Monday, December 26, 2011

New Year ...

google image

Last year
I wished for
frosted nails,
a silver dawn,
fiery red stilettos,
a slim chiselled body,
white flowers, and dreams
 drenched in the October rain.
I stacked them neatly in between
the layers of vibrant rainbow resolutions.

those resolutions have turned gray,
flowers have become rotten
and I am just the same
with no slim body,
no frosted nails,
not even shoes,
not a dream,
nor a dawn,

Just this indigo blue butterfly
Painted on my shoulder,
a shade deeper than the ocean,
fluttering and flapping,
gazing at the deep blue sky,
goading me to start
all over again.

wishing all of you a happy new year, season's greetings with lots of love ...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

living life ...

Sit gingerly
with one foot placed firmly
over the base of the blade.
Hold the fish and scrape it out
De scaling it
swinging it deftly right and left.
press the chicken down with one hand,
hold the sickle shaped knife in another
in an artistic angle, and
bring it down ingeniously to make a slit
almost in a dance like perfection.

They don’t retaliate
Or perhaps they can’t;
tolerance is a very holy concept.

Feel the perfect line and
end their head from the body.
Struggling for breath
spitting black blood
those staring eyes and gaped open mouth
casually lain beside.

Bring out all those internal bloody chaos
through that dark hole.

Now with lot of love
and patience,
with fingers soft and skilled,
clean them 
 cut them
into careful sized pieces,
so that no bones or thorns
bother you later.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

a message for the woman ...

illustration by Nilanjana Basu - borrowed from 'parabas' site

Thursday, November 24, 2011

letter ...

If I send you these plants and trees
and a rain clad hour,
will you read?
The other day,
 those beggars had cooked on the road
and I collected a fist full of left over ashes;
want to send them as well.
Those people, the villages, surrounding forests,
and the incessant trickling of a silver stream;
I will send them all.
Will you remember to read?

Also those moist memories, the dejected hours

and the purple patches of half hearted promises?

Till now I had kept them all

piled up in my poems.
the child tore apart my book of poems
in mirthful glee.
Anguished years and suppressed moments,
plenty of crystal tears,
all, in bits and pieces,
were flying around in freedom
like tiny dove wings.
I am sending them too,
and also the child’s triumphant laughter.
Will you read?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

carving my way into history ...

a road towards heaven; Mulaingiri, the highest peak in Karnataka

I was all set to spend that beautiful October weekend among the moss green coffee plantation and luxurious ambience of ‘The Serai’, a beautiful resort at Chikkamagalur, a district in the Indian state of Karnataka. My mind was already tuned for the beauty of the Westernghat Mountains, lush green coffee plantations and the expensive extravagance of The Serai resort by the time we started our journey from Mysore at about 7 am. There was a distinct winter chill in the air and it merged beautifully with a mild suppressed fragrance from a Hasnuhana tree, making the poetry within me yelling for more. I felt happy for yet another opportunity to be among the wild raw beauty of nature.

a beautiful play of light and shade; Chikkamagalur

So a few hours later when our vehicle casually stopped at Belur, a small town at the bank of river Yagachi in Hassan district and as the driver said – ma’m I think you might just like the temple, here - least did I realise that I am heading towards such stupendous marvel of art and sculptors, with a history 1000 years old, standing tall in front of me with all its grandeur.
Belur temple of Hoysala Dynasty
It is the Chennakeshava temple dedicated to Lord 'Chennakeshava' (handsome Vishnu). It was built by King Vishnuvardhana of Hoysala Dynasty. It is about one hundred feet high and has a glorious gateway tower. There are many other shrines around the main temple. The whole temple is conceived in an unusual star-shaped structure.

the king sala killed a lion in his youth and later became the founder of this dynasty - hence hoysala -

The temple is a holy house for sculptures showcasing innumerable variety of ornaments, the doorways, the ceilings, the birds, the animals, dancers and other figures still alive with life and vigour despite repeated vandalisms and destructions by early Muslim rulers and during the colonial period. Stories from the Puranas, Upanishads, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and other mythological stories have been carved in the most authentic way all around the temple. 

a famous sculptor of a musician lady -
the intricate works of stone as the drum wires are amazing

a beautiful lady of higher stature - her expression depicts pride

As I was carving my way through history I came to know about Shantala Devi, the queen of Hoyasala king Vishnuvardhana who got the temple built. The more I tried to find out about her from those guides and later from the internet sources and history books, the more mesmerised I became. The queen kept drawing me towards revisiting history and into her enigmatic life. Shantala Devi, a Jain by faith was a noted dancer and her dancing poses has been sculptured in the most ornate and in exuberant style. The Madanikas and the Apsaras (celestial nymphs) on the temple walls are said to be inspired by the beautiful Queen Shantaladevi, epitomizing the ideal feminine form.

