I read in an article somewhere that people who think they are not beautiful tend to mistakenly believe that the declared beauties (or the conventionally beautiful people) of the world are unconditionally happy and at peace with themselves. I too had believed the same about beauty being the ultimate immunity from melancholy and insulation from mental unrest until I started recognizing my own beauty as conventional and explicit.
I remember reading that article with a sort of sympathetic feeling towards the lot of people who are resigned to the belief that they are not born beautiful, and subsequently believe that there is a higher level of happiness which is forever inaccessible to them. That is to say, I did believe then that I would’ve been not as happy as I was had I been (or considered myself) a little less beautiful than I thought I was. I was passively vain: if not about being pretty exactly, then at least about having no explicit ugliness in my appearance.
And, by the time I came to write this poem titled ‘Just a pretty face’ in 2012, I think the notion that it’s more important to be happy than to be beautiful had became strongly rooted in my heart. Also, maybe I was striving philosophically to feel happy while disassociating with the idea that I was beautiful/pretty, as a clear differentiation was being made in mind between ‘believing one is beautiful and deriving happiness out of it’ and ‘believing one’s happiness is not bounded by one’s idea of one’s beauty’.
‘Just a pretty face’ is a short verse that I wrote about two years back for posting in a website (hellopoetry.com). It was a spontaneous effort to translate into words an idea that crossed my head that day (March 22, 2012). I think it’s a great translation, by my standards, because it makes perfect sense to me even today and it brings back a picture of what my sentiments and my idea of beauty might have been that had propelled me to write about ‘misplaced sentiments’ in the tone I used in the poem.
Just a pretty face
If misplaced sentiments were like pimples
on odd places of the face
then I’d pop each and every one of them
until my face hurt, bled, and got mutilated.
With one of those pimples would go
the sentiments attached
to my otherwise pretty face.
I’d be a happier person.
That’s the name of the book I’m trying to read. Hunger. Or at least, it’s the name of the book that is on my mind most of the time these days, although I’m really reading another book which is a pretty decent one. It’s on the top of my mind especially when I’m hungrily shopping for more books even before I’m done with the pretty decent one and a pile of others fighting to be read next.
That’s the name of the predominant sensation I experience every day, may be because I eat very little – may be not more than a little bite a day when I’m in the mood – and that may be because I can barely sense the taste of food when in public spaces – like a restaurant, a mess, a family dinner, a lunch break at office and that sort of a thing.
That’s the name of love that is not reciprocated at all, or worse yet: that which is returned in meager doses. It is also another name for lust. Love. Lust. Hunger. What sin, what pain, what pleasure.
That’s the name of everything that drives every man to do what he does. That’s the inner voice, the spirit, the sinner and the saint, the will and the winter within.
That’s the name of self-penance, the pleasure of punishing the self. Being the master and the slave. Being the torture and the victim. The offence and the defense. The test and the outcome. The victory and the failure. The victory is to survive hunger that long and the failure is to not survive it for much longer. Hunger prevails over hunger.
Hunger is what I’d like to call you, my love, if not for your beautiful name, because I want you so bad all the time but I know I’d die if I have you for any longer than this. You are good for my soul in little doses. I think I can kill you any day with just one good meal but you aren’t really dead, are you? You are just temporarily buried under all the barbecue chicken and mushroom sauce and chocolate mousse; you come back to me the next day or the day after, and I receive you with open arms just the same and lie down over there with you, under the sheets, curled up and delirious, happy and hoping to die of you some day, some distant day when I’m happier than ever.
Oh Hunger, I love you.
I’m uninspired. I feel totally out of sorts. I can’t think. I can’t sleep. I can’t just let it be. I’m nervous for no reason. I can’t feel what I want to feel. I can’t unwrap my birthday presents. I can’t respond the way I want. I can’t speak any louder than this. I can’t make out the meaning of words. I can’t love. I can’t see what you expect me to see. I can’t read between the lines. I can’t feel innocent. I’m not myself. I can’t calculate. I can’t feel unhappy. I can’t learn things that I wish to. I can’t find anything I look for. I can’t remember what I’m looking for. I can’t find your number to call you. I can’t smell the flowers you sent. I can’t check my mail. I can’t eat till I’m hungry like hell. I can’t understand. I can’t be sweet. I can’t float in my tub. I can’t describe my mood. I can’t roll over to the other side of my bed. I can’t write any better than this. Amen.
If life is like blots of water-colours
on a paper-boat floating all alone
in a little puddle of rain-water
collected in a dent, in a narrow street
open to the sky above;
the colors getting pinched out of the boat
and dissolving in the water
with every slight jerk in the pool,
caused by droplets popping into it
from the drenched rooftops overhead…
then you’re like the minute creäture,
invisible to man’s naked eye,
sailing alone in that boat and
looking at the gathering clouds above,
afraid if it might rain again soon,
if a careless footstep might fall on the puddle,
if a wanton boy might crush the boat for fun,
most of all,
afraid if the boat might lose all its colors before anything…