A review of Raj Naiksatam’s novel The Cloudburst
The Cloudburst by Rajesh Naiksatam is a novel that lives up to its title gradually, developing with an excellent form, style and line of thought. It reveals the past and present exploitation and persecution of India’s common people by both Indian nationals and foreigners. But nature is the best healer when all things within and outside us cleanse us, giving us a hope for starting anew. The author was born and brought up in Mumbai, India. So, his knowledge of the country runs through this story, taking place all over India and the Indian subcontinent. The characters are international, from all corners of the world.
Editor’s note: here’s a summary of Mahbub’s view of Rajesh Naiksatam’s The Cloudburst!
E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India illustrated colonial attitudes towards Indian culture in 1924: the people’s behavior and attitudes, how the rulers treated the commoners. Now, nearly one hundred years later, Rajesh Naiksatam’s The Cloudburst pulls off a similar feat with a different type of setting, a fresh style and characters, and lucid and colloquial language.
Continue reading Mahbub’s summary/review here. Continue reading
THE POET THAT RECITES SPITTING
Walking through the Espolón promenade, in Burgos
From up to down
From the Provincial Council
And Main Theater
Until the Arch of Saint Mary
And back to start from the Arch of Saint Mary
Until the Main Theater
And Provincial Council
The Great poet united verses
Spiting below each line
So that people would be well followed.
Each of the wings of his bronchitis
Felt on the trunk of a banana trees
Or on some of the tiles of the walk
Well, the Poet spat so much on his side
How to the front
Wrinkling the nose.
The scene was seen that he enjoyed happiness
And it was his cause
As passersby laughed
Or people boasting against him.
Tanning of sputums
Giving the verse in gale or pledge
To this man or that female
That they lowered its value
Or diminished its importance
Or estimate, exclaiming:
-It’s a sp Poet’ sputum.
-It is a spit in Verses
Degenerating from its true origin.
-He is a bronchial Poet.
He makes verses with the sputums
Poet of Poets
He coughed and spit like a king
That ensures his reign
Soaking with the tongue
The spit on his palate
To keep them
For inmemorial time.
All in all, the Poet
Obstinate, determined not to give
To demands of the people
What they demanded:
-Poeta, stop spitting
And recite a poem to us as it is due.
When passing through the music temple
He lifted his neck and spat at them
Falling sputums on the head of a bald man
That he was sitting
On a bench of the walk
Close to the temple
Looking like a sea fennel
In his head
Leaping the Lord of Poets on his legs
Gesturing he with hands in the air
-You’ll be a fucking Poet!
It is believed that he is throwing leashes to the hawks
Or plasters to the skull.
The Poet, without making a sack
And, at the same time, reciting
Embellishing the Espolón promenade
Giving to it a poetic character
With the charm of his verses
And his sputums.
The Death of The Dog
It was just at the evening
Finishing my morning prayer at the mosque
I kept my feet on the highway
A sound stroke my head and heart
As it was knocked down by a vehicle
Moaning and groaning so poor in condition
Sickly sound the last for ever
Stop my breath taking for a while
Just like a baby before going to sleep
Keeping its front hands to its mother’s head whimpered
The last pathos lost for all
Brimming to the air
Revolved my mind and mentality
We all are going to pass the silence of the night.
We are born ambitious
Like to rise high, fly in the sky
Flow on the water, to the highest pick of the mountain
The lives lay flat on the ground
Innumerable skulls deep in the whole
Gnarled in the open air
We die every time in our sleep
Every night we roar and moan in nightmare
We struggle for something
We die for something for the next welfare
Achieved or not
But die for achieving till the point of the result
The ship is bound to the harbor
But found always in midst of the ocean
Sinking and rising
Making the belly a football
Crawling a long way seem to be too tired
Not to be able to enter into the hall
The sun rays too hot
The tigers devour the body
Bloods seeping from above
How can I escape?
