SHYAMALI POEMS

TWO SHYAMALI POEMS:

I

O Shyamali!

O Shyamali!
Where are you?
The night wind howls and whistles
Creeps into the room
through cracks of time
and bristles!
O Shyamli!
Where are you?

The dim light throws up
shapeless shadows
on the wall
Silence deafens
at obvious signs
of your presence
bright bindis stuck on the glass pane
your saris waiting to be worn again
the gentle laughter, the cheerful smile
the whiff of perfume, your favorite,
i hold on to it for a while
Why do i hear your footfalls?
Does memory play hide and seek to all?
Ah! I am but a prisoner of memories!

O Shyamali!
Where are you?

 

II

Past Perfect

Do you remember still, Shyamali!

the house in the hills
we dreamt of?- Do you recall? How we saved
each and every penny to own this
beauty beside the old willow tree!
How we loved and longed each time we looked at it!

Shyamali! the stars are out tonight,
The old willow stands in pine scented silence.
Your house too waits here all forlorn.
What joy it was once to see the soft snow fall!
Your snow boots, the bright red scarf
and your jumbo coffee mug, I have kept them all.
I sometimes see the old wicker chair
rocking gently on its own. Does it mourn?

My days, my nights are numbered,
I wait and wilt in the mist of pain.
Forgiving and forgetting is an art, they say.
How insane!
Come Shyamali,let’s watch the setting sun
Together, one last time!

 

 

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MEMORY

Memories Unplugged

 

One day she stepped so softly
in the cellars of her mind
A gentle nudge on her way
What a treasure did she find!
A sepia tinted photograph
of her and him in a frame
Her fingers traced his name
in dust , the spools of life unwind!

It was the summer of sixty five
Her heart skipped a beat or two
To see her life so close by
A life, so full , so true
How young and dashing he did look 
holding hands in love they stood 
barefoot on the silver beach
each within their loving reach.

Her dream-soaked eyes 
smiled at the sunset sky 
splashed with fiery red
No words were said, 
and silence bred
their feet touched 
the foamy tide
The salt wind sang 
and seagulls cried.
A sudden storm 
and a tempest wild 
swept them into the Deep.
All was quiet , 
all was calm
No sign was left to see.

She touched the frame, 
She felt the pain
Her eyes brimmed with tears 
The dream, alas, had come to an end
All nightmares had disappeared!
Now oft when she walks on silver beach
and that fateful summer remembers
That he touched her heart 
and warmed her soul,
And made her life worth so many,
She plugged the void in her soul
and made peace with Destiny!

 

 

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CREATION

AND THE MUD SANG !

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There he was

at the potter’s wheel!

A shrinking man

among earthen pots

of various size and shapes.

A breathless mangy dog, his companion

slept under a stringed cot with a broken leg!

The dark coppery sun burnt skin

of his hunched back

glistened with sweat

as he molded the yielding mud ,potter 2

giving form to the formless

breathing life into the lifeless!

The wheel spins and dances,

his hands are made of clay.

Long knotted fingers feel the mud,

It  sings under his touch,

A  touch , as ancient as the art,

the artisan, as old as eternity

the blood coursing through his veins

as timeless and primordial as nature!

Who is a Maker? Ancients called him vates.potter

the diviner, the creator, foreseer , prophet?

For me, this man , scorched in sun

is no less than  a maker, a creator of sorts,

How i wondered

when the kneaded mud,this soft clay

pulsated with life

with his godly touch!

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MEMORY

Do You Remember Still?

“Yeh jo hum mein tum mein karar tha….

Begum Akhtar, the melody queen!

This soulful song,  my favorite,

At this hour of the night?

The  bedside lamp throws

dark , clumsy shadows

on the painted wall.

Do i hear a footfall?

The window curtain whispers .

Silence. Wind. Chill.

What a thrill !

 

My pulse quickens,

My heart misses a beat.

i step out in the dark

covered  in a thin shawl

and shiver  in the windy night

The sullen backyard  holds its breath.

the silence looks  electric,

A full moon , pale and passionate

The Night Champa , heavy with flowers

white blossoms drop

slowly and softly

on the still-warm earth.

 

The last  night train whistles and rattles, far away.

“Yeh jo hum mein tum mein karar tha….

The song  trembles  in the sweet scented  air

Why does it pull me, coax me, tempt me….

Like  a maiden fair?

“Do you remember still, the promises we made

the love we shared,

Do you remember still?”

Raw emptiness claws and corrodes , the inside.

A  sigh escapes

and loses itself

in the silent night.

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HOME

MY HOUSE, THAT DAY

I gently push open
the door of my house ,
(My home, once upon a time!)
The door creaks and groans
at its rusted hinges
worn out by years of forgetfulness
and unintended neglect.
Entombed in a thick coat of dust,
the house lies in a fitful slumber
waiting to be brought alive
from a dreamless sleep
by a loving touch.

My restless ,waiting fingers
feel and touch
the brooding quiet,
the deafening silence,
( How else do you wake up a sleeping house?)
Old rosewood furniture covered with dusty sheets
my favorite flower pots dry as desert,
grey cobwebs clinging in nooks and corners,
an old calendar on the flaky wall
telling of the time past ,
(Or, past in present?).
a forgotten biscuit packet on the table,
some old bills, a faded blue sports cap,
half a bottle of a cough syrup,
a pocket FM radio , a single socks without its pair,
an open page of writing pad with my doodles,
(a proof of my absent minded moments!),
A stub of a candle sitting with a match box
and what not…
I look at these, my heart skips a beat or two..
“Mind your business”, they seem to say!

I have walked into a ravaged house, no doubt!
Oh! For the evil hands of Time!
I know it now, the Time! I mean.
A vicious intruder with deadly fangs,
(An evil poacher in my ‘living’ house?)
It casts a spell on things around
and works stealthily
to crumble and destroy
with its poison touch, all.

I am a stranger in this strange house ,
(But whose house is this?)
I want to wake the sleeping house,
I want to cry, I want to shout.
I want to ask, “Why so glum?
See , now I am back!”
But words are frozen,
tongue is mute
The house knows me not.
It does not remember me!

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LOVE AND LONGING

Song For Krishna

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O Krishna!

The Dark-hued One!

A simple milk maid,

here i am,

with a mind

too small to fathom

the play of Divine and the Holy

and, a  heart that knows

what faith is and but not restraint.

Beyond me, my Lord, are all these.

 

For me , O Lord!

the windy, dusty lanes of Braj,

the wandering herds of cows,

newly calved and the old

that graze along River Yamuna,

and among them, You!

are my world.

 

Do I hold a grouse?

when you turn yourself into a thousand

for that celestial dance, the Raas,

with all fair maidens

smitten by you,

who see you with them

and within them

(How each thinks she is the Chosen One!)

leaving just a bit of you for me?

 

Do I feel cheated and defeated

or deprived of every precious moment

that I keep a count?

and you roam the country side

with no-good cowherd friends?

Armed with sweet innocence

and full of playful pranks,

You pack off ungodly beasts

and unholy demons

to the nether world ,

yet set free their soul

with your holy touch!

 

But tell me, My  Krishna!

Why my envy knows no bound

to see that uncouth reed, your flute!

or that petty peacock feather

holding close to you?

That pride of place,

I yearn for that!

 

Deliver me, O Lord,

from these poisoned darts

of anger and of jealously,

(You know the art!)

I have let my secret out!

Listen to my hopeless heart,

Make me that peacock feather!

Oh! Make me that golden reed!

Till then, I swear,

I will bear my anguish

but with a failing heart!

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