Sunday, 10 October 2021

Lamppost


Bharati Varrier



I could see the light
in the night, but not the way
and I went astray.

© 

[This ekphrastic haiku was first published in Spillwords.com. The photograph was clicked by Bharati Varrier somewhere on the streets of Goa.]

Sunday, 3 October 2021

The Still Thirsty Crow



 

The crow hangs around the eaves today. Just as he had done the last morning. Yesterday he had slipped his beak into the rain gutter to take a sip of the previous night’s rain. Today he’s prancing along the trough to see if there’s any water – here, there or just around the corner. Well, no. Today is not his lucky day.

He flew in to this neighbourhood just a few days ago. It's a kind of homecoming. He had flown away from here way back when the pigeons had taken over these roofs. Strangely, the pigeons are nowhere in sight these days.

The crow wakes up from his reverie. He slants his gaze into the eaves trough once again. Could there be some drops caught at the corner? Or near the spout? Just enough so he could throw in the much-fabled pebbles? Then the water might rise a bit. It just might! But, no, there’s not even a drop. For, it had not rained last night.

Strange are the seasons nowadays. They used to span the year. Now they come and go as they please, every day. The rain was pelting the roof just the other night. And today the entire trough is dried up. Now where can he find some water to wet his throat? Wherever the pigeons find it, perhaps. Where are the pigeons, by the way?

Fall was yesterday
Summer had its way last night
It might rain tonight.

©

Sunday, 26 September 2021

The Room Next to My Room

 

Bharati Varrier

The room next to my room

is a wee too perfect.

Bed is made,

pillows fluffed

to good shape,

everything well in place.

No clothes are in disarray

nor books lolling open

or closed,

no bags half unpacked

or packed

in happy repose.

Wardrobes are a surprise,

all in perfect order,

tidy too,

curtains are quite drawn,

no laundry overdue.

The gadgets are amiss

and their crazy complexity

of cords – 

a network on their own, 

a tangled web of sorts.

The room next to my room

is flawless,

or almost,

like a nest

of small chirruping birds

that grew their wings and left. 

©

[This poem is an excerpt from "The Attic & Other Poems".]

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Sunset


The sun slowly sinks
and the night falls at ease,
still the sunshine clings
to the golden rain trees.

©

[This poem is an excerpt from the collection of poems, "Fireflies".]


 

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Backpack

 

Krishna Raj Warrier

The journey is long and the baggage is heavy. One finds it difficult to lug around. Yet one's reluctant to put it down for good.

Backpack


Wayfaring

from place to place,

gathering stuff

from here and there,

discarding some

on the wayside,

my backpack

is loaded, heavy

and stretching

at its seams,

my journey begins

as I pick it up

and stops over

as I put it down,

the road speeds on

                slipping off my feet

as I tote around

                my belongings

from one place

to another

and yet another

until my bag

flops flat, deflated

…and empty.

©


Thursday, 9 September 2021

Golden Hour

Chinmoy Biswas, West Bengal

It’s that hour when sunshine falls on a lean River Matla. The rays brush up her delicate contours. They sweep across her banks and naked riverbed. The landscape is aglow as the river turns into molten gold, its aura lighting up the traveller’s trail.

[This microtale was written for the above photograph, which was shortlisted in the Greenstorm Nature Photography Contest 2020, and was published on the Greenstorm Foundation website.]


Thursday, 2 September 2021

Breath


Yercaud Poetry Festival 2021, the fourth edition of the series, was themed on "Air". The title of the event was "Breathe Poetry  Reclaim Life". "Breath" is one of my poems contributed to the anthology of the same title. This video is a souvenir of the event.

Breath

The world is equal, you said. Like all blood runs red. But that’s truth distorted. For some, it’s red. And for some, it’s red black. Like a binary tree, it gradates from red to black.  For, they have bled. They have bled for long, and their wounds have clotted.

The world is equal, you said. Like the sun shines on all. A tale nothing short of tall. On some, it shines light. And on some, bright. So bright, now there are dark skins and black lives. So black, not a ray of hope can pass.

The world is equal, you said. Like all are made of elements. With dimensions. Of time, space and substance. Well, that’s na├»ve, if not dense. For, the world looks through some. As if they are empty spaces. They might as well be fragments.

The world is equal, you said. Like the air is for all to breathe. Now, if that isn’t falsity! Air breathes white lies into some. And then black lives cease to be.

Your law kneels
Way too hard on me
I can’t breathe!

©

Friday, 27 August 2021

Book of Verse


 
A book pops out of the cupboard where it was hiding for ages. The book is strangely intact. It falls open, as though by its own instinct, to certain pages. They are filled with scribbled words  some in verse, some worse. Memories  each more delightful than the other – are packed between the lines.

