I find it insulting.
You cannot forever draw
Fake curtains to hide me,
There is no danger of exposure;
One day, an awakened one,
Will recognize and play with me,
Wipe away my scowl
And make me laugh and smile
Then brightness will surround me
As never before.
Do not ask me to draw a line,
Thick or slender,
On the bare ground where I stand;
I have gained a preferment
I keep my feet firmly grounded.
My finger is sore from pointing out
The faintest of dark spots
Appearing on the vast canvas called the Sky;
I cannot teach you all the time;
Do not tire me anymore;
Let me live, my friend,
Make peace with that which makes you.
*You Left Me
You left me all of a sudden
You played harsh with me
I shall not complain
But tell me
Why did you leave behind
Many proofs of your stay
All those fond memories of you
I cannot now bear
How can I live with them without you?
I am in those memories
How can I live without me?
Heard pleasing words,
Old laughter ring,
Tears flow down.
On the window-sill
Play bright sunrays,
And the rain falls.
The doors are locked,
Who dare enters
*After The Storm
I will not tell you not to disturb the calm,
It does subsist after the storm has passed;
The nights are spent sleeplessly loaded with fears
In the wake of the uproar raised by the clouds.
The calm that is here once the rain has ceased
Deceives and is dangerously disarming;
It can strangulate the will to act again upon
The mind’s dictates and the heart’s intents.
They were still there
Where I left them last night,
My giveaways -
My failed hopes,
Unrealized dreams and
Not so bright plans
I believed would work
For a better tomorrow.
I had kept in mind
*Gods Do Not Die
It is the middle of summer,
Water is already scarce,
The land is bone dry,
It has not rained yet,
The sun is ablaze.
‘Has Dumuzid died?’
I heard someone inquire.
It was a voice
From the remote past
How could I hear that voice?
I thought gods do not die
Dumuzid could not die.
The world has not changed,
Our thoughts remain unchanged,
The changes remain etched in my genes.
The rains will come,
The land will regain fertility,
The farmers will sow seeds,
No one will die of hunger.
I loved her.
I did not refuse her offer.
She asked me to walk beside her
Down her memory lanes
That she had often tread alone.
I matched my steps with hers,
Watched her fondle and cajole
Each word, phrase and comma
That gave shape to her memories
And made her rich
In thought and speech.
I saw many shapes float by
They did not stop for me,
They did not know me.
In silence, I walked alongside,
Time and again
Looked at her beautiful face, excited eyes
And quivering lips
That is a part of me and
Made me live.
I was happy enough.
*Moment Of Truth
I would not have lied
To save my skin
Had I not relied on
Promising comfort and ease.
I did loosen the strings
That tied my hopes and wishes and
Allowed my dreams to run away,
This act I had denied.
We could not have found each other
Chasing the same goals
Had we not made
Our dreams light and bright.
Not finding you
I would have died.
The lid vibrates,
It is not music,
The fire burns fiercely.
The heat intense
Water in the cauldron
The steam spreads,
Clouds will gather soon,
I shall watch the sky,
Not let doubts
That will rain
I must stay dry
Stoking the fire
That heats the cauldron.
*Where are you?
The smell of rain
Falling on dry earth
Says the monsoon
Is almost here
I want to see you
Where are you?
This is your seat
In the shade of a tree
On an old bench
That is warm and wet
It remembers you
Where are you?
The gentle wind
Across the green glade
In search of you
Where are you?
Friendless I am
Very lonely and sad
There is no one here
To know about
My love for you
Where are you?
My eyes are tired
They are dry and sore
They have seen thru’ light
And seen thru’ dark
They see you not
Where are you?
I have secured the key
That opens the door
To sublime joy;
While I enjoy
I need not leave my body
Contented and happy
I sit at the window
Overlooking the river
That guided me
Watch the Ganga flow unhindered
Towards the Bay
Telling my story.
I must pick up my pen
To write an ode in its praise;
Through simple words
My newfound joy
That I cannot otherwise share
I am the water
Reflecting the sky
Lighted or dark
Like a stream
Over rocks and sand
I do not call
I do not wait
For those who need me
Not even for help
When I lose myself
In other streams
*My Old Teacher
He was my old teacher,
That greyed and bent
Seen across the street,
At school, he was
Free to pamper and scold us
We, his students,
All grown up now,
Still, hold him in awe but
Never feared him,
Far too many things,
He could read our minds.
*Locked For The Night
Adjoining the river-front
At the end of a long corridor
There is a room, a very dark room
Even the light does not penetrate
I am in that room locked for the night
Given a sheet of paper and a pen
After let out to write
What I thought I could.
As did a cricket call its mate
During the night
I also heard the river flow seawards
No one sang a lullaby,
No one cried for help
Snored and snored on loudly
Throughout the night.
I unfolded the sheet of paper
Tested the pen but could not write
Other than about the delicious aroma
And the bitterness of coffee
Nothing else came to my mind
I knew I had spent a peaceful night
Immersed in a deep, dreamless sleep
I was happy
About that, I need not write.
*Mirrors Do Not Lie
The mirror on my wall it does not lie,
It shows people as real as they are;
Their appearance and the impact of their wavering moods,
These are reflected as they are along with their chosen injects.
I do ask -
Why am I not the same I see reflected in the mirror?
Why am I that which I do not see at all?
Why does my cognition faculty fail me?
Why do I suddenly become unaware of myself?
Why do I rely upon my memory of past acts and deeds and their unavoidable effects?
Is it to retain the hold on my perch and rest?
Is that how I prepare to know, react, live, breathe, dream and think aloud?
Like the ever glowing sun when not reflected I too do not cease to exist
I continue to hold my ground burnishing my form to confront challenging situations
Do I commit all this while I am that which I do not see at all?
Of course, the mirror does not reflect my thoughts, my emotions, and intents;
It neither speaks nor interacts with me or anyone else
But remains as though waiting to reflect my image to feed my sight and ego
And give me some relief, if I may add;
‘Have we met before?’ He asked
Without raising a crease on his forehead.
I was dumbstruck.
The man I knew for half my life
He refuses to recognize me.
People around me laugh scornfully,
They know him but do not know me.
These four words casually uttered
Made me a stranger in my own world.
Need I seek reasons? I ask.
*The Children Of My Street
At this time of the day
When children gather to play
There is no one in my street
There is no noise heard
No hint of anger or laughter
No names resound
The wind flows by gently
Without moving a leaf
Or raising any dust
Or striking a door
The silence is unbearable
What have I done to earn this quiet!
I am scared
I never asked the children to keep away
Their presence kept me alive
Gave me a reason to breathe
To eat and drink
I shall try to sleep if I can
Tomorrow I shall ask of them
Why did they all abandon me?
Why did they?
*Return Of Haze
The haze of doubt pierced,
In the yonder beyond is visible
Fluttering in the wind
Atop the ever rising forgettable
Pile of errors and omissions,
And of dreams and reflections,
A light-blue scrap of paper
‘I seem to have been here before but when? '
Simultaneously are heard
Above the din of scramble and scuttle
The many voices of the learned and the taught
Crying out loudly in a chorus-
‘This is not my hand;
I have never been here before but why? '
To resolve this issue of ‘when and why'
There is also lingering a twister
That opens up to unveil
Within the folds of over-lapping dimensions
New sights and visions,
More thoughts and understanding,
Which dimensions gradually reveal
The unique singularity of Time
In which the ‘when' and ‘why' do not matter,
Where consistency and natures of involvement
Redundant, and therefore, meaningless,
Have no virtual existence.
Jolted by this revelation
I stand withdrawn and aloof;
As an aberrated onlooker
I am compelled to step back and move away,
Allow things to be as they are,
And quietly watch the slow return of the haze.
*A Candid Comprehension
We remember Him as the cause of this world,
The lone being beyond all thoughts and hearsay,
Vast and great, and all-pervading,
Existing as Truth and Righteousness
(He can never be otherwise known).
We know that we are He, and He is us;
Together we are the world.
It is our ignorance that makes Him seem distant
Though He is knowable and adorable;
By seeking Him, we seek ourselves,
By knowing Him, we find ourselves;
Our will is our might.
Our mind is a mirror, and the associated darkness,
These are His playful projections that do not exist.
*A Deserved Sleep
You will surely wake me up, O Deathless Tide, if you were to break against the rocks comforting me,
Then the noise of the soaring cracking waves will not allow me to sleep till you recede;
I have just gone to sleep to forget my world that has pricked and teased me for a very long time,
It is the same world that includes you and me.
You know my plight, O Time!
