Sunday, 2 July 2017

The Sea, the Mountain, and the Old School Route

A couple weeks back I did some collaborative art here – used a friend’s artwork as prompts to my poetry, and the results were amazingly pleasant for both sides.  Read more about that effort here. So today I am back with some more – two of Mira’s delicate watercolours of Mauritian seascapes. 

The first is of Blue Bay – a well-known picnic spot and a popular beach destination.  And the other is of a mountain called Le Morne. Legend has it that slaves under the French colonial rule escaped here (hence the French appellation) - runaways, maroons sheltered in its caves, and hid from their masters. Some also dived from the cliffs high above into the sea when they learnt they had been located, and killed themselves to avoid capture. This mountain has been chosen by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site because of these tragedies. This particular location is also mentioned in Amitav Ghosh's Ibis trilogy as the site of Deeti's cave shrine, which is where I first came across it.

Both of these watercolours took me back in time and place, the Blue Bay to the Blue Beach in the North Coast of Egypt, and the mountain to a much smaller, much less important inselberg parked on the horizons of my school route in Northern Nigeria many years ago. Everything reminds me of something else, deja vu overload. Or maybe I'm just getting old :)  Anyways, here they are - Mira's fingers with the paintbrush, and mine at the keypad -

The Blue Bay, Mauritius by Mira Boolell Khushiram

Wherever I go I can see your face -
in mountains, in cloud forms, in cloudless skies,
in the colours of a sailboat, in the shape
of a triangular sail - the rise

and fall of its movements mirrors my own.
I can still hear your voice in the winds,
suede-soft against the harshness of stone,
calling down years into the labyrinths

of time and memories and joyful verse.
I can still feel your hand right next to mine
a slight tremor, a pulse saying more than words,
your smile transformed into this new shoreline

as if I’d never left, as if you and me
were together still, sailing that same jade sea.

Le Morne by Mira Boolell Khushiram

Everything calls to me, as though it’s a sign
to turn and face the way I came again -
a certain mountain brings back a lost terrain
an inselberg that wore the same outline

in thick sunlight poured on the horizon
beyond the vanishing point, where the road
hid behind distant trees, silken winds rode
acacias, deep grass, Fulani herdsmen.

Too many miles have lapsed, too many autumns
fallen in heaps of leaves. And when I look
closely it’s just something else I mistook -
different mountains, different outcomes.

The track itself turns to mud as I glance
behind, there’s no option but to advance.

I have loved working with Mira's art, so proud to have her paintings lift up my 'walls' to an altogether different level here! Thank you, Mira! Hope the readers will enjoy the colours and words as much as we both have.

Since I'm travelling, my posts through July and August are scheduled, but I will check in whenever I can and respond. Meanwhile, have the happiest summer/season!


  1. Oh Nila.
    Both Mira's and your art sings to me. Sings familiar melodies with words that I had never understood before...
    Thank you both.

    1. I am so glad you enjoyed the collaboration, EC. Thanks for your words.

  2. You did a very admirable job taking us into Mira's work. Thank you for the fine introduction.

    1. Thank you for the support Martin. I love Mira's watercolours.

  3. Both these are excellent, not only do you show your talent for writing but the art work by your friend.
    Well done.


  4. I adore Mira's watercolors! They make me feel peaceful. I also enjoyed going back in time with you through your poetry!
    Visit me @ Life & Faith in Caneyhead. 😉

  5. So many beautiful images here, both in your words and Mira's art. This post swept me away to a different place.

  6. Both words and images are beautiful. This is a great way to highlight your work and that of an artist.

  7. Perfect mix- a swirl of watercolor and words. So light and yet fraught with depths, meanings change with each slap of a wave. Or a cloud could pass over. Excellent combo of art skills. Poetry and paint

  8. picture and words from what every form it comes from can play into our conscience and sub-conscience.
    To me the front sail is full and pushing forward in life but your back one isn't.
    The mention of clouds could change. How often does cloud change and how often do we change our expression on our faces.

    Coffee is on

  9. Hi Nila and Mira - loved seeing the water colours give us the vibration of a peaceful beautiful life, then the words evoking more thoughts and twists and turns as certainly I relate them to my own travels ... lovely - thank you so much ... cheers Hilary

  10. Beautiful combination. Loved the poetry so much and the water colors are so soothing and yet evocative of memories...

  11. Your collaborative efforts fit together so well!

  12. Thank you all so much for the encouragement! Must see how I can persuade Mira to grace these walls at frequent intervals :)

  13. This is such a nice collaboration. Nice work!