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Gopal the Jester’s Guide to Grasping Joy in the Everyday

Gopal Bhar was a court jester in the court of Raja Krishnachandra (1710-1783) who was king of the Bengal province of Nadia. Born in a family of farmers, Gopal’s wit and intelligence established him as a regular and then as one of the Navarathna (nine gems) of the king’s court.

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Gopal the Jester

20 Poetry Projects with Gopal the Jester
Everything in everyone laughed with relish (1)
even the nothings in no one at all, and the scales on the hilsa fish. (2)
When Gopal of Bengal was around (5)
giggles noised the air (3)
one saw smiles everywhere (3)
hearts delighted
like when rosogollas.[1] they were gulping (3)
or inhaling that wonderful dhakar dolna[2] with hing.[3].(3)
or when witty warm hugs enveloped. (3)
Gopal’s wit makes one and all
laughing in rainbow colors (4)
giggling like gentle showers (4)
for all his being zany and spunky,
Gopal was never a prank monkey.[4] (8)
Sure he jested and clowned and made a fool of himself, so maybe all that was up there for him was emptiness, was air? (9)
But from all we know, Gopal the jester, he was certainly free of hair (7)
Of Gopal they said,
Haasi mukhe shobai chole, shukh o dukkho shesh.[5] (18)
Gopal’s humor was sometimes too brave, (6)
Serious issues he would mock and waive. (6)
And then the sharp edge of his humor would people the wrong way rub. (11)
erasing penciled in mistakes with charcoal nubs. (12)
It has been told that even the King, of whom Gopal was a favorite
at times told Gopal, “Would ya stop acting the maggot?”.[6] (10)
One fine day, Gopal – he did go spelunking (not with the king) (13)
for spelunking is a transformative experience that allows one to commune with the ancient spirits of the underground and awakening a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of all things. (17)
And Gopal did find a hilsa there…who wanted a royal meeting….
That hilsa Gopal walked with to meet the king, that fish – was dressed up to his gills,(19)
(royal meeting, right?), and (though dead) turned out to be a great conversationalist (19)
See, Guddi, she had read about him as a child and thus about him, she now knows. (14)
like other little ones are going to read about him in many tomorrows (15)
Do you see the laughing rainbows over the gaggle of giggles with the scales of the hilsa fish? (20)
Do you see the charcoal eraser furiously rubbing the cumin dish? (20)
~ Vidya Tiru @ LadyInReadWrites

Using the 20 Little Projects for Gopal the Jester’s Story

For day 8, the team at NaPoWriMo have this optional prompt, and as you can see from the poem above, I have used the prompt to the best I could and have numbered each of those tiny poetry projects at the end of the lines. Given the nature of the projects, some of the things in this bio-poem are fictionalized and absurdist or whimsical, but as true to Gopal the jester as possible!

The prompt is called the “Twenty Little Poetry Projects,” and was originally developed by Jim Simmerman. The challenge is to use them all in one poem, and you can check them all out on the NaPoWriMo link above.

  1. rosogollas – literally “syrup filled roll”) is a syrupy dessert popular in the eastern part of South Asia
  2. dhakar dolna – A Bengali vegetarian dish of fried lentil cakes, finished in a warm, spicy, ginger-and-cumin laced sauce.
  3. hing – a spice used in Indian cooking – asafoetida
  4. prank monkey (slang) – A juvenile who goes and does petty pranks and jokes in the neighborhood.
  5. Haasi mukhe shobai chole, shukh o dukkho shesh. – translating from Bengali as – with reference to Gopal here – With a smile on Gopal’s face, all joy and sorrow take flight
  6. acting the maggot – From Irish dialect – means fooling and messing around

Sources and Additional Reading for Gopal the Jester’s Story

My G Books

Grasping Mysteries: Girls Who Loved Math by Jeanine Atkins (Children’s Women Biographies/Stories in Verse | 10 years and up)

Description: Told in vibrant, evocative poems, this stunning novel celebrates seven remarkable women who used math as their key to explore the mysteries of the universe and grew up to do innovative work that changed the world.

I love children’s books that are biographies, and kind of a teeny-bit-more when they are biographies of women; and I love stories-in-verse. Plus, I love math-themed books too. So of course it was love at first sight for me when I saw this book, a novel-in-verse featuring the biographies of women who loved math.

This book features Caroline Herschel, Florence Nightingale (you will see the math connection and be amazed!), Hertha Marks Ayrton, Marie Tharp, Katherine Johnson, Edna Lee Paisano, and Vera Rubin. I felt a little embarrassed to note that I only knew of four of the seven, but that made be three times (well seven times actually) more glad that I read this book!

And Now, the End of This Post

Linking up to BlogChatterA2ZBlogging from A-to-Z April ChallengeNaPoWriMo, and the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

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