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Sunday, August 19, 2012

* Bright Star: Tapati Gupta & A Short Story

It is the year 1995 and I study in class twelve. The third of November is  Friday, the day when The Statesman newspaper has the “literary” section. I am reading an article titled “Bright Star” written by Tapati Gupta commemorating the bicentenary of John Keats’s birth on October 31. She analyses how Keats’s poetry becomes, as occasions demand, painting, sculpture and Gothic architecture. As I read the article, I recall Keats’s poems and realize how the readers of Keats’s poetry often become “viewers of sculpture and painting”. I cannot help but agree with the writer that it was the uniqueness of Keats “to be in empathy with artists working in different media.” I am overwhelmed and gratified on reading the article. I have an immense urge to put pen to paper. As a seventeen year old I dare not dream to recreate the myth of that magnum opus “Hyperion” but I can make a pauper’s attempt at myth-making, in a microcosm - a poem in writing, a sculpture in vision. I do not take any god but a cherub and compose on it -

I Met a Cherub in My Dream.

From the renascence of wonder
There came gliding a Greek sculpture,
Falling through the cascades of time
Bridging the chasm that did rupture
When I first got a glimpse of him-
A winged creature still in its flight,
Stilled by the sculptor's moving hands,
The Cherubim of my deep delight.

Between the pillars of slow curves
Crowned by the heroic arches,
I saw the flutter of those wings
Whose wide span of stony weight lurches
Heavy on the air beneath it,
Which had half blown the drapery
That was to conceal his body's
Well aligned, sinewy tapestry.

With both his legs lost in a leap
He stood frozen in his motion,
Like the sparkle of the lightning
Caught bursting into full proportion,
On the night sky brooding behind,
And a single star with wild gaze
Spreading through the wide firmament
Its mellowed twinkling beams in the haze.

And the broad pedestal of stone
Forming the ageless substratum
Unswelled and full of compactness
Bore the huge load of age-old tiresome,
Through the foot of that Cherubim,
With nerves heaving undulations
Like the soft, silent waves risen
In the calm of a sun-bathed ocean.

(First published in Muse India Issue 15, 2007)

 It is almost ten years later. I have almost forgotten the name “Tapati Gupta”. I am now doing PhD research work in the Department of English of Calcutta University. One day I came face-to-face with a professor bearing that same name. Soon memory starts to flood in and I am dumb-founded. I want to express my admiration for the person who wrote the article “Bright Star” but I find the blade of inhibition slicing my tongue. Speechless I struggle to express myself until one day I search her out in the  virtual world - Orkut. I divulge the contents of my heart in a scrap to her and Voila! soon comes her reply to this effect - “Your write-up is very touching. I am happy to know how that article touched your heart and may be your life because these revelations and the influence of literature do change our lives ... Thank you for your appreciation. That article came from my heart and I find lots of people remember it." In course of time I go on to find other articles - on the doodles of Tagore, on the impasto of Hopkins - by Professor Tapati Gupta in various books. But that newspaper article I still cherish and that old newsprint I still treasure.

1 comment:

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