Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Elisha Kamarul Shahrin


Amidst your mother’s anguish and pain,
and amidst the mid-morning rain,
sharp of nose with smiling lips, legs long and skin so fine
you cried twice
and opened your eyes

Reposing from an arduous journey and breathing softly
you looked at me briefly
turning for a moment
to see your mother after her torment

Beside your mother, I remember you in your little bed
Frocked in white from toe to head
in deep slumber, you frowned as I touched your nose
but remained in repose

Or the fleeting image of you naked and crying
and I, sitting in a corner
as your mother and her mother
cleaned and garbed you in your first new garment

Or while you lay amidst the contraptions
of science, of beeps and tubes, through night and day
amidst the hardship of the sickness you endure,
you opened your eyes to see your mother
amidst the battle of life, you uttered a whisper
to greet your father

My prayers were fervent, for an intercession
from the Book and the Messenger, putting my life as payment
But He yet came ever nearer
with His Love much dearer and His Mercy much greater

Amidst the throng of souls, I beheld your lifeless form in the hall,
again in white and that nonchalant smile
my heart broke and on my knees, I fell
and through clouded eyes, I remember your face and the peace it tells

Cradled in my arms, we drove and were for a while, solitary
within a vehicular procession to that location
of rest and repository
of faded greenery, of sepulchral mounds, of names on stones

Again and again I can see you there
down to the last timber
tranquil and peaceful, lying in the moist crimson earth
eyes closed, oblivious

Prayers being said, prayers are inadequate
to comfort the sadness which stayed
many people with many words being said,
however comforting, remain unheard

Images of you have been brief and intermittent
like photographs in a lean book, remaining unconnected
pages open and close, unfettered
for days on end, keeping alive that adverse matrimony
of miracle and calamity.

by Kamarul Shahrin

(Elisha was born on August 31. She left on September 4 but for every August of every year after that, I cannot forget that day)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

No estas solo Michael Jackson

Like old paint that comes off the wall,
his life only appears to end, but then, it is nothing but only a short fall
of a leaf into the breeze
like a sailboat in the sea
lifted and raised and twirled about
until he reaches the clouds.

As he loses himself, he becomes stronger.
As he changes into a mere reflection in the mirror
He becomes even more visible
and more tangible
As he gradually loses his thoughts and his identity,
he becomes even more manifest, more real
getting really capable
of healing the world.

He gently threads the middle line
of the Yin and Yang
He still lives in his music, with his songs
He lives on
between good and bad
between shadow and light
between black and white
In between letters, here and there, everywhere
He will be there.

He now threads between the mirror and the man
He threads in between pairs of opposites
but for this earth, he will now see nothing but only the debris
that was before, only dirt, greed and hubris
Who is it that has said he was a psycho
Using words of perdition, pelting him with words of accusation
as for them, their fame is short-lived and they will still die alone
and unremembered, dust on the floor

Although he no longer exists
his life actually commences
One day in your life that you think of him will be his eternity
There is no need to say it, he too can never can say goodbye
In the normal sort of style,
He is not alone, and remember, you are not alone
the love you save, for him
Will last forever
In the end, all of us will still come together
para siempre.

(Inspired by the song "You are not alone")
By Kamarul Shahrin June 27, 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Life in Karachi

The clock struck twelve.
A skinned chicken, without head, legs and wings
lay still on the shelf
But the heart still stirred within,
In a wait, Death did not come
But for the appropriate time.

The intermittent sounds of pings, honking of cars through dusty roads
Flies everywhere, flies on hands and feet,
on every dead fish in the market.
Monotonous colour and style of clothes.
Men in faded and jaded pyjamas

Dirty children with matted hair and tattered clothes
knocking on car windows,
Asking for money.

A dark blind man
Face contorted from being pulled by the hand
by an uncaring young lady
From one car to the next one
Waiting for the money,
he will never see.

An old woman, face melted and battered by time
Peddling for mercy
by carrying someone else’s infant
to get at the money.

Mocking religion, a bearded old man held on to his string of beads for people to see
in infinite dependence on another man’s sympathy,
begging for mercy and subsequently,
For the money.

A man selling small white flower bangles,
moving in between vehicles,
abandoning the commercial logic and the dignity,
In desperation for the money.

People packed in motorised rickshaws;
Sardine cans on wheels.
People packed into decrepit buses bedecked with gleaming metal embroidery
and red paints;
like ornamented elephants.

Reticent craftsmen at the Gizri Market, squatting motionless
in the dust, by the road,
with their tools, waiting to be chosen for work.

Houses. Endless rows of houses with walls.
Roads going by walls and walls of bungalows.
Between the wealthy and those whose lives are low
Of the truly pious with the hypocrites
Words being spoken with forked tongues

Juxtaposition of paradoxes.
Life seemed so valuable and at the same time,
seemed so worthless.
Life here is nothing,
it simply has no meaning.

