My Encounters with a Peacock
By Ramu Ramanathan
Available at Amazon.in
Half a kilo of pure happiness
Can you home deliver that to me
After all, I am the national bird of this unhappy country
You don’t want me flying
Across the border
To Burma or Ceylon
As a mark of protest
I attended the reading of My Encounters with a Peacock at the IDC (IIT Bombay). I found it to be extremely textured and delicate. I don’t think anyone in the audience had any doubt that the narrator really did have these conversations with a living, breathing, and a very talkative peacock!
CHAITANYA TAMHANE, writer and director of Court
Ramu Ramanathan is a Mumbai-based journalist and playwright. His plays include Cotton 56, Polyester 84, Jazz, Comrade Kumbhakarna, Postcards from Bardoli, Mahadevbhai 1892–1942, Collaborators, The Boy who Stopped Smiling, Shanti, Shanti, it’s a War; and Curfew. He has been the editor of Printweek India for the past decade and has been associated with the printing industry for 25 years.
I have seen / heard the lok shahirs (singer-poets) of Maharashtra belting out protest songs. The form is very simple, a duff and some basic chorus; and a few words. The aim is to reach out to 5,000 to 50,000 people at one go with a powada or a bharood.
That’s how I heard of a farmer suicide in Vidharbha. Even today the stories of father and son committing hanging themselves from a tree because of a debt of Rs 60,000/-; or a young girl who swallows pesticide because she doesn’t have the money for a monthly ST bus pass that will take her to the university town – are carried to us by these lok shahirs.
At the other end of the spectrum is Denzil Smith jamming with a jazz blues musician and reciting Dom Moraes’ or Jeet Thayil’s poems. Or a special mehfil in Bhendi Bazaar in honour of Khushro, Ghalib and Mir.
Everything is fair.
Read the full interview, Ramu Ramanathan on reinventing the tradition of lok shahiri in The New Indian Express Indulge.
Jyaneswar Laishram in The Wagon Magazine:
The 65 encounters of the poet with the peacock took place in a course of six months — starting from January until June, on almost daily basis, so closely and intimately. What turned me on when I first encountered the ‘first encounter’ is the way the poet uses short lines in the form of conversation. The perspectives of conversation, in some encounters, shift into his state of mind reading what the peacock thinks and likes.
Some encounters take me by surprise as the poet shares his space and stuffs so closely with the peacock—be it his food or his house. In the fourth encounter, they share a joint and thereafter the bird enters the poet’s bedroom where his wife was still lying in her sleep at a pre-dawn hour, in the twenty-second encounter. Above all, it’s the poet’s use of ingenious poetic techniques that moves everything sequentially from one encounter to another.
Read the complete Review in The Wagon Magazine.
Sorry for my delayed response. I read your encounters with the peacock time and again and enjoyed it. The peacock is the poet’s other self and it makes fun of the excesses of human intelligence and the positions taken on shaky grounds. The peacock stands for the unadulterated flow of life with all its innocence and insight. He is far from the riddles of grammarian truths, debris of verbs. He can sense the futility of dust rising and falling as if in Becket’s existential world.
It reminds me inevitably of Pu. Shi. Rege’s ‘Savitri’ and her peacock. Rege’s Romanticism seeks unity of the spirit when he says, ‘If you desire a peacock, become a peacock yourself.’
Your peacock belongs to the post modernist world where despite the plurality of diverse views he simply exists there as a counterpoint to all the canonical interpretations of the past.
What a lovely book this is! Especially to read on this rainy day 🙂 thank you 🙂
I am enjoying this collection so much. It has all your charms. I’m really happy to read it. Thanks for sending it. …I read the book out to my parents tonight. Such delight. And I read it out to a friend on the phone…
What a delightful set of poems! Wise, wry, funny… Thank you 🙂 am enjoying reading them…
R is reading and hoarding the encounters with peacock. He keeps pointing some encounter to me but I have not had a full encounter with the book yet. He said the peacock is a lower class person in the village. He comes, sits, listens to you, but does not tell his story. That’s why his wife died and he doesn’t tell. You know after a few days, that he buries a deep sorrow under his affable person…
Ramu uncle is very good at writing… He writes in a funny style which has a deep meaning. The 20th encounter is adorable…
Thanks for your poetry collection. My Encounters with a Peacock is very witty, outspoken and a hard heating comment on modern-day life. The character of Peacock is most appropriate choice. It keeps on revealing it’s different shades in each of the 65 encounters. Probably it wouldn’t have been possible with any human character. This gives a full blooded journal of human experience with all its delicacies and bitter frankness of leading a tough life.
Red River poet Ramu Ramanathan in conversation with Kanika Katyal in the sidelines of the second edition of ‘Readings in the Shed,’ held in Delhi on 15 November 2018:
“I recall what Ibsen said centuries ago in An Enemy of the People — The majority is never right. Never, I tell you! That’s one of these lies in society that no free and intelligent man can help rebelling against.”
The piece, published in Indian Cultural Forum, also mentions Ramanathan’s ‘My Encounters with a Peacock.’
Read the complete story, The Importance of Art in Hard Times, at Indian Cultural Forum.