I cannot ask the wind to claim the sea opposing my efforts to touch the other side,
I cannot even stall a transfer of the stir raised by any living group;
The amity that once existed between roaming warring hordes did not last,
My falling asleep in the rocky cove is my eager search for the same endearing peace
It is known you cannot guide me or relieve my pain,
But you can spare my perch and let me be in the dreamless sleep of my design;
You too are unable to wish away the generating forces that make you motivated and contribute
And keep the vast sea, your support, and mine, alive, simmering and vigilant;
You deserve a break,
Maybe you need to sleep more than I do.
*A Glimpse Of Old Age
Maybe I am too old to bear the load
Thrust upon me and now impeding me,
That aided by the staff given to me long ago
By those who refuse to see me crawl
I am forced to drag my barren feet
In the dust that’s covering the open ground
Where I am seen playing the game of life
Despite the wrath of seasoned seers
Who had while seeing me take a turn
But ignoring my natural evenness
Proclaimed the virtual end for me
And closed the chapter I could read.
*A Glimpse Of You
Maybe one day we shall meet again
And then clasping your hands in mine
I will feel your love and warmth for me,
Till then I must ride the fierce storm,
Face the fires that burn freely without
And attend to each sound that is heard,
Stare at the mirror-like window-panes
And seek a glimpse of only you
Reflected in some other’s eye.
*Battle of Life
Ever since leaving school, once a week
I have had the same set of friends gather at my place,
While relaxing on the rattan patio chairs
We exchange the same old oft-repeated words
Without knowing their meanings true or fair;
We neither gamble nor speculate,
But we do laugh at the same old sick jokes,
Discuss cricket and examine Modi’s role,
Savour the same dark brown Old Monk,
Devour the reheated spicy tikkas, Shami kababs, and aloo-parathas,
And then, spend the night on the floor stretched covered head to toe
Coming awake only as the Sunday late-morning light silently creeps in;
Such has been our enjoyment of life;
This has been our life of plenty and ease.
There is no reason for us to suffer boredom;
We are always in the process of discovering each other,
We have learnt to keep our jolly good moods revived,
Not waste our smiles and laughter
And rise above pain and tears;
There has been no need to console each other
For we do not hurt anyone,
We do not possess anything more valuable than the air we breathe;
In this manner, my friends and I fight out our battle of life.
Something is bothering me,
I know not what,
But my right thumb continues to twitch,
For no reason whatsoever
My right arm continues to ache.
Reclining against the book-shelf
I try to recollect
The book I had last browsed,
The name of its author and import,
And it’s subject
Not far removed from my world of ideas
And its object
Very near to my heart.
When at night I had called on her
To know about her response
To my overture,
My favourite dream hidden in my eyes
Played the victim and painted me black.
The few blank spaces that are in my mind
Left by stray ill-woven thoughts
They puzzle me and make me seek
Whereas the grass spread on the ground
Still waits for the early dew to dry.
Does this bother me, I ask?
You have come,
To hold me close
To take me far away
Beyond the clouds
To a fearless world
Of ample love and care,
Trusting our love,
I shall go with you
In your arms
Smelling your nearness
Dreaming about you,
I heard his call seeking relief
The strange affliction in his voice
Showed his pain and sufferings
That he otherwise did not hide
Last night his brother had come
Worried he said he did not want
To witness another death so soon
Their father had died a week ago
He told me that his brother Jayant
Did not want to live any more
That he was unable to breathe properly
Or even sleep during the night time
He had stopped dreaming or recalling
The past, or about the days to come
After father had died, he gave up belief
In himself and withdrew from his life
Jayant is older than I am and wiser
I believe he cannot give in so easily
He has a strong character and mind;
What bothers him we must know
We found him alone and barefooted
Casually strolling on the green grass
On seeing us, he asked us to join him
I was neither shocked nor surprised
I knew he was battling with himself
He could not get away from his mind
That he had found difficult to alter
Along with his ongoing perceptions
I was not anticipating this problem
Affecting someone as active as he
Fear gripped me, what if I were to be
In the same situation, Jayant was involved
He placed his hands on my shoulder
And looked into my eyes to read me
He smiled and quietly moved away
My thoughts had begun to engage him
‘I knew you would come’, he whispered
‘But I never meant to scare you thus
Just wait for your turn my dear friend
You will then know what ails me now.’
When the moment to discard our belongings is near, now you tell me
We had never longed for the darkest ever nights to descend
To hide our pent-up raw emotions
That could hurt the child in us given up as lost;
And our attempts to open the doors of our hearts
To allow new thoughts to creep in having failed
Our love kept ablaze has certainly dimmed;
That for once, if we cared, you and I can step around
To test the depth and warmth of the attachment
That unites us in a resilient bond of mutuality;
And, O Time, now you also ask me
To wait for the morning that may never rise.
*A Little Bit Of Patience
A little patience would have won the world for me
Then I would have for long basked in glorious sunshine
Feted for my successful stint as an outstanding poet;
But I was really in a hurry, firstly to outdo others
And then myself;
I had filled sheaves upon sheaves of paper with words and phrases,
Some held meanings and some were merely a jabbering of sorts
Not actually meant to convey anything of note to the readers.
Indeed my readers appreciated each word I wrote,
Through my poems, they thought they had entered my world
As though to play the role I had drawn out for them alone,
And they laughed and cried with me
And they made me stand very tall.
Then one day, when I had almost exhausted my ware,
Rested my pen and mind I heard their screams,
My readers had begun to suffer more and more pain
Caused by my words whose true meanings they had of late come to realize.
What I wrote were not poems;
They had understood my farcical efforts,
I was thoroughly exposed,
I did not dare respond.
I lost my place which with a little bit of patience
Would not have been denied.
*A Missive Recalled
Whenever a song is heard loud and clear
Of deep and lusty passionate love,
The mind bound by covert ties is free;
It seeks your come back from afar.
The peal of bells as a welcome bend
Speaks out about our contentedness
And makes the words recover the gist
Of the songs that signal your return.
Hide in the shade of bamboo-trees!
They are tall and green of sturdy kind;
They shape the place to stay concealed,
There one can laze in wait for you.
Where ever you are there lie our roots
The serene state is our desired goal
Then endless joy spreads true and fair
That lifts us high over worldly cares.
Charmed by a flute’s simple strains
I lean against a tree to watch
The people groove and sway as though
You are with me to liven up my life.
*A New World
Then one day
After a long wait
He did return
Our eager adventurer
The roving ambassador
His old glimmer and gait intact
He appeared unchanged
But when he narrated his tales
There was a queer pitch
The air was different
The unfamiliar words he spoke indecipherable
The strange places he had visited
Could not be known
And as we listened we wondered why
Influenced he certainly was
For, after his efforts
He had forgotten his native tongue
He had unlearned his past
Could it be
His visit to a new world
Had rendered him vulnerable
Made him lose track of his actuality
And forget what he ever was
Maybe he had created a world for himself
And only returned to include us
We might never know
*A Meaningful Reflect
In the wee hours of a summer morn
I walked up to the yonder lake called Hope;
It was preparing to shine and shimmer
At the first strike of the brightening dawn
And its waters waited for the sun to rise.
I stood on its shore watching the waves
That was dark as they rose and fell all the while,
They told me not to disturb the quiet
That had built up casually during the night
To make me anxious and suffer pain.
*Cannot Paint His Dreams
Nothing could stop him, not even the fear of dark nights
Or the thunder and pouring rain of a wild storm,
He was strong of will.
He said he knew where he would like to settle down,
Somewhere far above the earthly din and commotion
In the bosom of the woolly clouds, he was very fond of
That he had cared to paint on the cold and rigid canvas
That adorned the stout branch of the old banyan tree
And guarded his bed where he lay weaving those lovely dreams.
He was deeply in love,
But he did not know how to paint his dreams;
No one knew about his dreams, this he knew.
He was uncaring
He didn’t know
He had dropped the coin somewhere
The one I had presented
The one I had found
Lying unclaimed on the road
Shiny and new
He could have eaten a bun or two
He was hungry
Who would now find another coin for him
Shiny and new but unclaimed
Once I had a black-coloured bird,
A mynah, as a pet;
I called her Chanchal
But she was not fickle,
She wasn’t good-looking either.
I taught her to converse with me;
Her fluency surprised me,
And when we were together
We engaged in small talks;
She would chuckle and laugh as I did
And often we lost ourselves.
She was the friend I needed.
Without our realizing
Days turned into weeks and months
And one day she announced
It was time for her to leave
And then flew away.
With tear-filled eyes I watched her go.
Bereft of her company I felt alone,
I had no one to turn to.
Now, I have no one to talk to;
Left to scan the trees and the sky.
I haven’t found my Chanchal yet.
If I search
What will I find!
