Saturday 22 July 2023

The Song of the Shifting Lessee


The garden has fewer flowers this year,

though there’s indeed much unseasonal rain -

that’s not enough. Water alone can’t force

flowers onto stems. Nature takes its course.

Things need light and air, that is made quite plain.

The lease is over. And departure’s near.


The lease is ending. Everything’s finite.

Even blooms must be exactly numbered.

Do plants grow less flowers for the lessee?

Dismiss the transient and the tenancy?

Or is this a farewell, just without words?

Maybe it boils down to a trick of light.

This is probably the last post for July. The rest of the month will go in packing up and moving back. I'll be offline for a couple days in transit and then back online here and at WEP in August. That's going to be an awesome month - online and off, for various reasons.

You have a great rest of July, see you soon. 

Saturday 15 July 2023

One Road, Many Routes


There’s only one road and not a thousand,

though the ways to get home are many.

Mango blossoms and the flamboyant’s,

piled up clouds on a day that’s rainy.


The sound of a key turning a lock

the rattle of a cracked casement glass,

a worm’s eye view of bridges of smoke,

grazing cattle configured on grass.


An old railway map marbled with tracks

boarding passes of bleached, faded trips

a chipped drawer stacked with photographs -

the preserved debris of old friendships.


Each one of them is a sufficient route

to loop back in a flash and touch the roots.      

What does the world have that home doesn't? Not a trick question, genuine. 

Well, chocolate for one. In my case. Chocolate has been produced in India from 1960's onwards, but except for niche, artisanal (read super pricey!) chocolate, the mass market stuff is overly sweet and too hard/harsh for my palate. European chocolate is still my favourite, available through out the ME but extremely expensive in Fiji as well as India. However, Fiji produces its own chocolate and there are other brands from NZ which aren't too bad. I will lose access to them obviously, once I move back. It will become an occasional treat from a-few-squares-a-day-keeps-the-heebie-jeebies-away type daily essential commodity at present. I'll have to deal with that. Home is not where the chocolate is. 

The reason why I am thinking all this is because that's what the prompt is at WEP next month

Join us! Post Aug 16th-18th, 2023.

Bittersweet, dark or white, studded with nuts, dusted with candied fruit, encasing intoxicating liqueurs in various heady flavours. Haunted by dodgy dealings and mirroring its own bittersweetness in its history,  which is changing but not changing fast enough - it's a veritable metaphor for life itself!  What's not to love, right? 

Monday 3 July 2023



This is a screengrab from somewhere
I forgot to note, apologies. My mum's
was different, it had a domed top 
made of glass, slightly more decorative. 
The principle was the same of course. 


Mother’s first kitchen had a bamboo screen,

a four-slice toaster shaped like a carousel

the elements exposed, the frame in stainless steel

a knob of Bakelite to make the bread swivel,

small, birdcage like and nothing automatic -

the slices had to be turned, attended to,

each side evenly browned, equally crisped.

Every dish made there had something to do

with a larger mindfulness, constant presence,

a more hands on approach, a more involved love.

Mother insisted on four-slice models

through the sleeker, automatic pop ups

with regulators and covered elements

through all her relocations, all her travels.




She’s long gone, yet I sit thumbing her presence -

her pistachio green, Usha table top fan,

her progression through her successive kitchens,

her toasters and her taps in which cold water ran.

She’s long gone, more than thousand days at rough count

 and yet what I count aren’t the days of her absence,

instead dream up her transistors, and the sound

of signature tunes, the beeps at starts and ends.

They’re all gone. Pistachio green and stainless steel.

The nine o’clock siren that she set clocks by,

the clocks themselves lost in time, lying unwound.

Her hanger with her mauve georgette tie-and-dye.

I close my eyes, touch that edge and somehow feel

she’s not gone far. She’s somewhere here. That’s what counts.



She’s long gone, but she’s here, not just on and off

like air that’s breathed, fluid that fills up each cell.

Constant, low grade grief’s also some sort of love,

I wouldn’t even call it grief. Hard to tell

where it ends, if it does, and breathing begins

and which exact bits of her have I inhaled,

if I forgot to breathe out what I breathed in

and how her taps, tunes, smiles and linens dovetailed

into me somewhere and can’t be prised apart.

Can grief end if love does not? does this deserve

a different name? how often our language fails!

An immense bandwidth reduced to just two words.

To binaries. With neither heads nor hearts.

Grief and she don’t quite fit, match standard thumbnails.

1001 is a charged number - the best known is the storyteller Shahrazade from the Arabian Nights.  This 1001th one is for my mother who was, no is my very first poetry teacher and one of the finest storytellers it's been my privilege to encounter. 

I've been travelling, happy travels after what feels like an aeon - I went to meet up with a schoolfriend after some 40 years at her son's wedding in Bali. Am back now and back at full attention at M-i-V as well as WEP, where the winners' post is live, go check it out to see who and what won the June Challenge, the creativity was exceptional this round. So blown away!

For the rest, I've been writing this series for the better part of June, I thought the milestone should be dedicated to her who I celebrate and miss everyday with a greater intensity than the day before. This doesn't in any way feel like grief, just a quiet teasing out of various memories that give shape and meaning to my life overall. It started with that vintage toaster and moved through various other stuff from half a century ago to now and got embedded into this series. So I thought I'd post a few of them here. 

That's not her first kitchen of course, but that's the very first one I remember, which was in New Delhi in a three storey stand-alone residence and at least twice, probably three times the size of her last kitchen in her flat in Calcutta. Do you remember your mother's kitchen from your childhood? Any particular gadget come to your mind? 

Hope your summer/season is going smooth and well.