Monday, March 10, 2008

..and consumption too

I find fevers to be the most literary illness. Perhaps because I get fevers so often and I have literary pretensions. A fever is the ultimate symptom of ennui. The hot brow, that strangely unconnected feeling with the world while at the same being hyperaware of the temperature fluctuations of my own body. Self-indulgent yes, but when I have a fever the world shrinks around my dimensions and nothing else lies beyond the boundary of my body. I am my own world and the world is me.

When I was a neurotic, too-imaginative teen I fell in love. With Shelley and with Keats though I had a slightly mad obsession for Lord Byron as well. But while Byron was dangerously sexy and sexual, I imagined both Shelley and Keats to be the ultimate romantic, passionate yet frail lovers of doomed affairs. Aaah! That Wild West Wind. Oh Ozymandias. An Ode to a Grecian Urn? I'm on board though I had no clue what a grecian urn was or why one would write an ode to it. But during that time I think I wrote an Ode to a Brown Teapot. Then I discovered that I could not write poetry. Could. Not. No talent in that direction at all.

My Shelley and Keats, dead at 26 joined my other dead crush Jim Morrison. We were kindred spirits all of us. And I believed I too would die at 26. And perhaps when the four of us got together some poetry would leach itself into me. And when I didn't pass away romatically at 26, that was almost a kind of a betrayal and an unvalidation of any writing aspirations. I was missing two ingredients of death at 26. I could do heavy drugs like Jim but that was so unnatural, so modern. The natural death of literary giants was to get consumption. Consumption that oh-so romantic disease where you just wasted away leaving just your passion and your fierce and lovely words hanging in the air like the cheshire cat's grin. Of course, I ignored their ignonimous love affairs, the slight unsavouriness that I can delight in now, but that to a child's eye would have smashed the clay feet of my idols.

And I dreamed of the shores of Lake Geneva where Byron, Keats and Shelley, wrote and talked and suffered bravely (well, at least the latter two did). In my mind they sat on long-armed chairs, slanted gently, almost lying down, swaddled in warm woollens as they gazed upon the silver of the water. And they spoke of poetry and verses floated thick in the air. And in my mind the lake was wreathed in mist, with the cold air from the mountain coming in to ruffle the hair that lay on Shelley's forehead. Aaah! Such dreams!

And now I am here, and the ghosts of my beloved three wander somewhere in the waves of the lake. Their words linger. And I hug my fever to myself. But damn! Where is my consumption. Perhaps wherever it is that my fierce love for the romantics went. Wherever it is that my tastes became more modern and less overwrought, where shades and emotions in between meant more than the over-done and the dramatic.

But still there is something in me that still thrills to the thought of finding Shelley, Keats and Byron somewhere in Switzerland. I plan to go look for Byron's house and to re-trace their steps. I mgiht not have consumption (thank god) but I can recapture my young loves.


dipali said...

How utterly charming:)

Christine Tawtel Hendricks said...

I suddenly feel a fever coming on...Byron Byron is that you??? So very beautifully written!

Bina said...

And you say you can't write poetry!

Jawahara Saidullah said...

Thank you all *blushes*