Voyaging To Innocence: The May Day Edition

A Haiku by Meherin Roshanara | Art by Leena Dihingia

this long recession:
at the end of my tee-square
a spider starts work
- Brian Carter


Work. On this May Day, I’m trying to think about the different kinds of work that have formed a carapace of resilience and possibility, protecting this writhing body politic from imploding: the work of frontline “Covid Warriors” - Doctors, Nurses, Medical staff, Journalists, Lawyers, Civil Society Activists mobilising essential resources, life-saving medicines and hospital space, Police, Administrative staff, NGO field staff, Helpline co-ordinators and Organisations of humanitarian relief; the work of Drivers, Delivery staff, Cooks, Vegetable and Fruit Vendors, Butchers, Sanitation workers; the work of Farmers, Carpenters, Plumbers, Electricians; the work of Parents, Siblings and Caregivers, Therapists and Mental health professionals; the work of Friends and Loved ones; the work of Educators, Artists, Intellectuals, Curators of meaning, knowledge, information and hope in the chaos. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but that is not the attempt here either. I have barely scratched the surface and already the mind teeters as it tries to enclose all that is being done to keep us paddling.

It is as if these countless tiny pinpricks of action and resolve are holding up a thin screen of resistance just high enough to keep the gathering dark at bay for a little longer. As I think of these votes of confidence, these tireless souls that “show up”, the many, many little things that amount to a stubborn refusal to give in, I am filled, momentarily with warmth.

A massive struggle in these times is to come to terms with the transformation of simple things that we take for granted. Our reality has been hijacked from us. The meaning of words has changed- our language has morphed. Engaging with poetry, and the certainty of timeless emotion has been therapeutic in a way. It has helped make sense of this reality, and serve as balm, sometimes.

In the last few days I turned to haiku, sitting quietly with the clarity of image devoid of chatter. This concentration of humours, this congress with a state of being that is at once silent and completely free from self, opens up slowly as the haiku unfolds. It gives me vantage. I am acutely aware of the rehearsal, the preparation that comes, now, even before one meets a poem - just a simple collection of words. But with the haiku, there is the ruthless allegiance to another idea that I believe is at the core of all writing practice - not one word more, not one word less.

I have been sharing haiku with you, also, as a way of preparing the earth for this month’s edition of the Poetly Calendar. The May edition of Voyaging to Innocence features a haiku, or as the poet lovingly refers to it - a poemlet - by Meherin Roshanara. The Artwork is by Leena Dihingia.

With all the delicacy of a haiku that falls almost soundlessly into the pond, and spreads out as ripples that extend like unuttered thoughts, Meherin’s verse makes an image that is at once familiar, and yet nostalgic - morning walkers, sunlight, the outdoors, laughter, communion. What is unsaid is the situation that makes this “old”. To me it conveys the subterranean yearning for that reassurance of humanity, that assertion of life in the simplest of everyday, mundane acts - walking; and yes, laughter. Coupled with the natural comfort of water colour, the poem settles gently in my imagination, helping me visualise a past, and a future, where morning walkers walk, and their laughter rings in silent groves, and where this is not out of place.

To hope, then, and the power of collective imagination, and healing.

This is the fifth in the series of digital prints featuring artists’ interpretations of 12 different poems by Indian poets (released in monthly editions). This project is conceived as an anthology of digital wallpapers for desktops/laptops combining poetry and visual art. You can find the January edition here, the February edition here, the March edition here, and the April edition here.

Click on the image to properly view, download, and set it as your wallpaper.

Meherin can be followed on instagram here
Leena can be followed here