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Yuvan


Yuvan Chandrasekar (born December 14, 1961) is a Tamil writer and poet whose works bring out a postmodern aesthetic. He writes poetry under the name of M. Yuvan. He has published six collections of his poetry. Yuvan Chandrasekar's works chronicle a kind of magical realism which he classifies as alternate reality.




Five of his poems are presented below

1

The day and time of occurrence

of the Big Bang

couldn’t be estimated precisely,

because no one was around to do it.

The small ones that

followed, however, were

each recorded date-wise.


Some to celebrate the

joy of each explosion,

a few to mourn, and many

to be dismayed, unaware of the root cause,

came into being on their own.


To this day,

I’ve never crossed the road in an unmarked zone;

never taken a test without preparation;

never defaulted on any tax payment;

never failed to observe any ritual fast;

never missed a ceremony to repay ancestral debt;

and never ever arrived late for work.


Even so,

this guard who boarded

my compartment a short while ago

carrying an automatic gun –

why, how and when did he choose me?

I did not understand it at all.


Was he perhaps

alerted by the tremor

that shook me when

I walked through the detector

gate for explosives hidden

in handbag and shirt pocket,

skin and flesh,

bone and marrow?


Or was it

my body trembling like

a football kicked around

in every corner of daily life

that gave me away?

The handbag, after his inspection

and departure, is

lying open still. My hand

flinches when I think

of shutting it again.


2

I was engrossed in a near-pornographic

art film in my private room, where

darkness and silence lay in intimate congress.

Crickets helped in the background

to the man’s growls and the woman’s moans.

Appearing on the computer screen’s bottom left

corner, an eight-legged spider

inched towards the copulating bodies.


Perhaps

marveling at her breast, wide as the screen,

or taking fright at his passion cleaving the light,

or taken aback by the glowing wall’s sheen,

it drew near the right nipple and stood still.


Was it male or female?

How did spiders make love?

Was their species, too, used to watching

the lust of others as images?

Was it middle-aged wistfulness

or mere youthful ardour?

As questions on one side

and I on the other ran around

playing catch-me-if-you-can,

gasping and panting,

the play on the screen went on too.


Unaware that an extra pair of eyes were watching,

he plunged;

she was in rapture.


Impelled, perhaps, by

tact that would not violate the sweetness of intimacy,

or diffidence at watching this torrent of emotion,

or a cloying sensation, or the memory of its mate,

the insect climbed down,

splaying its eight legs,

rubbing its belly on the screen,

and walking sideways.


Luckily,

It did not turn back and recognize me.

Relieved though I was,

I shut down the computer.


3

When a black speck flies above,

scratching the pale blue of the sky,

I, too, rise and take wing – even so,

it’s only hands which have sprouted

from my sides, not wings.


When I rise, startled awake

from my slumber on the window seat,

I spread as wide as the playground

that sprawls outside and even beyond –

my waist is thirty-two inches

and my shoulders, forty across.


When the singer who died in the last

century spins and rises in the compact

disc, the music that swells and climbs ghost-like

inside me is sometimes even more wonderful

than the original – my age is a mere forty.


Unable to sleep one night,

when I search wistfully in the sky

for some consolation, a lone point of light

shifts a little, keeping me

momentary company amid the cluster of stars,

and my heart is pleased.

I am five feet four inches tall.


When titles crowd

the newspaper, television,

university and royal court,

and charlatans rule, I am reminded

of my childhood nickname: snail –

snail that always hides

in its shell and inside books.


Even now,

I read the width and depth

of the indenture of a stranger’s behind

on the beach sand and imagine

the stranger’s life story,

like the painter who

drew the portrait of a princess

from a fingernail he had chanced to find.


My antennae are not very long;

only an inch or so –

an inch

beyond the globe’s diameter.


4

When the mirror

I was looking at

slipped from my hand,

fell to the ground

and shattered,


I was watching


the mirror that

slipped from my hand,

fell to the ground

and shattered.


5

I remember

the eyes closing.

When did

the mind

fall asleep?

When did the lips,

parted for a smile,

come together again?

When the pouring rain

chose to stop and

the flower in bloom

decided to drop?


Published in Other Places: The Sangam House Reader - Volume 2 , edited by Arshia Sattar, DW Gibson and Rahul Soni, Sangam House Books, 2013

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