing, I thought he was a wise old man.’ I was 25 then and I turned red and was amused.
As I grew older, I discovered the works of Virginia Woolf, DH Lawrence, Aldous Huxley, Authur Miller, Henry Miller, Doris Lessing and James Joyce. The lecturers from the English Department and the Literary Supplements were all revering his works: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses, Finnegans Wake. His works appealed to be because I was also educated by the Christian Brothers of Ireland in the foothills of the Himalayas, with the same strictness and heavy hand. God is watching you.. Since my college friends left for Moscow University and Lumumba Friendship University after college, I started taking interest in Russian literature and borrowed books from the Soviet library and read: Tolstoi, Dostojewskije, Chekov and later even Solzinitzyn’s Archipel Gulag. I spent a lot of time in the well-stocked American Library in Katmandu’s New Road and read Henry Miller, Steinbeck, Faulkner, Thoreau, Whitman.
Favourite books and authors: Bhanu Bhakta Acharya’s ‘Ramayana,’ Devkota’s ‘Muna Madan,’ Guru Prasad Mainali’s ‘Machha-ko Mol,’ Shiva Kumar Rai’s ‘Dak Bungalow,’ Hemingway’s Fiesta, For Whom the Bells Toll, Günter Grass ‘Blechtrommel,’ Zunge zeigen, Marcel Reich Ranicki’s ‘Mein Leben,’VS Naipaul’s ‘ ‘Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness,’ James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses, Stephan Hero, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Faust I, Faust II’, Leo Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace,’ Rainer Maria Rilke’s ‘Briefe an einen jungen Dichter’ Goethe’s ‘Die Leiden des jungen Werther,’The Diaries of Franz Kafka’ Carl Gustav Jung’s ‘Memories, Dreams, Reflections,’ Patrick Süskind’s ‘Perfume,’ John Updike’s ‘The Witches of Eastwick,’ ‘Couples,’ Peter Matthiessen’s ‘The Snow Leopard,’ Mark Twain ‘A Tramp Abroad,’John Steinbeck’s ‘The Pearl,’ Rushdie’s ‘Midnight Children,’ Jonathan Franzen’s ‘The Corrections,’ John Irving’s Last Night in Twisted River.
Position of Nepali as world literature in terms of standard: Nepali literature has had a Cinderella or Aschenputtel-existence and it was only through Michael Hutt, who prefers to work closely with Nepalese authors and publishes with them, under the aegis of SOAS that literature from Nepal is trying to catch the attention of the world. We have to differentiate between Nepalese writing in the vernacular and those writing in English. Translating is a big job and a lot of essence of a language gets lost in translation. What did the author mean when he or she said that? Can I translate it literally? Or do I have to translate it figuratively? If the author is near you, you can ask him or her what the meaning of a sentence, certain words or expression is. This isn’t the case always. So what you translate is your thought of what the writer or poet had said. I used to rollick with laughter when I read books by PG Wodehouse and Richard Gordon. I bought German editions and found the translations good. But the translated books didn’t bring me to laugh.
Tribhuvan University,located in Kirtipur, Nepal, has been educating hundreds of teachers at the Master’s Level but the teacher’s haven’t made a big impression on the world literary stage because most of them teach, and don’t write. Our neighbour India is different and there are more educated people who read and write. The demand for books is immense. Writing in English is a luxury for people who belong to the lower strata of the Nepalese society. Most can’t even afford books and have a tough time trying to make ends meet. The colleges and universities don’t teach Creative Writing. They teach the works of English poets and writers from colonial times, and not post-colonial. There are a good many writers in Nepal but their works have to be edited and promoted by publishers on a standard basis. If it’s a good story and has universal appeal then it’ll make it to the international scene. Rabindra Nath Tagore is a Bengali writer who has been forgotten. It was the English translation that made the world, and Stockholm, take notice. Manjushree Thapa and Samrat Upadhya have caught the attention of western media because they write in English and have done creative writing in Amirican universities. One studied and lived in the USA and the other is settled there. Moreover, the American publishing world does more for its migrant authors than other countries. There are prizes in which only USA-educated migrants are allowed to apply to be nominated, a certain protectionism for their US-migrants.
