Archive for October, 2018



let us walk,

knowing not the paths ahead,

let us talk,

knowing not each others tongues,

let us breathe,

the simple joys of life,

away from shredding strife,

so, take my hand,

in yours,

and let us walk and talk,

through many tears,

and an occasional smile,

as we walk on,

and on,

past our final mile…

Why, they ask her,

“why him?”.

She tells them that the day she met me,

that day when we laughed and when we spoke,


she felt, for the first time,
that all she needed to be,

was herself.

from google

the palette of dreams …

straining to hear

the thud-thudding of your heart

amidst this cacophonous crowd.


i close my eyes


i see you

floating on clouds


free to just be

your wings spread proud




across sunbeams

sketching your open sky

bathed in

colours vivid








brush stroke

infused with hues


the palette of your dreams

Mother natures’ Thread …


skipping over,

bubbling through the streams’ flow,

the grotesque gaudiness washed away,

if we only,

hop, skip, peacefully tread,

on the path unbeaten,

the course nature embroiders us together,

thread by echoing thread …

I don’t know why the comments keep disappearing so thank you Neha and Christopher once again in the event my responses don’t appear.

travelling a new path …

Walking through the thicket, nettles stinging our hearts,

ever on the lookout for pathways of promise, yet forever treading the beaten track.

the hands of fickle time, jabbing these bodies, our shells to continue on ahead,

passing myriad alleyways of beckoning promise, a different course to chart alone,

though thorns dig deep, we persist, blindly trudging this dreary old way,

study hard, work harder, get married, have kids, buy a house, pay off the mortgage, babysit the grandchildren, develop illnesses, totter unsteadily on walkers, lay bound to our beds,

the well-travelled alleyways so many stumble through – over and over, and over again,

staying on the narrows, not going against the grain, banishing the murmurs, that whisper in our ears, to take a chance, to veer off the road, to stray down a more twisting thicket,

into an unknown realm, of dangers that may litter this course, of the light of hope that may shine in the dark,

oblivious of dragons that may lie in wait, hugging the shawls of comfort zones, soon to tattered by time and fate, to be left in the open, to brace the elements,

the same howling winds of that other well-trodden way, stung by similar twists and tragedies, tripping and falling, finding love perhaps, another one who has chosen to swim the streams alone,

we may lose our footing, sliding down slippery slopes,

but with a raging fire of hope, burning deep inside, knowing this has been our unique journey, far from the well-worn shoes of that other life,

stepping ever onwards one tiny inch at a time,

beholding beauty not even known,

tasting the sweet nectar of something new,

swimming the seas of uncharted waters,

thrashed by deafening winds,

tossed around by slashing waves,

till in the distance, we spot land,

and as the tides wash us ashore, we drift into fatigued sleep,

awakening to the soft chirping of the birds,

surrounded by swaying palm trees,

the hues of nature so vivid, the feelings in our soul so true,

as we feel talcum sands beneath our feet,

hearing the familiar music of life,

the sounds of the living surrounding us,

as we find this new abode teeming with life,

a world of peace we have at last found,

as we disappear into the sunset of a new day,

with the countless others,

who also chose this other way

nature at peace

from google

Nature at Peace

Settling on a branch, the solitary bird sings of its desolate pain,

the leaves of the tree shielding the bird from the jabbing rain,

the delicate branch straining to bear the weight of the bird,

while all across the savanna, on countless branches, the echoes of plaintive birdsong can be heard …

… offering respite to the weary, rest for the weak, relief to those seeking a momentary escape from the scorching day,

the trees, sharing their bounteous shade, sweep the detritus of the day away …

… all of nature, in harmonious rhythm,

as gentle night embraces the savanna,

soothing all in a pristine feeling of ease,

as all of nature finds succour,

in the safe cocoon of nature’s comforting peace

from google

art by banksy

an as-long-as-it-rhymes scribble …

just what am i doing, scribbling these vaguely rhyming rhymes,

as people are disposed of willy-nilly, in these terrifying times.

where riches and high office are what matter most,

regardless of the billions of souls just barely surviving, as long as the parties continue, all vying to be the most hospitable host.