Day in and day out,
plough the careless drivers on congested roads
The irritating pings of car honks. Honks upon honks.
In the city, these are the only sounds

Day by day, dirt smeared the roads
and garbage dressed in translucent plastic bags posed on sidewalks,
like people waiting for buses.
Everything seem to be in constant meaningless movement.

Heaving donkeys pulling carts and men.
Donkeys with miserable lives; helping men
but yet being beaten
Horses pulling carts filled with uniformed school children.
Selling corn, a man pushed a cart with a small burning oven.

There is nothing appealing about the place.
Nothing to cherish.
Nothing to smile. There is nothing to articulate in the next many years.
Nothing. No, I was not there.
No. It was just a rumour.
There is no way that I could have stayed here.

Kamarul Shahrin January 15, 2006

Poetry for the Living

Life is like that old swing under a shady tree
facing the sea
saddled on twisted weather-beaten cords in rough tethers,
seemingly adrift,
Of course, life can also be another matter
and another and then, another
but still, Life is volatile and changeable, with little to offer
but just shifting gestures
of circumstances.

Life is that which sways, but only shifts within predictable constraints
Life is like that, just a plank of aging wood,
hanging on two ropes, splayed,
discordant but also delicate
seemingly a cradle, seemingly a place of origin
But life is also a fantasy, as if there is no domain,

But we hang on, with the breeze in our faces
hearing only the sounds of waves.
Not seeing our origin, not seeing our beginnings
but only perceiving what had been
It is only that when we founder,
we quaver,
that we realise there is, after all,
a place, firm and strong,
like fine sand on another shore.

Kamarul Shahrin July 24, 2007

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

There used to be a time


There used to be a time when smiles were spontaneous and thoughts were clear
There used to be a time when poverty brought one another together
and there was only one colour

There used to be a time when love was life and life was love
There used to be a time when life was just about food and play
and friends would be here to stay

a time when work was a pleasure and the pleasure was in the work
a time when music was the breath which moved one’s being
and lyrics were never for understanding, but only for singing

There used to be a time when actions were made without motives
and the actions of others were not pleated with doubts.
There used to be a time when there were not three but one,
the mind, body and soul combined.

And now what is left, is some oblivion and pieces of coherence,
everything that is perceived through innovation
of the mind and body
has now left, leaving a kernel
which only blinks and breathe and move a little.

Subang Jaya May 2005

Monday, June 15, 2009

Run, run!

When my legs make the short and swift strides, when there is nothing else in front of me but red digital numbers which record my distance and my pulse, the only thing left to do is to think and see. I see people, running or walking or carrying heavy stuff, just to be healthy, so that they can live without the pain or the sorrow of dying from terminal illnesses. Even then, it is no certainty that we will not succumb to diseases. There is indeed no guarantee that by going to the gym anybody would live longer. In the absence of certainty as to our lifespan, we consider the probabilities of success in living through exercising. They are just probabilities. People have the talent to die in many different ways, in many different styles. It is just that, they don’t really know when they are going to go.

Putting the chances of dying aside, with no knowledge of the timing of our death, we exert so much effort. I am no different from the farmer, or from the carpenter or the lorry attendant. They need to carry and move things, because that is the nature of their work. I need to carry and run and move things because these are not the nature of my work but the nature of keeping to good health. While the janitor or the labourer or the farmer rest in the evening, I toil away after my work, just so I can survive the many years ahead without the problems of heart disease and others. I work after work. I am no different. Just like these people in the gym, they are no different from labourers. Unlike labourers, who get paid for physical work, everyone here in the gym pay to do physical work.

It seems that life on Earth is meant to be challenging for all of Mankind. Man is made to toil or he will surely die prematurely. I walk the treadmill now, I lift weights now, not because I want to look beautiful but because I have to. When I see people doing their exercise, it really gets to me that they have to. Life needs a lot of effort to be lived. Most of us need to work in order to put food on the table for ourselves and for our family. Most of us need to work after work, in order make ends meet. Most of us need to physically work after work just so we can be healthy to face another day of work. We toil at the machines, losing sweat, heaving breaths, grimacing with the pain of muscles fighting the metal. If not, we will surely clog our veins and permanently solidify our fat into becoming heavy leather belts around our waists. And then we die. Presumably. I am as guilty as these people. I am aware of what needs to be done. I have to work to live so that I can work another day.....

