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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 12, Number 4, December 2018

Salil Chaturvedi's “Out of Character,” A Commentary by Adelaide Shaw

In “Out of Character,” Chaturvedi recreates a personal internal experience. He suddenly feels a release: a release of tension, of worries, a release of the mind clogged with thoughts of daily living.

“I inhale the cool night air and let go”

This feeling of release comes as he drives home on a curving road, after seeing a play and crossing the river on the ferry, and thinks about

“the long tresses of the actress”

The play, the river, the road, all affect his senses. He feels

“a distinct pull on the waters“

not of the river as one would expect, but on the juices of the body.

In a haibun, title and haiku are as important as the prose to create a whole. From the title, “Out of Character,” we can guess that the author doesn’t usually have these calm and relaxing moments. The haiku depicts a serene image, a scene in which the author is totally a part, a quiet time when thoughts and worries can go adrift

In this haibun, the author gives us a glimpse of what is happening to himself, not just a picture of the road. It is this subtle, yet compelling, look into the author’s feeling, that makes that made a strong connection with me.

I, too, have had the same experience. Years ago, while visiting my 90-year old father in Los Angeles, I offered to take him for a drive to the ocean. I have never really liked driving, but do it out of necessity. The trip to the ocean was to give my father some diversion from his daily at home routine. When I reached the road that descends to the Pacific Coast Highway and followed it north to Malibu, I began to enjoy the drive. With windows open, the wind whipping my hair and the smell and the sound of the sea, I felt a release of my hesitation and of all my concerns and let go, giving myself up to the enjoyment of the moment, much as Salil Chaturvedi did along his river road.

Salil Chaturvedi

Out of Character

It’s almost midnight. I’m on my way home after watching a play. I cross the river on the ferry and drive on the arterial road of the island, still thinking of the long tresses of the actress. The road curves around the central hill. The river bends whitely in the distance. Then I feel it—a distinct pull on the waters of the body. I inhale the cool night air and let go.

a boat
adrift in the river—
august moon



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