just what am i doing, as brokers funnel millions, wading through the murky machiavellian mire,

and as the 99% sink deeper, into the bowels of deprivation dire.

words such as peace and equality and freedom and justice and democracy have been from us putridly pilfered,

snatching our language of struggle away, leaving us with slogans so feebly filtered.

i often ask myself as to why i even bother to belch out so many a scrawny scribble,

impotent as they are, dribbling down as hypocritically doleful drivel.

i have no response to these inquiries so earnestly enquired,

all i can say is that i am sick to the marrow of being so terribly tired.

exhausted, fatigued of carrying in my pocket cold change – always just a couple of coins, and never crisp new notes,

to fling at the coarse beggars who stain the windows of my magical mercedes, even as thoughts of that new yacht in my mind freely floats.

is this the world of humanity? humanity stripped of being kind and being humbly humane,

this callous world of wealth obscene, these ugly societies of greed insatiably insane.

how dare we call this world our collective mother, our mother whom we have so savagely stripped,

of all she has to offer us, her very children who have defiled her, plundering all we can, as we ravaged her being, and as her soul we have ravenously ripped.

we make pompous speeches, we have conferences, we prattle on as we tediously talk,

all the while we lust after this portfolio, and that deal, treating each other as prey whom we surreptitiously stalk.

i have been searching for a home, an abode of peace and stillness, while all around i hear the pin-striped cackling crowd,

the ones who barely see anything beyond their green-backed shroud, where the anthem of greed, they bellow out arrogantly aloud.

the words of religious piety are mumbled, us versus them, our creed, our caste, our tribe, our race, tattooed for all to see on our conscienceless consciousness,

we go to war, we kill and we maim, we abuse and we discard as damned refuse, as we build walls between humans, creating boundaries of morbid monstrousness.

just what am i doing, to really feel alive, to love, to embrace, to share, and to not allow myself to be drawn into the cult of only me, me, me,

but to breathe, to hug another soul, to go against the grain, to simply be, and in being, be.

just what am i doing, to be a part of the whole, to be an infinitesimal grain in our collective soul, to use my bare hands to help save our shared humanity’s teetering tree,

in truth i am doing nothing, i am a mute spectator, not wanting to ever get my hands dirty, to be content to sit on the fence, to perch myself away on a hill, to do nothing at all, but see, see, see …

they do not see me at all

art by banksy

they do not see me at all …


They do not see me at all,

as I walk through these desecrated avenues,

of soul-deadening frenzy.

I see them rushing past me,

and no matter how hard I holler and call,

they do not see me at all.

It seems at times, that invisible am I,

for when I reach out, and shriek, and when on my knees I crawl,

they rush past me,

for they do not see me at all.

I have tried to raise their ire,

I have taunted and goaded them,

till exhausted and fatigued,

to the cold damp ground I fall,

still they rush past me,

for they do not see me at all.

I stand mutely, waving my hands all around while scribbling verses in my unintelligible scrawl,

still they rush past me,

for they do not see me at all.

They rush past me, knocking me over without ever looking back,

trampling over my fallen form,

they look past my limp crumpled shadow,

as they whine on in their monotonous drawl,

and they still do not see me at all.


When they look my way,

flickers of recognition crossing their faces,

I crawl back into my nothingness,

cocooned as the day begins to pall,

hoping, tired and broken,

to be back in the space,

where they cannot see me at all …

am i human ?

you hardly spare me a glance, as you walk past me, a fellow human, whom you pretend not to see.

you send me off to fight your wars, remaining comfortably ensconced in your ivory tower, while in the trenches i shiver and cower.

you dock my pay if one of your fine bone china cups gets chipped, you withhold my wages, while the hunger in my children’s stomachs rages.

your children still call me ‘boy’ or ‘girl’, though it was i who changed their diapers long ago, but it is still i who is the recipient of the epithets that you and they hurl and throw. 

you use my body for your carnal desires, throwing some money on my stained bed, you use me as a lifeless rag, then dispose of me in a rubbish bag.