The order needed isn’t there,
The turmoil is unbearable,
Reasoning has deserted,
And my thoughts,
They are all loosely strung;
I must bind them,
Their sequence is not unknown.
The slightest of noise,
Reaching my ears rings aloud;
It painfully pierces my brain.
I cannot stay still,
My noisy unrested mind needs me
To get rid of itself;
I must silence my mind,
I must use my inner fire
To denerve it.
Come! Let us swing along the bay
And mark the time of our stay
Beside the sea that's churning.
Then we will hear the windy howl
Soon wave and raise a silly scowl
Without the sea relenting.
Then as we rush to an empty beach
We will find within our easy reach
All things that are allowing.
We meet again
At the same place
We did last
To speak the unsaid
To read the unread
Over and above
My memories that float around
The green trees and hills
That dot my little island I call home.
O Death! Be sweet to me
I shall not protest
I shall accompany you
Beyond the clouds
Far above the sky
Into the darkness
Existing behind the sun
My return is certain
Pure and sinless.
Yesterday I was on the hill I thought I could not have climbed;
Sitting there, I had gathered my breath and strength and had
Recalled to mind my strong determination and concerted efforts
That had in tandem worked and made my climb uphill possible
I also wondered what more could I have achieved,
I was affected by doubt and ambition, the drivers of my foray.
Back home I spent a sleepless night trying to find the cause
I had climbed a barren hill no one else had attempted before;
The acceptance of a challenge could not be the sole reason.
Early rays of dawn found me head down falling asleep and snoring,
It seems I knew about the outcome before I had begun the climb;
My deliberate venture had helped me conquer all my hidden fears.
For a moment, I forgot to raise my eyes
To look at the sky that mocked at me
And made me feel small and irrelevant;
Shaken up by a loud thunderclap I was
That had revived my nagging thoughts.
For a moment, I sought to remove the mask
That had kept covered my face for very long
Scarred by many follies and misadventures,
Then when I found my fingers frisk the beads
I knew I had the chance to claim my ground.
For a moment, I thought I never did exist
Things I touched, saw or heard were a sham
As though I did not then feel, see or hear
And had reached the remote dark beyond
Where all senses, thoughts, and dreams cease.
Maybe I too must walk the lane forgotten and forlorn
And test my lonely state;
The life I lead is a deadly load I cannot ride alone,
I have to mend my ways.
The lightning raids upon my thoughts by fearing impressions,
They do not ring a bell;
Uplifted are my basic bends they need to be engaged
They merely twist and turn.
The barren waves raising the stakes cannot be read alone,
Often they subside;
Alongside me, I see a brook that is filled with dreams and hope,
So I can flash a smile.
He promised to ride
A white steed in the sky
On the wind blowing in
From the south-east,
On the air that carries rain-laden clouds
And keeps the land fertile;
He wanted to meet the god,
The lord of thunder and rain.
Without a weapon in his hand
He intended to rule the world,
Alter it with his love and care,
Forget old memories,
Sprinkle wealth and joy everywhere,
Earn its trust and faith
And be adored;
He desired to become a god;
He was very fragile;
He did not live long.
I could not wait for the rain to stop
Eager I was to feel its dampness
I stepped out and swiftly walked
Towards the thick mango-grove
Wanting those trees to drape me
With their strong and sweet aroma
But by the time I reached them
The scent of the earth sticking to me
Had all washed away from my skin
The downpour was indeed heavy
Tethered to the edge of existence
The boat meant for me to tide over
All forms of pain and joy stood still
Beyond the pithiness of vacant words
The darkness that exposed my cause
Laid bare my brittle bones deadly white
Blurred were my vision and the sense of touch
And I could not properly see or feel
Once again I had to seek refuge
I had to seek the dampness of rain
*Death of a Hero
Maybe he is the last in the line of great heroes
Who had suffered the agony of remaining unknown while they lived,
He is about to die and knows he had done nothing of note
Except walking in front of the have-nots carrying a flag
Shouting slogans against the establishment run by the haves.
He is lying prone on the road that leads to the assembly hall
Shot in the chest by a policeman.
The have-nots do not want he should survive,
They want him dead.
They want a hero of the moment who has laid down his life;
The dead do not reveal the truth.
I see the pain reflected in his eyes
His thoughts were for his family;
He has a large family to feed, who will look after his family now.
Soon he closed his eyes.
Before the paramedics came to pick him up
He was already dead.
There can be no unexpected events in my life
To shake me from my reverie;
Sleep no longer affects me.
There cannot be things I do not know about;
There are no surprises for me to deal with,
I have discovered myself,
I have found myself not adrift but firmly rooted.
Aware of my place in the phenomenal world;
Aware of my reality;
Aware of my eternality;
Now I know who I am.
I know the truth,
I am the finality not easily discerned.
Friends, you too can find me within you,
Happy, dancing and smiling at you,
The delight of your experience.
Extending my arms upward
Towards the heavens
Seeking a new retreat
I have captured a small piece of the sky.
A study in comparison,
Whose passage leaves no trace,
I have eliminated;
I firmly hold
In my fist
A small part of Space,
The support of Time.
Within that fold
The imperfect and the perfect,
The two ancient conjurers,
Concocting shapes and sizes-
But acting evenly
They vie for the same space
Play out their roles
Either creating various thought-waves
As that many threads of continuity
Pursuing some quest unknown
Watching and waiting for me to slacken my grip
Detaining that one small piece of the sky,
And limits of endurance
The same old game
The same initiations
The same old imitations.
I have waited for my turn
Stood in the long queue
With the offering of flowers
Coins and incense
Placed in a bright silver plate
Held in my hands
And grown very tired
My belief was at risk
My prayers were incomplete
And time did not side me
So I thought
I can be angry
But why waste my efforts
I can see
The open temple-gate
Hear the bells ring
And the chants resound
I am almost there
I am almost there
Where is the other end?
Cast by my misgivings and lack of faith,
Seems to bar my way;
I must remove this web,
Discard my fears and
Spring season is here,
The occasion is now.
I can see, -
My garden is green and flowery,
The bees and the butterflies
Soon the trees will bear fruits
Only for me.
I know I am resourceful,
Why then should I shiver and shake?
The air is the same
The will is the same
The result will be the same.
My passage to the other end
Will be smooth.
There is no web within sight.
The world waits for me.
Think about a library
And the pile of books
Each still unread
That you wanted to hold in hand
Weigh and appreciate
Think about their authors
And now faceless
Their name and place
All long forgotten
Then think about me
Seeking an understanding
In the midst of
Thirsty and starved
What if my end is near
And I am about to die,
Where will I be then?
After I die I will become a star
And quietly shine for a long time
My mother had told me –
When good people die
They surely turn into stars
Have I not been good while I lived?
I certainly have
My family and friends readily attest
They cannot all be wrong
But all stars finally burn out
Should I expect to die again, and again?
I cannot accept such a fate
Without some gain
Long ago my grandmother
Had promised me a different world
If I behaved well
A world where there was
No pain, grief, anger, hate, and greed
I prefer that world
I am ready to die again, and again
To be in that world
O Fate! Why should I burn like a star?
What do I hear?
The sky has fallen!
The bluish glass that made it
Who will now mend that glass?
Where would the birds fly
Or the clouds meet?
There will be no nights,
No days either;
There will be no moon
And the stars,
Nothing to write.
What am I to do now?
What will become of me?
In my part of the street still there is light;
And from my window, I can see and read
The brightly lettered bold graffiti scrawled on the wall;
But, I cannot see who wrote those affectionate words
That meant something for everyone at different hours of the day –
‘My friend, seeing you is being young again.’
Simple words these, meant for me alone.
The word-meanings differed only for those few
Not yet sufficiently aged to compulsively impose
Themselves upon others
And also, could think a shade differently
Like the ageless night that can hold within its folds
The visible world and the invisible world,
The former connected with things spread far and wide
And the latter with the scheming ever-churning mind.
I am in no hurry to resolve the issue,
Young and old, let each revel;
Age does not matter; patient and hopeful I am.
I can wait for the darkness to spread itself,
I can wait for most of the living beings to go to sleep,
And even wait for those who do not sleep
To write on the opposite walls a few more words I can see.
I know the new sunrise will certainly light up the graffiti
And the uncomplaining but long-suffering people approaching it
Will coax or cudgel each other,
Read and copy,
To interpret and infer differently
With their hands tied and eyes closed,
For a short while holding their breath
Peep inwards and then exhale.
The Sun had set when he came,
He did not knock at the door
And entered my room blaming me;
He held me responsible for his loneliness
But did not want me to speak my mind;
He had left me at the break of the first Dawn.
