From The Other Side Of The Desk : Dr. Parichay Patra

Per uno tranquillo, uno tranquillo come me

-Parichay Patra

“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”

(Dante Alighieri reads the inscription, as he passes through the infernal gates)

For the umpteenth time you turn your back on the city in the antipodes that you loved for half of a decade. This time it has a mundane finality, you have left your years behind, your days and nights at the festival and at the cinematheque, your nights of knowing the topical pubs with wonderful, wonderful women whom you have never been able to convince to wake up with you. You are the mediocre academician without any hidden talents, without any creative drive to land you up in outlandish shores. It rains in the city as you leave it, and out of nowhere emerges your new workplace where your first job awaits you. In this job you will be scoring in a ‘logical, ‘rational’ way, you will be adding a few more numerals to your CV.  Here you will be speaking for an audience that is not interested, and then you will cross over to the other side, becoming as dispassionate as the others have always been. This is how you will connect with the space and time you are in. You read, you write, you interact with those who are equally doomed, you get yourself published in books that nobody will ever read; you contribute in journals that will never reach anyone. Those unread alphabets, those unspent and unwed images stare back at you silently.

You keep on visiting cities. The impoverished winter flies towards your aircraft, you jump on its Hispanic soil with your underdeveloped skills. After a month you leave it with the saline memories of the ‘camarera’ for whom you sobbed uncontrollably at the corner of a wintry café. You leave memories of a traumatic dictatorship behind, along with the Tango in the train and the cellist in the subway. You have bartered your soul with Lucifer, the Lord of light.

And then you float around before heading towards the hard rock for one last time. The dull, droning sound deafens you; you fear the anticipation of it, not the actual fall. In your (in)glorious fall you locate your lotos-eaters around.

 

Surely, surely, slumber is more sweet than toil, the shore 

Than labour in the deep mid-ocean, wind and wave and oar; 

O, rest ye, brother mariners, we will not wander more. 

 

You clench your fists, struggling to survive. Your discipline has long died a slow and painful death. In this disrobing darkness you fall back on whatever that seems near. And you are amongst the handful of disrobed souls around. You have found your corporeal gods who also passed through the infernal gates like you. And you will find your ways in the sun and the rain. Your gods will (re)appear in their David Mamet and Madeline George and Paula Vogel and in all that Jazz. Mourning is forbidden in the city of Creon, but there will always be Antigone(s) around in Hogwarts for those who need her.

Your Antigone(s) in depression will be under the mushrooming clouds of melancholia that looms large over your inferno. You will sob uncontrollably once they leave you alone. Your tears will remain unrevealed, your travails will be the buried child, you will remain the unburied man. With your wonderful, wonderful women. And men.

You heard the title song for the first time in its French avatar in Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s La promesse (1996). Your mentor who sang along in his audio commentary has left the more tolerable inferno long back to live with his woman near the sea. And then the ‘original’ Italian (‘Uno Tranquillo’) resurfaces in your submerged life, it engulfs your futility. Nothing to quench your thirst, you are not envious, you are not alone, think of your love, and find your ways in the sun and the rain.

 

Quando ho sete e cerco aiuto e mi dicono di no

Io per non sentirmi solo, sai amore, penso a te.

Che m’importa dell’invidia se l’invidia non è in me?

Ma col sole o con la pioggia, la mia strada so dov’è, so dov’è..