Yuyutsu RD Sharma

Kathmandu:

The musty smell of an old cupboard —your parting kiss.

There’s no ship greater than friendship to take us on the voyages of discovery,” says famous Irish poet Cathal O’ Searcaigh as we meet in restaurant Via Via, Paknajol, Katmandu. Silvery sheen of Kathmandu’s big burning moon that I had seen a moment ago at Cathal’s Buddha Hotel seems reflected in his eyes as we settle in the cozy restaurant. Along with Cathal comes Janak Sapkota, a lean young Nepalis who has recently collaborated with Cathal in writing a book of Haiku Poems called, Winter Light. It’s an experiment,” says Cathal.

“Generally I have whole paraphernalia of publishers and literary agents to look after my publishing projects. But this one, it’s special one and I have published this slim volume/ pamphlet myself.”

The idea came into existence with a gift that Cathal gave to his young Nepali disciple. The gift remained the Journal of British Haiku society. On reading the Journal, Janak became intrigued by the short poems and decided to write a few himself. “Janak would come with a sheave of short poems and I would do some doctoring on them.” The whole thing took place in the little garden of Thamel’s Buddha hotel. As the title suggests, these poems evoke the mellow yellow light of Katmandu’s winter. Opposed to Irish skies that become sullen with sombre winter grays, Cathal every winter flies to Kathmandu to celebrate the golden glamour of Nepalese evenings. Appreciating a deep blue gentian loveliness of Thamel sky, sipping freshly brewed masala tea and getting soothed by and softened by the sun’s supple touch, Cathal and Janak worked for weeks to create these wonderfully concentrated poems. The book has now become a source of income to many a homeless people that Cathal has befriended over the years in Kathmandu.

The hungry child the snow reminds him of steaming rice.

Instead of sticking to the traditional haiku form and seventeen-syllable scheme, these poems follow only three-line format. They are loose imitation of Japanese haiku. As such there’s no narrative or plan to the book. These are just sharply focused revelations, notations of reveries, jottings that conjure Kathmandu’s magic. These are close attentive readings of what are happening around, how ordinary miraculously become extraordinary, and a little recapitulation comes to make a niche in your heart.

A pair of white doves —they alight on the eyes of the sleeping Buddha.

Janak, a science student in Kathmandu, seems intrigued by this new role. “My parents always wanted me to be doctor. But now I know where my future lies.” But he laments the dire need of support from the Nepalese agencies and institutes. “Not everyone is lucky to meet a mentor like Cathal in Nepal. Generally Nepalese society has a very derogatory attitude towards poets,” he says, “ and no one comes forward to help.”

Cathal sees it in light of western mentor- disciple relationship. It goes back to Greek idea of older mentor and younger disciple. Even Rilke, W B Yeats, Oscar Wilde had to seek support to survive. If I ever win a lotto, I would spend it all on young Nepalese talents like Janak.”

He refers to Irish proverb-Giving replenishes the well. Such experiments would not only support several needy friends who virtually have nothing, but also contains Cathal’s deep-rooted poetic faith to let go what you have earned as a creator. “Poetry writing involves taking yourself to the edge of the abyss and let the younger generations use your visions. You can’t make a cocoon of yourself,” he states. “You would suffocate yourself that way, becoming a prisoner of your little cloistered worldview.” Like American bard Walt Whitman who said: I want to plant male friendships thick as trees along banks of America, I hope Cathal’s attempt to collaborations with younger poets would certainly flourish as magical feats of creativity along the banks of Bagmati.

Winter morning chill —one red rose glows in my room.

(This writer can be reached at yuyutsurd@yahoo.com)