Thank you for rekindling the last spec of fire
Hanging on to the tip of this ossified frame.
It acted like a shot of Decadron
To a heart losing its canorous rhythmic beat
Before relapsing into silence.
I have been smouldering for ages
Burning the spirit within me
Without a friendly aerial assistance.
I almost resigned myself to a dreary death
Caught between the cogs of
Endless opposing earthly interests.
But your breath of fresh air
Made me find my moorings.
That spray of looks,
(God! How inadequate is that expression!)
Is like a soothing breeze to a sun-tanned face
Or, should I say,
Is a summer evening shower
After a daylong singeing.
But pray! Be my friend,
Continue these favours.
In your collaboration, I rejuvenate
And renovate long abandoned
To their fruitful end.
Just promise that you shall be by me.
I presently beat my fears to pulp
And recompense your infusing enthusiasm
With successes galore
And dedicate them to you
Before I meet my d-day.
It flickers last on the long drawn-out list of requirements.
But, it has its settled place in my pocket
Like the stretched string on a Veena.
Drying my eyes and concealing my sighs within its layers,
It takes into its sure sweet hands
The momentous events of my life.
Standing by me in the thick and thin of the day
And never settling comely where it was put
It embraces me dearly
With love and concern
Only to get tarnished in return
With the shades of my sad and solemn moments.
Be it the droning swarm of hovering mirages,
Or the aroma of my fruitless love,
Or the fears and passions erupting out of sudden happenings
It absorbs every single secret of my life into its fold
And waits on me, ever so eagerly
Extending a guileless friendly hand.
When sun is at his singeing best over the crown
It sponges over the perennial springs of sweat
Planting a deep endearing kiss and restores sanity.
At great gatherings, parties and while on travel
It always books me a seat at no cost
And becomes a handy wave of flag at see-offs.
No matter whether I caress it gently spraying scents
Or, wriggle and crumple and cast it off,
It waits a lifetime for my care and attention.
Unmindful of who calls on, it serves as selflessly
And stands out a symbol of love and fraternity.
It’s why I commend:
Present a hanky whomsoever you love.
Telugu Original : Smt. Swarajyam Ramakrishna
There are downs in his hug
That fan out all temporal afflictions.
While the six passions subside,
Reassurance rules the roost.
Many a time
My heart-breaks ran down his falcate neck,
And on his prickly little bony chest
My cheeks washed their wounds.
Like a woe-less plain unfolding
In a vacuous world, all of a sudden
There hid in his little hands
A fears-less plain one stumbles upon nowhere.
Can anybody love me as hearty and pure?
Or, having been born my babe,
Makes me a babe, in turn, other than him?
Assuaging my life’s angst,
Clearing my dreamy hours
And sweeping aside, with a turn of his hand
My shattered moments of grief
Can anybody bring the light of happiness to my eyes,
Other than him?
In his embrace there is
An endless expanse of enduring maternity.
Did anybody hug me like that ever before?
Did anybody run his hand over my head
Draining off my pangs and pains?
Did anybody dry my eyes
Becoming a father and mother same time?
Assigning his five years to his mom
And growing to a love-incarnate
From his broke-mother’s agonies,
He dresses her wounds with his caressing kisses.
As though to garland me with his heart
He runs into my hands, hugs me,
Draws my head unto him,
And resurrects me from anguish time and again.
There are stately steps of assured peace in his hug
Enough to crown me for a thousand lives.
Telugu Original: K. Geeta
Why call you me your love? I hate it.
Society laminated me with custom and curse.
I am only an ashtray to your emotions
Climbing this weighing machine
You push and press
And always expect your image to come out.
You need to recall a damp diaphanous dame
Spiralling out of surf to buy soap;
A cute belle drawing her hand
Down the cheeks of a guy to buy a shaving cream.
From bread to bed
From ass-wear to apparel
You subject yourself to the Freudian commercials.
When you see through the gory hole of ‘amneo centesis’
You press SOS signal if my image is coming out.
Why call you me your love?
I hate it. I hate it to the hilt.
A good poem is like a passionate dame.
When she courts you,
She embraces you, deftly dropping her veils.
The more you caress, the more she dotes on you.
Like dressed up chicken
The undressed poem lures you
To peck and poke at her bare contours.
Bathing in the bliss of its beauty,
You loose count of the hours that pass-by.
One fine morning,
She delivers you, another poem.
My neighbour’s wife (NW) looks beautiful
With a kink on her apple cheeks whenever she laughs.
My wife? Hum. Don’t remind me of her;
Laughter is on ration with her.
With her up-to-the ankle flowing tresses
My NW tethers my eyes to her.
My wife, too, has tresses
But no longer than the tail of.
When my NW laughs, her lips spill milky maize grains.
In the twenty years… well,
I don’t recall
My wife having ever smiled beyond that nuptial bed.
