Tag Archive: mental-health






Racism + Silence = Complicity.



racism stalks the cities, slimy and rotten,

memories of Apartheid, of segregation, so conveniently forgotten.



racism infects the home, reeking and vile,

memories of discrimination, of slavery, bubbling up like bile.



racism must be fought, in words, in thought.



racism must be defeated,

lest the repugnance of its history be repeated.







The 15th of August.

( dedicated to our late mother Zubeida ‘Jubie’ Moolla, and to all the women, the mostly unsung heroines in all the struggles for freedom across the world )

1.

Our mother was born on this auspicious day, in the winter of 1934.

Thirteen years later, also on this auspicious day, in the summer of 1947, India cast off the yoke of colonial oppression.

These dates, though a decade apart are bound together in our family, hewn together by the happenstance of fate.

2.

The threads of the struggle for freedom, the hunger for liberation, the thirst for democracy, the ache of sacrifice, are intertwined.

3.

The valiant freedom fighters faced the brutality of the enemy head-on, staring down the barrels of the imperialists with chins held high, relinquishing the comfort of inaction for the battle for those eternally noble ideals – the struggle against oppression, the quest for human dignity, the emancipation of women, the conviction of being a part of a greater cause in the service of humanity.

4.

The struggle for liberation in South Africa and in India left many martyred souls, many more victims of appalling cruelty, the harrowing pain of families’ torn apart, the parents and children ripped from each other, the savagery of torture, the massacres of the innocents, the decades spent in prison, the years spent in exile.

5.

The names of the martyrs bear witness:

Solomon Mahlangu.
Bhagat Singh.
Ahmed Timol.
Rajguru.
Vuyisile Mini.
Sukhdev.
Steve Biko.
Victoria Mxenge.

Just a few names of the many more who gave up their youth, cruelly executed by the merciless foe.

4.

The torch bearers of the struggles, are forever etched in our minds, always kept close to our hearts, for these were the giants who inspired countless more to join the just cause for universal human dignity.

Their names are legendary:

Nelson Mandela.
Lillian Ngoyi.
Jawaharlal Nehru.
Sarojini Naidu.
Walter Sisulu.
Mahatma Gandhi.
Dorothy Nyembe.
Oliver Tambo.
Charlie Andrews.
Ahmed Kathrada.
Sardar Patel.
Govan Mbeki.
Nana Sita.
Chris Hani.
Aruna Asaf Ali.
Andrew Mlangeni.
Margaret Mncadi.
Sucheta Kriplani.
Ruth First.
Subhash Chandra Bose.
Joe Slovo.
Raymond Mhlaba.

These are but a few of our eternal flames – the flames that shall burn bright in the hearts of all freedom loving people.

5.

Our mother was born into a politically active family. Our grandfather a fierce opponent of racism and sectarianism in all its grotesque forms.

Our mother grew up in this cauldron of political agitation.

Our mother married our father and a daughter and a son were born, while Papa made his way in and out of jail, Mummy was left to tend for the infants, Tasneem and Azad.

Our parents were forced into exile, with their beloved young children left behind in the care of loving maternal grandparents, uncles and aunts.

These are the scars of history.

These are the wounds that never heal.

These are the sacrifices that go unnoticed.

These are the gnawing ache that history often forgets.

These are the experiences of countless mothers and their children.

This is the price paid dearly for the freedom and democracy we share today.

6.

The 15th of August, a day of celebration of freedom in India.

The 15th of August, a day of reflection for our family in South Africa.

Long live the Women’s Movement!

Viva the strength and power of the women!

( dedicated to Zubeida ‘Jubie’ Moolla, and to all the women, the often unsung heroines in all the struggles for freedom across the world )

​War Clouds Gathering







the fear is palpable, sweaty, reeking, stagnant, primal.



the spectre of thermonuclear war, the ravenous vultures circling overhead.


all at the switch of a button.


infantile lunatics at the ready, exchanging taunts, rotten school yard bullies,


while the rest of us, the people, forced to hear the terrorising drivel and spewed vitriol of ad libbed threats,


of the hubris of dictators, whose people starve,


engaged in their machismo, their infantile game, their egos puffed and swaggering, their testosterone fuelled male ugliness putting on an obscene, murderous show.


they have rested easy, ensconced in their grotesque wealth, cocooned and coddled, while countless souls sleep hungry and wanting, while numberless souls slog for minimum wage.


