Gregor Samsa – a better world is possible

So you know how it goes.

You are a child and they put you in school. If you are lucky they won’t cram A’s and B’s into your brain. But most of the time these days they will, even if you already grasp the concept.

Numbers also appear and sometime along the way, you are asked to learn multiplication tables by heart. And then they explain adjectives and verbs and grammar. But never do they tell you why grammar is important. Diligently you learn the rules, make mistakes aplenty and in orthography too, and you start fearing exams. And you study some more, and you memorise some more, and somehow it is fine. Grammar you see is important because without it there would be chaos and there would be no communication. But they never tell you that.

And you move on … with the herd.

Then one day, while at the public library, you notice a little book on a table waiting to be placed back on the shelf. You are barely 11 years old but the cover attracts you. It is a bug -kind of a cockroach really- and it is looking at you. You pick it up, sit on a chair at the corner, and start to read.

“One morning, upon awakening from agitated dreams, Gregor Samsa found himself, in his bed, transformed into a monstrous vermin.”

You meet Gregor Samsa for the very first time and your life changes.

The world becomes multi-dimensional and filled with the unknown. You realize that not understanding is not such a bad thing and that it leads you to question, to ponder, to search some more. You realise that someone else thinks along the same lines as you do, and even writes about it without being belittled. You encounter poetry and the magic of words. You realize imagination has no boundaries, no shapes, and that it is immense, colourful and filled with flavours that you, yes you, can change at will.

I remember the joy of delving into a new world, pondering Gregor Samsa’s dilemma and feeling sorry for him; but also rejoicing at his uncanny freedom as he leaves the house, and by the same token, the drudgery of his working life. He may be a bug, a “vermin” as some translations put it, but he is suddenly free and unburdened. And that, you see, is just fine.

The world is an open field and we have the ability to avoid falling into drudgery if we really want to. We need not become a bug, but we can metamorphose at will. Our mind, our imagination, our sensitivity to the world are to be used, to be expanded upon.

As the world seems to be breaking at the seams with rampant ignorance, prejudice and violence, we can let our mind be free and we can dream. Just like Kafka, we all have a wonderful capacity to expand our imagination beyond the confines of even books and words.

Thank you for reading.

Kenza.

Gentle Spring rain

春雨

Gentle Spring rain
petals scattering
which one am I hearing?

Small birds chirping
too young to fly.
The cat observes them
from the window.
I like to think he just wants to play.

Soft breeze,
the clouds shape-shift
and the rain leaves.

New fragrances arrive
as old as the earth.

I sit
and write nothing.
How comforting.

Kenza.


Note: There some 50 different ways to name “rain” (雨 – ame) in Japanese. And just for Spring, one can use “Spring rain” (春霖 – shun rin) or “gentle Spring rain” (春雨 – shun u). I was inspired by the latter for this poem.

My heart like a folded rose

My heart like a folded rose
awaits morning to unfold.
The vast garden is quiet
only the leaves sing softly with the breeze.

When the sun crosses the threshold,
a thousand rose petals sprinkle the garden path.
My heart has finally opened
revealing the treasures inside of me.

The scent of the flowers intoxicate my eyes,
my lips still carry the taste of the last kiss of the night.
All I can do is to keep on giving,
peace comes with doing harm to no one.

Kenza.

Hibakusha – 被爆者

A peace poem

Hibakusha –
atomic bomb survivor
… what a distressful epithet.

Loss
tragic loss
carbonized beings
in an urban desert.

And for so many years
discrimination
pushed aside
for being different
branded
feared
– that instinctive fear
brought on by ignorance.

Seventy three years
since Hiroshima and Nagasaki
and still
people have not learned
people fail to remember.

Still playing with missiles
as though they were match sticks.
Still trying out new ways
to kill, to inflict pain.

Big people playing
the games of little brats
for real
because they can
because we let them.

Kenza.


This short text was inspired by a recent encounter with a Hibakusha. My son and I were honoured by his presence and his words, poignant words said with utter simplicity about his experience on that day and the years that followed. We were most humbled as he encouraged everyone to work for peace, no matter the size of the gesture. The gentleman was six years old when the atomic bomb feel on Hiroshima.