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Delhi’s Bandaged Heart – Pagalkavi, Hari Nagar

Delhi’s Bandaged Heart – Pagalkavi, Hari Nagar

Poetry in the city.

[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]

One raining afternoon The Delhi Walla arranged to meet poet Pagalkavi at his apartment near Tanki Walla Park in West Delhi’s Hari Nagar.

“I live with my parents and they don’t know I’m pagalkavi (mad-poet),” he warned me. “In fact they would go pagal (mad) if they get to know that.”

The poet’s parents had named him Ronak Bhasin but his readers on Instagram know him by his aforementioned pseudonym. Apparently this social networking service has greatly shaped Pagalkavi’s life as a young poet. In his 20s, Mr Bhasin, who joined Instagram a year ago, says, “I met a lot of great poets on the gram. One day I shared my Delhi address asking people to send me an original unpublished poem by post and that I would send one in return.” Pagalkavi received large stamped envelopes from across the world.

Yet despite his online presence, the Mad Poet largely lives outside the world of today. A graduate in electronics and communication engineering, he has not tried to find a day job to the dismay of his father, a retired banker. Instead, he spends his days writing poems on old typewriters.

Pagalkavi has more than 20 typewriters. His dark windowless room is a world at consensual strife. It is cluttered with objects as unexpected as plastic buckets filled with film reels. (Pagalkavi has an analog camera that was made in the USSR.)

A taste for old things demands a life of endless rummaging. Since Mr Bhasin prefers to produce his poetry on aged musty sheets, he constantly searches the dusty shelves of neighborhood stationery stores for forgotten bundles of yellowing pages.

Expressing his philosophy of verse, the Hari Nagar poet says, “I believe we are obsessed with finding patterns, reason and sense in everything. We see shapes in clouds and fortune in coffee grounds. A poem sometimes is a direct assault on this. It often doesn’t make sense as we would like it to make or as we thought it would. Usually we leave with more than what we came looking for.” To Mr Bhasin, poetry is only sounds and entangled words. “There’s no salvation at the end of poetry,” he says. “Just more lust to merge the forbidden. Delicately. A melting sofplosion of that sweet sweet ache.”

Pagalkavi shares his poem ‘Mad Rush’ with us.

Mad Rush

picture me if you will
the same dingy back alley
sitting on the same red coca cola crate
teeth clenched on the rag
contemplating the butterfly
perched between my fingertips
ready to dip mainline

you know what I did?

I let you in my veins
I let you flow in me
I let you dissolve
I let you part my lips
I let you lull me to sleep
I let you know, me.

you did your part
you watched me
you watched me
ease my wrinkled wings
you watched me
spread them long
you watched me
float over blue
you watched me
my eyes closed
you watched me
drown at your will

didn’t stop you
closed my eyes
ceased to desist
let them fall
buried my song

killed me slowly
with soft abandon

wallowed in it
breathing in shame

slit my tongue

stopped to breathe

if little things you do
get me high
then why do I need
the whole of you?

you had me on my knees
I dangled by the tip of your tongue
I heard your voice
dead and empty
like your eyes
feeding on me
I masticated
and distilled
the whole world for you
but you took only
what you came for
then spat me right out
my puréed world
the window
of your lifeless soul

So here am I
the butterfly perched
between my fingertips
quivering and lumbering
with all the remaining beauty
in this mad world
ready to dip mainline
at any moment
I wish

nobody will ever notice
nobody ever will

Sensibly mad


Delhi’s Bandaged Heart – Pagalkavi, Hari Nagar


Delhi’s Bandaged Heart – Pagalkavi, Hari Nagar


Delhi’s Bandaged Heart – Pagalkavi, Hari Nagar


Delhi’s Bandaged Heart – Pagalkavi, Hari Nagar


Delhi’s Bandaged Heart – Pagalkavi, Hari Nagar


Delhi’s Bandaged Heart – Pagalkavi, Hari Nagar


Delhi’s Bandaged Heart – Pagalkavi, Hari Nagar


Delhi’s Bandaged Heart – Pagalkavi, Hari Nagar

3 thoughts on “Delhi’s Bandaged Heart – Pagalkavi, Hari Nagar

  1. Film reels and ink-ribbons are very flammable. His room needs a couple of fire extinguishers. I hope he doesn’t smoke cigarettes or burn incense anywhere near that pile.

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