Book of Verse

The book appeared
almost sinister
like a ledger,
a little weird,
out of place and awkward
in my cupboard,
propped up on its binder
in the farthest corner,
standing upright there
for years together,
treasured as it were,
and utterly obscure
in the darkest innards
of the cupboard.

Among souvenirs
whose memories had expired,
the journal, a tad peculiar,
and barely dog-eared
was rediscovered
amidst its tattered peers,
falling well open as per
its habit of years
at a leaf much pored over,
with scrawling words
in scatters.

The mind turned pages
back through the ages
of small surprises,
our meeting each other
to forever blather
in rhymes and meters,
every verse ventured
countered with another,
losing track of the junctures
and the conjunctures.

In flashes as I conjured
images of yesteryears,
I gently laid the ledger
propped up on its
binder
in the farthest corner
obscure as it were
and utterly treasured
in the deepest innards
of my cupboard.

©

Thursday, 19 August 2021

To the muse that you are...Gulzar!


PC: Public Domain

This is one of my tributes to Gulzar Saab whose verses never cease to haunt me. A poem inspired by the lyrics of one of his songs. This is not a translation, nor a transcreation. And no, this is not transgression. This is a poem that wrote itself in my mind inspired by his poetry. A humble tribute to him on his birthday.

These liquid jewels
of joy
peeping through
the petals of my life,

These limpid beads
of sorrow
hidden below
the canopy of my eyes,

These gentle sprays
of crashing waves
draining the sand
from under my feet,

This drizzling bliss
of existence
seeping slowly
into my entire being,

These tiny blobs
of life
let me savour
...little by little
...drop by drop.

[Inspired by the song Katra katra milti hai in the movie, Ijaazat]

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

The Fall

They took flight from hell
Far away from War Gods’ knell
Then to heaven fell.


Tuesday, 10 August 2021

Blue Hour

Pranab Basak, West Bengal

It’s the blue hour with splashes of orange when the sun lingers just around the corner. When the boats still rest lazily at the anchors and the waters are still. The waves barely move on the shores, holding the shadows intact. The sky dons pearl-white frills, and the moon still hangs around.

[This microtale was written for the above photograph, which was shortlisted in the Greenstorm Nature Photography Contest 2020, and was published on the Greenstorm Foundation website.]

Wednesday, 4 August 2021

Gothambu Kanji (Wheat Porridge)


Roughly translated, gothambu kanji is wheat porridge in English. However, “wheat porridge” lacks the culture and flavour of “g’ kanji”. It’s a simple dish made with broken wheat and milk, with some sugar added to taste. Boil the wheat in milk, which should be around double the quantity of wheat. It gets cooked in no time. Then add sugar, and your g’ kanji is ready. However, g’ kanji made in this way is not my favourite. I add a special ingredient to it, called ‘memories’, and then the kanji takes on an enticing flavour.

From as far back as I can remember, my grandfather, or Achhan as I call him, used to have g’ kanji for breakfast and dinner. But he had his own way of preparing it. He would boil half a cup of broken wheat in one cup of water. Once it starts boiling, he switches the burner off, and lets the pot remain on the burner properly closed. The rest of the cooking happens gradually inside the pot. He cooks this around dusk and by dinnertime, when he opens the lid, the wheat is properly cooked with not a drop of excess water in it. He then pours just a dash of milk – because milk doesn’t go well with his gut – and some sugar. Now it’s ready to be consumed. The ritual doesn’t end there, though. He has to first treat us kids, who have lined up for our little share, to a scoopful before he can begin to have his kanji. By ‘we’, I refer to me and my two sisters. And most often, our cousin too. Achhan gives each one of us a generous scoop. In the meantime, we hear the click-clicking of our grandmother’s flip-flops as she passes that way, tossing over her shoulder, ‘kurachu Achhanu vekkanam tto’ (leave something for Achhan too). We simply ignore this comment. So does Achhan. This ritual continued until we grew up. But even afterwards, oftentimes we wouldn’t mind growing down a bit to claim a share.

