dusun 8

e-Journal of Asian Arts

August/September 2012
Ridiculously Free

balbir krishan paul gnanaselvam ignatius yeo jose varghese antonio lopez pei yeou bradley martin bradley


......or what?

the artist - pei yeou bradley in angkor wat

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august/september 2012
cover editor email balbir krishan martin a bradley martinabradley@gmail.com

Dusun TM

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page 6 page 8 page 18 page 23 page 32 page 40 page 50 page 62

editorial balbir krishan paintings from india paul gnanaselvam the machine of paradox - short story Perchés…’ – Cie Chabatz D’entrar french circus ignatius yeo sketches from singapore jose varghese silent woman - short story from india angkor wat - photo essay from cambodia angkor wat - another view sketches by teachers and students of colors of cambodia antonio lopez chinese ink paintings 1malaysia contemporary arts tourism festival 2012 - review the shalini ganendra fine arts gallery gallery review martin bradley dhamma baby - poem pei yeou bradley latest works

page 68 page 76 page 80 page 90 page 96


Dear Reader Another two months have rushed by.

Dusun grows with popularity and now covers a much wider range of Asian, as well as South East Asian Art and Literature. In this ground breaking issue Dusun features a writer and a painter from the Indian subcontinent, sketches from Singapore, photos, a story, a poem and artworks from Malaysia as well as French circus (in Malaysia) and photos and drawings from Cambodia. We are slowly becoming international in our scope - who would have guessed when we started.

It is with many heartfelt thanks to all our supporters over the world, that we continue to bring Dusun to you. And thanks to our contributors and readers too - you all make Dusun into the stunning e-magazine it is becoming. Now read on...........................................

We are over the moon to have raised the full amount of sponsorship to print the charity book - A Story of Colors of Cambodia - this book will continue to raise funds for the children of Cambodia

the bonding of spirituality-viii

balbir krishan
Balbir Krishan was born in 1973, in a village called Bijrol in Baghpat district of Uttar Pradesh. India. He graduated in 1997 with an M.A. in Fine Art from Dr. B.R.A. University Agra and, in 2000, achieved a NET (Visual Art) from U.G.C., New Delhi. Later (2003) he received an M.Phil. (Fine Art) from Dr. B.R.A. University, Agra. Balbir Krishan has won many awards and held group and solo exhibitions across India.

insulted angels-xvi

this is not dark life

this is not dark life

this is not dark life-i

this is not dark life



the bonding of spirituality

the bonding of spirituality

short story

the machine of paradox
by paul gnanaselvam

Two friends congregated at the old rustic bus stop that faced the busy expressway, under the canopy of an old angsana tree that had shaded them for three blooming seasons. There, under the azure sky they would wait, spending twenty grueling minutes every morning for the college bus that picked them to their workplace. It is during these times that the two friends would share their issues of ‘anything- under- the- sky’ together. They would talk about their families, work, students and their colleagues, politics, economy and anything that affected their lives in general. Like children at the swings, they celebrated their friendship and took to looking at everything so innocently from where there dared to put the world in order. One day, in the droning noise of the passing traffic, Tall friend said to the Short friend, how much having a car would make a difference in their lives right now. Both shook their heads in want at that point. “Oh, how nice it would be,” they both sighed, of the luxury that a car offered, its convenience, and the status that it boosted. “No more dust on our lips,” commented Short friend. “No more black smoke shocking our lungs so early in the morning,” said Tall friend, concerned. Eventually, ever since the topic of cars had surfaced, they recoiled from matters that were routine. They compared. One day they spoke of car models. Or, it was about the colors. Accessories.

Bank lending rates. Then, it was the budget and the down payment. If the budget was tight, they switched to a different model, different colour, different accessories and finally, numerology- auspicious numbers that they should secure on the car plates to gain luck and negative numbers that should be avoided. Their conversations from then on became covetous of the cars that other people they saw driving by, and veritably, they began to speak and behave like car owners. Some people were nice to offer them lifts, and some were courteous to ferry them to places out of town. These they appreciated. However, they too began to become a little remorseful over those who didn’t. They were the ones who spoke to them at college but drove on, ignoring them at the bus stop, passing by, and looking straight. There were also others who blared their honks and waved a benign smile, but still, drove on, “inconsiderately”, as Short friend put it. They would make their bodies wrench and giggle at the slightest “Don’t bang the door”, or “Wipe your shoes before coming in” and “Talk louder, the music is too loud.” Being petered out, after many days, they resigned with the idea that owning a car would end their brooding. They waited for their time. “Wait till I buy a car”, said the Tall friend again, this time, assuredly. I will never leave you here, under the hot sun, we would travel together. After all, you live only one block away,” he said.

Touched, Short friend offered to share the petrol costs. “We shouldn’t be like the others” continued Tall friend, pursing his lips to one corner, “you know, you were not here yesterday, I saw Mohan stopping to offer a lift to Albert, but did not even look at me, in spite of us working in the same department”. “Don’t worry, I think, people have become like that, car- owner’s- syndrome, all that materialism and selfishness is becoming boundless in their attitudes, it’s the end of times,” exuberated Short friend, convinced. “Well, we know we won’t be like that, don’t we?” He questioned Tall friend who was already shaking his head left and right, empathetically. Then, the time came. “I bought a car, a second- hand,” conveyed the phone call. Short friend jumped with delight, for now, at least the long wait at the bus stops were an ending peril. Short friend patiently waited and wondered, under the same tree, the same bus stop, unperturbed by the sea of yellow flowers that fell on his head. Soon, weeks became a month, and the dark clouds of the monsoon began to gather. They kept the remaining days of the year darker and stark. Still, there was no sight of the rusted blue, secondhand Toyota G.L. Agitated, Short friend crushed a moving snail under his leather shoes as he started off to work. He heard the shell crack but walked on; mindful of the slime that was pulling his shoe to the road.Yesterday, Tall friend had

