Last Visitors

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Making of The Northern Colony: A Tale of Minor Ordeals

The Samadhi Enclosure
Before becoming Lex, one of the pen names I used was Silas Kavi. I wrote the poems in The Northern Colony while staying at the apartment of a Bengali friend, around April 2003.
It was while I was staying there that I had one of my most bizarre paranormal experiences. I’m going to try to tell to reminisce what happened there. But first I need to situate the narrative telling about a previous paranormal experience I had.

Part One: Occident

When I was eighteen and nineteen years I went to high school with a boy that I will call K through this story. We shared two scholar years and we were very much attached to each other; we were special peers. But after these two years separation came, when I shifted to another school. This happened in 1997.

A Saturday in ’98 I am riding with my bicycle when I decide to stop for a smoke. Still sitting on the bike I take out a smoke and light it. As I am lighting the smoke, suddenly the tire of the bike punctures by itself. It was somewhat strange…
The evening of the next Monday, as I was taking the wheel to the bicycle workshop, I found one of my ex-schoolmates. He told me that K died in a car accident the last Saturday. I was very much touched by the new considering that I held K in high esteem.
A couple of months passed. A day of late ’98, in the early morning, I go to buy some cigarettes and when I am returning I see K standing in the corner of my house.
He looks taller and somewhat more athletic to what he used to be and he has his hair extremely long. This shocked me, considering that he was purportedly dead and that he had his hair very much more long than what it could grow in two years.
But the most strange point of the encounter was his reaction towards me, because as soon as he saw me, he showed openly the signs of shock, and shuddered compulsively in apparent fear, before starting to run away from me.
I did not follow him/it. I remembered in that moment the popular superstition about never following a ghost.

