Atonement

Sunday, August 9, 2009



Two decades and more,
I have carried this pain.
The weight of expectations
The carcasses of my wishes slain

How much am I supposed to bear?
How much am I to change?
Why can’t I just be a freak?
Why must I wear a pretty face?

The agony is unbearable
The stigma of knowing too much
Too young to be trusted
Too old to be ignored

They try to ‘fix me’,
“It’s for your own good”, I hear
Then why do I smell it,
the rancid odour of fear?

I pretend to be atoned
of my mind untamed
living behind the perfect camouflage
of being civilized again




© 2009 by Chhaya. All rights reserved
PS: the image is googled


It started as a write up and ended up as a poem... I am curious to know what you feel after reading this.

38 comments:

vicious August 10, 2009 at 12:13 AM  

i am not agreat poet critic ... but i guess the two line : i am too young to be trusted and too old to be ignored says it all !!

Uncommon Sense August 10, 2009 at 8:38 AM  

this is a great one chhaya, it shows how we are forced to behave in particular way, it shows how we all are desparate to peel off our masks but we fear the society.. very nice poem brings almost all the points..

CrAzYy..! ;) August 10, 2009 at 9:41 AM  

hmmmmm.....

damdaar... once again super poem..

dis poem has remembered me two nice hindi songs..
1). jaane qyun khwaboka..(veer-zaara) [bilCOOL aisa hi song hai aapke poem ke jaisa. sung by lataji]

2). TINKA TINKA..zara zara (iske baare me mujhe jayada pata nahi.. sirf MUKHDA yaad hai ...soulfull song hai aapke poem ke jaisa hi..)

Zero August 10, 2009 at 9:55 AM  

Thank you for the interesting poem. Can understand the inner stress and frustration. Possible reason for this conflict is our own fear and ego. The biggest stressor in our life is our own false sense of Identity in the society. Best regards.

Uncommon Sense August 10, 2009 at 9:59 AM  

@ crazy tinka tinka zara zara, hai roshni se jaise bhara...

IdleMind August 10, 2009 at 12:05 PM  

That's what comes out of a matured adult!

Expectations ... and I suddenly see myself deeply influenced by it. Aren't we all ending ourselves satisfying others?

Change the first word to 'four' and you have exactly my words! that's perfect rendering of a life over-submitted to others.

Chhaya August 10, 2009 at 12:33 PM  

@everyone - i am deliberately holding back the replies to the comments.. actually i wanna see all the emotions this poem ignites before I open up a dialogue..... after that i might as well post what i had written before converting to this poem.

Uday August 11, 2009 at 10:17 AM  

Good one Chhaya, we all can relate to this poem. The burden of expectations starts as a young adult and continues all through your life..I often wonder how my life would have been if i lived it for the moment without any expectations from family/society. I am not sure if the expectaions setup a boundary around you and keeps you in check or holds you up from realizing your full potential..

Its my life August 11, 2009 at 3:26 PM  

Good one with lot of meaning and message.It is true and life is like that.

Whats In A Name August 11, 2009 at 4:48 PM  

Oh wonderful again!!!!
But I want to file a complaint over here... You post way too less nowadays!!! We shouldn't be starved of such wonderful stuff!!!!
Cheers!!!

Chhaya August 11, 2009 at 4:51 PM  

@Whats in a name -

guilty as charged... i will try to be more regular.. actually i try to stick to the "fiction" thing.. too coward to share the "me" part..

after almost 2 years, i guess i can get started..

keep checking!

Shamik Mitra August 11, 2009 at 7:56 PM  

yep the comment section is working.. sorry i checked my mail now :P

Ketan August 11, 2009 at 8:25 PM  

Hi, Chhaya!

I won't be completely honest if I say I understood the poem completely.

But, that usually is the nature of poetry, unless and until, very explicit, with the entire context laid out before the reader.

And since, I don't know you, the theme of your poem is apparently universal, and the person I know the best is myself, I take the liberty to take my life as the context of this poem. :)

There's a lot I've had to let go of in my life already (in just over 2 decades). My dreams, my purpose for life, a vision for how the World could and should be.

The (my) answer to the question you ask in first two stanzas is--survival. In the hope that some day I'd be able to live my life on my terms. Pretty face is to avoid confrontation. This avoidance of confrontation is indeed a compromise, but it brings with it the relief not having to emotionally engage with what I hate the most (the vileness in this world).

Haven't really faced much problem of 'being considered old and young at the same time'. Have been quite inconsiderate to what parents had to say. :) 'Knowing too much'--I can think of only in context of my realization of how the world is, but then I can't associate stigma with it, but certainly, a kind of helplessness.

