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)