PaperPlanes#13 – The Quiet World

Some of you may have read how after over 400 poems in 4 different languages, I just stopped writing for almost a decade. Here’s how it went:

This will sound very much a cliche but I’ve felt more connected to poets of old than any of my friends, even since my schooldays. I started writing poems around 7th grade, but even then my topics and writing were a tad too serious for someone my age. So much so that our class teacher, who had encouraged us to write in the first place, got worried if I came from a broken home and asked me to cheer up and write something happy instead.

I had always seen suffering around me and wondered how the world could be so and why everyone was so nonchalant about all this mess and if the world could change for the better. This question had plagued me since childhood and nothing else seemed more important. Poetry was never a matter of form for me, though I did experiment with various rhyme schemes and many different styles and languages; all I wanted was to know and share how the world works.

But as they say, life is what happens while you are busy making other plans and mine took me on a very different journey through heartbreak, depression and beyond. When the dust settled, after 4 years, I had reached a very quiet place and become a totally indifferent version. It was not even a defensive pose where you withdraw in a shell, I was simply not there. I had my friends, a job that kept me busy and sufficient money, I just didn’t have words, or care much for them. And almost a decade went by thus, till I read this:

In an effort to get people to look
into each other’s eyes more,
and also to appease the mutes,
the government has decided
to allot each person exactly one hundred
and sixty-seven words, per day.

When the phone rings, I put it to my ear
without saying hello. In the restaurant
I point at chicken noodle soup.
I am adjusting well to the new way.

Late at night, I call my long distance lover,
proudly say I only used fifty-nine today.
I saved the rest for you.

When she doesn’t respond,
I know she’s used up all her words,
so I slowly whisper I love you
thirty-two and a third times.

After that, we just sit on the line
and listen to each other breathe.

The Quiet World

And just like that, I had made a new friend. Jeffrey McDaniel is as modern a poet as you get. He too writes about religious slavery, anarchy, broken homes and sexual frustrations – bringing the truth closer and closer home with each flaming free verse.

However, there was something simple and quietly powerful about this little love poem of sweet nothings that just shattered the age-old barriers of my ice-cold ennui and set my creative juices gushing at such speed that just a month and a half later I held another book of poems in my hands – my own!

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