Sunday, December 04, 2011

You never asked
if she wanted to come
to walk again behind you,
like a faithful pup
the footfalls
up and down
rugged mountains
so that
your feet could crack and hands grow rough
and people could say:
‘Look it’s ORPHEUS,
who brought her back from the dead;
praise his love.
We saw his grief
tear at the earth
till it opened, bleeding'.

The other king,
and his dark kingdom,
lay wounded,
so that, to heal,
he yielded.

you never did ask

Saturday, October 22, 2011

55 word story challenge: re-write a fairy tale or use fairytale elements to write a story in not more than 55 words:

Crunch crunch crunch. Baba Yaga was gnawing on a bone. ‘The problem with maidens is that they ask for too much’. ‘This one, for instance, asked me for a mirror’. ‘Now another one is asking me for a glass slipper’. Rumplestiltskin, her son, nodded wisely. He knew maidens and their demands only too well.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

It does not seem fair
that the morning should come
with a yawning sun
shivering in the mist,
and everything is the same way as yesterday.

Yesterday when you ran up to me,
there was summer in every leap;
I burdened by woes, imagined and real,
could forget
and see just you, so happy, so alive.

Oh I know,
the flowers over your grave will burst one day
with blossoms;
each will be like a message from you,
telling me that this,
this is life; just one; just once.

And the sunshine on the petals will
touch me too,
and for just that one moment,
you will be here again
prancing, dancing, loving life
as I never can.

But right now,
it is not fair.
The sunshine and the birdsong
go on,
and I wait my dear cat
for you.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Eurydice to Orpheus

Eurydice does not speak to me easily. This is a work in progress.

I want to be here
The other life has blurred;
and though I can feel
the sting that runs like fire
through your fingers
burnt by stringed flames,
its winter here
and slowly, I am forgetting.
Sometimes when my
feet stir a memory
of blazing winter suns
deliciously burning my soles,
I remember
as I walk precipices
on midnight days.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Orpheus to Eurydice

On some days it's easier
When the winter sun
Allows for glimpses
Between the mists.
I wait,
And remember
Walking through these grasslands
You, me,
Dancing in the mist,
Seeking each other by touch.
Your fingers make
Music more haunting than
My calloused fingers have ever brought forth.
We would wait for the sun,
To break, to stumble through the mist,
Till it fell on our faces.
And when in the haze,
Your eyes, delighted,
Saw mine,
You would laugh,
And hide.
So I wait
Outside this cave, for you are hiding again,
I hear the echo of your footsteps,
Fading further and further away
To a place I cannot reach.
So I sing, I strum
Come now, they are gathering around,
Your birds and beasts.
Together, they and I,
Are waiting.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Human Child.

Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you
can understand.

W.B Yeats.

They took the human child far, far away. He had followed them because they had baskets of berries with them; berries, red like the counting beads in his nursery; red like the rubies his mother wore; red like the apples he bit into as he watched autumn sunsets. They told him that he could have the berries if he came with them. They knew a place where there were thousands of berries. So he followed them.

Now he began to cry. Salty drops ran down his face. Laughing, they said that his tears would make a pearl necklace for their queen.

In the moonlight a mother looked for her child. Every rock took on the shape of the child and she would run towards it sometimes in fear, sometimes in joy, sometimes in tears. The white moon shone down on her, quietly, unfeelingly.

The wind rustled, someone giggled. Pale whispery hands gagged the human child. The mother turned. She knew her child was near. But all around her was barren, open rocky land. Hopelessness filled her and she fell.

The human child was taken deep into the earth. “Here he is”, they said. “We have brought you a human child”.

She was looking into a mirror. A barren world showed itself to her. She could see the mother standing against the hot uncaring wind and the blazing sun that had little else but her to burn. Her eyes looked straight out firm and determined. A shiver ran through the other world. She turned her eyes away from the mirror and held herself for warmth. For the first time she felt fear. ‘Cover the mirror’, she said and walked out.

'My son, have you seen my son?' the woman asked the boys who were playing near her house

'Have you seen my son?' she asked the boy who was chopping firewood.

'Have you seen my son' she asked the washer-man by the river.

'Have you seen my son?' she asked the three women who sat begging at the boundary of the village.

' Your son?' asked the oldest woman. 'She wants her son, did you hear that sisters?' she shrieked

'Have you seen my son, please, kind ladies?' said the mother.

to be continued.

Monday, February 07, 2011

‘Wrrroom wrrooom, rrrrooom, rroomm, and now ladies and gentlemen, please fasten your seat belts, we will be landing shortly, this is your pilot Ajay speaking’.

I was in my car, parked outside a house in one of the crosses of Bharatnagar. It was a hot afternoon, and I kept the door open for the small, occasional bits of breeze. A friend was in the parlour next door getting her hair straightened. Miscalculating the time it would take, I had reached an hour earlier. Not wanting to be subject to it’s smells; the outdated women’s magazines; the chemically altered, Photoshop perfected pictures of models and the ever critical assessment of perceived physical shortcomings by the receptionist, I opted to stay in the car to wait for my friend.

‘Ladies and gentlemen, you can now unfasten your seatbelts, thank you for travelling Ajay air, this is your captain Ajay signing off’.

The voice was coming from the upper floor of the house. I guessed the boy’s age to be about ten or eleven.

‘ Wrrroom!!!’

Ajay, perhaps, was ready to fly another plane. His attempts, however were cut short by another voice. It was an elderly man’s voce.

‘Please stop now Ajay, sit down’ he said. ‘No…wroom, wroom, there are too many passengers, Tatha’. Ajay was obviously in no mood to listen.