these men are unspeakably dangerous, unhinged, seeing this world of ours as their fiefdom, devoid of humanity, brimming with twisted, smug arrogance.


we the people, can not, should not, and must not sit silent, lest we be complicit by being mute.


we the people, can not, should not, and must not allow our indignation to be squashed.


we the people, have for far too long, been battered blue by the actions of such men, always men, who have rained death and destitution and destruction upon millions.


we the people, can not, should not, and will not, sit quietly on the sidelines, as these men attempt to lead us to the precipice, the brink of horrific suffering for our fellow human beings. 


we the people, can not, should not, and will not allow our voices to be hushed, our collective outrage to be beaten down,


for we are now in the deep, murky waters of hate,


and unless we rise as one,


we doom ourselves to choke, gag, and drown.










​In your Eyes #6







your light blazed bright,



a comet slicing through the moonless night,



enveloped by your light, dimming the pangs of my plight,



i found my blue open skies,



in your eyes.








Today we rise.


No more hiding in the shadows,


of culture,

creed,

tradition.




No more silent complicity,

disingenuous arguments,

hypocritical pretences,

shabby excuses for the actions of men,



brutal,
vulgar,
coarse,
obscene,
murderous,
abusive men.




Today, we rise,

as one.




Today the change starts,

with me,

within me.




With you.

Within you.




Today WE Rise!








In your Eyes #5




clasping onto hope,


fragile strands of sanity dispelling unseen phantoms,


lost amongst the suffocating crowd,


cloaked in your invisible shroud,


fortitude restraining you from crying out loud,


still your fire rages, crackling embers testament to your dignity,


your insolent defiance, ever steely, seeing through the lies,


your quiet strength resting deep,


in your eyes.



​life, hope, and the now.




navigating the path ahead, negotiating the thorns scattering the cold bleak ground,


we walk oblivious of the ravages of tomorrow, not knowing the catapults of bliss and of sorrow,


seeking only peace and contentment here in this torrid realm, adrift at times on waters choppy, hands tied far away from the helm,


yet and still, hope breathes in, the soot of departed yesterdays, seeking evermore the promise of uncharted pathways,


yes, hope breathes, infusing fresh air banishing the stale putrid stench,


urging us ever onwards, imploring us to grab each day, from the detritus of the past,


stilling the mind,


now,


today.







1.

Rain on parched earth, the rejuvenation of life,

nature showering her realm with promise.

Rain falling, infusing the rebirth of dusty leaves,

nourishing the roots of thirsty trees.

The rains remind me of you, the earthy aroma replenishing the day,

your earthiness firmly rooted, revelling in the trees that in the rains sway.

2.

The rains are much akin to you, as I imbibe renewed hope from your cauldron of giving.

The rains are much akin to you, as I breathe again, for you make each day worth living.




clasping onto hope,


fragile strands of sanity dispelling unseen phantoms,

lost amongst the suffocating crowd,


cloaked in your invisible shroud,

fortitude restraining you from crying out loud,



still your fire rages, 



crackling embers testament to your dignity,

your insolent defiance, ever steely, seeing through the lies,



your quiet strength resting deep,



in your eyes.




​In your Eyes #4





in your eyes, i see,

desolation flee,


in your eyes, i know,

is a humanity that shall always flourish, ever grow,


in your eyes, i see, a fiery need, passion ablaze, mirth set free,


in your eyes, is where i wish to be.






( for dear friend Nandita )





May your smile never fade,

may you always be as you are now,


warm and kind,


true and filled with the generosity of spirit that defines you,


may your dreams soar into the boundless open skies,


and may the benevolent fingertips of time and of fate,


brush away any tears that should fall from your gentlest eyes.



May you forever stand tall,

may your head always be held high,


with stoic dignity.



May your past experiences be the stepping-stones that mark your path ahead,


may your heart be your guide,


your blazing beacon of wildly enthusiastic hope,


may your wishes be simple,

and may they come to be,


filling your life and your moments,


with joyous bliss,
where you truly feel free.



Free of the weight of yesterday,

free of gnawing doubt,


and may your being be infused,

with the softest serendipity,


so that you may spread your arms,


and to the heavens shout,


I am free,


I am me,


at long last,

I am standing tall,

never again to bow,

or to fall on bended knee.



This is a wish both simple yet elusive,


a wish that only you can make true,


by simply being,


the kind, warm,


gentle person,

that is you







The flying machine, a harbinger of death, flew across oceans, a beast in the morning calm.


