Monday, July 15, 2013



( Father and  son   )


I read something on Dom Moraes ( 1938-2004 ) in yesterday’s News Paper .That made me to remember more on Dom whom I had been reading quite often.. On July 19 2013 , Dom would have been 75 years old. .

His father Frank Mores and His Books come to my mind.. So does his wife Leela Naidu ( 1940-2009) .

Let me begin with his wife Leela Naidu.
Leela was a stunning beauty and a talented actress who worked with Merchant Ivory productions and also in some Hindi movies notable being Yeh Raaste hain Pyaar ke , a movie based on the famous Nanavati Murder case . In 1956,she married Hotelier Mohan singh Oberoi’s son and had two daughters from this marriage . This marriage ended in a divorce. In 1969, she married Dom Moraes. They lived a happy life in Hong Kong, New York, New Delhi, and Mumbai for about 25 years. After their relationship ended, Leela led a somewhat reclusive life in Mumbai.

Dom’s father Frank Moraes ( 1907-1974 ) was of Goan descent who had shifted to Mumbai . He did his Bar At Law from Lincoln”s Inn but worked in very senior positions with some leading Newspapers of the country . He was finally brought to The Indian Express as Editor in Chief by Goenka family in 1957 . He remained in this position till his retirement in1972 where after he moved to England and died in 1974. Frank was a serious journalist. Nehru read his editorials and valued his opinion on various issues .Frank wrote many books notable being two Books on Nehru titled … Jawaharlal Nehru: A Biography (1956) and Nehru, Sunlight and Shadow (1964).

Dom’s mother Beryl was a doctor who turned violent and sick and had to be kept in a lunatic asylum during Dom’s formative years . Accordingly Dom spent his childhood moving with his father or somewhat lonely in the company of Books alone .

Dom got best schooling and education . Like father , he too chose to become a writer and journalist.

Dom Mostly worked and earned name and fame outside India . He worked as editor in London, Hong Kong, and New York, including. In addition to this , he wrote and co-directed about  25 television documentaries for the BBC and Other well known TV Channels. Dom also   served as a war correspondent  in Algeria, Israel, and Vietnam
During his tenure at  the United Nations , he wrote an extensively researched book on Population problem titled A MATTER OF PEOPLE.  .He also wrote poetry and published something around 30 books on varied subjects including poetry . He had a long drawn battle with alcoholism . He had cancer but died in peace from a heart attack. Before marrying Leela Naidu , Dom had two unsuccessful marriages..

I Quote samples from his poetry for readers ..

On his loneliness , the poet adds ,

“I have grown up, I think, to live alone
To keep my old illusions,
sometimes dream
...unreal to myself in the pulpy warmth of a sunbeam.
I have grown up, hand on primal bone,
Making the poem,
taking the word from the stream,
Fighting the sand for speech,
fighting the stone.”

‘Letter to My Mother’, in which Moraes gives glimpses of the troubled relationship that he had with his mother:

“...You sit alone with your Church
And the memory of the son
You have scarcely seen.
You pray he may be spared
You do not understand me...
Your eyes are like mine.
When I last looked in them
I saw my whole country,
A defeated dream,
Hiding itself in prayers...
Your dream is desolate.,
It calls me every day,
But I cannot enter it.”

Lines from A poem describing a sleeping Leela Naidu:

“ slip down the slope
To your private valley of unhappiness
I cannot reach except with kiss and touch.
Your mouth I listen to is a small rose.
Awake, it does not tell me very much.”

And now his popular  and much liked poem  RENDEZOUS…..


[For *Nathan Altermann ]
Altermann, sipping wine, reads with a look
Of infinite patience and slight suffering.
When I approach him, he puts down his book,
Waves t the chair beside him like a king,
Then claps his hands, and an awed waiter fetches
Bread, kosher sausage, cake, a chicken's wing,
More wine, some English cigarettes, and matches.
‘Eat, eat,' Altermann says, ‘this is good food.'
Through the awning over us the sunlight catches
His aquiline sad head, till it seems hewed
From tombstone marble. I accept some bread.
I've lunched already, but would not seem rude.
When I refuse more, he feeds me instead,
Heaping my plate, clapping for wine, his eyes
-Expressionless inside the marble head—
Appearing not to notice how the flies
Form a black, sticky icing on the cake.
Thinking of my health now, I visualize
The Aryan snow floating, flake upon flake,
Over the ghetto wall where only fleas
Fed well, and they and hunger kept awake
Under sharp stars, those waiting for release.
Birds had their nests, but Jews nowhere to hide
When visited by vans and black police.
The shekinah rose where a people died,
A pillar of flame by night, of smoke by day.
From Europe then the starved and terrified
Flew. Now their mourner sits in this café.
Telling me how to scan a Hebrew line.
Though my attention has moved far away
His features stay marble and aquiline.
But the eternal gesture of his race
Flowing through the hands that offer bred and wine
Reveals the deep love sealed in the still face.

(Dom Moraes)

Nathan Alterman was an Israeli poet, playwright, journalist, and translator who – though never holding any elected office – was highly influential in Socialist Zionist politics, both before and after the establishment of the State of Israel.

( Autar Mota......15th July 2013.... )

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