Tag Archive: India


A Child of War

 
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,

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

as she lies bleeding,

she sees people all around thick 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,

for even in death she bleeds some more,

shrapnel wedged in her torn stomach,

stealing 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,

aleppo still,

gaza too.
 

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 … …

‘normal’

​they said she was opinionated, they said that she was loud,

they said she was too feisty, less prone to being a ‘normal’ woman, to listen and to keep her views to herself, they said she was too independent, less ladylike, far too manly.

I loved her because she was opinionated, loud,

I loved her for being feisty, less prone to being a ‘normal’ woman, to speak her mind and to shout her views to the world, I loved her for her independence, for who she was.

she was fierce, not macho, strong not manly,

I loved her for all of that and more … … …

mired in the bog … … …

​mired in the bog, unseeing eyes staring into the fog,

what becomes of a soul so filled with strife, that all of life, seems with tension rife,

what becomes of the soul that yearns to be whole, clawing at the freshly dug hole, a tomb of dreams torn apart, the cemetery of joys meant only to depart,

what becomes of the heart, swirling in the maelstrom of regret, cursed by the burdens of not being able to forget,

what becomes of the man, desolate and empty, devoid of yearning, as day turns to night, and night to day,

what becomes of it all, when hope scurries away … … …

you and i

​waiting for you, with quickening pulse,

desirous, anticipating the brush of your lips against mine,

kiss me deeply, i shall do the same,

today, and in our tomorrows yet to be teased out of time … … 

​weathering storms of fate, walking boulevards smooth as slate,

the hurt remains, the pain jabs, the emptiness sheaths,

while in the corner the beast of apathy growls, pants, and breathes … … …

​walking on shattered splinters, crushed glass piercing my soul,

your tender touch offers respite from the pain, freeing my soul,

to be once again,

whole … … …

Veils

Embroidered smiles, chiselled conversations,

banal, hollow,

the cacophony of practised apathy,
smothering,
whispers of the forgotten,

as smiles abound,

with coffee and croissants 

Searching,

in the debris of the past,
scraps of casually discarded emotion.

Searching,

in hastily trashed yesterdays,
an inkling of moments flung away.

Searching,

in heaps of rubbished words,
that tiresome sigh of defeated thought.

Searching,

in the layers of moulted skin
the wilting self that once was true.

Searching,

in the reflections between the ripples,
for the whispered pangs of roaring desire.

Searching,

in the blank eyes streaming endlessly,
an echo of the faintest sigh of new life.

Searching … … …

love | found

​hold me tight, she said, let us leave the cruel fates behind,

we embraced, clinging onto a love once too rare to find … … …

life turns … … …

​life turns, a coiled  tightening spring,

shattering souls, tormenting hearts,

life turns,

and all vows do hollow ring … … …

😼

​Vincent & Ludwig #8




Vincent stared at the early evening sky.


Ludwig looked at his friend.


“why do we feel so alone, dear Ludwig, just look at this canvas, it bathes us, blankets us, and is filled with flashes of light” said Vincent.


“flashes of light, soaring like an orchestral crescendo, a blanket shared with a friend, yes, and yet, my dear Vincent, i feel desolate”, whispered Ludwig.


“do you see the empty space between the flashes of light, my friend, that space is what your music colours”, Vincent said.


Ludwig looked up, smiling ” yes, the space your colours infuse with hope, with every stroke of your brush, hope for those caught in all the empty spaces”.


“hope for us all, in each of our very own, empty spaces, yes”, Vincent smiled at his friend.


“empty spaces, but infused with colours, music, and hope”, whispered Ludwig, his smile broadening.


“hope”.


“hope”.

 

​Vincent & Ludwig #5

“i paint starry nights, Ludwig, to help me forget each torrid day”

“and i compose odes to joy, Vincent, to keep pain at bay”

“we are alike, you and i, dear Ludwig”, Vincent says as he sketches a smile

“yes Vincent, we are alike, our tattered shoes yet to carry us across so many a mile”

​she told me that she cried a lot, she said there is a hole in her heart, she said this vacuum she could not plug, is the force that is tearing me apart.


and when i asked her what it was that plagued her so,


she said not casting out love, not losing that sliver of hope,


of never letting go of the imprint of love, of always holding on to you … … …

evening falls

evening falls,

thoughts of her swirl,

caressing each waking breath,

in the shade of her hair, gently rolling in the breeze,

beginning softly to unfurl. 

evening falls,

thoughts of her murmur within my being,

as she remains quiet,

as she remains unseen … …

​feathery kisses, caressing air, spring scents on the breeze, the taste of salt on skin,


disjointed memories,


ravaging the soul, mangling the heart,


ripping my very being, tearing it all, bit by bit, estranged … apart

Greater Kailash S – Block, New Delhi early 1970s

walking through tombs … … …

bicycle rides to ancient tombs, stealthily traversing the bygone years,

those days and nights of delhi long ago, pluck heartstrings, a sitar being tuned, the cricket matches in the park, fetching the ball from monuments to long dead sultans,

feasting on a masala-dosa, my bike chained to the rusty pole next to the paan-wallah,

downing numberless cups of cardamom chai, in between home and school, bunking classes to catch the one song in a bollywood flick, sitting amongst the people, singing along in days and nights that used to be so full, so long,

now just a fading memory, of diwalis at the kumars, and eid feasts at home, intermingling with splashes of holi colour,

a synthesis of cultures, of faiths, of friends transcending caste and creed,

a delhite whistling beatles’ songs,

ah yes, nostalgia that sly deceiver,

be mine again, come to me in rain-swept monsoon nights, lit by a million diyas of softly flickering lights,

wear your kaleidoscope dress,

rekindling memories, stay with me, my eternal evergreen seductive mistress … … …

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

15th August 1947

15th August 1947

1.

the multitudes rose,
the shackles of colonial rule was at an end,

on this 15th day of August in 1947,

the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ shook off the yoke of the British Raj,

India was free!

2.

today we reflect,
today we pause,

to honour the countless sons and daughters who so valiantly gave their lives so that others could be free,

today,

on this 15th day of August in 2015,

we know the battles that lie ahead,

we acknowledge the wars still to be waged,

not against foreign domination,

no,

today our battles are closer to home,

today our struggle is to keep the collective conscience of humanity alive,

so that we all may thrive,

in a world less cruel,
less violent,
less iniquitous,

more just,
more humane,

more imbued with the simplest of radical propositions:

that we are all one race,
the human race,

that we are not free when others are still flinging stones at metallic beasts,

that we are not free when women are trapped in the clutches of misogny,

that we may never be truly free,

till we open our eyes,

and stop
and think

and see,

the multitudes hungering for a slice of bread,

the unwashed trying against tremendous odds to simply survive,

I am not free,
the chains still tightly bound,

until that day,

when hunger,
deprivation,
hopelessness,

are consigned to the trashcan of history,

and only then,
and only on that day,

when there isnt a hungry child,

to be found,

may we trumpet our victories,

and only then,
and only on that day,

may we all,
proclaim,

that finally,

we are finally,

truly free …

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