Varsha Dutta Pujari (India)Warscapes Corona Notebooks June 26, 2020
In her genre-bending videopoem, Varsha Dutta Pujari tries to put offer a lyric for the inhumane and terrifying emergency that the covid-19 pandemic has imposed upon the people of India. She explores this formless fear surrounding herself and her community, and finds herself desperately searching for words and images. As a neuropsychologist and a poet, Dutta Pujari is also actively providing mental health counseling specifically addressing the problems arising from this time.
The Anatomy of Fear | Varsha Dutta Pujari
These past few weeks have been spent chronicling this mad journey or the “Emergency of fear” as I call it and if you ask me I wouldn’t be able to put my thoughts on any one thing. It feels like I am puppeteered to the body’s own automatic rhythm of formlessness, a kind of automatic movement of departure where a sudden stupor is jolted by the slowness of chores and mindless rituals.
It is this slowness that suddenly creeps into the being, a form of slathering beast, and one we unknowingly keep meditating on!
This sudden ineffable fear, has now occasioned itself to becoming a tribute to all those who are battling it out in their own silent way including those who have us covered and keep burning inside those impossible PPEs and still keep doing what they do best under these impossible circumstances, including my surgeon husband and friends out here. I feel we are all soulfully inked in the same way now.
This has also been a revelation in the many ways contrasts and opposites have been playing out now right from being startled into an awakening of crisis this virus bought on with it, when on a sudden Monday I was stumped by the visuals of all these people in their long march to nowhere, some were just feet without even slippers embarking into the unknown and others seemed automatic in their departure as they were being slathered by the beast of the sun in those unending highways.
Along these lines, the carcass of these skinned thoughts were pulled along the ancient vacation of the primitive dream of my ancestors who started this mad journey of hide and seek with a solitary Sun without its Moon.
So, please bear with this brittle ranting on trying to grab the anatomy of fear littered everywhere now.
The Emergency of Fear
Bombay is Automatic
Automatic in its departure to the known
And now in its departure to the unknown
Automatic in its stupor of sudden pots and pans clanging
with aching hands.
The fear of the breath of the slathering beast drags the demon of the feet thru’ the cleansing ritual of this house
this sudden animal of fear stupors
at the sight of the yellowed
copperheads in bloom
fears when its leaves rustle
fears at the sight of birds when you hear them
fears at the appearance of its own shadow
and its own heart trying to fathom this fear
Meditating on the Slathering Beast
Automatic in this long walk through empty chores of movement and then to dream of us in the highways in our swanky cars past the frozen summer breeze as the trees and the asphalt leave us to gawk back at the diamond in the sky and we roar back with the black clouds behind us in that solitary dream of Being in the Road Again
Resurrecting the Anatomy of Fear
Bombay is Automatic in our departure to the unknown
Cooking and cleaning,
with a husband’s fixation to gut out fear
thru’ invisible incisions
Sudden rickety brawl of the snake trains sizzle past the moronic noons, 1, 2, 3…...7, 9 times it went past Mamma,
Past our solitary home shadows, past the yellowed copper sullen trees
blind in its copper pollens that march in infinitesimal breath across the city lines, blowing dust into our hearts.
The kids wet their bodies in the make believe swimming pool, and water each other like gushing periwinkles in the wind and slosh and laugh without any thought cloud erect in that No-mind state.
A Tribute to Fear (On a Monday)
We’ve Stopped…You from Becoming
U have stopped ALL meaning,
The soft animal foot quietly slithers past the dragging slippers now
And we break our backs lifting this madness
to the sky of ambition
and mock the invisible.
Waking up to our Gadgets
We wake up to the great gadget in our hands now
Where the nooks of the hidden fear no longer applies to the numb flowing of the constant tap-a-tap-a-rap that does not relieve
…………...Automatic in its ancient vacation of rainbow dream along the mighty tantrum thrown at us.
Automatic in its departure in the primitive dream, where it rose up, sorry floated up from the body bags like the way fear leaves the animal
In its arrogance of
always trying to fix eternity
in its human’s form
Of stony angels
floating in thin air
Sending a war
full of sanitized soldiers
from head to toe
carcass of the atom.
Soldiers in this visible dream
of a phantom army
to eat away the fear
that has gotten stuck
to Our souls now
The Mist around us
The mist around us
We the Solar creatures
with the sun sewn back to back
to our withered backs
punishing us even more
there is no running away from
City of departure
we are still the Sun’s spoilt children
We will not let the Sun retreat
to the automatic memory game of the hide and seek with the moon
we will force this Sun to wallow in Lunar madness
Trains are moving, ants are marching, pollens wafting and marching thru dust of this automatic arithmetic of its soul!
Starving phantoms, hiding behind numbers
unholy city, glamour past
the corpses waiting to be hidden under the ghost soil
according to the ministry of the Health Master’s guidelines
the surgeon summons his gut and gloves
and drinks raw apple cocktails blistered with the cavity of the unknown and the grapes of sweet wasted labor – summons him to the departure
of yet another soul
and brings with it
the automatic surreal smile
The brazen death of haiku of drinks and poetry and songs follow
as we return to ancient Sun
not so long ago
when our grandfathers
grew roots deep down the dark earth
and were all of a sudden
whilst still in their sleep
pulled out with their lower bodies still growing underneath that dark soil inch by inch
and they spilled these half grown limbs
all across the automatic City’s Heaven
where they kept
building dreams one on top of the other
with their skulls first
then their tongues
then the lungs
and then with their chewed out hearts
and SET THE SLATHERING BEAST FREE
The anatomy of that ancestral pair
still lurks beneath my eyes and
I can feel them even when I sweep over my brow
my father calls everyday
still ranting and sun retching
his okra, ma’s Kopou, his green gold,
wood apples and the colocasia
and asks if
we are done staring at the Sun
There is Silence
so he quietly breathes
the stolen siesta times from
when we cooped water
in those Giant Colocasia leaves
he will coop this fear
in the Giant leaves
and pour it across
the half eaten earth
this will put This slathering beast to sleep
one that slays
and slays us all
too darn well.
Varsha Dutta Pujari is a Neuropsychologist based in Mumbai, India. She is a published medical researcher and a poet, and her work has appeared in both Indian and International Journals. She founded Soma Living Roots in 2017, dedicated towards medical research with entheogenic plants and psychedelic medicine and is currently working with end-stage cancer patients with existential concerns and those with depression. During the Covid 19 pandemic, she initiated a free online psychotherapeutic counseling service called “A crumb of comfort without borders" where mental health counselors and doctors are currently reaching out to all those who need psychological counseling during these difficult times.