THE GARDEN (Satis Shroff)
I sat in the garden
With Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure on my lap,
And saw a small butterfly
With dark spots on its frail wings,
Violet patterns on its tail.
It was Aglais utricae
Between the marigolds
The Potentilla nepalensis
Was growing well
Under the shade of the rhododendrons.
The great pumpkin was spreading
Its leafy tentacles everywhere.
The tomatoes were fighting for light
Hiding beneath its gigantic green leaves.
A Papilio machaon with its swallow-tail
Came from no where.
The laughter of the children,
As they swung in the garden,
Were a delight to one’s soul.
Little Florentin’s fear of bees,
Natasha’s morbid fear of spiders,
Elena’s garden gymnastics
And Julian’s delight in discovering
New insects, snails and snakes.
Holding hands we strolled in our garden.
You watered the flowers and trees,
I removed long, brown snails,
A hobby-gardener of Nepalese descent,
In a lovely new house with character in Kappel,
A sleepy provincial area of the Schwarzwald.
* * *
Title: My Nightmare (Satis Shroff)
I dream of a land far away.
A land where a king ruled his realm,
A land where there are still peasants
Who plough the fields that don’t belong to them.
A land where the children have to work,
And have no time for daydreams,
Where girls cut grass
Sling heavy baskets on their backs.
Tiny feet treading up the steep path.
A land where the father cuts wood
From sunrise till sunset,
And brings home a few rupees.
A land where the innocent children
Stretch their right hands,
And are rewarded with dollars,
By the tourists.
A land where a woman gathers
White, red, yellow and crimson
Tablets and pills,
From the altruistic world tourists
Who come her way.
Most aren’t doctors or nurses,
But they distribute the pills,
With no second thoughts
About the side-effects.
The Nepali woman possesses
Of potent pharmaceuticals.
She can’t read the finely printed instructions,
For they are in German, French, English, Czech,
Japanese, Chinese, Italian and Spanish.
What does she care,
The hieroglyphs are always there.
Black alphabets appear like an Asiatic buffalo to her.
Kala akshar, bhainse barabar,
Says the Nepali woman,
For she can neither read nor write.
The very thought of her giving the bright pills and tablets
To another ill Nepali child or mother,
Torments my soul.
How ghastly this thoughtless world
Of educated trekkers,
Who give medical alms and play
The macabre role of physicians,
In the amphitheatre of the Himalayas.
* * *
This time Satis Shroff's Zeitgeistlyrik deals with a female writer who was deported to Auschwitz where she died:Nemirovsky who has written Suite Francaise, David Golder, Le Bal (including Snow in Autumn),The Courilof Affair, All Our Worldly Goods is a brilliant story teller with an in-depth understanding of the hidden flaws and cruelties of the human heart. She writes about what people do to us and what time does to people..
* * *
Irene Nemirovsky: COLD BLOOD (Satis Shroff)
Subtitle: Moaning in All Eternity
Six decades ago,
My life came to an end,
I, Irene Nemirovsky, a writer
Of Jewish-Russian descent,
Died in Auschwitz.
I live now in my books,
In my daughter’s memories,
Who’s already an octogenarian,
Still full of love and fighting spirit:
For she fights against
The injustice of those gruesome days.
I was thirty-nine,
Died shortly after I landed in Auschwitz.
I died of inflammation of my lungs,
In the month of October.
That very year the Nazis deported
Michael Epstein, dear my husband,
Who’d pleaded to have me,
His wife, freed from the clutches
Of the Gestapo.
They also killed him.
My daughters Denise 13,
And Elizabeth 5,
Were saved by friends
Of the French Resistance,
Tucked away in a cloister for nuns,
Hidden in damp cellars.
They had my suitcase with them,
Whereever they hid,
Guarding it like the Crown Jewels.
To them it was not only a book,
But my last words,
That I’d penned in Issy-l’Eveque.
I wanted to put together five manuscripts
In one: Suite Francaise,
That was my writer’s dream.
I could put only
‘Storm in July’ and ‚Dolche’
I passed away early in August 1942.
In my two books I’ve written
About the flight of the Parisians
From the victorious Germans,
The awful situation in an occupied hamlet.
Small people and collaborators,
Who’d go to extremes
To save their skins,
Like ants in a destroyed ant-hill.
It’s sixty years hence,
But my work hasn’t lost ist glow,
Like the lava from an erupting volcano.
You can feel its intensity,
When an entire nation
Was humiliated and had to capitulate,
Losing its grace, dignity and life.
I was born in Kiew,
Fled to Paris via Finnland and Sweden,
After the Russian Revolution.
I was a maniac,
When it came to reading,
Had a French governess,
Went often to the Cote d’ Azure and Biarritz.
I studied literature in Sorbonne in 1919.
I began to write:
About my Russian past,
My wandering years.
The colour of the literature I wrote
Is blood from an old wound.
From this wound I’ve drawn
The maladies of the society,
I was influenced by writers,
From Leo Tolstoi to Henrik Ibsen.
An unhappy childhood,
Is like when your soul has died,
Without a funeral:
Moaning in all eternity.