Anthology Editor: Somsubhra Banerjee
Chief Editor: Elisabeth Khan
Illustrator: Era Garg
Editor-in-Chief: Priyanka Srivastava
I wish I could merge into nothingness. I am too famed as a lonesome man. I live alone in my world. And people are often confused about what is going on in Nachi's mind. In fact, 'What is going on in Nachi's mind?' is the hottest question in those minds that really don't care who or what 'Nachi' is. And it is, in fact, Nachi, who thinks that they are continuously thinking about him.
That is why I live in my own world. A cave. A shell. A little hut - away from eyes that pry and pry, and keep a vigil on my nonsense activities. Because some fear I might disrupt society. Some just want a good show. And some really care about my well-being.
But there is something in me, which loathes it when people care. I want to be so alone that not even their concern touches me. I want to be left inside a cave like Lazarus and never die, but never really live.
I am famous for being alone. But I don't want to be known. Not even for being alone. For when you are famous for being someone, you are really not. You are a mere puppet. Just another one of those possibilities which remain a possibility for life. And can only spark interest in people's minds - who are but an audience. I am a God. With Its invisible presence of being absent. An omnipresent absence I am.
And yet, there are parts of me which are not so antisocial. I want to be amongst people. And there are times when this yearning overtakes me - like an ocean overtaking a river and digging its grave. When I have not seen a face for ages, when I've not heard a voice, I fall into that extreme crowd of emptiness that rankles my insides like there's no end, and I begin to yearn for it - for what I keep myself away from. I seek the solitude of company all over again.
Then I go out. I lay myself at the feet of giggling faces and charming graces - like an old man in the company of his grandchildren, thinking and thinking, if he belongs to the new world or not?
I am not averse to normal things. Do not think I am an alien, even though sometimes I feel I am. I watch television regularly. I stare and stare into mobile screens, watching one episode of a drama after another - mashing potatoes, peeling packets of Maggi, thinking about a past in which I was always in search of company, but would shun it as it as soon as it appeared in my life. I do normal things. To give myself a sensation of being connected to the world, to people who run the world with their words, and acts - like fighting with each other in parliaments, and on Twitter, like many expertitutes selling their pseudo-professional opinions on everything under the sky, and even above it.
And sometimes I go out and hang around in restaurants, where kohl-smeared eyes and tucked in T-shirts play indecent games with me. They look at me with interest because I look like a writer (I am not) and want to talk with me about things they can never talk about with others. They want to share everything with me. Like their deepest fantasies and love of death. And of course, their desire to leave the world like me, and wander - like a stoic hermit, who has nothing to do with fleeting desires, because they are the surest way of 'being in the world', when all I seek is 'being out of it'.
I am a modern man. I do not live in the past, and especially not the future, because I already know what lays ahead - Death.
I love to travel. I tell no one where I am going, and take these solitary trips to places, and click photos of me - and me alone - with various backgrounds, lying to the travel companies that I am perfectly healthy, and I never show those pics to anyone. I have pics of mine in front of snow-clad mountains, and green foliage of a brown forest, and rivers sparkling with lively drops of rain, thrashing the mud like cities drowning to apocalypse. Images no one has ever seen.
And I have experienced so-called weird things. I have walked to the end of a road, which goes on and on, and then it stops and merges into a wood, or a set of farm fields. I sit there on a stone. And contemplate the emptiness of the end of the world - which is as empty as a bustling city is.
I have not seen everything. No. But I have seen a few things. Like the pins of a big stapler going into my stomach while I am on an operating table, holding in my scream, because the anaesthesia stopped working a minute ago, and even though I am awake, my lips totally cannot move.
I have watched the homeless wisps of clouds risking their lives by entering the window of a guest house with heaters and fires on. I have slept for two hours on the side of Arabian sea, one night, in Bombay, when out of sudden the waves struck me and woke me up and told me it was not the time for me merge with them. I've sat alone in a dilapidated restaurant in a lost village and face-blank lied to strangers stories of how I love the company of people; how I just love hanging out with them. And I have seen them - knowing that I am lying, and the respect they had for me, for lying so much. Only to protect my home - ME.
But I have said enough. Silence is the only thing there is - I once wrote. So I am going against the grain by talking so much. But my fingers won't stop. I am typing and typing. Creating a beautiful mountain of garbage of words that can speak about only but me - a Nothingness ('Nachi' after all means 'no consciousness') yearning to escape into nothingness - only enjoying solitary walks with himself, only lying to everyone that he is unhappy, when in fact he is the happiest person in the world. Because he lives in the best home possible - his own mind.
I 'am' my own heaven. My Eudaimonia.
With these words, I humbly present to you the much-awaited EUDAIMONIA ANTHOLOGY, which consists of such fantastic pieces that I can but be proud. I thank Som and Priyanka for their efforts in picking out the pieces from Innumerable entries we, analysing them, and making sure that they are In the best of shapes. I also thank Era for the Illustrations, which complement the pieces perfectly. And of course, and not the least, I thank Elisabeth for her editorial intervention, who did a wonderful job of copyediting every piece meticulously.
I would also like to thank a wonderful publication, Paper Poetry, with whom we have collaborated on this particular prompt, and the pieces that you see in the anthology are a mix from both - Us & Them. So, thank you Suntonu Bhadra, Carolyn Hastings, and Indubala Kachhawa for all the help and kind co-operation throughout.
I also thank the Contributors -
Chris Mooney-Singh, who has amalgamated Eudaimonia by expressing it through nature, his pen vividly painting the gorgeousness. And who doesn't like nature and flowers?
Era Garg, whose poem "Ambrosia", creates such lively images that they dance right in front of us as readers. Punctuated by beautiful, beautiful artwork, I think this poem is all about the images, conjured. It's so lively and dances right in front of you.
Joseph Lieungh, who has written a very deep, expansive, and imaginative piece that is able to convey the feeling of the word too perfectly.
Pablo Pereyra, whose meditative essay on something like daily chores is so relatable. Also, it's a documentation of daily life during this harsher time, to which we all can relate.
Lee Ameka: Written from the point of view of a parent, it is so tender and so full of those little moments in life that you live to experience.
K. Barrett: A soul-satisfying piece. This poem captures the euphoria that a writer feels when the pen touches the paper.
Jonah Lightwhale: Shaped as a biography this poem is a poetic journey of dreams on the page.
Erika Burkhalter: Something meditative to reflect on. Also, the essence of Eudaimonia is amalgamated with spirituality in a quiet way.
Dean K Miller: The poem is about stillness and inner life. Our Inner life is visual in the words we write and that's what we see in this poem.
- Nachi Keta
Founder, ShabdAaweg Press
(A Unit of ShabdAaweg Foundation, which runs Literary Impulse)
One pdf of Eudaimonia Anthology