Ajay had begun to run now, from what I could gather. The annoyed mumble of the grandfather was getting drowned by the sounds of Ajay’s running and incessant, repetitive imitation of an aero plane. The afternoon wore on. A dog came up to the car and wagged his tail. I petted him and wished that a petty shop was nearby so that I could get him a bun. Hardly anyone was about. The silence and emptiness had a strange, unnatural quality to it. It was the silence and eerie feeling you expect to have at 2am if you are walking down an empty street. Everything seemed so still, the air was heavy; I could almost smell the heat, taste it almost. Trees, I thought. Why can people not plant more trees? All these houses; surely I reasoned, there is enough room in the compounds to plant at least one.

‘Tatha, when will they come? ’ Ajay’s voice was high, complaining, irritated. ‘They will Ajay, wait’. ‘But they have gone so long’. ‘Keep quiet, Ajay, please’. His grandfather sounded angry and Ajay said nothing more.

The house had seemed particularly empty as compared to the others in the lane. That was one of the reasons I choose to park the car there aside from it being next to the beauty parlour. I looked at it carefully now. There were no plants. That was what had struck me. That is what I had unconsciously registered while parking the car. The windows were empty too. There were no curtains. I peered into the driveway. No car, no scooter. In fact it was an upswept driveway, dead leaves from roadside trees and debris lay scattered all around. Glancing at the compound wall, I could see layers of mud on the wrought iron lattice work that once must have had creepers growing through it.

'Honk, honk’ said Ajay. ‘I think the car has come. Mommm Daaad, is that you?’ ‘Ajay, please’ said his grandfather. ‘Sit down, I said, They will come, just wait’.

I looked into the window of the ground floor. The room was empty. There was nothing in it. No furniture, pictures, nothing. I looked up, at the window from where I could hear the voices of Ajay and his grandfather. From what I could see, it was empty. I walked up to the gate. It was locked. Locked!. Why had I not seen that before?

Wroom…wroom…continued Ajay.

The heat was beginning to get to me and the sudden ringing of the mobile made me jump. It was my friend. She was done and was wondering if I had reached. Lunch, she said, was something she could have three servings of. I told her that I waiting outside.
She came out, hair shiny and pin straight. ‘Wow, amazing, it really suits you’ I said, insincerely. I took one last look at the house as I backed the car. It was silent now.

(I did hear a conversation like this. We were waiting in the car while our dog was being groomed. The house outside which we had parked looked empty. At least the ground floor rooms were empty. From the upper floor we heard a boy pretending to be an aero plane and an elderly man's voice could be heard too. When i looked up, the upper rooms also looked empty. So my husband and I, as we often do, made up a story to explain this apparently strange situation)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

for Desmond, Socks, Kajal Clone, Casper, Calliope,Charles Bucket, Kalahari and so many more.

'No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two'

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S Eliot.

I am no poet, but this is for you.

where have you gone my little cats?
Each day I call your names, and hope,
In vain perhaps, that you will return, if only just
To run away again.

Where have you gone my little cats?
Your food is kept each day, in the spot where
Just you liked to eat. And it stays there,
Till another, delighted at a second round,
Crunches it up.

Where have you gone my little cats?
Far away from my lap, the tickles and cuddles,
The slaps and fights with the others,
To a place I cannot reach,
To a wonder only you see.

Where have you gone my little cats?
Can you not hear me? Are you so far away?
I wait each day; attend to each sound,
Hope and perhaps pray,
That you come back today.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Stray dogs, poverty, instinct and madness

The mauling to death of Prashanto, the one year old son of a labourer couple by a stray dog was tragic and reminded us of a fact that is undeniable; that dogs have a pack instinct. They hunt what they perceive as easy prey though the motive may not be to eat it. To my knowledge no stray dog has eaten human flesh.

Prashanto was the seventh child of this couple. They have six daughters and he was the seventh child, the youngest. This couple had come from Orissa, are below the poverty line and were living is shanties constructed by a building contractor. It is reported that there were no doors or windows in any of these shanties.

Imagine everyday life for this couple. The daily wage for a labourer is meager. It is certainly not enough to feed a family of nine people. Their house has no door and therefore no protection, against dogs or anything and anyone else. It is probably not even enough to comfortably house nine people. Obviously the daughters do not go to school. Being migrant labourers, education, especially of daughters is out of the question. Warm meals, warm clothes, steady income and other basics are things they have no conception of. Theirs is a day to day existence.

So, what was Prashanto’s death really a failure of? The contractor who failed to provide them with a secure house? The parents who had seven children despite knowing the abject poverty they were living in? The Government who could not provide for families like them? The government again who has consistently failed to provide a humane Animal Birth Control Program and humane euthanasia of rabid, aggressive and diseased animals? The apathy of all of us who do not care for either families like Prashanto’s or the many animals who live, suffer and die on our roads?

We are so quick to react and mass kill stray dogs when incidents like this happen. A few years ago when a similar incident occurred, professional dog killers from Malabar were called in and they killed hundreds of dogs in the most inhumane manner imaginable. Did that make any difference to the dog population? When hundreds of dogs were poisoned to death all over the city, did that help? What good did it do to beat a stray dog to death and drag his body in triumph? None of these methods have worked to reduce the stray dog population.

Yet the government will not allocate adequate funds to sterilize and vaccinate stray dogs. It will not co-operate with Animal welfare Organisations to work with them to humanely reduce the stray dog population. This same government will not work towards the welfare of its poor either. It will instead arrest innocent people like Mr.Yadav who allegedly looked after the dog who killed Prashanto. How is that an answer?

Let us not become irrational and cry out for another bloodbath where hundreds and thousands of dogs are needlessly killed. We are, I hope far too civilized for that. Let us instead look at solutions that work and benefit all.