The Signpost By Edward Thomas

Having fought and died as a soldier in World War I, Edward Thomas is known as a ‘war poet’. He is famous for his works such as ‘Beauty’, ‘As the Team’s Head Brass’, ‘October’ and more. However, this assumption reflects the style of his poetry that uses unassuming, colloquial vocabulary when underneath lies layers of meaning and message. Thomas was plagued with self doubt about his poetry and even suffered bouts of depression which hides within his poetry. He blends themes of war and the countryside using a lucid style, precision of speech and intelligent observations. The remarkable delicacy with which he writes makes it all the more endearing. One can also find that with Thomas, what is unsaid is more important than what is said. ‘The Signpost’ consists of Thomas’ deliberations on the kinds important junctions one encounters throughout life as well as the illusion of choice in such instances.

Using pathetic fallacy, the poet includes pale, unpromising imagery for the dark themes to come. Everything is dull; the ‘dim sea glints chill, ‘white sun is shy’ by a hilltop of frosty grasses and ‘skeleton weeds’. We even find that the ‘hawthorn berry and hazel tuft’ later ominously lose their leaves.

The poet comes across a signpost at the hilltop initially with a ‘traveller’s joy’ and reads the sign. Trying to make a choice, a voice in his mind tells him that as a twenty year old he ‘would not have doubted so’. ‘Another voice reminds him of his suicidal thoughts at that age. The two voices of hindsight begin to have a conversation of their own, distancing the poet from himself.

The first voice wonders what decision he would make ‘to be sixty by this same post’. With a sinister laugh, the other suggests that he shall soon see, implying that death is near. This is all the more tragic because Thomas sensed his own death and never lived to see sixty. He joins the laughter of the voices for he knows the joke, like death is on him.

The voice assures ‘either before or after’, death ‘must befall’. All shall eventually be buried with ‘a mouthful of earth’. Death is in fact a ‘remedy’ that shall take people to a heavenly place where ‘regrets and wishes shall freely be given’. The only wish that shall not be given is to return to earth. The voices of depression taunt and haunt Thomas. They suggest such a morbid that even heaven is not free from flaw. ‘No matter what the weather’ or age ‘between death and birth’, he shall never revisit. Heaven is just as much a trap as earth. It is depicted as a restricting place of afterlife that only deprives people. It deprives one from ever seeing ‘day or night’, ‘sun and frost’, ‘land and the sea’ or any of the seasons. Yet it is inescapable to any man be him a prince or a pauper. The signpost of death is but a dead end ‘standing upright’ against any stunted idea of choice in the matter.

It is interesting to note that for a man with suicidal thoughts, Thomas loves life and earth. His detailed description of nature’s wonderful elements proves desperation to cling onto it. This is similar to how he finds refuge in the beauty of nature in other poems such as ‘Beauty’. His zest for life comes from nature making him just as much a nature poet than Wordsworth. However, he does leave us with a thought-provoking cliff hanger. If death is so unavoidable, why does man continue ‘wondering where he shall journey, O where?’

© 2016 Pia Krishnankutty & springtidevoice. All Rights Reserved


OQ #39

I feel the most non-bullshit lesson in life is the Goldilocks principle. Extremes are momentary while the ‘middle’ is all around us, everyday.

  1. Most concentration of numbers is found in the middle of a bell shaped curve
  2. Earth isn’t too close or too far away from the sun
  3. Microwaving a cookie at just the right temperature between warm and burn-your-tongue hot
  4. Finding middle ground during conversations
  5. How being average or ‘normal’ can feel most fulfilling

© 2016 Pia Krishnankutty & springtidevoice. All Rights Reserved

Here’s The Thing About Frogs

Shall I start with the fact that we all have phobias? Some phobias like the injection-injury type are said to be genetic but a majority are conditioned into our psyche. So before I bitch about these green creatures, know that it’s possibly the result of a bad childhood experience and those of the amphibian community are urged to read this with a pinch of salt.

A fear of frogs is not completely unorthodox but from a survival perspective it is pretty stupid. Unlike say snakes, frogs are harmless. They are however, downright irksome to the point where one can feel apprehensive. So if we’re going to substantiate this phobia , we’re going point-wise.

