Archive for September, 2017


i love her





i love her.




1.



she found me, when torrents raged, splinters gnawed,

she found me, when my wings were shattered, my heart tattered,

she found me, when i was desolate, aimlessly crawling,

she found me, in the depths of despair, deep in the maelstrom, aching for air,

she found me, trapped in the quagmire, sinking in the clutches of the foggy bog,

she found me.



2.



she reached down, her hand extended, a gesture that infused hope in me,

she pulled me out of the den of emptiness, the abyss of loneliness,

she helped me stand, on my torn legs, her shoulders bearing my weight,

she fed me, nourishing my soul, as i imbibed her warmth,

she led me into pastures green and alive, awash with colour,

she held me, in the cocoon of her embrace, her hair a waterfall drenching my face.



3.



i was not worthy, of her delicate touch,

i was not worthy, lying in a discarded alleyway,

i was not worthy, of her healing embrace,

i was not worthy, of her tender love,

i was not worthy then, i am not worthy now,

i had nothing, and still have nothing to give,

still, she loved me, and loves me still.



and i love her still …



i shall love her forevermore.





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The Whispering Leaf …



1.

Infinite tendrils,
weave exquisite meanders,

sketching an immaculate, delicate sheaf,

while morning’s dew whispers,

tales of forgotten woes, of vanished yesterdays,

scribbled on the solitary leaf.




2.



Murmurs float gently across lonesome trees,

in distant forests lush and dense,

caressing waltzing grasses in a sensual dance,

coquettishly inflaming every sense.




3.



Listen!

For the murmurs whisper to us all,

listen intently,

as the whispers recall,

countless crushed memories of many a lovers call.



Listen!

For the whispering leaf shares,

tales traversing distances,

to you, to me,
if we only still our raucous minds,

gazing upon each leaf,

dispelling the mirage of the superficial lives we lead,

revealing to us the truths that lie just beneath.




​the swaying of the grass




​the swaying of the grass …



 

1.



a path leads,

to where wild grasses grow,

sashaying in the summer breeze.



2.



along the path,

solace settles within,

feeling the grass swooning,

tickling ankles,

swaying to lilting bird-song,

in a dance of intimate abandon,

brushing remnants of pain away.



3.



melodies float across fields of green,

delicately caressing my heart,

teasing emptiness to flee,

and comforting the mind,

to silently be.



 
4.



walking on,

savouring the peace,

a momentary respite,

casting off burdens of the now,

for all is quiet,

in a stillness cradling fractured emotions,

as the grass in the fields sway,

and dusk descends,

while shadows lengthen,



nudging the dimming light to take leave of the day …





a question






soft rain settles, infusing the parched soil, rejuvenating life …


… what of the parched heart, waiting to be quenched, after a lifetime of drought.










I am Woman …




just when you think you’ve broken me,

with your cowardly fists,

with your diseased tongue,


I will not cower.

your fake macho shell does not frighten me,

your violence will not silence me.



I am I,

the mother,
the sister,
the partner,


the woman!


I am me.


I am Woman!






and you are not,


nor can you ever be.




moment by moment



moment by moment.





Rough pebbles on a deserted beach,


wait for the coming tide to take its toll,


moment by moment,


eroding each pebble,


the jagged edges made whole.



I too lie on that empty beach of fate,


inured by the coarseness I have seen,


moment by moment,


of contorting myself to belong,


while losing my soul in the screeching throng.




The waves keep battering my soul, incessantly,


as I desperately try to fit into the role,


moment by moment,


splintered by the slivers of life’s icy shower,


a drop of dew in the early dawn hour,


perched on a fresh petal of a morning flower.









Your orders may come now,


or at 19h45 this evening.


‘Shoot to kill’.
‘Engage the enemy’.
‘Hold the line’.
‘Break up the gathering’.



‘Ready, aim, fire’.



But you have felt it as well,

the stab of hunger,
the bite of thirst,
the bayonet of loss,
the wounds of despair.



You have seen,


the pain in a mother’s eyes,


the grief in a father’s face,


the incomprehension in a child’s down-cast look.

‘Ready, aim, fire’.


But you, the nameless soldier have heard,

the cries of the grieving family,


the wailing of the widowed wife,


the quiet agonizing sound of the child’s weeping.


‘Ready, aim, fire’.
Your orders may come now,


or at 23h30 tonight,


or tomorrow,


or the day after that.

