Sunday, 25 September 2022

Miscellaneous and Unspoken

 

There are different kinds – the car scratched on sand

with a twig, an arrangement of seashells,

driftwood draped across the earth like clock hands

a pair of mugs, a wallpaper on a cell -

these too were promises,  and they travel

with me now, their tyre marks wherever I land,

their shapes circling the baggage carousel.

 

They tug forward, nonstop, breathless, the rims

of golden clouds, the brimming azure sea,

the curved solar lampposts. The sun must dim

its light so that their stores can come to be

a lit path back home. They travel close with me -

the long lost shells, driftwood, pebbles, the whims

of tides and winds; promises made too freely.









Saturday, 17 September 2022

18th September

 

I’ve been thinking of you – especially

your storytelling in summer afternoons,

the curtains closed against the heat of Delhi -

words in the dim room woven magically,

about those golden crowns and silver spoons.

I’ve been thinking of you – your birthday’s soon.

Birthdays persist, stay on in memory

after death, cascading outside the room

like an endless vine down that double storey

house.  The last monarch, the power and glory

are gone now. The televised mourning resumes.

I well up a little. Not quite sure for whom.

I’ve been thinking of you - more has been lost

than just stories. Too much to count the cost.



Arundhati Maitra (18.09.1938 - 12.04.2020)



Sunday, 11 September 2022

The Keystone and the Arch

 


Could you hate the arch yet love just the keystone,

could you love the person but condemn the sin?

All these years – for a lifetime -  it has borne

the stresses of the position it was in.

 

It’s fallen now, by all means evaluate

if you like the arch enough to build again,

what changes you would want in height and shape,

the designs that suit the present taste of men.

 

As for those who never travelled that path,

those whose ways diverged long decades ago,

let them not talk about it, nor the arch

and let them not judge what they do not know.

 

The stone’s fallen, accord it the position

it deserves for a job consummately done.




 

I'm am not pro- or anti- British monarchy, it's none of my business the systems of government in other countries. I am an admirer of the Queen, for her own personal qualities, nothing to do with the system she represents. India achieved independence a few years before the Queen became the queen. She would have had very little to do with it even if she had been on the throne, given that the British monarch reigns only but does not rule. So I don't quite understand these memes which are circulating. And I certainly don't understand this vilification of the sons for the sins of their fathers. 


No empire was ever built to look after the interests of the subjects. Emperors were ruthless people not teddy bears out to wipe the tears of the hoi polloi. They strategised to expand their territory by fair means and/or foul, mostly foul because no war is fair really. So why should anyone expect an Imperial power to treat its subjects softly softly I can't fathom. Neither can I understand why bash the Queen now, after her death, for what happened prior to 1947. Sure, I would have liked it better if the royal family/UK government had made a formal apology for Jallianwala Bagh. But I don't know how much discretion she had over that decision. At any rate, I don't think this is the right time to air that particular peeve. And all peeves can be aired politely.


If you ask my free and frank, East India Co would never have got the advantage it did without the active collusion of Indians, not just Mir Zafar but also the Hindu mastermind of the whole scheme and the Hindu financiers of it. If the then Indian ruling class were politically astute and a little less greedy and class-ridden, Clive would have most probably lost that battle and likely none of this colonisation business would have happened, who knows? 


Not excusing any of the excesses of the Empire, but personally, I think the Queen has navigated a difficult job with great dignity and a quiet, self-effacing grace, without any drama. Ninety six years old, obviously in frail health but still on her feet, smiling and serving her people till the very last. If a few of our own current politicians were to be a fraction as devoted to duty as she was, India wouldn't be in the mess it is in right now. 


Okay I'm done now, thank you for your patience if you've read this far. :) 




Sunday, 4 September 2022

Learning to...

 return... 





I will go out, get away from these walls,

out where the mauve sky bends to gently croon

her soft secrets into the waterfalls,

into the creeks overseen by the moon.