SkinOf slimy texture and variations of sad green, occasionally bumpy

Sliminess is just an uncomfortable texture to the sense of touch. It’s not soft and cuddly and warm; it’s wet and associated with gloominess. Green can be a lively colour but frogs occurring in bright green colours are poisonous. Also, the unpleasant variations of green found amongst most frogs ranges from vomitus to mossy decaying leaves.

Ribbit – Expansion of throat area
The animal sound in itself is not the problem but rather the immediate visualisation that it brings. First of all, bad table manners. Second, internal burping is just gross and can be trapping some dangerous bodily gases. Thirdly, the enlargement of the lower throat area is super weird. Just the fact the skin can stretch out into the shape of the burp is strange.

Hopping/JumpingUnpredictable movement
If you have a snake phobia, the slithering movement of snakes is probably what gets your nerves jangling. Similarly, the uncertainty of frog’s hop is characteristic to the fear. It can pop across your foot when your walking or just jump onto your shoulder. Also, if you’ve ever noticed, frogs have relatively bulbous endings to their feet which I always assumed helped with gripping as they hopped. Following this assumption, once their on you, they’ve got suction. Great, I’m getting tingly.

TongueYou know what I’m talking about
They kill their prey by shooting their tongues out. COME ON. Quick sadistic kill, spontaneous movement and another weirdly elastic extension of a body part.

FairytalesKiss The Frog
I have no idea why this concept ever entered fairtytales and modern animation. WHY. It’s borderline bestiality and if we’re really entertaining the notion, why not choose a less slimier creature in the animal kingdom. (But the prince-trapped-inside-a-frog idea is pretty square so we can partially overlook this flaw).

DissectionThursday afternoon Biology practicals
The frog seems to be science’s go-to chop shop candidate but why just the frog? EVERY high school dissection class is done with frogs and so it’s not uncommon for people to quickly picture a sliced up amphibian being inspected with some tweezers the second they hear the word ‘frog’. This strong association and nasty mental image is of course society’s doing and not the frogs’ but nonetheless, ew.

© 2016 Pia Krishnankutty & springtidevoice. All Rights Reserved

Pro : A Reflection Through Realism

This is fiction. Pro ~ protagonist. Yes, the picture is just pretty and of no relation whatsoever.

For four years, Pro was witness to household conflict. They heard one too many loud arguments. So like any young adult, Pro made it all about themselves.

Pro resorted to the typical vices and distractions but maintained a full proof
façade of contentment and emotional numbness. At times, they felt free but such moments were short-lived.

Pro eventually grew up and grew out of self-centered approaches. You would assume that after four years, they would have become used to the discord . Yet, Pro was partially unhappy on the sunniest of days.

Pro eventually reached a conjunction in their life. They achieved their first modicum of success – they achieved their dream. However, financial obstacles thwarted this opportunity. In short, Pro won the race but did not receive their trophy. They got into the college they deserved but couldn’t afford.

Many factors contributed to this monetary mix up and Pro was well acquainted with the excuses.  The sensex sucked, the market crashed, this that and more. But deep down, Pro knew that disharmony between loved ones and within oneself was the root of all problems.

Pro accepted their fate and moved on. They eventually went to a university not too far away. They made friends and got incredibly intoxicated on weekends. A few years later, Pro tied the knot and changed jobs. Many of Pro’s friends made comments about what a sacrifice it was, but Pro honestly did not mind leaving behind their old job; their past.

Three years into Pro’s marriage, they felt the pressure of having kids. This resulted
in heated arguments. Eventually, Pro gave in and had two children. It was the perfect
Cereal Packet family.

As one could imagine, Pro entered a mid-life crisis. They blamed their partner for all their failures. Pro never loved the university they attended, Pro never loved any of their jobs, Pro never loved their partner and now, Pro was running out of love for their kids.

A divorce shortly ensued.

The years passed and Pro would watch the clock snail from hour to hour. Over time, Sundays were spent with grandchildren and Thursday afternoons were dedicated to Rummy. Pro died of natural causes at the age of 88 years. It was an everyday tragedy. You see, Pro’s life was far from special. It was utterly predictable but it would be controversial to begin contemplating its value.

If there is anything we learn, it’s that its hard to be the protagonist of our stories; something that Pro blindly experienced and failed to confront. Accepting that we may not live up to our plots is a difficult lesson. There is so much more that we can be but at the same time, there is so much we aren’t already. To recognise that and learn from it, is wisdom.

