I was in Mumbai for a short while ,attending a Corporate Centre meeting on frauds .Everything looked and sounded so familiar.Only the crows cawed less intensely now ,as golden sunrays entered the guest house windows in the morning through pale curtains . The clutter of traffic appeared more bearable as the roads seemed to stretch interminably. The mystique of the old Mumbai and its delicious unpredictability no longer survived. Everything remained placid and controllable.
That day in Mumbai
My morning came back full of feisty crows
Fed on Mumbai garbages and fetid sea-fish
Of the harbor’s heights, not the fragrant one
The day echoed with fallacies and lost moneys;
In all it was putrefaction and beauty in tatters.
The pixels were agitated by lack of sky spaces;
The roads were picture-perfect, with rocks flowing
And Haji Ali mysteries near the winding flyover.
The sounds of car horns meshed with crows’ caws
Which were continually shrill and metallic as always.
Rukmini’s lying-in hospital and juice beauty parlor
Nested quietly in the space above the footpath
The lying-in endlessly stretched into the windows
And piercing the blinds ,broke into the summer sky.
She pretends she does not limp
Resting a hand on the wobbly knee
Her bones could be heard creaking
She does not acknowledge this.
The shopping is utterly irresistible .
Her sister is gone; she is next in line
Fear is bone-dry in the whites of eyes
But why talk of death, leave-taking?
These people have sinister designs
To deprive her of the joy of being alive.
The last time she went shopping
She had a minor sprain in her ankle
The doctor made such a ruckus
Come to think of it, she believes
She could cook food for twenty
A walking stick ? Who needed one?
A thought comes like a yellow
Autumn leaf riding down layers of air
Her sister is gone; she is next in line .
But she has a lot of work to do yet
There is so much to celebrate –
Feel the resplendent colors of cottons
And the sheer joy of feeling their sheen
Their smooth texture and complain of quality
A Saturday shopping expedition followed by
Hot snacks at the roadside restaurant
Warm summer days of family reunions
Ambient evenings of perfumed weddings.
She crinkles her eyes to peer through
The sky-spaces of the old guava tree
In the backyard of her ancient house
It is all the same ;nothing has changed
So much to do and so much to celebrate.
One day ,under the guava tree I pictured this old lady who loved shopping and the countless little pleasures of life. I looked through the sky-spaces of the guava tree which gave her the confidence that life went on the usual and nothing was really lost .Near the moss-laden compound wall the realization dawned that nothing was actually the same when the bones creaked like the withered barks of the old guava tree . She would have to limp when every one else was walking straight.She had to carry a walking stick -that was hateful when all the people carried none and went about their shopping jaunts like a breeze. Her sister is gone and she is next in line-the words echoed in the back of her life. Her ears stopped listening but the echoes continued.Every now and then she would come back to the guava tree and watch life in its branches full of squirrels running up and down. There is a lot of shopping to do and so much to live for and to celebrate. Just then a thought comes like a yellow autumn leaf riding down layers of air :Her sister is gone;she is next in line
There she sat,cross-legged
With her eyes screwed up
She seemed to take a stance
But that was not a stance
Energy swelled within her
In waves after waves
Only to break, boisterously,
On rocky shores of nothingness.
Her cell phone rang fitfully
Interrupting pencilled shapes
Of her future textile creations.
Her shapes, not still forms,
But frenetically moving images
Sizzled and then vaporised
In split-second transience
Everything moved towards a stance
A fixed identity for her soul.
Her fabric brooked no such thing
The struggle was worth nothing
Exhausted,she went off to sleep.
I was travelling from Hyderabad to Tirupati in an overnight train and as I was trying to read a book I saw there was a young lady sitting opposite to me. There was something about her which spoke of her profession which appeared to be some sort of a textile designer who ran her own business. She appeared to take a fixedness much against her volatile mind -a stance which perplexed me by its inherent contradictions.It was a constant struggle , the way she coped with the world and her work. There was no attempt to observe me from the corner of her eyes although she was full of my presence. Her energy rose and fell in waves after waves as though all those shapes in her mind were breaking free and nothing finally happened. Nothing interested her in the train and it was only the cell phone that was giving her the much needed identity.