Motivation to write: The main motivation is to share my thoughts with the reader and to try out different genres. Since I know a lot of school-friends who dropped out and joined the British Gurkhas to see the world, it was disgusting to see how the British government treated their comrade-in-arms from the hills of Nepal. On the one hand, they said they are our best allies, part of the British Army and on the other hand I got letters from Gurkhas showing how low their salaries are in the Gurkha Brigade. A Johnny Gurkha gets only half the pay that a British Tommy is paid. Colonialism? Master-and –Servant relationship? They were treating them like guest-workers from Nepal and hiring and firing them at will, depending upon whether the Brits needed cannon-fodder. All they had to do was to recruit more Brigades in Nepal. This injustice motivated me to write a series on the Gurkhas and the Brits. I like NatureJournaling too and it’s wonderful to take long walks in the Black Forest countryside and in Switzerland. As a Nepalese I’m always fascinated and awed by the Alps and the Himalayas.
(Satis Shroff with his Creative Writing students in Freiburg)
A Specific writing style?
Every writer in his journey towards literature discovers his own style. Here’s what Heidi Poudel says about my style: ‘Brilliant, I enjoyed your poems thoroughly. I can hear the underlying German and Nepali thoughts within your English language. The strictness of the German form mixed with the vividness of your Nepalese mother tongue. An interesting mix. Nepal is a jewel on the Earths surface, her majesty and charm should be protected, and yet exposed with dignity through words. You do your country justice and I find your bicultural understanding so unique and a marvel to read.’ Reviewed by Heide Poudel in WritersDen.com.
My suggestions to readers: I might sound old fashioned but there’s lot of wisdom in these two small words: Carpe diem. Use your time. It can also mean ‘seize the job’ as in the case of Keating in the book ‘Dead Poets Society.’ When I was in Katmandu a friend named Bindu Dhoj who was doing MBA in Delhi said, ‘Satish, you have to assert yourself in life.’ That was a good piece of advice. In the Nepalese society we have a lot of chakari and afnu manchay caused by the caste-and-jaat system. But in Europe even if you are well-qualified, you do have to learn to assert and ‘sell’ and market yourself through good public relations. That’s why it’s also important to have a serious web-presence. Germany is a great, tolerant country despite the Nazi past, and it’s an economic and military power. If you have chosen Germany, then make it a point to ‘do in Germany as the Germans do.’ Get a circle of German friends, interact with them, lose your shyness, get in touch with German families and speak, read, write and dream in German. If you like singing then join a choir (like me), if you like art join a Kunstverein, if you(art-association) like sport then be a member of a Sportverein. If you’re a physician, join the Marburger or Hartmann Bund. Don’t think about it. Do it. It’s like swimming. You have to jump into the water. Dry swimming or thinking alone won’t help you. Cultural exchange can be amusing and rewarding for your own development.
Current and future projects: I always have writing projects in my mind and you’ll catch me scribbling notices at different times of the day. I feel like a kid in a department store when I think about the internet. No haggling with editors, no waiting for a piece of writing to be published. I find blogs fantastic. Imagine the agonies a writer had to go through in the old days after having submitted a poem or a novel. Now, it’s child’s play. Even Elfriede Jelenek uses her blog to write directly for the reading pleasure of her readers. The idea has caught on. In a life time you do write a lot and I’m out to string all my past writings in a book in the Ich-Form, that is, first person singular and am interested in memoir writing, spiritual writing, medical-ethno writing and, of course, my Zeitgeistlyrik . Georg F. Will said: A powerful teacher is a benevolent contagion, an infectious spirit, an emulable stance toward life. I like the idea of being an ‘infectious spirit’ as far as my Creative Writing lectures are concerned, and it does your soul good when a young female student comes up to you after the lecture and says: ‘Thank you very much for the lecture. You’ve ignited the fire in me with your words.’ I love to make Creative Writing a benevolent contagion and infect young minds with words.
