Explore this blog by clicking on the labels listed along the right-hand sidebar. There are lots of interesting stuff which you won't find on the home page
Seriously curious about me? Click on ' What sort of person am I?'

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Natalie

In the queer light, in twilight
In April of the year
I meet a thousand women
But I never meet my Dear.
Yet each of them has something
A turn of neck or knee
A line of breast or shoulder
That brings my Dear to me.
One has a way of swaying
I’d swear to anywhere
One has a hat, and one a laugh
And one a trick of hair –

Oh, hints and glints and gestures,
When shall I find complete
The Dear that's walking somewhere
The Dear that I’ve yet to meet?                 

Rupert Brooke wrote that poem a long time ago, when he was a very young man. The poem is titled ‘The Young man in April’. Then he wrote ‘If I should die...’, and then went to war and got himself killed. Lucky boy.  Not all of us have the same good fortune to go early, and leave behind only our works for people to admire and sigh over, and perchance to think “I wish I had known him”...

Now I have been a young man in a certain sense for a very long time, and I am growing old now, and I was also the sort of young man  who read Manusmriti and Arthasastra and Kamasutra and Paradise Lost of his own volition in teenage, and admired old men of the likes of Bertrand Russell and Tennyson’s Ulysses, you need to keep that in mind too. And I have been looking for my Dear for a very long time.

That hasn’t stopped me from having many nice-to-wonderful ‘affairs’ as people call them, a good marriage, a most satisfactory family life, and a daughter I am very proud of.  Yet, as the poet says, ‘always roaming with a hungry heart’, hethaa noy, hothaa noy, onyo kothaa, onyo konokhane... it has been an extraordinarily rich life, in a sense, therefore, but most intensely frustrating too. My Natalie I have never found.

‘Who’s Natalie?’ asked an old boy in his late '30s today, and I reminded him of If winter comes.  I created Natalie, and she has been all that I have wanted from a woman.  In the so-called real world, to paraphrase Russell, ‘I found ecstasy, I found anguish, I found madness, I found loneliness/ I found the solitary pain that gnaws the heart/ but peace I did not find’. What I did find was a lot of gifted and good women, and also crazed ones and foolish ones, obsessed ones and misguided ones galore, women who eventually hurt me more than they gave joyance (to use an archaic word), and yet women I am thankful for having known, however long or briefly. But the fact remains that I didn’t find Natalie. I have had girls asking me to adopt them too, but no one has ever said ‘I want to be your Natalie’. She is my manaskanya, girl born of my mind, and she will go to the grave with me.

I am not sad as I write this. There are feelings much deeper than sadness.  Some people say they know, but of course, that is just a form of words. In the end, we are all alone, and too foolish even to get close to those who have tried hardest...

Rituparno the noted filmmaker has died suddenly of a cardiac arrest. He was just about my age. I could very easily be marked for the axe, too - my doctors assure me I am a prime candidate! There are many who delude themselves with the thought that there's lots of time in hand to make things right. Of all the saddest things ever written, nothing is sadder than the words 'It might have been'.
                                                    

16 comments:

aranibanerjee said...

Sir,

The first thing that comes to my mind is 'ki chomtkar lekha'. The 'rasa' is that of antiquity when one would express deepest feelings without the circumlocution of French philosophers of the sixties. This is the language which has the ability to be deep without the use of familiar words as jargon.
And, then this brings to one's mind the 'nirjanotabo kobi'. Buddhadeb Basu had declared him so and a loner he was. Even in death--I imagine what it would be to get out for a morning walk and then be hit by a tram. He had written about his 'Banolata Sen'. I have long wondered what the poem could mean till I thought that it could only be a poet's muse, Beauty not as an object but as an idea or an extension of the self. And then, the lines make so much sense:
Thakey shudhu andhokar
Mukhomukhi bashibar Banolata Sen

It makes sense to the poet that such beauty can come only when life has completed its course and come full circle. But, even the coming to this end is a completion--of the circle. It is a progression to, from restless searching to the peace of having found the Natalie or the Banolota Sen.
But, does it always have to come at the end? Can it not come earlier? Have the poets of the east and the west not helped us find them? The song of the nightingale for Keats or the face that you can see only in the calm of darkness when you 'face' yourself has told us where to look for or where not to look for.

I think many of us abandon these images in the crowd of faces we pursue. To be able to hold that intact like the boy in Araby who held the image of the girl like a chalice amongst a crowd of foes is the feat of an artist. In fact, it is the artist as a young man!

Warm regards,
Arani

sayantika said...

Dear Sir,
Thank you for writing this piece and I can just read it with awe. Such a beautifully written piece!
I think it is better if Natalie remains in the realms of your mind and the quest goes on. For if she does materialise, as with all creations, wouldn't the shadow fall between the idea and the reality?
And Sir, can you please put up the original story 'If winter comes...' that you wrote on your blog?
Arani da, your comment is enlightening. A post like this deserves a comment like yours.

Thanks and with regards,
Sayantika

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Ca, c'est vraiment magnifique, Arani and Sayantika, a thousand thanks. This precisely is what has been called 'feast of reason and flow of soul'... when one writes something like this post and finds appreciation of this quality, one suddenly touches one of the supreme high-s of life, and one is reminded just what is really worth living for.

I'd like to say two things together, even if they sound contradictory. Yes, it is perhaps only something inside us that we can create and love like that, Arani, and yes, perhaps it's best that the ideal never be actually found, Sayantika. But it is also true - at least I have found it to be so in my own life - that art follows reality, more often than not. What else do we talk about the poet's muse for? There is much sordidness and ugliness in the reality all around us, true, and much that frustrates and exasperates, but there are also real things that trigger off our dreams!