Many children have been lost in the manhole
Many lost in the dark
Many fought but defeated in the struggle
Many spend the nights by the highways in the dirt and dust
What they eat we never think for
They don’t have the courage to the white spark
Man is born free but not for other’s future
We struggle only for power and dignity
We never keep our hand to the helpless world
We demand not so heavy only for the right to be loved
To take away from the condition of starvation
To plan for rehabilitation and sanitation
We eat we bleed angry and hungry
How can we flee from this dying and suffocating world?
Will it ever be possible to inhale the fresh air?
Is there any unseen hand that might emancipate us?
Come On, O Raindrops
The sky is ready with clouds
Pours the drops of rain
The thirsty land quenches its throat
From many years the leaves dried or dying
Likely to get drenched by the water
Thrives from the core of heart
Turn back me
Spread your hand over
Just like the water from the sky
Fill up the gaps green and fresh
So peaceful to the sight
Burning my body turning to death
O dear, come on.
In every step of age we are playing
Even in the sleep we play
As long as our heart beats
We play struggling to throw the ball in the goal post
We clap our hands glitter the eyes
We dance sigh a relief wind
I am to you are to me
We walk hand in hand in the ground
We look forward behind
Take care to win for the next time
The spectators on the gallery
In every step of life we are playing.
Waiting Cheese Platter Under Wraps
I am sitting alone
in Conference Room D.
Beside the rattling tin of instant coffee
and waiting cheese platter
The wire microphones
in front of each swivel chair
like twisted forgotten
Corporate art walls
and freshly vacuumed floors.
Then my wife comes in.
What are you doing?
I thought you were waiting for me
outside the bathrooms.
What if someone comes in right now?
I tell her to sit down.
That anyone who walks in
will assume I am in charge
and that I will run the
You don’t even know what the conference
But I know what it should be about.
Let’s get out of here,
I reluctantly give up my seat
at the head of the table.
Leaving Conference Room D
to fend for itself.
On the placard outside
it reads: Millwrights Union
You don’t even know what a millwright is!
Sure I do,
It’s a group of people that mill about
with the right posture.
That would have been one hell of an interesting conference,
I tell her we can always go back.
She can sit in and keep the minutes.
The chairs turn around just like in The Exorcist.
She drags me by the arm
while I snatch her purse
and let her know that I’m beginning
my life of crime.
A Complete Stranger
You got the stuff?
And since I didn’t have the stuff
he turned away quickly
and walked off.
Looking back once
with a confused look
before he rounded the corner
and was gone.
The plug is fishing for attention
over by the outlet along the far wall.
It is harpooning whaling vessels
back into bloody waters.
Double-pronged and prom night
obvious with its intentions.
Four days until another
failed apocalypse comes to pass.
These doomsdayers keep
getting second chances.
I stopped believing what people
said somewhere around 1989.
That was a big year for me.
Hair on my balls
and my first time on an airplane.
I have given the plug what it wants.
Some undeserved attention.
Not a place in the wall with the spiders,
but the next best thing.
Lay off the big scream,
don’t let them hear you.
Make them lean into something else
like knocking over a stack of
Tiptoe around the cauldron
Cover your mouth
cover your bets.
Your word is not enough.
They want all the words you
can think of.
A Princess Lion with Leopard Spots
Kitten has gone for her haircut.
To remove all the mats.
She is the manor work cat.
My wife calls to tell me that kitten
felt self-conscious at first,
but that everyone kept picking her up
and telling her how beautiful she looks
and that now she is strutting around everyone.
Little Miss Thang!
my wife says.
I thought she had stripes like a tiger,
but now that she’s shaved down
you can see she has spots more like
A princess lion with leopard spots,
she yells excitedly.
Did I tell you that she tried
to leave work with me
the other night?
I tell her she did not.
Good thing I looked down.
Little Miss Thang was walking out
the door proud as she pleased with the hook tail
cats get when they’re happy.