you claim to be so liberal, so open-minded and progressive, yet you ignore my plight, you discuss poverty in your chandeliered rooms, as i prepare some beans in the dim candlelight.

you send your cheques to greenpeace and amnesty, perhaps to assuage your guilt somehow, as you refuse to pay me my overtime due, your body weighed down by heaving jewellery, in red and white and blue.

you see me building your glittering skyscrapers and your glitzy malls, my hard hat pummelled by stone and dust, as i eke out a living, my dreams turned to rust.

you walk and you talk, leaving me to scrounge in the garbage heaps, for scraps of this and that, while your stocks and portfolios grow ever more fat.

i am invisible to you, to your posh and pompous kind, and i doubt your humanity will be ever anywhere to find.

you see me, a festering sore on your manicured lawns, a piece of dirt living on ‘charitable’ rations, and the first to bear the brunt of your police batons.

i am human, though only barely just, easily interred, once my purpose has been served,

i am human, though only barely just, as i get buried in a heap of dust.

am i human?

President Nelson Mandela’s letter of condolence to my father when my mum passed on – Johannesburg April 2008

President Nelson Mandela’s mother and my mother in the late 1950s or early 1960s protesting the imprisonment of their loved ones – photograph courtesy of the Nelson Mandela Foundation

my mother – a true story …

My mother used tell me this with tears in her eyes.

My mother left South Africa in the 1960’s to join my father who was in political exile at the time in Zambia and Tanzania.

My father was a close comrade and friend of Nelson Mandela and shared the cell next to Mandela during one of their periods of being jailed by the Apartheid security services.

My father later escaped from Marshall Square jail along with his comrades, Abdulhay Jassat, Harold Wolpe, and Arthur Goldreich.

The four escapees were then were spirited out of South Africa as there was a then £2000 reward for them to be captured – dead or alive. 

In 1970 my father was deployed by the African National Congress of South Africa (ANC) to India to be its Chief-Representative there.

I was born in New Delhi a couple of years later in 1972.

My mother and father spent two years in Mumbai (then Bombay).

One afternoon my father fell and broke his leg.

My mother knocked on their neighbour’s door of the apartment complex where they lived. 

The neighbour was an elderly Punjabi lady.

My mother asked the elderly lady for assistance in calling a doctor to see to my injured father. 

A Zoroastrian (Parsi) ‘bone-setter’ was promptly summoned.

My mother and the elderly neighbour got to talking and the lady asked my mother where they were from, as their accents were clearly not local.

My mother told the elderly Punjabi lady that my father worked for the African National Congress of South Africa and had been forced into exile to continue to struggle to raise awareness internationally about the appalling situation in Apartheid South Africa.

My mother also mentioned that they had to leave their two young children (my siblings, whom I met only later in life) behind in South Africa, in the care of grandparents, and that they were now essentially political refugees.

The elderly lady broke down and wept uncontrollably.

She told my mother that she too had to leave their home in Lahore in 1947 and flee to India with only the clothes on their back when the partition of the subcontinent took place and when Pakistan was torn from India and formed, due to narrow religious and sectarian reasons, whose repercussions are felt to this day.

This was also a time when religious violence wreaked havoc, and untold suffering and death for millions of human beings.

The elderly lady then asked my mother what her name was.

‘Zubeida’, but you can call me ‘Zubie’.

The Punjabi woman hugged Zubeida some more, and the two women, seperated by age and geography, by religion and all the things that seek to divide humanity,  wept, for they could understand the pain and trauma of a shared experience.

The elderly Punjabi lady told my mother that she was her ‘sister’ from that day on, and that she too felt the pain of exile after being forced to become refugees, and what being a refugee felt like.

Zubie and her husband Mosie (my father) and the family next door became the closest of friends.

Then came the time for Mosie and Zubie to leave for Delhi where the African National Congress (ANC) office was to be officially opened.

The elderly Punjabi lady and Mosie and Zubie said their goodbyes.

A year or two later, the elderly lady’s daughter Lata married Ravi Sethi and the couple moved to Delhi.

