It has been thundering and raining on a daily basis here in Singapore.
Here are some poems to celebrate the rain.
Silver metal against the sky,
Clouds lit up by flashing lights.
Winds rush through the trees
Messing up their leaves.
Angsana flowers float down the air.
The clouds are ripped again and again
The darkness thunders asking for rain.
Then, with a rush of pattering sound,
The rain finds it’s way to the ground.
The lightening strikes,
Connecting the Earth to the skies.
With a sliver of silver,
Knife-edged, sharp, it cuts across the night,
Bordering the darkness with neon light,
Or, streaking the heaviness of the grey
Thunder clouds during the day,
Linking the distant infinite
With the being that is finite.
Creating a new reality,
Opening a new dimension
For our world,
Taking us beyond the clouds
Exciting us with it’s spark,
Telling us all life is a lark,
An existence that starts
And ends with a thunderclap.
It is all a part of the Big Bang!
Like a sheet of molten mercury, the ripples
Stretch out against a cloudy sky.
The only color is the yellow of
The Angsana flowers nearby.
And the green of the
Grass and leaves fluttering ,sigh.
The wind rips
Through the dancing trees.
Loud thunder laces the streaks
Of lightening against the flat
Fields of grey.
Flashes of neon lights
Connect the Earth to the skies.
The birds and butterflies
No longer fly.
They hide and watch the
Between the Earth and skies
Till, peals of clapping rain
Wet the dry Earth again and again.
As the rain comes to a halt,sunshine smiles.
The yellow bird chirps to the green butterfly,
” What drama! What spirit of the Earth and skies!
What else could be more gripping than this sight?!”
Last night, I thought I would write about nocturnal adventures of the paranormal kind. For some reason,most people seem to prefer them over poetry or serious stories. It makes for popular literature,at least in Singapore.People love getting spooked. I don’t. My sons love it. My husband loves it. My friends love it. My brothers-in-law love it. I still don’t. However, conceding to popular tastes, I thought I could try my hand at a few ghost stories… Perhaps, I could do a story about a ghost dating a youngster or a ghost far from home, lost… All these ideas haunted my mind as I thought of the stories my son carried home from his training camp dorms,the most alarming being his dorm mates had seen a white lady ghost hovering near his bed around 2 am or 3 am in the morning! My son had never seen her! He responded by guffawing and telling his batch mates, he was dating her…of course he was joking but he was also being very irreverent,I thought. I always hold ghosts in reverence as one never knows if they are real or not…I would prefer to leave such areas unresearched . I do not ever want to encounter a spook. I was spooked when I thought of the silent floating specter in the quiet,dark night with the river flowing silently in front of our house. I was afraid that I would see the white ghostly lady’s translucent , pale friends and relatives from the nether world waving at me or making faces at me when I looked out of the window. I was so scared that I stopped writing. I prayed for my son’s safety. I hoped he was having a peaceful and good night. Earlier in the day, one of my friends had told me that horror stories were most effective when they included sounds of creaking doors and trailing chains and all kinds of spooky noises. But, the funny thing is all the ghosts in my son’s dorm are silent! They do their rounds around 2 am or 3 am but are definitely out by 4 am, when my son wakes up to the sound of the alarm. This week, I heard, four ghosts haunt their dormitory and one, their laundry. The laundry area is haunted by an old lady who just hangs around the machines till it is time for her to turn in …I suppose, back to her grave. My son has never seen her but his dorm mates have. They have been instructed to visit the laundry in pairs, never alone…a necessary precaution as no one knows when or what she might do… The ghosts in the dormitory are just hoverers if you do not mess with them, I have heard. They do not make noise, but people who see them still get scared, despite what my friend said about sound being the thing that induces fears. Some of the boys pray whenever they have spare time so that spooks don’t harm them! The white lady near my son’s bunk just hovers and leaves. The grey lady gaurds four bunks ,two of which are occupied. The occupants have seen her .Then, there is a Japanese soldier ghost that sits on top of the locker clutching his bayonet. He just sits there. Maybe, he is lost! That is why I thought of doing a story about a ghost lost and far from home. Then, I thought ghosts could materialize anywhere,anytime…and that is when I started getting goosebumps…. Could there be a ghost in my compound? Could there be a ghost in my house? Or, in the shopping malls? My sons swear that shopping malls are so noisy that ghosts would be spooked out of them! Perhaps,that is why women love shopping malls. They are spook-free. Or, are they not? Are all the people in the malls alive and not ghosts? I realize I have wandered off the course. I was focussing on the four ghosts that hover in my son’s dorm between 2 am and 3 am but are definitely out by 4am. The fourth ghost is a shoe polisher,a bit in the tradition of the elves in Elves and the Shoemaker by the Brothers Grimm. It seems he polishes the boots of one of the boys in the dorm. This boy has the shiniest boots in the whole institute. Shoe polishing is an art that boys need to master while training . They have to have very shiny boots or they have to do push ups or sit ups,it seems. The whole batch gets punished if even one person has less polished boots! I have seen my son sit by the hour and polish his boots during weekends,even in the middle of birthday parties. He even polishes his boots with a computer app that teaches you how to have the shiniest boots in the whole universe…he sits with his laptop and boots and polishes the weekend out! The reason I elaborated on the shoe polishing bit is so that you can figure out how important it is to have shiny boots and what a huge favor this ghost is doing for the trainee whose shoe he polishes regularly! So, is this a “kind” ghost? And yet the boys get scared (except some disbelievers, like my son) and pray that they are kept safe from him. Actually, I would too! I do not want to have ghostly visitors, however kind and good. With due reverence to paranormal creatures and believers, I would love to live in a world without spooky fears !
