Reading the Bard( For Home truths)

Literature is truly healing. There is something for everything you might feel or want to say!

Referring to Julius Caesar:) Selected Excerpts for Self Inspiration…

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CASSIUS
Brutus, this sober form of yours hides wrongs.
And when you do them-

BRUTUS
Cassius, be content.
Speak your griefs softly. I do know you well.
Before the eyes of both our armies here,
Which should perceive nothing but love from us,
Let us not wrangle. Bid them move away.
Then in my tent, Cassius, enlarge your griefs,
And I will give you audience

BRUTUS
Let me tell you, Cassius, you yourself
Are much condemned to have an itching palm,
To sell and mart your offices for gold
To undeservers.

Hear me, for I will speak.
Must I give way and room to your rash choler?
Shall I be frighted when a madman stares?
You have done that you should be sorry for.
There is no terror, Cassius, in your threats,
For I am armed so strong in honesty
That they pass by me as the idle wind…

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Ah, the wisdom of the Bard!

Because he loved a flower without any reason… (Prabha Verma, Translation From Malayalam)

henry1

The poem in my mother tongue had an acknowledgement:

“This poem has been inspired by  the feelings evoked on seeing the painting by Henry Siemiradzki ; in which he depicts an incident from the life of  Emperor Alexander.”

What a joy! The poem and the search for the origin of the gorgeous painting! From various sources available freely online, I ended up discovering that Alexander the Great had caught a severe fever during an expedition in Cilicia, in 333 B.C.,by bathing in the river Cydnus. Philip of Acarnania was his royal physician, who prepared a medicinal draught for him. Alexander’s  Macedonian General, Parmenion sent a missive that Darius III had bribed Philip and that the medicine might be deadly poison!

Alexander the Great trusted his physician and drank the medicine. Philip had not betrayed his emperor and Alexander recovered.

The scene by the great Polish artist, shows Alexander drinking the medicine, while fixing his gaze on the face of the physician to whom he handed over the note.

The poet Prabha Verma,  took some liberty with the story -he imagines Alexander handing over the empty cup to Parmenion and the note to Philip. Also, he tries to surmise Alexander’s thoughts on why he would trust his physician and risk his life in spite of his faithful  General’s warning!

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Interestingly in the historical interpretations that I ended up reading,  Alexander did not go by emotion but by hard steel logic: if he did not take the medicine, he would die anyway! If he did die, the physician would follow suit- no betrayer would survive after the emperor’s death. In fact  a decade later, another physician Glaucias  would be killed in 324 B.C., when Alexander was unhappy- Hephaestion had died in spite of the physician’s efforts.

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Translation : Because he loved a flower without any reason (Onninumallathoru poovine snehichavan…)

Prabha Verma , Malayala Manorama Annual Issue, Onam Special 2015.pg 181-182

The medicine of life in his right hand

The missive that it is poison , in his left hand

Both reach him at the same instant

The great emperor: what will he choose?

The life draught is sure to be sour, in its vessel

Forbidding it, the letter from the General himself

Which to accept, which to reject,

The world conqueror drinks the medicine!

Death’s poisonous mixture, and life saving nectar

Are both these the same in this emperor’s eyes?

He extends the empty cup to his General and the note

Burning in intensity, to his physician!

The royal doctor stands terrified, sure of death

To his truth, to his own self.

The General’s body shivers, he is sure

He has failed to save the King.

If only he had pushed off the cup

Instead of passing on the message!

His sword has not warned, and failed

No answers to anything at all !

His chest burns with the smouldering

Doubt; the emperor does not trust me

He has not accepted the truth as seen

By the eyes of spies.

And then he concludes for a moment

Perhaps the way to cut this Gordian knot

And let go off, as a light breeze

This path of poison, the King has chosen!

Like a still flame, stands the royal physician

His eyes at a distance

Caressing his beard slowly,

Sure of his death, his destiny.

How many more moments for the King?

Those many for the doctor too

The General felt his silver touched sword head

Glittering as if in deadly thirst!

He stands staring at his King

The expressions, are they changing?

The heart beats- are they slowing, ceasing?

Are those eye lids falling, down and down?

The change is visible-

Like sun light the eyes glitter!

The face radiant with life,the emperor rises

Holding on to his physician’s finger tip!

Deadly poison, just a bit and death would come

The spy groups had said!

They are trust worthy, then how is it

The truth is different?

The doctor has been a child hood friend

Yet recently he has been seen

With the enemy,

Or so said the message.

Never has the spy words been wrong

Now life itself has proved it so

The King walks with renewed strength

In the path shown by his physician friend.

The General feels that the sword

Is looking at him,he feels a quiver within

Could it be that I invited death trying to stop

The medicine of life?

A hand on his shoulder;

The King leaves a petal touch of understanding

The General forgets himself, asks

“Why did you drink it knowing it is poison?

Because you know him from childhood?

Because you had reached detachment?

Because he had healed your pain many times?

Because the pain and agony were too much?”

“None of these,” said the King.

“Even those from childhood can betray!

Even while healing your pain,

Can kill silently indeed.

I saw him different because of

Some truths that will never change across ages!

The truth that the Universe has taught,

The eternal truth of Nature herself!

He smiles on seeing a flower,

Cries while staring at a heavy cloud’s pain

Patiently listens in the night to the wind’s music

That comes through the leaves and trees!