The elderly lady telephoned Zubie and told her that her daughter was coming to Delhi to live there, and that she had told Lata, her daughter that she had a ‘sister’ in Delhi, and that she should not feel alone.

Lata and Ravi Sethi then moved to Delhi in the mid-1970’s.

Lata and Zubie became the closest of friends and that bond stayed true, till the both my mother passed away in 2008. 

My father and I still feel a close bond with Lata and Ravi Sethi, and vice versa. 

A bond that was forged between Hindu and Muslim and between two countries of South Africa and of India, shattering the barriers of creed and of time.

A bond strong and resilient, forged by the pain and trauma of a shared experience.

That is why I shall never stop believing that hope shines still, for with so much religious bigotry almost consuming our world today, there will always be a woman, somewhere, anywhere, who would take the ‘other’ in as a sister, and as a fellow human being.

And that is why, I believe, that there will always be hope.

Hope in the midst of unbearable pain and hope in the midst of loss and of unspeakable suffering.


For we can never give up hope for a better world.


(For aunty Lata’s late-mother, my mother’s ‘sister’ and who took us all into her heart, and for Lata and Ravi Sethi of Defence Colony, New Delhi, India)

President Nelson Mandela and my father – late 1950s or early 1960s

President Nelson Mandela and my father – Johannesburg 2000s

21st Century Slavery

21st Century Slavery.

the brutal slave-ships of centuries ago, from the cradle of humankind, the continent of Africa, may no longer ply the seas,

the unspeakable horrors meted out to the millions of  human beings are now conveniently forgotten.

today the ships of commerce and of Capital carry the noxious cargo of slavery – neo-slavery – as they ferry designer goods from the aisles of slaves in the free-trade zones of this world.

the slave-owners mentality has changed little,

the promise of the filthy notes of money,

the 20-hour long shifts enforced inhumanely,

the shackles of bonded labour, of small hands sewing high-street apparel,

reeks of ugliness, of the depths of depravity that the 1% are gladly willing to rain down on fellow human beings.

the vile stench of greed, sinks it’s talons into the souls of those in need,

in need of a few grains of rice, of some beans, as tears down the cheek of humanity perennially streams,

while labourers who sweat and toil build obscene skyscrapers that in the ashamed sun gleams.

the migrant workers who built countries with their calloused bare hands,

enslaved by colonialism and forced labour, of being auctioned as if they were soulless machines,

only to be flung when death visited them, into the emptiness of savage ravines.

today we see the same, on 24hr television screens,

the stories of the ravages of hunger, the tears of mothers and fathers, the little faces whose innocence has been stripped,

whose very sense of dignity is continually whipped,

all so we may drink champagne and shuck oysters and dance and fuck,

never for even a second thinking about the 99% ensnared in the rotten muck.

these words of mine may be obscene, but the ugliness of man lies elsewhere,

somewhere, everywhere,

while immigrants are vilified, ripped apart from them, the  tiniest sense of decency,

while as before they are treated as mere disgusting currency. 

these impotent words i spew make not a scintilla of a difference,

they just pour out and swirl down into the gutters of apathy,

so I lay my pen down now, in disgust and self-loathing,

of being a part of the machine that off human beings slave,

from the moment they are born and till they are thrown into countless a nameless grave,

yes i lay my pen down now, rotting inside, as the bile erodes,

the platitudes i scribble.

yes i lay my pen down now, knowing i am merely spouting inconsequential drivel,

that will disappear into the gutters,



even as my empathy continues to shrivel …

Dear all,

Please visit this site and this absolutely heartwarming and hopeful and moving and touching piece on Phyllis Wheatley – with my friend Léa’s deeply personal tribute to a giant of a woman – aunty Aggie Msimang – a giant in the struggle for freedom and democracy and justice in South Africa. 

Léa has posted this deeply moving piece on Phyllis Wheatley and I thank you, my friend Léa, for making me read up more on Phyllis Wheatley as well as about the countless other women who fought and struggled and dedicated their lives to the cause of humanity. 

Merci beaucoup my friend and comrade and fellow-traveller.

Please do read Léa’s other brilliant pieces and do follow her here on WordPress – her blog and her writing are so needed and necessary in this cold and callous and unjust world we find ourselves in.

