Dead Actors – by Arun Paria

by TBLM

Dead Actors

Dead actors keep appearing on TV,
no older than the morning bread.
As if the episode had only been shot
yesterday;
its movements,
oeuvre, talking points
saved in memory’s freezer
without remembering
it’s 2019 already.
Chief Inspector Morse is nineteen years gone.

But Chief Inspector Morse has died
before my eyes.
His drinking, cynical, wandering
selfish days
took a pounding; threw him down
as a termitic tree/tipping water glass
on grass,
in Oxford. I saw how heroes fall, disappear.
Inspector Lewis: I was as sad
to let him go. But I was in Pune. Helpless.

*

In Cambridge, Amartya Sen is writing memoirs.
At eighty-five, he’s ancient like a Betamax spool. The forefront man
conceding to iPhone-toting-Instagram-flaunting
children while the day brings bad news at 8 PM,
on TV.
With warnings
and a trumpet sound. And then the day is gone.

*

Everything is suspect after that. Everything is unclear.
Hanging a net over the bed I ask myself
who had more valour: M K Gandhi or Subhas C Bose?
Who drove the Wanderer and who threw the Viceroy away from home.
Who built the roof, who kept the fire burning
all these years.
Who made us see order, colours, destiny’s heartless laugh; beside whose statue we build
a staircase even taller, to garland the man.
Or a woman. Or a cow. Or a Garud. Or a pussy cat.
On whose dream we make a thousand You Tube videos, that we half-watch
but do not forget to like.

*

My grandfather’s brother: a 1942’s mark on the back of his palm.
A cut made by a whip. The whip that was a stingray’s tail: the stingray, a fisherman’s catch.
The fisherman, a gaunt hunter of the sea, knew (in his fury), the Bay of Bengal didn’t have a match.
‘Who wielded it, Dadu? Was it a bad white man?’
‘No, no. It was a native. An Inspector. He lived only an hour’s walk from us.
In 1947 he retired.
His son opened a grocery shop at the school bazaar in 1957. His grandson is a teacher now. Would you like to be a teacher when you grow up?’

*

The kingdom of yawn has come. We don’t know who we love and who loves us in return. What we want, what makes us.
In doubt, in debt, in distress. Always, always. From the periphery we dance. On the fillets of emoticons. Heart, heart, heart. Hug, hug, hug.
High five.
Sparkling dust, unicorn, a school girl jump.
Tantrums made with thumbs.
With Salome’s ambition. In the palace of Tinder-Grinder-Bumble. To the last moans of love.

*

I wonder how I will die. A curiosity, an anticipation may be. Peeking the end before toiling the preface, middle.
Although a story of a death is only a story- an abstraction. Will my death be an abstraction too –
to my departing, vanishing mind?