To my Readers: Be proud of yourself, talk with yourself as you talk with a good friend, with respect and have goals in mind. If your goal is too high you must readjust it. My Mom used to say, ‘Chora bhayey pachi ik rakhna parchha. When you’re a son you have to strive for higher goals in life. I’d say a daughter can also adopt this. Like the proverbial Gurkha, keep a stiff upper lip and don’t give up. Keep on marching along your route and you’ll reach your destination in life. But on the other hand, be happy and contended with small successes and things. We Nepalese are attributed with ‘Die Heiterkeit der Seele’ because we are contented with small things which is a quality we should never lose. Keep that friendly Nepali smile on your face, for it will bring you miles and miles of smiles; and life’s worthwhile because you smile.
On literature: When you read a novel or short-story, you can feel the excitement, you discover with the writer new terrain. You’re surprised. You’re in a reading-trance and the purpose of literature is to give you reading experience and pleasure. Literature is not the birth-right of the lecturers of English departments in universities where every author of merit is analysed, taken apart, mixing the fictive tale with the writer’s personal problems in reality. The authors are bestowed with literary prizes, feted at literary festivals and invited to literary conferences and public readings. Literature belongs to the folk of a culture, but the academicians have made it their own pride possession.
Would like to hear Hemingway telling you a story he had written or an academician hold a lecture about what Hemingway wrote? I’d prefer the former because it belongs to the people, the readers, the listeners. In India and Nepal we have story-tellers who go from village to village and tell stories from the Ramayana and Bhagavad Gita. Story-telling has always appealed to simple people and the high-brows alike, and has remained an important cultural heritage.
The same holds for the Gaineys, those wandering minstrels from Nepal and Northern India, with their crude violins called sarangis. They tell stories of former kings, princes and princesses, battles, fairy tales, village stories, ballads accompanied by the whining, sad sound of the sarangi. Literature has always flown into history, religion, sociology, ethnology and is a heritage of mankind, and you can find all these wonderful stories in your local library or your e-archive.
My first contact with a good library was the American Library in Katmandu. A new world of knowledge opened to me. I could read the Scientific American, Time, Newsweek, the Economist, The New York Times, National Geographic, the Smithsonian, the Christian Science Monitor. The most fascinating thing about it was , you only had to be a member and you could take the precious books home. OMG! It was unbelievable for a Nepalese who came from a small town in the foothills of the Himalayas. Nobody bothered about what you were reading: stories, history, new and old ideas, inventions, theories, general and specific knowledge. The sky was the limit. I had a voracious appetite, and it was like the opening of a Bildungsroman. Historical novels tell us about how it was to live in former days, the forms of society involved that the writer evokes in his or her pages. In ‘A Year in Provence’ Peter Mayle makes you almost taste the excellent French food and wine, and the search for truffles with a swine in hilarious, as well as the game of bol.
On the other hand, James Joyce evokes a life-changing experience with his protagonists Leopold Bloom and Stephan Daedalus in Dublin on June 16, 1904. Ulysses is a modern interpretation of Homer’s Odyssey, an inner monologue recalled as memories of places, people, smells, tastes and thoughts of the protagonist . The Bhagwad Gita is a luminous and priceless gem in the literary world, possesses world history character, and teaches us the unity in diversity. It is a dialogue between the hero Arjuna and Krishna, who is the chariot-driver. Krishna is an incarnation of the Hindu God Vishnu. The Mahabharata alone has 18 chapters and the epic has 18 books with legends, episodes and didactic pieces that are connected with the main story. It is a fascinating reading about the war between relatives, written in the 4th and 3rd centuries before the birth of Christ. He who reads knows better than to be indoctrinated, for he or she learns to think, opening new worlds and lines of thought.