It was perhaps during the difficult 1970s when the prices of essentials had spiked up to such a level that Achhan decided to go on a family-budget-friendly diet. As part of it, he decided to slightly tweak his recipe for g’ kanji . He cut down on the sugar. Milk, which was already minimal, was done away with, and to my horror, he reduced the amount of wheat in the recipe too. Simply put, I found this recipe too unpalatable. But what could a kid in her early teens do about it? So I decided to go around the problem in my own way, or rather, in his own way. I declared in no uncertain terms that I would also go on a budget-friendly diet in solidarity with Achhan. I said I would go for a complete fast, by not taking any food until he reversed his recipe. I was absolutely serious about my decision. In fact I was quivering like a leaf with indignation, the slip of a girl that I was, while taking this Bheeshma-like pledge. My voice had risen so high in spite of its tremor and my eyes had so welled up in spite of the fires raging within them that Achhan thought I really might do it. Mind you, I was quite capable of it. And for fear of my going ahead with my new diet plan, Achhan gave in. He promised that he will never mess up my favourite recipe again.

Achhan never made much of his recipe for g’ kanji, though. It was just that that was how he wanted to have it. And we loved it. So also did our cousins. Almost every kid in the clan got to experience its taste at one point in time or the other, and those who didn’t, still knew about it for sure. The popularity of Achhan’s kanji crossed the barriers of time. Our children, rather, his great grandchildren, also have lingering sweet memories of his g’ kanji. As my grandparents grew older, my Amma was allowed to prepare the gruel, presumably under oath that she would follow the recipe and protocol to the dot.

As a child, I believed I was special to Achhan. So did my sisters. They believed they were special. And none of us could have been more right. Whoever Achhan was close to felt they were special. That was the kind of love Achhan had for his dear ones. He left us in 2003, at my sister’s residence where he spent the last years of his life. He passed on quietly in his sleep. And with that ended the daily kanji making ritual.

I have tried to cook g’ kanji several times since then. It has never been the same. With the passing years, I realised I had to add more and more of the memory ingredient to make it taste the same. And therefore, finally, I have completely tweaked the recipe. Now my g' kanji is saturated with memories with no wheat, no milk, and no sugar. And the flavour lingers in my mind forever.


Friday, 23 July 2021

I take the road....

 

I take the road
that takes me along
wherever it goes,
turning wherever it bends
stopping wherever it ends.

The rivers flow by me
when my feet blister
with burning sores,
they nurse my wounds
and soothe my bleeding sole.

The wind blows by me
when I decelerate,
short of breath,
picks me up on its wings
drops me at the next turning.

My journey rolls
around the earth
like a ball of thread
searching for my own end
arriving at and departing

from strange destinations,
forever in transit,
until my road and I
slip at once
and fall over the horizon.

©


Thursday, 15 July 2021

Fish for Thought

pc:pngtree.com

Sue & Rue


Sue: Say, what's benefaction?

Rue: It's like giving poor men fish, thus feeding them for the day.

Sue: What's leadership?

Rue: Like teaching poor men how to fish, thus feeding them for a lifetime.

Sue: So what's politics?

Rue: Like giving poor men fish to keep them eating out of your hands forever.

©


Thursday, 8 July 2021

Pretty Place


Life reeled out
in umpteen slides
of days, months, years,
time flew by
like a gushing wind
or a storm
or a cyclone
but never like a gentle breeze,
raising clouds of blinding dust.
Now that the hurricane is settled
let me put my feet up
and look around.
Those little flower pots
I had watered every day
as by habit,
that photo corner
crowded with reminiscences
of the toddling years
of my family,
that wall of art,
a continuum
of aesthetic indulgence
from childish scrawls
to teen scribbles,
those slanted rows of paperbacks,
slices of fiction and facts
in tidy stacks,
that wooden cabinet,
the ancient hand-me-down,
with its invisible treasures
of lingering memories
of a bygone era,
and visible little tokens
of special moments
some remembered
some faded into oblivion,
that vintage trunk,
a treasury of memorabilia,
and those little pieces
we picked up over the years
utterly deceptive
in worth and weight,
but cherished in their time,
snugly placed and forgotten,
beckon my gaze.
Hey! My home
is a pretty place!

© 

Sunday, 27 June 2021

At times

 

PC: Sanil Nair

Yes, it’s raining again. It’s the kind of rain with which you tend to have a conversation. It’s the kind of rain that beats in rhythm with your heart. Rapidly, loudly, gently, softly… But always on the beat. In the correct tempo.
 

At times

At times in a whisper
at times dropping hints
at times throwing caution to the winds
the rain is in conversation
with my heart
at times in a drizzling monotone
at times with storming passion
at times pouring its heart out
intensely, incessantly,
to mine beating in response
at times with a quickened pace
at times with a fluttering pause
at times missing a throb
as I give in to the thunder
of their doubletalk
at times in languor
at times in elation
at times with abandon
but sure as pouring heaven
we all three –
the rain, my heart and I –
are playing on the beat
relentlessly, rapturously. 

© SW


Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Reality


pc: pngtree.com

Sue & Rue
 

“What is reopened economy?”

