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Posts Tagged ‘ink and brush’

From my Sketchbook-face of a man

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The Tree of Terror ©

 

 

In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil is an immense tree that is central in Norse cosmology, in connection to which the nine worlds exist.
yggdrasil-2

When one morning the gods had left the tree to pursue their tasks for the day a gnome with his hair riding the wind like some hundred wild stallions came across the tree and said, ‘I am the East Wind!’ The dragon who guarded the sacred tree said , ‘ None that has cold breath is welcome here’.

East Wind said: ‘ See my sword and it is still sharp and red hot. I gave all my warmth to it. I have no heat left.’

While the gnome of East Wind finished speaking there came a whirlwind and wasps in the rear. The stranger within it was a spectre, and he said, ‘Let me in. ’ The dragon looked him up and down and said, ‘None but the strong shall enter the sacred halls here.’ South Wind said, ‘The vast open spaces where the swirls of dust blow about shaped me as I am. My strength is in each speck of grit. They shall vouch for me.’ In answer the wasps buzzed and the whirlwind said ‘It is indeed so!’ The dragon smiled and said nothing. Who comes in but the West Wind in a titter. Stopping in front of the Cosmic Tree he said: ‘I am neither strong nor weak; neither a hero or a feckless woman,- I am what I choose to be.’ The dragon looked at the newcomer and sniffed. He said, ‘You smell nothing. I know bitter when I taste wind. Nor I get sweetness here.’ Perplexed the dragon asked ‘What are you really?’ ‘Oh my sweat!’ the West Wind giggled. “My smell is all in dem crystals and the oceans hold them for me.” The dragon raised his hand and said, ‘Hold it! I have my own counsel here’. He snapped his finger. The North Wind came. The dragon asked, ‘These three here. Are they to be admitted?

The West Wind brought salt out of thin air and sprinkled: The North Wind said, ‘My heart melts simply. He has charm.’

Then he went to the East Wind who drew his short sword and flashed, ‘Oh he dazzles my eyes with fire!’ the North Wind cried out. When the North Wind went to the South Wind the specks of dust swirled about as dervishes and became snowflakes. The North Wind was speechless. At last he found voice, ‘Of the Tree of terror, look at these fragile beauties against which no terror can overcome. ’  The tree said, ‘Yes let them all in. The gods could learn something useful from these three.

ack: wikipedia note: Yggdrasill would also mean “tree of terror, gallows.