But you have felt,

the agony of a peoples’ simple desire for freedom,

dignity,

food,

peace,

employment,



for hope!




You have felt the stab being long bludgeoned,

the wounds of your stolen generation.

So when that order comes,
now,


or at 03h30 tomorrow morning,

‘Ready, aim, fire’,


let your humanity muzzle your rifle,

let your conscience dismiss the order,


let your human side come to the fore,


let the people in your gun-sights be akin to,


your mother and your father,


your sister and your brother,


your son and your daughter,


your friend and your lover.


Let them live!


Let them be!


Let your rifle fall to the soil,



O’ Nameless Soldier.






The Persistence of Memory





The persistence of Memory.





thoughts whizz past, embers meant never to last,



leaving memories behind, grappling fears in spaces of the blind,



memories, with all their nostalgic tugging,



stand blurred, hazy sentinels against excessive lugging,



sentinels, silently harbouring, threads of you, and of me,



sentinels, hewn into our being,



protecting the persistence of memory.




Heritage Day: The African Rains





The African Rains …



Soaking,


the rains settle,
meandering over jagged faultlines of our memory.



Drenching,


the rains settle,
streaming through veins,

the thud-thudding of the heartbeat of Africa.



Absorbing,


the rains that settle,
within each of us,

herald rebirth.



if you listen,


if you strain to hear,


while shedding the raucous noise of your inner turmoil.


If you listen,


the whispers of the ancestors,


speak to us all,
lending us warmth,


urging us to stand,
even though we may stumble,


even though we may fall.











South Africa:

Heritage Day 24 September 2017.




Today we celebrate our shared heritage,


through smiles and tears, the ache of the past and the hopes of today and tomorrows yet unborn.


Today we share our Africanness, our blood enmeshed within each other – bright red thumping through countless veins, 


reminding us of the spirit of uBuntu – I am because we are,


we are because of each other, fellow travellers through the travails of life, 


seeking not riches nor title, seeking the bright sunshine of peace banishing the darkness of strife.


We are one people, myriad hues of the rainbow enveloping us all,


lending a hand to each other,


every time we stumble, each time we fall. 




The Veins of Africa






The Veins of Africa …



Interwoven veins, crisscrossing these lands,

these savannahs, deserts, forests, lakes, streaming through the people of this continent of our ancestors,

linking the north to the south, the east to the west,

these veins, alive, infusing life, thumping through,

silently,

binding our peoples,

wrapped beneath the canopies of the humid forests,

buzzing with life in the cacophony of the bustling cities,

silent in the arid deserts, amidst the shifting sands of the dunes,

meandering between the mangroves, teasing the weeping willows, swaying in the wind,

these lakes, waters, subterranean rivers flowing gracefully into the oceans,


breathing new life to the plains,

at one with the seas.





The veins of Africa,

knitting us together,

despite the cruel slashing of these veins,

the plunder of these lands,

the desecration of the peace of the ancestors,

tearing these veins open,

pilfering the continent’s innards,

gold and silver and copper and platinum and diamonds and so much more,

so much more painful to the millions of living souls,

herded as cattle, packed onto those grotesque slave ships,

doomed to live and die in shackled misery, on continents away,

bearing the raw horror of the whip, the backbreaking labour in the belly of the beast of colonialism.


yes,


these veins have felt it all,

these veins that continually,


silently,

peacefully,


benevolently,


spread the precious gift of life across these lands …


our lands,


our continent,



Africa.








dawn breaking.





1.



willowy brushstrokes,

conjured sketches,
painted,

etched,

embossed,
hewn between forgotten morns,
waking,

splintering,

straining, against each other,
ceaseless,

relentless,

endless,
empty,

a vacuum,
an abyss of night.



2.



still,

hope blazes,
bright,

radiant,

smiling,
though measured,

disciplined,
while embracing,

enveloping,
and always

surrendering to the eternal promise,
raging,

hungering,

aching,

the promise of a new dawn breaking.






for Dr. Carl Sagan





for Carl ….





for Dr. Carl Sagan

( 1934 – 1996 )





when you visited us each week,

                    stirring wonder in all,
billions of synapses fired,

         or according to my teachers at the time,

         misfired!


        
                           and yet you comforted us,

                          your reason,

             logic,

                       and,
                dedication to the facts and always,

          

                              always

            to the science,

               and to science,
mentored us.