“It’s like a beverage store opened after a prolonged lockdown.”

“What is suspended reality?”

“It’s like a long queue formed in front of it by jobless clientele.”

©

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Rain Chant


PC: Sanil Nair

 

The rain beats
a steady tempo,
rapid, intense,
with no undulating variations
no lightning notations,
no thunderous modulation,
there are no boughs
swinging to the beat
although
leaves tap their feet,
it’s a straight descent
from the heavens
seeping into the elements,
it’s been pouring so
for a couple of days
or perhaps more,
yet I miss the slanting rain
the lashing rain
the sweeping rain
the thrashing rain,
I miss the rain
that rushes me off my feet
to close the window
and then stops me
from doing so,
urging me to stay
and tarry for a gentle spray
to wet my face,
tempting me to eavesdrop
on the cavort
of the water and wind
in a passionate binge,
I miss the rain
that strikes my roof like a stone-pelter
to send me helter-skelter
but keeps me rooted
at the window ledge
listening to the sky instead.

©


Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Survival

pc: pngtree.com

Sue & Rue

 

“What’s a happy life like?”

“It’s like dying happy.”

“What’s a healthy life like?”

“It’s like dying healthy.”

“What's better than a good life?”

“A good death, maybe.”

“And what does it take to die that way?”

“Survival.”

©

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Droplets


PC: Bharati Varrier



Shattered I had been
to smithereens, or umpteen
whole bits of being.

©


Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Teatime

 
pc: pngtree.com


Sue & Rue


“That was a flying lizard.”

“A lizard is not supposed to fly. It glides.”

“But fly it did.”

“And how!”

 “Yes, it stormed. Now that that’s settled, let’s have some tea.”

“Tea?”

Yes. Some jasmine tea. It’s already brewing in the sea-cup.”

©

PS:
Tauktae means a gecko (a vocal lizard).
Yaas means jasmine.



Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Ruminations


Book Title: Ruminations
Editor: Anju Kishore
Genre: Collaborative poetry
Publisher: Authorspress

In a publishing scenario where there is a constant debate whether poetry would ‘sell’ or not, here is a group of poets who have come together to talk, think, discuss and write poetry every day on chosen themes, triggered by a new prompt every week. In this way, they continuously delve into, discover and dabble in new experiences in poetry. What’s more, they publish the collections. And what’s even more interesting about the anthologies is that they are not different poems written by different poets. Each poem in the collection is written collectively by different poets. “Ruminations” is one such collection of poems. It is a collection of poetic ponderings on love – love of the absolute kind. And this coterie of poets call themselves the India Poetry Circle. Founded by Jairam Seshadri, who is also its curator, IPC is a group of professionals in various fields, strongly connected by their passion for literature, especially poetry. “Ruminations” is the fourth in the Confluence series of poetry collections brought out by IPC under the inspiring leadership and guidance of Seshadri. A professional accountant and poet, Seshadri has a collection of poems and another of essays to his credit.

Creative collaboration is an exciting adventure, as the end product – the final work of art – is always a surprise for the collaborators.  It’s this element of surprise that makes the creative process exciting. And “Ruminations” is a treasure trove of beautiful poetry, edited by Anju Kishore who is a poet and editor, and a former cost accountant. The poems are based on the verses of the 13th century Perisan poet and Sufi mystic, Rumi. Anju has done a wonderful job of interweaving the verses with poetic narratives, which render the collection unique and enhance the experience of the readers. The anthology, or the Confluence as it’s called, stands apart from all other anthologies in that it does not reveal which poet wrote which verse. The contributing poets’ details are given in the end pages of the book, and that too in verse format. However, their names are not mentioned along with their verses. This suits the concept of this poetic exercise, which is, as this writer perceives it, losing your identity to become one with the larger whole, or rather, losing your separate identities in the larger oneness. In that sense, ‘Confluence’ is a befitting name for the series.

A collection of poems cannot be read at one go. One needs to go back and read the verses several times to absorb the essence of the poetry. There are many such verses in “Ruminations” that made me stop and go back and forth, to revel in their beauty. I cannot quote them all, but I wish to quote some lines here that had me reading them again and again.

“Come!
Rediscover the ancient in you!
Sink deep into your own being
and rise above differences
that evolutions bring
What will speak is a deep silence
that is of the universe, the origin
The sound of this silence
from the core of the earth,
would rise
Nature would pause in awe
Powerful notes would resonate
and you
one with the cosmic harmony
would pulsate in blissful breathlessness”
(The Mote of the Matter, p18)

It’s the simplicity of the above verse that helps it carry the intensity and depth of its meaning so gracefully. The poem “Love, Lessoned” has a narrative which is a fitting conclusion to the poem.

