Spring

Spring is here ! Looking back nostalgically, here are some verses I had written last spring sitting in my garden ,enjoying the sunny,breezy weather….

Song of Spring

Come let us celebrate spring !

Let us dance abandoned in the air
With wild flowers nodding everywhere
Hear the swishing of the breeze
The singing of the trees
The distant hum of bees
The whistling of the birds
The laughter of boys and girls
It’s heady….this spring
I hear the voices ring
And songs that words do sing
I see the sky
Clear and bright
I feel the sunshine
Warm with gold
These are stories of all ages
Singers have sung this song
Through aeons
Now it is my turn to sing
A resounding ode to spring

Intoxication

The madness of words engulfs my soul.
The sound of words,the music,the rhythm,
The nuances, the schisms…..
I dance like a wild woman
My hair flying wild.
I turn in circles.
I gyrate.
I am in an open field……
Hear the wind.
Translate the sound.
The waves of the swishing grass.
The greenness of the ground.
All captured by words and sound.
The nimbus floating by
In an unending blue sky
Golden with the hues of sunlight.
I revel in words.
I dance to the sound.
Nothing more matters
As I turn around and around….

Intoxicated with the sound of words.

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Ghostly Meanderings

I am terrified of ghosts,perhaps, because I have an imagination. I have never seen one. I avoid reading about them too. When I was a kid and someone wanted to tell a ghost story,I would put my fingers into my ears and shout, drowning all sounds…let me assure you a most effective way of shutting out anything you do not want to hear. Of course,if my sons dared do that, they would be given much to think about.
When I moved to Singapore, I thought I had left all ghostly things behind as it was such a new country…
But I was wrong.
Singapore has it’s own romance with ghosts. In August,Taoists burn paper to appease hungry ghosts.When we were house hunting,our house agent informed us quite seriously that roads are not built straight so that ghosts don’t find their way to homes. The conclusion being, there are ghosts and ghosts do not take meandering pathways. I noticed houses at the end of a straight road were priced lower. And, now,there is this vast majority of literature about ghosts, poems and stories, written and printed locally. It has the nomenclature of dark literature. I have never dared to touch it for the fear of the unknown.
When my son went into training for National Service,(every child born here needs to serve the nation for two years before going to university)we found out that the academy was next to a graveyard. Many trainee national servicemen had evidently noticed paranormal activities,I had heard.Though, we were assured in a talk given to parents that there are no ghosts. My friend’s friend’s son had professed to see some such paranormal stuff.Of course, the unimaginative and prosaic could dismiss it as “hallucination due to exhaustion and fear”.
Then one weekend my son came home and told us a “ghost” story.
He used to wake up at 4 am and get ready for the day by 5 am. It was his task to see people were up. One night, he had a bad dream…he dreamt he woke up at six in the morning and their whole platoon was given a zillion push ups for it as a punishment. He woke up in cold sweat and stumbled across the dark room in search of the clock. Suddenly,one of the boys sat up on his bed, closed his eyes and started praying. He prayed and prayed with his eyes closed till my son returned to his bed and fell asleep, reassured that it was still night and he had had a nightmare. The other trainee continued to pray.
The next morning, the trainee ,who spent a large part of the night praying,went up to the instructors and said he had had a sighting. For some absurd reason, the instructor asked my son if he had been walking around the room at night. When my son,responded in the affirmative, the instructors shook their heads and we had a laugh.
The boy,who had the sighting, however, continued to assert it was a ghost and not his batchmate!
To be or not to be, that is the question…as the great bard would say…
I continue to fear the paranormal…have no desire to meet, to greet or to eat with them…with all due respect to beings of the other world, I rest my pen….forever hoping to maintain a distance from them.

Short story

Here is a short story to entertain you over the weekend.

