a poem by Kamar Sultana Sheik

He’d tried to pick one bright flower
From a Rose-bush, on his way back from school!
The thorn-prick drew blood from his thumb
The Gardener chased him halfway down the street,
Scolding threateningly!
His mother had loved Roses!
That day, she’d loved the seven-year old bleeding thumb more than anything…

Each year on Mother’s Day
He e-mails a lovely Rose,
From a Virtual Garden!
No thorn to prick his thumb!
No angry gardener chasing him:
She loves the unpricked roseless thumb, the same
Twenty years later! Wishing she could see it!

They’d play for long hours in the Compound
Making mud cakes!.His childhood sweetheart!
He’d lighted the candles on her birthday cake
And held her hair away from her face,
When she blew the four candles out!(She loved candlelight but was afraid of the flame)
And bought her the biggest rag doll in town,
With two months worth of pocket-money!

He sends a lovely Graphic Cake with bright-coloured Candles that go on an off
And writes- P.S: “You don’t need me to hold your hair now, do you?
This flame is just an animation, so it won’t burn you!!!”
“Get over this fear of fire! When you come out here, you’ll
Need to do the cooking! Ah, I’ll get you a diamond when you come.” With Love!
She’d tied up her hair tight, and joined a cookery class
And wiped her tears on the doll’s face!

They’d been the “Two peas in a pod” kind!
Sheepishly worn the dunce’s cap
Together in the classroom,
And winked at a secret joke across the Interview Room!
He takes pains to take the most time out for this bosom friend,
To send him A “bear hug” card across the miles, (they hadn’t hugged for years!)
On Friendship Day!

He did not answer his letters.(He thought e-mail was always better!)
He’d have replied the next morning,
Had it not been for that Fateful Night of Fire,
That ate with flame and smoke! Machine and Man
In voluptuous, greedy gulps!!
The diamond remained unbought, the Roses, unsent!
His arms never hugged his weeping friend!
Down with all the debris he went!

Some things simply have to be be real!
Like the firm clasp of a friendly handshake,
Like the aroma of grandmama’s freshly baked cake!
The son’s strong shoulder
Which wipes the weeping mother’s tear!
The elegant arms of the daughter
That can heal an aching heart with hugs!

No code more superior, No program more wondrous
Nothing so perfect as Nature’s Design,
Linking so well : all living, all dead!
In Eternal Time, in Ethereal Space!
What Virtual Reality, what Real Time, what Network Interface
Of what use the wonders of Cyberspace-
When Flames devour a dear one’s face,
To retrieve, is there a Database???