flamboyantly walked up to him, draped his arms around his shoulders, like old times, and asked ceremoniously, “Why don’t I see you at all nowadays? How have you been doing? I hardly see you.” He laughed, even before the curt reply came, “Busy.” The cool morning began to absorb the warmth of the gentle sun when Short friend had reached the bus stop. The hard road began to pick up the reflections cast by its golden rays. Short friend walked on them. He smiled, remembering that the sun shone on everyone alike. As he sat down, the bus stop and the angsana tree faithfully stood their grounds, watching with him the frivolous traffic. Straining to hear, they stood in silence, as he took a conciliatory stand, “I will not be like that, one day!” Under the aloof sky. The clouds of the past year did not turn up on time as they had promised. The scorching heat had escalated this year. The sun seemed to have gone on a warpath, showing its supremacy on anything and everything that was left uncovered. By now, the angsana is protesting to let its soft and tender flowers to bloom, for they would wither and drop before it could boast its elegance. It waited, for the treacherous rain to pelt out from the sky and secure its comfort. Short friend waited at corner of the little road before turn into the main road. He looked to the left and to the right. Every morning it has became his routine, and every day, he did not forget to take one last look at his pretty tree before he left for work.

“It stood by the tides”, he would remember. Strangely, the tree, that was already looking gaunt, looked double today. “Wait a minute,” he slowed himself before turning left. He knew his tree. He took a closer look for inspection. Squirming his eyes, he discovered that it was familiarity, which was sticking to the tree’s silhouette, and it, was none other than Tall friend. Tempted to drive away, he remembered the angsana and the bus stop; he surely can’t be selfish, can he? They were looking at him, weren’t they? After all, didn’t Gandhi say, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”? He checked himself and the indicator, blinked right. Tall friend was looking up and away when Short friend stopped his brand new metallic black car at the shoulder of the little bend by the roadside. He lowered the power windows. “Hop in; it’s going to pour now,” he shouted out to Tall friend. Tall friend half smiled, his eyes rotating in their sockets. He stood still, scrutinized the driver and the car before mechanically rolling the textbook that he was carrying into his armpit. Grappling the handle somewhat carelessly, he sat. “Nice car”, he complimented. As Short friend drove away, he saw from the rear mirror that the angsana was smiling, putting out for the first time, its pale green buds, and the bench on the bus stop gaping its mouth wide, shouting to him the unheard “Congrats!”

Paul Gnanaselvam has published short stories in the anthologies Write Out Loud and Urban Odysseys and ASIATIC a literary journal. He currently teaches in the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics at Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR), Kampar, Perak, Malaysia

Perchés…’ – Cie Ch a

batz D’entrar

g Arts Cen Kuala Lumpur Performin

tre (KLPAC)

A permanent search for equilibrium. This French contemporary circus troupe presents a playful and perilous world where circus meets theatre of objects. It’s a story of a man and a woman, one in the air and the other on the ground. Two worlds, two completely different views of the world. A show that invites its audience to be in the stars. Une recherche permanente de l’équilibre. Cette compagnie française de cirque contemporain nous propose la vision d’un monde à la fois périlleux et tout en jeu et mouvement, où le théâtre rencontre l’objet. C’est l’histoire d’un homme et d’une femme, lui dans les airs, elle par terre. Deux univers, deux visions totalement différentes du monde. Un spectacle qui vous invite dans les étoiles. Production / Chabatz d’entrar Co-production / La Mégisserie, Pôle Culturel de Saint-Junien ; le Sirque, Pôle Cirque de Nexon ; le Théâtre de Cusset, scène conventionnée Cirque ; La Batoude, Centre des arts du Cirque de Beauvais ; La Cascade, Maison des Arts du Clown et du Cirque de Bourg-Saint-Andéol ; Le Moulin de l’Etang, Billom ; le centre culturel Yves Furet, La Souterraine ; le Service Culturel de la Ville de Riom ; SHEMS’Y Ecole Nationale des Arts du Cirque du Maroc ; l’Institut Français de Rabat, Kenitra et Salé ; le Service Culturel de la ville Tremblay-en-France, la DRAC Limousin ; le Conseil Régional du Limousin ; Le Fond Leader Châtaigneraie Limousine.

'Perchés…' - Cie Chabatz D'Entrar - given to us by Alliance Française and the French Art and Film Festival 2012, is what the French are good at – simple stories, well told and with a slightly surreal edge to them. Last night, after wending a long way into the velvet and sparkling city of Kuala Lumpur, and beyond, from my suburban home - we eventually discovered Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC). That home for all things performance based was secreted within a park at Sentul, almost hidden amongst the verdant foliage and ponds of robust Koi carp. As we waited to shuffle our way to the theatre hall we were becoming increasingly bethronged by the usual kissy, kissy, lovey, lovey wet-cheeked crowd who generally turn out for such city theatre performances. I could not help but notice that in this multicultural, multi- ethnic equatorial city of Kuala Lumpur there was a large (ish) crowd of pale Europeans and a much smaller crowd of locals. It could have been the expat French contingent flocking to support their motherland’s endeavour, or simply a lack of interest on behalf of the more local inhabitants of our emerald city, but the disparity was noticeable. It was a fine performance, spoilt only by an irritatingly rude blonde woman who was objecting to my camera clicking, and brusquely demanding that I cease. No amount of explaining would suffice that harpy who then proceeded to chitter-chatter her way through the entire performance – hence making more noise than my few camera clicks could ever have made. Nevertheless, and despite aforementioned harpy, those few short minutes being enthralled by 'Perchés…' - Cie Chabatz D'Entrar will live on in my memory long after that spell-weaving troupe has packed up and returned back to the land Liberté, égalité, fraternité. The story of 'Perchés…' - Cie Chabatz D'Entrar, was a far from straightforward romance. In its own unique way that story of enduring love and equilibrium was reminiscent of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and his engaging tale of the Little Prince blended, perhaps, with all the charm of Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain (Amélie) and the beguiling

