Fusion of life in Blakespeare


London is a poet’s paradise. You realise this the moment you step on this mighty island.

At the Heathrow airport, the officer in charge at the Passport Controls counter looked amused at my vocation.

“How lucky to make a living out of writing poems on Everest. And look at me, I am stuck here, doing this,” he laughed, stamping my passport.

The reverence for writing and writers is visible throughout your journey in the UK. Sauntering around the streets in London, you often stop, awed by the shining plaques saying something like this — ‘TS Eliot worked here’ or ‘William Wordsworth lived here’.

In London, I lived in the legendary Kentish town in north London in the borough of Camden — the area the famous Charles Dickens lived in and wrote his beloved book A Christmas Carol.

Early morning I would go to the nearby restaurant, drink several cups of tea, and meet those characters that came straight from Dickens’ novels. The place where Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud lived and today lie buried. The place poet John Keats lived. The town where he fell in love and scripted those melancholic odes.

In addition, you notice a strong wind appear like a poetic agent. It appears as a significant character in this famed island. It emerges like a trumpet of Kali, about to shake my frame off balance in one of my poems.

The following night it turned brutal once again, a kind of rapist wind, lashing the innocent victims — humans, and landscape alike. It lunged furiously, causing turmoil, shaking the rooftops, reminiscent of the mini tornado that nearly damaged a locality in Kensal Green, North London a fortnight earlier.

I cringe and cower under its fury. What is it, a demon, a dragon? Is it the tempest Shakespeare talked of in his plays? Is it the spirit of the girls killed recently by a serial killer? Or is it the power wind that visits the mighty island where the sun never sets?

Only a day before New Year’s Eve, a full, glorious, and ripe sun came out to remind me how winter in the Himalayas would appear to be. When you live longer in Europe, you discover true meaning of warm and sunny days of a Himalayan winter.

On a sunny day, I walked up to nearby Hampstead Heath, close to Keats’ house and the lane where his beloved Fanny Brawne lived. Strangely homesick, lethargic, and overfed from the Christmas turkey meal and other delicacies, I did not feel like visiting the garden where Keats wrote his very famous and forlorn poem, Ode to Nightingale. I recalled how a lonely Keats, on a day like this, would take his weekly bath, put on his best clothes and write a fresh poem.

My days in London were spent browsing in the famous bookstores — Foyles, Borders, Stanfords, Daunts, and others in the West End.

One of the events I visited in the West End was called, ‘Blakespeare’. The very title suggests how fusion remains central to the life in the UK. Having travelled throughout Europe, when you come to London you realise how it is a ‘homecoming’ in the true sense for the whole world in myriad colours awaits you here.

Multiculturalism is the breath of the nation and at the same time the British people shy, reticent, and truly humble, proud of their little nation, unlike the stereotype that the centuries of colonial regimes has perpetuated in our parts of the world.

Such were my thoughts when I decided to join the sea of humanity facing the Circle of huge London Eye about to explode dreams of Londoners into lurid colours. In spite of the fears of the terror attacks, I felt proud to be on the banks of Thames. In spite of the cold winds that blew from the Thames, we waited in the freezing cold to listen to the chime of the 13-ton bell hanging within the Big Ben tower.

As the countdown started and the sky illuminated with spectacular lights, I felt overjoyed and joined the millions of midnight revellers like a child towards the historic Trafalgar Square, fearless of the rainstorms and winds that might otherwise have ravaged my lonely mind.

The writer can be reached at writer@yuyutsu.de