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 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!

Cotton Candy World

In the woolly soft world,

The innocent babe curled,

With dreams unfurled

And with rainbows circled

In slumber unhindered.

No harsh words

And no hard swords

Can wound this child.

She stays unblemished!

Woe befall

The male or female

Who dares to crush

The cotton candy world

Of all babes in creche.

A Food I long for

One food I wish to have I will never have now that its creator is no more.  My Mother had a delicious preparation of pearl spot fish or chromide.  I did not pay attention in those days to anything in a kitchen. But the taste of this dish always lingers.

Unfortunately,  I do not know the recipe.  That is written in my mother’s brain and taste buds.  It is known as “karimeen pollichchathu”.  The seasoning is a blend of  onion, garlic, ginger, green chilies, coconut milk, vinegar and salt.  Something else must be there too. All these are added at different stages of sauteeing in coconut oil. The mixture covers the scaled and cleaned fish and the whole thing is wrapped around by banana leaf and cooked gently in an earthenware pan. It has a mothwatering aroma.  Eating this is a hedonistic experience.  But one has to be careful in eating this because there are many bones.  We ate this with fingers to remove the bones. It goes well with rice and other Kerala vegetable dishes.

Meaning of Life

Life is a gift. There is meaning to this gift of life only when it is reciprocated. Our lives create meaning when they benefit others.  Big or small, the benefits carry meaning.  For example, parents nurture the young and the young become caregivers of the old.  The true teacher inspires learning that creates and transforms people to lead meaningful lives. The scientists and technologists discover and invent to improve human lives. The artists and architects bring aesthetic meanings around us while musicians create melodies to bring rhythmic meaning into daily lives. Above all, goodness envelopes us whether talented or untalented by the sheer sweetness that makes every life worth living. Finally, we give back to life when we protect the earth not only for us, but for the future generations. Thus we make the meaning of life complete.

We live in the world, among living people. The meaning of life then is focussed on  giving. In every walk of life, there are givers and receivers. Shakespeare’s words about mercy can be applied in this context, 

“The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:”

Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Scene I