humour of Jacques Tati’s Monsieur Hulot. The performance was a delightful, charming, balance between theatre and circus, referencing both while maintaining uniqueness unquestionably French. There was a fine matureness in the story (and performance) seldom seen in these equatorial lands, unfortunately. With the long ‘legged’ movements of the only two characters/actors on that stage at KL PAC, as they were strapped onto their stilts, I was, at once, reminded of two things. One was of the French philosopher Jean-Paul Satre and his theses on balance, equilibrium - and the other, of certain memorable works by the Spanish painter Salvador Dali. Dali, if you remember, had flirted with the French Surrealists, and painted Sur réalité in his Paranoid Critical method. As I watched Anne-Karine Keller and Olivier Léger perform, those be-stilted figures reminded me of Dali’s elephants. There was a grace and elegance to those elongated, spindly, legs which brought to mind Dali’s Temptation of St. Anthony. That revelation brought home the weight - physical and metaphorical, that those stilts carried on that KL PAC stage floor, and the nuanced layers of meaning spinning like plates before us. The short love story we were presented with, was in itself simple. Middle-class lovers play in circus inspired choreography. Their’s is the perfect life. They play, they tease, but the darker side appears as their societal position does not allow them to bend and pick up the caste away spoons/ saucers which have been scattered - littering the stage. Tragedy arises in man’s fall; there is the pain of separation, realisation of sacrifice and the joy of reuniting amidst all the bathos and pathos of a remarkable performance, minimalist stage set, and music which both brings to life the actions on stage as well as audibly perfuming the theatre. The disappointment, if disappointment it was only in the entire length of the performance.

Perchés Creative Team Author/Interpreter: Anne-Karine Keller, Olivier Léger Light engineer/ scenographer: Silvère Berthoux

images supplied by Alliance Francais Malaysia French Art & Film Festival 2012

fruit stall atTelok Blangah Mall

ignatius yeo
....is a mortgage specialist and a sketcher with a passion for capturing landscapes and citycapes. Many of his works are about his home - Singapore, and other countries. He has had exhibitions in Singapore and Manila, Philippines. His works are included in the book “Urban Sketchers Singapore Volume 1” co-published by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and the Urban Sketches Singapore; and a book - solely about his art, is in the works.

exhaust duct @ Little India 2


mysterious place

tg pinang

bukit mertajam.

short story

silent woman
by jose varghese
previously published in Postcolonial Text,Vol 6, No 4 (2011)

I don’t remember the kind of girl I used to be before my awakening to silence. I am sure though that I was never the kind who thought there was a need to express myself in some way, or to tell my side of the story to others. The silence that came in search of me must have uprooted any trace of such a desire. But when my twenty-nine-year-old son was recently struggling to describe me to one of his new colleagues, I felt it was high time I found my own way of interfering. It is easy to defend yourself when others describe you the wrong way, but it’s much tougher to explain what you really are, especially in the case of a person like me. In a way, whatever my son said was true, but there were certain things which he couldn’t talk about. I thought I had only one choice left—to transform myself into a story and leave it to those who were willing to accept it. And then there was this question about the length of the story I wanted to become. I can only talk about what is left between the words—the fragments that could fill up an imaginative mind – that leads to something which is full of missing portions. When all that is said makes a fragment in itself, what is not said can only add just a little more. So, it will not be an epic by any standards. Well, she was not well…. mentally, you know. Not that she had to depend on us for everything….she could look after herself quite well and do all the household chores. But…you know, she had these ‘spells’ at times and it was never a good idea to leave her alone near water—near a well, river, or sea…” My son and his friend pretended soon afterwards that they had forgotten about my disturbing presence and started talking about other things—mainly about what they were reading and writing recently. I too pretended not to listen to their talk about post-colonial identities and cultural representations of nationality. I knew what they were talking about, and I didn’t care. I had the freedom to linger on like a pampered cat in my son’s room or the verandah when he talked with his wife, little son, friends, or father. I had gained a level of invisibility that people usually attributed to animals which can’t comprehend in full, or respond to, human conversation. I was even better than a cat, because I never made any noise or sought

