Tag Archive: memories


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”




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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

nostalgia …

​nostalgia …

bicycle rides in the deluge of the monsoon, soaked sneakers squealing underfoot, mum’s voice calling us home, sipping cardamom tea, as the streets became a torrential sea.


stealing kisses on the school bus, furtively holding hands, innocence of young love thud-thudding in our hearts, surreptitiously catching a smoke, all trying to look like young humphrey bogarts.


cricket bats oiled with linseed, all patched and chipped, the field across the suburb our home ground, recreating matches heard on the radio, always on the lookout if any girls were around.


youthful joys, young heartbreaking moments, of having to repeat a grade at school, losing the carefully crafted image, of being just so cool.


days of scribbling notes in class, school a world in itself, ties undone in an effort to look tough, ears twisted by our teachers, the principal hauling us off by our necks’ scruff.


those days now a lifetime away, yet persistently and stubbornly etched in our minds, all grown up now with realities harsh, a long way away from looking for that lost cricket ball in the marsh.


old friends lost, not forgotten though, as the decades roll past, finally realising that nothing is meant ever to last.


what would we give to smell the monsoon rains once more, miles and miles away on a distant shore, ah but the memories remain, in the deepest recesses of our hearts’ core …

( inspired by Bruce Springsteen )

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fellow concerteers

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'The Claw' & I (13-2-2011 Jo'burg)

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U2 360 Tour South Africa 2011

for Nelson Mandela and for Dr. Martin Luther King … … … S I N G !

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at Luthuli House, Johannesburg (some years back)

the stuggles continue … …

on forgetting

on forgetting.

these days, these nights,
slicing to the core,
momentary joys, buoys,

merely afloat as beacons,
for lost travellers on the waters,

in flight,

holding on,
onto, clutching close,

hugging,
clichés aside,
holding on for dear life,

while days turn into more nights,

nights into years,

passing us by:

spectators,
ground down on rehashed tales,

finally, feeling the waft of fresh air,

knowing at last, at last,

the past would really, truly,
be the past

for delhi

for delhi
( meri dilli meri jaan)

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in anticipation,
of a touch, a caress,

something tugs, straining,

luring me,
back through the smoky mists of bygone days,

magically transporting me,

my memory,

to monsoon drenched days in ol’ delhi town,

your hand in mine,
hidden in plain sight,

lost in the starburst,
of many a shared diwali night,

summers of,

‘borrowed’ scooters,

gol-gappas in the connaught rain,

bicycle rides to the melas,

rewinding that one song over and over again,

after racing to your home:

(I Just) Died in Your Arms Tonight.

and i have been dying a bit,
little each day,

since you,
& i,

journeyed as we all must,

you, remaining stoic, still,

as

still
i make my own way …

memories of Ma …

memories of Ma …

bygone yesterdays
ploughing through

wisps of time
rekindle memories

of days now long gone
of evenings filled with birdsong

my Ma calling me home

for warm roti
cardamom chai

( sigh )

dreams of you …

in dreams of you

your kisses slip

falling

fluttering as petals do

washing over me
caressing away pain

as gentle as the jo’burg rain

morning tugs at the monnlight,

another night slips and slides,

winding through hazy dreams,

to finally embrace the oncoming tides …

panning through marshes of  twisted roots,

scrounging for a handful of promised truths,

thawing wounds aching afresh,

discarded emotions gnawing into now catatonic flesh …

we walk on, ever on,

fleeing the tumult of yesterdays sorrow,

we walk on, ever on,

thirsting for a glimpse of that liberating tomorrow,

to finally rid the heaving heart of the weight of the past,

content no more with brief, tenuous ceasefires,

but hungering instead for a peace that shall last …

Dreams like Acid Rain …

slithering down the drain,

knots of bygone pain,

emotions disposed off,

to slip away,

like dreams of yesteryear,

washed – up,
wasted,

tracing vanished suns,

tasting like bitter,
acid rain …

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.

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

ctrl. alt. del.

Ctrl. Alt. Del.

Catatonic, I lie,
my emotions frozen,

specks of dust swept beyond the trails,

of nameless pathways that could not be chosen.

Numbed, I stand,
all feeling shattered,

like dandelion seeds adrift in the wind,

shuffling between fragile clouds,

pieces of my being appear carelessly scattered.

Yearning, I wait,
for a new day to dawn,

hustling through crooked bends,

scampering from regret to regret,

frantically stitching together a fabric,

of a life worn down and painlessly torn

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.

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 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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