I must get to the sky, draping her sunset

over her shoulder like a silken shawl

and trailing a few tassels in the inlets

while the fishing boats are drawing in their nets

and checking the silver of the day’s haul.

Don’t worry, I’ll come home with the tide, turn

and climb the path, the stars will have begun

to jostle for standing room, best position.

And looking at me the street will see someone

who’s gone out but has never learned to return.








Sunday, 28 August 2022

The Still Point

 





 

There’s a point beyond which all clamour stills;

you step into it – at the beach…in the hills…

right in the middle of the city square…

and the world falls away, it’s just you there

amidst the rush of traffic, vendor talk,

the cheap trinkets, or the staccato knock

of a woodpecker in the trees somewhere…

 

the sure knowledge settles in your pith, deep,

you know it from then on, awake, asleep –

like a pebble thrown in an endless well

lost in the most complex, magical spell

the planets cast, the secrets galaxies hold

the moonpaths of nights, the daily rivergold –

that point’s finally home, peace, where you dwell.


Sunday, 21 August 2022

Flipped

 



He’s been in these new spaces and he’s slept

under this roof, called your name, sat in that chair,

handled utensils and fresh bread. He’s stepped

into the garden, the seafront, on the stairs.

No footprints though. And even though he’s left –

he’s made this into home. The soil, sea and air,

their gritty strangeness now easy to accept.

That’s how it’s happened, happens everywhere.

 

The places touched to home, the unknown stripped

in one instant remade and familiar,

strange flipped to comforting and you equipped

to deal with it. Because someone close and dear

for one brief moment has stood beside you here.




My son was here on a short visit, back in his campus now a gazillion miles away. I forget to panic 24/7 when I am in face-to-face mum mode. :) 

I hope your loved ones are standing close to you, physically or metaphorically. Have a brilliant week ahead.


Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Write... Edit... Publish... August 2022 : Moonlight Sonata

 

Hello writers,

August has come round quickly hasn't it? It’s time to get back to Write...Edit... Publish... where we are writing to Moonlight Sonata in our series of musical prompts. I had grand plans for this one - wanted to take a different direction, do a humour piece because honestly, what I know about classical music, Western or Eastern, can fit into a pinhead…aaand, well...here I am with a poem, it kept buzzing in my head and wouldn’t be shaken off. So much for the different direction...best laid plans of mice and men, what can I say? 


Before I post the same old same old poetry, I just want to sneak in this delightful rendition of the Moonlight Sonata being played on the santoor, an Indian instrument of Mesopotamian/Persian origins, so a fusion of East and West on several levels.  




And this one a delightful dubstep remix that sounded equally magical to my untrained, vehemently unclassical ears. Enjoy!


 

Finally, here's my entry for Moonlight Sonata, hope you enjoy this one too.


Show me your shine


The moon shines with whatever it has got –

cloudy skies, mid-phase, an extra-large spot,

it doesn’t wait to be perfectly full.

Broken but lit up is also beautiful.


The winter strips the leaves from the forest -

not every season ends up with a harvest,

the river itself shrinks to a thin thread

beautiful still on the half-dried riverbed.


Each life is complete precisely at death,

it must shine within its own length and breadth,

half finished, broken, imperfect its timing

but beautiful still - because it’s tried shining.


There’s more to beauty than shining at full,

shining on empty is far more beautiful.




WC - 103

FCA


Tagline : Shining on empty.



Incidentally, there are so many people I know who're shining on empty right now. Not just shining, but dazzling. You know who you are. Salute!


Read the other entries here :



Sunday, 14 August 2022

Lowercase

 



Sometimes I want to write my name in lowercase

so that it fades behind others when misfortune

is prowling the city streets, reading the nameplates,

pondering which door to open, which house to choose,

and at others I want to write it small because

it feels more appropriate for a small person

who mostly does the smallest things. Little drops

of poems. Laundry.  Who’s stressed about the carbon

footprint, the gender gap, potholes, light pollution.