Saturday, January 24, 2009

On Spirituality

I am not a spiritual person and I am not keen on influencing other people on what they should believe in. Still, I would like to share my thoughts. Closeness to God or enlightenment to me is about reaching a height of awareness of closeness through the casual but intense remembrance of God. Simply going through the procedures or practice of ritual is not going to bring us there if both the mind and soul are not there. The body can physically perform the rituals but if the soul and the mind are not concurrently synchronized or coordinated, that level of awareness will still be unreachable. Sometimes, the mind needs to be dulled into submission through some conspiracy with the body. The mind is like a jealous keeper to the soul, overprotective even, a parent even, practising, on its own volition and belief that it must protect and hide the soul at all times. The soul is shy, like a child even, a willing party to what the mind requires, even though it is the most purest of the two in terms of spirituality and is the most knowledgeable, possessing in the secret of things, of even the universe and of God. But the soul is ever willing to partake into any activity that the mind wants or requires. The soul is born with the knowledge while the mind is born without it. There is therefore, a latent difference between the two. One is born with it, and the other, born without it. While the mind shows forth into this world, the soul hides. While the mind realises its thoughts into physical form, the soul remains unseen, thinner than the wisp of smoke. Unity occurs when the soul leads over the mind and the mind over the body. When the man acts on this earth, God is ever willing to allow any activity that the man wants or requires. The man does not know, but he is the reflection in a reflection. He carries with him, the paradigm of reality. The mind is the man, the physical body, in which he exercises his will of movement is the earth and his soul is God. The microcosm of the man is a reflection in a reflection. Once on a spiritual journey, the man is thus a reflection in a reflection looking for its source; seeking to unite.

Religion is introduced to appeal to the mind, not to the soul because the soul already knows. Religion is a structured appeal to the mind into releasing the soul so that the whole man can perceive the truth Religion has been introduced in phases, through many prophets, in line with the evolution of the mind to progress in its apprehension and perception of God. Religion therefore appeals to the mind to release the soul, so that it can come out and lead the mind. The mind may be intelligent but it is actually shallow because it relies on the fundamentals of equations to arrive at conclusions. It is limited by the pitiful amount of knowledge that it has acquired from parents, from friends, from people and from schools and from books written by other people. Because it was born empty and is dependent on stimuli, dependent on events and the written word to form some structure of understanding, it holds this concept and live with it and nurture it until some time that new knowledge or stimulus arrives to challenge that paradigm. Even then, the mind is strong and proud of its acquired knowledge, even though it stands on a platform of constructed lies and partial truth. Like a gatekeeper, rigid in its demeanour, it stops and questions any new knowledge that comes before it, with its own barrage of cynical queries and tests, until none can eventually pass, none can eventually influence it into believing. The mind demand proofs of God’s existence, falling back upon its own web of knowledge that it has woven, limited to the acquired knowledge through the limitation of exposure to expositions, thus limiting its ability to welcome Truth even when Truth appears like a man in front of him. That is why miracles must happen, because miracles lie outside the scope of logic or any equation. That is why, not many can see the Truth even when miracles happen, not many intelligent people can discern the meaning when the text has been around for a thousand years and that is why there are so many agnostics.

Glimpses of the intangible truth can only be attained when the mind is dulled, when the mind is subdued. When the gatekeeper is dulled and corrupted through physical intoxication, it is only then that the soul can steal through the gates, to reach out and touch the world and allow the man to see the truth through its own eyes, see the love and mercy of God in this world and perceive the connectivity of all. Only then, can we perceive a greater experience of life through more polished and sharper eyes than the mind. And there are windows which the soul steals through to reach out to God, to feel love and to give love. It is not through the unity of mind, body and soul that nearness is reached. It is through the subjugation of the mind into a helpless state that nearness can be attained. If not, then we will always be self-righteous and proud, carry this judgement of others around us, our vanity through the apparent knowledge of truth, not reaching or collecting the experiences of nearness. By just doing the rituals alone, a person can rationalise that he has reached some level of Godliness or spirituality, that he is favoured above others. But sadly that is never really the case, for Godliness is about humility, acceptability and constant remembrance in whatever situation.

Enlightenment is not permanent, but is just a series of events in our lives, through which we experience. Others spend a life time to convert the mind while for some, the conversion will be just a matter of minutes. Enlightenment can even last only for a few seconds. Events of enlightenment are not perpetual as we are led to believe, but that the occurrences of enlightenment are real but even as fast as the lightning that flashes across the sky, leaving an indelible mark on the thought, like a branding iron on skin. All of us would have experienced it somehow or another in our lives. It would feel like a oneness to all, the self receding from the tangible to the intangible. It can happen during sexual orgasms, in the taking of fast, in the periods of deepest grieve, in the gesticulations of dances and movements. It happens when the mind is not exactly in control. It happens when the mind is subdued by the physical body. It is likened to having reached the pinnacle of an orgasm, like an eagle soaring in the air and gliding down towards earth. These are the small windows through the soul peeks and allows the mind to see that the rope extends from this earth, from this body through the sky and into space and from space, into the ethereal.

Thus, in every person, the mind is the enemy and the real friend, the soul. Knowledge of the soul, an awareness of the soul, the tangibility of the soul from the intangible concept opens the portal for the connection, like a rope, to the Ultimate One. The search for the hidden treasure thus lies inside and not outside. The journey to be taken is within. To acknowledge and understand the soul, is to perceive God.