In my school-days I read Charles Dickens’ ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ and it became alive when I went to the Bastille Museum in Paris with a fellow medical student. My memory of A Tale of Two Cities took shape there, as I peered at the old, historical exhibits and the guillotine. Later in the evening my friend Peter’s sister, who was married to a Parisian said, ‘Oh, Satish, there are so many things to see in Paris than a museum the entire afternoon.’ For me it was like time-travelling to the times of the French Revolution, because I’d soaked up the story in my school days. I could see Madame Defarge knitting the names of the noblemen and women to be executed. Dickens was a great master of fabulation. I was ripe for those stories and was as curious as a Siamese cat I had named Sirikit, reading, turning page for page, absolutely absorbed in the unfolding stories. Time and space and my personal demands were unimportant. It was the story that had to be read, even with a midnight candle when the local hydroelectric power supply failed. That happened to me when I read ‘The Godfather’ (Der Pate) while visiting a friend from Iceland. I couldn’t put the book down. I felt sad when a 14 year old computer-crazy school-kid said: ‘Who reads books these days? Everything’s in the internet.’ The question is: do kids read books on their laptops and eReaders? School websites, Facebook whatsapp, instagram and YouTube and their apps have added new hobbies for children who’re growing up. Does the cyberspace-generation have only time for games? I tell them they should use: Google Scholar, Pubmed etc. to gather knowledge and learn to transfer it.
(Neruda Award 2017 recipient Satis Shroff)
BOOK REVIEW (Satis Shroff)
Bookreview.by Satis Shroff: Dr. Maria Miraglia’s ‘Dancing Winds’, Verlag: Writers Capital Press 2016, 99 pages, ISBN: 978-93-86163-68-4, Price: $ 12,95
This book of poems is dedicated to the ‘unfortunate children of Syria who are suffering for reasons that they are not responsible for. Let the world wake up to a dawn of peace, nothing but peace.’ (Maria Miraglia). When you read this book you will not only experience the observation of the poetess in the outside world that affects the poetic soul but also into the innermost reaches of the poetic Self which she skilfully brings to paper. This introspection touches themes that move us all in these turbulent times such as family matters, separation, decision of a protagonist to terminate his life, as well as hope in the future.
In the preface the poetess mentions that this book is a collection of memories of her beautiful moment with Nature and personal experiences that are close to her heart, with a hope that the reader should cherish her memories and experiences.
The author is a cosmopolitan poetess and the founder of World Foundation for Peace.
She was born in Italy and has been a long time member of Amnesty International.
Maria Miraglia is a prolific writer and has been published in Petah nelle Nu vole (publisher: Rupe Mutevole, Parma, Italy). Her work‘Whispering Words’ has been published in the International Anthology of Poetry, World Anthology of Poems on Global Harmony and Peace, Muse for World Peace, ‘Just for you, my Love.’ She’s also the author of ‘Le Grande Opere di Yayati Madan Gandhi.’
Maria Miraglia took part in the 34th Kibatek International Poetry Festival of Arts in Istanbul to represent Italy in 2014 and 2015 at its 38th edition in Izmir 2015.4
Maria Miraglia is the Direttrice Letteraria of the Pablo Neruda Association based in Crispiano-Taranto, Italy. The association’s president is Saverio Sinopoli. The two of them organised the Neruda Award 2017. She’s the author of Antologia Poetica which accumulates works of poets from the world for which she functions as the event-organiser and publisher. She’s the founder of the Italian Cultual Association Pablo Neruda and is also responsible for literature. Maria Miraglia collaborates with Marguette a Cultural Italian Review, in addition to Express, International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research, the International Peer Review and others magazines.
She was chosen as a featured poetess in Pentasi B World Friendship Poetry and contributed regularly in many poetry groups in English and Italian languages. Her poems have been translated into the following languages: Spanish, Turkish, Albanian and Azerbaijani. She has received several national and international awards and recognitions for poetry.
Maria Miraglia graduated in Foreign Languages and Literatures and received a Master’s degree in Evaluation and Assessment at the Aldo Moro University of Bari, then a Master’s degree in Teaching of Modern Languages at the University of Rome and the highest-level-certification (HLC) from Trinity College, UK. She has taught in high secondary schools and was lecturer in courses for post-graduate students. She has worked as a tutor in English, Scottish and Irish colleges for Italian students in collaboration with the Department for Education for studies and projects relating to language certifications.
