Author Archives: Shernaz Wadia

Metaphors

Life is an adventurous journey,
Across the river of time;
The river flows on to meet the sea
The endless sea of Eternity.

Joy is a bubbling boon,
For a while its rainbow splendour
Enriches, then vanishes soon,
And grief pours like rain in monsoon.

Hope is the shimmering sun,
From behind dark clouds it shines,
Bringing promises of springtime fun,
Laughter, pleasure, all interwoven and spun.

Faith is the moon, silvery white,
It burns still when the sun is not,
Softly lighting the dark, dark night,
Gently gleaming with hope’s borrowed light.

Prayer is the breeze, soothing, soft,
Dear help mate of the sun and moon.
Steadily raising Hope and Faith aloft,
Calming the spirit with despair fraught.

Soulmate

Every withheld tear of your secret sorrow,
Every aspiration shattered, scattered
Each scarlet drop draining your bruised heart
Each word, nay letter, of your stifled voice
Fires my dormant spirit
Oh soul infinite
Come share with me my courage, my strength,
My inspiration, my very breath
That in blessed companionship
We may traverse as one
This craggy terrain called life
Until eventide sneaks up on us.

Vilify the Victim, Crown the Culprit

A lamb was once defiled by a wolf.
How could the trusting creature know
There lurked a lecher in guardian garb?
So they sat in judgment
Wise shepherds and keepers of the law
They confabbed, held solemn counsel,
Consulted their books.
With sombre eyes, grimly set lips
In haughty authority they proclaimed:
Penalize the sinner. Her virtue is tainted
Let her divorce her mate
Marry her off to the rapist wolf!!!

Obliterated, veiled in a shroud
Of transposed ignominy
The piteous victim quaked.
Terror-stricken, confused, now she whimpered
“Justice. The culprit must be punished”
And now she whispered tremulously
“I will bide by the tribunal’s dictum.”

Every herd in the countryside was aghast!
What justice this
That executes the quarry and garlands the cur?
Justice convoluted is justice hanged!
They broadcast the infamous fiat
Over distant meadow and lea
Horns locked, head rammed into head
Conferences were held, fiery debates fought
The sheep and ewes were a divided lot.

Profaned, appalled, violated,
Head drooping, lips aquiver
The blindfolded deity weeps alone
In her crumbling edifice.
Woebegone is her stifled lament:
“I’m pinioned to shame and contempt
By an impotent band,
My ‘loyal vanguard’
Of tongue-tied cowards!”

Visionless Vision

My thoughts go a-gliding on gossamer wings
To peep at the eastern sky
Burnished with the maiden blush of dawn
It spreads a carpet of molten gold
To herald the beaming prince of light.
They dart and flit in the valley of flowers
To glean for me their stunning splendors
And warble strains of sweet gratitude
In tune with the birds and humming bees.
Jubilant in their boundless flights
They hobnob with the gentle breeze
And confer with the wise old trees
Whispering secrets beyond the grasp
Of beings endowed with normal sight.
Blithe progenies of lush imagery
They venture into woodlands
Zoom up snowy peaks
Plunge into the deep blue seas
And unravel to me their mysteries.
As night’s tar dyed mantle enfolds the world,
Like friendly ghosts they frolic among stars
Then billowing down on silver beams
They array my darkness in a blaze of dreams.

This too shall pass away

When life seems bleak and hopes are shattered,
When every cherished dream has scattered,
With honest courage learn to say
“This too shall pass away.”

Should you fail in a difficult task
While others in their success bask,
Through tears of defeat, smile and say,
“This too shall pass away.”

Riches and renown don’t forever stay,
Triumph and tragedy too will go away;
So in joy and in sorrow, wisely say
“This too shall pass away.”

Be calm in sickness, grateful in health,
And careful too, with abundant wealth.
Live life the good old honest way
Soon it too shall pass away.

The Prostitute

Chilblains of her emotions
festering sores of her passions
Men
drain from her the virgin flush
of life’s dawn
the pallor of a dying ego
on her empty face
poor slave to erotic whims of tyrants
from whence her emancipation?