The Enola Gay*, and Little Boy** silently sliced the skies, roaring ever closer to ground zero.


Hiroshima bustled, the sound of birds, of children, of mothers preparing breakfast, of fathers shaving their one day old stubbles.


Dogs barked, cats tucked themselves in corners, children skipped, vegetable stands ploughed the streets.


The Enola Gay flew nearer.


Hiroshima’s people oblivious of the hell that awaited them, the fires of apocalypse that would soon consume them, laughed and quarrelled and worked and haggled the price of the fresh morning fruit.


It was at 8:15 AM, the metallic beast prowling above released Little Boy.


Little Boy fell, down towards the city, to fracture its people, in the hubbub of early morning.


The Atomic Bomb exploded, its light blotting out the morning sun, its deafening roar bursting eardrums.


The payload was delivered.


The Generals at Command Centre were triumphant.


The Enola Gay flew away, leaving a mushroom cloud rising higher and higher as it rained down unspeakable horrors, indescribable destruction.


It has been said that in Hiroshima that day, and in the weeks and months that followed, the living envied the dead, their skin peeling off as they roamed their city, their home, consumed by the sickening howls of pain from every quarter.


Little Boy exploded as it fell, releasing a heat that burnt people, searing their shadows into walls, preserved till today, a ghastly reminder of that savagery that befell all.


Radiation from the Bomb creeped into flesh, scorching innumerable innocents, as nuclear ash fell all around.


Man had created a weapon of such savagery, such indifferent brutality, a bringer of horrors, grotesque and merciless.


Man had used the weapon, not once, but twice, for three days later Fat Man*** was unleashed on Nagasaki.


I could write on, attempting to describe the indescribable horrors that rained down on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


I could write on, about the deformed babies being born, decades after those two days in early August of 1945.


I could write on, about the inhumanity man visited upon fellow human beings.


I could write on, about the stockpiles of nuclear weapons – tens of thousands of bombs – far, far more powerful than those that reduced Hiroshima and Nagasaki to radioactive ash.


I could write on, about the nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons housed in the silos of those who preach peace, of those who crow on about democracy, of those who let their people starve while testing the means to carry these weapons of hell across oceans.


I could write on, about the hypocrisy, the money spent on machines of destruction, as most humans of this world go hungry each night and day.


I could write on, and on, and on.


But what more can anyone say, as the wailing, the shrieking screams of the victims echo across time,


till today.



         _________

* Enola Gay – the plane that carried the Atomic Bomb.


** Little Boy – the code name for the Atomic Bomb dropped on Hiroshima.


*** Fat Man – the code name for the Atomic Bomb dropped on Nagasaki on August 9th, 1945.











in your eyes,

spices swirl, dark chocolates whirl,


awake beside you,

your breath against mine,


waiting, as you sleep,

for your eyelashes to unfurl.






In your Eyes #2

in your eyes, a maelstrom of emotion,


in your eyes, whirlpools of desire,


beckoning, inviting me to plunge, into the celestial waters,


of your eyes

In your Eyes #1

1.
As another day recedes,
enveloped under the shawl of night,
allow me to drown,

in your eyes.

Moments fleeting,

fickle hands of time unseeing,
allow me to seek solace,

in your eyes.

The trodden path littered with each shard,
regrets this heart wishes to discard,
so allow me to seek refuge,

in your eyes.

I have walked through twisting boulevards of life,
seeking simple joy, away from desolation, strife,
so allow me to find peace,

in your eyes.

2.

In your eyes,
i find,

the gentleness left behind,
away from superficial smiles,
away from fatigue of the walked mile.

In your eyes,
i feel,

at home at long last,
your love caressing away the restlessness of the past,
stepping out of the shadows to embrace pure contentment,
though a bit player,
in your life’s theatrical cast.