For hope and for justice and for gender-rights and for equality and for fairness and for peace and for truth. 

I salute you, as I salute them all!

The Conceit of a Man

How dare I stand before you, a man – to recite a poem on women and about the rights of women the world over?

Am I not the perfect caricature of that man – who deems himself capable, and so very able, even entitled?

Yes, aren’t I that man who thinks he understands,

who believes righteously that he knows what it has been like, and what it is like being a woman in this crass, misogynistic world.

The man who presumes to know and to empathise about countless women’s deeply personal and painful truths that they live each day, not just at times,

I am that man who thinks it possible, even admirable of him to scribble out a few rhymes. 

Isn’t this what caricatures like me have always done – speak on behalf of, or drone on about women, their struggles and the need of the now, the forging ahead in the countless battles yet to be fought for the emancipation of women,

yes caricatures indeed, us men who beat down with bloodied fists the very same women, for whom we hurl a few slogans around, utterly meaningless as they fall to the blood stained ground.

But never will I admit to the profanities I have spewed, in-between off hand chats with male friends, those chats about how many chicks I have screwed.

The man before you stands and pontificates about all that women need – the liberal manifesto – equal pay for all, the right of a woman to determine what is best for her body, the calling out of the lewd catcalls and the uncouth slow-eyed once-over leering stares, shamelessly violating the woman, even as she with contempt at them all glares.

The man, oblivious to the hypocrisy, prattles on and on, speaking on behalf of women the world over, so attuned to their struggles, harping and carping, about feminism and women’s lib, all the while with a self-congratulatory tone so condescending and glib.

Ah but the facts speak for themselves, and they stack up time and time again, from time immemorial, to today, to a backdrop of the shrieks of collective pain.

The time has come and long passed, for the facts to be driven into the consciousness of every man, every boy, every girl, every person this wide world around,

if for once, we may actually, onto a sliver of hope hold, it must be to accept our complicity in this sorry parade, while dusting off the grime and slime of this endless charade. 

The facts are brutal, they speak for themselves – the facts are grotesque, screaming to us all,

for as the worn-out adage goes, we stand together, or together we will fall.

The facts are plain to see, they condemn us for our inaction, the facts are unalterable, they will never be what we want them to be, even as we sew our eyes shut not wanting to see. 

I should perhaps apologise for not being more positive, and for being so abrasively cynical,

but I would rather say what I’ve said now,

and say it ever more,

because somehow I feel,

the platitudes will be dished out on Women’s Day and whenever our consciences are pricked,

by news reports of the unspeakable crimes of the savage treatment of women, the truths we live with daily, the said and the unsaid, the unspoken behind-the-picket fence abuse,

where no matter what we may think, it is us men who shroud ourselves behind the veil of complicit silence, seeing only what we choose.

Yes, so I would rather say all of this, gagging in this stench of rotten egos laid bare, as the truth we unpeel,

instead of gurgling out more lame, old feel-good, and utterly meaningless spiel,

while us men, the chosen ones, the patriarchy at its most hideous,

still, and for quite a while longer, I’m sorry to say,

expect the woman to always kneel.

anti-Apartheid poster from the 1980s


the air and the flute

art from google

the air and the flute …

air caresses the flute,


leaving not a trace

of itself.

a gentle melody,

lilting notes,

echo invisibly,


by passionate breath mingling with air,

unseen …

art from google

art from google

The Prejudice of Creed and of Racism’s Obscene Blight …

The light in her eyes shone so bright,

dispelling the emptiness of the quiet night,

she took my hand in hers, and held on tight,

I held on to the beauty of her soul, of her heart that infused in me the peaceful calm of love’s delight,

we sat together, holding each other close, as the copper sun was drowned in the pastels of that balmy summer’s twilight,

we sat in silence, as we felt our worries fade and take flight,

to a place far away, beyond the yonder, out of mangled sight,

as we shattered the shackles that bound us, ripping them apart with all of our might,

facing the distaste, the prejudice, the racism head on, knowing we were right,

on that side of history, that always prevailed, however long and bruising the fight,