attention from them. Actually I thought they were relieved as long as I stayed indoors and did the things I was good at—cooking food for them, cleaning, washing, and staying silent all the time unless someone asked me something. I had the freedom to answer them in monosyllables, meaningless nods, and also to say things which were not really intelligible, because I was not well, you know, mentally. I knew they would return to the topic of me sooner or later, because of the recent incidents which made me a character fit for the role of a protagonist in some strange story. The first time I jumped into the well was five years ago. But I was rescued by a man who worked in the nearby rubber plantation. It was early morning, and he heard the loud thud and splash before I started flowing down the cold water. He knew it was the crazy woman who ‘fell in the well’ because he caught a glimpse of my white sari. A few moments ago, I was looking at the water deep down which looked dark green from above. As I dived into it, the overgrown ferns bent their fragile leaves to brush me momentarily and left white powdery streaks on my bare arms and face. Or I imagined so. The thud and cold shocked me for a second. But then I was flowing down. I heard sea waves roaring and wondered whether the well contained the sea beneath it. And then, the voices came—no, not the meaningless voices that come to schizophrenics. The voices that came to me were the ones stored in my consciousness, in whatever levels or layers that your psychotherapists will describe for you. I heard clearly the first lessons of Carnatic music I learnt as a child, in the definite, husky voice of my teacher in her late forties and in the shrill, shaky voice of the five-year old me. And also the slokas from the nearby temple, that had become a part of my early morning essence. Maybe that was one voice which came from outside the water, not from my consciousness—I am not sure. Also, the highly contrived musical notes from the bansuri of Hariprasad Chaurasia which came from the dilapidated tape recorder of my son, whenever he was feeling low (which was quite often). And that music I couldn’t name… The music from a movie my son watched with a friend, and I was allowed to watch in my cat-self. A movie by the Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowsky, about the blue colour of human mind. There were movies by him about the White and Red of human mind too, but I liked Blue more than them. It had a lot of music, loss, melancholy and authentic inner voices. And water too, which I loved. There is a sad woman in it who tries to kill the music in her. The music of losses, of a husband and a child who died in an accident. My own losses were different, of a more abstract nature, but I knew what she felt like. Among the many strange things she did was an attempt to drown the music in a swimming pool. But it keeps coming back, in full voice when she has to pop her head out of the water, and in muffled persistence when she tries to hide her face underneath. They re-played it a few times, talking about diegetic and non-diegetic

sounds in the movie. I didn’t get all that, but was fascinated to see it again and again. You may not believe it, but she used to read a lot – all kinds of books from everywhere. She was educated in a convent school, and learnt English when she was very young. A bright student loved beyond religious boundaries by the nuns, as my grandmother used to remember. But when she started falling in love with Jesus and his Virgin Mother, and started carrying a rosary in her bag, the Brahmin community decided enough was enough. She was just sixteen years old then, and was quickly married off to the government clerk my father was. No one knew what was happening in her mind because she was strangely silent most of the time. You need to be silent to know the music that comes to you. There should be silence around you too, but they did not let me know my music that day. There were voices—real voices—above me, and they thought I was drowning, and a man came down in a rope and pulled me up by my hair from the water, to meaningless voices which did not know what they were doing. I felt so sad to see the shame on my son’s face, and wished I thought of him earlier. But all sane people will agree with me that there are moments when you fail to control yourself, when you are in a spell, when the silence in you leads you to water. Did I care for anything else? No. It was my son who kept waking me up from my spells. It was not that I was a doting mother. I felt no special pride in being a mother. I gave birth to a daughter first, who died soon after she was born. Everyone was afraid that I would have a nervous breakdown. But I didn’t care, and I was already the crazy woman anyway. She just looked like a worm to me—I never saw her open her eyes. It was good that she never heard anything, other than the roaring of the sea in me. It was good that her thoughts died before they were born. But it was my son who made me sad. He opened his eyes, cried faintly, and stayed in this world. It was a tragedy. I always felt pity for him, the kind of pity out of which love of the purest kind emerges. His friends were all losers like him. They believed they could change the world, like the European youngsters of the 1960s. But they were not able to explore the freedom of the Sixties, to have the fun, as they say. They were in the wrong time at the wrong place, with mothers who were crazy or fighting for independence; and fathers who were drunkards or losers like them, or dead and gone; and some had siblings who opened their eyes and managed to cry louder than them. And all the people around them were buying things which should not have been bought—love, family, dignity, education, jobs. My son and his friends had drowsy eyes. They were all the time reading and thinking, and fighting to find a place for themselves in a world which had lost any notion of justice—even the kind that exists in the wilderness. No wonder they were all losers. Education, intelligence, honesty, sincerity—all these were no more the kind of commodities that

were in demand. They were the elitist idiots who would be misfits anywhere they went. I felt pity for all of them. And I loved them all, and gave them the best tea and snacks I could make. And I got books in return from all the libraries in which they were members. When you read so much, people expect you to talk about it. But I wanted to be silent, like Sister Miriam in the convent. It was she who used to supply me books, some covered clandestinely in brown paper. No one really had any idea what those books were about or where they came from. She didn’t talk much to anyone else but me. She was studying for her Masters in English Literature in the university in a big city where she stayed in another convent, and came to stay in a room next to mine only in the weekends. She had to convince the Mother in our convent that whatever she was reading and doing during her studies did not result in the loss of even a fragment of her faith. One day she came to my room, all in tears: “I knew this dear, Mother Clara will not allow me to do my dissertation on Sons and Lovers. I need to tell Father Paul about this. I will not get good grades if I can’t do my dissertation on something I like”. I looked at her for a moment and said: “But Sister, I feel Paul never finds it easy to choose between Miriam and Clara”. This made her stop crying, and we laughed together and read new books the whole night. We had silent meditations in the convent during which no one was to utter a word, usually for a week or so. I was very happy to be silent, but when Sister Miriam was around, we made it a point to talk secretly. Once, she told me how she embarrassed a handsome young priest during the silent meditation in the hall which stood between the seminary and the convent. It was soon after the lunch in the meditation hall, and she followed the priest to where he went to wash his hands. She stood behind him and murmered— “In the beginning was the word, and what was that for, Father?” “What?” He turned around awkwardly and found her smile peacefully at him, as if nothing had happened. Once we watched a few movies at home. One of my friends who was doing a Film Studies course came with a lot of DVDs of movies made in Israel, Latin America, Spain, Sweden, Poland, Austria, France, Germany, Iran, Korea—you name it . We hired a TV and a DVD player. The world came to our village, in bits and pieces. She loved to watch all those movies—around twenty of them. We did not take any break and watched five movies everyday, to save the rent. She would just sit cross-legged on the floor with her eyes glued to the TV screen, and would hurry up to make tea and food during the breaks when we changed the DVDs. We waited for her to return before we played anything. I found her very attentive and contented throughout, except for once. There was a movie called Sacrifice by Tarkovsky—oh, you know about that? You may remember a silent child in the movie, referred to as ‘Little Man’. A very intense movie where Little Man’s intellectually inclined father sacrifices