*An Eternal Truth (A Vedic Revelation)
Manifesting in the subtle body and entirely pervading it,
Enlivening the gross body and making it aware and active;
The fire burns within warm and radiant,
Enthusing the observance often formed of disciplines and rigours
By men of faith who aided by knowledge
Attain the highest plane of Truth
After having known that
As much as is the extent of all-pervasiveness, completeness, and permanence
Of that force firmly established
In the worlds that are visible and invisible,
That much is the extent of the collection and spread of things and thoughts
Produced, fulfilled and protected by the fire
That rages accompanied by a steady breath.
At each Dawn
I invoke my heart, my mind, the sky and the sun;
To these fearless four, I offer my prayers,
I pour oblations rich, powerful and sweet,
And seek protection
Against defects and evil imports.
Clothed in life and bountiful,
They cover me with their fine mist
And allow me to divine their truthful gaits as they move.
O Lord of Speech!
Lend me the words and notes
For my songs in praise of the first rays of sunlight;
Let me tend those songs for the skilled singers;
Let me dwell in this body to feel your presence;
Make my heart incline towards my mind, support me,
And lift me skywards far beyond the blazing sun.
*And I Shall Then Cease To Be
There are the three fires that readily burn;
The domestic fire that works and serves,
The fire in the heart that slowly heats up words,
And the fire in the mind that explores limitless space;
These I adore, I am because of these three.
The fire that works and serves purifies my home, body, and mind,
The fire that slowly heats up words makes me aware of my world,
And the fire kept lit in the purified mind leads me on as my life-force;
These three combine to reveal the truth hidden within me.
Combined these three will one day consume my body and mind,
And I shall then cease to be.
I heard his cry,
He was in great pain.
His throat was parched
And his thirst tortuous;
As the noon-time sun blazed upon him heat and fire
I heard his croaked cry -
‘Help me! Pray, give me some water to drink.'
And found him prone and stretched
A few paces away from a wayside well,
He had no strength left to draw water from that well.
Both of us had separately set upon finding the truth -
About who had made us and why;
I was proud of my learning
And he of his memory.
Even as I could easily discern the fifth connotation
He could easily provide the necessary background.
He was the other side of me, ever thirsty for refusing to change
And wrestled with rigid laws and logic, limitations and barriers;
He was doomed to suffer, this formless projection of my mind.
He knew why heat had affected him and spared me.
With him, I had no blood ties.
Had I not seen you before
With the same little wry smile
That had suddenly creased your lips
Upon finding me bungle with the knots
Of the dark brown hessian rope binding me
As though I were a culprit readied to be sentenced
I would not have otherwise recognized you
As you stood at my doorway
And sought to draw me out
I had then hung my head in disgust
I was then not aware of your wiliness and deceit.
I continue to stand
Beneath fruit-laden shady trees
Amidst the roaring crowd of needs and objections
Subjects and contraventions
Briskly waving my arms held high
To attract the attention of all those incited by you
They should know
That the fire you have caused to burn
Once lit cannot be easily doused.
I have always wanted a friend;
You are a good swimmer,
You have saved me from drowning,
From now on,
I will call you my friend.
Be my friend;
Between friends, there are no secrets,
Do not hide your smiles and tears from me,
I will show you those that are mine.
With our goals remaining common,
Our ways will also not differ,
With no fears and doubts to bother us
We will slake our thirst for good.
We will have for us the same sky and the seas
And share the same horizon;
The Sun, the Moon and the stars
Will shine for us equally
And no need to prove ourselves.
We will see the same world all the time
With the same pair of eyes;
All joy will be ours.
*As The First Step
Instead of the stars
I had sat in my doorway
Floating in from far and near
And fell in my lap;
I gave up as lost
Those that did not reach me.
I handpicked a few words
Pleasing to the ear,
Arranged and inscribed them
On sheets of white paper,
Allowed them to glow
And sound my feelings
In the form of the poem
I now write.
You will find those words
Honest and meaningful,
They have never failed me.
*At Each Dawn
At each dawn
I play the flute
Its lyrical notes inspire me
To write tender words
Full of love and praise
That I then recite softly
As the sun climbs
Spreads its heat and light
And awakens for me
The one I love.
*At The Riverfront
I was standing alone near the bridge
I waited for her to join me
For a walk alongside the riverfront;
I had not seen her for a very long while
And, when she came, I did not recognize her,
Not even by her dress and gait,
I was troubled by this failure,
I thought I knew her well.
I dared not question her change
She did not appear weak
And I had no grudge to grind
I kept quiet
I stood still waiting for her to say something
Pleasing and reviving
Then I would have opened my heart to her
Showed her the scars I carry
That her absence had made upon my psyche
She did nothing of that sort
There wasn’t any touch or glance exchanged
And she stood alongside me gazing at the river flow
Her silence said everything I needed to know.
*At The Temple
He could not enter the temple premises
And stood outside bare-footed
Facing the open door,
His hands folded in prayer.
The vermilion smeared idol,
His object of worship, it was clearly seen;
The incense used was thick and strong
He had everything he needed.
What for he was praying
Even he did not know.
For five minutes he stood thus
Reciting the mantras silently
Then he lowered his eyes
Put on his sandals and walked away.
He had once annoyed the priest.
He had asked him
Why he who prays at least thrice a day
Day after day does not gain
The wealth etcetera sought and prayed for
Or is it a case of quiet containment.
A priest does not pray for himself.
Why run towards the end of the dark lane
To reach me;
It leads nowhere;
A sincere step or two would have sufficed
And made us avoid
The infectious meanness, greed, hate, and spite
There always is in our minds.
With use, the golden lustre of the vessel will soon wear off;
Though our eyes may not be able to see
The uneasy complexity
That clamours for space, and contests
The binding rites, deeds, and beliefs
By raking up stale issues to strike with,
The dead will certainly not rise.
The clouds will pour rain without asking for it
And the boa will constrict to kill its prey;
And the whiteness of the chalk,
More prominently displayed on the blackboard,
May not by itself teach anything new or old,
But it does not impinge anyone's right to learn
Nor does the ink-pen that leaks
Or the books left unread beneath the foot-rests
Or the teachers who are only half-prepared
Or the dimming light of any classroom.
Indeed, eagerness has no colours to match or change.
As my day slowly progressed,
Sitting beneath an ageing tree,
I watched the river flow
Beyond its hidden bends,
I sat holding a twig,
Twisted brown and very dead;
Its leaves had lain beneath my feet
Yellowed, dry and crushed;
With that twig, I dug a pit
And planted tiny seeds of doubt
Imbued with worry and useless fear
Caused by stress and loss of faith,
I wished to see how doubt would fare
Once it sprouted, spread its roots
Outside my mind.
*Forget The Past
Forget the past, you say!
Yours and mine, is it?
Where would we both be then?
Sunk in a stinking puddle, we could say,
Filled with some ancient grime
Gathered by our thoughts
We can still say,
We should neatly forget our past
If only to see Time fly by,
Swifter than thought,
Sculpting new dawns.
My old heart
Disturbed my sleep.
It flutters and stutters
At each sound I make
As though fearing the end.
I was only dreaming.
I had loudly snored,
My heart panicked.
Here I am
Not likely to sleep
Proud, he held his head high,
Did not look at his feet and hands
Or the earth supporting him,
Very proud he indeed was
Known as a learned person
Rich in expertise
That he did not notice the ditch
Where his journey ended.
He stumbled and fell,
There was none to save him.
He was not a wise man.
I did not find her
In the crowd of
My varying dreams
I did not remember
And her voice
I had caught sight of her
In a crowd
There were many faces
She did seem familiar
As though I had known her
For a long time
I still remember her
I did not recollect her face
In my dreams
I shall go to bed
Early this night
*How Can I Close My Mind
There is no romance in the air,
No adventure either,
No beauty to intoxicate me,
I am bored;
Leading such a life no longer excites me,
I have shelved all my hopes,
Erased my dreams
And put to rest all kinds of speculations;
I have decided to rest my senses.
I will not look for anything I cannot find
Or listen to those songs that gladdened me
Or extend my hands to feel a cosy warmth
Or pick up bright roses for their smell and taste.
I shall neither allow sunlight to creep in
Nor ask the wind to prick me.
I can do all this
But I cannot get rid of my memories;
I cannot close my mind.
How can I close my mind?
Why catch the mist
With your bare hands
And watch it
Leaving behind no trace;
But it clings to the darkness
That does not show
Its hidden aims
Its tenuous form
Its vaporous trail
Seen on the ground,
Deceptive though it is,
It leads us to nowhere.
Had I the faintest inkling of guilt
I could have easily marked my way,
Step by step and then brick by brick
I could have paved my path with joy.