… we still hold each others hands, though wrinkled by age,

we have held each other close in the midst of the tumult, in the muck of ignorant rage,

of intolerance of religious differences,

of hate for the other,

of the blandness that is sought on the vibrant expanse of our live’s stage,

… always knowing that we were brought together by a love so true,

the deep and abiding love you hold dear for me,

and the unshakeable love I have always held on dearly for you 

the wisdom of Nelson Mandela

art by banksy

a child of war and terror.


as she lies bleeding,

the girl who skipped, hopped to school,

all of nine and a half years old,

with ribbons in her hair and a laugh that was her father’s pride.


as she lies bleeding,

shrapnel lodged in her torn stomach,

she stares at her skipping rope,

blood soaking it the colour of cherries her mother buys.


as she lies bleeding,

she sees human shapes all around, thick in the black smoke,

blurred visions of scattering feet, 

shoes left behind,

hearing nothing but the pinging in her smashed eardrums.


as she lies bleeding,

she slips away and then she is dead,

a mangled heap of a nine and a half year old girl,

whose laugh was her father’s pride.



as she lies bleeding,

even in death she bleeds some more,

shrapnel wedged in her torn stomach,

stealing the light from her bright innocent eyes.

as she lies bleeding …

in jallianwala bagh in ‘19,

johannesburg in ’93,

leningrad in ‘42,

freetown in ‘98,

soweto in ‘76,

beirut in ‘85,

hanoi in ‘68,

st. bernadino,














aleppo still.


as she lies bleeding,

a little nine and a half year old girl,

whose laugh was her parent’s pride,

we know she’ll bleed more,

tomorrow and in many tomorrows yet unborn,

with shrapnel in her stomach,

ripped open and torn.


as she lies bleeding,

a child of war and terror.

art from google

from google

These days …

These days, so jarring and so harsh,

leave us contorted, face down in the vicious marsh.

These days, so painful and so hard,

slice into our souls, sliver by jagged shard.

These days, so defeating and full of hurt,

fragment the pieces of our being, our heart dragged through the cold wet dirt.

These days when we feel slammed down and kicked around,

these days when not a glimmer of hope is to be found.

These days, when our very own, splinter our days and nights,

these days when the ones we love the most steal our sunshine and shatter all comforting lights.

These days are cruel, every moment seems like an internal duel,

these days that reek, of a deep pain that allows a torrent of tears to stream down each cheek.

These days when all seems lost,

these days when our heart feels mangled and tossed.

These days must pass,

these days must leave,

as all days do,

slipping and fading through life’s sieve.

So that we may smile once more,

as we smiled so many times before.

So that we feel solace envelope us within the cocoon of peace,

when the pain and the hurt, relents,

so that at long last,

these dark times may finally cease …

oncoming tides 

oncoming tides.

morning again,
tugging moonlight,

night slipping,
yielding, ceding,

the routine waltz of attrition,

heartbeats afloat,

drifting back on cottonwool clouds,
shedding yesterdays moulting skin,
shadowplays of encroaching light,
cajoling hearts,

fluttering along the ramparts,
wrestling to adorn,

the props, the tools,
myriad masks,



yet, yet,

yet hobbling still,
coat-collar turned up against mornings chill,
winding down alleyways of dreams,

of hopes,
braced ( i hope )
to weather,

more oncoming tides …

​myriad interwoven strands of distilled feeling,

intoxicate me, leaving me reeling,

while forever more, I look up to you,

as I lay stricken, as I lay kneeling …

interwoven veins, crisscross this land, this continent, connecting the north to the south, the east to the west, veins infusing life, binding peoples, wrapped in the canopies of the forest, buzzing in the cacophony of the cities, silent in the arid deserts, meandering between the mangroves, flowing gracefully into the oceans, knitting us together, despite the 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 in the millions of souls herded as cattle, packed onto the slave ships, doomed to live and die in shackled misery, oh yes, these veins have felt it all, these veins that continually, silently, peacefully, benevolently, spread the precious gift of life across these lands, this continent – Africa.

%d bloggers like this: