Tag Archive: afzal moolla


A Poem for Jawaharlal Nehru

image

Pandit-Ji*

1.

The moon cast an enveloping shadow over the teeming multitudes,

as they made their tryst with destiny**,

with you as the bearer of the light,

and at the stroke of the midnight hour,

you emerged an icon, from the long and desolate night.

Long years had passed,
since those humid evenings spent,
languishing in jail,

yet your mind remained unshackled,
putting words on paper in the dim candlelight,

as the gaudy glare of empire began to pale.

2.

Today,
you live,

within us,
though not amongst us,

and,

your discovery,
your glimpses,

smoulder within me,

your immortal words,
my compass.

I am now,
the soul of nations,
once suppressed,

that have,
found utterance.

I am now,
me.

I am now,
finally,

free.

       _________________

* – ‘Pandit-Ji’ was the name that Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India, was respectfully called.

** – excerpts from Jawaharlal Nehru’s speech on 15th August 1947

image

Gandhi-Ji …

1.

It was your beloved Jawaharlal* who uttered these words when you were gunned down by the agents of hate,

‘The light has gone out’, mourned Pandit – Ji*,

and indeed your life was snuffed out on that 30th day of a cold New Delhi January in 1948,

yet you live,

you live on,

a perennial thorn in the side of tyranny,

and the voice of the voiceless multitudes,

still scraping in garbage bins for a bite to eat.

2.

‘The world is big enough for everyone’s need, but it isn’t big enough for everyone’s greed’, you once said,

and Bapu*, your prophetic words ring true today,

in Soweto,

Diepsloot,

Chatsworth,

Gugulethu,

Alexandra,

and everywhere,

all the time.

3.

‘India gave us Mohandas, and we returned him to you as the Mahatma*’, said President Nelson Mandela,

Madiba was your son,
Martin Luther King Jr. as well,

and today your sons and daughters across this world,

look to you again,

in a world torn apart by sectarian strife,
bigotry, racism, religious intolerance, greed,

and Capitalism gone insane,

for as long as there are mouths that hunger to be fed,

for as long as there are naked bodies that need to be clothed,

for as long as your sons and daughters struggle for the very basics,

the 99%,

trodden-upon,
dignity stripped,
dreams tossed out into the sewers …

… we need your sanity,
we need your eternal flame to light our paths ahead,

we need you,

as the parched desert needs a shower of rain,

we need you!

and we need to,

remember that we are all human,

if we are to build a new world,

less cruel,

and more humane …

       _______________

* – Mahatma or ‘Great Soul’

* – October 2nd is the birth anniversary of MK Gandhi

* – The first Prime Minister of independent India was Jawaharlal Nehru,  also called Pandit-Ji,  and endearingly Chacha Nehru

* – Bapu means father and Gandhi-Ji was often referred to as Bapu or Bapu-Ji

afzaljhb@gmail.com

A Child of War …

a child of war…

 

as she lies bleeding

the girl who skipped and 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

the warm bullet lodged in her torn stomach

she stares at her skipping rope

as her blood soaks it the colour of the cherries her mummy buys

 

as she lies bleeding

she sees the people through the thick black smoke

blurred visions of scattering feet and shoes left behind

hearing nothing but the pinging in her blown-out eardrums

 

as she lies bleeding

she slips away quickly 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

for even in death she bleeds some more

the warm bullet wedged in her torn stomach

steals the light from her bright little eyes

as she lies bleeding

in jallianwala bagh in ‘19

leningrad in ‘42

freetown in ‘98

soweto in ‘76

jenin in ‘02

hanoi in ‘68

beirut in ‘85

raqqa now

basra still

gaza too

 

as she lies bleeding

this little nine and a half year old girl

whose laugh was her father’s pride

we know she’ll bleed and bleed some more

tomorrow and in many tomorrows yet unborn

with that warm bullet in her stomach

ripped open and torn

 

as she lies bleeding..

afzaljhb@gmail.com

http://m.bbc.com/news/magazine-29352405

afzaljhb@gmail.com

Heritage Day ( 2014)

Heritage Day (2014)

1.

Reclaiming loose shards of hope,

gathering up slivers of a splintered rainbow,

today we reflect,

today we pause,

today we wrestle our collective plundered consciousness,

today is ours!

2.

Tomorrow,

the struggles continue …

Amandla!

afzaljhb@gmail.com

Hope & Renewal …

Hope & Renewal …

1.

Hidden beneath life’s undergrowth,

a flower blooms,

amidst  thorns,

a whiff of beauty wafts over desolate spaces,

deep in the thicket of my heart,

where wounds are raw,

and the world is merely a blur of worn-down faces.

2.

The solitary flower strains towards the light,

in the dim bleakness of unnamed woes,

it’s fragility,

innocence distilled,

pristine,

simple,

natural,
healing,
renewing,

reaching between the open wounds,

of this splintered heart,

caressing my soul,

with a faint murmur of promise.

3.

Hidden beneath life’s undergrowth,

life stirs,

whistling melodies,
healing my shattered heart,

offering comfort,
solace,

peace,

a wounded peace,
while gathering the pieces,

an elusive, wily peace,

yet tangible,

alive!

breathing!

Breathing life back,

as pain flees,

and as,

numbness ceases…

afzaljhb@gmail.com

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.

And,
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.

scribblerofverses@gmail.com

For Comrade and President Oliver Reginald Tambo (1917 – 1993)

Escaping the omnipresent shadows,

eluding the sweaty palms of the torturer,

running to shed this sorry skin of shame,

in hiding, here and there, with no one,

yet everyone to silently blame.

Leaving the lips once kissed behind,

to a refuge impossible to find,

not a word of sad welcome,

severing all ties that bind.

And then finally off to a new dwelling in a faraway alien land,

reeking and drenched in a foreignness so blatantly bland,

never fitting in, though always dreading being shut out,

singing paeans to hope scribbled in the sand.

You left your country, your home, your very own place of being,

you fled, into exile, far away from blinded eyes so unseeing,

and you held to a principle within, and you stood resolute,

till the shadows felt themselves in shame fleeing,

We salute you! And all like you, and the so many countless more,

into whose flesh the tyrant’s sword so cruelly tore,

We salute you! You who fought at home and you who left to fight,

from afar, on often a bleak and distant shore

scribblerofverses@gmail.com

For Pete Seeger, Huddie ‘Leadbelly’ Ledbetter and Woody Guthrie…

It was a long time ago
when you put your words into song.

‘This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender’ you scribbled on your old guitar.

You wielded that banjo and guitar as weapons,

fiddling out a hail of truth.

Of solidarity.

Of immediate calls for peace.

You said of Leadbelly, that ‘Huddie Ledbetter was a helluva man’.

You sang and spoke through dust clouds and relief lines.

You taught us all, to seek out hope wherever we can.

And when they tried to call all of you ‘goddamned reds’,

you sang on ever louder and louder, rattlin’ their prejudices as they slept in their plush beds.

You rode and you rambled and thumbed your way around,

this land that is my land and your land too.

For you believed all this earth was shared common ground.

And when you sang of overcoming one day,

the injustice and the pain that you witnessed along the way,

they branded you a commie,
a pinko,
a nigger and a Jew-lover.

An enemy of the state.

While your banjo and your guitars wrestled their blind hate.

‘This machine kills fascists’ you etched on that guitar as well
but they were all deaf,

for they could not hear the tolling of the bell,

‘the bell of freedom,
the hammer of justice,
the song of love between your brothers and your sisters’.

And they knew not that they were the ones who would sizzle in their own bigoted hell.

And then came the marches.

You were there too.

Marching and singing with Dr. King in Birmingham and Selma.

And you faced their ugly spit,

their venomous rage,

their clubs and sticks and knives,
but you always knew,

that your cause was just and that the truth would one day prevail.

However long it may take, you would never give up.

You sang and you marched and you strummed yourselves,

victoriously into their jail.

Then they shot him down,

they shot Dr. King dead,

as they burnt and lynched many, many more.

Yet you stood firm,

you never wavered,

your blood was red after all,

and they could not tarnish the truth’s core.

And so it came to pass,

that Woody went on his way.

To his pastures of plenty up in the sky.

And Huddie too,

said his last goodbye.

And you were then one,

and you may have felt alone and overwhelmed by the battles and with all that was wrong.

But you saw that the people were with you.

As they had been, all along.

So you fiddled that old banjo,

dragging it through Newport and Calcutta and Dar-es-Salaam.

Through countless unknown halls in numberless unknown towns,

across this earth,
turning,
slowly,

putting smiles of amity on faces that were once pock-marked with disillusioned frowns.

Today as I pen these poorly scribbled words for all of you,

for Woody, Huddie, and Pete,

I do so in gratitude,

for after all the travails that you’ve been through,

I know that you know that this world still has its fair share of hate,

and of loss and of injustice and of gloom,

but I also know that you know that though all the old flowers may have gone,

there always will be,

as there always must be,

fresh flowers,

that will be ablaze somewhere,

driving away the apathy and reminding us all,

that this world has for all of us,

plenty of room.

scribblerofverses@gmail.com

Spartaco Fontanot

D-Day June 6, 1944 …

Mowed down by lead spewing from Nazi machine guns,

Young men sliced on the the beaches of Normandy,

Blood stained the salty sea crimson,

Torn limbs and lifeless bodies scattered along Juno, Gold, and Omaha beach,

Young men, shredded by shrapnel,

Holding the line,

Inch by blood-soaked inch,

As the fascist juggernaut was brought down to its knees,

And still the fight raged on,

From the eastern front to the acts of valour,

Carried out by partisans in the name of freedom from the jackboot of Nazism,

There was a young man called Spartaco Fontanot and I end this poem with a letter he wrote to his mother :

Dear Mum*,

Of all people I know you are the one that will feel it most, so my very last thoughts go to you. Don’t blame anyone else for my death, because I myself chose fate.

I don’t know what to write to you, because, even though I have a clear head, I can’t find the right words.

I took my place in the Army of Liberation, and I die as the light of victory is already beginning to shine … I shall be shot very shortly with twenty three other comrades.

After the war you must claim your rights to a pension. They will let you have my things at the jail, only I am keeping Dad’s undervest, because I don’t want the cold to make me shiver…

Once again I say goodbye.

Courage!

Your son.
Spartaco

(Spartaco Fontanot, metalworker, twenty-two years old,member of the French Resistance group of ‘Misak Manouchian’, 1944)

* – from Eric Hobsbawn’s book ‘Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century 1914 – 1991′

Port of Call

Port of Call
 
 
Barefoot on a talcum beach,
 
alone, not lonely,
 
with the breath of the ocean a caressing balm,
soothing pained memories away,
to the swaying of a solitary palm.
 
 
Barefoot on a talcum beach,
 
alone, not lonely,
 
feeling the brushing away of all past turmoil,
on a quest for solace, ever so hard to find,
yet comforted by the crashing of the waves,
as the tide cleanses all pain,
and leaves despair far, far behind.
 
 
Barefoot on a talcum beach,
 
alone, not lonely,
 
drenched in a sea-breeze of mist,
that hushes the ache of bygone moons,
tasting the salty tang on my lips,
as the burnished sun,
over the distant horizon,
swoons,
 
and dips.
 
 
Barefoot on a talcum beach,
 
alone, not lonely,
 
searching, ever searching,
for a slice of solitude,
as memory bids a final adieu,
reaching under the sea so vast,
and seeking comfort in the depths,
while embracing,
the tomorrows to come,
wishing that they be true.
 
 
Barefoot on a talcum beach,
 
alone, not lonely,
 
seeing my truths drown,
as they slip beneath the turquoise waters,
 
feeling my heart ablaze,
with a passion that rarely falters.
 
 
Barefoot on a talcum beach,
 
alone, not lonely,
 
yet knowing that I am home at long last,
wishing the waves would wash away,
the defences that once stood,
like an impregnable wall.
 
 
Barefoot on a talcum beach,
 
alone, not lonely,
 
I have found, at long last,
 
my final port of call.

Pandit-Ji* – A Poem for Jawaharlal Nehru

 

1.

 

The moon cast an enveloping shadow over the teeming multitudes,

as they made their tryst with destiny**,

with you as the bearer of the light,

and at the stroke of the midnight hour,

you emerged an icon, from the long and desolate night.

Long years had passed,
since those humid evenings spent,
languishing in jail,

yet your mind remained unshackled,
putting words on paper in the dim candlelight,

as the gaudy glare of empire began to pale.

 

2.

Today,
you live,

within us,
though not amongst us,

and,

your discovery,
your glimpses,

smoulder within me,

your immortal words,
my compass.

I am now,
the soul of nations,
once suppressed,

that have,
found utterance.

I am now,
me.

I am now,
finally,

free.

 

 

* – ‘Pandit-Ji’ was the name that Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India, was respectfully called.

** – excerpts from Jawaharlal Nehru’s speech on 15th August 1947

The Solitary Depth of Night

In the solitary depth of night,

as dreams whisper forgotten lies,

memories murmur,
desires nibble,
passions simmer,

between the embers,
of sweetly burnt eyes.

As dawn’s breath cascades,

skimming over the borders of my hapless heart,

my eyes finally surrendering to slumber, peaceful and deep,

leaving me,

to dream of you,

dreaming,  asleep.

Walking in Gaza

Walking in Gaza …

Walking amidst the rubble,

a mother wails.

The bloodied rags that once clothed her six year old daughter reeks of caked blood,
stale urine,

death.

Walking amidst the rubble,

a father weeps.

The shelling reducing the home to bits of this and bits of that,
burnt flesh,
charred memories,

death.

Walking in Gaza,

amidst the smouldering school,

the bombed – out hospital,

the blood running into the sewers,

now clogged with emptiness.

Walking in Gaza,

amidst the savage fallout,

in – between the mangled homes,

the shuttered bazaars,

Hope lives.

Hope breathes.

Hope soars.

Walking in Gaza,

the resistance to tyranny holds firm,

as it has,

as it always will,

as it always must!

Amandla Intifada!

The struggles continue…

NOSTALGIA: My Family: A Historical Journey Through the Seasons – Part 2 by Afzal Moola, Johannesburg, South Africa.

http://writespace4iw.wordpress.com/2014/05/04/nostalgia-my-family-a-historical-journey-through-the-seasons-part-1-by-afzal-moola-johannesburg-south-africa/

For Tony Benn (1925 – 2014)

For Tony Benn
( 1925 – 2014 )

You have not passed silently into the coming night,

your conscience towers above the brittle edifice of capital and of greed,

for as long as there remain hungry mouths to feed,

your soul is enmeshed within our collective whole.

You have not passed silently into the coming night.

Your battle is done,

the war!

the war is far from won!

So we pick up your scarlet standard,

and we continue to rattle the foundations at No. 10,

though today,

today,

we pause,

today we say,

‘Hamba Kahle’*,

to you,

our comrade,

our leader,

our towering ‘Big Benn’.

for Anthony Neil Wedgwood “Tony” Benn.

(3 April 1925 – 14 March 2014)

* – ‘Hamba Kahle’ means ‘go well’ in isiXhosa/isiZulu

Afloat on the River

Afloat on the rivers of life,

rootless at times,‎

bogged down in the mire,

at times a lonesome twig cast into the depths of despair,

a vagabond sans destination, sans care. ‎

The tides have washed me,

hither and thither,

never knowing where I would finally rest,

till you held my heart in your tender hands,

clasping it closer to your breast. ‎


All the while gentle ripples have steered me away from desolation,

breathing new purpose,

igniting fresh promise,

reaching around me,
enveloping my soul,

oh yes, ’tis you,

who has carried me through. 

It is only now that I know,

you are the river upon which I sail,

your love the wind at my back,

your presence a comforting respite from the detritus of the shallows,

while quietly you carry me,

towards the passionate streams of the lagoon,

rescuing me,

liberating my heart,

from the noose of the once omnipresent  gallows…

 

The Cauldron of Desire

Inflamed by my wildly fiery desire,

I kiss the fluttering petals of your soft, sumptuous lips.

I tease you,

my ravenous tongue sipping the glistening, molten drops of alluring morning dew.

Inflamed by my wildly fiery desire,

I make love to you,

in my dreams of passion,

my dreams of sensual seduction,

dreams of our erotic confluence,

painting, sketching, dousing my dreams in colours of my naked desire:

burnished copper-red.

scorching scarlet-rose.

achingly beautiful crimson.

Inflamed by my wildly fiery desire,

I dream of you,

dreaming of making sweet, agonisingly delicious love to me,

and in this dreamscape of irresistible vistas,

I see your face.

And I dream,

I dream of you and I entwined in ecstatic bliss,

and together we find the place,

the only place we passionately ache to be:

in each others’ arms.

Eternally.

Mandela in Kerala

Madiba in Kerala.

A comrade from the southern Indian state of Kerala shared the following anecdote with my father sometime in the mid-1980’s in New Delhi …

… On a trip to his home state of Kerala, the comrade said,

“…I was on a small fishing boat with some other comrades, we were going to an anti-Apartheid meeting that had been organised in a small town.

During the course of the boat ride, I kept hearing the boat-man’s voice, as he was singing, and quite loudly too, a song in Malayalam,

And I kept hearing what sounded like the name ‘Mandela’, over and over again,

So I asked the boat-man who or what this ‘Mandela’ was?

“You come from the city, and YOU don’t know who MANDELA is?

A Thirsty Traveller

A Thirsty Traveller …

I’ve rambled through this life,

on a quest to seek the elusive dew of joys’ dawn.

I’ve roamed these desolate streets,

pursuing the mirage of the promise of a new morn.

I’ve crawled through numberless deserts of thirst,

always waiting for a sign,

while searching for the elixir of my life:

your softly quivering, sweetly-scented lips,

as they brushed,

longingly,

against mine …

The Paths we Weave …

Walking alone,

on these meandering paths this life weaves,

weathering the nudges and the tugs of destiny and of fate,

I have walked alone for many a mile,

but not today,

for today,

I weave through alleyways of solitude,

rinsing my cobwebbed memories,

seeking to steer my path,

gently,

so that this pathway of life may lead me to you,

where my only hope is that I am not too late,

as I place my soul at your hearts’ gate …

In your Eyes #5

may your gentle all-embracing warmth,

be forever by your side,

and may you always walk the soft beaches of destiny, at the coming in of the tide …

May life shower you with love and laughter and truth and peace and health,

as your generosity of spirit remains a wellspring of your ceaseless human wealth.

May your dreams be boundless as they soar through hopeful skies,

the hopeful skies that I see,

in the chocolatey universe of whipped cream delights,

that reside,

swirling,

in your beautiful eyes …

In your Eyes (scribble 1)

In your Eyes …

Walking along these bending alleys of life,

the promise of meeting a fellow-traveller was deemed far too remote,

and so,

I shut down my heart,

severing all loves’ ties,

but then again,

that was before,

before I gazed into the ocean of your fiery, gentle, irresistibly enticing eyes …

life, love, & sweetly aching blues …

caught red-handed,

stealing moments,

a mere nanosecond,

of hastily borrowed time …

I stand accused,

of a past,

pockmarked by shrapnel skidding off the many alleyways of life …

I plead guilty,

naked and stripped bare,

engaged in a duel with destiny and time,

wasting,

&

wasting away,

scribbling verses in the sand,

devoid of an iota of life’s maddening,

&

Irresistibly seductive rhyme …

Choosing to be Human…

We may choose,

to trudge down life’s pathways alone,

barricading our fragile hearts,

behind ramparts of stone…

We may choose,

to stow our emotions away,

shielding our weary souls,

from the promises of a new day …

We may choose,

to never be hurt again,

safely enveloping our fatigued selves,

tucked away from loves’ pleasures and its pain …

or,

we may choose to be human,

leaping into the cauldron of countless unborn tomorrows,

inviting loves’ soothing balm,

and perhaps,

caressing  away a few of our lonesome sorrows …

and so,

we shall choose to be human,

lowering the defences hewn from bitter experiences pummelled with pain,

as we welcome love into the deepest recesses of our being,

nourishing each other while gently letting go of yesteryears’ stinging pain. 

caressing the seductively swaying marmalade roses,

teasing the stealthily approaching morn,

the smell of you lingers,

on,

and on,

as I lie awake and allow my vagabond thoughts to wander,

to the thoughts of you, seducing my soul entire,

as I sat,

and as I basked,

intoxicated,
teased,
raging,
transfixed,

and warmed,

by the healing glow,

that embraces your being entire …

Chocolatey Dreams…

under a breath of dark chocolatey desire,

the furnace re-ignites dormant dreams.

Dreams dreamed,

basking in a warm cocooned glow,

as you so effortlessly,

set my soul so scorchingly afire…

Madiba (1918 – 2013)

Madiba.

( 1918 – 2013 )

Madiba, you are resting now.

Madiba, you have joined the ancestors.

Madiba, you are with your comrades.

Madiba, you are with us.

Madiba, you are within us.

Madiba, you live!

Madiba lives!

He lives!

He lives!

He lives…

image

For. Our Father, Nelson Mandela

For Madiba
(1918 – 2013)

And Just When I Felt Lost…

,,,again,

when i feared that you were slipping away

i feared more for myself, in truth I say, than for you.

again…

you came back to us

again…

your light shone, ablaze

reaching inside of me with the warmth of your dignity

with your infinite gentleness

with your effortless peace

with all that made you, you

again…

soothing me as you soothed a nation

and a people, and people everywhere

of every hue

and of every creed

and of the human spirit itself

again…

you gave of yourself

again…

you breathed my fears away

you embraced me as you have always done

again…

you made me cry

weeping tears of joy for you

for your light to shine on through

again…

you shined so brightly

as I basked in your warmth of you being you

again…

you cradled my shaken being in your hands, lined with age and with wisdom and with a pureness so bright

that just knowing that you were finally home, smiling that fatherly smile of yours

was enough for me, to slip into the waiting arms of this warm and joyous night

and again…

you came back to me on this night

and just knowing that you are with me

is enough now, for within me, you will reside forever more

just knowing that you are resting, finally

fills me with the biting grief of parting

and with the peace and the joy that has been your gift to me, and to us, one and all

shaking me to my very core

as you have selflessly done

throughout all our lives, and on countless occasions before

He is home!

You are home!

and

i am home with you

as your light of life continues to shine

now and forever

warm and dignified and forever true!

Viva Nelson Rolihlala ‘Madiba’ Mandela Viva!

My Poetry Recital

Rolling and Rambling…

(for my heroes – Woody Guthrie,Huddie ‘Leadbelly’ Ledbetter, and Pete Seeger)

Rolling along the meandering pathways of half-torn memory,

Rambling through the deserted highways of jagged doubt,

Rolling and rambling,

along and alone,

I’ve seen the hounds of hunger,

I’ve heard the howls of prejudice,

I’ve felt the dull-edged stiletto of need,

Rolling and rambling,

I’ve tasted the sweet waters of unquenchable thirst,

I’ve been thrown to the wolves of endless war,

Rolling and rambling,

walking and talking,

with a man in whose eyes, I saw the depths of the sea,

with a woman who laughed through her tears,

Rambling and rolling,

here, there, everywhere,

searching for that elusive anchor,

that may unshackle this vagabond heart,

Rambling and rolling,

searching for that elusive anchor,

to rest finally,

and gaze upon the echoes of pain,

as they silently depart,

rambling and rolling…

An Untitled Scribble

An Untitled Scribble…

The leaden streets that I have roamed,

call out to me from time to time,

questioning me,
as I crawl on my knees,

blinded by the garish ostentation on display,

deafened by the raucous cackle of the crowd,

my mouth sewn shut,

while a million tongues wag,

I am tired,

exhausted,

as I continue to drag,

this husk of a man,
broken and torn,

while,

dreading phantom horrors,

the morrow may spawn.

Wrestling Fragmented Memories

Wrestling fragmented memories as they scurry away,

into the broken arms of a fate that scoffs at the dying of this day…

All these scribbled words left to rot under a bleeding moon,

sweeping the emptiness into the fabric of a night so bitterly hewn…

Teasing tomorrows tantalise and tempt,

down alleys of silently breathing contempt…

I stand alone, pummelled by destiny’s torrential rain,

laughing at the insanity that has kept me sane…

I look all around me, and my unseeing eyes behold,

a billion shattered souls left out in the numbing cold…

So walk with me, for a while,

let us leave this place of pain with a weary smile…

We will walk these dead streets hand in hand,

we may be fractured, but together we will always stand…

With you by my side, I banish the hurt, the pain, the tears,

and I smile, as I bid a long, overdue adieu,

to all my desolate years,

and all my paralysing fears.

The Mask of the Clown

The Mask of the Clown…

I walk alone,
eluding plastic laughs,

lost in the cashmere vacuum of designer scarves.

I walk alone,
wearing the mask of the clown,

flailing in the maelstrom of empty words as I mutely drown.

I walk alone,
my smiles are all fake,

ever fearful that this cocooned heart may shatter and break.

I walk alone,
so please don’t believe the words I utter,

meaningless bits of flotsam racing down this hollow street’s gutter.

I walk alone,
always on the outside, looking in,

ever vigilant that my soul may be battered right through my thickened skin.

I walk alone,
wearing my many masks of the foolish clown,

exposing my heart to the scalpel of the world as it kicks me down.

I walk alone, yes,

yet,

I refuse to surrender to the scorn of the judgemental frowns.

Yes, I walk alone!

while behind my mask,

I feel the stinging saltiness,

of,

the tears streaking down the unseen cheeks,

of this perennial clown.

My Heart is with You

My Heart is with You…

Far too much has been said,
too many miles have been tread,

it looks like the end of the line,
keep it safe, that old heart of mine…

Walking with Hope

Walking with Hope

I walk with hope,
at long last, I walk with promise,

I no longer crawl,
scurrying between wounded moments,

I stand tall again,
at long last, I sing a peaceful refrain,

sheltered by your love,
I take solace from life’s bitter rain,

comforted by your warmth,
I soar free, high above the empty plain.

I walk with hope,
at long last, I walk with promise,

I stand upright,
feeling the radiance of your gentle light,

and I thank you for taking me in,
I am yours, and your breath spreads life,

deep in my heart, my soul, my mind,
you are the love that I have searched so long to find…

South Africa: Freedom Day April 27 2013

1.

On the 27th day of April in Nineteen Ninety-Four,

Freedom was won, at long last.

The battles were many, the foe brutal,

Apartheid tore our southern tip of the continent of Africa apart,

it’s notions of racial-superiority,

its religious fundamentalism,

its fascist tendencies,

its beastly nature,

ripped the flesh off the skin of our collective selves,

but resistance to tyranny has always been a basic human aspiration,

and so resistance flourished.

2.

Ordinary folk,

school-teachers and machinists,

nurses and poets,

labourers and engineers,

lawyers and students,

resisted!

We remember you today,

as a copper African sun shines bright this Saturday morning in April of Two-Thousand and Thirteen,

we honour you, who fought,

Comrades all –

Walter Sisulu,

Nelson Mandela,

Joe Slovo,

Ahmed Kathrada,

Bram Fischer,

Steve Biko,

Solomon Mahlangu,

Vuyisile Mini,

Denis Goldberg,

and many many more,

those we know and love,

and those whose bones have now settled in our rich African soil,

those who died,

those who were executed,

those who were shot,

those who were tortured,

those who were killed,

and the countless who are still tortured today by the swords of memory,

the emotional and psychological torture,

that still rains down on the valiant ones and their families.

Families!

Families fractured, broken and scattered throughout the world,

fragments of a sister’s laugh, a daughter’s smile,
bite as harshly into the soul as did Apartheid’s cruel lashes of violence.

So many died, too many died,

and I remember them,

Dulcie September – Assassinated in Paris

Steve Biko – Tortured and Murdered in South Africa

Solomon Mahlangu – Hanged by the Apartheid State

Ahmed Timol – Tortured and Murdered

Bram Fischer – Died in Prison

Hector Petersen – Shot in Soweto ’76

David Webster – Killed

and many many more,

their blood flowing into the soil of our ancestors,

our country, our South Africa,

for all South Africans,

Black and white and brown and all the shades of humanity’s mosaic.

3.

Now we reflect,

now we must dissect,

the fruits of freedom,

thus far,
much has been achieved,

yet,

the struggles continue,

for employment,

health-care for all,

shelter and housing for all,

and my compatriots have earned it,

they have stewed in the mines,

deep beneath the soil,

for shiny metals and glittering glass.

The revolution is a work-in-progress,

true liberation shall be economic liberation,

where each and every South African,

can walk the land of our ancestors,

truly free.

We SHALL overcome!

Amandla!

Mayibuye-i-Afrika!

The Struggles Continue, Comrades…

work in progress. like life

She winked, and smiling with her eyes,
kissed my parched lips,

I could not return her kiss,

and though the years have spun their cobwebs,

fashioning vacuums out of forgotten dreams,

It is that kiss that I most miss.

Tonight, I lie awake,
lathered in layered memories,

of love lost, and of love gained,

of open skies,
and of rains crashing through my weak rhymes,

that have strained,
across the vast emptiness,

seeking absolution,
for my emotional crimes…

(This Scribble is a Work in Progress. Just Like Life)

The Nearest Exit

The Exit …

… discarding memories,
suffocating in nostalgia’s throttling grip,

I flee, moment by moment,
away from the now,

seeking, yearning,

chasing phantom clouds of promise,

coveting shrouded whispers of hope,

seducing empty vessels of belonging,

I flee, moment by moment,
away from the now,

seeking, yearning,

lost, alone, torn,

slowly crawling to the nearest exit

The Slothful Musings of an Indicted Leech …

… I suck. Simply put, I suck.

Attaching my slimy being,

surreptitiously clingy,
nauseatingly smooth,
ingratiatingly insidious,

onto warm sources of sustenance.

I suck, I leech, I drain,

the elements of good-nature,

turning smiles into profitable ventures,

sucking, leeching, draining,

the beings I encounter,

suctioned cups of guilt,
of predatory precision,
surgical frigidness,
clinical intent,

sucking, leeching, draining,

till fattened,

bulging with burgeoning gains,

flush with siphoned-off goodwill,

bloated by hubris,

slipping away,

slithering into my den,

creeping on borrowed legs,

seeing with donated eyes,

cloaked in spurious fabric,

I leech, I suck.

Self-pity my only refrain,

flushing what is left of a soul,

down,

into the welcoming drain.

My Wishes are Simple

My Wishes are Simple

My wishes are simple,
my desires few,

to gaze upon an ocean,
and marvel at a solitary drop of dew.

My wishes are simple,
my dreams not too grand,

to feel the waves teasing my tired feet,
with no footprints left in the cool, wet sand.

My wishes are simple,
my thoughts serenely gentle, calm,

my heart resting beneath a swaying palm,

healing my being, caressed by nature’s soothing balm.