Pianissimo fits better, what’s been written? -

to merit announcing the first sound louder

than the ones that follow? Only those proper nouns

should be allowed higher volume, rising resonance

where the owners made some tangible difference.



Today is Independence Day, the 75th one. A major milestone. I'm celebrating. But that is also pianissimo. Too many issues back home. 

Happy Independence Day to all desvasis. 

May we be free of prejudice, inequality, poverty, ignorance, arrogance and violence soonest. Jai Hind!


Sunday, 7 August 2022

Canopy

 




Wouldn’t you rather be in the grasslands

dancing to the winds and rains, being a blade,

being green and grounded, centred in the land,

watching the timelessness of light and shade?

 

Wouldn’t you rather be in temperate zones

be a willow weeping into a lake,

the paving under old arches, or keystones

or those meandering routes rivers take?

 

I do love the grasslands, I love the woods

and I adore the shapes of conifers

but the rainforest is equally good -

the different beauties of the universe.

 

No, there's no other place I’d rather be

content where I am – the current canopy.


Sunday, 31 July 2022

Demiupdate

 

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. ~ Cicero.

 

 

From the garden.


The older I’ve got, the more reluctant I’ve become to use the word ‘have,’ as in possession, whether of animate beings or inanimate things. My life so far seems a nonstop exercise to stop me from getting comfortable with that word. The universe is constantly drumming it into my head that well, nothing can be had for too long, certainly not the entire duration that I might want it for. Not people, not gardens, nor books. I wonder if this has anything to do with gender, or having the philosophy of the Gita dinned into one through untold generations? Or maybe both? Are men more likely to identify with absolute ownership, authority, permanence? Is this some sort patriarchy situation playing out in my head here? I don’t know. But barring this reluctance about possession, excepting this one tiny caveat, I have no disagreement with Cicero. A garden and a library are totally enough, or would be if I ‘had’ them.


Also from the garden.


Sorry, are you here looking for the weekly poetry? It’s not that’s not being written, it is, but since it is starting August, I thought I’d do a sort of demiupdate. August is an important month, private family milestones as well as the national Independence Day, India completes 75 years as a sovereign nation on the 15th - huge dos being planned back home, huge controversies as well, I'm not going there. What I'm saying is - I just completed 100 days of living in Fiji. That totally demands an update. Therefore, no poetry. It will be back next week as usual.


So. What's been going on the last 100 days? The garden delights me, it totally doesn't care that I'm only a tenant and here for a limited time. And it continues to put forth its blooms as and when due. I have managed to i.d. most of the flowers and plants. The open living space delights me - not so much. It is a tad inconvenient to have no privacy - hubby's colleagues need to call around sometimes on work and I do not always feel sociable and/or presentable, I don't know whether they like having their colleague's wife's mad hair and grumpy mood inflicted on them, probably not but there's little that can be done about it by either party. Hubs had the Covid a few weeks back, fortunately mild and continued to wfh so he'd be on zoom calls in the living area while I'd be trying to get a meal together, and well, Indian cooking is all pressure cookers whistling and spices being sizzled in lightly smoking oil and so on. Or I'd be trying to write and he'd be watching the TV/Netflix and there's no way to cut off the noise...so, nope, totally not a candidate for open plan lifestyles. 


Book from Western Regional Library, Lautoka.

Checked out the local bookshops in Denarau, Lautoka and Suva. Let's just say their offerings are mostly not to my taste. In other words, total write off. However, not to panic, I have become a member of the public library in Lautoka, duly providing my grandmother's maiden name and proof of my local address etc etc and managed to read some 8-9 books, but then it's shut down without any notice for renovations and is unlikely to open before two months. But I'm still okay for reading materials, because the landlord has left a small shelf of books here some of which I will tackle till the library becomes functional again. And there's always Project Gutenberg if all else fails.


Victoria Parade, Suva. 