The sky and the light hold me back
For a glimpse of that euphoric life
In a dream, I had led before l rose
To open the door and step outside.
What makes me difficult?
My indiscretion may be,
Or my indulgence.
Wait a minute!
If you will, my friend,
Judge me proper;
I have just lost my way.
The darkest hour of the night;
Few heavy footfalls,
A knock on the door,
And I heard
Someone whispered -
‘Open your door.’
I did hear
But did not respond;
How could I?
I did not know
How to open the door;
Many long years ago
I too had knocked on this door
Someone had then indeed
Opened the door
And let me enter the room.
Alas! Here I am
Unable to walkout
Or allow someone else
Enter the room
I continue to occupy.
I could never again
Meet that person
Who had let me in,
That much-needed knowledge.
You want me to stand face to face,
Look deep into your eyes,
Expose to you the inside
Of my heart and mind,
Show the depth of my love,
And truthfulness of my feelings,
All for you.
If I were blind,
And you knew
That I loved you as much as I do now,
You would not have searched my eyes,
You would have been my eyes,
You would have guided me to your heart
Where is he?
Where is my thinking friend?
I found him sitting at a wayside
His back pressed to a wall
Glaring at a dusty old lamp-post
Seeking guidance it seemed,
He was unhappy.
What ails you, my friend, I inquired.
He looked at me and said -
I have lost my dream
Can you find it for me?
I looked deep into his worried eyes,
He was speaking the truth.
I will if you specify that dream,
I replied assuredly.
You can find him reading his palms
Tracing his still to be identified dream
Locked in those fateful lines.
Early hours of the day
Raindrops pattering on my window panes
The daylight is dim
No birds are seen flying
But there is music.
The raindrops beat a steady rhythm
And there is the exotic smell of wet loam
They ease my mind.
The earth will now revive
Draped in varying shades of green
And vie with the blueness of the sky
I shall rise fresh and bright
And gleefully receive my loved ones
They are coming to meet me.
I will watch them push around
And listen to their small and big talk
Soon their laughter will fill the air
And expel the dreary silence from my room
Leaving me to weave new dreams
And be happy.
Through knowledge and noble deeds
I seek your protection.
Shine upon me, O Sun!
Filling me with knowledge
Uplift my urge,
Purify me with your brilliance.
In the light of your visible and invisible rays
Which we know and do not know
Truly reveal all things existing;
Those rays belong to the fire of knowledge
That burns within all living things.
Alive, active and ever eager
I too am your noble reflection.
*A Provider’s Call
In the sky
There are clouds
Gathering to hide the sun;
The spiky nip
And the failing light
Herald the monsoon fun.
In an open space
I wait for the rain to fall;
To my skin and bones
To cleanse my body withal.
In the past had appeared so live,
Now I know I can reach my goal
And plant new seeds to thrive.
The mind astir
And deepening faith
Reshape the core
And sound the knell
Then pithy verse
The rays of light
With hope and sight
Find their place
And stay alive.
*A Statement Of Fact
We have met once, you and I,
Near the Qutab Hotel;
It was evening-time,
You had then sought directions from me.
You were wearing
A light-blue salwar-kameez and a laced dupatta,
Your dark hairs tied in a tight bun,
A bindi shone on your forehead and lips coloured crimson-red,
I was taken in by you.
Through my eyes and ears
I had absorbed
And made you a part of me;
I can never forget you.
All things seen, said and heard,
During those brief moments,
Remain firmly etched in my memory;
It was as though Time had stood still.
Since then, my love for you has grown more,
And now with you accompanying me everywhere
I cannot think of anything else.
I have wanted to write about those moments
But I have not dared; fearing I may not find proper words;
I cannot forsake those moments,
It was then that I had felt a deep love for you.
Though I have not seen you ever since
I have asked Time to make this possible;
I trust Time, but it too has its specific priorities,
Unlike my mind, it never looks back or grieves,
It holds no regrets,
It simply marches on at a steady pace.
You are my sole fortune,
My love for you also moves on hopefully
At an even pace, low-keyed and without frills.
*A Tale of Love
The drizzle has started
The grass is wet and greener
The pigeons and the parrots
They have folded their wings
And the air is pleasantly cool
Look at me said the peacock
Note the colours I now display
Each with a meaningful resonance
Of love and fidelity
Carried by my nimble feet
Already set in dependable rhythm
Of a coveted rain-dance
You will soon be mine I say
The peahen busy pecking the ground
Was not impressed
She had weathered many storms
And heard such boasts before
She did not doubt his love
But craved for a change
In his attitude and conduct
That she could not define
She lifted her head and looked at him
But not for long
She chose to wait for him to tire
Drop his thick plumage
And approach her
The weather supported the peacock
*A Void to Fill
You invited me to the river-bank;
Made me sit beside you,
Made me see how you traced
With your slim bamboo pole
Figures upon figures on the river-surface
That I could not decipher,
I could not decide.
I felt small and humiliated
And had quietly walked away.
Even from a distance,
I could see the river flow by.
The figures you had carved on its surface
Were not to be seen.
The river water changes rapidly.
But I could spy a turtle raise its head
And questioningly look at you.
Methought he was objecting to your presence.
Unmindful of that creature
You continued with your exercise
And did not stop drawing figures
On the river surface.
You had not even noticed when I had walked away.
A colourful butterfly landed on my left shoulder
And softly whispered -
‘Do not disturb your friend,
Within him there is a deep void to fill;
He is doing just that.'
*A Way Out
I am languishing in the today that is not of my choice;
I am made to wait for the dawn of a new bright day
That will certainly rise only to remind me of this day spent
Not learning the lessons that make up my past,
The past made up of yesterdays that can never return.
Sitting at the edge of the fluid freely flowing time
I am left to dip in its depth my right-hand forefinger
And without raising any ripples on its surface
Try to trace
Impermanent patterns that I alone can read;
No meaning derived can be ignored.
The future holds new meanings and a firm resort
And therefore, by itself validates my wait.
*About Finding Me
He saw me
And rolled up his sleeves;
He had seen the dust
The dust of time
I dare not part with;
It made me.
He was concerned;
A witness to my progress
He had measured my brilliance
And seen me soar high.
He wasn’t biased;
He could not accept
The dust that covered me,
He did not know
It had brought me down
And imbued self-effacement.
I will soon let him know,
This dust of time it is
That has helped in finding me.
When I said I love you
You stared at me
Searched my eyes
To read my mind
And touched my arms,
What you found
Did not favour me;
I did not convince you
And you were angry;
I felt your fury.
I could not prove
My love for you;
I did not tear open
For you to see it bleed;
I did not show my pain.
True love causes no pain,
It gives immense joy.
*About My Dreams
Then he said –
‘How do you manage to see so many dreams?’
I was truly shocked; I never wanted to be questioned thus,
Especially about my dreams which are wholly mine,
And I do dream much; imaginative I am,
The person who asked me about my dreams
I did not know well.
But, I recollect,
There was a boy who lived next door,
I had befriended him I do not know when
But I enjoyed his company as much as he did mine
And we trusted each other.
He was a good listener.
He had left this place long ago.
I had told him that I was gifted;
My memory was strong and long-lasting
I remembered all I had heard, read, imagined and dreamt;
I could weave and narrate wonderful tales
That I often held out as my intimate dreams.
Had he wanted to know more he would have in jest
Re-framed the same question thus –
‘Why do you see so many dreams?’
He would have stepped aside to wait
And watch me loudly laugh.
*Glitter On The Neck
Here and there and everywhere
I see many flowers blooming,
Some are red, and some are white
And some are blue ‘n' charming.
I shall string them up for you
To make a garland yielding,
That would dress your slender neck
To glitter as you are moving.
The darkest hour of the night,
Deep in sleep
I heard a knock on my door,
I asked- 'Who is it? '
There was no response.
I hastened to open the door,
Standing in front of me I saw
Death, in its most pristine form,
A wispy bundle of joy,
Smiling at me,
Exuding sheer delight and merriment;
I had not seen Death before,
But I wasn’t scared;
When seeing it for the first time
I found that I was no longer tense
My mind and body were not agitated
Pain and expense forgot
I was at peace with myself.
There was the sublime delight
I had never experienced before
Soothing my nerves and sinews
Dragging me towards Death
Even though Death did not enter my house
Or embrace me.
But do I know the marks of Death?
When one speaks,
For speech is the meeting place,
He utters words
That carry and contain
Divine knowledge and wisdom,
For truth, righteousness, and study,
These three, are associated with speech;
Unknowingly the words he utters
As a prayer
Kindles the fire
To have the knowledge of fire;
And know the distinction
Between the ever-existing
And the non-existent;
He neither decries nor denies
The empirical nature and reality
Of the visible worlds;
He seeks the place
Facing the radiant sun
And shine as brilliantly.
