Sunday, 17 October 2010


Cold feet
And a tortured silence
A smothered glow
On the eastern side
The dawn breaks in


A few stars dance
In the liquid vessel
A few thatched roofs
Pitter patter
Of pans and pots
A floating island
Seen from the road
Far beyond


She has lit a pyre
With a few words
On a page till then
Virgin white
Scorched now
To a charred dream

Tell her please
To shed a few tears
To clasp the tongues
Licking the hearts
In frenzy amuck


One desultory summer noon
I burned a few pages
In a speechless corner
Of a tidy kitchen

The pages were a hue
Of blushing pink
Deep and light
Intertwined with
A few ink drops
Of pearly words
Woven to an
Imperfect song

The blue flames were lit
With unshaken hands

I watched the pages
Curl and churn
Into Charred dreams
With mist-less eyes

There after life stood by
And time ticked on
Rolling days into
Months and years….

Doors were closed
Windows shut
The sheets and drapes
Were left untouched
Life went by
Like a ripple less lake
Stagnant in thought
Muted in words

Years later………
On sun set days
A mist gathers in
The dreams though late
As I sit by an open
Window curtain less

Years ago……..
The moon dust had
Trickled off my palms
In crystal gray heap
Into the hapless recycle bin

Today I feel………
I had mistaken a step

The ashes if strewn on
The meadow afar
Clusters of colour
Would have draped
By far a barren land
In shades of red

Today I feel……
A tale was left
Deliberately untold
A dream strangled
Before unfurl

Today I think
By a gaping window
Agog with wonder
And perhaps unease
Why did I erase the dotted lines?

The ugly wounds
The gawky gashes
A story stitched &
Tailored to pale
In a pall of gloom
I repressed so soon………

Doesn’t time heal the way?
As the wise men used to say……


Blessed with notes
Birds tweet, chirp along
Blessed am too with melodious strains
I sing Thy song


I was born on this soil
But my roots stretch
To the lush, green land
Where rivers dance
And boatmen sing
Earthy songs

For long I have scraped
A handful o’ pennies
To visit my roots
And the house that
Now no more belong
To my kith & kin

But I hear they have
Built a wall
And a length of barbs
Now adorn
The faithless grass
O’er which if you
Place your hands
Thorns prick
Tears bleed
And hearts too…………


I am
Till thoughts intrude
Peace disperses

I was........


Hesitant steps
On the threshold
Cross over?

Cross over?
Bottomless sea
Stealthy sharks!

Stealthy sharks!
Fear not
Swim over

Swim over
Waves cascade
Surf with joy

Surf with joy
Life’s turmoil
God’s ploy

God’s ploy
To test our
Strength of joy!!


Nadi kinaare dhuan uth rahaa, main jaanu kutchh hoye,
Jis kaaran main jogan bani, kahin wohi na jalta hoye

A strand of smoke
Scorched breeze
Love’s afire


The old man with the purposeful gait
Erect, unfazed, undaunted in spirit
Carries a stick in his hand
To lend support to it perhaps
As he not require a helping hand
Lone he strides head held high
And ideals aloft

He calls out to all in soft, firm tone,
“Fear not! Ye all! Follow me and
I shall help seek the truth
With indomitable perseverance
Silent prayers and peaceful means
I am one of ye all and I shall always remain
In your heart, soul and spirit, my countrymen”
They follow him around in agog wonder
Deep obedience and unquestioned surrender
The old man with his troop of men and women
Of modest means, humble dwelling
Tread through the dust of a miserable land
Devastated by contempt of the imperial assault

The rulers laughed in utter disdain
“That destitute with the emaciated frame
His “loin cloth” and absolute indifference
To the finer things of life, luxury, abundance
Shall be the harbinger of joy for his countrymen?
Impossible”, they cried in unison.
“We are mightier than he,” They roared unsure
With our armed men and enslaving legacy
We shall squeeze out what is left of thee
Your pride, wealth and spirit of camaraderie
Ye are fated to exist in abject penury
This soil is ours to plunder
Resist us and ye all blunder
We have ruled, we rule and shall rule forever
With enforced domination, cruel suppression”

