Monday, 29 October 2012

Hymn to an old man

A graphic by Remigius de Souza

Hymn to an old man

Poem by Remigius de Souza | pen and ink on tinted paper | 29-10-1970
 Remi’s protagonist – the old man – is longing to go back home, homeland, on his last lap. 

The text on the photo:

I sing you hymns oh,

   old man on the way back home
   the sleep sings you hymns
   the stars appearing sing you hymns

   the falling darkness sings hymns
   the old tired pathways sing you hymns

   the ruins sing you hymns

   the thick woods sing hymns
   the bamboo sing you hymns

   the waters flowing sing you hymns

   the birds returning sing you hymns.

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© Remigius de Souza. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Water lettuce, an aquatic plant

Water lettuce: Drawing by Remigius de Souza
I was travelling through the jungles of Dangs in Gujarat. From there I went to the project site of Ukai Dam on River Tapi, which was then under construction. On the way I halted at village Songad. There is a temple and water reservoir on the top of the hill near the village. The water was covered with a floating aquatic plant. It is called water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes), ‘Prasni’ in Marathi, ‘Jalkumbhi’ in Hindi, ‘Jalshamkhala’ in Gujarati.
The plant grows by multiplying in numbers like amoeba, and each grows to full size. The plant has shape and size of rose flower with roots at the base. Its petals are green – a green rosette of outstanding beauty.
A tribal just then reached at the pond. He had walked about fifteen ‘kose’ (one kose is about three miles) to take the plant for medicine for his daughter who had just delivered. I too fetched a few plants to Baroda while returning, to leave them in one of the many lakes there. I left them in a bucketful of water on the terrace. They remained there. In the course of time the number did increase, but their size reduced – it was miniaturised – and finally disappeared completely (probably it was not getting direct sunlight).
After a few years, I found this plant (very few in numbers) in a large pond in village at Vasai Taluka.

The aquatic weeds were considered nuisance till recently. They help aquatic ecosystems and recycle waste, reduce evaporation of water. Different types contain protein and amino acids as regards lysine and methionine. They also contain various degrees of minerals depending upon location and season. They are often richer in iron, calcium and potassium than land forages. Aquatic plants could be used as soil additives, mulch, fertiliser, green manure, pulp and fibre for papermaking, animal and human feed, and medicines (best known to the tribal for centuries), organic malts for biogas production and for composting.

Image source: Internet
There is lot of information about this plant on the Internet. Some claims are made about the origin of the in some country or other.

Once in geological time, scientists say, there was a super-continent, which is named Gondwanaland. It was fragmented, and five continents floated across oceans.

Obviously along with land, the flora too must have moved; common sense. The scientists found fossilized plants in Antarctica, which proved it was part of Gondwanaland, the super continent. 

Google Map: Songadh, Surat District, Gujarat
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© Remigius de Souza. All rights reserved.

Monday, 15 October 2012


Dombari - a caste of traditional acrobats in Mumbai- 1
Dombari - a caste of traditional acrobats in Mumbai-2



From South Pole
To North Pole
Life —
A tightrope walk

(Translation of the original in Marathi, dated April 1984, by the author)

This girl-child doing her circus act! What education shall our benevolent government shall give her?
How long will she take to learn Letters and Numbers?
Her motor ability is so advanced that might bring any young person to a shame.
She is already educated in life supporting skills.
But the government does not recognize her education, and likewise that of millions of royt – Janata!
Isn't it misfortune of the rulers!

Dombari are a caste of acrobats in Indian Society. In the democratic India’s changing economy, they are now vanishing: No rehabilitation, No education. Who cares?

They are mentioned in Siddhartha Jataka (3rd Century B.C). Would they ever reach the Olympics, or vanish, in the Democratic India?

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© Remigius de Souza. All rights reserved.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Tentacles of Remi the Octopus

Self-portrait by Remigius de Souza


‘Tentacles’ | Remigius de Souza| 1987 | water colour on paper

'Tentacles', Remigius de Souza's self-portrait, was published on Net but none was moved. Not even his friends!

Sometimes Remi is reminded of ‘Picture of Dorian Gray’ or ‘Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’

Remi generally doesn't look into mirror. Because he notices 'octopus' in the mirror! What then could be his misery while wandering the streets of Mumbai metropolis?

He notices millions of people (his aborigine and peasant kinfolks) in the glass-clad multi-storied buildings mushrooming in the concrete jungle. But that never stops Mumbai! Mumbai – as a symbol of centralized power of Civilized Society – carries its footprint on the regions far and wide.

The very strength of the powerful is their weakest point. There is a mythological Indian story of Bhasmasur that repeats again and again.
In this self-portrait, 'Tentacles', Remi notices himself swallowing Natural Environment by his tentacles spreading and reaching across regions far and wide.

Call it his misfortune or his fate of unwanted share, or call it a ruthless criticism on Industrial Civilization. Words, images, movies, myths, scriptures, prophets, avatars... all tools to earn (power and profit) and/or entertainment! Does it make any difference?

Remi, however, laughs at himself at his cost.

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© Remigius de Souza. All rights reserved.

Monday, 1 October 2012


Existence-Survival-Decoration: Painted Poem 

Reality  - Virtual Realty

A 'word' or a 'picture' for a tree is not a 'tree'. Both are symbols. We assume it by convention or as per our level of perception. Its Reality however is complex.

There exist four economies in the Four Worlds of India besides the Parallel Economy of black money, generated by kick back, scams, extortion, corruption (intellectual or financial) etc.

The present democratic government, ruled by the minority of elite class, may not be even aware of this situation. 

Economy rules the roost

The Economy is the life-blood of Industrial Age, not the Ecology, at any cost, even at the cost of 'Land-Water-Life'.

I have been living / working / moving through the Third World India (of peasants, at my formative age), the First World India, the Fourth World India (of the aborigines) and the Fifth World India (of the displaced and marginalized, where I landed, barefoot, penniless, at the age of six... a personal encounter) in real, REAL WORLD, not in Virtual Reality of fiction, photos, movies, multimedia... or discourses. 


During one of the days of my wanderings, this painted poem materialized in 1985, (I didn't even record the date).

In such a state, the dimensions of time-work-speed-place-space are secondary. I wonder if this "painted poem" fits the aesthetics of arts and letters. I doubt if it could be called art or poetry. I am sure it doesn't fit in any compartments created by civilized society, though the words seem familiar!

I doubt if I am an artist in an accepted sense. But this need not block anyone from self-expression!

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© Remigius de Souza. All rights reserved.