It was a hot afternoon.
I found him shaded and in a chair fast asleep.
How could he close his eyes and his mind to the entire world?
How could he forget his being and mine?
He had appeared tense and pensive;
I could not bring him around to join me in my evening repast,
I sat alone at the table but mindful of my vow.
I had vowed to make him emerge and move
Fly like a butterfly in search of bright flowers exuding sweetness,
I wanted him to share that nectar with me.
He had indeed roamed the gardens I knew so well,
He did not lose his way;
He had my soft touch so could not hurt
The things he liked and chose to feel anew;
He could never hide the excitement leading him on
For he knew the nectar was his to taste.
But he needed to be held back,
He seemed to have lost the will to commit himself;
Though he could weave many thoughts
And had mastered the appropriate words
He had no voice,
He could not speak;
It was when I caught him looking at me
That I saw my pain in his eyes,
I found my weakness and tiredness exposed,
I knew I was looking at myself
Reflected in the mirror held in my hands
The mirror I can never dare throw away.
How can I describe her - her face, her eyes, her winsome smile,
Her petal-like tenderness, her loving concern, and care for all,
Her firm ways, her deft course through tricky odds and trials,
Her patience, endurance and unfailing will and mental strength!
Dispensing love and justice as an elder or as a companion or guide;
Her jubilation at the achievement of others and her feats,
Her honest struggles to remove painful deceptive figures and bonds,
I have seen her in these different forms each more endearing.
Why does night always follow day?
I have often asked
Motivated by an urgent need
Like moving all conscious beings
Towards the centre of consciousness
For them to read and then casually erase
All lingering fond and bitter memories!
What is night’s causal relationship with the sun?
I have repeatedly asked.
Is it the inference of the unperceived from a perceived mark
Though the relation between the two is not?
Like that of space, there is between two letters or words
As also between any two intervals of time!
Why is the night a consequence?
Why does it depend on a condition?
Why is its inference a fallacy of reason?
These questions stay etched in my mind.
Is it Time arising from the change
Seen and experienced owing to things extending in space
Or that which can be known
Neither through reasoning nor by a shining intellect
Not even through repeated hearing!
Why do I face such confusions at each crossroad of life?
She sought a safer turf and crossed over to the other side of the road
Cradled in her arms were her dreams and his promises
That she now saw reflected, in the stores' glass window-panes, pure and bare.
She could also see the faint smudges and creases on her cheeks and brow as marks of time.
She had not been kind to herself, how could she have been, she pondered.
And, then she heard him loud and clear as though he was beside her sharing her walk and her cautions;
She heard him voice as though she was talking to herself,
He said, -
Do not ignore the omens; do not avoid me.
You have come across but could have waited and watched
The flow of traffic restore your trust,
Your trust encourages me; it gives me strength and the will to lead.
Without you, I am not what I seem or want to be;
Without you, I can never know who I am.
I adore you and follow you everywhere even up to the end's edge.
I am your dreams and also the promises not withheld.
Clear is the air, the ground, and the road; nothing can block our run;
She heard him speak thus,
Once again heard his reassuring voice and words emanating from within,
And, she could have opened up and stretched her arms
To let her dreams and his promises spill and fly;
Instead, with her eyes full of tears she lowered herself and squatted on the filthy pavement,
Holding to her chest close and tight, all her dreams.
I see a face in the mirror every day,
Quiet, serious and indrawn;
Of course, that face isn’t mine.
It lacks my sparkle in the eye
And the brightness of my smile.
Whose face is it anyway?
Mine, you say!
You hardly know me,
You met me in the dark only last night,
You do not know my features,
Even I do not know my face.
When I was born, it was past midnight
And very dark
My eyes were tightly closed.
I could not see my face.
And as it is
Even now I cannot see my face,
Whose face is it anyway?
*My Father’s Invite
He called me a moment ago,
My father, him I adore,
He is my preceptor.
Now I wait
For him to call again;
Then I shall pack my things.
My journey could be very long;
The clothes I wear might not suffice,
I do not know.
I have no shoes to wear,
I have no food to pack either.
But there are things
I cannot take with me,
My thoughts, dreams and aspirations,
These have no place
Where my father lives;
He left me with them
*My First Love
I cannot describe her beauty in a few words,
Very delicate, demure and captivating, the least if said;
At first sight, I could not take my eyes away
And I have not seen ever again a face more beautiful than hers.
She made my college days most memorable,
I simply adored her for sitting close to me
In the same class and shared notes,
Her writing was elegant as a swan
Smoothly floating on a lotus filled lake;
I doted on her and to her,
All my days and nights belonged.
Soon, we graduated and moved apart;
She knew the place where I lived
But she had never told me where she did;
I never met her again, did I?
I had not told her about my love for her
But I love her still, my first love.
I never did find her;
But she is with me even when I close my eyes and go to sleep
Then she embraces me and holds me in her arms
Whispering into my ears sweet nothings;
I have not lost her ever for a single moment
I know she will always remain with me
Even till my last breath and even when I finally close my eyes.
Indeed, Time has taken its toll, and now I am old and weak
But because of her, just because of her
I have learnt the meaning of love and felt the pain it gives.
I see her everywhere, the same little shy beautiful girl I love.
My home is where peace and the tranquil dwell
Where happiness reigns and laughter echoes again and again
The grass and the leaves they swivel and flowers bloom
The sun shines quietly from behind the cooling clouds
And the birds some perched and others in flight
They sing their songs to make me feel alive
And not engage in thoughts that are alien or strange.
Be my guest; join me at the stream
That trundles down-hill on its path carrying along
The twinkle in my eyes and the dancing smiles on my lips
Like gifts for those who do not uplift their minds;
Call out to them loudly if you will you must
To share your experience with me and the place I live
I am the one you love and returns that love.
*My Inseparable Shadow
He said -
'You have waited for many a sunrise to light up your world.
Your world now covered by the brilliance of the sun throbs as though it were alive.'
He has always kept pace with me,
Vies to occupy my space
Not as a rival or a competitor; he wants to be me;
To think, walk and talk as I do.
He is an able person.
But, why has he referred to my outer world alone?
He should have spoken about my inner world too, but he has not.
Perhaps, he has waited too long for his world to come alive.
So be it.
As one aware of light and life, he had once told me
About the three ants that had variously found three sugar-granules.
One ant pick a granule and disappear;
The second ant was grappling with its granule unable to lift it,
Whereas the third ant was found alongside the remaining granule waiting for assistance;
These were the three stages of education and experience, he said.
Though not aware of my inner world
He still follows me the whole day; my inseparable shadow.
I can describe
My entire life
In one brief sentence
Comprising two small words -
A third is not necessary.
I wrote it down
On a white piece of paper
With a soft pencil,
Soon the dot at its end glowed.
The paper caught fire.
There is a knock at the door,
Someone has come to meet me,
Maybe my wait is over.
Who has come?
Who has strayed?
I will not inquire.
No one has come visiting me
From the time I came to know
I was not alone in this world,
That was very long ago.
I can talk and laugh.
I should open the door.
*On The Verge Of Discovery
My old friend,
Whom I trust and often visit,
I found him at his favourite window
Staring into the yonder beyond;
'I am bored', he said,
'I no longer need this sun,
It does not interest me,
I do not enjoy its hot angry stare,
I am tired of waiting for the nightfall.'
'What can be done to cure this affliction?'
And he replied, -
'I want excitement,
I want to explore and experiment,
Therefore, help me find a new sun to befriend,
Help me find an unfamiliar moon too
And new trends of thought;
I do not wish to repeat myself.'
I sat beside him
Staring into the distance beyond the outside
Began my search
To help accomplish my friend's desire.
A glimpse of you, you say!
It is the very thought of you
That makes me keel,
Tumble into the deep ravines
Between swiftly changing vortexes
Of space and nowhereness,
The boundless, timeless emptiness,
To find me rejoicing in the cosiness
Of the many-layered velvety folds
Your thoughts and mine combined
Draw with the utmost care and love
Upon the lustrous ringing fabric called joy;
These tenuous folds do not conceal our truth
The prying eyes cannot find.
I could hear him ask -
'Why do you grieve?
Share your sorrows and sufferings with me.'
I could hear him loud and clear against the roar of the waves.
I was then leaning against a dry rock near a cluster of coconut-trees.
He was sitting on that very rock.
I told him -
'How am I to share my sorrows with you?
They are all mine,
My tears too;
The pain afflicting my body and mind
It is for me alone to bear,
No one can take it away from me.
