Saturday 5 August 2023

Numbers mean nothing


Mariner's Reach, Denarau, Fiji.

How many nights must you spend under a roof,

before you can call it a home?

Some say just thirty, others a thousand,

but I say to you – listen closely, my friend,

there’s no magic number, no theorem that proves

the time span that seals your claim.

A few aches are certain every time you move.

Thirty or thousand it’s all the same.


But there’s that horizon, oceans that heave,

a pink sky so breathtaking,

and a bird call can fling your life open.

Home has its place, but the wider world beckons,

your feet forget themselves and pack to leave,

done with walls and the same dawns breaking.

One step. And two. Dust eddies round your feet

and somewhere a welcome is waiting.


There’s that long horizon, pathways that twist

in and out of unknown forests.

The light is a tunnel that lures like a trap,

the ribs of leaves are rivers on a map,

the breeze writes gently on your back and lists

the things that can unravel rest.

And somewhere a welcome is waiting amidst

strangers’ smiles to the east or west.


Here it is cosy, the smoke from the stove

spiced with cinnamon and anise.

Secret garnets in the depths of tamarind,

the slow unfolding music of the winds,

butterfly wings in someone’s mango grove

in some weird definition of bliss.

The paddies are furred and rich, seen from above –

the world has its place. So has this.


So that’s it – you’ll sway, swing back, twang away,

the horizon just out of range.

The airplanes will keep flying overhead

to different cities with others instead.

The ships will weigh anchor and go on their way –

you’ll always be chasing change.

And you’ll wonder how many nights and days

make home and what makes a roof strange.


All your days you’ll fritter away in research

and find that numbers mean nothing.

Only the movement of road, car and coach,

the aerial view of a strange town’s approach,

the spiral of descent, the craft’s thrilling lurch,

the horizons in blues and pinks.

Only being out and away by and large

gives roofs their final meaning.

Welcome to M-i-V! - now based out of Kolkata! Hopefully, for good. I thought I'll post a bit early since I've been away for so long...and say things more expansive wordcounts. It's also been the longest time since I wrote anything more than a 14 liner. In fact the last long-ish poem I wrote was in 2017 - Remembering Zeinabu

The pandemic years have made me shrink in many ways, this is one of them. However, it's time to put that behind me and open up a bit - it's the fourth year of the Big P and my store of small p patience was never really robust. Neither is my word (limit) control. Expect longer stanzas, line counts, ramblings...thank you for reading and your time!

There's lots happening this month, both on the personal front and online. The offspring has come home for a few days and the aforesaid home looks like a disaster zone, but who cares? It's good to have the family under one roof, even if it is only for a fortnight. I hope to be back to regular posts here, also get back to my normal reading as and when I am able to straighten the house out. A few aches are certain every time you move...I'm finding many layers of meaning in that line. The bookshelves are full, even though in complete disarray, a hodgepodge of Bengali, English and genres - Emily D is next to Asimov and just looking at that is freaking me out... :) There's no way anyone can ever locate a specific book in this current mess. That's a job that needs tackling pronto but will have to wait till son flies back to uni. 

Online, there's WEP, the Chocolat Challenge, I can't say enough about that deliciousness however many wordcounts you allow me... so excited! And looking forward to what people write for this one!

I hope the month has started well for you and may it continue throughout. Have an awesome August! See you soon.


  1. Thank you. For your evocative poem and yourself.
    Have a wonderful (albeit busy) month.

    1. Thank you! It's already making my head spin, in a good way. Is 'heady' the word I'm looking for? :)

  2. Hari OM
    Ah, back in the homeland... and of course your wonderful expansive poem rang deeply within my own experience, so loved it! One thing I do know is that it will take time (however long) to feel that you have totally landed. Good to read you again and look forward to more. YAM xx

    1. I'm one of those people who never want to feel totally landed... always like being relocation ready :) Thanks for being here, glad you enjoyed the poem. I have lots to catch up on...

  3. Hi Nila - welcome home ... and I hope that's the last move - but who knows?! Husbands have minds?! Numbers fade too - I can't remember so much ... time frame too - was it then, or another time ... I do know Chocolat arrives in ten days or so ...

    Enjoy having son home, and then the busyness of sorting more things out ... I haven't enough space to sort my books properly ... but they're there and I mostly find the ones I want.

    Take care with the 'old bones' - me too ... cheers Hilary

    1. Sorting things is a nightmare mostly but the end results are great - will have to put myself through that in the near future.
      Looking forward to Chocolat in 10 days time...and to reading your take...all the best!

  4. So glad your family is together again for a time. Moves are always so stressful.

    1. Yeah, 99% a pain in the neck, the physical work required. The balance is the novelty and adventure in every fresh start.

  5. Always good to get home and to pass that magic number that makes it feel like home.

    1. Always good to go away and always good to come back to

  6. Was a delish poem, Nila. You make the most of every move which is the way to learn. No 'living in a rut' for you. And yes, numbers mean nothing.

    Glad you arrived home safe. Hope Amit is happy to stay while, or forever.

    I'm tapping away in a lovely section of the van park where I'm staying, overlooking the pool, always a happy place!

    Yay to Chocolat!

    1. I hope so too! :) But who knows?! Not counting any chickens before they hatch, not me. Or maybe I should rephrase that to 'not counting any chocolates before the lid is lifted off the box'? :)

      Glad to hear you're in a happy place. My one abiding regret about the Fiji stint being aborted will always be that I never made it to Oz and NZ.

  7. Lovely long poem - I'll read whatever you write. I've been stressed and I haven't even moved. But we just got the in-laws out of their home of 17 years and into a two bedroom assisted living. Oh my - the crap (I mean "treasures" we sorted) in so many random nooks and crannies. How do you move so often and seem like a fairly sane person? I'd be happy to come sort your books. I'm very tired of candleholders, candles, and dental floss all in a drawer. Welcome home! Enjoy family.