Poetry in the city.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The Delhi Walla arranged to meet poet Chaitanya Kaushik at his home in Faridabad, a satellite town outside the capital.
A lawyer working under a senior counsel in the Delhi High Court, Mr Kaushik has lived in Faridabad all his life. “Yes, all my life, except the five years I spent at a law school in Jodhpur, the city which became the reason for the kind of writer I am,” he says, adding, “The desert atmosphere of Rajasthan was slow, alien and solitary, and the sunsets were grand.”
In his 20s, this poet in Faridabad used to think of his town as “absolutely soulless.” His feelings have somewhat changed. He says, “I think one is born with an innate attachment to certain aspects of a place, be it old architecture, or music, both of which my city lacks. However, I have gradually learned that there is beauty in the most common of things.”
Taking of his approach to writing poetry, Mr Kaushik says, “I generally end up writing when I am abundant in emotion, and I have to let it out somehow… I must create something, and bring that emotion to life, give it a shape. There are so many unfulfilled, unresolved parts of myself that I can never understand. I live through them every day, through day and night, and yet I don’t recognize myself in whole. And I like catching myself with a surprised recognition, ‘Ah! I knew this all along’.”
Mr Kaushik writes his poems on a typewriter – he has a collection of old typewriters.
He shares two poems with us.
I accidentally spilled beer over my poems
now they are wet.
I wish I had a long string and some clips
so I could dry them out in the sun.
And I could wear them to the market,
and tell the world,
look! they fit me better than my own clothes,
they look good on me!
These large, obtuse stains, flowing on paper,
like a basin
and a traveling bird.
They are like a large bed,
on which a kid sleeps,
and he wets it,
in his magical, surreal dreams.
But his mother still loves him,
and forgives him.
They like to get drunk in the night, my poems,
little romeos, don juans,
always hungry for some more,
sometimes lecherous, walking around,
with a stinking breath.
And they wait for me to get drunk,
so they can laugh at me when I drag myself to the bed.
They are like the night watchmen of my street,
always sleeping on the job,
infamous, dirty and vile.
But they are my poems, and I love them,
my golden piss,
flowing as a large basin,
like a traveling bird.
A room of letters
I have a room above,
on the first floor, facing the street,
it is small, personal and beautiful.
I often type letters here, listen to music,
shit in the pot, with the door open,
knowing no one will intrude.
I often look at the adorned wall,
the art of it,
it looks French, I think,
European at least.
Often I lean on the doorway,
and overlook the street below and its occasional strollers,
in my shirt and my boxers,
I feel like an artist.
My discerning eye follows the movements,
of those who down below,
mastering my neutral, but overtly superlative gaze.
and sometimes, when she comes out of her door in the
I increase the volume of the music,
and put a track,
of which I am sure
only connoisseurs would applause.
I even add a hum of my own inertly classy
croon, the one which would make bad singers jealous.
I often indicate to guests,
by constant indifference to this room at my house,
for if they come
and see a room filled with typewriters and scattered poems,
and old telephones, lithograph prints,
they would believe to have witnessed the silent rise of
an underdog poet, a genius in brooding,
an interpreter of the daily musings of life,
the looking glass of an artist,
in the conundrum of his workshop.
I would often tell them how Delhi is a whore,
of corny capitalism, and consumerism and that I hate action movies.
And I would never let them know that
I often roam the streets of the same baked city,
for escape, for love.
and I tell the that even when I see dogs mate on the streets below,
I see the art of Pablo in it, of the surrealist Dali,
and how the canvas of life is as twisted as his mustache.
The Cavafy of Faridabad