The old man bowed his head in prayer
Humble but resolute amidst despair
He whispered to his fellow brethren
“Do not abandon the path of non-violence”
Weak was he in mere appearance
Strength exacted from self renunciation
Powerful in his quiet submission
Silent protest and non-cooperation
To the rulers’ forceful subjugation
Shackles, chains; unmoved in his conviction
Rationale obstinate even in imprisonment

Time rolled by in implore and plead
In perpetuity of pathos to witness the country bleed
But deterred he not from his pledge and pay heed
To the others with different ideology that they lead
Sanguine was he in his belief
This is the right path that he treads
Of humble suggestions and peaceful exchange
Of measured cooperation and non-violence
Civil disobedience and least resistance
To ruthless, corporal punishment

And then the day came when he spoke out loud,
“Quit my country and no more dominion
Status, give us complete independence”
The rulers weakened by war and wanton display
Of pomp and show acquiesced meekly to his
Bold reiteration, “Leave us and go
Let us be on our own to build our fate”
And the joyous troop of his men and women
Bestowed upon him the stature of the “Father of the Nation”

The old man with his bloodless voyage
Of quest unbound for truth and poise
His stoic determination not to follow
The path of vengeance, blood and sorrow
Stands amidst havoc galore of mangled souls
Intolerance, hatred, secession, bloody valour
Of men, women, children with guns and barrels
Each with a tale of tribulation and throttled travail
His sighs of desperation hangs like a pall
Of gloom in the air on a land molested and mauled
By a handful of rogues of reproachable recruit
A dying democracy of irremediable dispute
The old man clutches his heart with a shaking hand
And chants the Holy name with pitiful shame
His stony eyes blindly rummage the soil
Of his motherland that he had toiled
To free from the bondage of colonial ravage
Still has not been saved from the savage
Rape by her own offspring that she has borne
Of a cursed marriage of greed and selfishness unbound
The bullet that had hit his chest years back
Still oozes crimson canoeing through hinterlands amuck

Saturday, 16 October 2010


It was Maha Saptami. The second day of Durga Puja. It is customary for us, Bengalis, to visit the Puja Pandaal and be part of the Sandhya Aarati. Therefore, it was not out of routine when we landed on time at our local Puja Pandaal, to watch the Aarati. To our surprise, the Pandaal was empty except a few children playing hide and seek. Montuda, our local priest, was nowhere to be seen. His lone assistant was at the Puja Dias(Bedi) making efforts in vain to lit a Dhunuchi(a big oval shaped earthen ware in which aromatic powders, coconut fibres etc. are collected and lit ; the aroma filled smoke emanating from the embers is a must accompaniment with the Aarati and bestows additional charm and mystique to the whole affair). To our question when will the Aarati commence, his non-challant answer was,"Somewhere between 8 and 9". We were flabbergasted. Aarati is supposed to be in the evenings. But that is our Montuda - the "ever-punctual priest"

Since we had come all the way, we decided to sit for a while in front of the deity and pray. A few minutes later, a bespectacled boy of sixteen/seventeen arrived and sat behind us. He had a red tika on his forehead. We were softly conversing amongst ourselves. Earlier, our local Puja used to be held outside in a bigger maidan. Now it has shifted to a park inside. We were trying to recollect the year when the shift took place. My brother-in-law said that it was just two years back. Maa said no, it was more than that. It was during this debate, that the boy joined in. He corrected us and informed that it was now five years that the Puja was taking place in this park. He knew for sure as he had been assisting Montuda during the Puja days. But he shook his head a little apologetically and confessed that he was neither Bengali nor Brahmin. We assured him that caste or community was not important. It was the Bhakti Bhaav, the sincerity of emotions, which mattered the most.

The boy got encouraged. He showed us the mobile snapshots of the deities (the murtis are sculpted in varied styles and the best amongst all is selected and awarded) that he had visited this year and the years previous which included our local one too. When my brother-in-law asked him what prompted him to take part in the Puja. He looked at the Devi and said , " She is the source which guides me". We were enthralled to witness such devotion in a young boy like him, given today's gen now(not to be taken personally). I told him that he should also make it a point to visit another Puja Pandaal, nearby, which we generally frequent. He nodded enthusiastically and promised that he would.