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A merchant who exported exotic flowers to the Far East in the Eighties became very rich but a volcano in one part of the globe suddenly erupted. The ash from a volcano in Iceland ruined the merchant in Aleppo.
Al Ahmedia had three daughters. They were Razia and Nafeeza and Ayesha was the youngest.
Ayesha was also called Beauty.
The two elder sisters were counting on marrying some one who was rich and famous. Of course one thought Sultan of Borneo would be her ideal choice. The other wanted one from Saudi royal family. But their father’s sudden misfortune came in a most inconvenient time.
The world and hopes of Ayesha the youngest didn’t go beyond the four walls of her home. Her father was laid low by his reversal of fortunes and he needed all her attention.
Razia and Nafeeza the elder daughters set the trends in fashion and were the darlings of the society. At home they found Ayesha an easy target. So every day they sniped and made her look silly.
They showed her natural beauty at disadvantage, which was taken up by the press. Luckily Beauty had no time for anything else than keeping a home for her father and her sisters.
She was Beauty in looks and in deeds.
One fine morning word reached Hajji Al Ahmedia that he could get compensation from FEIECF (Far East Importer and Exporter Compensatory Funds) for losses he had incurred. He had to go to Malaysia. Before he left he asked his children what they wanted from Penang. Razia wanted a bird of paradise and Nafeeza, an urang utang. Beauty wanted just a rose. Al Ahmedia took the first plane and reached the office in Penang. He met the right people and they assured they would settle the matter. But the matter dragged on over some lacunae in the law of the land.
After days of fruitless discussion it was clear he was wasting his time. So one day he decided to return home. That evening he set out to his hotel. He took a short cut and lost his way.
While walking through winding pathways hedged by lush greenery of some tropical paradise he was straying farther into a wild part of the town. By night he came in front of a decrepit villa that was evidently the mad folly of rubber and tin baron. It was shuttered for some hundred years.
To his utter amazement as soon as he climbed the steps the villa came to life. The shutters opened by itself. The macaques and marmots that ran through the rotting timbers became men. As the tired merchant reached the top of the steps there were men to receive him.
It was as they had orders from high and they fell to their tasks
Instantly. The servants in their sarongs and with headbands entertained the guest with food and music. Silently they brought salvers of fruits and food steaming hot and they served him on banana leaves. While in the background musicians played musical intstruments to rest the weary soul of the merchant. Al Ahmedia thanked Allah for his beneficence and ate. He slept on a cot carved out of rosewood inlaid with mother of pearl and ivory.
Next morning he woke up and as he climbed down the steps he found his magnificent villa reverting to its former state.
He knew he had slept the night in an enchanted villa.
Thanking the most merciful Allah for preserving him from all danger he walked on. At the gate he saw a perfect rose peeping out from a nearby rosebush. He plucked it. Ah the flower started bleeding. From somewhere he heard a whisper angry and piteous. It soon became a low moan and steadily it grew in volume to become a shriek.
The rose went on dripping blood, human blood.
Suddenly the cry stopped and instead a voice asking,’ For my hospitality is this how you pay back?’
The merchant looked around. There was no one. He was still holding on to the rose and it dripped blood. The voice from nowhere said,’ Why kill me when there were millions of rose bushes nearby?’
The merchant stood up and saw it was indeed so.
The unknown host was right. He furiously wondered in what way he could make amends. But how with a dying rose in his hands? Blood was making a trickle along his hands and along the red dust.
‘If I die the curse will be on you and your descendents.’ The voice went on and the merchant heard footsteps coming closer. The Voice spoke, ’You did evil and you must make amends.’
He asked what he wanted him to do. ‘Your life!’
The merchant hesitated.
He heard the voice ask, ‘Do you have people at home?’
‘I have three daughters at home.’
The Voice asked if any one of them would in his stead come to his rescue. The merchant said perhaps his youngest daughter might take his place.
‘What is her name?’
‘Beauty’
The blood of the merchant went cold to hear to disembodied laughter. It was pure fear that hit him.
‘I am the Beast.’ said the Voice. He added, ‘Go in peace but bring Beauty to me.’
The merchant promised to try. Before he left the Voice said that he would be dying inch by inch and if he delayed beyond two weeks his curse would begin to work. The merchant quaked in his shoes.
Al Ahmedia went home and told his daughters of his fearful encounter with the Beast.
Beauty was willing to save her father and also the Beast. Within ten days the merchant took Beauty to the enchanted villa.
The Voice sounded relieved and permitted him to leave. The merchant was glad to have got out of the villa in one piece.
Beauty remained alone in the hall, and she heard footsteps. She turned and saw a man instead of a beast.
He sighed and said she was deceived to think he was normal like others, ‘I am the Beast’ While Beauty stood speechless he said,’ I am damned unless you can love me on your own free will.’
Beauty could not believe. She somehow felt right at home and in control of the situation. She felt pity and as she came closer.
It was the Beast who was in panic. He said, ‘don’t come near me. I am the Beast.’
She saw his eyes were in pain and in tears she felt as though he were a creature as she.
‘Oh Beast, you are crying.’
‘Shall not a beast cry?’
‘But your tears are like mine.’ She was surprised.
She heard him gasp.
‘Oh, you are in pain!’
The Beast nodded.
She asked him to repeat after her. ‘If I can feel pain I can also feel happiness.’ He did as was told. She said many things that they had in common and he obliged her repeating. In the end she said, ‘I am a woman.’
To this the Beast answered,’ And I am the Beast.’
She went closer to the beast. She felt his broad shoulders and saw that everything which, a man was expected to have was there. ‘You are a paragon of manhood’ she said very much relieved.


