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Volume 7

Outside: Looking In - January 2011


Written by
Saroosh Shabbir

A physicist by occupation, I spend my days daydreaming about all the things I could learn, write and make. As a writer I vacillate between the fear of verbosity and the ineptitude of inarticulateness. Currently trying to build a home around an uncommon situation in conformist Stockholm.


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Fond Reminiscence


It snowed today.

It’s the first fall of the year. Perfect pink light, permeated by falling flakes, floats into my dark room. Outside the window, I can sense the presence of pure white, untouched, pristine snow.

“You know what it’s called …” a little while back, from the direction of black eyes, gleaming as if their possessor had just arrived at an absolute truth.

“Virgin Snow.”

To which I, silently, “Looks like you’re on a row.”

The silence necessitated, or so it seemed then, by the natural presence of a third.

London hasn’t seen a fall like this for years. For a world without a higher order, without first cause and final effect, it operates rather comically, conspiring sometimes for the express purpose of causing events that complement one’s personal history. “The best in town, Troy Restaurant,” said a leaflet that a probably emaciated brown or yellow hand slipped under my door this morning.  Must I be haunted into remembrance then?

I capitulate…

“Sculpture has memory,” he says, while we talk about the abstractness of music and my Muslim heart gives in to musings of Hindu mythology.

So it was with the flute that Krishna so lovingly held close to His lips. The hollow bamboo reed also suffered. It underwent the agony of being pierced. Seven holes were the result. And those holes produced Divine Music when they came in contact with the Divine Breath of the Lord of Lords! 

For days I walked with that phrase reverberating in my head, awed by its eloquence.Sculpture has memory. Then months passed, reverberation subsided, displaced by other words.

Now I am quietly waiting for the catastrophe of my personality to seem beautiful again, and interesting and modern.

I realized afterwards, the phrase was eloquent yet technically incorrect. Growing up affords one to marvel at such contradictions, to revere them. Sculpture cannot have memory because it is purely spatial – has no time-dependence. A sculptor instantaneously envisages his composition as a whole, and what is once constructed stays true to touch. Music, on the other hand, has only the dimension of time. The note exists as long as the moment, and is as intangible as time itself. Putting together a musical composition is harder because of time delay in conceiving its parts. The transition from alaap to antra is laborious, while Nataraja doesn’t metamorphose; he is frozen in motion.

So now, there is a fondness in reminiscing about those moments, the same way an old sweater of a loved one is breathed in deeply, or a photograph touched with the fingertips without any consciousness of time, until one is shaken by the peremptory reality of now.

A cold turbulence in my pink fabric. I get up to re-latch the window.

There is virgin snow outside.

It may be the coldest day of

the year, what does he think of

Based on Frank O’Hara’s Mayakovsky



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