On 1st of May, I went for a live concert by Amjad Ali ,the sarod maestro . His music and his compositions are truly inspiring! To add to the multicultural flavor of the concert,he had three Chinese instrumentalists playing his composition in raga Bahar with his troop. With his music he not only strung together two great ancient civilizations but also paused to dedicate the performance to the Nepal quake victims.
This is my tribute to his superb music.
Pure dulcet notes,
Clear, sharp and yet mellow
Tumbling out in melody.
Beautiful single tones,
Lucid, like water drops
That fall in rhythm
And yet create their own harmony.
No thunder, no lightening.
But notes that ring
And to the soul sing
Songs of simplicity
And of joy.
Notes that descend
And give focus
To the primeval cry
That calls out
And stretches its’s arms
To souls struggling
To let go,
To bring forth
That inspire the strength in us,
That reaches out to the inner being
Giving a glimpse
Of perfection,beauty and eternity.
These are notes of eternal harmony
Beyond borders,beyond colors
And beyond all destiny.
They give a glimpse of heaven to me.
People thought Salma could write well. So, everyone, asked her to write. Her brother-in-law in Brazil wanted her to write a script for his speech , another cousin of her husband’s wanted her to write ghost stories. Now, ghost stories is where Salma drew the line. She was terrified of unearthly beings.She had nightmares if she heard/ read ghost stories. She avoided watching movies with ghosts in them, except for funny ones like Ghostbusters or Casper. She had seen some really funny Bengali and Hindi movies too about ghosts. They were not so bad. But, ghost stories….she drew the line. She wrote a frigid email to the cousin saying she never wrote ghost stories! She was afraid she would get nightmares if she wrote one…
One day,Salma met a smart,funny and well-read woman,called Hemlata. Hemlata was about ten years older than her. That made Hem about fifty five.She had crisp,short curly hair. Salma met her when she went jogging everyday. She would go when there were no people around…around two in the afternoon. She used to jog along a lonely wooded path that passed near the University of Santa Cruz. Hem would jog with her. And then, they would sit and chat for half an hour and Salma would return home. Salma found talking to Hem relaxed her. Hem was surprisingly well read. One day, she asked Salma if she would be interested in writing the story of her life..Salma asked Hem ,” Why don’t you drop in for a cup of coffee to my place and we could talk it over.”
Hem replied, ” No. I can’t . I will meet you here everyday and tell you the story. I am sorry but I have certain commitments which make it difficult for me to visit you…”
Salma was alright with the arrangement. Hem began the story of her life.” I was born in a small district in Assam . I married at the age of twenty two. As Assam grew into a troubled state in India, my husband and I decided to migrate to USA. We moved to California when I was in my mid-twenties. I had started work as a journalist in India. I was quite well known as Hemlata Barua in India. I missed my work in USA. My husband worked in the banking sector. He was out the whole day. I decided to learn to fly a plane!”
Salma said,” Wow! So you can fly planes! That is unusual.”
” Yes. It took a long time but I learnt to fly. How I enjoyed flying! I could see the world under my feet stretched out like a map…I could see the clouds float at a distance…I could go anywhere…all I needed was a plane. I also felt empowered by the ability to control the plane…”
Salma looked at her watch and told Hemlata, ” We will continue tomorrow. I am getting late. My kids will be back home from school.”
