Childhood Revisited

All those simple memories

Of our childhood

Still walk hand-in-hand

To wake up

At chance encounters.

Little feet, little legs-

That’s what we had 

In those elementary years

When we walked back

To our separate homes.

Spread across the street,

We walked abreast 

In those days

Of scant traffic.

Those were innocent days

Of no warped thought

And only straight talks

In the purity of childhood.

Decades later, I met

One of these walkers!

It was an unexpected

And arresting moment!

Eyes brimming

With joyful tears,

Hand over hand 

In a warm clasp,

We sharied those bygone days

In an affecting moment.

Words had no place ,

But our glances spoke

Of what we knew

Was pure without deceit

In that incandescent,

But innocent moment !

Waiting

So much time 

Has tiptoed away

After the last breath

Slowly forsook you.

Grass covers your grave,

Ice frosts it,

Rain soaks it,

Dew moistens it,

Sun burns it

And wind sweeps it.

Yet you slumber away

In eternal rest.

 

The leaves have yellowed

And the fallen leaves

Deck the grass

On which I kneel,

Waiting patiently

To join my time with yours.

 

 

 

The Kid Behind the Tree

Who is the kid behind the tree?

Is he hiding from the world,

Away from the taunts and insults,

To shield from barbs and thorns

Like the child in the bubble

Free from contaminants

That hurt the smooth existence

Of a sweet childhood?

Is he hiding from the world

Because the world overwhelms him,

Expecting too much

From his little self,

To think like an adult,

Always to be good,

Not to be an idiot,

To be the wisest of all,

To be the smartest of all,

And never to make mistakes?

Where is his carefree childhood

Full of sweet and guileless memories?

Fall Myriad

I felt the delicious nip

Of Fall’s breeze

On my nosetips, eyelashes, and cheeks

And blissfully savored

The tawny gold season.

Around me fell the leaves

Like butterflies winging down

Never to rise again.

The aureate and ochre fluttering

Of maple, birch and oak leaves

Screned me in an alcove

Of Mattisse Odalisque.

Squirrels skittered with mouths

Bulging with acorns;

Rabbits ran helter-skelter;

Flowers died and dried

And their stalks withered.

The trees stood divested

And exposed the empty nests

Left vacant by birds ×ho migrate

At winter’s imminanent arrival.

Life dwindled away

And I waited

In dormant thoughts 

For the next regeneration.

 

Color

I was green

When I thought

That color was a feature.

I looked in the mirror

And I saw me described.

When did color become 

What I am?

When did color become

Who I am?

When I was plucked 

From my pilgrimage group

While leaving Baggage Claim 

With ominous words, ‘You are going home”

And  “Your people are waiting for you”.

I was sent to unknown parts of the airport.

And I learned painfully

That my color did not match my group

And I did not “belong”.

My  “Global Entry” did not count;

Appeals from my group did not count

To the official of ‘no color.

Lost in the Newark airport,

Without a clue of the EXIT,

I was saved 

By the kindness

Of a person of color.*

 

* Incident on October 15,2022

 

Wayside Flowers

So many glittering stars,

So many enticing flowers,

So many enthralling views,

So many eventful days,

So many outstanding deeds

By so many illustrious people!

Yet, unobserved we stayed

On the outside – the onlookers.

Wars broke out, treaties were signed,

Skyscrapers were raised, discoveries were made,

Heroics were dared, and Space was straddled. , 

But the planet is rushing to doomsday

But, we stood on the wayside

Unable to stop the life threatening causes

Of air, water, and elements,

Unable to act,

Unable to change

The status quo of existential demise.

So, we remain the wayside flowers,

Merely existing for the day.

The Swing

Swing up, swing down,

Swing high, swing low!

From mango tree

Or guava tree branches,

The swing rope tautened

While the wooden seat steadied.

The legs kicked up

Into the clouds

And folded back

To pull into position

For the next kick.

Effervescent joy bubbled up

And echoes of raucous laughter

Carried back between swings

Up into the skies.

From the height,

The world could be seen,

From top to bottom, 

As if from bird’s-eye-view.

The air became thinner

At the high point

Of the trajectory

When the swing swung

Back and forth like a pendulum.

A child in infantile chortle

And a hard-bitten  yet jolly adult

Could both feel the abandon

Of tetherless freedom

And undescribed ecstasy.

All the cares of the world were shed

Until the swinging became slower,

Legs became weaker

Till they reached placid ground

And met with mundane realism.

The Agony and The Ecstasy of Elijah

At the Baldwin keyboard, he sat

Picking at the keys for his scale,

Trying the notes with aplomb

To be stopped midstream

At the discordance of a wrong note.

He started again with nonchalance

And almost reached the lowest note

When a false note crept in.

He was so sure that he had it right,

That it was agonizing for Elijah

To see the bubble burst

And to drown himself into despair.

Never to be beaten,

He started again and again.

With frustration mounting to a peak,

Then, started the ‘G’ scale

And stayed the course

Every note keeping the metronomic beat,

Every note ascending without flaw, 

And the descending scale meticulous.

Elijah lifted his fingers from the keys

And smiled with beatific ecstasy. 

The Prodigal’s Starry Night

In the inky backdrop,

The stars sprinkled and shimmered.

From the open hayfields,

The narcissist watched the scintillation 

And failed to see the Hand

That wrought them all.

But, alas, in the eager search

For the urban fleshpots,

He left the rural land

And squandered his self and worth

As nights of revelry spilled into dawns;

Bleary-eyed and unfocused, 

He did not see the starry night

In the never-sleeping city lights.

There were no stars for him

In the midnight skies.

The man-made  lamps and lanterns

Faked light and shrouded starlight,

He failed again to see the Hand

That made the stars for all.

Beaten and downcast,

Totally spent, he left the city-

Bedraggled and beggarly-

In tattered rags, his hesitant steps

Carried him to his father’s gate in the country. 

Doubtful of welcome and greeting,

He yearned at least for a meal.

Yet father, waiting for the son-bereft of hope-

 Saw his child through tears

And recognized the child who came back.

With quickened steps and outstretched arms, 

He ran out and hugged 

His emaciated child in dirt and rags

And wept tears of joy

At the return of one who was deemed dead.

The fatted calf was killed

And mourning turned festive

When guests lolled in abandon.

The Prodigal walked into the open

And gazed at the shimmering starry night.

He saw the Hand that made them all!