The genre is poetry with gems of observations not only of Nature but also in-depth views of people dying, suffering and rejoicing in everyday life. Her poetry reveals an exquisite poetic form of expression in a language that is a melange of Italian and English with themes from daily life that have sudden and surprising twists of thought that are appealing to the reader and she has the ability of making treasures out of mundane incidents. You can start reading anywhere and your delight is certain.
Maria Miraglia is a poetess who has devoted herself to writing verses which she finds is like bending on herself to ‘listen better to the whispers of her own soul and reveal its ‘more hidden and secret meanders.’ She says: at times she experiences a ‘a catharsis’ to turn her gaze inside to grasp the most intimate emotions.’ She successfully evokes in the reader emotions of empathy towards others and inspires the reader to read the poems and look at the world with a tender heart. Maria Miraglia succeeds in her many poems to do just that.
This is a work of originality and individuality and the poems evoke a vision of hope for humanity. There is simplicity, beauty and skill in the poems penned by Maria Miraglia and her descriptive verses about Nature provide rare insights into the heart of the poetess, and her empathy for Nature, the downtrodden of the society and her role as the founder of the World Foundation for Peace. The poems are replete with figures of speech, similes, metaphors and rhythm even though they are non-rhyming in character. There is subtlety and particularity in the writing.
Like Shakespeare who finds books in the running brooks, Maria Miraglia finds that everything is bestowed with beauty and describes the ‘tip of the grass swaying in the loftiest wind.’ She makes a plea to find contentment in ‘those modest teeasures of life.’ In the case of men who generally tend to be discontented and eternally in ‘search of something beyong the very same.’ In this pursuit the male drifts ‘further away from the beauty of life.’
The poetess shows beauty in trivial things and in Nature and reveals how men be contented by learning to see beauty in little things within reach and not far away. Poetry has enabled the poetess to be contented for a lifetime.’ She does this by bringing ‘that beauty amidst so-called insignificant treasures in Nature and life and evokes thereby.compassion for Nature’s beauty and the underdogs, especially in the comity of nations where refugees are drowning daily in European waters and are regarded as liabilities for social welfare states. What emerges is a kind soul who rejoices about her existence and actively participates and organises literary events to promote literature and help young poets and those who had to leaves their homes due to war—through her World Foundation for Peace.
* * *
In the poem ‘It was Dawn’ the poetess describes a grim atmosphere of a relationship which has gone asunder. The situation in this relationship between the two souls is described as being ‘heavy and grim.’ Love has faded away and the two have diverging interests with nothing in common. Two people who were perhaps one heart and a soul, as we say in German, have developed a great aloofness and divergence, as the poetess aptly say ‘like mountains.’ Silence reigns in this particular world, and it has become an onerous task to move even the facial muscles in creating a smile, like sunlight that has vanished. What remains are only two sulky, barren souls, devoid of love.
It is a power poem with strong emotions of a protagonist that emerge after he has made a final decision: to leave the house where the protagonist has lived with a beloved person but the love has evaporated like the mountain mist, and what the protagonist remembers is merely the grim and burdensome feeling. The former unity has given place diversity and the two souls live in the same domicile –worlds apart. Aloofness has crept in their lives and has taken the form of an insurmountable peak. The atmosphere is charged with tension.
‘Never a word of love, never a smile.’ Silence reigns. The only deliverance from this ‘everlasting oppression’ would be to run away. The inevitable day approaches.
The protagonist decides to leave and do it fast at the break of dawn. He closes the door.
Outside, some street-lights are still burning and lighting some houses but in his heart is ‘a faint hope.’ Hope of a familiar voice crying out the protagonist’s name. Nearby, the sea waves thrash on the rocks. The protagonist shivers with cold in the early morning and hears a clear, caressing voice from the deep waters, beckoning him to come. He follows the ‘inviting call.’
