poetry

Home

As a child, home to me was a static space
Of red bricks and moss covered doors
So tall that my button eyes struggled to see their tips;
Of coconut trees romancing thunderstorms
And my face cupped in little hands;
Humming and writing and humming,
Poetry and music – their love child;

Home was my grandmother’s prayer chants,
And sandalwood scented hallways,
As the rickety radio played along,
Some long forgotten song
About orange mornings and chirping birds,
Tolling bells and holy offerings;

Bit by bit, I collect home in a box;
Scribbles on misted windows, leaky paper boats,
Foot prints on moss, monsoon songs,
Grandpa’s stories, blooming dahlias,
The cardboard doll house,
Tongue burns from ginger tea,
Sunshine;
To carry them all with me to adulthood
Only to realise that time is a notorious thief.

poetry

The Last Wish

The cold bath in the morning triggered nothing;

I did not shiver, I did not cry,

Perhaps, I did not even blink.

They walked me to the doorstep of the end,

Where I would be silenced forever;

Those were moments of mindfulness, as I walked;

I could feel the icy floor pierce the soles of my feet – chained and heavy.

My hair was pulled back so tightly that it hurt,

For the last time, however,

And, thereafter, the last wish.

My last wish, was then, to feel my hair fall on my back

And my mother’s fingers through them,

Her stories, her songs, her laughter;

I wanted to walk through the dark corridors of my temples

And amuse myself with the dust patterns in the sunlight

While my lungs filled up with the scent of tattered pages.

I wanted to sit under the night lamp in my old room,

Delve into the creased yellow pages of history

And listen to the midnight radio.

My last wish was to rekindle the revolutions

Quelled under green stacks of sin,

Massacred by the rifles of power.

I wanted to ease the agony of my sisters

Whose silent tears tilled my parched motherland;

My brothers whose blood and sweat filled our stomachs – my last wish was to fill theirs.

A sudden bout of sickness surged through my veins;

My bruises burned;

Then came the black cloth and my mind blackened along.

I could feel the first touch of rope against my neck;

Revolutionary slogans, subdued shrieks, unfulfilled wishes,

All knotted up inside my throat

Like a volcano at the hem of eruption.

At that moment, I thought I heard my mother,

As she sang to me and tried to lull me into sleep;

It was disturbingly peaceful.

And, then, the noose tightened!

poetry

Great, Greater, Greatest

On a fine summer day,
Great came to claim,
The Greatest ever name.
And, tiny little beings,
Greatly awestruck,
Granted Great the claim
To the most treasured name;
And somewhere in a corner
Of this big round world,
Good wept in utter shame!

On another fine summer day,
Greater came to claim,
The Greatest ever name.
And, tiny little beings,
Greater than greatly awestruck,
Granted Greater the claim
To the most treasured name;
And somewhere in a corner
Of this big round world,
Great wept in utter shame!

Then, one fine summer day,
Greatest came;
And, tiny little beings,
Struck with the Greatest awe,
Offered Greatest the claim
To the most treasured name;
But, Greatest laughed and laughed,
Then, with a shy smile remarked,
“Hasn’t Greatest always been my name?”
And, in different corners
Of this big round world,
Many little beings hung their heads in shame!

poetry

Madly

In every breath of mine,

I have held you in joy and agony alike;

Every time I closed my eyes,

With wrinkled lids and trembling lashes,

I dreamed a dream

Of you and me, Forever!

I have owned you, darling,

In my innocent aspirations and childlike desires;

In my brutal vulnerability,

And, in love’s destruction of my soul!

In a world that I call my own,

We have danced, arm in arm,

To beats of thunder, beneath pouring heavens;

And savoured the sweetness of wet mud;

We have soaked our feet in sand,

And resisted the might of magnanimous waves,

As they tried to sweep us off our feet;

We shook a little, but didn’t fall;

Our love, Oh! So strong!

I have held you in my smile, at the sight of a fresh rose,

And in my amusement at the enormity of the night sky;

I have owned you in the bliss of solitude,

And lived a million lives, in a world that I call my own;

I have loved a mysterious love, my darling!

Alas! You might have never known.

poetry

Streams

In the middle of the dark night,

Her eyes woke up to streams gushing down those plump cheeks;

That tinge of red brighter,

Heat soaring through her ears,

Her head a furnace,

A volcano at the hem of eruption;

Fists clenched to breaking point,

Flesh tearing away

And nimble fingers breaking;

Then a shriek so loud,

Compelling heavens to shed a drop or two;

All she needed was a hand on those shoulders,

A pat on the back for triumphs,

A smile to share her joy;

And she would offer her shoulders

For tears to be shed on,

A warm hug to console for defeats

Moist eyes to share sorrow;

She had so much to give

Too much to ask for, perhaps!

A fragile heart writhed in pain,

As howls of desperation filled the air

The skies roared in inexplicable helplessness,

And streams gushed down, yet again!

poetry

Nightmare

It is dark where I live,

I have not felt anything in a long time

Just squalor gathered all around,

Mice nibbling at my toe nails,

Insects feeding on my skirt;

But that small little window

Up there, with grills

Some light that visits very morning,

Holy chants, flowers and incense;

I see the twilight

Birds chirping, returning home;

Children walking, talking,

Swinging their arms, teasing each other;

Their innocent sing song ways.

Silver nights, thereafter

And the same old – porridge, stories and lullabies;

As darkness settles, I gasp, gulp

A knot in my throat, oh!

The night closes on me,

Four walls of filth charging with might,

I want to shout; parched chords struggle

Then, a sudden flash of light,

And a warm touch

“It’s alright, darling! I’m right here.”

I throw my arms around the slender torso

“Ma!”

I sigh in relief.