a lady admiring her in mirror - notice the maids at her feet - they are shorter to signify the lower social class

a lady dancing in her garden - the vine all around her - notice a lizard that's chasing some insect among the vine

the lady is coochie cooing with her parrot - the maids are waiting with fruits etc

looks like it was an age of female domination - the lady is coming back from hunting - the maids are carrying her kill

What I could gather from my little research is that Shantala Devi was an extremely beautiful woman, an epitome of feminine grace and was well versed in the fine arts of dance and music. She was well trained in Bharat Natyam dance. The numerous celestial female figures are sculpted being inspired by her grace and splendour. There is a circular, polished stone platform in the temple right in front of the shrine. It is said that Shantala Devi used to dance on that platform in praise of Lord Chennakesava. She herself was a patron of Jainism and built several temples.

the famous bhasma mohini dance - bharatnatyam

A story that makes the round is that - Chalukya king Vikramaditya who is invited for the opening of the Lakshmi Devi Temple misses the dance worship of the Hoysala Queen Shantala. He arrives two days behind schedule along with his wife Lakumi Devi. Shantala receives the Chalukya Queen and the latter expresses the desire of her husband to witness Shantala's dance performance. The queen of dance Shantala refuses the suggestion asserting that her performance is not an entertainment, but a sacred art meant for gods. The Hoysala queen, who remains a follower of Jainism till last, despite her husband Vishnuvardhana embracing Srivaishnavism, passes through a lot of trauma. An honest and principled queen, she is often misunderstood and made to suffer in herself. Finally, the queen embraces death through the Jainism way of 'Sallekahana' at her native place.

with a support of a vine she has lifted her right foot - the maid is putting in a toe ring - a compulsion for married karnatik women till date

Meanwhile my obsession with the life of Shantala Devi continues. The more I search the more I feel this strange attraction to know her better! It could be some past life connection, what say? :-)

photos - courtesy Biswajit Mitra

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

of that life ... of that love ...

I dedicate the poem to my friend late Mousumi Ghosh whose vibrant laughter ringing through Calcutta University corridor and that special warm hug is still vivid in my mind.

Of that mile, of that walk,
what remains
is only a stillness.

these tombs are like doors
that wouldn't open anymore
and yesterday got accidentally
locked inside.

I sit there in silence,
watching the sky grow lonlier,
wishing for an october
that has gone by;
some says music still plays beyond.

and then I know
when it rains,
and you think I am not looking,
 you come;
and so do the others,
with the smell of monsoon in your hair
your lips holding the same smile,
only the voice, different, like from an other world;
you come
when you think I am not looking
but I look
and see everything
that I should have seen yesterday.

posted for

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Meditation ...

Today, at last, I decide to  seek my soul.

It has been hanging from the parapet,
a little below the Banyan tree
for long, now.

it appears perfect
as there is an uncanny silence all around;
no rustling leaves
no whistling breeze
not even any distant chirping bird;
as if the universe waits in an animal quietude
before its birth from time's womb.

If only there hadn't been
 this rushing gushing noisy stream of thoughts
that keep flowing loud and vigorous
from my mind!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

misguided ...

On a lazy noon when there is no riddle and no test
Satan decides to indulge in siesta and it is a much needed rest.

Apathy, terror and hate among mankind has grown dense
his revenge is complete, now there's nothing to worry or tense.

With increasing rate men are vomiting filth on Earth's bed
God seems helpless and humanity is almost dead.

Then comes Satan's follower with fear and much apprehension
rushing and faltering, his forehead beaded with perspiration.

Something terrible has happened on Earth, says he
a man is said to have found the ultimate truth and peace, you see!

Up rises Satan, hails colleagues with a cheerful greeting
in sincere faith he calls for an urgent meeting.

Followers gather in swarms, doubt has sabotaged their calm
surprise on each face, questioning how the leader appears to have no qualm!

Then speaks the lord of serpents, his thunder voice trembling in vibration
"not to fear" says he, "for, that man, now, would create his own separate religion.

In his struggle to establish his personal cult and clan for the youth
he will successfully drive away all, even farther from the supreme Truth.

Hence, we can rest assured and be at ease
as mankind will remain misguided, their conflict will not cease".