The Beach of Promises

The Beach of Promises

1.

Fingers entwined, barely touching,
turquoise waters teasing your dancing toes,

strolling along that serene deserted beach,
our promised dreams within aching reach.

2.

Hands clasped, holding on,
sea-breezes tickling the nape of your neck

walking together, alone, vowing to never breach,
the dreams dreamed on that faraway velvet beach.

3.

Hands in my pockets, alone,
traces of you linger, teasing,

lost in my scribbles, your memory fading out of reach,

my thoughts ablaze, now and then,
catching a whiff of your fragrance,

wafting through alleyways of nostalgia,
your hand in mine on our pristine beach.

Your Whisper

You whispered in my ear,

a breathy secret, hushed.

 

“I love you”, you murmured.

 

I said nothing,

lost, in your arms,

I found a home. At last.

 

“I love you”, you said,

I said nothing,

lost in my thoughts,

I found peace. At last.

 

“I love you”, you said,

words failed me then.

 

They still do

Where Wild Violets Grow

Where Wild Violets Grow

Scribbling these verses,
caressing your bare back,
simple rhymes,
flowing from my fingertips.

Scribbling verses,
sprinkling odes to fragrant promises,
your smile lightens the burdens,
off my heavy heart.

Scribbling verses,
soaked in countless kisses,
the moonlight waltzing on your skin.

Scribbling verses,
feeling you,
your love never ceases to flow,

through the streams of my mind,
to a place of our own,
where wild violets grow.

The Nameless

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Slipping through the sieve of history,

the nameless rest.

Not for the nameless are roads renamed, nor monuments built.

Not for the nameless are songs sung, nor ink spilled.

The nameless rest.

Their silent sacrifice,
quiet ordeal,
muted trauma,

remain interred,
amongst their remains.

The nameless rest.

Not for the nameless are doctorates conferred, nor eulogies recited.

Not for the nameless are honours bestowed, nor homages directed.

The nameless rest.

They rest within us,
they walk with us,

in every step that we tread.

They rest within us,
they walk with us,

for their spirit is not dead.

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“Your name is unknown, your deed is immortal”

– inscription at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier WWII in Moscow

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Special thanks to my dearest elder sister Tasneem Nobandla Moolla, whose conversations with me about life as a non-white person growing up in pre and post-Apartheid South Africa prompted me to write this dedication to the countless, nameless South Africans of every colour, whose sacrifices and dedication in the struggle against Apartheid tyranny must never be forgotten.

My sister’s middle name ‘Nobandla’ which is an isiXhosa name and means “she who is of the people” was given by her godfather, Nelson Mandela, my father’s ‘best-man who could not be, as Nelson Mandela was unable to-make it to my parent’s wedding as he was in jail at the time in the old Johannesburg Fort. This was the 31st December 1961.

My Madness, Me

Madness

Confined by this straight-jacket,
strapped in, numb and dumbed,
a washed-out, has-been, also-ran,

body, eyes, the equilibrium of mind,
rattling like stones in an old tin-can.

Still, I am,

I am,

and I am unchained,

my dreams taking flight, soaring,
above these claustrophobic walls,
of synapses, and dungeons of stone,

swooping through green valleys,
taking a detour to savour the joys,

soaked in torrential, evergreen memories,
of a younger man, with passion in his bone.

I am.

My wings unclipped, unshackled, free,

I am, and though I am unable to see,

I am.

At long last,

me.

The Sound of Distant Ankle Bells

Memories of those delicate tinkling bells,
casually fastened around calloused feet,

take hold of my waking moments,

and fling my thoughts back to a distant time,
where folk-songs were heartily sung,
joyful, yet hopelessly out of rhyme.

I barely saw her, a construction labourer perhaps,
hauling bricks, cement, anything, on a scorching Delhi day,
while in the semi-shade of a Gulmohar tree, her infant silently lay.

A cacophony of thoughts such as these swirl around,
yanking me away from the now, to my cow-dung littered childhood playground.

Now, a lifetime of displacement has hushed the jangling chorus of the past,
to a faint trickle of sounds, as distant as an ocean heard inside tiny sea-shells,

and,

I know, that the orchestral nostalgic crescendo, rises, dips, and swells,
as tantalisingly near, yet a world of time away, as were the tinkling of her ankle-bells.

She

She

She smiled, gently,
her warmth infusing me,
with a serene stillness of time.

She settled, slowly,
in my waking thoughts,
a soothing balm of simple joy.

She remains, scribbled,
on the walls of my fractured heart,
memories of happiness that once breathed…

…and is no more

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