… and so as you left us here on this pale blue dot,


                you still live in the starstuff,


the stuff of life,

                                     mingling with the infinite depths of the cosmos,

                      

                      and as you taught us,

                          that there are more stars in the universe than all the grains of sand on all the beaches of earth,
                               still your vision lives within us all,

                       a testament to your humanism,

                    your genius,

             your warmth and all that you left behind,
& that, that humanity of yours,
             shall live on in the imagination of this speck of starstuff,

                as it floats,

                on the vastness of the great cosmic ocean …











this immigrant skin.





empty bottles, discarded cartons, garbage bins,


littered with fragmented shards of myself,


shed, left behind,


amidst the haze of memory, strewn, deafened by the cacophony of hollow tins,


tossed away pieces of who i was, of who i am, of who i ought to be,


ever trying to belong, to fit in,


to touch, to be touched, to be seen, to be able to see.

so i moult, a deceptive social chameleon,


slimy,

deceitful,

charming,

soulless,

smiling,

barren,



casually dumping tattered emotions,

flung aside here,
bits of that old life,

that in the blurry mist swirls,


leaving laughter, streaks of tears down drain hugging boulevards,


of platinum and of pearls,
trashed alongside crushed petals,


as numbed frigid night unfurls.




this immigrant skin,

this malleable face,
my numberless, 

incomprehensible masks staring back,


a mishmash, a grotesque mosaic,


shadows of yesteryears faces,

worn and torn,


ever straining to break flee,
of this relentless restlessness that gnaws,


teetering on tightropes,
clutching on filaments of 

hope,


hope,


yes, hope,


hope that i may once again walk free,


all the while searching to find, what i have become, 


the scurrying around to find,



the real me.





         _______



( inspired  by Erich Fried’s poem “In Hiding” )





barefoot in the rain





barefoot in the rain.





tiny splashes,

toes teasing toes,

as the rain lashes,
dancing under moonbeams,

hazy lazy clouds dripping nectar,


cheek to dripping cheek,

your hand in mine,

your eyes sparkling with a fire divine.




dancing barefoot in the rain,


with you, my whole, my own, my life,


dancing with you,

barefoot in the rain,


toes tickle toes,

far from this life’s pain, 


away from the strife,


with you, within you,



I have found renewed life.









the essence of life.






sipping the nectar, sweet,


at times salty,


banishing fretful fears, 

wiping away merciless tears,


sipping the nectar, pungent, at times harsh,


reigniting the complacent mind, 


jarring it out of stasis,


of life, 


this life,


our only life,


dispelling the hopelessness at times felt deep,


hushing the pain, quelling the internal strife,


sipping the nectar, 
feeling it swirl,


awash in the rains of new moments yet to behold,


sipping the nectar, 
warm and enriching, 


shushing the frigidness that comes from being out in the cold.





would you ?





would you ?





would you walk with me through serene fields of green,


beneath the canopy of unseen night,


where yearning aches,


in the shimmer

of moonlight.





would you take my hand so we may disappear,


finding each other

in pastel shades,


so very far away from the here.




would you lay your heart,


to rest

beside mine,



          sharing



smiles



         tears,



                  reflections



         fears,



                  aches



           joys



                  sorrows.


together,

cocooned,

rested,



in landscapes etched and sketched,


embossed,


absorbed into a cardamom mosaic

of shared tomorrows.




would you wander these clouds of dreams?


bathed in rain-drenched kisses,


soaring across the seas,


             dancing

hopping


              afloat,


together in cinnamon waters,


sharing this lifes myriad streams.




would you ?

















we get on by.



through half-dreamed emotions, the tears and the laughter of years in between, find their way back to settle in our souls, to coax hope out of despair, to try to keep it all together, as we get on by.



nothing fills the void of restless desolation, more than memories floating on the wind, dandelion seeds scattered hither and thither, seeing at last the impermanence of this fragile life, as we get on by.



hidden in the folds of joy and of sorrow, fate often flits past, its brushstrokes lingering on the mosaic of our lives, leaving traces of colour, as we get on by.



the hammer of time bangs incessantly on, as we walk, as we talk, as we love, and as we dance in the spring rains, not a care in the world for those fleeting moments, and though we travel, we get on by.



we stare at our reflections in the mirror, age carving lines on our worn faces, where did all those years go, trickling down the sieve of time, leaving us to walk on, as we get on by.



looking back through the willowy mist, we all share our pocketful of regrets, things we could have said, things that should have remained unsaid, dreams unfulfilled, knocking on the door, urging us to let them in, and it may just be, that in those moments, we clutch onto hope,


and it is hope that perhaps, keeps us dreaming,


these gentle dreams we dream,


as we get on by …









Tread Lightly.





Tread lightly, for many hearts lay strewn upon these roads,


alone, their plaintive calls heard by none,


just the birds whose doleful odes sing out in the dawn skies.




The world sleeps, the daily grind yet to begin,


when polished shoes shall trample those lonesome hearts,


that lay on roads where garbage trucks rid the new day of yesterday’s memories,


where leaves and crushed petals are swept aside,


and tattered hearts, alone again, creep into corners to hide.






 

for Delhi-waalas everywhere

bunking classes in school, trying too hard to seem too cool.

those lazy humid summer days, nodding off on the bus ride home, with Delhi feeling like a greenhouse dome.

shedding our school bags, racing to round up the friends, the 40° heat never even an afterthought, batting and bowling in our small park, till bad-light caused us to gather in the dark.

my buddy and i, singing Beatles’ songs loud enough for the two girls we had crushes on, “Can’t buy me Love” belted out till we were hoarse, surviving the glaring looks of the disapproving  grannies of course.

those were the days, of cycling to the cinema, to watch “Sholay” for the umpteenth time, sitting in the 2-rupee seats right in front, rattling off the dialogue line by line.

racing back home to catch a few songs on “Chitrahaar”, sitting up close to our ancient black and white telly, the picture quality akin to snow, not that it mattered, this was after all our most coveted tv show.

getting our ears clipped at times for coming home late, the joyful sounds of laughter from our friends who were en-route home to a similar fate.

lighting clay diyas as Diwali approached, stuffing our faces with malaai burfi from “Bengal Sweet House”, downing sweet lassis as autumn upon summer encroached.

“borrowing” friends’ dad’s scooters, the wind in our hair, inhaling the pollution without any care, off to Connaught Place for an ice-cream at Nirulas, and to stock up on our filmi music cassettes from the ever smiling Sikh man at Palika Bazaar, till we emerged above ground, each of us smelling like an incense shop from afar.

stopping off in Defence Colony, to savour some gol-gappas and ganne-ka-ras, the only word never uttered those days was “bas”.

gliding down the streets of our colony, as if we were kings, with the brash swagger that being a teenager brings.

enjoying the Diwali nights, friends exchanging sweetmeats, as Delhi resounded with firecrackers and rocket streaked skies, having our fill of never-ending chais.

winter came along with its polluted fog blanketing the freezing early morn, our pleas of “only 5 minutes more” falling on deaf ears as from our warm beds we were torn.

when spring hopped along, we waited for Holi, to sing countless a filmi-song, with our pichkaaris, and water-filled balloons, aiming at all, giggling like buffoons.

if nostalgia is a seductive liar, as I somewhere once read, then allow me to be seduced, again and again, after all these years and all these miles that have been tread.

to be taken back to the Delhi of yesteryear, ignites a fierce passion, and I crave a coconut dipped syrupy meethha paan,

for after all these years inbetween here and there,

it’ll always be “meri Dilli, meri jaan”




               ____________



Glossary:



Sholay” – A popular Bollywood film of the 1970s.

Chitrahaar” – A musical television show.

Diyas” – small earthen lamps lit during Diwali.

Diwali” – the festival of light.

Malaai Burfi” – A popular sweetmeat.

Lassi” – A popular yoghurty drink.

Connaught Place” – the centre of New Delhi.

Palika Bazaar” – An underground shopping complex in Connaught Place.

Nirulas” – A popular fast food restaurant.

Gol-gappas” – A popular fast food

Ganne-ka-ras” – Sugarcane juice.

Defence Colony” – A suburb of New Delhi.

Bas” – A Hindi word meaning ‘enough’.

Chai” – Tea

Holi” – the festival of colours, heralding the arrival of spring.

Pichkaari” – A toy like device to spray water. Commonly used on Holi.

Meetha Paan” – sweet Betel leaf filled with syrup and other fragrant spices.

Meri Dilli, Meri Jaan” – literally meaning ‘my Delhi, my life”

Dilli” – Delhi

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