india

Politically Correct

If I was not careful with my words,
diplomatic, biting my tongue and lip –
I’d say, Godse’s spirit runs free today
like an untamed horse galloping
on no man’s land.

But then I won’t say it, for fear
of being branded with the anti-nationals,
grouped with the seditious.

Screw it all.
I just want to teach peace
and quit the violence the way
the whites quit India.

Political associations are the bane of my destiny. (more…)

Salt Lake Fury

Red hood cars with metal rims were prepared
to whisk away that indignant girl who votes for the hand,
and Baboo ready to spring on those
half-wit photographers who had no credentials to their name.
There is no value for framed certificates in this land of street credit.
Motor cycles burn. Lathis charged.

It’s just collateral damage. (more…)

Highway Observations

Some days ago, an old man with black bamboo legs and thin snowy hair picked up twenty kilograms of white stone for twenty rupees. He took it down the steps to dump it near the trucks by the river. I don’t know if he had a bed to lay on that night. He did not even have slippers on his cracked feet.

Not far from him, sat a homeless angel with the smile of a magazine cover model and the dirty covering of an African Chief- red, yellow, blue. His hair had probably remained unwashed for a year or two. But with all his dirt, he was beautiful.

Today, I watched him again. He was not smiling anymore. I wonder if he was hungry as he watched the young men who sipped cabbage soup some forty metres away.

On the other side of the highway, in a makeshift shack, a young boy sat and sold flour dumplings that his mother had made. The money would go to his father’s drinking perhaps. He and his mother would make do with leftover flour. (more…)

Selfish

Inspiration-
I believed
Was in the ruins of a sunken temple
Or in that dead man I saw floating
Obliviously on a filthy river
That was supposed to be holy.

I thought I’d talk of the markings
On the water tanks,
The graffiti on the thousand
Year old steps and stones
Or of those men in black
Who eat burning flesh
Of humans carcasses.

The saffron saint told me that. (more…)

The Swami’s Call

This was a poem that had won the first prize for a poetry competition I had entered early last year. It focuses on the Indian struggle for independence. The “Swami” mentioned in the poem is Swami Vivekananda who was an inspiration for many during the freedom movement.

Everyday under the harsh sun

I labour and toil

The Sahib whips me

He hits at me.

 

Everyday I see him

Sitting under that Banyan tree

Relishing the fruits of my motherland

His steel blue eyes reflecting the contempt of his heart.

 

Everyday I watched him

Until I heard the swami’s call

Arise, he said

And so I did.

 

Awake, the swami said

And so I did

My brothers and I-

No, we slumber no more.

 

I saw the swami beckoning

I heard him say,

Stop not till your goal is reached

And so I went on.

 

No longer did the Sahib whip me

No longer did he trample my soul

No longer did he crush my spirit

No longer does he violate India.

 

We arose, we were one

India- my kingdom

Freedom- my bequest

We awoke, we emerged.

 

We heard the Swami’s call

We followed in his steps

The battle won, the fight has been fought

My country is now mine.

 

free-b-30-04-2012

Photo courtesy: http://images.jagran.com/free-b-30-04-2012.jpg

THE UNFORGIVING OCEAN AND THE UNRELENTING BOY

At the deck,

Between the giants,
Anchored amidst the expensive yachts
And the boisterous looking commercial vessels
Is a small little boat,
Ahmed’s boat.

He is not a seafarer
Nor is he any more experienced than his baby sister Maya
He is but a child
Still, the little boat was his own
His father but a humble fisherman
His mother a lowly washerwoman
Nevertheless Fate had different plans for Ahmed

At fourteen,
The sun was but a blob of orange paint
The horizon was all too close
And sailing all too simple.
Yet he knew he must go:
Go forth into the wide ocean
To reach foreign lands and make his fortunes.

Father questioned his motives
Mother cautioned him
Still he sailed
With unrelenting courage
And a fire that burns within his soul.

The sea was still,
The anchor pulled up
The oars taken out.

At fourteen,
He saw the world as a kaleidoscope
Each reflection in all six mirrors was poles apart
In one, he saw the calm blue waters
In another, a storm
Then the undeniable silence
That dread of what was to come
Along with the exhilaration
And the will to conquer.

Tempest came,
In deadly whirlwinds and torrential pours
The little boat overturned
With Ahmed barely holding on.
“I mustn’t die” he whispers
With a gulp of salt water
And a shrill cry
He holds on,
With unrelenting courage
And a fire that burns within his soul.

The blue waters finally settle
The little boat sails straight once more
He faces that orange blob on the horizon
Unafraid and determined
Because courage does not relent
And fire does not die.

storm

#previously published in The Shillong Times