Couldn't understand 'odour of fear'. Was it in context of others' understanding you're no more naive to not understand their manipulative designs?

The last stanza for me stands for compromising on my aspirations and potential alike.

And I take 'civilized' as a sarcasm at my ending up a much worse human only to 'fit in'.

Of course, for the reasons I explained first, I've tried to fit your poem in the context of my life, and I could see you'd hinted at different things than me.

Am curious about what you wanted to convey through this poem.

BTW, I've answered your question on my post.

Nice poem! :)

Take care.

Chhaya August 11, 2009 at 8:31 PM  

@Ketan

first of all, thanks a lot for reading the poem so carefully... about the answer to ur Q, it lies in the line - "Why can’t I just be a freak?" ... the poem (i didnt want to say it here in the comment section.. wanted to read all the reactions first) here is froma person who feels like a misfit ..


i will post the whole thing that i was working on before i converted it to the poem. i have been shying away from posting it cz i try to avoide personal posts..

next update..

Quackster August 12, 2009 at 1:53 AM  

Hi there again! Sorry, just finished big project over the last month and a half. I like this poem very much. I thought it was some sort of "atonement" for not doing something right but what it actually is you should not atone for who you really are, but what you pretend to be. A poem with twists. I like it very much =)

Sri August 12, 2009 at 3:07 PM  

camouflaged the real essence of your feeling with words that are poetic..but I am really interested to know what you actually intended to say...

Pete August 12, 2009 at 7:08 PM  

Hi Chhaya

I'm just back from interstate so I can finally comment (sorry :)
The following is about the imaginary "I" not you specifically of course.

The first two stanzas are recognisable and aid in building a mood and theme.

Third stanza "Stigma of knowing too much" is curious. It could be you knew too much about a traumatic event or situation OR perhaps being worldly beyond your years. The last possibility can be a special sin for a young woman in the eyes of society. The pressure of filling a gender expectation may therefore be an unstated theme in the poem.

Fourth stanza - They (parents?) try to "fix me" sounds like therapy from psychologists for (what they see as) your anxiety about life. Perhaps strong medication (to "fix") is being suggested. You obviously see the "fixing" effort as an attempt to condition you toward normal.

Last stanza. You know (or at least believe) the "fixing" (conditioning, therapy, medication) hasn't made you less anxious. You're still living a life of desperation but more quietly now - better "camoflaged".

So I've read your poem from a psychological/medical point of view partly guided by my own experiences.

Regards

Pete

Whats In A Name August 13, 2009 at 3:43 PM  

@Chhaya...

I shall eagerly wait to see you on my updated blog list soon:-)

PS: Read the poem again ... It felt great again!!! :-) Just sinks in deeper and deeper....

Chhaya August 13, 2009 at 3:55 PM  

@What'sInAName - :D .. soon.. very soon..

@Tarun - touba touba.. mere blog pe profanity! munna... maar padegi :P

Vittaldas Prabhu August 13, 2009 at 3:58 PM  

I guess there is nothing much for me to comment here as all the views presented above pretty much sum up everything I would like to say, and are more elaborately described than I would do. However...

Having expectation for oneself is not wrong, but setting those expectations to make someone else happy is questionable. So many times we are forced to do what others think we must do. It might get frustrating at times, but it is the mindset. There are a lot of motivational clowns out there who keep preaching "Walk as if you rule the world", but it does not work always. At times we need to put others before us and do things which if we were not obligated we wouldn't do.

The lines in your poem clearly indicate that (the imaginary) you wish to break the shackles, and "finally" do what you want to do. To tell you a fact, there has been numerous instances in my life in which I have had the same feeling of being bound by the "social stigma" - all these I could reflect on through your lines, each line at a time.

Great one.

Chhaya August 13, 2009 at 4:03 PM  

@VPrabhu - totally agree with you.. this is exactly why i never read the so called 'motivational books'..

about the poem.. i understand your frustation. this world has some really rigid rules.. but i wrote this poem at a very personal lever. i m really shy when it comes to sharing my thoughts without wrapping them up in the form of a poem or a story.. i tend to get misunderstood and taken for a stubborn monster :)

but i m getting ready to open up.. watch for the next update

Pete August 13, 2009 at 7:36 PM  

"...i m getting ready to open up...."

You're just teasing us Chhaya :)

Chhaya August 13, 2009 at 9:29 PM  

@Everyone, especially Pete - the poem's backstory is now posted

D.Dasgupta August 13, 2009 at 10:25 PM  

Dear Chhaya:

Are you familiar with Marcel Marceau? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcel_Marceau

I am not sure if he is still alive, but that is immaterial. He was/is the best pantomime actor the world ever produced.