He loves the moonlight, flowers,the butterflies

Right from our childhood, with a compassionate heart

He stands here as my physician

All the documents I need to trust him are these:

Because he loved a flower without any reason

He will never kill a human being for any reward!

Because he has hummed a tune in his heart, without any reason

He will never destroy anyone’s life breath, ever!”

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I finish translating.

A voice in me quotes,

“Antonius!

Let me have men about me that are fat,

Sleek headed men and such as sleep o’ nights

Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look

He thinks too much, such men are dangerous…

He reads much;

He is a great observer and sees quite through the deeds of men

He loves no plays, Antony like thou dost

He hears no music

Seldom he smiles, and smiles in such a sort

As if he mocked himself and scorned his spirit

That could be moved to smile at anything…”

Ahhhh! Another great emperor! Julius Ceasar reading men and their motives !

Cassius does not smile from his heart, he does not watch plays, he hears no music…he cannot be trusted!!!

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I acknowledge all the mistakes of my translation as totally my own! But perhaps this Malayalam poem, inspired by a great Polish artist’s depiction of a Macedonian Emperor- making a case for loving nature, tolerance, and insight- this is the sort of conversation people should be having world over….We will smile over the irony that the Great Emperor’s sword itself had not been that merciful!

The Leech House Mystery

Picture 119

In Agatha Christie’s short story, “The Idol House of Astarte,” she mentions about the evil influence of certain places, infesting people with negative energy.  Leeches, are those who belong to that story.To stay healthy, keep away from people who are inspired by the life philosophy of Leeches.

Getting out of poisonous environments which destroy, is far better than letting your life blood be leeched out, day by day by unworthy souls.In my view, life gives us choices at every moment-where and how to invest our time.

Leeches cling onto healthy humans, sucking the blood and growing fat and fatter- at someone else’s expense.! It could be the other person’s time, energy, life energy, happiness, talents, hard work ..

Leeches cannot be pulled away forcefully- they will tear your skin apart along with themselves. These specimens epitomize I LOSE/YOU LOSE life position ( I am NOT OK/You are NOT OK). When they bloat with your life energy, they brag that they are in the I WIN/YOU LOSE life position( I am OK/You are NOT OK).

Anyway, it takes strong salt to force them to let go ; and curl up defensively on a mossy rock by the roadside.

Salt could be in the form of strongly laid out boundaries, total indifference, excellence and happiness. The last two salted solutions have the best effect on blood suckers! You see, these makes them sick. They turn green on seeing you happy and successful. You are engaged in meaningful life pursuits and they cannot bear to see it.

If you read articles on Control and Manipulative behavior in people, these offer classical explanations of a leech’s core characteristics:

  • Leeches stick on for life- their very existences are thrown into imbalance, if you flick them off. They will constantly try to come back and stick close to you.
  • Leeches have to be fed- they are always hungry- for more money, more control, more of your happiness. They will manipulate the truths into a fictitious movie where they play heroes and heroines and ensure that there are enough audience screaming by the screening theatres, pop corn in hand. They also cry and laugh at intermittent intervals, whenever it suits them to do so. They are good when they choose to be, when it suits them to be. Rest of the time they are busy being unhappy.
  • Leeches are born to be parasites- they cannot own responsibility for their own lives or happiness. These are necessarily the responsibility, as far as their skewed logic goes, of some one else! Did you not know, Madame Leech needs happiness! Mister Leech wants to feel good. So go ahead, dance to their tunes. Wiggle to the music of their finger movements- they have the threads of the puppets in their hands, did you not know? We owe it to them- to make them happy. We are the reasons for their unhappiness.
  •  Leeches are born manipulative- Some are born great, some achieve greatness, some have greatness thrust upon them. In a similar manner, Leeches are born manipulative, some achieve it from parental training and nurturing environment,  some have manipulation thrust upon them – by truckloads too!
  • Leeches are fanatical beings- They have strong codes for right and wrong. If they sip coffee, it is alright. If you sip coffee and smile, they will bite hard. Your blood has been poisoned, stupid, and the Leech is tasting a happy-coffee smile in it, can you not see?If you ask the Leech politely, but who asked you to suck my blood if you detest coffee, they will answer that your blood was to be kept pure for their leeching business. How dare you try anything like coffee, tea or fruit juice? Your happiness makes your blood bitter for the leech- so stop being happy!
  • Leeches  are from the Dracula family-Nothing matters in the ultimate journey to your jugular vein!  Their life goals are centered around your life blood. Their every waking moment goes to plotting your downfall- almost like Cassius and Brutus and Co! They wait patiently for the Ides of March, so that the bloody battle can begin- I will bleed you dead, so beware!

Having seen so many types of leeches all my life, of either gender, of varying ages, I have come to detest them, but I refuse to give them the importance of hating them!  As a wise soul said, the opposite of love is not hate- it is indifference.One does not give a damn! And one is not even a fan of Rhett Butler!

Gary Zukav asks, ‘Are the people in your life kind and loving? If so, your intentions are kind and loving. And you are a member of the love and kindness club. ‘

I think of leeches. Which club do they belong to? As Groucho Marx said, may be they do not want to be members of the club which will have them – because their club is called: Yucky and Abominable.

Caveat Emptor!

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