Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Now and then

Diwali 2015

Never quite ached this way for stones and streets
and sharp winds that blew out all Diwali flames,
nothing to do but pick them up and retreat
indoors there with blackened wicks - each year the same -
and nurse the hurt, reflect on bittersweet
memories where the oil lamps stood aflame,
where wicks lit symbols of hope and not defeat
in faraway cities of different names.

Now in a place where not a zephyr stirs,
the lamps burn steadfast, though no goddess feet
will come searching for them under the stars.
Never again will steady flames feel complete
without the blackened wick where nothing flickers,
the last wisp of smoke without light or heat.

Diwali 2010      

I have had to bring my lamps inside,
The wind’s just blown too hard
A small flicker and each one died
Even before the match was thrown aside
No matter how many times I tried,
Flames didn’t glow in my courtyard.

The night of lamps is a moonless night
And starshine casts no shadow
The shadows are deepest when the lamps are bright.
Yet I am aggrieved that my lamplight
Was put out summarily at the insight
Of a force I barely know.

I draw my comfort where I can,
Done with feeling hard done by.
A star sprinkled dark far better than
A dazzling yard lit by a puny plan.
Minds can be changed in an hour’s span
And flames found in a moonless sky.

The festivals always act as a prompt, though not every result finds its way to this blog. Some feel too rough for public consumption, and I don't like smoothing them out always :) This year I feel differently about roughness, rough and less rough, and much revised - all are mine ultimately...so this year two poems in one post.  One now and the other written five years ago on Diwali from a very different place, physical and mental, before the blog was even birthed. I have left the poem just as I wrote it, no edits, and one difference that stands out straightaway is how my capitalisation has changed in this time :) apart from the other stuff.

Happy Diwali to you if you are celebrating, may the light always fall on your path and never be in your eyes. And if you are not, then I wish you a happy season, autumn or spring, whichever it happens to be at your end.


  1. What a cool celebration - the light over dark, good over evil. I can just imagine the lanterns, and candles lighting up the neighborhood, and the disappointment when the wind keeps putting the light out. As though evil has come calling and defeat is near. Lovely! Happy Diwali!
    Truth be told it's how I feel about our political atmosphere now - all darkness and evil in high places and the rest of the populace looks for the light in a world intent on the darkness.

    1. Thank you, Yolanda. The dark is always greater, but hopefully the pinpricks of light remain.

      An apt parallel for the political situation.

  2. I love this Nila. I have heard about the Diwali festival. The Indian diaspora in Australia celebrated recently. Many Aussies joined in. Nothing like a party! I thought how colourful it all was, and how it cuts across cultural differences.

    Yet I am aggrieved that my lamplight
    Was put out summarily at the insight
    Of a force I barely know.

    These are the words I'll take home with me...Thank you!

    Denise :-)

    1. People everywhere love a party! and the lights make it so pretty :)
      Thanks for being here.

  3. Sorry neither time were you able to keep the flames lit. Sounds like a wonderful festival though.

    1. It is. Diwali is fun, and deep, and easy to relate to across cultures.

      One learns to live with blown out lamps, they don't freak me out like they used to :) The point I guess is to make the effort to light them, and accept that some will burn and some won't,,,thanks for visiting!

  4. Hi Nila - interesting to see the two styles ... not so different - and we learn as we go. Diwali .. must be fabulous to be a part of ... and we mostly definitely need the winning good over evil. I see it is celebrated at the darkest time of the moon ... and then the lights light up and a new clean life awaits ...

    Sounds a wonderful time ... the build up and then the celebratory arrival of the lights ... cheers Hilary

    1. Thanks Hilary,great to know that the style remains more or less constant :) Diwali is super fun, lights and fireworks all through..

  5. 2010
    The Diwali night I know not of
    For moon or stars to shine on high
    Yet what I read I see the flame
    In your heart that glows inside
    The heart grows dim for
    No flames did glow
    Defeat of will is now hid
    To close in spirits low
    You can throw rocks if I got this all missed up
    But, I felt that way from reading them.
    Been out of town, death in family,
    good for him hard on her.

    1. I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Condolences.