everything that he values, including his intelligence in exchange for a better world. And he burns down his house.Yes, exactly—it has that legendary long shot towards the end where he is chased by people from the asylum and taken away in an ambulance, as the house burns down in the background. Little Man is seen afterwards speaking his first words: “In the beginning was the word, why is that papa?” She started laughing loudly when he said this—which was, you know, totally out of place, awkward. She looked maniacal. This left us a lot disturbed, not to talk about the confusion and agony caused already by the movie. It was Sister Miriam who first told me in her hushed voice about the hidden pleasures of reading a book, and also about the need to be silent— “When you contain so many books inside you, your connection with the world is on an altogether different trajectory. The mundane affairs of life bore you as much as your bookish thoughts bore those who don’t get any of it. That is why you should learn to be silent, and to carry on an eternal, imaginary conversation with interesting people from those books. Whom do you want to speak to today, Miss Alice in Conventland? Gregor Samsa, Lady with the Pet Dog, or Zorba the Greek?” I told Sister Miriam that there were some in the convent who thought she was crazy. “They are right. I am crazy the way the Virgin Mary and Jesus were crazy. But I don’t want to be worshipped later. Because I have committed many sins—like reading Lolita, Lady Chatterley’s Lover and The Last Temptation of Christ; and I even made a bright, young, innocent student like you read them too, ruling out any possibility of a religious conversion.” And we started giggling. I told her that I loved the blue robes of Jesus and Mary, and also the blue beads in the rosary Mother Clara gave me. She told me blue was a colour that made many people gloomy, but it was a beautiful colour, beautiful like gloominess itself. She said she used to paint once, and was fond of the different shades of blue. She said she stopped painting because she knew what she held in her mind would come out through her painting, and everyone would be shocked. I asked her whether it was a good idea to stop doing what one likes to do, and she told me that it was alright; that refusing to do what one was good at was some kind of a protest; that silence had a lot of power, and that it was the strongest weapon in the world. I was not totally convinced then. Her silence was annoying at times, but we got used to it. For her my wife and son never existed. I don’t know about her feelings towards me, but there used to be some sort of communication between me and her, from the very beginning. I don’t know when she stopped talking to my father—seems it could have been from the day they got married. He carried her like an unavoidable burden, as long as the marriage was functional and she didn’t complain about the housework. It was only once that some really evil young men came to our house,

pretending to be my son’s friends. They came early in the evening, and I asked them to wait for my son. He was travelling long distance for his work. It took him two and a half hours’ bumpy ride by bus to reach back from his work place. They started talking ill of my son right in front of me, as if I was an animal who had no idea about human language. It didn’t upset me that they underestimated me so much, but the things they said did really upset me. They said my son was an idiot who knew nothing about the world; that those who think too much of the right and wrong of life will end up being eternal losers; that they haven’t even read a fraction of books he kept in his small book shelf (which was nothing, because he did not have money to buy many books, and got his books from the library); that they were smart to play the right cards—of religion, politics and bribes—while idiots like my son were trying to educate the new generation about human and animal values; that they were ‘in’ the system and my son will never be anywhere near it; that they compensated for the bribes they paid for their jobs with their wives who came with money that was enough to buy luxury cars, build multi-storied houses, and live the life which suits it; that they were here in this lowly fossilized house of idiots who belonged to the once highest caste only because they had to borrow some books and advice from him, though it was shameful for college professors to borrow such things from a school teacher; that they had no other choice than to register for a PhD now, or they will not get the promotion; that they will have to find someone who will write their theses for a handsome fee; that my son was so stupid and incapable to make some money at least this way; that they feel glad anyway because the teachers’ pet in all classes has made it only so far in life while they had it all… I felt like spitting on their faces and kicking them out of the house. But that’s what supposedly normal people do. I decided to play the madness card. I made some really strong tea and added two mighty spoonfuls of salt, instead of sugar, in each cup and took it to them on a nice tray. Then I went quickly to the kitchen and came back with a big knife and sat down on the floor next to their chairs, and asked them how the tea was. They had started to sip it, and I could see that none of them really liked it. But since they were the kind who were ‘in the system’, they did not dare to speak out the truth and said that it tasted really good. I got up and locked the front door and told them that our neighbor’s dog was fond of the tea I made and it would come and bite them if they didn’t give it their tea. They had to drink it as fast as possible to avoid this. I saw how silent and scared they all looked now, as if I were the dog. I sat down on the floor again and pretended to shape my toenails with the big knife and looked at their direction occasionally. I smiled at them and encouraged them to drink the tea. All the smart, rich, successful idiots sat there and drank the tea, excused themselves before my son came, got into their a/c cars and fled, never to come back.