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

being equal ...

a search ...

Wisdom is crushed to death
by the weight of knowledge.

Imagination struggles and gasps
in the quicksand of meaning.

Silence is demolished at that moment
when it is uttered.

A tiny death, each time, in that fleeting gap
at the end of an exhaled breath, before the beginning of another.

When I breathe in
you breathe out.

In these contradictions;
in these conflicts and defiance
I see. And then,
I seek what I see.

Perhaps if I stop seeking
I will find the meaning,
the agreement.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

a feeling ...

I keep hearing footfalls
behind me,
tapping, tiptoeing,
if I am asleep or I am awake,
whether through a melting sunlight
or a cascading curtain of rainfall.

Looking back would only destroy all hope.

image -

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

across the boundary ...

A golden land with eucalyptus grove,
blue screaming birds in the yellow sky,
America; the land of dreams
peep through cedars and dazzling roads.
"Mother should come and stay with us,
isn't it lonely for her there?
And then, life is so troublesome in this land,
slogging and struggling to collect every penny,
coming home, cooking and washing
and now the baby!
We need someone to take care,
Afterall, you can't trust anyone here!"

Above, the sky bleeds its last red tinge
and the sea gives up to the dark.
Mother waits;
the longing in her eyes, fettered
among the green smell of a far away land of the Ganges.
The perfect round red circle on her forehead
reflects paddy field and a smell of raw undug soil.
For Mother, the rising Sun, at once its setting seven seas across,
history, flapping like a serpentile forked tongue in her heaving chest.

Between the lands, time ticked away.

Her tongue, a stiff embarrassment in her mouth;
her hasty wiping away of tears,
"dearest son, take me back to my land, my house needs me"
hangs like the bewildered clock;
her eyes wait
beyond the gurgling waves of the ocean,
for someone
to take her home,
where she was born.

Notes: - the diasporic plight for the elderly generation is still strongly prevalent even in this present day close knit global structure. They would have their longing for their homeland, struggling and striving to adjust with a foreign tongue and an alien society, caught perpetually into an in-between nowhere zone. After all home is wherein lies the heart and not the foot.

posted for

Sunday, August 14, 2011

We who forgot to live ...

I step out of myself
and watch her
staggering and numb
casting and recasting herself
wrinkled and sore feet;
her ... and him ...
 them and
 I watch you all
passive and pale
half smiles
rolling down your cheeks.

So many people
so much more dead
than all those corpses.

They have all died
without cremation
without burial.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

being a stranger...

for all those who have become a stranger to their own selves in the name of compromises, adjustments; for being polite, for not to hurt others ... it is important to know, recognise and remain true to ones own identity ...

Falsities came
unchecked, unescorted,
like a silhouette, tiptoeing as a winter sunray that
manages its way through narrow slits of the branches.
Walking along with him, across seasons, covering hours and minutes,
I lost Truth, on my journey, at that unsuspecting bent of the zigzagged road.

Gently disintegrate me.
Removing all the layers-
blue, crimson and green,
get to the core.
And you would know
how I have worn a fake, forged face
all along.

All those dreams that were left unattended;
all that I hoped but never lived;
all those meaningless smiles that I carefully tucked;
all those half hearted promises that I never kept;
all those sobs that hid behind well groomed eye brows;
all those fears that were pushed beneath an uplifted chin;
for all of them, and the pretensions,
and for you
I have been a fake.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

alley of flower

He often holds my hand and walk along with
in a summer noon
on melted tar, black and brutal like lava;
he is a constant companion,
in his grim sarcasm,
accompanying all human efforts;
courteous, quaintly curious, with a huge robe
that seemed as tangled as my existence,
 he would drop in for a chat
like an old lover
to have pillow talk on my ailing bed;
and then again, at times, right across, like a stranger
turning me numb, scraping my nerves
with a metallic screeching of wheels;
at times, I see him wild and passionate,
rampant in his irritation at human foolish ness.
I trap concern in my fingers and
 clutch conscience to my chest
and guiltily rush towards safety.

‘What is it you fear?’ he asks in his surprised baritone.
His voice, a caressing whisper against my skin,
he says there’s an alley of flowers, beyond,
where eternal light filters like rain drops.
There are white flowers everywhere,
  White, the color of purity and a woman’s sorrow,
mingling with the fragrance of wet earth.
There are night queen jasmines,
flowers for the bride and the dead.
Death goes on describing,
his breath, like the softness of flower petals,
like a blessing.