Delhiwale: His poetic selfie
- A poetry-loving lit student answers Proust Questionnaire
Literature student SM Shafi eats poetry — poetically speaking. He reads poems, he writes poems. In his 20s, he is currently preparing to start his PhD on poet Fakir Mohan Senapati, who wrote in Odia, Mr Shafi’s native language. Sitting in his favourite garden in south Delhi’s New Friends Colony, he gamely became a part of the Proust Questionnaire series in which folks from diverse backgrounds are nudged to make “Parisian parlour confessions”, all to explore the lives and experiences of Delhi’s citizens. He agreed on one condition—all his responses will be based on his passion for poetry.
Your favourite virtue or the principal aspect of your personality
The way I fall in love with this world, which is also the fate of poetry
Your favourite qualities in a man
Selflessness, ability to do good without trying to show it (which is akin to poetry which registers but never shouts), sense of justice
Your favourite qualities in a woman
Same as above. Plus, her intuitive mind, a sacred gift of nature. Poetry is impossible without such a gift. Most of the poems are evidence that either the poet was an ingredient of such an experience or the woman herself was writing it
Your main fault
Forgetfulness, which I enjoy. It renews what I see and eventually things start giving up their guarded secrets and connections, which poetry is comprised of
Your favourite occupation
Gardener of big city parks
Your idea of happiness
Taking bath in a sea or a river with a friend who is equally stunned and silent, to pause the reading for a while because a verse just revealed, affirmed or introduced a truth.
Where would you like to live?
Beside a pond, with silent neighbours not interested in culture but gossip
Your favourite flower
All flowers excite me. Like Theodore Roethke wrote, deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light
Your favourite poets
Shakespeare, Derek Walcott, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, CP Cavafy, Kedarnath Singh, Mir Taqi Mir
Your favourite names
Milosz, Kiarostami, Ashbery (you can taste his name), Akhmatova, Sona, Subah.
The military event you admire the most
I don’t. I also hate the fact that there is a category of poets called ‘war poets’.
Your motto in life
“Not that I want to be a god or a hero. Just to change into a tree, grow for ages, not hurt anyone.” - Milosz