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Call of the Page (Alan & Karen)

Sunday, April 12, 2020

The Area 17 Profile Poet Series: hats, haiku, and haibun by Hemapriya Chellappan

The Area 17 Profile Poet Series:

Hemapriya Chellappan
(b. Chennai, India)
Engineer & Writer

the many shapes
of loneliness

Hemapriya Chellappan
Bristol Museum & Art Gallery online gallery of Masters of Japanese Prints (2020)
The poem were published online on UNESCO’s World Poetry Day 2020.

Haiku with Commentaries by Hemapriya Chellappan

Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa
a woman next to me 
gets her brows done

I blame the society for setting unrealistic beauty standards: The idealized photos of Instagram models, influencers and celebrities have a bad effect prominently on young people, who undergo extreme measures to achieve the desired look and simply don’t realize the images are artificial. Why do all girls want to look pencil thin? Why do you want thick wavy hair? Why do you want a nose job when you can perfectly look angelic in your own nose? You don’t have to look a certain way to feel important. You don’t want to lower your value to a grade of meat. I quote Shakespeare here: “Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks.”

the Last Supper
a sink full 
of unwashed dishes

As a kid, I have always been yelled at for not finishing my chores on time and my mom wants me to do chores right after I wake up. Come on, housework is not amazing. It is painstaking and really boring. I used to procrastinate as a child until I grew up and realized it’s not fun even as an adult.

exam hall 
even the time 

At school, I’ve always been bad at Math, in fact, I was very bad that I’d finish my paper before anyone else and go the bathroom and cry. Sometimes when I can’t think of a solution to the problems in my life I used to blame myself for not being bright and calculative. It was a real deal. Even after I have learnt to solve my own problems I still dread those moments in the exam hall questioning God: “Why me?”

origami boat 
how my childhood 

The rains make me nostalgic. It teleports me back to my childhood and those carefree days. The color of nostalgia for me is blue. It is the same color of the first time my cousin took me into an open field and taught me how to ride a bike. The same blue of my uniform in 8th grade. The blue that I sometimes see on a flitting butterfly outside my window. The sound of a fountain pen gliding on paper. But of them are faded, melted into the oblivion, lost in time and forgotten into the past. Even though you see blue skies, green trees, cotton candies and pinwheels with hints of joy bubbling underneath, nostalgia has much more taste than color and it tastes like abandon.

Hokusai’s Wave
sharpening his claws
a feral cat

Even though being a dog person, I’m always fascinated by the weird antics of cats. They are very playful and have this devil-may-care attitude. According to science, liquid takes the shape of the container without changing its volume. Yes, cats are liquids! You can never find an animal that fits into everything. They’re curious, perky and adorable. Our building cat always scratches on some hard surface as if preparing for a fight with other alley cats. If you find your glass of water precariously placed on the edge of the table got knocked over, BLAME THE DOG!

incessant rains 
small talks 
dry up

Honestly, we have all been there. I am always struck up in a conversation with my neighbors when I take out the garbage; go for a walk or grocery shopping. Even if I find a reason to leave, someone else would come, say hello, join in the conversation and eventually out of courtesy I’ll stay a little longer and the loop continues.

HAIBUN (hybrid writing, prose with haiku):

Shooting Stars

We've always loved the terrace at our grandma's. Flanked by coconut trees on one side, and mango, guava trees, on the other, it was our playground. We'd play all day, rain or shine. Even in the scorching sun, a slight breeze would fan our faces fresh and the game would go on. Granny used to make us tea and snacks when we come home and halt after play. Her house has always been filled with children and grandchildren. It has been years since I stepped foot on that house. We sold that house, we don't live there anymore but whenever I drive past this once beautiful home of ours, I could smell strong nostalgia simmering in a mud pot, on her stove, in the backyard. Sometimes I could hear the sounds of TV and laughter of my cousins emanating through the hallways.   

summer's end 
drying the last 
of my pickles 

Home Sweet Home 

I get emotionally attached to places. After I got married and shifted to Pune, my husband and I lived in a 2BHK apartment of a high-rise for two years and our favorite spot was the balcony where we used to sit together for hours during the day to watch people & birds and at night to admire the city lights and sigh about how insignificant we are in this vast expanse of universe. Recently our landlord increased the rent threefold and we had to shift to a new society not very far from this place. At times now, I miss the balcony, the view, and the happy pigeons strutting into our kitchen for some snack.

moving day
the harsh call
of geese

Note: 2BHK apartment is: two bedrooms, hall, and kitchen:

Postcard perfect

I have this habit of bringing tacky souvenirs from the places I visit. I like to put them in a bag and cherish them forever. When I returned from my honeymoon, to Mauritius, I had a bit of 7 Colored Earth, seashells, SIM cards, boarding passes, sleep masks, bills, miniature bottles of shampoo, conditioners, soaps etc. in a bag that I totally forgot about. Recently, when I was cleaning the wardrobe, I stumbled upon and sniffed at a bag to see what it held. Poof, I was immediately teleported! I’m tormented by  everything that’s beautiful: sound of the waves, salty breeze on my hair, sunset colors among the mountains, sceneries that look like Windows Wallpaper, Bolognese pasta, the Undersea walk, the Sega music to which the African women danced every night during our stay at the hotel, shopping at the Port Louis city, a little bit of Creole I managed to learn and Ed Sheeran's Thinking Out Loud to which we walked slowly along the beach and so on.

afternoon breeze
a coconut’s thud startles
the tree squirrel

Ed Sheeran - Thinking Out Loud [Official Video] 

Hat haiku

noonday heat
the woman in a hat’s
half-baked smile

millinery shop
a man in a yellow cap
stops for a hat

perched on my hat
perched on my head
a parrot

-The End-


Pris said...

This is a wonderful feature!

Area 17 said...

Thanks Pris!

Hema was wonderful to work with, and has brought a lovely mix of photos and poetry, warmth and humour, in this much needed time.

warm regards,
Call of the Page

Pavithra Moses said...

Amazing Hema.Iloved all of them.

Area 17 said...

It was a wonderful experience curating Hema's work and photos for this feature! :-)

warm regards,
co-founder, Call of the Page

Unknown said...

Wonderful writing.
Thank you Alan.

Area 17 said...

Thank you, it was great working with Hema! Are you Hema, or a stranger in these parts? :-)

warm regards,
co-founder, Call of the Page

_kala said...

Congratulations to both Alan & Hema.
Nicely done!

Area 17 said...

Thanks Kala!

I'm glad Hema is getting even wider recognition, and her haibun are refreshingly open and fresh and immediate.

She has set the bar high now for features on Area 17!

warm regards,

Hema C said...

Thank you everyone for you love and support! All thanks to Alan for giving me this wonderful opportunity to showcase my haiku and haibun. Truly honored!

Hema C said...

BTW, haha, that's not me, Alan. :D

Area 17 said...

I thought I'd better check as some people forget to sign their post with their name. :-)


isabella kramer - veredit said...

Absolutely fantastic article about an outstanding author!



Area 17 said...

Thanks on behalf of the author!

warm regards,

Margaret Walker said...

I am belatedly reading this article but I very much enjoyed reading more of Hema's work!

This is a wonderful feature!


Area 17 said...

Thanks Margaret!

Hema did a terrific feature and set the bar, and the ball rolling for this kind of haiku with author's commentary!

warmest regards,