My NW’s doe-eyes hunt and haunt me alike
While my wife’s looks put
A Pentagon or a Scotland Yard spy to shame.
My NW’s gait, her dress, her make-up, oh! What not,
Make me regret my decision twenty years old.
Then comes a greeting:
To a very dear hubby
For twenty years of
And uninterrupted happiness.
Wish you a very happy wedding anniversary
And many more…
Your loving wife.
Shame and guilt
Lay such an anchor on my eyelids
That I fail to lift them up
To look square into her eyes.
Jacketed in a polythene cover
My first volume of poetry lies on the table.
Taking it into his hands
Caressing it gently
Running his thumb over the edges
And sniffing at the new pages and the un-dried ink,
My boy asked me:
“Have you done it all alone papa?”
I nodded in assent
Airing a sense of pride and achievement.
“Impossible,” he said
And ran away without looking back.
I laughed at his innocence.
Then I turned to my Caesarean issue
With maternal pleasure.
It reminded me of the day
When my mother handed me my son
Decked up in clothes, for the first time,
Saying: “He resembles your wife”
The book appeared to me
In a different hue altogether.
When she kissed my lips
I smelt the first drops of rain
upon parched earth.
When she delved deep into my eyes
locking her hands over her head
scrutinising my pupils
I felt a silent scissors
working its way through my heart.
When the curves of her body
stood asymptotical to that of mine,
within me rattled a compass needle
hemmed between two bar magnets.
As the passion worked up to the crest of a wave,
her face assumed a tint in expectancy.
as she receded in some fear unknown
I saw in her a river
shrinking to its source from cape
for fear of confluence.
When I meet eternity
in the cold embrace of death
the last perception I want
my neurons to deliver
the remembrance of YOU.
And the murmuring parting wish
that the paths we together covered
shouldn’t lead you to a cul-de-sac;
and that you reach the summit
unbriddlled with my thoughts.
While it takes you sometime
I cry off
with the pleasant visualization
of your having reached there… for sure.
Flowing through the inky darkness
snugly between the ridges of the tongue
and grating the page with its tip
is my poem.
When the chillness of the tragedy
travels upstream and clogs
I run my sharp reason
through the equivocal nib.
My unwet litmus heart stays blue
as it has only been drenched in
a simulated Screen-rain.
The tempestuous traffic settled into silence
As the night progressed half way through.
And this silence, when it doesn’t put you to sleep
Hypnotises you to walk down your memory lane.
Talat’s “Sham e gam ki kasam” echoes in my ears
As I walk into the balcony to look at the sleeping city.
The blazing lights of Bangalore City station,
The faltering footsteps of the drunken man on the main road,
The flickering ‘Stop and proceed’ amber signals,
And the light breeze dribbling the rags of paper to a corner
Seem to orchestrate a symphony of the night.
A jet steadily passes across the sky
Like a bow on the strings of a fiddle.
In the company of Aldeberan, the half moon smiles full
And a jealous feeling suddenly reminds me of you.
I walk into the past to forget the present.
“O ghadi yaad hai jab thumse mulakaat huyi”
(I remember the moment when I first met you)
I never thought that you would fill my thoughts this way.
Complementing each other, in every walk of life
(Isn’t that what we promised one another ahead of solemnisation?)
We wanted to tread the path of symbiotic living.
Well, did I live up to my promise?
At the altar of conscience I cannot lie.
I tried to be true to our implicit covenant.
I promise that “I Shall Be”
In a still-water like mirror
Rolling the eyes once, rollicking with delight next,
Motionless once and effervescing with activity next,
Is your image.
In that full-length mirror
Up there… is that itinerant reflection.
Hiding from its view
And stealing glances with it… I lie.
Your gleaming rosy countenance
Is so assaying… to kiss.
And sweet melodies from your helical body flow unto me.
How fortunate is that mirror!
You enter its lifeless interior without fear
And fly with abandonment… in freedom.
My eyes get glued to you.
You are so unmindful of your radiant body treasures.
Perhaps, when you are the cynosure of all eyes,
You need pay no special attention to that aspect.
I enter the mirror… invisible
And watch your aurealian beauty from close.
I take into my hands
That dream? No. Chrysanthemum? No.
That beauteous blissful face
And passionately plant kisses on the dithering lips
And the lovely eyes.
Unable to stand the brunt of emotion
The mirror breaks
And you disappear.
I essay in search of you.
(Telugu Original: SOWBHAGYA)
I don’t remember exactly when, but I have a faint idea
That I caught this phrase from my grand mother
Who told me many adventures of a prince
Who attempted all that was forbidden for him
Just for the heck of it.
Apart from my innocence to believe in what all she said,
There was a creative ingenuity in her narration
That made me urge and listen to the same stories
Over and over.
Yes, the moon behind the cloud!
A fascination that charmed my childhood fancies,
Juvenile fantasies, adult excursions
To this easy chair recollections.
There is a ring of magic about the phrase
That concealed a world of myth.