The Swap

Arpita sat in her office with the whole world stretched out before her.
She was a strong woman.
She was a powerful woman.
She was a bold woman.
She was a lonely woman.
Arpita was the chief minister of a newly founded state in India.
Her career had peaked. She started as a journalist, became an activist and then, here she was wearing the crown of her new-found glory.
She folded back the newspaper announcing the Nobel prize for an Indian economist and sighed pensively….
Nostalgically,she recalled her grandfather’s lovely garden…She recalled how as a child she had buried a dead sparrow under a red and white rose bush, the result of her grandfather’s experiments with grafting. Her grandfather and grandmother stood beside her…The sparrow had fallen wounded from a tree the day before. Her attempts at healing the bird were not very successful. That is why she dug a little grave for the tiny dead sparrow and held a little burial.She remembered ,a few years later,the roses had turned uniformly pink on that bush.
Her childhood was spent with aunts,uncles,grandparents and cousins . She was always surrounded by family and love…but never her parents ,who were too busy setting up their own business and pursuing their careers.
And then she was a teenager,beautiful,lissome … At eighteen she went to university, where she completed her masters in Economics with flying colors and met Tushar. Tushar was an Economics lecturer ,three years her senior. He doted on her,adored her. He had the ability to love deeply,with all his being. And that is what he gave to Arpita, his deepest love and devotion.Arpita liked him. He was the son of the economic advisor to the prime minister. Tushar was smart ,dashing and popular. That he chose her above all others flattered her.
Arpita started work in a newspaper office . Getting a job for her had been a cakewalk as she had freelanced for newspapers from the age of eighteen. She could write on anything really well…sneezing,snoring or politics ,dance or books… anything.
Tushar doted on Arpita and took her out to lunches,dinners, dropped her home and picked her up from work,took her to theaters and movies. Her parents , who were now part retired and harvesting the benefits of their earlier frenzied existence, were more at home. They liked Tushar. The parents met. They liked each other. A date had been set for the engagement and wedding. The youngsters felt life was a breezy dream…
Then ,it happened… the sole event that changed her life.
It was 5 am in the morning.
The phone was ringing loudly. Jay, her father, sleepily picked up the phone at his bedside and then sat up suddenly. “Hello…what? When? How?”
Jay shook and woke up Shilpa, Arpita’s mother. ” Wake up! Tushar just called up with very bad news. His father passed away of a massive heart attack last night.”
Shilpa sat up,” What? What did you say?”
“Tushar’s dad died of a massive heart attack.”
“We just met him two days ago…and now…why ? How?”mumbled Shilpa.
“Heart attack.We have to go there now. Tushar was almost weeping,”said Jay. “Wake up Arpita and tell her to get ready.”
Shilpa went to Arpita’s room. She peeped in. Arpita was fast asleep. Shilpa went up to her daughter’s bed,sat on her knee at the bedside and kissed her daughter’s lovely face and said softly,”Arpita, Arpita ,you need to wake up. We have had some shocking news…”
Arpita loved having her mother caress her awake . It happened rarely. But this time her mother’s words had her sit up . “What happened?”she asked wide-eyed.
“Something very bad. Tushar’s father died of a massive heart attack at night. Tushar just called us up.”
“What will happen to us?”wailed Arpita.
“I think we have to think of them right now. Let us get ready and go,”said Shilpa.
By 6.30 am, they were on their way with her grandmother waving them goodbye.
They found Tushar’s driveway inundated with journalists. Somebody called out Arpita’s name as they got off the car .Arpita turned around. Her mother caught her arm and said.” Do not respond. Walk straight in right now.” Sandwiched between her parents,Arpita walked into the house. It was a huge old British bungalow,the official residence of the economic advisor to the prime minister.