The protagonist’s heart stops beating and the lungs cease to breathe. Shortly thereafter, the protagonist sees some passersby looking at the lifeless body and hears their voices whisper from a distance:
‘A drowned man…a drowned man.’
A beautiful poem full of pain and forlorn hope of a relationship expressed by the protagonist and the final decision to end a stagnating and futile relationship.
* * *
‘Special Orchestra’ is a universal nature poem about the chirping birds on treetops and whispering winds that move the colourful leaves, rain falling on lazy rooftops and bubbling brooks, lively chatter of waves, buzzing of bees courting flowers. This is the free orchestra that fascinates and follows the poetess where ever she goes.
* * *
‘Part of it’ is a wonderful descriptive poems about an uncertain early morning experience, when birds are still sleeping and the sea calm, the winds silent. Only a solitary boat going past like an old wanderer and the poetess hears in the ‘silence, a celestial tune’ in the void’ and feel to be a part of it.
* * *
‘A Nightingale’ is a touching Nature poem about an injured bird with snapped wings and the joy and delight of the poetess who nurses it and says: ‘he still stays with me singing sweetly among the tree tops of my garden.’ An avian song of gratitude, indeed.
‘King and Queen’ is a poetic love sans ‘jealousy and betrayals’ in which the poetess wishes she were ‘Aphrodite, the deity of beauty.’ She writes about the union of thoughts and emotions and free hearts akin to a magical alchemy. ‘You and Me,’ says the poetess, a hero and a heroine the main protagonists of sweet love poems, who rather fancy the stories of Romeo and Juliet and Leontes and Hermione.
‘Memories’ is about Christmastime in which the poetess says: what remains are the faint lights in the memory of our lives, where the stars are hidden; the moon covered with gloomy clouds, once a witness of your stories has now turned into the guardian of your group of trees.
‘Aliens’ is a touching depiction of ‘men like aliens’ who are suddenly there. The poetess doesn‘t know who they are or what they say but she feels deep in her heart what they feel—like an open book, and you can hear the ‘whisper of their souls.’
The sensitive poetess is, nevertheless, saddened by what she sees and hears from people around her for their hearts are arid and their minds corrupt. She thinks it’s a nightmare from which she must wake up. Alas! Her eyes are wide open and the sun gleams in the sky. This poem depicts the empathy the poetess feels, and evokes the same in the reader, for the new migrants to Europe who undertake great perils to reach European shores only to be ignored or shunned by the people in the foreign shores. A poem also about the haves and have-nots.
‘Martyrs of human foolishness’ is a moving descriptive poem about the foolishness of men, and also a plea for peace and brotherhood. It begins with light and candles to show the way ‘to Pakistani children so they can fly to Heaven’ like a flock of ascending birds, of the pains and sorrows of their mothers, ‘bent on their wombs’ once shelters of their tender lives. The sky darkens, men and women become silent as the massacre and horror takes its toll. The poetess emphasises the ‘fear of the little martyrs of human foolishness.’ Cries, violated and immolated bodies, tears, eternal mourning in the name of a god nobody knows, in the name of hate and revenge.’ The angels flap their wings in disapproval and beckon the men to join and shout aloud their outrage and indignation.’ (In reality the men have saved their skins to reach the shores of Europe and left their wives and children behind).
The poem ends with a plea for hope ‘to awaken men to peace and brotherhood.’ A stirring poem on the necessity of peace, instead of war.
‘That love’ is about time that passes by along with the seasons and life burns out like a candle and in your mind there flow images of your youth, kept in tight silence, images of a ‘life never lived.’
‘Again’ conjours the nearness of an elderly man and his failing eyesight, who longs to see when the final curtain has fallen. On that specific noon under the shadow of the willow tree, he asks the poetess to describe the colour of the leaves, of the sun-kissed sea waves. He is fascinated by the sun and asks her to tell more. She describes all the objects and things to his heart’s content.
Finally, in a voice veiled in nostalgia, he says he’s not afraid of death, with the reassurance that he’d ‘get back to see again’ after his demise. A pleasant thought, indeed.