In your eyes,
i touch,

the flame of promise radiating through your loving light,
that is why,

i no longer dread,
the vacuum of encroaching night.

hushed desires





when i’m broken


torn,

with
all my conceit,

neatly
shorn.

perhaps
then she’ll know,

my desires stifled,
muted,

hushed, shushed,

though still,
as still as innocence,

reborn.

the girl in the beret

the girl with the beret on the bus … … …

i saw at the bus-stop on a bitterly cold winter morning, her beret tilted to the side.

we exchanged polite smiles and furtive glances, till along came our ride.

we sat across each other and soon we spoke, breaking the ice with talk of the ice battering our bones.

we spoke of the coldness around us, the frigid souls we’d encounter, and we spoke of life’s pathways and where we were headed.

thus began our short morning ritual, a bus ride with a stranger, not knowing anything about the other except our names.

we often laughed about duelling parents, about the weight we felt we had to carry, the seemingly heavy burdens wracking our selves.

our talks were blisteringly true, as happens at times with strangers, yet we opened ourselves up to each other, trustful of the depths in our eyes.

we spoke of earning a wage, paying the bills, discarding the frills, we spent hours in those short-haul trips baring our souls to each other.

she was to me the girl with the beret, fierce yet gentle, knowing and still wanting to know, as was I on those mornings so long ago.

we spoke of lovers lost, of lost loves, of our ache for something tangible, something less gaudy, something more true.

I showed her my scars, she showed me hers, a lifetime of half-promises built on mounds of dust, as we spoke of escape, into each others dreamscapes.

there was nothing romantic about us, nothing but truth distilled, an understanding that someone out there in this cold, cold world understands, though never judges.

our conversations churned into the butter of each morning, easing the coming day, and we smiled knowing no one else knew us except ourselves.

her eyes danced with a fire, when sharing her insanity, and she said my eyes raged as well, embracing the craziness of it all.

then came that fateful day when she was there no more, and I felt the icy chills deep in my bare bones.

I often think of her, at another bus-stop, her beret tilted just slight, waiting still for the ride in the morning chill.

I think of her often, and I know that I always will … … …

vagabond selves 





vagabond selves.





left behind, moulting, shedding the many selves eroding fast,


wading through murky waters, cleansing the detritus of yesteryears past,


to tend the wounds of today, stinging at the edges, baring scars that for eons last.




knee deep in the choices we have made, bogged down in the quicksand of our banal days,


looking back at moments lost, caged within straightjackets of the now, wishing at times we had chosen different ways,


there is no going back, there is only the now and tomorrows yet to unfurl, feelings fleeting, grasping hope that never stays.




where do we keep our vagabond selves, attempting honest introspection as memory into the past delves,


forever settling inert, on dusty books never read, as our fingers trace paths, along neglected bookshelves.







your fingers, and mine




your fingers, mine,


sketching dreams,

scribbling hopes.



my fingers, yours,


holding back,

resistant,


knowing the path ahead is littered with thorns.



oblivious, yet somehow knowing,


the journey must go on,


alone at times, but never lonely,


not with you by my side,


evoking a belonging felt true and deep,




inside.



my self-righteous scribble



my self-righteous scribble.



1.


windswept winters, numbing the soul, walking through this life, sidestepping many a pothole,



dreams dreamt when innocent and young, now being  marched to the gallows, to be mutely hung,



remember those moments, freely soaring across the azure sky, to the now where the death march plods on, to be interred in the cold ground to lie,



all those sentiments, visions of joy and peace, now scarred by reality, shorn repeatedly off like used up fleece,



where did those noble aspirations scatter, idealistic principles that burned bright, now seem hardly at all to matter,



why did we end up the way we are, mere husks, bodies regurgitating the daily charade, silent amongst the hoopla of this deadened parade,



finding a job, then hanging onto it for dear life, attempts at paying the bills, settling the never ending rent, trampling over others, till consciences are dumbed down and irretrievably bent,



saving up for retirement, for those fortunate few who can, walking the streets of shame, flinging a few coins in someones hollow tin can,



time flies by, as we hop from work to home, surrendering the humanity once cherished, once felt so deep, only to collapse inebriated, into a dreamless sleep.



2.



can we ever recover that pristine innocence, that belief in a world less cruel, while over flutes of champagne, we guzzle and drool,



are we so lost within ourselves that we no longer give a damn, living in our cocoons, a sterile, frigid sham,



where have our consciences hurried away to, leaving us empty, devoid of the truths we once firmly held, while into the plastic world around us, we have begun to meld,



are we so far gone that we absolve our consciences once a month or two, scribbling cheques to greenpeace and amnesty international too,



both worthy causes if truth be told, who wouldn’t need our charity if weapons of war were not manufactured, bought and sold,



how have we come to this place, where the weak are belittled, while the greed of the 1% is coveted, while humane values lie in cupboards, empty and closeted,



this meagre verse could go on, spilling words onto paper, mere self-righteous rhymes,



soon to be forgotten, as i scurry on, for ever more dollars, nickels, and dimes.





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