© 2016 Pia Krishnankutty & springtidevoice. All Rights Reserved

OQ #38

Are pigeons just hiccuping all the time?

© 2016 Pia Krishnankutty & springtidevoice. All Rights Reserved

Does The Working Indian Woman Have It Easy?

Author’s Note: An amateurish stint i.e my 9th grade project to address something relevant to current events. (No recent changes have been made whatsoever).

Since the beginning of time women were never equated to men and immediately undertook a subordinate position in society. Mrinal Pandey’s ‘Girls’, illustrates the frustration of a young Indian girl under the gender pressures of her family. She realises that her family perceives her as a ‘burden’ on their lives and that as a girl, she fails to bring honour and pride to her family as the men and boys do.  Although modern times have proved to be more forgiving toward certain unfairness in society, the discrimination against women still prevails. Recent events in our country itself support this claim such as the Delhi rape case which was a violent demonstration of man’s need to exercise power over woman. Moreover, the role of working women in society has more cons than pros which makes establishing their role not only in their work place but at home as well, a real challenge.

Manusmriti, the base of ancient Hindu law and conduct of society suggests women have an obligation to seduce and provide immoral temptation and desire to men. If such an accusation was true, then it would imply that by controlling the desires of men, women controlled their actions, which is contradictive. In fact, Manusmriti starts by describing the beauty of nature; plants, animals and the surroundings. However, it restricts men from witnessing a woman giving birth; a natural process. If men were to observe the pain of childbirth, they would be more sympathetic towards women or even amazed by their strength. Even fifty years ago; most women were hired only as typists, assistants, secretaries.  Over generations a mindset has been created that women are the weaker, inferior sex and thus incapable of being independent.

Today, the work place is problematic for Indian women; there is competition, various unfair prejudices and a constant worry of the children while the woman is away from home. Everyone can agree that a woman is the mother of her children and so holds a greater responsibility of them. Now for working women, they have a constant guilt of being away from the children; how they are doing in school with homework, tests, extracurricular activities and exams or worse; whether they feel lonely in the absence of their mother. Indeed, it is hard for them to balance their moral obligations as mothers and their careers and probably the ugly truth is that to excel in the latter the prior will be less acknowledged. The political term ‘glass ceiling’ describes an unseen yet inevitable barrier that prevents minorities such as women, despite their accomplishments and qualifications from reaching the top of the ladders of the corporate and industrial world.  The bitter sweet reality is that not only India, but the world recognises this inescapable career obstruction that working women are unfortunately subjected to. However, to remove such obstacles is easier said than done as they are based upon such gender mindsets that have been well embedded in our society for generations before and probably generations to come.

A recent study showed that the seriousness of their jobs compelled certain single women to remain single and some married women to not want children anymore. However, unlike the middle class woman who can hire help, the lower class working woman carries a heavier load. Ironically enough, most of these women are our own domestic help who have three to five children including grandchildren to look after. She has to also clean her home (after cleaning a stranger’s), take care of the family and also see to their meals. We live in a country where spousal rape is not illegal and domestic violence is a norm; where sex-selective abortion, female infanticide and child marriage are a practice in which women are demonstrated as mere pawns in a game of chess. Some of their husbands gamble or drink away their money and so the woman has to bring home double the income. It is a pity that even though she is the breadwinner of the family, the lower class woman can be physically abused if she works too late. With the addition of women inequality and one third of them being illiterate, it prevents women from striving to higher paying jobs or any jobs at all which hence lessens the female labour participation of the nation. This in turn could soon threaten the country’s progress.

Pregnant women are hardly hired which brings us to the primary factor of hiring women; physical attractiveness. Most of the time the workplace does have many women, but all who suffer the corporate hierarchy where they are deprived of senior management positions. A corporate behavioural study proved that men having housewives feel women in the workplace are less suited to leadership roles and are more unlikely to promote them. Unequal pay despite the Equal Remuneration Act (1976) and night shifts that open doors to sexual harassment, are more stereotypes and unfairness that women have to work around in male dominated companies and industries. Even though 11% of the 250 odd Indian companies have women as CEOs, the trials and tribulations that her sisters bear do not cease. Indeed, the Indian working woman does not have it easy.

© 2016 Pia Krishnankutty & springtidevoice. All Rights Reserved