‘In ‘Eternity’ the poetess Maria Miraglia looks at the blue eyes of a dear one and sees the universe, leaves of secular trees and She depicts herself and the man as playing roles on the stage of life. And as he looks at her, recollections are revived, even the dead emotions, and she feels they together belong to
Zeitgeistlyrik: GORKHALAND BLUES (Satis Shroff)
Early in the misty morning monsoon morning
A Gorkhali meets a Bengali
Below the statue of Bhanubhakta Acharya,
At Darjeeling’s Chowrasta.
The Bengali doesn’t like the Adi Kavi
The prime poet of the Gorkhalis there.
Why do you have your poet here,
Why not also Tagore?
The Gorkhali says,’ Tagore belongs to Shantiniketan.’
East Bengal belonged to ancient Bengal.
But it turned into East Bengal overnight in 1947.
You Bengalis had nothing in common with the Muslims of East Pakistan.
Freedom from Pakistan let to Bangladesh.
We in the hills of Darjeeling,
Want freedom from Bengal.
We want our own Gorkhaland.
‘But Gorkhaland lies in Bengal, ‘ says the Bengali.
What do you have in common with us Gorkhalis?
The Bengali replies: ‘We have the same religion.’
Ah, but nothing else. You eat fish, we eat dal-bhat-shikar.
We fought for our Nepali language.
It has been recognised as one of the languages of India.
The Bengali retorts with gleaming eyes:
‘Tagore got the Nobel Prize.’
We are fighting for our Gorkhali identity.
Neither do you speak our tongue nor do you read Nepali literature.
You read your own books and watch your own Bengali films.
We read Bhanubhakta, Lainsingh Bangdel and Devkota.
You have usurped our land,
And have become rich and arrogant in the process.
The monoculture Thea sinensis was planted
By the Nepalese migrants under the British Raj.
The plantations are not owned by Gorkhalis but Bengalis.
The migrants from Bengal have done in Darjeeling,
What the Han Chinese have done in Lhasa.
You have taken our jobs away: the teaching profession,
Administrative jobs all run by brown Bengali babus.
‘We are better qualified, perhaps, ‘ says the Bengali.
Qualification takes time and money.
The only legacy and pride left to us is our brawn,
As soldiers under foreign flags and India’s Gorkha regiments.
Where is the liberty, equality and fraternity
Guaranteed by the biggest democracy in the world?
Had Darjeeling been reverted to Sikkim we’d be well off,
As the Sikkimese are today under Central rule.
What have you Bengalis brought to us besides poverty and misery?
The railway and telecommunications were introduced by the Brits,
The three leaves and a bud were planted by the English.
The entire administrative jobs were kept by the Bengalis.
The Gorkhalis transferred to jobs in the plains.
How can you say Darjeeling belongs to Bengal?
The bespectacled Bengali Chief Minister Namata Mukerjee,
Warns the Gorkhalis with a raised index-finger,
Demands more troops from Delhi,
Instead of solving Gorkhaland’s people’s demands.
Please read the history of Sikkim and Darjeeling.
We never belonged to Bengal in history.
* * *
O, Kanchenzonga: Gorkhaland for Gorkhalis (Satis Shroff)
hernama dherai ramailo
Buddhist Monastery at Ghoom
O, Kanchenzonga: Gorkhaland for Gorkhalis (Satis Shroff)
A splash of the crimson rays of the sun appeared on the tip of the 8598m Kanchenjunga Range. Then it turned into orange and was gradually bathed in a yellowish tint, becoming extremely bright. You could discern the chirping of the Himalayan birds in the surrounding bushes and trees, amidst the clicking of cameras. I was on Tiger Hill. But my thoughts were elsewhere.
I was thinking about Kanchenjunga, my Hausberg as we are wont to call it in Germany, and the former memories of my school-days in the foothills of the Himalayas. These mountains had moulded and shaped me to overcome odds, like other thousands of other Gorkhalis, Nepalese, Lepchas, Bhutanese, Tibetans and Indians, from both sides of the Himalayas. I have watched…
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