He reminded me of my nephew who is now in Bangalore, working for a Multi National Bank. We used to call him Montuda's chela as these four days he would be continuously at the Puja Pandaal assisting in the Puja and doing all kinds of odd jobs. We used to jokingly call him the half pondit moshai! Half not only because he was young in age, half the size of the main priest but also because just by helping the priest he had come to know about many of the rituals associated with the Puja.

Unfortunately, his holidays now do not always coincide with the Puja which he makes up by giving generous contributions for the arrangements - a form of remote and quiet participation not to be confused with boastful show of wealth.

It was almost an hour now and Montuda was nowhere to be seen. We got up to leave. The boy did the same and went looking for the truant priest. Though we missed the Aarati, but somehow, the conversation with the boy had filled us up with an unusual contentment. Meeting and talking to the boy was as fulfilling as attending the Aarati.

As I got into the car, I realized that I had forgotten to ask his name. But it was not important any more. What is in a name?As long as we had the good fortune of identifying and spending some time with a pious soul!


We spoke of dusks and dawns
One afternoon late summer
Over cups of tea getting cold
As words poured out...
And tears got mingled with
Shadows of joy
We held hands and cruised down
The memory lane and a soft hush
Fell over time
We could not speak anymore… as words
Got jumbled like a ball of wool
Gets tangled while knitting
And a stone stuck in our throats
Where the tears choked
And Heart pulsated with a rhythm
Hitherto unknown
It’s been a long time that our paths
Had intersected
We had crossed each other by
With just a nod, a glint of a shy smile
In our eyes and a blush of a pink rose
In our cheeks
Now ages after…
The leaves have fallen off the trees
Leaving rugged branches like scraggy arms
Held aloft towards the sky
in a mournful prayer
We have again met but now
Withered by pain, wrinkled with grief
And a frown which tells stories of
Deprivation and defiance
Of lost dreams
We just sit across staring vacantly
At the horizon
A vapour of a sigh hangs in between
A thread which needles our thoughts
Lonely, listless, lame...
Just scraping our calm a wee bit
Would silence have prevailed?
Like this?
Had we met ages ago…?


The faded smile of a crescent moon
On lips that have just put a close to a poignant tale
Night is an avid listener sometimes agog, sometimes
Stunned into speechlessness
Footsteps echo on the asphalt path as I pass by
Drowsy lanes, houses, parks, drains
A stroke of a brush in soft gold hues
Midst a flame of red carelessly etched
Soft, smothered, wanton lines
On the distant canvas of the horizon
Leaves an unfinished trail…
A proof that He was here
The dawn breaks in with her subdued charm
And quietly lays a snare to woo walkers forlorn
Like me…
Who draw comfort from the sniff of a chill in the air
The lolling heads of the morning stars
The virgin white, autumn clouds
And a leaf drifting in nothingness
Aimless, clueless, homeless…


Sun tilts

Towards the West

Shadows lurk


A sun kissed West

I watch shadows'

Stealthy feet

Monday, 4 October 2010


5 am
It’s still dark
A chill & a
Stealthy, soft
Falling leaf
In the air
I know winter’s near!

Dull green twigs
Grass yellowing
On the tips
A weak sun
Untidy breeze
A rough caress
On the skin
I know winter’s near!

Sheets pulled
Windows shut
Heads snuggle
Warm pillows
Feel comfort
Indoors; &
Kitchen’s cozy
Lit afire

Numbered List

I know winter’s near!

A warm bath
Soothing balm
To heal wounds
Subdue qualms
A steaming cup of
Tea or Coffee
Early morn or late
Night, before I retire
I know winter’s near!

Pages filled
With Inky tears
Diary closed
Sleep smear
Drooping lids
All fear
Dreams too
Lights blear
Night closes
In like a
Friend so dear
Deep I
Breathe in
The sheer
Joy of being
So near
I know winter’s here!