“I had reached the summit but not the journey’s end. The wind had slept, the birds had left. The mountain was now silent.
Far below was the hushed crashing of the sea. I was falling in love with that, within me.
And within me began, a new journey.”
(p24)

These lines carry a quietude within them. They are able to put a flustered mind to rest. The words actually transfer you to that place they portray. A place that you wouldn’t want to leave.

As a reader, I identify totally with the poet in the poem “Kilned in the Blaze” when he/she (for, I cannot identify who the poet is) writes:

“An untamed nomad am I
carrying the desert in my heart
To this paradisiacal garden, do I belong
or have my uninitiated feet led me to a tavern wrong?”
(p25)

“Let me loosen my soil
to be moulded in your hands
Oh, divine potter
make of me a vessel from my quagmiry sands
Stomp me till I become a pot
sand me smooth
to hold life’s nectar, rooted where it stands”
(The Wisdom of the Desert, p47)

The Creator has often been described as a potter and you as the pot or the clay in His hands by thinkers, philosophers and poets since time immemorial. But the ultimate surrender of the poet to the “Potter” in the above verse is effortless and uncomplicated, yet profound. Indeed, the poet does not wish to be spared from any ordeal while being shaped by His own hands.

Love has been expressed by poets, writers and artistes in infinite ways, and still the all-consuming emotion remains much unexplained. In the poem “In Love with That”, you stop short to soak up the poet’s love that is “wrapped in its own words” (p55).

In the poem “The Duality of Death”, the philosopher in the poet understands death for what it is, and anticipates, or even looks forward to, as it would seem, the “seamless progress towards eternity.” (p75)

The vividness of the poet’s imagination is at its best, in the poem “Salt Dolls”, when he/she writes,

“This salty Sea is not what we perceive
It is a cloth of Time, of Space
Woven together unto infinity!”
(p80)

By quoting a few lines here and there, I fear I may be doing an injustice to all the poets (there are 45 of them). But that is not my intention. It’s just to give the readers an idea about the magic that’s been created by the camaraderie of a group of poets bound together by their passion for poetry. Anju’s finesse and dexterity as an editor in putting together, moulding and shaping the verses is perceptible in the seamless flow and reflective pauses of the poems, all of which are strung together in story-like sequences. Besides “Ruminations”, she has edited/co-edited five other anthologies. She has also published a collection of poems, “…and I Stop to Listen”.











Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Looking at you


This song has been playing in my mind (and translating itself) since yesterday, thanks to the flute rendition of the song I heard on Facebook. I have taken slight liberties, of course, but still not captured the simple intensity of the song.

Title: Tumhe dekhti hoon to lagta hai aise
Film: Tumhare Liye
Music Director: Jaidev
Lyricist: Naqsh Lyallpuri
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar

Looking at you

If you are the sea
I am the thirsting river,
If you are the shower
I am the burning flower.
Looking at you, I feel
I have known you forever.

I implore you as before
I ask of you once more
Give me back my peace
And my peaceful sleep
Give me back at least
A night full of dreams.

Touched by you for a moment
Even dust becomes incense
And rubbed with your sweet scent
My body too is fragrant.
Now why this distance?
Take me in your arms
What more, Love, could I want?

Lift me as you would
In your hands a flute
And hold me to your lips,
To stir a charming lilt
In my heart’s throes,
For, I am now morose
with my own rhythmic notes.

Monday, 26 April 2021

Poetry and Illusion



Excerpt: POETRY AND ILLUSION: POETS AS CHASERS OF DREAMS
Title of Book: 21ST CENTURY CRITICAL THOUGHT - A DIALOGUE WITH POST-MODERN VOICES, VOL 2
Genre: CREATIVE LITERATURE/INTERVIEWS
Interviews by: Dr. JERNAIL SINGH ANAND
Publisher: EARTH VISION PUBLICATIONS, HARYANA


POETRY AND ILLUSION: POETS AS CHASERS OF DREAMS

Dr. Jernail Singh Anand: Welcome to World Literature India. My first question to you is what is the connection between poetry and dreams?

Sujatha Warrier: Thank you Jernail Singh Ji for this recognition. It is indeed an honour for me. As an ordinary person who always dreams and sometimes writes poetry, I feel both dream and poetry are manifestations of the inner self of the dreamer or the poet. Both have elements of imagination. Both use imageries. Both are inspired and driven by passion. Both occur as a poet’s or a dreamer’s response to their own thoughts, experiences and the world around them. However, poetry communicates with people, and every reader engages with what they read in their own way based on their thoughts and experiences. The same poetry creates different images in different minds.