Mark Twain On the Indian Crow

Mark Twain On The Indian Crow
Bird of Birds! Product of reincarnations!
Work of art and deep calculations!
Comedian low, priest dissolute, fussy woman, blackguard,
With derision and mocking the human race you regard.

A scoffer, a liar, a thief, an informer,
A swindler, a spy, a rebel, a reformer!
Your opinion is ever violent and profane,
Unabashed your way, rowdy and insane!

A hypocrite by profession, a patriot for cash,
A wallower in sin, so noisy and rash.
A lawyer, a conspirator, you lecture and debate
Infidel! Irreverence you practise and propagate.

A trading politician, a busybody, a gambler,
A royalist, a democrat, and intruder, a meddler!
You are cunningly, oppressively sociable,
When there is anything good and edible.

Embodiment of all traits so damnable,
Their result is yet so very incredible,
Living, you know not what is sorrow
Nor do you ever worry for the morrow.

Ecstatically happy is your living breath,
And untroubled will be your knowing death.
Best satisfied with yourself, most cheerful,
You infatuate me, though you are not beautiful.

(Written years ago after having read Mark Twain’s essay)

Dear Friend

Friend, I gave you a heart
choked
with corpses of unrealized hopes
you blew the kiss of life on them
and they surge with zest anew

I gave to you dear friend
the ashes of singed emotions
you placed them in the urn of your love
and they rise triumphant from the dead

To you I gave my mind
a chaos of garbled ideas
you sifted the debris with calm endurance
and returned to me my sanity

I gave to you my life friend-
a messy bit it was
you embalmed it in the shroud
of understanding, sympathy, love
Behold! It is fragrant again!

To my beloved

In the engulfing ocean of Silence
Thoughts swim dreamy, placid.
They calm the senses,
Quell fears and disappear.
External sounds like pebbles,
Create ripples and vanish.
Under the clamorous surface,
In the Soundlessness of my Being,
Your beguiling flute entices me
Beloved Krishna,
I yearn to be Your Radha,
Your Meera, even just Your flute.
Its enchantment bewitches-
Silence transmutes into sheer joy and
The joy is charmed into Silence.
Now, a melody of love it flows in song;
Now, the drunken ecstasy of a dervish,
It reels in a dance.
Then like a flash flood
It bursts through my eyes,
A love crazy river, gushing,
Rushing, hurtling into
The mellifluous Silence
That is YOU, my Beloved.

Trapped

Trapped! Trapped in a viscous morass of confusion
I grapple with my identity.
Am I this or am I that?
Am I the water or am I some species of sea-life?
A flower? A weed? An exotic blossom? A freak of pollination?
The gardener looks askance with bewildered embarrassment-
“What is this strange ‘thing’ I have nurtured?” he wonders.
I have sprouted from his own seed
So he will not uproot me, but oh tragic fate!
Pity has supplanted tender loving care.

I am not a clown in this circus called humanity
But they are amused.
They jeer, they leer, they are obscene and lewd.
You puffed-up, deluded models of perfection,
Come peer candidly into this mirror I hold up
Are these emotionally challenged images yours?
These hideous reflections bereft of compassion and sympathy?
Am I a sub-species of human kind
Or are you sub human with your stunted love?

I dare you to get under my skin.
Broken heartstrings strum out tormented whispers:
Do you feel my pain? My bafflement? My need for acceptance?
Can you discern the nigh inaudible flutter of a bruised bird?
Can you perceive the soft fragrance wafting
From a fragile violet crushed by cold, callous hands?
By what right do you ridicule and dehumanize me, you,
Who but for nature’s bounty could have been me?

Family and friends, just as much as
The blunted bosom of humanity
Are blind and deaf to my muffled anguish.
Is it my fault that I am hormonally challenged?
I love, I hurt, I laugh, I cry, I hunger just as much as you.
Trapped!
A talented, genial, affectionate, exquisite woman
Traumatized in a male body!
That is who I am!

At last I have found the one whose love has set me free
Jubilantly I glide by his side, so now just let me be.

