Sunday, September 03, 2006

Call me by my true names - A Visual Contemplation

Every time i feel the dire need to compose myself within I read one of my best loved poems - "Call Me By My True Names" by the Vietnamese Monk Thich Nhat Hanh. This poem to me is more like a Prayer, a chant that has the panacea for the inner ailments of the present era. This time I read it along with Laxmi, my wife. With her dinner half finished, i saw her remaining transfixed for a few moments... and I saw tear drops falling into her plate. I am sure that this must have been the most nourishing meal she ever had.

Here's that poem. I tried a different way of contemplating on the poem by correlating the deeper meanings with simple graphics which I fervently wish would make the reading experience more intense and help the reader internalise a more vivid visual imprint. Thanks to GettyImages and GoogleImages that brought to me images very close to the ones i had visualised.

Of course the poem does not need any of these...these images are not the flowers to make the poem appear more beautiful, instead it is an offering at the poem's/ poet's altar.

Please call me by my true names

Don't say that I will depart tomorrow-

even today I am still arriving.

Look deeply: every second I am arriving to be a bud on a Spring branch, to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings, learning to sing in my new nest, to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower, to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry, to fear and to hope. The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death of all that is alive.

I am a mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river. And I am the bird that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.

I am a frog swimming happily in the clear water of a pond. And I am the grass-snake that silently feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones, my legs as thin as bamboo sticks. And I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat, who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate.And I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.

I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my hands.

And I am the man who has to pay his "debt of blood" to my people dying slowly in a forced-labor camp.

My joy is like Spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth. My pain is like a river of tears, so vast it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names, so I can hear all my cries and laughter at once, so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names, so I can wake up and the door of my heart could be left open,

the door of compassion.