No one knew when she fell into the well the second time. She was not at home when I came back from school, and we started searching for her. There was no sign that she went near the well, and it was impossible to search in it since it was more than sixty feet deep and almost one third of it filled with water. We called the fire force. They came, and asked us whether we were sure that she was in it. How could we be sure? If you are not sure, we can’t search, they said. They had rules, which could be bent by a bribe. I decided to pay a bribe for the first time in my life, but when I heard how big an amount they needed, I abandoned the idea. I didn’t have that much money with me. When you lead your inner life to the full and close the doors and windows that let thoughts in and out, you are in a state of bliss.You don’t have to spend all your life behaving like actors, trying to convince others that what you show comes directly from inside you.You may have to live with some tags—the crazy woman, the strangely silent creature, the one whose screws got a bit loose after reading all that bullshit—but you are basically free in your world.You are not as mad as those who project false selves one after the other, and when they look into the mirror, won’t recognize the one they see there. People don’t expect much from an insane woman, and will be grateful for the simple things you are able to do. Those who live with you curse their fate, but so do all who have to live with someone. The worst part of it is that you have limited freedom in the physical world.You are not allowed to travel, to go near the sea, or even to the well which is so close to your house.You have to be satisfied with the water that flows down coldly from the taps in the kitchen, in the bathroom. And the best part of it is that no one sees the sea that roars in you, all day. I have always wanted to travel in a train, but could never do that. My father used to take me in a crowded bus to and from the convent school, once in a month or so. That was all I saw outside the village where I grew up. Once we went for a picnic from the school. That was the first and last time I saw the sea. There were so many girls like me there, in our school uniforms, and the nuns kept an eye on us. They observed that I was unusually active and unafraid of the waves. I never got enough of the sea. All my nights after that were filled with images of the sea. It’s indeed strange that what I saw and experienced some thirty years ago remains so fresh in my mind even now. I feel like a writer or film director who chooses certain characters and incidents from the big messy world and lets them be experienced by others. It’s not that other things didn’t matter, but these made a special impact on them. Trains might have made an impact on me. When I read about people travelling in trains or watch movies that feature train journeys, I am mesmerized. I have no clear idea how one feels sitting near a window and watching the world move backwards, but I am sure I will like that.You can pretend to be in a world where no one really exists or open your eyes and study the faces of others. I imagine there will be a sea of emotions

floating in a train. For a person like me the experiences from books and real life have no difference. In that sense, I have experienced everything in life, in all the places of the world, in all possible times. It’s much more than anyone could experience from indulging in what they take for real. They restrict life to what happens between birth and death, all that falsity which accompanies each breath. But I never got enough of the sea, the water, the blue, the train… There were local people who offered to search for her in the well, but it was a risky affair, and many reminded me that I will be responsible for it if someone else’s life was put in danger. We decided to wait. We searched in the bus station, train station and the beach. We filed a complaint in the police station, spent two sleepless nights. And on the third day, her body was found floating in the well, all bloated…The police came. They wanted to take it for post-mortem to the medical college, which was four hours away. My father was upset. So were all our relatives. They were concerned about the religious rituals. The police were nice. They asked me whether I had a complaint to register, or had any suspicion. I said no. None of the people in the village did create any problem. They were all being nice to her, to us, at last. The fact that she was strange saved us some of the ignominy. The police said there was no need for a post-mortem and gave the body to us for the funeral rites. We were lucky, you see. My grandson looks exactly the way my son used to look when he was a boy. Poor kid, I never accepted him. Or his mother, for that matter. It was deliberate. I didn’t want to take more people into my world. I tried my best to shake off my son from my script of the world, but he kept coming back, breaking my spells. My husband deserved pity, but I was afraid to give him that, fearing the untimely emergence of love. I left Sister Miriam and Mother Clara in the convent, never to meet them again. Sister Miriam gave me a goodbye kiss and asked me to remain strong. Sister Clara looked intently at the rosary with blue beads given back to her by my father. He told her that we had nothing against them, and were thankful for the good education they gave me. He just had to think about his community. I let in my son’s friends to my world, but they never tried to break me from my spells. They were just nice people for whom you could make nice tea and snacks. I could have made some very good tea for this new friend whose eyes look so harmless. He is lost in my story, and I can hear the sea in his deep voice. He doesn’t ask what my name was. He doesn’t ask anything at all. Just supplies filler words to let my son get it out of his system.Yes, the system! I wonder why a harmless woman had to die this way. I don’t believe she wanted to end her life. She was not suicidal. Just a bit fascinated by water. Did she differentiate life from death? I don’t know. Either she was mad, or much more intelligent than all of us to face the world with silence.

I just wish I tried to understand her more—this woman, my mother… Why did someone have to save so many words in a lifetime? Perhaps to deconstruct the means and meanings of communication. In a world where so many voices go unnoticed, what does silence achieve in the end? Nothing. It just adds to the meaninglessness that surrounds us. A woman, a Brahmin woman, Savitri—wife of Krishnamurthy, mother of Ishvar, mother in law of Lakshmi and grandmother of dreamyeyed Vinayak the three-year-old—that’s what she was. She should have remained the same, her existence made significant only through the pale, underfed people to whom she was related, if her silence was a coincidence. She found me, caught me unawares and followed me till here. Her silence had some power. Her thoughts resonate with me, with the world, even beyond the six minutes of consciousness after she drowned her temporal self. What else did she have to drown? I can only speak from the clues I got from Ishvar, fill the gaps in his narration. I shouldn’t drown her fully in clichéd identities of religion, gender or inner longings. I would like to imagine that she would have loved to be in a train like this. Did she ever get a chance to travel in a train? Fat chance. But now it seems I am travelling with her. Why was she so fascinated by water? Had she ever been to a beach? If yes, what could she have done there? Ishvar said that she loved to make tea for his friends, and got books in return. The name Ishvar means God. He knows a lot, but not everything. So heavily talented, does he realize what he inherited from his mother? It would be a disaster if he gets silenced at some stage in his life; or perhaps it wouldn’t be. If she was still alive, I could have offered to take her on a short trip on a train or for an evening on the beach. No, Ishvar might not have allowed that. He kept repeating that she was not well. I should just have ended up giving her all my hundred and seventy two poems which have no takers – poor voiceless creatures. She should have finished reading them in a couple of days, the fast reader she was. What could her silence have made of it? No one will ever know.