Inside the hall, on the bier lay the body ,covered with a white sheet and decked with flowers. There were men in white pajama kurtas talking in hushed tones. Tushar stood among them with a face that seemed ready to weep. Arpita felt no sorrow but a sense of tiredness and embarrassment . Tushar looked a bit indignified and ridiculous to her.
From inside, came the sound of wailing. Jay went to Tushar and gave him a hug. Tushar detached himself from the cluster of men and took Arpita and her mother to the women. His mother and sisters were weeping.
They had more women sitting around them. When she saw Arpita and Shilpa, Tushar’s mother gave them a hug and wept some more. Shilpa held Tushar’s mother sympathetically to her chest and stroked her hair softly. Arpita stepped back. She found the whole situation awkward. It was nearing eight in the morning. She would like to go to work. Tushar looked in. She averted her eyes. He came up and said ,” Thanks for being here for me.” She smiled vaguely. As he went off to the next room,her father came and told them he was going with the men for the cremation.
Arpita waited for them to start. Then, around eight thirty, she told her mother,” I need to go to work or,at least, to call up office.”
Her mother looked at her aghast,” How can you think of work at this point?” whispered Shilpa.
Arpita shrugged her shoulders and walked out. She felt stifled in this crowd of mourners.
Somebody called out her name again. It was Gitika from her office.Arpita smiled and went towards her.
“What are you doing here?”asked Gitika.
” What are you doing here? His son is my fiancĂ©.”
“I came to cover the story for our newspaper. They are not letting journalists in. We have nothing except a press release from his office. Maybe, you can do an insider’s account as an exclusive for our paper. It would be a great break in your career,”said Gitika.
“Why not? ” said Arpita.”I will inform our office. That way I can keep my mom and the office happy. I can stay here and still work.”
She went indoor and called her office to tell them she would do an exclusive , an insider’s story covering the whole event of death of the economic advisor.
Shilpa was looking for her daughter.When she saw her using the phone(for this was a decade before the mobile explosion), her mother nodded approvingly from a distance ,thinking that her daughter was arranging leave.
When they went back home after an emotionally charged and exhausting day, Arpita told them,”I have some urgent work.” She went into her room and pounded away at her typewriter(for it was before personal computers or laptops became a must for writing in newspapers).
She came out for dinner and told her parents,”I have to drop my assignment urgently in office. Can I please borrow the car and go? Then, I will be back in twenty minutes. I will eat after coming home.” Her parents agreed. Her office was a ten minute drive or a half-hour walk.
The next morning,when her father opened the newspaper,he hollered for Arpita. ” How dare you do this?” He was pointing to her exclusive that filled half of the first page. It was her article with a byline and a logo saying ” An insider’s account”…details of the family’s grief and loss… a vulturine account with morbid details. Jay was furious. How could she infringe on the sanctity of personal relationships and make it public! Where had he and Shilpa gone wrong in the upbringing of Arpita…
The phone rang. Tushar at the other end was incoherent…but Arpita understood that she was free again….
For nearly three decades,she had stayed free of all family encumbrances,including her own…
Now, after almost three decades,Tushar’s name cropped up in her world again…as a Nobel laureate…no longer a mere lecturer…
Arpita thirsted to see him. She loved success and the successful.
How she wanted him now!
But, would Tushar want her ?