Part Two: Orient

At 23 when I went to India for the first time I begun a life of siding with death because I was very, very shocked by the Indian custom of taking the dead to their ultimate repose in a bed or in glass-walled hearses.
I have not seen corpses never before, hence it was very shocking and edifying. Still, I was immersed in death culture in India because I lived in a cemetery and later, when living in more common places I used to visit burning grounds or charnel houses often for admiration of the sheer death themes of their architecture.
Other thing I noted as characteristic of India’s death culture is how they keep the cemeteries and cremation grounds open 24/7/365.
An afternoon I was walking by the downtown of Kolkata, the city in which I was staying at 26 and an Indian boy came to my and the first thing that he tells me is that he wanted to befriend me and also about teaching him Spanish and that I could go to stay to his house if I wanted. I declined explaining him that I was involved in many endeavors that prevented me of giving myself the luxury of going to stay with an Indian family.
But after a trip to Nepal I was back in India penniless and considered that I could accept his offer as something more relaxed than having to ask for credit in the shops for a month.
I went to his house and started my stay there. I think that what happened to me in the train that time when arriving to Kolkata served as an omen of something terrible that I was about to experience.
In that train I fell asleep and somebody pick-pocketed me a book of JRR Tolkien and tried to take away my earphones but could not do it, breaking the earphones’ wires. With a bit of a distaste for this, and after meeting S at Sealdah station, my stay in S’ house begun.
The house was in a second or third floor, in a building in a district of Kolkata called Uttarpara. The distaste gradually increased because I discovered that groups of passing-by retards of the neighborhood seemed to be amused with what they did while passing by the sidewalk of the building of S’ apartment.
The cross-street building, at the height of the window of the room I was stating in, had a hollow form of negative space, hence these wretched kids seemed to find delight in screaming when passing to play with the acoustics of the negative space of the hollow formed by the buildings cross-street.
The problem is that their voices two stories down heard as if they were screaming at the window of S’ apartment. I felt very much disturbed each time they passed and did it. I have never lived in a place where people likes to scream like beasts in the street with not a single trace of decorum.
Besides, up to that moment my life had been a lucky one, one in which I was never faced with disturbers of the peace on a daily basis.
I didn’t know, or hadn’t realized up to that moment, that there exists people so ugly and hollow that needs to disturb others’ peace to either feel good, or feel that they exist or whatever.
As the days passed I grew more and more angry with these kids.
But I should not have cared, after all, with their bravados they were putting themselves in a bad situation: in contact with the specter of my dead friend K who for some reason decided to visit India, and manifest himself in the damp stains in the wall of my room at S’ apartment.
The image was very clear and frightening because the K of seven years before was gone. The face was exactly the same except that it looked as if the visible eye had a cat-eye make-up of triangular wing ala Siouxsie Sioux. The hairdo was the same he used when he was my schoolmate, not long like the first apparation.
The body of it was the most weird thing about it… it had a pair of monstrous claws; like two and a half feet claws of knobbly fingers, and repulsive nails.
The trunk, that was of dwarfish, warped appearance finished not in two normal feet but in an undifferentiated mass of damp stains. Just how some Japanese ghosts look; lacking a pair of feet, and having a flaming mass at the end of their legs instead.
I think I was suffering at S’ house, he was a christian Indian and after three weeks there, we were at each other’s throats. I really disliked living with him and his father, but they were well-meaning all the time.
Most of the time when I was there, while S and his father were working, I stood in a corner of the room I was given, writing. I didn’t have anything to do, Uttarpara was very underdeveloped and the only day I did something was to know Satan.
I think that the monster in the wall was what made our friendship go to pieces. I don’t want to appear crazy, but it was depressing to go outside to do something, and know Satan. Because, in a way, that was what happened.
I went to Uttarpara’s Jay Krishna Public Library. I was stopped at the office in the entrance of the big victorian building and registered. They asked me what I wanted to read. First I told them I wanted to read the puranas, a purana, any of them.
They brought me, they didn’t yet allow me inside yet, a volume that was a bound compilation of a cheap popular version of the puranas, that I happened to already own.
I told them that I didn’t want to read that. I told them, that I already had those books, and what I thought of them. That they were not really deserving of being called puranas, that they were extremely abridged versions, more like an abbreviated guide to the puranas, not the actual scriptures.
They didn’t argue with me when I told them that. They asked what else I would like to read. I told them I would like to have art books. I told them to direct me to the best art books they had. They directed me to an encyclopedia of art.
I entered the library proper and walked to the shelf they directed me to. The encyclopedia was a series of folio-sized black volumes. I grabbed one at random and walked to a table. I sat down, opened the volume and perused the index.
That volume happened to have William Blake’s paints. I checked around which page number Blake’s paints were and shuffled to them. I opened the section of the book precisely in the page with a reproduction of William Blake’s Satan.
Blake's Satan
It’s a long story, but when I openeded that book and saw that paint, I didn’t realized it was Satan. What I saw was the face of another old friend, who has a family name, and racial/cultural background that lends itself to a quite insane conspiracy theory.
I touched that conspiracy theory in several poems of The Matrix of Death, when I found reminiscences of it again years later. But back to The Northern Colony.
After years writing poetry, I think that the more the poet or poetess suffers, the more talent is spun out of his or her pen, and the greater is the poetry he or she writers.
I think that the problems with S, the screams from the street, K’s ghost in he wall, and going to the library to meet Satan must have been too much for me.
I didn’t want to admit it back then, but I know I was suffering, and it showed in the quantity and quality of the poems I wrote.
When I wrote The Northern Colony I felt I was writing poetry for the first time, even if I was writing poetry for ten years already. The original version of it had about half a dozen more long poems.
Those  I took them out because they weren’t at the height of the ones that made it to the book, that I see as real poetry.
Most of the poems in it are free verse. The mood is a carefree romp through memories of childhood, and some ambiguos explorations of the subconscious.
It took me fourteen years of compulsive hoarder disorganization, and coming out of that, to curate, proof-read, correct and edit those poems into an ebook, I hope they will entertain those that read them.

No comments:

Post a Comment