Jose Varghese is Assistant Professor of English Language and Literature at Sacred Heart College in Kochi, India. His PhD is in Post-Colonial Fiction (select novels of Salman Rushdie, Shashi Tharoor and Rohinton Mistry) and he is currently working on a research project on the works of Hanif Kureishi. His collection of poems 'Silver Painted Gandhi and Other Poems' was listed in Grace Cavalieri's Best Reading for Fall 2009, in Montserrat Review. He plans to publish a collection of short stories soon, and facilitates monthly creative writing contests at: http:// heart-bytes.blogspot.com/2011/11/writers-forum-contests.html

A Story of Colors of Cambodia

book launch
14th October 2012

At Only World Group (OWG) No.10, Jalan Pelukis U1/46, Glenmari, Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia Charity Hi -Tea vouchers available from cofcthebook@gmail.com https://www.facebook.com/groups/138402846288849/ http://colorsofcambodia.org/

photo essay

angkor wat
A small trickle runs down the fissure in the stone slabs. Slowly, without rushing, it finds its way into the dry antique tank…….. There was a time when that tank was full. It was a time of kings. A time of water so precious yet so plentiful. They would come to bathe, pray, clear their minds. It was a time of peace, love, and joy, before the wars, before life became meaningless. It was a time when Garuda’s flew in imaginations. Water would drip, wash cloth clad forms, vie with Pali intonations, chants, peace. Stone were hauled to build the temple.Time hewn stones, lowered back to back, side to side creating the great Wat. At Angkor.

pei yeou bradley





lim willett

lim willett

sean throw

sean throw

sean throw

sean throw

pei yeou bradley

morm maram

angkor - another view
Sketches by the advanced students and teachers of the Colors of Cambodia (charity) Gallery in Siem Reap, Cambodia

morm maram

morm maram

diep kiri

yon bouch

morm maram

Antonio Lopez
Antonio Lopez is a 49 year old Malaysian, and a Product Development Manager at a packaging printing company. He left school and started working as a print graphic designer with no formal training in a small print shop doing typesetting and paste-up art for off-set printing. He always had an interest in art and found Chinese Ink painting, and his first solo exhibition was in August 2005. He exhibited more than 50 pieces, most of which were sold.

launch review

a different future
a review of the 1Malaysia Contemporary Arts Tourism Festival 2012 launch Admittedly I was a little surprised, and somewhat excited, to be invited to the launch of the 1Malaysia Contemporary Arts Tourism Festival 2012. I was puzzled and quietly expectant too when I read the programme of events for that day. The events included a speech by YB Minister for Tourism Malaysia and the launch of an arts competition entitled – 1Malaysia – The Futurists. I was more than a little curious to see that The (Italian) Futurists were alive and well and encamped within this particular neck of the equator. That afternoon, there was the usual speechifying by the government minister – the hand shaking and back slapping. Smiles fairly beamed from the stage at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, lighting those examples of Malaysian art displayed for the purpose of the festival - adorning one side

of that quite spacious hall, on level three. At one point in the proceedings a gigantic replica eye – like something out of a Dali film or Redon pastel, was lit and revolved revealing – well, very little actually. It was all a little bizarre. My view of the stage was constantly obstructed by a female photographer. She just would not take no for an answer - not even when asked to back off by the slightly miffed YB minister herself, so I apologize in advance if I missed the reference to The Futurists, but I am not conscious of having heard any reference to that bright band of Italian artists who had created their particular world view during the early years of the 20th century. There were no manifestos manifesting themselves, no painterly references to the future, speed, technology, youth, cars, air planes or

ramli ibrahim

industrial cities. No Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Umberto Boccioni, or Carlo Carrà either - I was somewhat befuddled. It seems that it was yet another of those cultural misunderstandings that I have been having so frequently - since I decided to lay my hat on a metaphorical hat peg, within my miniscule apartment on the fringes of the main Malaysian metropolis. The Italian Futurists and their love of machines, movement, and fascism were obviously not the focus of an arts competition. The term ‘The Futurists’ had been high jacked by possibly well meaning, but perhaps a tad confused, committee attending to the day to day affairs of the aforementioned 1Malaysia Contemporary Arts Tourism Festival 2012 and paid no heed to the previous art movement of the very same name.. Having been kept on tender hooks for practically the whole event, I had no choice but to shuffle down in my seat, ignore the annoying photographer (and the gentleman with the mop of silvery hair immediately before me), and get on with enjoying the show. And there was much to enjoy too. Ramli Ibrahim and the Sutra Foundation dancers were stunning. The whole ensemble – dancers, Ramli himself - the lighting and music gave us more than our money’s worth. OK, yes I was a VIP guest so it was free, but you know what I mean. It was superb. The dance theme appeared to be spirit