From my window…

Every morning when I wake up and see the sun rising ,I feel a new hope in my heart. I feel happy when I see the white butterflies fluttering among the green trees. The golden Orioles add color when they flit from tree to tree. When the Angsana trees are filled with yellow flowers,the Orioles become an extension of the blooms as they flit from tree to tree. It seems as if the flowers are hovering and are on the brink of fluttering their petals and moving out of the trees.

The Angsana Oriole

I saw the Angsana flowers take flight
And become a Golden Oriole bright.
I soared with the Oriole
And saw the flowers
Colored by the sun
Turn yellow in pure fun.
I saw the water lap the trees
And felt the warm sultry breeze.
The grass below giggled
And wiggled,by the breeze tickled.
I saw speedboats’ cruising rippled
The water into big waves.
All this I saw with the Oriole
Before it returned among
The golden Angsana flowers
Again a part of the sunshiny ,yellow towers.

Indistinguishable….lost….part of the whole.

Joy

The Flame of the Forest and the Angsana did a merry dance
And out of it was born a vibrant new plant.

All came to see
As the blooms outdid the other trees
Phoenix like ,red and yellow,
They seemed to rise
In a fiery guise
And reach for the sun.
They shone with gold
Outdid all flowers of old.
In a burst of purple flame,
They seemed to rise
Eternal birds
In their endless flight towards a happier time.
With their red and gold, they foretold
Of a future where all are bold.
Where there are no fears,
No need to wipe trouble torn tears.
No boundaries drawn,
No limits sworn.
Where the flowers can turn to birds
And rise,flying towards a paradise.
Singing…
…Singing
… Songs of infinite life and harmony…

Meditations

When I look at the waves running at me
And sunshine dripping off the trees
I know I must have done something right
To have the privilege of this lovely sight
To look
To see
To have the ability
To put together
These things
And realize
Our blessings
In the turn of each leaf
In the drift of each breeze
To put them into words
And sing for
The Eternal Bard
With the gift of his own song
That gushes out in a language
Made by Him
I am privileged
To see
To write
To sing
None of this is mine
Don’t you see
It all belongs to Him
The Maker of waves
And the Painter
Of sunshine on leaves.
All this is a part of
Eternity
You. Me.
Eternity.

Celebration

Today, my uncle turned 67 and he wrote to me :”Nobody had ever told me I’d turn 67! So with some surprise here I am. The best stage of my life has begun and is going quite well”.
It is wonderful to see the celebration of life, energy and sense the enjoyment of movement towards a fulfilling ,ripe age. These poems with their celebration of life are dedicated to him.

Celebration

Let us celebrate life
Birthdays
Happy days
Sunshine
Let us all celebrate while it stays.
Let us celebrate life.
The chirping of a bird.
The colors of a rose.
The patterns of
A butterfly wing.
Let us celebrate while it stays.
Let us celebrate life
Strains of happy songs
Movements
Dance
Trees swishing
The breeze whispering.
Let us celebrate while it stays
Let us celebrate life
Living
Breathing
Singing
Listening
Feeling
Just the sensation of being.
Let us celebrate life while it stays
Let us celebrate life.

Contentment

Let us celebrate
The glory of sunshine ,
The greeness of the grass,
The brilliance of the sun,
The fragrance of clean air,
The opulence of life ,
The fluidity of water.
The uprightness of mountains.

Let us celebrate
The flitting of butterfly wings.
The intensity of a red rose
The colors of the rainbow.
The touch of a friendly hand.
The sound of a kind word.
The feeling of happiness.
The chirping of a little bird.

Let us celebrate….

Revel

Wake up! Look at the sun rise!
Raise up your face to the skies.
Feel the wind.
See the world.
Stretch your arms out.
Twirl around and dance
To the rhythm of the trees
That rustle in the breeze.
Feel your hair fly astray.
Breathe deeply and see….
See how lovely is this creation
For you and for me….
Sense the ecstasy of the universe…
The vastness…the littleness of the earth…
And yet it is there like a flawless gem
Set in the endless infinity.
Revel….that we live…
Revel ….that this is an experience,
An adventure
From which we may never awake.
Perhaps all a figment…
…..A figment of a fabulous dream…

I love being a woman

I am amazed at all the raging controversy about how women should be perceived.
Someone said women are like “a box of sweets” . Some view us as Barbies.
This is how I see women.

Women
Do you not see me?
I am Durga.I am Kali.
I see no color,
No race,
No religion.
I sense no boundaries.
I have no borders.
I am beyond crime and criminals.
The world is contained in me.
The macrocosm is my body.
Do you not see me?
I am a woman.
I can kill. I can destroy
All those who touch me
With unholy hands.
I have the cleansing fire in my soul.
Can you not see me?
Can you not sense me?
I am Gayitri
The magic incantation
Which turns a man into a divine.
Have you forgotten?
Forgotten it all?
I destroyed the Asuras
With their bestial souls.
I am the mother
The nurturer of all
Souls…
I am the part that completes the whole.