The other thing that's been done is to walk every beach/waterfront from Lautoka to Denarau - Saweni, Viseisei, Vuda, Lomolomo and Wailoaloa, spread over a distance of 30 km from Lautoka to the end of Nadi Bay. Also the Victoria Parade and Nasese seawall in Suva. The Garden of the Sleeping Giant we visited from the hotel in Nadi, I wrote about that in April during the A-Z itself. 


Saweni. 


The next target is to go onto the Coral Coast towards Sigatoka to the east and also go inland to explore the Nausori Highlands, I am given to understand it is super scenic. Though truth be told, it is scenic in every direction. I take my petty peeves and stresses to the waters nearly every week and they calm me down without fail. Oceanwatch and skywatch and mountainwatch, ever changing, ever the same timeless, never a dull moment and yet total serenity.


Viseisei.


The offspring is planning to be here, sandwiching a short break between his summer and fall semesters, that's majorly buoying up ye olde spirits. So much has happened since we saw him last that it feels far longer than a year. My nagging and micro-managing skills need some major brushing up! :) Oh, he's been instructed to get books for me too.  Once he arrives, I fully expect there will be further additions to the to-see and to-do targets. Maybe we can go off to one of the other islands...Mamanuca or Yasawa...


Lomolomo.



Writing-wise, there's the Write...Edit...Publish... Challenge coming up mid-August, we're writing to Moonlight Sonata - excited about that.  This year's challenges have been based on music, this one's the only classical piece, I'm really keen to see what directions people take with this. I'm planning to do something unusual with it, do something off beat, let's see how that works out. 




Also, I'll be writing and submitting more to The Daily Life Magazine from now on. A totally new form, neither poetry nor fiction, not even travel memoirs but general essays. Excited about that too, though also a little apprehensive. 


Wailoaloa.


All in all, 100 days into Fiji, 7 months into the year - I have access to a garden, access to reading material and access to writing. I'm sorted. Bonus, new places to go, new things to try. I'm super sorted. No grounds for any complaint. 


New things to try!


Stay well and happy. What are you looking forward to this month? Hoping they'll come to you just as you want and wishing you a wonderful August!




Sunday, 24 July 2022

Closed, but also open

 

Did you know that shop down the corner here?

I went looking for it, but it was closed…

Son, it shut when the lockdown was imposed

and never opened again. How many years

 

have you been away? The last two have changed

so many things – how we work, play, buy and eat,

the number of shops shut down on this street

the entire neighbourhood’s been rearranged

 

a hundred homes upended, windows gone blind

livelihoods destroyed, a war without a war

shutting down our lives, never mind the store

the last couple of years haven’t been kind

 

where have you been, son? Stuck on the other side

of the world, waiting for the plague to subside.




Last two and a half years, I've been treading water as far as writing goes. Posted here regularly of course, and at WEP - these are like breathing, can't imagine life w/o them (Thank you my WEP and blog families!) 

But I made no submissions anywhere. Zero. I wrote plenty...I was just nowhere near up to editing the stuff into submission-worthiness. Hopefully, that out-of-control spell is now broken and I am now open, business as usual. For which I am grateful. 

Check out this link here - Portrait of a Garden, and if you feel able, please share on your sm platforms. Thank you for your support. 


Sunday, 17 July 2022

Worm's eye view

Lomolomo. Juky 22.

 


The sun has almost touched the horizon

and I too want to stay close to the ground

to read the stories silken sands have spun,

where the ocean’s scattered seashells around

 

The tide is low and a tired old white kite

lies asleep, its tail like a mermaid’s fin

fluttering over the last of the daylight.

Their day’s work’s done, the boats are drawing in

 

My body is crumbed with glittery sand

and my hair is billowing with the tide

I’m neither of the water nor this land

and I’m neither the road nor still hillside.

 

Just want to stay close to the wash of blue -

never the bird, rather a worm’s eye view.