He had come into us, running,
Yelling, in crescendo of pain
And livid with fateful anger.
Then all was peremptorily still.
The car stopped, screeching
Only to scrape bloody flesh
Off the muddy bumper; actually
He was chasing steel shadows
Which had no business there.
We were travelling from Calicut to the Wyanad forests in our car when he had suddenly come into us .The driver applied his brakes very skilfully to bring the car to a stop but could not save the dog.Everything seemed so sudden ;his barks trailed off quickly in the morning silence of the highway. Actually he was chasing cars which he hated and went down fighting them.
The gloom had persisted till we reached the forests which appeared entirely oblivious of what had happened to the morning’s dog.The elephants decided to play truant but we saw herds of beautiful deer.Not that we failed to sight the elephants ;it is only that we could see them as phantoms behind the tall bushes. Our guide ,a native tribal ,was actually scared of the elephants and would not allow us to get down from the jeep to have a closer view of the elephants .
A photography trip to the forests of Wyanad
First poetry had entered a dog’s life
Chasing steel shadows and gray death
The elephants were hard to come out;
They had their strong sylvan reasons.
Our timid tribal guide called out to Surya
Who had his elephant feet tied to the tree.
There was black fear in his beady eyes.
Earlier, in the morning, beauty had beckoned;
Death of a dog was but a sweat drop.
There was fuzzy rain in the bamboo grove;
Ponderous shadows cogitated on the lake;
The sun shimmered on the solitude-beach.
Poetry returned over the coconut tops.
The quintessential shadows remained.
There was fear all over;
Things happened very fast.
The body quickly gave way;
The sanitized walls closed in.
The lone crab struggled
In a puddle of scalding water
There were voices around
All happened in a split-second
When someone shouted
Pull him out, for God’s sake;
This is a mere dream.
Thank God it was a mere dream .I was lying in a hospital ,slowly degenerating surrounded by several phantom figures .I was a crab writhing in a pool of scalding water .Suddenly it appeared as though it was just a mistake and then a wonderful voice came from among the figures surrounding me.
Can I not avoid getting into such sticky situations ? I do not think I can decide the type of dreams I want to have.
The Goddess spoke, fiercely,
Through white anger’s mists
The body shouted thick-throated
A lower order goddess, surely,
Cannot be all that demanding
Crying for well-fattened cocks.
Fear becomes the key translating
To waves of body movements.
A matter of thinned blood supply
Or a fleeting hardening of vessels,
She lay there sprawled, wailing.
Anger burst out of the bounds
She had crossed all body-barriers
Just when sanity finally returned.
A mere transient ischemic attack
Or a turmeric- yellowed Goddess
Extending dominion over disbelief?
That was my mother who had argued fiercely with somebody against the existence and power of the lower order of Goddesses. When she came out and started walking on the road the Goddess appeared in the temple opposite and it appeared as though she did not approve of my mother’s refusal to acknowledge her power . There she lay ,sprawled on the ground ,with anger she had never experienced earlier. The anger was of the Goddess who possessed her .Was it not merely another attack of ischemia ?
Some times it is words which trigger thought and some times words are thoughts. Words begin as thoughts ,some times originating in a mysteriously random fashion and as we go along the words trigger thoughts taking the whole process forward. The logic is defined in the way words are born ,evolve and metamorphose into thoughts again.
It is funny that I when I began writing the poem given below I had’nt the faintest idea of where I would end up :
I know you have said that enough
In the day’s heat and moon’s eclipse
In the horizon I looked far enough
And deep in the tree’s silences
The leaves rustled in the night.
What can you do again and now
Unless art has not left here as yet
And senses still matter to the mind.
In the hollow of my downy back
Your after-being remains as refusal
Senselessness hurts in my fingers
As though my senses are conscious
And are offended deeply by refusal.
Honestly the subject evolved in the interplay of thoughts and words .Words have a flourescence of their own ,independent of the underlying thoughts. As words progress the thoughts keep evolving in a manner entirely unpredictable and intriguing too. The logic of words forbids moving out of pre-determined structures imposing unwarranted control on word flow but poetry enables freedom from them.