She says she’s been told by her boss
that she can’t bring the work cat home.
She told Kitten she had to stay,
but that my wife would be back soon.
So she was running a hustle on you,
Trying to make you think she always
came home with you.
Oh yes, she acted like it was natural
and I was weird for questioning it.
It was so cute!
I tell her that if she had her way
we’d have all the cats in the world.
My wife laughs
and says she still wants that shirt
that says all the cats love
Even this cat,
But don’t tell Kitten,
Those felines get
She promises not to tell
and we hang up.
Then I watch a documentary
on turn of the century madhouses
If I could
see into the future
I would cut my eyes out
and give them
Snip the ganglia wires
they are your
Pass them along
the family line if you want.
I didn’t put a curse
That is just
2 Degree Sky Differential
I come downstairs
and she shows me what she
has been working on
See what I did there?
You made the colour picture
black and white,
I fixed the sky.
You fixed the sky?
The sky was crooked,
going back and forth
between the two pictures.
She turns the computer screen
back towards herself.
How can you not see that?
You’re the artistic one,
did you really think I would
and say I see you fixed the sky,
there was a 2 degree sky differential,
but you fixed it.
I like what you did there,
does that sound
She take a large swig of her wine.
It is a white Chardonnay.
I saw what you did there,
Does that count?
The back door is open.
You can hear the frogs singing.
Before the real heat arrives
so there is no fan.
And we are drinking rum.
Something from a bottle made to look
as though some second rate pirate stole it
and buried it in our fridge for
I come back from the bathroom
and it is Summertime.
Not the real summer in full,
but Sydney Bechet
The wife was always good with the reeds.
Has a natural aptitude for music.
The frogs still singing in the dark.
A napkin over my mouth
to wipe away the
He (or she) has a sexually not-good past but will change, though, still in the habit of flirting
Do you know that when you form a habit, the habit will eventually form you evil communication corrupt good manners? Indeed, it takes sheer determination and special grace to give up this life-long addition to cigarette smoking promiscuity of unpleasant consequence. Audrey, a dashing middle-aged young man, had been smoking since the age of 15. Now married with children, he is yet to say “no” to cigarette smoking. If not for the principled nature of his wife, Lilian, probably his three sons would have taken into his lifestyle of cigarette addiction. The same analogy is applicable to sexual promiscuity.
He has a sexually not-good past but will change, though is still in the habit of flirting
At this point, if you have a spouse who is busy ‘playing around’ with other ladies, then I suggest you ask him the question, “Sexually are you worth being faithful to?’’ His sincere response will tell whether or not you should go ahead with the relationship. What makes you think he will change, considering the fact he is been busy “sharing” you with other women? Would you be surprised if I told you that he apparently sees your sexuality as no better than the ladies he had rammed, despite his seeming praises of you? Probably, he is financially or materially assisting you, does it mean you cannot prevent the imminent blindfold – his flirting habit? Given this identified recognition, what gives you the impression you are mentally and physically prevented from the clutches of insecurity and doubt, diseases, lack of focus and judgment? Automatically, if not now, in a not-too-distant future, like he had done to other women, and if not changed by then, you will be realistically be seen as a sex object and just as the disposable (medical) syringe, he will treat you like or leave you for other women. If you really want to get on with the relationship, then the need to strongly change him by painstakingly imposing on him with humility practicable truths of managing one’s sexuality by yourself or the services of a trained counselor is undoubtedly very essential.
She has a sexually not-good past but will change, though is still in the habit of flirting
The dream of most responsible men is to be in serious relationship with or marry chaste girls. Imagine a situation where your spouse is gallivanting with other men. Would you ordinarily be in a relationship with such a person? What do you expect from her- fidelity, a good home, a secured marriage or something? Judging by her promiscuous lifestyle, there is no significant difference between her and just by-the-roadside sex hawkers. Do you want to marry such a lady? Even if she is intelligent, beautiful and possess what you think are essential requirements of a lady, can’t you exercise the worth of self-control on her and teach her the essence of upholding womanhood—fidelity? If you think you can’t leave the “love of your life’, then I advise you strongly yield to this advice. On her part, it takes self—determination and a special grace to turn a new leaf from this chronic habit. This can only be met provided she can practically exercise the lesson of self-determination and special grace. It must be established the warning: ‘’this will be a herculean task to complete.’’