Soham Mukhopadhyay said...

Sir,
It is really refreshing to read such posts written by you.It is so beautifully written and at the same time it was nice to read Aranida's comment. I re-read your last year's post 'If winter comes..' and I was filled with same kind of emotion as that of a year ago. In fact this post and the last year's one seem to pair up with each other. Thank you Sir,again, for writing such a piece.

with regards,
Soham Mukhopadhyay

Unknown said...

Dear Suvroda,

This post reminded me of your class on 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci': one of the first classes on truth, beauty, love and life in general. We were young then, thinking it would be easy to hold on to an ideal. Outside the world of the campus, one realises how difficult it is.

If nothing but a figment of your imagination, Natalie is your inspiration for navigating through life and its harsh blows.

With regards and wishes,

Aakash

Rajarshi said...

Dear Sir,

Thank you very much for such a beautiful post. This post and Arani(da)'s comment touched a chord somewhere deep inside my cynical, unimaginative self.

A singular thing - and this is a very personal feeling (I am sure I share it with others) - about your writing - whether it be on art or politics or what is a good life - stays with me long after I have closed the browser.

I had visited your blog tonight to read up on Utilitarianism and I came across this post.

With Warm Regards,
Rajarshi

Kaustav Som said...

Sir,
It fills me with joy after reading such a delightfully written post. The preceding comments also had a humbling effect.
The post beautifully sheds light on one of the many fascinations that almost everyone nurture in their hearts since boyhood and the various nuances of 'Natalie' which keeps gnawing their minds throughout their lives. What makes it more enjoyable is the acceptance of the fact that the wait for 'Natalie' is perhaps never going to end. Sure, many artists have pondered on this subject which has given us works like Tagore's Sonar Horeen, or, more recently, the film Antaheen.
Regard,
Kaustav Som
(2009 Batch)

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Soham, Aakash, Rajarshi, Kaustav, many thanks for commenting. I love to see people keeping in touch, especially by way of commenting on what I write. So few people do! If I ever wanted to become a celebrity, it'd be for a very cynical reason: most people, even those who regard themselves as smart and busy, can somehow 'find time' to meet or talk to celebs!

Aakash, yes, Natalie has kept me young, and that is not just imagination! Rajarshi, so kind of you. 'The music in my heart I bore/ long after it was heard no more'. That's the best that writing can do, isn't it? And Kaustav, being inspired by a muse did not start with Tagore!

Nishant said...

Dear Sir,

That was wonderfully written. As I might have mentioned in a previous post of yours, when I read such prose, I always wonder the state of mind one has to be in to not only have such thoughts bombard one's head, but also to be able to express them so beautifully in human-readable language. Without looking like an obscene flatterer to other readers, in my honest opinion, if you had been born in a different time, under different circumstances, in an English speaking country, you might have been a novelist with as many works and with as many followers as perhaps Wodehouse or Saki.

Like others have mentioned, I don't know what would happen if, one day, you did find Natalie. Isn't she better off being a part of your mind, and therefore belonging entirely only to you?

Sincerely
Nishant Kamath.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Ah yes, of course, Nishant: if I had been born in the US, UK, France, Germany or Spain, my life most certainly would have been different. We make do with what we have been given...

'What would happen if one day I did find Natalie?' I don't know, only I do know that that will never happen. I shall only see the 'hints and glints and gestures' till the end. And eventually find, every time, that the flesh and blood girl was never really all that interested in me as a long-term proposition.

ananya mukherjee said...

Dear Sir,
The poem reminded me of one of my favourite films 'Scent of a woman'. You bear a striking resemblance to the retired Colonel who is in search of his woman but he finds only hints and glints and gestures and it is this pursuit that keeps him going. I simply adore the Colonel's extraordinary ability to articulately appreciate and observe whatever little qualities he finds in a woman and in the process give vent to his imagination which is intermingled with the reality.

Vaishnavi said...

Dear Sir,

I love the sort of ephemeral quality that this post seems to have, almost like life itself. Natalie sounds wonderful, something like a bhoy to hold on to in the world. Maybe like the others say Sir, Natalie is better off being a figment of your mind rather than a flesh and blood girl, maybe the hints, glints and gestures would suffice for the now, but Natalie is forever and perhaps she is safest where she is right now.

Regards,
Vaishnavi

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Thank you Ananya. Those who have seen and admired that movie will know that that was a HUGE compliment!

And Vaishnavi, you are right. Natalie is best left inside my mind, where neither time nor human whimsy nor misunderstandings can ever touch her, or sour up what we two have between us... only, and I know this beyond all conceit, a lot of women will sigh 'It might have been' after I am gone.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

It pleases me to see that this post has entered the ten-most read list. I wish people would tell me why, though...

Sriranjani said...

Sir,
To answer your question, This is one of the most read posts because, many, yearn for the love of the perfect one, or maybe to love the perfect one. Most of us have that perfect person in our mind, and very few can express how s/he really is. You did that, and inspired many others to think about their "Manaskanya/putro". Besides, reading this post, gives one a perfect sense of bliss I guess. A feeling where I yearn but that yearning makes me happy not sad.

Love,
Sriranjani.

Saikat Chakraborty said...

Dear Sir,

I don't know whether you have heard this song before but I would like to share this here-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWkRWN4CjY4

With regards,
Saikat.