Aliyah

In some sedentary moments,

One hears  high wailing

And is awoken

To hear the little mite’s

Ear-piercing howl!

But when  she twinkle-toes

Across a stage

In  a luminous tutu

And translucent wings,

Tinker Bell herself

Will not match the magic

In her effervescent smile

And appealing grace.

 

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Eliana

Eliana of the dusky locks,

Dressed in polka-dotted frock,

Lay on the floor,

On the dusty carpet

And was admonished for good measure,

Sent to the corner

To stand immobile.

 

There were repeated transgressions

And the girl paid with the absence

Of all the scenic views behind her.

 

But, when she pulled up the bench

And sat on it,

Running her fingers over the keys,

Playing an arpeggio with nonchalance,

The music was so divine

That one forgot the floor and the carpet.

 

Grief

Many forms, many faces-

They parade every day!

Grief is among us

Every day,

In tangible nuances

Or concealed mourning!

 

One may cry till the Sahara

Bursts in bloom

Or one may be stoic

And be like the eternal stone

Unmoved outwardly;

One may go to the other Pole

And party incessantly

Or one may grieve wordlessly

Without any sigh or other signs,

Patiently repining.

 

There is grief in lost love,

There is grief in loneliness,

There is grief in rejection,

There is grief

In never being claimed,

There is grief in unexpressed love,

There is grief in abject desolation,

There is grief in eternal melancholy,

And there is grief

In a life that lived well, but transiently.

 

Grief is intense, not bland.

It grips with pincers

And leaves one

In an excruciating cauldron of pain

Or holds one in numbing hoops

That leave life drained.

Grief may come in periods

To lead life in fits and starts.

Grief can be pervasive

Or slovenly, keeping life out of focus.

 

But grief is untold!

Those who grieve

Choose their paths;

They strive to return

To a life before grief

Or pursue some open paths

To life’s untrodden choices.

Epiphany

I am a seeker,

A seeker of truth.

I sought in the heavens,

I sought on the land,

I sought in deserts,

And I sought in the oceans,

But, elusive it was

And it cleverly camouflaged

To hide from my eyes.

I became desperate;

I could not find

What I was Seeking!

 

I wandered, hope dwindling,

From palace to hovel and back;

It was as though I was purblind!

For all my failures,

Scales could have been

Covering my eyes.

For all my care, pure truth

Was hidden behind

More than seven veils,

Forever unreachable.

 

Then, one day,

A star never seen,

Shone brightly,

Up in the heavens.

I was caught in its allure

And an urge came strongly;

The only option

Was to follow the star.

I heeded the urge;

The goal was within reach.

 

I set my course west

With a spring in my steps.

I loaded my camel

And filled the carry bags.

I began my journey

Seeking again!

 

The star was hope now,

But the journey was long.

It led to a palace;

But the star hid

And the palace failed.

 

Leaving the palace,

The star shone ahead

And hope had rekindled.

Through sparse vegetation,

I followed the star

Which stopped abruptly

Above a cave turned stable.

I never had to glance

At the resting animals.

Because, in the warm, hay-scented stable

Where the cattle blew hot breaths,

In a manger lay truth,

Wrapped in swaddling clothes-

A baby newborn

With an unseen halo

And marvel in his eyes.

His wonder pierced me.

And I saw my self

In his eyes!

 

It was my self, seeking

Only for myself,

With no thoughts

Given to others!

 

My life spread out

In front of me.

I sought truth

And failed to see it

In the people surrounding me.

 

The baby smiled

And raised his hand.

I felt the gentle trickle of his blessing

And Grace descended on me.

 

Replete, I rose

And approached my camel.

Perched on my mount,

I knew with clarity

To turn the camel’s head.

I chose a different path.

 

 

 

 

 

Fall

 

It was a whirling dervish

That perked my senses

When sight and sound, scent and touch,

In abundance, assaulted me .

When cool air had begun

To nip my sun-warmed nose

And I hugged my jacket

More tightly to my body;

The tree branches had begun,

Already, to be denuded!

 

All around me,

There was a shower

Of yellow, gold,  russet and crimson

Giving a Holiday

To the verdant hues;

They sprinkled the earth

In ever-changing patterns!

 

The fresh-cut grass tingled my nose,

And the fallen leaves scented the air

With ripe sweetness;

The leaves danced

To fall in gentle circles

And in a gentler rustle

When they became stiffer with dryness

Until wet with occasional rain.

 

It is Fall,

Nature seemed to shout

When furred creatures hurried

To seek shelter

In hollows and niches;

The comical squirrel

Was flustered with eagerness

To carry more nuts than it could,

Its cheeks bulging enough to burst,

In anticipation

Of a prolonged winter

When earth is bereft

And is smothered

In snowy blanket.

 

There was a dawning sadness

In waiting for inaction

Of the leafless moments

When soporific woodlands

Prepared for a long slumber!

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Self

When, in the sand, I picked my way

In an endless search

For something I might have lost

While growing into my septuagenarian status,

I found that I never lost it.

It walked with me like a shadow

Although I never knew it.

It never set its feet before me,

But hid behind me

Waiting for me to turn-

Waiting for me to find it.

 

It was ME I had to find,

My Self – my being!

 

In the vagaries and bustle

Of a life that meandered

Through social nothings,

Pointless pursuits

Of the known and the unknown,

Tangled in baseless relations

And all the turmoils-

Both internal and external-

Of a war-torn world,

A society inked in race and class

And gargantuan cupidity

Polluted by a political miasma

That wafted in to sunder everything

Rather than link,

My Self hid as a permanent shadow.

