“through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us. . ."

Friday, February 12, 2010

Into every word goes a bit of my soul

The books in my library, those other than I inherited from my late father, bear my signature, date and place where I bought them. It is not, as you may think, a mark of my ownership; it is a sign that each of them contains a bit of my soul. Looking at each of them, I can recollect the moment I saw the book, caressed, smelled it, leafed through and with muc pleasure and excitement paid for and became its happy owner. Similarly, my friends, believe me, into every word that I write here, goes a bit of my soul. Read them together – and what I gift you with is what I can call really my own – my self. Scattered among these virtual pages lies kaleidoscopic Balachandran V. You roll it, shake it, take it to light – you have every right to like or dislike, love or hate me.

I am happy that all of you found my gift of C K Williams most endearing. Reading his poems, I gather an image of C K Williams and am humbled that he let me into his soul.

The other poem that I wanted to share with you is not Shame, but Harm – forgive the vagrant memory of an old man! Again, it is not available in the ‘net – therefore I will type it down here. I hope C K Williams would forgive me for this violation of his copyright etc, but believe me, Mr. Williams, I am paying a tribute to you. I would love to buy copies of your ‘A Dream of Mind’ which has ‘Harm’ in it and give to all my friends, but am too poor to do that. All I can hope and fantasize is that perhaps you might read me one day and think of me as a kindred soul who looks up at you, you, like a bright star in the sky…

There is a reason why I am taking this effort. I want you, my friends, to look beyond the walls that surround us. Beyond the walls lies the vast and eternal ocean of life. It is beautiful, ugly; serene, tempestuous. I would like you to look at life the way C K looks at it – with compassion, with dispassion; with love, with detachment; touched and untouched. If what you see is disquieting, remember that it is only your reaction; reality is real and unchanging. All that changes is your perception of life. In perceiving life, you perceive yourself – that is all life is about – understanding and marveling at the you in you. Do not be judgmental, on you or anybody else. Be open and vast like the skies and the sea and the forests that lead to the edge of the horizon. The void and darkness invariably follows – later.

Harm – by C K Williams

With his shopping car, his bags of booty and his wine, I’d always found him inoffensive.

Every neighbourhood has one or two these days; ours never rants at you at least or begs.

He just forages the trash all day, drinks and sings and shadowboxes,

then at nightfall finds a doorway to make camp, set out his battered little radio and slab of rotting foam.

The other day, though, as I was going by, he stepped abruptly out between parked cars,

Undid his pants, and, not even bothering to squat, sputtered out a noxious, almost liquid stream.

there was that, and that his bony shanks and buttocks were already stained beyond redemption,

That his scarlet testicles were blown up bigger than a bull’s with some sorrowful disease,

and that a slender adolescent girl from down the block happened by right then, and looked,

and looked away, and looked at me, and looked away again, and made me want to say to her,

because I imagined what she must have felt, It’s not like this, really, it’s not this,

but she was gone, so I could think, But isn’t it like this, isn’t this just what it is?


My most sincere and warm regards to you all. I value you; immeasurably.

Balachandran, Trivandrum, 12.02.2010


  1. I cannot say i understand too much of the poem .

    I mean i understand it , literally , but i am not sure what i am supposed to understand when i read between the lines.

    I can think of ten different things.

    This is the problem in being too much of a simpleton , i suppose..

    Not Being Judgemental ..that is one new year resolution i break every year.

    If sizing up a person , and having opinions of someone is being judgemental i cant help it.

    I try and try , and force myself to be detached..

    But yet again , i go unconsciously forming opinions about people and maybe even behaving to them accordingly.

    Perhaps someday..

  2. Dear R,

    Glad that you could think of 10 different things. I chanced upon CK in a collection by Ruth Padel - '52 ways of looking at a poem'; thats 42 more than you did! To copy down her comments on Harm is difficult.

    'Isn't this what it is?', which you could take morally or existentially; it implies bitter social and ethical comment, plus the self-shame of feeling responsible, in front of a child, for degradation and injustice in our society.

    'ecce Homo' - look at the man - says Pilate to the crowd, when Jesus comes out to them in his crown of thorns. Thats what artists and poets say - look - this is what humanity is. You have to share CK's witnessing of what society does, both to its underdogs - physically and emotionally - and to itself, morally. That insight is in the title - 'Harm'.

    About being judgmental - perhaps you are too young not to be. At your age, most are suffused with idealism and have a sharp and clear vision of right and wrong. As we grow older, we come to understand that there are no universal standards. That you cannot segregate anything based on the moral standards you measure others with. If you do not like something, fine, avoid it; but you cannot impose your likes and dislikes on others. Yet there are certain bottom-line ethics for humanity; of course, it would also vary from person to person; but then, when something goes even below that bottom-line - shake your head and leave the scene! :D

  3. Bal's,

    None of us are far away from that state. It is just that our imperiousness does not let the fact - the precariousness of life dawn in us.
    Excellent bit by the Poet!

  4. Your passion for books is quite evident here.
    Also the last para of your comment above is really true and contains a lesson or two for the immature souls !!

  5. I am not sure I can give a proper comment, at this time, as to what I've read. Very heavy visuals of life and its awkward twist and turns. Must we ask ourselves why?


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