JSA: Can you draw a line between a dream and a delusion?

SW: I would differentiate them based on the presence or absence of realism. Delusion is being out of touch with reality. The person under delusion believes in the delusion in spite of marked evidence to the contrary. Dreams are normally defined as images and experiences that pass through one’s mind while in a sleeping state. Whether the dreamer believes in the dream or not is irrelevant, as he cannot be concerned about reality in that state. Having said that, a dream also means a strong aspiration to achieve something. Such a person who chases that kind of a dream believes in it and has it in him to turn his dream into reality.

JSA: Can we call them normal human beings who are chasing dreams? I mean are poets normal human beings?

SW: Of course they are normal human beings. Those who chase dreams have realised that they have it in them to make their dreams real. Poets are sensitive human beings who see things in a different way from others. This is just an inherent thing – like the ability to sing, dance, or paint. And then there are thinkers, scientists, philosophers, etc. The world needs them all. That makes the world normal. I would say human beings who lack sensitivity or who have lost the ability to dream are not normal. When the world has more of such people, then we should be concerned that the world is not normal.

JSA: Dreams and delusions make people live. What is a pipedream? And what happens when The Iceman Cometh?

SW: A pipedream is more like a fantasy. Hope helps people live. And that’s what dreams, delusions and pipedreams offer – hope. The person who deludes himself into believing something doesn’t realise his belief is irrational. One who has a pipedream doesn’t believe that it is just a fantasy and impossible to materialize. So what they all offer is hope and the reason to live. As in Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh – where the iceman is the symbol of death – when the iceman or death comes, one finally faces reality. Poetry, however, with all its imagery, is also a communication of reality – at its different levels, with its different perceptions, in its various layers. With all its elements of imagination, it is still a reality check.

JSA: What is the connection between dreaming and depression? Society is filled with a widespread sense of loss. Don’t you think dreams and wishes are the preserve of deprived people?

SW: Dreams are associated with real life experiences and situations. Experts say that in people who have mental disorders, the content of their dream is related to the mood they are in at the time of dreaming. They say depressed people dream more because their ruminations make them emotionally aroused. So understanding their dreams should help in controlling their state of depression. Coming to the last part of your question, ‘wishing’ is like feeling hopeful, and hence is closer to what one aspires for in life. So wishing and dreaming can complement each other and help one get through life.

JSA: Does poetry help a dreaming world by helping it with a catharsis?

SW: Poetry is a form of writing that is charged with emotion. Any emotion – whether it be love, sorrow, rage, or any other – is expressed more effectively through the poetry form. The emotion in the poetry easily and quickly connects with the emotion in the reader or the listener. One can see proof of this in how the world responds to patriotic poetry, revolutionary poetry, romantic poetry, etc. So poetry does help the world with catharsis. Most recently, we have seen poets across the world coming together with their poetry themed on the much dreaded COVID and Black Lives Matter, and also poetry inspired by social empowerment, and gender, child and human rights issues.

JSA: Dreams are a great property of mankind. If we stop chasing them, will there be still any poetry left behind?

SW: The ability to dream is an attribute unique to the humankind. If it had not been for the dreams, human beings wouldn’t have come this long way making discoveries, acquiring knowledge, bettering their lot, traversing the space, reaching the moon and other planets, and connecting the world virtually. Of course some dreams may have gone wrong, but we have it in us to tip back the balance and find new normals. All this is possible because human beings can dream. This is one of the features amongst a horde of others that makes them human. Human beings have never and will never stop chasing dreams. Poetry will always be there, perhaps taking different forms, as it already is.

JSA: Airy nothings are the stuff of dreams. A poet may, but can an ordinary person live on such fragile invisible stuff?

SW: As I mentioned earlier, poetry is one talent among myriads that human beings possess. It’s not necessary that everyone should dance, sing or paint. It’s not necessary that everyone should be a scientist or a doctor. And it’s not necessary that everyone should understand and relate to poetry. Besides, poetry is not just some words in a specific format. There’s poetry in nature, there’s poetry in the crafts, in design and in all other works of creation and, let me add, compassion. So human beings will connect with poetry in some way or the other. I believe a poet is as ordinary or as special as any other human being.

JSA: How does poetry make life more liveable?

SW: Poetry connects with your heart and soul. It has in it the beauty of all the arts. It flows like a song, paints pictures, creates moving images in your mind, narrates stories, and is intense with emotions. Poetry is a language in itself which connects people around the world. It holds a mirror to the world and life, and reflects not what’s superficial but what’s below the layers. It throws light on different aspects of things so you can perceive them from different angles. It provides a voice to call out to the world, to respond and react, to rouse people and inspire them, and to make them positively respond. It soothes.