 

Walking by the sea shore,

I was called back to my self;

All the broken shards

Of the nomadic mind

Collected themselves

In the sheer beauty

Of a color-drenched sunset,

The sparkling silvery waves

Laced with the froth and fizzle,

The pleated verdant fronds

And the cascading golden flowers

Of a languishing coconut tree,

In the seductive fragrance

Of a jasmine garland

In the braided hair of its nubile wearer,

In the silky unfurling of rose petals

In the bridal bouquet

And many more!

 

Cymbals and harps

Sang in unison

And bells clanged

In joyous clamor

Just to proclaim,

Myself.

 

 

 

 

Heirs of the Earth

They are the silent ones,

The ones without voice’

the ones without power,

And the ones without sting.

 

Words cut like rapiers

And they have no shield;

Words thrust, but no one parries;

Words strike, but no one feints.

And there is no riposte.

 

Who is clever enough

To sharpen wit to fence back

And who is aggressive and vicious

To hurl back diatribes?

 

They suffer around us,

The silent victims;

They are the lambs

That go mute and soundless,

To slaughter.

Not a  single bleat escapes

Their closed lips.

They have no retaliation!

 

They are tender and mild;

They are soft, meek and humble;

They are the angels

Without flaming swords.

 

Patient as the earth,

They endure without malice

And without rebuke!

In mute bearing,

They are always there,

Unnoticed, in the wings.

They are always waiting

For ever at the beck and call-

Always down to the earth,

These heirs of  the earth!

 

 

 

 

Green of Hope

Time is tired,

Trees are fatigued,

And the year is nearing the end;

The leaves have shed green

And have donned

A conflagration of colors

Only to be dwindling

To mute hues of grays and browns.

 

The nights are lengthening

And stars are brilliant;

But days have diminished

Into brief periods.

 

The nude trees stand sentinel

But to what end?

No one knows!

The bare branches

Stretch in supplication;

Again, to what gain?

 

The birds have fled;

The animals are drowsy.

White has shrouded the land

And held it in a freezing vise.

 

Men huddled

Around tiny fires

For light, for warmth

And waited…

Keeping hope alive

By tales of former times

For the green of grass .

 

 

FACES

All around me, faces zoomed,

In and out, up and down, left and right!

There are happy faces,

Gleaming and smiling,

Chuckling and guffawing;

Then, then are the  sad ones,

Gloomy and long,

Teary and sobbing.

Some are kind,

Some are amused,

Some are angry,

Some are petulant,

Some are caustic,

Some spouted vituperations.

But, these are alive

With thrum and thaw

To spill out

For us to see and behold,

For onlookers to be filled

With awe and yearning,

To be touched

With gladness

And cupful of sadness.

Faces speak

Without a word,

Faces reach

Without a hand,

Faces call

Without a voice

Faces reject

Without a shrug.

Faces demur,

Faces frown,

And the faces smile;

Then the world straightens!

 

 

 

 

The Beckoning

It is always the sea that beckons,

Always waiting for every return!

Going home is to go back-

To feel the sand and the sound,

The light and the shadow,

The motion and stillness

Of the abundance that is the sea.

The siren call of the Arabian Sea

Starts with the low murmur and rumble

Of the gentle waves and splashes

Cresting to the crescendo

Of the lashing and crashing

Of the monster waves of the Monsoon.

 

The sea calls me every time

And she waits for me every time,

Cocksure that I will make the time,

Time and time again,

Every chance I was given!

 

I picked my way gingerly

Over the edgy rocks of the sea wall,

A recent creation to ward off the sea 

That keeps creeping forward.

The sand was still there, diminished,

Allowing the tree line to close in!

Did the trees move

Or the excess sea water

Of an unwanted universal heat

Extend its borders?

 

Sandals were so cumbersome

That I tossed them away with abandon

And splayed my toes into the dry sand

And let the grains trickle through

To feel the delight of little touches.

 

But, that is not enough!

The salty brine is still waiting

To splash and soak and dampen.

I inched forward

In delectable longing.

Ah, the first touch is always novel!

The froth swirled around the toes

To wink away abashed

While the salty breeze caressed

And fondled the sun-kissed cheeks.

 

High tide is coming…

I ventured, yes.

I slowly stepped forward

And dug my waiting toes into the wetness.

The waves rushed in and wavered

And receded in haste,

As if ashamed to go any further

And regretting the forward boldness .

But, my soles and heels dug in,

Not to falter in the hasty back-flow

Of the roiling sea.

 

The air was heavy with salt and moisture

And was scented with the briny damp.

My clothes clung to me, waterlogged and salty,

Abrading with the cluster of grainy sand.

 

Foamy crests rose higher and higher

And the water rushed up the sand

Trimmed with lacy froth on scalloped edges.

There were shrieks in the beach

When the water sucked the sand

From under the feet and tried

To topple the upright onlookers

Struggling for a foot-hold.

 

The waves rose with shimmering crests

That sprayed and spewed in reckless abandon,

Settling down to simmering motion

That glittered in the slanted rays

Of the descending sun.

 

The day is waning  and nearing  closure

While the slanted rays of a westward sun

Garnished the waters in pearly tints

That outshone the reds and purples,

The gold and orange, the salmon and shell pink.

The riotous hues marveled in their abundance

And bathed the sea and the sand

While the golden globe transformed

From fiery ball to red orange

And began to cast a pall over the beach

While dipping lethargically

Into the clean circular end,

Finally to submerge completely,

Leaving just the debris of the light

In meager portions to outline the people

Who were leaving, desolate in their loss

Of the glory of the sunset.

 

Another day has come and gone

And the pall is lifted from my heart

As I thrilled at the magnificence

That the sea has showered

And the sun has shared!

Day is done!