The Beast suddenly slouched over his seat and wept. He said, ‘Beauty you don’t understand. I have no heart. I am a beast.’
Beauty said, ‘Beast? I don’t understand what you mean. And I have a heart for the two of us.’
‘How do you know?’
I grew up, Love, among those had no hearts either. They were not called beasts’. She was sure that as far as she could see he was in no way worse than her sisters and other people with whom she had to live.
She drew him to her side and kissed his hand in reverence.
‘What is your name?’
‘The Beast.’
‘No it is not!’ she was emphatic.
He replied’ Sultan Razak al Bashir.’
Something snapped then and there.
Lo the whole enchanted villa became a mansion on stilts. The rot and rack of two hundred years of neglect had been erased. In its place stood a mansion meant to be made a home. Ayesha said,’Razak, you and I are going to live here and give a try to raise our children. In this very spot.’
Razak the Beast had a glint in his eye, ‘You make it sound as though it is possible.’
‘You don’t?’
‘Beauty, you make me also believe it is possible.’
They settled down to make a home straightaway.
benny

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(This is a poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne. Illustration is by me. b.)

Here, where the world is quiet;
Here, where all trouble seems
Dead winds’ and spent waves’ riot
In doubtful dreams of dreams;
I watch the green field growing
For reaping folk and sowing,
For harvest-time and mowing,
A sleepy world of streams.

I am tired of tears and laughter,
And men that laugh and weep;
Of what may come hereafter
For men that sow to reap:
I am weary of days and hours,
Blown buds of barren flowers,
Desires and dreams and powers
And everything but sleep.

Here life has death for neighbour,
And far from eye or ear
Wan waves and wet winds labour,
Weak ships and spirits steer;
They drive adrift, and whither
They wot not who make thither;
But no such winds blow hither,
And no such things grow here.

No growth of moor or coppice,
No heather-flower or vine,
But bloomless buds of poppies,
Green grapes of Proserpine,
Pale beds of blowing rushes
Where no leaf blooms or blushes
Save this whereout she crushes
For dead men deadly wine.

Pale, without name or number,
In fruitless fields of corn,
They bow themselves and slumber
All night till light is born;
And like a soul belated,
In hell and heaven unmated,
By cloud and mist abated
Comes out of darkness morn.

Though one were strong as seven,
He too with death shall dwell,
Nor wake with wings in heaven,
Nor weep for pains in hell;
Though one were fair as roses,
His beauty clouds and closes;
And well though love reposes,
In the end it is not well.

Pale, beyond porch and portal,
Crowned with calm leaves, she stands
Who gathers all things mortal
With cold immortal hands;
Her languid lips are sweeter
Than love’s who fears to greet her
To men that mix and meet her
From many times and lands.

She waits for each and other,
She waits for all men born;
Forgets the earth her mother,
The life of fruits and corn;
And spring and seed and swallow
Take wing for her and follow
Where summer song rings hollow
And flowers are put to scorn.

There go the loves that wither,
The old loves with wearier wings;
And all dead years draw thither,
And all disastrous things;
Dead dreams of days forsaken,
Blind buds that snows have shaken,
Wild leaves that winds have taken,
Red strays of ruined springs.

We are not sure of sorrow,
And joy was never sure;
To-day will die to-morrow;
Time stoops to no man’s lure;
And love, grown faint and fretful,
With lips but half regretful
Sighs, and with eyes forgetful
Weeps that no loves endure.

From too much love of living,
From hope and fear set free,
We thank with brief thanksgiving
Whatever gods may be
That no life lives for ever;
That dead men rise up never;
That even the weariest river
Winds somewhere safe to sea.

Then star nor sun shall waken,
Nor any change of light:
Nor sound of waters shaken,
Nor any sound or sight:
Nor wintry leaves nor vernal,
Nor days nor things diurnal;
Only the sleep eternal
In an eternal night.

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She walks in beauty, nipt and tuck’t
Flabs spread all o’er, surgeons art
Ne’r more meet than in Mary Plukket,
And she is out to steal my heart.
Walk on by, walk on Mary Pluckket
I shall one day pledge my heart.
2.
One more lipo-suction would have
Marred my Mary beyond repair;
My eternal pledge is mine to give
For millions in exchange fair, -
But is it worth or freedom I crave?
One day I shall come with an answer.
3.
She walks in beauty, nipt and tuck’t
But not for long, she is big with child
And all her strivings by chance crack’t.
Alas, nipt and tuck’t by thoughts wild
she sees our babe neatly incised and pluckt
At birth than her perfect form marr’d.
benny

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