JSA: Poetry gives the patient a strong dose of dreams, puts him through some impossible estates, and restores his balance. I think this is the therapeutic function of poetry. Can anything else in the world bring balance back to man’s mind? Are dreams steroids which cure bruised souls faster?

SW: All creative arts help in bringing balance back to man’s mind. It’s known that music, dance, art, storytelling, drama, etc. have great therapeutic effect and help in restoring balance. So also do recreational activities, sports and prayer. Being in a serene environment may have the same effect. Anything that can touch the mind, release its stresses and leave a positive impact can bring balance back to man’s mind. Poetry does all this. It’s not just a strong dose of dreams, it’s a salve that heals and protects the mind, dealing with its pain and fears, and its conflicts and chaos. I would go as far as to say poetry creates a peaceful space in our minds.

Sunday, 18 April 2021

On a Ramble

At the Edge of the World - Neji Ravindran


A few months back, Neji had painted a picture themed on my poem, 'Kites'. Today it's my turn. I have a poem here themed on his painting, "At the Edge of the World'. What's surprising is that this poem was written years ago. Yet the sameness of the thoughts expressed in two entirely different ways at two different points in time is amazing. One is trying to paint a poem, and the other is trying to pen a picture. And the context is the same.  But this time, the works are not intentionally collaborative.

In the poem, the protagonist is all by herself. In the painting, obviously, he is not alone. However, the 'I' in the poem can be easily replaced by the 'we' in the painting. Thank you, Neji, for this picture. 


On a Ramble


Legs dangling over the edge of the horizon

Feet splashing in the Milky Way

Watching the moon as it turns a corner

And stars light up and disappear

Drenching in the glow of a meteoric shower

In the wake of a comet's dusty trail

Basking in the aura of an approaching dawn

Before the sun is well on its way

Evading a blinding encounter

I steal away from its glaring gaze

To a farther edge of the horizon

Beyond the reach of the scorching rays

To dangle my legs and splash my feet

In the cosmic brook once again.


Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Reflections

Chinmoy Biswas, West Bengal

He sits on the tip of the boat, lost in thought, perhaps waiting for his master. The last cargo for the day is loaded. He watches the jute stacks, the river flowing quietly around them in spite of the impending shower. Perhaps the waves wish not to disturb their reflections.

[This microtale was written for the above photograph, which was shortlisted in the Greenstorm Nature Photography Contest 2020, and was published on the Greenstorm Foundation website.]

Monday, 1 February 2021

Shadows

 

Praveen Paul, Kerala

They stick to your side from dawn to dusk. They rest when you rest and chase you all the way if you get away. They actually have no wish to overtake you. Indeed, shadows are your true friends if ever there were any. In clear waters, you see them better.

[This microtale was written for the above photograph, which was shortlisted in the Greenstorm Nature Photography Contest 2020, and was published on the Greenstorm Foundation website.]

Thursday, 28 January 2021

The Fire of Creation

 


Title: Mind on Fire
Author: Ar. S. Gopakumar
Publisher: D C Books

Mind on Fire is a collection of interesting anecdotes and reflections that allows a peek into Architect Gopakumar’s mind, which is constantly ablaze with creative ideas. He has something to learn from everyone he comes across, including the fisherman and the farmer. Like a poet, he draws inspiration from the little things around him. His creative drive doesn’t stop with architecture, though. It extends to finding solutions for the society’s problems, which, he says, is the ultimate purpose of a designer. The book is full of insights stated with such deceptive simplicity that their significance hits you hard and out of the blue. To quote one of the many gems a reader would come across in his writing:

“But then you should also ask yourselves how much privacy you need in a community. You have seen flats built with so much of privacy that you don’t know who your neighbour is. You can even feel lonely living in an apartment complex. Human beings are meant to live as a group or a herd, but modern society has built too many walls to segregate them from each other. Consequently, the society has become selfish, insensitive and jealous. This is what wrong planning can do to a society.”

Ar. Gopakumar’s conversational style of writing makes you feel that you are not reading the book but rather listening to the author. The author, obviously, is talking from his soul. The book is replete with sketches drawn by the author himself which enhances the experience of reading the book and makes this a unique work of art. The author, no doubt, has put his heart into these drawings. And that’s no wonder because “for him the agony and ecstasy of creation is what life is all about.” 


Thursday, 21 January 2021

Sunbath

Christopher Andres, Philippines

There’s nothing like a sunbath the first thing in the morning. For how long can one hide under a leaf anyway? The suns so bright one’s too tempted to go over the other side and soak some of that shine. Need to keep an eye on one’s tail though. Can’t drop it too often.