Hemlata gave a smile and said, ” Goodbye then.”
The next day Hemlata met her and went on with her story. She flew with a passion as she had very few other hobbies other than reading. She learnt how to do loop de loops and even parachute . She had no children, no family in USA. So, she threw herself into her hobby. Then, one day, she wanted to fly over the Bermuda Triangle to see if she could resolve the mystery. Her husband was not very keen on it as he thought it could be risky.
Hemlata complied to him initially. Then, her husband went on a long tour to Switzerland. Hemlata went with him for a short while and returned to USA. She missed flying… Her husband would be out working the whole day and return late in the evening.
Hemlata spent a long time flying…Then , one day, while her husband was still in Switzerland, she decided to fly her plane over the Bermuda Triangle. Her husband was not there to stop her!
Hemlata flew on a clear day into the triangle.
Salma was amazed,” For real?” she asked Hem.” You have been into the Bermuda Triangle and live to tell the story? What happened?”
Hem smiled, ” So, you will write my story?”
“Sure. Would love to.”
Hem said,” Goodbye then.”
Salma said,” Will you tell me the rest tomorrow?”
Hem smiled. “Bye,” she said and they parted.
That evening Salma’s husband’s new boss came home to dinner.She was surprised hearing his name. It was Mr Debjyoti Barua. She said,” You share your surname with a friend. I made friends with this lady called Hemlata Barua while jogging. She is amazing…claims to have flown into the Bermuda Triangle!”
Mr Barua was looking pale.” Hemlata was my wife! She went missing two years ago when she flew into the Bermuda Triangle!”
It was Salma’s turn to look pale!
There was a major earthquake last week. These are two poems dedicated to these events that seem so meaningless to us and yet destroy centuries of man’s efforts in a few minutes…
(Dedicated to the Nepal quake)
The red dragonfly sits
And six white butterflies flit
Among the wild flowers.
The shadows of purple mountains tower
Over the little green valley.
The silver stream meanders over the rocky land.
It seems like part of the huge big map
That an unseen mind planned.
He said ,” Let it be.”
And it all sprang to existence.
What is it the hand
That rocks the created land
With earthquakes, floods and whipping sand?
Is it Him again at play
At the start of another cosmic day?
What would it be like if time stood still….
Embalmed in time?
If time were to stand still,
Life would be such a thrill.
Frozen in time ,
We would eternally relive
Moments of happiness and sunshine.
The air would be fresh,
The garden, very green.
Eternally,we’d have spring.
The birds would sing,
The butterflies carouse,
Heady with nectar and flower juice.
Years would pause
At the moment when our lives stood still
And our hearts leapt up to behold
The rainbow of all joy and hope.
Eternity would stretch to infinity.
But,would it be tangible?
Would it be real?
Could I touch you ?
Could I feel you?
Can eternity be embalmed in time?
A walk down an autumnal landscape
How nice it would be
If we took a walk by that stream
Down under the autumnal trees.
Red and yellow with splashes of green.
How nice if we went into that painting
And got trapped in time.
Time stopped for you and me.
And we got lost in that moment of eternity!
How nice it would be….
Only you and me
Lost in an eternal moment
Caught in the web of time.
And time would stand still.
……..Only for you and me…….
When I look out of my window, I see ripples of water in the little river / water reserve across the road. The river gives me a sense of tranquility.Here are a few lines to the river…
This river means life.
Every morning ,
I see it awake
Ripple with waves
Light up with the sun
Glitter and have fun
I see the birds that flit
I see turtles swim
And cranes wait for the fish.
I see trees
Smile back at me
From the waves.
I see the play of light.
I see the water reflect the sky.
At night, it deepens and quietly sighs.
At midnight, it sleeps dark and quiet
And awakens fresh again in the morning light.
The water and the sky
The waves caught a bit of the sky
And brought it close to me.
A little cloud,feathery white,
In a dancing spree
Was rippling in glee,
Laughing with me…
And a little further down ,I could see
The sun littering jewels ,
Dusting the pointed edges of the water
With pin pricks of crystal bright.
The other day,
I saw rubies and diamonds sprinkle the little lake.
Sunset on water turned gold
A fluid necklace of ages untold
Molten lava across the skies
Captured by the rising tides
The water all dressed up,
Waiting to meet the dark night…
The fiery lava turned the sky cinder,
The water darkened itself, a willing bride
Of the deepening skies
Drowning it’s senses in the colors of the night.