I was at Starbucks
and they came for me
they hadn’t been for me in a while
but they came for me
I was just sitting in my car looking
at my phone, harming no one
heard a tap at my window, businesslike,
police, I figure it would be something
“step out of the car.”
“someone said you followed them from home.”
“they said that you look at porn on your cell phone?”
“what? I would never look at porn at Starbucks.”
“it sounds like he doesn’t believe what he is saying.
he seems suspicious to me and i am suspicious to him
the flashing lights come in, and they light up the night
three more police cars. I feel like El Chapo.
I don’t have a criminal record.
at 41 i thought i was past this.
being treated like a criminal.
but i feel like 25 again, not having my shit together.
It seems like they are being friendly with me
but they hate me, “sit on the curb!”
they would say that they are just doing their jobs
always doing their jobs
I take everything out of my pockets like i am told,
but that is not good enough.
he has too take everything out of my pockets
and sits on the car trunk.
this shit is so embarrassing.
I feel people looking at me, I don’t look up.
I try to smile, it is difficult though.
they are dissecting me,
they have been watching me for months.
I have been minding my business, and been
so quiet, just working on my laptop, reading books,
and listening to podcasts.
the boys need to remind me I am a fuck up, and black,
not whatever i think I am
they tear the car apart looking for
looking for heroin
the do their best to find that
but they don’t find it
I don’t have it, and never had it
I used to hang out in bars.
and this is one of the reasons I stopped
I figured i would be safe at Starbucks
not fucking with anyone.
I thought the employees were my friends,
some of them, but they are with the police too.
these people act like they don’t know me,
act like we have never talked or joked with one
another. I feel betrayed betrayed betrayed
this is Kafkaesque
who set me up? and why?
betrayed betrayed betrayed
and he bought me drinks and played video games at bar, we
were bar buddies, not too many people liked him. And we were
both outsiders at the bar. I remember him saying, “you know my job
is hiring Damion, we could always use another janitor.” As if that would
be the only thing i would be qualified to be. I thought it was funny and
interesting if he intended it to be an insult. And deep down it was. Something
was going on in his life to insult me. And even though he worked for Boeing and
made a shit load of money he was not happy. UN happier than the shipping clerk
he wanted to insult, interestingly enough
The Clerk is An Angel
I got to the grocery store and was impatient,
line building behind me, Sunday night and cart full of groceries,
no bagger, he went home, meaning the cashier would have to bag the groceries
too, which will slow up the line.
the line didn’t have any movement, as still as the sky
this made me uncomfortable as it made others uncomfortable,
but people started chatting with each other, and I just picked up
a can of beans in my grocery cart and read the ingredients
I felt as uncomfortable as a traffic jam, almost unbearable to me
and the clerk’s voice was so calm, with no hint of frustration, or anger, or impatience,
and I haven’t seen anything like that in a while, as he asked, “how I was feeling?”
I kinda snapped when i said, “just wish you had a bagger.”
with impatience and anger i was trying to temper, yet couldn’t quite do this.
I put the card in the machine, it holds and releases,
he gives me a receipt of the stuff I had bought,
his face is still so calm, I admire that
“have a good night I say.”
realizing my foolishness
I took a benadryl
and was knocked out for hours
this sleep, dreamless at times
when I woke up, I thought it was
eight in the morning,
it was one in the afternoon,
this Memorial day holiday
I did nothing except sleep mostly
it felt good to me,
not to notice what time it is
except it was my time for a while
and the world dissolved for me
into blue smoke