Gloomy Sunday

Sunday is gloomy? –

Oh! I don’t think so.

You must be driven by notoriety

To be so brimful of woe!

Sunday is gloomy! –

I certainly don’t think so ;

The day’s bright and beautiful,

Even without Antonio.

Sunday is gloomy? –

How can it be so?

White flowers, black coaches –

Naught can steep Sunday in sorrow.

Seress, Javor said Sunday’s gloomy –

It would be so much more so,

Were I to pass away abruptly,

Leaving behind darling Antonio.

Oh! Gloomy, gloomy Sunday!

You’re weirdly lethal, you know?

So many have killed themselves

Distressed by your woe.

Oh! Gloomy, gloomy Sunday!

What would the lost souls say,

Were we to celebrate Life

With prayers and candles today?

 

* This poem is inspired by the song, ‘Gloomy Sunday’, more popularly known as the Hungarian suicide song, which is notorious for causing the deaths of more than a hundred people, including its composers –  Rezso Seress and Laszlo Javor, due to its extremely morbid and depressing nature. I’ve personally listened to three different versions of this song, one of them being the Hungarian original and another being the one sung by Sarah McLachlan, besides a third by an unnamed artist; and I found the song very beautiful, though the lyrics are certainly morbid. Of course, I took the precaution of listening to it while I  was at my happiest, since I know from experience that morbid songs coupled with a morbid state of mind is the absolute recipe for disaster. So, if you’re planning to listen to the song, please do so AFTER taking the appropriate precautions. Here are the links for all three versions that I listened to (others are available on YouTube)  :

 

 

HYACINTHS

She had just returned from the funeral, and she was still thinking about the wreath of hyacinths she had placed inside his coffin, in respect of the last wish he had expressed. Hyacinths had been his favorite flower. She had heard him say so often enough; so she wasn’t really surprised when he had expressed his intention of being buried with them, just before he died. Now, the scent of the flowers still clung to her fingers, as did the feel of them, and she missed him more than ever. Yet she couldn’t cry; she wouldn’t cry, because he had, before dying, placed his ring in her hand, with the promise that his soul would find hers, that she wouldn’t have to wait too long to become one with him. And so, she planned to wait, till his soul found her.

The day passed in a daze, for his last words “my soul will find yours” kept reverberating in her thoughts. And at night, when she finally went to bed, the smell of hyacinths still clung to her fingers. As she looked out of the window, for just a fleeting moment, she thought that she could see him standing in the garden, looking up at her with his usual smile, in his usual way, until she suddenly remembered that he was no more. So she closed the window, and tried to sleep, and while she slept, she dreamed of hyacinths…

Next morning, when she failed to make an appearance at her usual time, and repeated attempts to wake her up proved futile, her parents had the servants break open the door of her room, only to find her lying dead in her bed, an expression of peace, quite unlike the haggard expression that she had worn for weeks, ever since he had been taken ill, showing on her now-cold face. The doctor, when he had finished examining her body, pronounced her as “having died due to some unknown cause”. But her parents ever-after maintained that she had died of a broken heart; that they had seen death written across her face, ever since he had been taken ill…

****

Years had passed since the family that had last lived in the house, had left it after the sudden death of the daughter of the house. And having remained untenanted for a long, long time, the house had fallen into disrepair, and the gardens had grown wild and out of proportion, with hyacinths having practically claimed the territory. They were simply everywhere. So that, when the new tenants came to live in the house, they were faced with the formidable prospect of repairing the damages in the house, as well as getting rid of the surplus hyacinths. When finally the place had been put in order again, and the family came to live in the house, those few that remained of the neighbours of old, held their breath in surprise, when they saw the daughter of the family; for she looked remarkably like the one that had lived in the house so many years ago; only this one was lovelier. To those who knew all about the other one, this was like history repeating itself. And they were all overcome by a secret sadness, which they couldn’t really understand.

And so the new family started living in the house, which was once again filled with laughter and songs and life, after ages of reigning silence. Then, one day, the daughter, while looking through the contents of the drawers of an old bureau, found a ring lying in a corner of a drawer, on which was inscribed “my soul will find yours”. She turned the pretty little thing over in her hands a few times, and then went bounding downstairs to show it to her mother. She already had her hand on the door-knocker, when a little voice from somewhere seemed to scream in her ears, “Don’t.” She stopped in her tracks in surprise, as she seemed to feel a strange sense take control of her thoughts, that filled her with a sense of foreboding; that if she showed the ring to anybody, what was about to happen would not happen, and that, would be a grave loss to her. So she went back to her room and hid the ring under her pillow instead. That evening, when she was out in the garden taking a stroll, she suddenly came across a divine-looking youngman, whom she had never seen before, leaning against the furthest door of the garden, with a bunch of hyacinths in his hand. When she went forward with the intention to ask him who he was and what he was doing there, he came out of the gloom he was standing in, raised his hat to her and silently handed her the flowers. She looked into his face for a long moment, and she seemed to know him; only she couldn’t remember where she might have seen him. In that moment, she seemed to hear the words “my soul will find yours”, as if he had whispered them into her ears. And then, suddenly, he was gone. She wasn’t really surprised; so she calmly went back to the house, assured that she would see him again. And at night, before she fell asleep, she toyed with the ring for sometime. And as she slept, she dreamed. She dreamed that her young man was standing in front of her, holding out a bunch of hyacinths to her. As she reached out her fingers and touched them, the hyacinths seemed to come alive suddenly, filling her with horror, and as she stood there, gaping at the young man with eyes wide with horror, trying to ask for his help, but not being able to, as she couldn’t find her voice,twining around her fingers, and reaching up fast across her hand, enveloping it, and then, reaching still higher, seeming to spread out and grow across her body, suffocating her with their scent…

Next morning, the parents found their daughter, lying dead in bed, with a sprig of dried hyacinths clutched to her breast by her right hand, and her left hand clutching a pretty ring, on which were inscribed the words, “my soul will find yours”; and what was stranger, the entire room, from the ceiling to the floor, every inch of it, seemed to have become horribly overgrown with dead hyacinths overnight; yet, there was a strong smell of hyacinths everywhere…

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TERRORISM

Boom! Boom! The sound of guns

Shatter the midnight silence

Boom! Boom! Comes the marauding

Call of shameless violence.

Boom! Boom! The sound falls flat

On the shattered bodies lying

Boom! Boom! The valleys echo

As dawn steals in before time.

Boom! Boom! “They’re at it again” –

The hills whisper to each other;

Boom! Boom! And frightened children

Crawl closer to their mothers.

Boom! Boom! The shells should’ve pierced

The traitor’s heartless breast –

Boom! Boom! And so many sons

Of India, yet again, laid to rest.

Boom! Boom! And we realise –

Peace is a passing dream;

Boom! Boom! They prove again

That violence is mainstream.

Boom! Boom! The crossfire continues

As empty shells hit the ground;

Boom! Boom! Amid blood and fire

Soldiers fall without a sound.

Boom! Boom! The borders cry,

“Has terrorism no end?

Boom! Boom! How many more innocents

Need we, to their deaths, send?”

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