Thursday, February 13, 2014

Introducing My Country to a Tourist

Keen was he to see
the map of my country
and i handed him a peepal leaf.
He looked astounded. I asked:
'Does it not look like the heart?'

He wanted to know
the boundaries of my country
and I pointed toward
the flying birds far-off.

When asked about my country's history
I, in turn, asked him about
the history of earth and water.

He longed to hear my country's song
and I told him to listen
to roosters crowing at dawn,
pigeons cooing and humming,
children crying and children giggling.

Eager was he to know
the faiths of my country
and I related to him
the pristine stories of embracing.

When asked about my country's language
I in turn asked him about
the language of tears and laughter.

[Read at Tagore's 150th Birth Day anniversary at New Delhi.]      

Winter Embrace

Like the Siberian birds
coming down to the south to spend winter,
the North Wind,
unable to bear its own chill,
And we know the sincerity
of winter towards its responsibility.
but when the icy wind blows
out of the refrigerator of cold war
we catch an unusual cold.

Winter grows cold
only to equip the earth with enough coolness
so that she should be able to withstand
the onslaught of the summer-heat to come.

A few warm clothes
hot soup and food
will help us to bear its chilly embrace.
but indifferent look of the glass-eyes
and the breath of hypocrite breeze
freeze our heart and consciousness.

Sometimes winter descends
spraying the snow-flakes

(It's a unique pleasure to be in snow.)
but when there is a cold wave
from the cold-storage of intrigue
we don't even know
that our blood is already frozen.

The hug of winter is not unusual,
not terrible
as that of Dhritarashtra.

Walking A Thirst

Seeing a shiny pond in the expanding sandy field
my thirst walks on and on never reaching there.

Unfolding my palm
I stare once again at Van Gogh's ear
severed, and smeared with blood.
A floodgate of laughter opens abruptly
and a conviction crumbles.
Every time with the crumbled conviction
I find myself dead.

Bearing myself on the shoulder
I attempt to climb up
the concrete mountain of this town,
its summit dissolving into smoke and dust,
but I find myself falling down,
down from my own shoulder.
And with every fall
I die unidentified in the crowd of share-market.

but after every death
I come back to re-birth.
Look at my rebirth in the eyes
of a small kid going to the fair
or on the tender bud sprouting
on one side of a tree-stump.

Even from the icy land
I come back a swallow
looking for the Spring of love.
But my every moment is insecure.
Will you give me shelter in your eyes?

Ah! My thirst walks on and on...

[Published in Indian Literature-228]

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Smell of Papyrus

As usual
a fresh newspaper
smelling of the ancient ruins
lies spread over the table of my consciousness.

Each day
the locusts of black words
flying on the wings of news
blanket over the paddyfield of conscience.

Insolent and savage news
intrude violently
into the privacy of my heart.

Thus satellite of information technology --
the modern reincarnation of Berberik's head,
looks detachedly
over the endless war of Kurukshetra.
And Sanjay
sitting in front of the blind eyes of Dhritarashtra
goes on giving running commentary
on the bombing of the Bamiyana Buddha
or the rattling gun-toting chariots
across the city of Baghdad.

The newspaper crisp from the press
smells thousands of years old papyrus.
Even the words spoken to me by my wife
smell of dried shrimps.

Why can't these news be
like the millions years old sun
that comes up anew each morning
and goes down anew each evening?

[Published in Indian Literature-228 a few years ago.]

A Rustling of Dry Lines

A look into the newspaper-mirror
begins his day...
A God of present-day myths,
he conjures up the world
on the blank screen
with his remote-control.

Endlessly blowing
soap-bubble words
the movements of his mouth organ
causes a noisy traffic-jam.

Lost in an eternal ascending
and descending of escalators
he is an indefinite article
blown up enormously

Each shop in the supermarket
is an octave
that he plays upon
the keyboard of his teeth.
boarding a hollow elevator
he reaches his Olympus,
joins in the card-game,
and enjoys the burning breath of women.

His automatic fingers
skins the setting sun like an orange
Tastes playfully of its pulp
and looking at any painting
printed on the currency notes
he speaks of Van Gogh

'All that glitters is not gold'
he quotes
pointing to his shelf
of hard-bound Shakespeare

Spreading his day
wide over his dazzling laughter
he transforms the darkness of the night
into the black of a lawyer's gown

[Published in the Flatfile, a literary periodical, edited by Anmole Prasad, about a decade ago.]

The Word I Shaped

I found the flower-stamen of a letter.
A flake of stone and a pinch of earth too
became letters in my hand. And mixing them
with some drops of sweat and tear
I kneaded the dough into the shape of a word,
put into it the smell of my breath
and let go of it with the wave of my voice.

Deserting me the word became
a real wanderer. It now belongs to
wherever it goes. Whoever it stays with,
it becomes his/her. But sticks to nowhere.
Nowadays whenever I chance upon it,
it sounds very much different.
I don't know it well, though it knows me
thoroughly and gives me a call sometimes. But
its voice has changed. Keeps changing.

Once I asked -
'Why do you change and change, my word?'
It shot back - 'Strange!
Why don't you want to change?
do you think yourself God?
Pleasure is in change. In change are
the movement and life. Don't you know?'