I can never share my pain,
I can never make you feel sad likewise.'
He looked at me and then at the sea
Churned by the Earth, the Moon, and the Wind,
But he was not nostalgic.
I said -
'The rock I am leaning against is a part of the Earth,
For many millennia it has stood still and speechless,
No one has shared its pain.
This coconut-tree bears the sea and the air,
And does not complain
But the agitating sea it incessantly sounds its complaint,
For the sea also suffers and wants someone to share its pain.'
My wise and inquisitive friend asked -
'These rocks, these trees, the sea and the Earth
Do they possess a mind of their own? '
'Of course, they do.' I said,
'All things in the universe are rhythm-bound and pulsate,
It is in their nature backed by a strong will-to-be,
And that will is always goaded by a purposeful mind.
The atoms of an element are compact bundles of energy
They live, vibrate and participate.
There are inert things in this world of objects;
Consciousness pervades all objects.
When atoms lose their rhythm and cease to pulsate,
They cease to exist; they disintegrate.'
Hearing me speak thus,
My friend began to reflect, grew pensive and withdrawn.
*Peace Of Mind
I do not need it
Take away my peace of mind
Bury it farthest from me
It has served no purpose
It has made me dull and insensitive
I can feel the cold in my bones
And my skin grow thick
I did not act wisely
I was foolish to have pursued it
Having achieved the peace of mind
I ought to have ceased to breathe
Take it away from me
Help me find the word I had just uttered
To relearn its true import;
Complete I shall then be.
My legs drag me to your doorsteps,
Your house I cannot enter;
The door has closed on me.
Be my saviour, towards your strength I look;
O Wisdom! Firmly grip my hand,
Do not ever let go of me.
When I arrive at your gates it will be
The arrival of awaited Spring to meet.
I have noticed, of late you haven't been
Cheerful and active, your garden dull and dry;
But, I shall redo your life for you,
And Spring will revive your garden too
Filling it up with coloured and scented blooms;
We shall then gleefully make you move and act,
Be lively, smile and long for more.
Your sunlight, the wind, and rain I am,
You are my life, my love, and cosy shade;
Because of us and for us all things exist,
Making us worthy of life we lead
All happy, spry and eventful.
How am I to describe
The blankness of my mind
Now that it does not waver,
In it no longer reside
Desires, needs or jealousies,
Anger or spite,
Neither joy nor grief,
Ideas or thoughts,
Neither knower nor known;
The hows and whys are not chained,
Faded shades darken,
Arranging old notions afresh;
And therefore a bit surprised,
How can my mind ever remain blank?
Why should I describe its partial blankness?
Only to disturb its peace and poise!
When I know-
Till the time my body and mind, both perish
My mind can never
Erase its range and wares.
Sixteen paces, he said,
Separate the living and the dead;
These paces are in three stages and one.
The living are possessed of sentience
And the dead are only a half-stop speech.
The intervening space is where all names resound
And there is no lack of corporeality.
I told him -
I want to remain a child
And engage in understanding my wakefulness
That I do not wish to know about deep sleep
And then begin the count of sixteen steps
Abruptly stop being a child
And gradually move to my death.
Soon after dusk, I heard her cry.
She could not draw up her sore limbs;
Her limbs were stiff and painful;
She had slaved in the fields all day long
To sustain herself.
She could not bear hunger
Nor sleep in peace;
She had suffered and was in pain,
There was no one to comfort her
Or apply a salve;
I heard her cry.
But approach her I could not,
She did not want to see me,
I reminded her of the past.
I had hurt her,
I had betrayed her faith that had cost her dear;
She had lost herself in the crowd of wants and needs.
In fact, I had withdrawn myself from the world
And she was hopeful of a better world and life with me.
I detested pain yet caused her pain;
She is the happiness I always desire.
He said –
Why wait if we can turn back Time
To impress our choice
On finding our voice
At the nodal point
Where all this began.
No one disagreed.
*Saga Of Wait
Somewhere somebody still waits for me
To emerge from the cocoon woven by desires,
Needs and longings, dreams and anticipations,
I have had no occasion to repeal or revise.
That somebody who so waits will call for me
To enlighten me and then narrate bit by bit
The long saga of wait written on the wind
I alone can read with an open mind.
Where are the words
That could describe
My new hopes and dreams
With utmost ease,
I have not found them.
My head, it aches,
My eyes pain,
I am unable to sleep
Lest I miss the words
That would suddenly pour in
To brighten my mind
Fill me with glee
Make me write.
The words I have
And so often used
Are worn out and frayed,
They are dull and dry,
Already served me well
They tell old tales.
Somebody help me coin
The words I need.
*Secrets of the Dewdrops
When I wake up
Little do I know
About the secrets
The fallen dewdrops hold
Hidden by the wind
And the night
From the sun that shines
In the blue sky above
And that lets the shadows
Of trees, clouds and hills
Spread on the meadows
To shade us all;
Those secrets revealed
At the strike of the first rays
Of each new dawn
Make the dewdrops glisten
As though in a taunt
And then they vanish;
No one has learnt those secrets
Hidden in the dewdrops.
I shall have to wait
For the next dawn
Set me free from my pen and thoughts
They enslave me
And keep me bound to the sheaves of paper
Lying atop one another on my stilted shelf
Undusted, forgotten and yellowing
Stop me from writing the no-one-understands
Stop me from thinking about the inevitable
Cheer me up and make me smile again
O Vanity, make me write a song to you
Let me savour my presence
Allow me to mint words of praise afresh
Allow me to relive the old days today
I cannot wait for the tomorrows
That do not promise change
Come, join me in my walk towards the stars;
The stars, they wait patiently;
Heading skywards is the thoroughfare I found
Not difficult but pebbled.
I have walked this path often and so will you
Map its various pits and rend,
Your feet won't bleed but will leave their prints
To be followed across the land;
The ‘ifs' and ‘buts' will bother you no more
And all your fears will dissipate.
These stars will then take you to their worlds
That's lit-up with infinite charm;
The rivers of light that flow there all the while
In their gushing run, you will bathe,
With your body and wits charily cleansed
You'll shine anew a rising star.
Facing the mirror when I say - ‘I know you',
Do not believe my words
I have never known who I really am.
Time passes by,
The boards we stepped on still creak,
And the winding staircase too, these
We had often climbed together playfully,
The one in the mirror and I;
And, I do remember,
On reaching its top we never rested
To dust or explore the attic,
The storehouse of our past,
Where our toys stayed alive
Seeking our roving touch;
They could have rekindled our love,
They could have united us, made us become one.
But long ago,
Eternity, the bane of the present and past,
Upon invading the future
And thus testing our verve
Had loudly laughed
And mockingly cursed -
‘You and your reflection, both are strange;
You can never understand each other,
You can never know each other,
You can never be same.'
*The Child In Me
I have grown old
Even my grandchildren are grown-ups
I lost the child in me long ago
I have never been alive.
My neighbours little one
Gifted to me a few small round glass balls
And went away;
He wanted me to play with those marbles.
I have never played the marbles game before,
I only knew marble meant metamorphosed limestone;
Glass and limestone are brittle,
They need careful handling.
I looked at those differently coloured glass balls,
Each colour had a hidden design,
I began to understand those designs.
Soon they became my prayer-beads,
But where was the child in me that I had lost,
The child who needed neither gadgets nor prayers,
Not even words to excite him.
I did not find him,
I did not find the child the marbles promised.
Tears flowed from my eyes;
From my hands, the round glass balls fell
To roll on the white marble floor.
*The Dream That Lasts
You have waited for the tide to ebb,
While ready to walk the beach
You have watched the sea recede
Leaving behind a long pause;
You have retied the knots of doubt
With colourful threads of old
And cast a snare to trap
The wise and favoured few;
You have valued the time employed
In building the bridges of love
For those many hopefuls who quietly sleep
The delight-filled dreamless sleep.
*The Following Day
The façade was over,
The drums were quiet,
The conch-shell and the flute,
And the clarinet too;
No more was there joy;
There was only the whistling by the wind.
Picking up my stick I rose from my seat,
I had to forget my being;
It had stealthily caused
Much hate and avarice
Letdown and mishap fed.
Your face is an outline,
Covered by a scarf.
Our eyes are dry;
The harshness of the eyes
Belies the vague smiles
Dancing on our lips
Hiding the hunger
And our intense pain
That will last
Until the next festive times.