anklung orchestra

and the emancipation of women, but I could be wrong. It was a sheer delight and continues to occupy my thoughts some hours now from the actual event. The anklung musician was a surprise as well. Despite having been resident in Malaysia for some eight years, I had not heard one of these bamboo instruments played until the launch of 1Malaysia Contemporary Arts Tourism Festival 2012. Perhaps I should explain - the anklung is an instrument made from hollow bamboo. It resonates when struck and generally is comprised of two bamboo resonators tuned to complimentary notes. The instrument is shaken to produce its unique note. But - joy upon joy, there was not just a solo artist - but eventually a whole orchestra – admittedly of school children, but an orchestra nevertheless, who played beautifully as my wife and I hastened off as work beckoned at that point. All in all the 1Malaysia Contemporary Arts Tourism Festival 2012 was an interesting experience – but no Futurists. I idly wonder what that art tourism concerned committee might come up with next year – Post-Impressionist painters – who paint indentations made by posts or Dadaist creatives who only make images of their fathers, perhaps. It therefore should be most interesting - when the future finally arrives.

gallery review

The Shalini Ganendra Fine Art Gallery
The Shalini Ganendra Fine Art Gallery sits in a cul-de-sac hidden somewhere in the far reaches of Section 16, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.You do need a map to get there, but once there the gallery opens itself up like a welcoming mistress and seduces the visitor with her evident charms. There is a slight confusion about the exterior area surrounding the gallery – is it a car park, a bar be que area, or a sculpture park awaiting sculptures – I chose to believe the latter, trying to seem positive. Like most Malaysia art galleries it was empty of visitors on the weekday my wife and I visited. The gallery halls rang with a slight desolation but nothing too untoward, and in a way it was good not to have intruding noise as we bathed in the milieu’s ambience. That day, as we entered, there were two stunning quasierotic ceramic pieces (from Jasmine Kok’s Sensuality exhibition at the Galeri Chandan) - lying on a smartly appointed long table. It was sad that we had missed her

one-woman exhibition at Galeri Chandan, and those two artworks of hers made me even sadder. I wanted to rush over and take my fill of their ceramic beauty, but we were interrupted by the new gallery minder and offered chilled water. We drank our respective glasses of soothing, chilled, water - not wanting to appear impolite, and signed the visitor’s book. It was only then, after scribbling our names in the book reserved for such purposes, that we were free to wander at will through the two floors of The Shalini Ganendra Fine Art gallery. Braving the suburban traffic on that flirtatiously hot day, and praying that parking might be available close by, we had actually gone to the gallery to see the works of the Sri Lankan painter - Josephine Balakrishnan. After finally witnessing that artist’s striking works – face to canvas, it comes as no surprise to learn that Josephine Balakrishnan


Josephine Balakrishnan


sunshine sparkle


our protectors


zac lee

cont: grew up in California. Her work seems to leak West Coast, and to have a distinct Hockneyesque feel about it - bathed as they are in bright California colours, warm hues and alluring tints, but no greater splashes, naked or semi-naked bathers to ogle. There was a Matisse feel about Balakrishnan’s art. Perhaps it was the line work, the colours, or the sheer painterly bravado but, whichever it was, those works were a joy to see. Though, truth to tell, I had expected more. But isn’t that what we are always being told - ‘always leave them wanting more’. Those bright and vibrant paintings shared gallery space with the oversized creations of Zac Lee. There was an incongruity present. The aggressive works of Zac Lee – perhaps the product of some strange coupling between Francis Bacon and Georgia O’Keeffe, did not sit well with the energetic paintings from Josephine Balakrishnan, or with the two gently sexual ceramic pieces by Jasmine Kok. It may simply have been a shortage of space, yet the two displays – side by side, seemed to detracted - one from the other. There was a further thought - after strolling the short corridor towards the stairs which nagged - just why was one of Zac Lee’s digital works relegated to the kitchen’ – food

josephine balakrishnan

jasmine kok

for thought. Upstairs, past the quarters for artists in residence, Chin Kon Yit’s marvellous watercolours shone in his one man exhibition. Kon Yit – previously featured in Dusun, has been sketching Malaysia for some time. The upstairs gallery at The Shalini Ganendra Fine Art gallery was displaying some fine examples of this master’s work. Kon Yit, for the uninitiated, draws painstaking sketches of architecture in minute detail – right down to the pencilled expressions on street vendor’s faces. It is unsurprising then that Kon Yit’s illustrations adorn many a book about Malaysia’s towns and cities. The Shalini Ganendra Fine Art gallery is a little out of the way, but well worth a visit – for that gallery is responsible for some excellent exhibitions and thought provoking art talks too.
SHALINI GANENDRA FINE ART @ Gallery Residence No. 8 Lorong 16/7B, Section 16, 46350 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
Tel: +603 7960 4740 Hours: Tues – Sat: 11am – 7pm www.shaliniganendra.com facebook: SGFA

dhamma baby
by martin bradley

sleep my dhamma baby let the lotus guide your dreams and may the eightfold path steady your footsteps and give you mindfulness

sleep my dhamma baby and in your dreams, rest may it bring you peace joy and love to lighten your busy life sleep my dhamma baby and in the morning awaken with fresh eyes and an easy heart may a smile brighten your day as you brighten mine

sleep my dhamma baby the whole world is yours the sun and the moon shine mountains rise and seas flow just for you may this day be the day of your dreams when all your wishes are granted and your heart is glad

sleep my dhamma baby and upon awakening rest easy in my love and the sweet breath of the sunshine

pei yeou bradley

new beginning

seeds of nuturing

somewhere is my dream

remembering whiteness & other poems
by martin bradley

downloadable as a free pdf from http://correspondences-martin.blogspot.com/2012/04/open-publication-free-publishing-more.html

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