Forlorn Lifescapes

Loneliness chills
Its canvas frozen
into haunting forlorn lifescapes:
a widow
counting hours by her desolation
hands outstretched achingly
in tortuous dreams
to embrace icy emptiness
her bed fellow.

Abandoned parents
languishing listlessly
sepulchral rooms echoing
their aging heartbeats
funfilled memories brimming
soulful eyes
silent tears
companions of their fading years.

Traumatized sons and daughters
of estranged spouses
befuddled teenagers
measuring life by shattered dreams
misty-eyed seniors
surveying dim vistas
bleak platitudes their sole comfort
on cold park benches.

Friendless, splintered,
emotionally bankrupt hearts
yearning for that one touch of love
a warm hug, a healing caress
a smile of acceptance
a gentle word
a ray of hope or
but a nod of recognition.

Instead
we relegate them
to the callous fringes of our lives
we look without seeing them
we listen without hearing them
we rush by them
heedless, apathetic, selfish
enmeshed in sequestered webs
of futile values
unmindful that such acidic neglect
could etch the fabric
of our very own tomorrows
with the selfsame hollowness.

Walls

The Berlin Wall came crashing down
The Iron Curtain too has been melted down
For a while unified brotherhood stood proud and tall
While hatred and rancor seemed doomed for a fall.
But impenetrable, impregnable, offensive partitions
Continue to split mankind into distinct sections.
Fanatical bigotry forges the bricks and stones
Concretizes humanity even as it squirms and groans.
Imbecile pride, cultural divides, distinctions of caste and creed,
Religious barriers, regional factions, differences of race and breed
Ethnic cleansing, apartheid, mass genocides all combine
To hold the world to ransom; to rupture man’s kinship divine
We must walk the bridge of friendship with footfalls of understanding
Scale the ladder of acceptance and reach out in mutual bonding
We may yet build a peaceful world without recourse to arms
If we let our conflicts mellow in love’s appeasing charms.

Dreams

Sweet little babe so tender and mild,
Treasured and loved as any other child.
Your mother’s heart quickens to your cry
As on the hot pile of sand you lie.
She rocks you in her labour-weary arms,
And chants ditties to ward off evil charms.
Her glazed eyes glow with distant hopes awhile,
Each time yours crinkle in an innocent smile.

She dares to dream big dreams, this bold dreamer,
Undaunted, the aspiration of a construction worker.
In her audacious reveries your mother builds
A grand new sphere that for you she gilds
With trust and hope and sincere belief:
Some day my beloved, you’ll turn the leaf
And actualize for me a more dignified life
Than the one of a drudge’s hapless wife.

“Forge your own fate my precious one,” she sings
“You are born for far more momentous things!
Not for you sand and cement, mortar and bricks,
Leave them behind for spineless hicks.”
Of Jonathan Seagull she has not heard,
But her child she vows will be a free bird,
To realize her vision as the years unfold,
To command the skies, to glean treasures untold.

Leafy Wisdom

On a wonderful, gorgeous day,
Under a graceful old tree I lay.
The sun burned on its mosaic crown
Hued green and gold and brown.

Chameleon clouds – fluffy, lacy drapes
Tattooed the sky with their enchanting shapes.
In a muddy pond, cattle and men together bonded,
With genuine affection each to the other responded.

A soft wind wafted in from the west,
Leaves rustled which till now were at rest.
The aging brown ones drifted slowly down
Like blemished jewels ripped off the crown.

New young leaves sniggered in vernal greenery,
With disdain they scoffed the “oldies” in the tree.
“Oh! Our style they cramp and our beauty they mar!
Merciful wind, blow these ancients away and afar.”

A mellow gold leaf heard their snorts and laments,
Knowingly she smiled at their hurtful comments.
“Don’t revel in evanescent youth, listen to our story,
We also were once the tree’s crowning glory.”

Time does not spare, nor age ever forgive!
The freshness of spring will fade while you live.
Autumn will enfold you in her wilting embrace,
None, oh none, can escape her withering grace.

“So be tolerant of us drooping old dears,
Give us our due in our dying years.
The compassion you show to others today
Will flow back to comfort you another day.”