A traditional woman

I am a woman of traditions.
I believe in being a mother.
I enjoy being a wife.
I loved being a daughter.
I never felt it was not right.
I am proud of my sons.
I am content to create .
I like to care for the young and old.
I have no need for an identity outside my roles.
For I am a successful woman.
I know this on my own.
My heart is in my home.

This is my protest

This is my protest against
Women who are helpless
Women who crib and cry for being underprivileged
Women who allow themselves to be cowed
Women who do not acknowledge the power with which they are endowed
Women who look for approval
Women who fear reprisal

This is my cry
To arouse the latent forces in us
To get in touch with the creative
To waken the strength of the mother
To nurture what is good and kind
To revive our inherent powers

Rise up
Rise up and get in touch with the divine
Beyond all weaknesses of the body and mind.

Let us chant…
I am a woman strong and contained —
Come be my companion and friend.

Sisterhood of women

We,in sisterhood,stand together
Strong,resistant,unbeatable,
Weatherproofed women.
Young and old.

Life passes.
Life thrashes.
Life laughs.
Life pauses.

For centuries and ages untold.
We meet ,young and old.
Women through the ages.
Part of an unbroken sisterhood.

In our minds
We have steel.
In our hearts
We hold fire.
In our arms
We nurture flowers.

Mothers,daughters
Wives, friends
Sisters

We are here to rise again.
Forever and ever,
The sisterhood never ends.

We are women of untold strength.

Gesundheit !

I get a lot of emails and messages advertising courses. I decided to start a course … a course on sneezing, as I do not possess any technical or managerial skill degrees or diplomas. I merely did post graduations in dilettante subjects. I decided to call my course Gesundheit because that is what everyone says after sneezing.
And then I googled the word gesundheit and discovered that there was an institute started in 1971 by a real ‘Patch Adams'( not the movie star Robin Williams) for revolutionizing the health care scenario!
Well, with due apologies to Gesundheit Institute, I decide to create a curriculum for my course with the same nomenclature.I know a curriculum is very necessary if you want people to enroll because interested parties always ask for course content.
Gesundheit is a German word that means good health. Sneezing generates good health for the sneezer,according to some . Therefore, a course that teaches you to sneeze properly would be as important as one that enables you to laugh for good health or another that helps generate a six digit monthly income( an advertisement that recurs repeatedly in my messages!) to pay for courses like mine.
What my course would focus on would be how to sneeze and how to use the energy generated by a sneeze in an eco friendly world.Evidently, researchers say a sneeze travels at 100 miles an hour…
To start with, we will focus on the methods of sneezing naturally.
Of course one can sneeze taking snuff or a whiff of pepper or chilly powder or pollutants, but that is induced by chemicals. I talked of natural means.
The first thing would be to tickle one’s nostril with a feather. That would cause a disturbance in the nasal cavity and induce a sneeze..
The second method would be to pluck ones brows. Evidently, a nerve connecting to the nasal passage can get stimulated if you pluck your brows. Of course, you would have to use a tweezers.And you would have to develop the skill to pluck just so that you can sneeze. That would require lots of training and might result in eyebrow less individuals but one could always draw eyebrows with permanent hair dyes or make up or wear false eyebrows. And while waiting for the eyebrows to grow back, one could try to master the third method, exercising!
One has to again learn the skill to generate sneezes while exercising. Researchers say you need to hyperventilate after exercising to sneeze. Hyperventilation leads to water in the nostril and that leads to sneezing. Lesser individuals could vomit due to hyperventilation, but such individuals with squeamish stomachs are not encouraged to enroll in the course.
One would be trying out all the three methods of sneezing in bright sunlight as research has it that sunlight can make you sneeze.
Our mascot for the course would be an iguana as iguanas are the best sneezers in the world. One could even study iguanas and imbibe their skills to become expert sneezers.
After that, at the end of the course, the students along with the teaching staff will brainstorm to see how the energy from a sneeze( since a sneeze travels at 100 miles per hour) can be harnessed to contribute to help resolve the worldwide energy crisis.