There is a little thought experiment I did. Of course, I was my own subject. I shall speak about it later in this post. But first, please do go through this poem below.
When an Indian Man Loves a Women
When an Indian man loves a woman,
he lets her be.
When an Indian woman loves a man she is awake all night,
baking his favourite Chocolate Brownie.
When an Indian man loves a woman,
he whispers, ‘you bake better than my mother’. He
means it. He goes down on her without inhibition. He does not expect
the favour to be returned.
When an Indian woman loves a man she sees him fall asleep
after making love. In the dark she wanders the imperfect contours
of his body, finding beauty like sprouts of hair.
He does not check her phone or pry into
her bag for unmentionables. He is patient with her.
When he yells, “I am stronger than you know”, he means
“Hold me!” He believes he is Aschenbach, Florentino, Heathcliff
wrapped in one.
When an Indian woman loves a man she takes him
shopping for earrings to Chandi Chowk in the middle of the day in June,
haggling for the price of forever.
He comes with her carrying umbrella and lemonade.
When an Indian man loves a woman he avoids arguing
with her. He doesn’t hiss, ‘So! You’re having your period?’
They squabble. It is not so much the injury of difficult
truths he is afraid of, it is what comes thereafter.
She tells him stories of her travels to Kaunas,
Palermo, Cartagena. In the end, when she says, “I missed you”,
she means, ‘I carried you with me’.
When they meet after years, she lays out her longings as
seashells collected from twenty three countries. He fills her homecoming
with childhood albums, homemade food and soft lighting. He reads
Anais Nin and Rumi to her as if those words were written for her.
When an Indian man loves a woman he wakes her to Espresso and cheese crackers.
He makes the bed after they make love.
He collects stray pieces of her hair and disposes them off,
humming a tune from their first night of dancing.
After they part, she remembers him.
She still describes him to her friends as twilight
on a hidden Caribbean island, wrapped in tropical heat,
where Victorian lampposts sway to the scent of Cuban cigars.
When an Indian man loves a woman, he carries her smell
on his fingertips. He has learnt Neruda’s twenty love poems, Tagore’s Gitanjali and
Faiz’s Nuskha Haa-e-Wafa by heart.
When an Indian man loves a woman, he writes such a poem for her,
assuming she will read it, and when one day she has to recollect
her happiest moment, she will hold this very paper
to the sun, and say, here, this, this was it!
Post script. As a rule, I don’t usually upload my poems on the blog. However, I came across David Lehmann’s When a Woman Loves a Man here and Dan Bunea’s art here . Here I have tried to infuse the form of one into the essence of the other. In effect both these above works are inspiration pieces for the above poem. I have no qualms in stating that mostly my experiences (and those gleaned from from others I know) form the content of the poem. I hope this doesn’t amount of plagiarism. More a kind of ‘inspired imitation embedded with shards of personal emotions’.
Of course, I don’t usually follow this kind of a creative process, wherein I dwell too much, or let another poem seep so deep into my head that I can think of nothing else (and yet it does happen a lot of times. TS Eliot, Auden, Szymborska, Stephen Dunn, Mark Strand are a few such under who, most frequently).
I think this was more of an attempt wherein I was trying to fuse art therapy and poetry to understand some of the reasons that make a poem, and in effect, poetry (and all art, in fact) so very endearing, that some of it continue to stick to us like sharp smells, long after we return from a spice cellar – and also to understand the ‘how‘ that is at the background of personalizing a poem. So I took a poem that I really loved and personalized its frame. But within its frame, lie a sum total of my own experiences – primary or secondary. Does this make good poetry? No necessarily. But that isn’t the point.
The point here, and I realized this only I was done with the poem, was to foreground my own feelings, thoughts, recollections and impressions about a subject; in this case, what happens when an Indian man loves a woman (and the possibilities are too multitudinous). Of course, the technique, rife with subjectivities, needs more work in terms of thought, critique and insight. But I feel by compelling individuals to fill up empty frames of language (and in a certain context, that is how I would want to see/define a poem minus its total content), via systematic exposure to another medium, there is a lot of surfacing of impressions, memories and feelings that can happen.
Anyway, more on this in the due course. For now, do enjoy the original poem and painting, if you didn’t like my own poem.
Dan Bunea’s For You My Love has been shown below.
PPS. The other image, among the featured images, is a painting titled Abstract Love by Billie Collins. You may see more of him here.