Sunday, May 30, 2021

Random Verses


Tailor bird chirping
at the top of its voice
On top of the
fountaining bottlebrush
The placid dove quiet
On the adjoining branch,
A leafy branch
Sweeps gently overhead
Its touch a benediction.

Death Anniversary
My sister passed away
On this day, six years ago.
It was sudden, hence shocking.
Each year we would have
prayers at her home, a havan,
All the family together
Marking this day as hers,
As much as her birthday.
Late that night, six years ago
When we heard the news, we drove
The several miles to her home
Not willing to believe its truth.
For the past two years
We mark the day privately
No gatherings, no travelling
Cities in lockdown.
And I find myself glad
That when she went,
We could mourn her
Together, sharing our grief
Celebrating her life
Hugging each other,
as we bade her farewell.
Covid has changed
So much, for so many,
Snatching whatever
Comfort and support
We could share
When bereaved,
Especially when
Covid has claimed that life.
Living this way is hard enough
Dying, unthinkable.

25th April, 2021

For Indu
A friend spoke of her dream
To live near a water body,
And I remembered my years
On the banks of the Chao Phraya
With rafts of logs floating downstream
Many kinds of river craft,
and bhikshus on the bank across
Begging, early mornings,
for their sole meal of the day.
The sunset among the palms
Such beauty, so much beauty.
And in spate, the river overflowed
Boats plied in the fields,
Milk and vegetables came by boat
And once we took our infant son
To the hospital, by boat,
Across those fields...
In memory again, I remember
How that beautiful river
Became the background
rarely noticed
In the busy-ness of our lives.
And I grieve, for having taken it
So much for granted.
Today, each tree I encounter
Most mornings, is a friend
That I mentally embrace,
And hold close to my heart.
Have the intervening years
Changed me so much?
I hope so.
I salute you once again
In memory,
Beautiful river.

24th April, 2021

The elderly gentleman
Sits on the garden bench
Every morning
Listening to the music
Of Pandit Jasraj
On a device with
Two hundred compositions
Of the master
Whose divine voice
Wafts by on the breeze
As I walk along.

31st March, 2021

Three salwars drying
Astride a washing line
Ghostly riders
in a strange tandem.

24th March 2021

Waiting for the death
Of the terminally ill seems
Akin to a difficult pregnancy,
The patient immobile,
Bedridden, dependent, helpless
In a particular, unique reality,
But with no end date in sight.
A date after which you know
You can get on with your own life
And so you pray, both for patience
And for a merciful release
For all concerned.
Each such death that you witness
Tells you more about yourself
Than you would really like to know.

8th March, 2021

I walked earlier than usual
This spring morning
Around the colony garden
When there's a loud, composite roar.
A dog barks, alarmed.
It's five elderly men
Being tigers and lions
Before they clap in unison
And laugh in unison
Kindergarten days again!

22nd February, 2021


Recent Reads

Recent Reads

 I finished this book a couple of days ago, reading compulsively, eager to know what happened next. I am still trying to process my thoughts, and hope to be more coherent in a detailed review at some point. For now, I can only say that Kiran Manral has surpassed herself with her latest book. It is mysterious, spooky, atmospheric, lyrical. It takes you to places that may or may not be familiar to you, but are so vividly described that you feel that you know that Bandra, that Goa, those mountains. The characters are etched with finesse, each one authentically portrayed, including the protagonist as a child, as well as the details of her family history, all adding to a richly nuanced story.

4th May, 2021

Belly Dancing! When life seems impossibly hard, more unpredictable than ever, it's an instant pick-me-up. Gouri Dange writes about food with knowledge, wit (at times acerbic), and her characteristic sense of fun. From an absolutely magical stew concocted with her father, to his pithlas, to the tricks children resort to to get rid of unwanted food, tiffins included, to food flavoured fiction from her wide ranging oeuvre, to the (undeserved?) snob value of certain foods, Belly Dancing is truly A Romp Through The World of Food. 3rd May 2021
Greatly impressed with Peggy Mohan 's new book:
Wanderers, Kings, Merchants: The Story of India through its Languages.

It takes you on wonderful journeys, introducing fascinating concepts, at times deeply philosophical, at times warmly personal. Ancient history gets a new perspective, that of migration, and its effects on local languages. I was particularly fascinated by the chapters which spoke of Amir Khusro and Mirza Ghalib, and their linguistic heritage. Hinglish figures in the final chapter, and one realizes how muchour worlds are circumscribed by the languages at our command. I am most impressed by the author's scholarship and her vast range of interests.

29th April 2021

Murder she wrote.
Anuja Chauhan's latest, Club Me To Death, is brilliantly written, with a delightful cast of characters, an insider's view of club life, a subtle yet highly perceptive look at social issues, snide potshots at the current dispensation, an adorable ACP, and a very juicy murder or two. Gripping. Her desification of the language adds to the fun. A classic, juicy murder mystery, set in the heart if Lutyens' Delhi. What's not to love?

19th March, 2021

Just finished reading The Anger of Saintly Men by Anubha Yadav.
It is a brilliant, authentic account of the lives of three brothers, their family and friends. It takes you across time and space and political history, many issues of identity, of boyhood, manhood, and the pressures of the situations the characters find themselves in. A rollercoaster of a book, rich in imagery, written with deep empathy. Brilliant, Anubha. Looking forward to your next!

10th March, 2021

On Ankit Chadha's death anniversary


It's been three long years
Since you left us in tears
Grappling with a grief immense
And we miss you still, so much
But if you had to go,
(And it must have been ordained
Why else would it have happened,
Your departure from our world?)
I am glad you went when you did
(I never thought I could say this)
Before this disease took over our world
There were hundreds of us there
To bid you farewell
Your sorrowing parents, family, friends.
Together we mourned you
Sought comfort together
No screens separating us
No masks.
Our grief was naked
And shared
And somehow,
Slowly, but somehow,
We learned to live without you.
Today, death is wildly rampant
Working overtime
Our quota of grief numbed
By the sheer volume of loss.
Our tears have frozen
In our grief stricken hearts.

If you had to go so young,
I'm glad you went then...

9th May, 2021

Sunshine and Shadows

 Sunshine and shadows

And then, magic
I walk on down the pathway
And through the trees ahead
A brilliant flash of blue, turquoise
and golden brown
A kingfisher, perhaps
So far from the river.
Hope? Yes, hope.
11th May, 2021

Wise Words


                       Words of wisdom from a very wise Facebook friend. Worth preserving here.