He toured the world several times with his show and once he even visited India and Kolkata. He gave a performance at the ALLIANCE FRANCAISE.

There were several items in the show -- all solo performances. One in particular will remain embedded in my mind forever.

A masked man keeps changing his masks. He wears one and immediately the expression on the actors face changes. There is no real mask of course. He used his face muscles to produce the masked man effect.

Then, he raises his hands to his face and acts as though he is removing the mask. His face immediately changes to normal.

But the very next moment, he changes over to another mask and the expression changes.

Sometimes crying, sometimes sighing, sometimes showing surprise -- in an endless procession of expression. And then, he puts on the final mask.

The mask of a laughing man.

When he tries to remove that mask, he fails. He keeps trying every possible way to remove it, but the laughing face remains as it is, not a single muscle betraying the static laughter. But the mask is stuck. You feel the desperation of the man who is unable to take off the mask try as hard as he can. The face keeps laughing.

Finally, after what seems like an eternity, he succeeds to unloosen the mask. You can see that his body is already tired in its endless effort to achieve the purpose -- removing the laughter to reveal the real face.

When the laughing mask finally comes off, you see a face that is tired, confused and almost ready to faint.

I think I will end my comment here. You understand what I have said I am sure. But don't miss watching Marceau on u-tube.

All the best.

DD

D.Dasgupta August 13, 2009 at 10:26 PM  

Dear Chhaya:

Yes, he is dead. Died in 2007.

DD

Chhaya August 13, 2009 at 10:35 PM  

@Deep da- Yes I do know about Marceau.. in fact I have always loved the mime artists. Somehow the ability of saying everything without words has always fascinated me.

About the reference to the “mask maker” (I am not sure.. might be wrong) performance.. I absolutely understand what you mean by that..

thank u :)

D.Dasgupta August 13, 2009 at 10:52 PM  

Dear Chhaya:

Try this and note that as he starts off, there is no chair where he is supposed to be sitting!!

DD

D.Dasgupta August 13, 2009 at 10:52 PM  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzYdsRK-iHU&feature=related

Tarun Goel August 13, 2009 at 11:09 PM  

was that profane???
Then you should thank god that maya doesn't write for your blog :P

Chhaya August 13, 2009 at 11:12 PM  

@Tarun - i say thanks to the almighty for that favor... everyday :P .. lol

D.Dasgupta August 14, 2009 at 1:04 PM  

Quite right. It was called The Maskmaker. Here it is:

http://www.youtube.com/user/alexneander#play/all/uploads-all/1/PXwGGbnvlYg

Also, I am quite fond of Grimaldi. Your poem reminded me of him too. You may already be familiar with him. If not, look here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Grimaldi

The most relevant part of the Grimaldi story is:

A famous 'sad clown' anecdote was first told of Grimaldi (later also told of Grock): A young man goes to see his doctor. He is overcome by a terrible sadness and doesn't think anything will make him feel better. The doctor says, "Why not do something happy, like going to see Grimaldi the clown?". The young man answers, with a knowing look, "Ah, but Doctor", he says, "I am Grimaldi."

As you can see, I am still thinking of your poem. Hope I'm not boring you to death.

DD

Chhaya August 14, 2009 at 1:32 PM  

@Deep Da – I have heard about him. this incident you mentioned is so moving.. I was just sitting and thinking about it... What a sense of profound sadness.. Somehow that perpetual smile on a clown’s face spells the very meaning of pain..

about you thinking about my poem.. I am honoured deep-da.. how can I get bored of it? btw, I have posted something new .. do take a look when u r free.

Virus© August 15, 2009 at 11:37 PM  

Reminds me of "Creep" by Radiohead.

Brosreview August 17, 2009 at 4:44 PM  

I can feel the anger, the frustration in this piece as you have not toned it down. I must add, that is a good choice you've made there.

The struggle to break-free from the mold that is considered ideal in this so-called ideal society is evident here. The need to be different or unusual rather than being usual can be sensed here.

Good job writing this one! Keep at it!!!

Navi August 21, 2009 at 2:46 PM  

one word...Rebellious... Very very much rebellious...

Very well versed.. And nice portrayal of anger and anguish inside someone who is forced to do things which she/he doesn't want to...

PS:- I am following ur blog now.. :p Could you follow mine?

L. Venkata Subramaniam August 28, 2009 at 5:03 PM  

why is it atonement?

i think the poem is a bit confused or confusing....i am not sure which.

I only understand the last para but not the buildup to it.

Anyway you dont have to explain. Maybe I will understand better on reading some other day.

Anonymous,  September 3, 2009 at 1:25 PM  

ending with a beginning, but of submission...like always, u put it prefectly, n i always wish it wasnt that way...

jus perfect...carry on..

a friend...

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