*The Girl On A Bike
When I was young
A pretty face
Never seen before
Had done me in
I saw her eyes
They were bright
And the arched brows
They matched her nose
And her smiling lips
Her ruddy cheeks
And her curly hairs
All worked to cast
A deadly spell
I stood still
And all was quiet
Though I had strained
My ears to hear
Her kind of voice
She did not speak
She did not giggle
She did not laugh
I could not stand
And hurt I felt
Most true and deep
When passing by
She lowered her eyes
And sped away
Without a wave
Riding her bike
*The Hour Of Rest
A sip of tea and a biscuit-nip
Starts my day with the rising sun
But Time has changed its flimsy drape
From milky white to a seedy shade
Birds aren't there to urge me on
And automatons they rule the day
All is grey a dusty grey.
I see no flowers they are things of past
The smiles and laughter and joyfulness
No longer light up any eager face
The twig just picked is dry as sand
The fountains have dried and do not cool
The trees are stunted and give no shade
The commas in a daze and the full stops
They wait for a new sentence to start.
The black coloured ribbon is in tatters and soiled
It hangs from an open window
Inside my room, the air stinks
With the odour of rancid old cleverness
The mirror dulled with age now reflects
My wrinkled face and a toothless grin
The ancient clock with its limp hands
It has ceased to strike the hour of rest.
*The Lady At The Bridge
Though she never acknowledged his presence
And he did not know her name,
He had always seen her at the other end of the Yamuna Bridge,
With her back resting on the parapet,
Her right palm open and outstretched begging for alms;
He had often thought of the inner pain reflected in her eyes,
He had often wondered about its nature and feel.
Yesterday, as he approached the other end of the bridge
He did not find her standing at the usual place,
She was lying inert on the pavement, her eyes closed;
A few people did surround her,
And he thought she was dead.
She was dead, indeed.
He heard someone say -
She had no home, no husband, no children, no relatives or friends,
Where did she sleep or eat nobody knew.
But he found himself strongly bound unto her,
That bond he did not understand or resist;
He only wanted to touch her face, hold her hands and loudly cry.
He did not do anything of this sort,
Quietly he stood there for a while reminiscing,
He withheld his tears and did not weep;
He slowly walked away.
He accepted limited life and transient relationships.
He knew he would not see her again;
He would not see the sort of goddess he had come to worship;
He would not ever see her inner pain reflected in her eyes;
He would not even think about the real nature of that pain.
*The Lost One
I knew he would come. His coming was long overdue.
What delayed him?
He sat beside me.
He wanted to read to me his poems.
He had the observing eyes and a feeling heart and made him a poet.
He preferred writing short poems; short poems are difficult to write.
He likes difficult situations.
Therefore, he is more of a loner.
He reads his poems only to me; no one else appreciates his work.
I thought he was not a likeable person; I was mistaken.
He is not flamboyant. His peers ignore him.
He keeps to himself.
He fears to publish his poems; he does not consider them that deserving.
He shuns publicity.
After he dies, no one will attend to his writings.
No one will remember him.
No one will know him as a poet.
He should have taken to writing short stories instead.
In those stories, he could include the entire world.
People love the tellers of tales.
*The Open Blank Page
No one reads them anymore,
Not even those who know me,
Not even the approving few.
But I cannot stop writing,
I cannot stop thinking,
I cannot curb my emotional upsurge
And stop weaving dreams
That my pen truthfully records
And nobody is hurt.
The words I use are the same,
Their meanings stay unaltered,
And their rhythm unchanged;
But no one reads my poems;
No one dares to turn over
The open blank page
And dig deep.
*The Widening Breach
Come! Help me wedge the widening gap,
That has existed ever since our first appearances,
As the ever-increasing breach which had accidentally occurred, it seems,
Between day and night, bright and dark, and high and low;
Between this and that, here and there, and now and then;
Between yes and no, good and vice, and love and hate
And, between many other pairs of opposites that still raise their heads.
Lest that gap widens uncontrollably
(To cause much pain to us later on),
Come, if you will, now itself come,
Putting aside all else holding you down to earth,
Avoiding the dos and don’ts, and the rigid restraints
That separate life from impending certain death.
Come, let us fill that breach to the brim
With our thoughts, deeds and noble intents,
The treasured findings, from our numerous jaunts across
Countless obstructing sediments and inviting sops,
We did accept gratefully.
Come! Let us together fill the widening breach
With what’s left of time and faith and resolve,
Beyond the crowd of rights and needless wrongs,
Amidst routine and unplanned revolts and strife,
And favoured looks and peaceful sights;
Let us wedge the gap between these lines.
Your door will stay open for me
As always to let me in
To savour the repast
It is on your dining table
Laid out for me;
Hungry I am.
At the table, I will surely recount
The jollity of our younger days,
Protected and cajoled we were then
By those to whom we belonged
Which is why we had no care
For the tomorrows that we did not wait.
I will not talk
About the later harsh years,
Each day was a rusty nail driven deep,
Tacked to the old boards we already were.
I will not talk
About our failures and sorrows;
Our eyes are dry.
I will only talk about
The repeated ebb and flow of time
About the tides that did not take us away.
I am happy I told him so
My friend did not believe me
He saw me smiling no doubt
He also noticed my eyes
He knew I was hurt
He could do nothing about my pain
He did not offer any relief
I had lost belief in my being
I had lost everything I had
He gently tapped my shoulder
And without uttering a word
In the shade of the olden banyan tree
Near the village well
There is a crowd gathering noisily
To hear the wise words
Sung by a minstrel just arrived.
There has been a noticeable delay,
The performance has not begun;
The notable one is tuning his sarangi
Examining its strings by running over them repeatedly
The three thick guts of the bow,
Preparing and summarizing the notes-filled form
He had conceived to please the crowd.
The half and quarter notes now emanating,
Have not pleased him, as he also watches
Written upon the assembling faces
The same eagerness and expectation
He had himself felt only last night
When in the open field
Surrounded by sweet smelling chameli vines
He had arranged for this day
The musical notes and words as a new raga and song.
He does not appear to be tense for he knows
His musical instrument, his Sarangi, will support his voice,
The words will easily flow
Matching his breath and heartbeat
And make the crowd tap and sway.
But in his eyes, there is a fleeting hint of fear,
His fingers tuning the strings seem slightly uncertain;
As is often the case,
Even seasoned campaigners, the battle-hardened veterans,
Nearing their goal run out of ideas, they abandon their quest,
So it appears this minstrel too.
But, he is honest and aware of his abilities;
He thought -
‘I have to rise to the occasion,
I must complete my assignment;
My sarangi and my voice,
These two have never failed me;
I must strike the right notes and sing aloud.'
He appears confused.
Why is the crowd now silently moving away?
Their silence is deafening, and they seem listless;
They have found the basis of their quietude.
They no longer need the minstrel to enthrall them;
They have found their music and song hidden in their silence,
And that silence grows ever louder as they begin to disperse.
The minstrel too has risen holding his sarangi and bow,
His music and song blocked.
The village well still holds water, fresh and invigorating, waiting to be drawn;
The old tree is also there.
Alongside me, these two have witnessed an awakening
That has left us lonely and wanting.
Brightening light in the east
Dawn of a new day
The sleeping lot awakens
Birds take to the air
Stretch their limbs
And begin to move.
Browsing an anthology
Of my old poems
Refreshing fading memories
Knitting my brow
And a new pattern
I sip the cream-laced tea
That reminds me
Of what I am
And what I could be.
It is noon-time
The Earth is warm
But not yet friendly
Coaxed and cajoled
By near and dear
I trace the distant outlines
Of my vast enclosure
Filled with things and happenings
Not of choice
Guarded by fears.
The sun is about to set
Daylight will soon fade
My hopes and plans
Giving way to dreams
To fill and light-up
My long night of wait
A sceptic he must be.
He said -
Why read the written,
The already memorized?
Why revise, he asked,
When the preserved texts
Need no revisions.
So be it.
I thought -
Why must one study,
What is improvisation,
Of what use are thoughts
Why must I exert?
Can I close my eyes?
The orange peels
Thrown on grass
The greener grass
Where we stood
Admiring the moon
And tiny stars
Where fire burns
Like in the sun
Creating new lives
To pains and joy
We all suffer continuously
Why the seeds
For new trees to grow
You may also ask
In your absence my love
A melancholy strain fills the air
And there is the old sadness revisited
And the quiet dripping of tears from swelling eyes
There is in the visible sky the welcome mark of death
I can hear its call asking me to die
Is death the only remedy to cure the blues
Wipe away our follies and vain desires I ask
If so do not make me say I loved you true
Then my love for you it is that made you die
My love for you it is that makes me die
Where will then be the music we often heard
Where will be the fragrance of jasmine and rose
Where will be the tenderness natural to us
And where will be the light in my eyes ever seeking you
You have left me alone my love
Convinced that we cannot unite barred by the cruel world
The same cruel world which does not allow me to live