And I must confess, I couldn’t really
Wriggle out of its sway even to this day.
From an eerie idea, I fancy
I had formed in my mind as a child,
‘T had grown first, to an obsession
To kickstart adventurism,
And then, to a metaphor
Encompassing a whole gamut of life’s expectations.
Moon behind the cloud!
Is a clueless riddle.
Looks like I saw it, I knew it
So near my eyes, yet so far from my hand
Breathes-in and breathes-out of me
But slips through within a wink-let
Never to come into my grasp,
Never to come in my reach.
Moon behind the cloud!…
Is a paradigm of provocation,
A spring of thirst,
And a culmination of angst.
Sitting on the edge of the globe by the sea
I struggled to give shape
To the swarm of ideas that besieged me
By giving a name to each one
And forge it into words.
The sea stood before me like a complex lexicon.
Just as the child up there
Perplexed as to what to do with the dry sand
I was lay- as what to say and how.
Taking cue from the child
Who made a clean slate of the dune
And started writing her newly learnt words and figures
I tried to figure out sifting the ideas through images from memory.
I had a very faint memory
Of my village school master
Holding my index finger
And scribbling the alphabet in sand
Uttering each letter aloud.
When I recalled it
I felt the burning sensation on my index
And sucked it inadvertently.
Where did this sensation nestled
In my body hibernating for almost half a century
To swell up alive all of a sudden!
That child’s keen eyes
Flair for playful learning
And the desire to express and excel,
The comrades of good education,
Had raked up some disturbing questions in me:
How long would she enjoy this freedom?
Tomorrow, before long
She would be shut out
To the wonderful dawns and dusks.
Her learning time would trespass
The bourns of classroom
And creep into her sleeping hours
Quarantining her with her books
As the hour hand kept watch over her.
She would be spoon-fed
Literally and figuratively
And don’t ask about play and fun
Which she could only dream of.
She would win accolades
Whenever the barometer touched hundred
And would by psyched up to think
Life is nothing without ranks.
Her simple pleasures would be put on ration.
She should finish her homework first
If she were to watch a cartoon film
And would have to con a poem
If she were to attend on her pet dog.
She would no longer be afraid of ghosts and specters
As she would be of failure
And this octopus of fear stretches its tentacles
Into her childhood
Into her marks sheets.
A fall in rank from two to three
Would let loose all Hell
Driving her parents hysteric.
She would be ‘Bonsai’ed in that house-pot
To grow in darkness photophobic
Never to breathe fresh air,
Never to grow in the open to stretch far and wide
To house and shelter
From classic to itinerant ideas
To enrich herself
And her surroundings.
My name was announced on the mike.
There was lusty cheering all around for a while
And soon there was hushed silence as I got up to speak.
I looked at the principal and
My other colleagues on the podium.
Addressing the assembly was not new to me
But this was different.
This was my last address to the students.
I felt nervous.
As nervous as my first day at school.
I felt a lump in my throat.
I tried to control my emotion
By clutching at the mike
And leaning against the high table.
I made few attempts to clear
My already-clear throat.
I bowed silently to Mr. Chips
Who flashed in my memory.
Going through the preliminary courtesies
I surveyed the gathering.
In their wont fashion, words started flowing
But I could see my self distanced from myself
And watching my own performance.
Thirty years at school.
It’s difficult to put those hours into a capsule.
Much water had flowed down!
I tried hard not to be pedantic
And if I could recall,
I wanted to recount and amuse
As to how I was made fun of in the class
Not by the mischievous lot,
But by the brighter flock feigning ignorance.
I deliberately played my idiosyncrasies
Which earned me aliases and pet names to the score,
To tickle laughter and ease the tension,
To make the occasion more jovial than solemn.
True. I was accustomed to say, and now hear,
The irreparable breach of the retiring teachers.
But I wanted to assert that:
The art of teaching is not so much about teaching really,
But the knack of inculcating in the child
To learn as easily as he draws breath in.
Its great fun to play with children
In the name of teaching.
It should be hard to say
Who was the teacher and who was the taught!
Leaving all niceties to wind
I said how children inspired me,
Made me run to the book,
Which in a way, my parents failed to do;
And how they awakened my sense of pride
And saved me from the perils of
Complaisant teaching routines.
Described how I learnt the subject more as teacher.
I strained to recall names, faces, and incidents
That mellowed, humbled and made me humane.
I camouflaged it all buying time
Uttering familiar phraseology
And theatrics of pauses and punches unto the last:
â€œWell children! I was asked to give you a message.
Instead, I want to share my cherished wish with you.
Nature is a great nursery school
And all of us are toddlers came here to play and frolic.
Our ignorance doesn’t diminish its quality
Nor our knowledge enriches it a whit.
We must keep this nursery as clean as we entered here
For the future kids to come and play.
And should I be blessed with another stint
I love to come and companion you in the fun.