[This microtale was written for the above photograph, which was shortlisted in the Greenstorm Nature Photography Contest 2020, and was published on the Greenstorm Foundation website.]


Saturday, 16 January 2021

Strings attached

Painting & Photo: Neji Ravindran

Those were the first ever kites bought for me. Perhaps those were also the last. I remember they were red, purple and green. I was around 7 years old then and had just relocated from my hometown. On the destined day, when the sky was dotted with hundreds of kites, I went up to the terrace with mine. I didn’t know how to go about flying them. I still don’t. In fact, no one at home knew how to fly a kite. I did all the basics. Holding them up so the wind will catch them, and unravelling the lines. They would fly up a few feet or so (well, that’s what I wanted to believe), and then they would come crashing down. A relative, who was staying with us, felt sorry for me. He struggled for a while trying to help me, and I felt sorry for him. After a few pathetic attempts, my kites lay around me, torn and tattered. And I quietly climbed down the terrace. Strangely enough, I was at peace. That I had tried something which I knew at the bottom of my heart was not exactly my thing. I grew up to be a master kite-flier, though. My kites being my dreams.

 

Kites

They were tethered to the ground. Her dreams. Like kites, they stretched far and flew high in the sky. An alien sky. They got entangled and enmeshed in umpteen other dreams. Others’ dreams. Strangled, they broke and fell in a rapid descent. And crashed. Crashed at her own feet. They lay strewn around her. Waiting, hibernating. Until new dreams sprouted in new forms and colours. With wings so light they could fly higher than the farthest kite soaring the sky. With strings so entwined they could bear the strongest winds. With tails so bright they left blazing trails. Like wish-fulfilling meteors. And they conquered her entire sky. Yes, them, those kites. Her dreams.


Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Time to go home

PC: Navneeth E. S.

These COVID times have been a festive time for literature. The internet has been busy with online literary festivals, reading sessions, book releases, etc. What we had thought would be a handicap turned out to be an advantage for many literature enthusiasts what with their accessibility to events they would otherwise have given a miss, and for the organizers in getting accomplished literary figures from around the world to speak at their events, all remaining, of course, in the comfort of their homes.

Among many online literary events, I could attend a session of the KLF Bhava Samvad held as part of the Kalinga Literary Festival where Anchor Niyati Bhat was in conversation with Writer Sandeep Raina, the author of A Bit of Everything. And my piece of writing here is about a thought that has been tearing me apart, a thought that arose in me after listening to the conversation between Ms. Bhat and Mr. Raina. Perhaps it’s a bit too late in the day to talk about it. Or perhaps the time is always right to express a thought that is continuing to burn in your mind. And yes, this burning thought is about timing – the right timing or the right context to return home.

The author was reading from his book, which is a story that takes place in Kashmir’s Varmull in the 1980s when violence left some of its people without their homes and the town without these people. Post the reading, which was as beautiful as it was heartrending, a viewer asks the author, ‘…who can decide when and in what circumstances can Kashmiri Pundits return to the valley?’ Well, what drove me to write this piece here is not the author’s answer to the question. It’s the question itself.

Is there a right time to go home? Or should there be one? Isn’t home a place where you can go anytime, whenever you feel like it? Perhaps when you are unhappy and disillusioned with the world in general? Perhaps when this business called life tires the life out of you? Perhaps when you are so happy that your joy knows no bounds? Isn’t it the place you go to when you want, or don’t want, to be alone? And here’s someone asking about the right circumstances to return home, and whether that should be ‘in exclusive colonies’ or ‘in mixed neighbourhoods’. And they still call it their home because they have no other. As someone rightly said, you may leave home, but home never leaves you.

What unsettles me is the thought: how pathetic a people we are that some of us have been waiting for the right time to go back, or come back, home for years, or even generations? We squabble about our real roots and true history, but what difference does it make when we are going to learn nothing from it anyway? No wonder the protagonist in the novel says, ‘Kashmir was best not explained.’ Perhaps that’s true for all the Kashmirs of this world and all those people who lost their homes or left their homes, whose homes never left them. They are best not explained.

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

Still Waters

Abhishek C. Jayaprakash, Kerala

The universe seems to hold its breath. The leaves don’t move. The waters are still. The sunrays dip into their depths without as much as a crinkle. Everything is at rest. Except for the man on his daily rounds. Even his reflection is intact. The nature seems to be unaware of him.

[This microtale was written for the above photograph, which was shortlisted in the Greenstorm Nature Photography Contest 2020, and was published on the Greenstorm Foundation website.]