Monday, June 29, 2015

Blue Aerogramme

I used to eagerly await
The fortnightly blue aerogramme
With a benevolent bapu beaming
In a stamp size corner at the top right.
Wafer thin, you needed to slit it open,
Slowly, gently, carefully
Lest you hastily tear away
The loving words inside.
Squiggly letters of my southern tongue
Etched in blue fountain pen ink
Brings me news from home:
So and so's marriage,
Birth of a child...
Speckled with bits of advice:
Eat properly
Find good friends
Call if you can
If you can't, at least write back.
It made me think of
The little things that were so familiar to me:
Fiery red chillies spread on newspaper,
Left out to dry in the afternoon sun;
The comforting whistle of the pressure cooker
Mingling with the melody of suprabhatam;
Aroma of filter coffee wafting in the air,
Just as the conch signals deepaaraadhana.
I now look at the device in my hands.
The one I resort to
Whenever I wish to escape people.
The one that demands my constant attention.
The one that orders instant replies.
I look at the blue tickmarks on the screen,
And I feel stifled.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Signature

She sat in front of the shrine
Weeping and praying
'Please give me a sign
To stop my faith from swaying'
A single flower dropped onto her lap.
From some place, not on a map?
The heavens are never deaf.
She asked for a sign.
And she got it.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Ouija Board

It was supposed to be harmless fun
She wanted to see what it was- a story spun,
To beffudle the gullible, an old wives' tale?
Or maybe there was more to it, a face beyond the veil?
So, she fished out the Ouija Board, covered with dust.
She was told it was evil: 'Stay away, you must'.
But, without adventure, what is life?
So she ignored warnings that the board brings strife.
It gave her answers, one by one.
Revealed secrets, past mistakes she'd done.
A cold shiver ran down her spine,
This was seriously getting out of line.
Out of the house she ran,
Abandoned the board near a dustpan.
Walked back to her room to gulp down water,
She didn't hear the chuckle, silent laughter.
Forget the madness, she said, get back working!
And then she froze:
The board was still there, almost smirking.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Bidya Mosque

This is a sleepy fishing village
Off the eastern coast,
Away from the glitz of neon lights,
Away from skyscrapers touching the heavens,
Away from busy people whose every action
Screams 'Look at me! I am important!'
No, in this little mosque
All is quiet, tranquil.
If you listen carefully,
You can hear the waters of
The Gulf of Oman
Crashing onto the sandy beach.
There is nothing else.
On a Friday, sacred day,
There will be a steady trickle
Of visitors:
The faithful, the pious,
And the plainly curious,
Along with some tourists
Always identifiable
By the pouts and poses
For selfies and facebook statuses.
Soft cries of Allahu Akbar
God is great!
And then it is quiet again
In this quaint mosque
400 years old
Built of mud and stone
Four circular domes
Vestige of an Ottoman past?
One never really knows.
If you listen carefully,
Amid the deafening silence
You can hear the voice of God.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Grandpa

Slowly shuffling into the kitchen
Feet wrapped in rubber blue Bata chappals,
He boils milk in a saucepan
For the first chai of the day.
Long morning hours engrossed
In the hidden meaning of the Scriptures
And then the tiny newsprint of the Hindu,
He gently falls asleep,
Mouth open, like Mr Whatzisname,
A similarity I pounced on with glee
Since those were the days I lived
On a steady diet of Enid Blyton and
The magic of the Faraway Tree.
A faint snore, and then
He awakes with a start
Goes outside, to the balcony
To collect the dry laundry.
Every time I cry,
He wipes away the stubborn tears.
His eyes reflect pain;
He shakes his head and says,
'Don't cry, mol'.
He looks at the photo of Muruga
The warrior god, after whom he is named.
Pointing at the photo, he smiles.
'Why do you fear, when He is here?'

The temple at Marudhamalai,
Cave shrine at the bottom of the hill,
Where a self realised sage, a siddhar
Spoke to slithering snakes,
Green aluminium cupboard
With all its naphthalene balls
And carefully preserved silk,
Bottles and bottles of kashayam,
Camphor lit at dusk,
Vanishing in the heat of the flame,
A priest applying vibhuti on the forehead
Of a small child,
Tokens of blessings,
Sacred fire to ward off the evil eye.
They all remind me of him.
How he'd stand at the doorway
Welcoming us back home.
And when it was time to leave,
He'd wave till our car had disappeared.
He'd always insist that I say,
'Bye, I'll go and come back'.
Not a plain bald 'Bye'
That we toss around so casually in English.
And yet, when he left,
It was an abrupt cruel 'Bye'
No promise of a return.
A final goodbye.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Blue Aerogramme

I used to eagerly await
The fortnightly blue aerogramme
With a benevolent bapu beaming
In a stamp size corner at the top right.
Wafer thin, you needed to slit it open,
Slowly, gently, carefully
Lest you hastily tear away
The loving words inside.
Squiggly letters of my southern tongue
Etched in blue fountain pen ink
Brings me news from home:
So and so's marriage,
Birth of a child...
Speckled with bits of advice:
Eat properly
Find good friends
Call if you can
If you can't, at least write back.
It made me think of
The little things that were so familiar to me:
Fiery red chillies spread on newspaper,
Left out to dry in the afternoon sun;
The comforting whistle of the pressure cooker
Mingling with the melody of suprabhatam;
Aroma of filter coffee wafting in the air,
Just as the conch signals deepaaraadhana.
I now look at the device in my hands.
The one I resort to
Whenever I wish to escape people.
The one that demands my constant attention.
The one that orders instant replies.
I look at the blue tickmarks on the screen,
And I feel stifled.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Signature

She sat in front of the shrine
Weeping and praying
'Please give me a sign
To stop my faith from swaying'
A single flower dropped onto her lap.
From some place, not on a map?
The heavens are never deaf.
She asked for a sign.
And she got it.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Ouija Board

It was supposed to be harmless fun
She wanted to see what it was- a story spun,
To beffudle the gullible, an old wives' tale?
Or maybe there was more to it, a face beyond the veil?
So, she fished out the Ouija Board, covered with dust.
She was told it was evil: 'Stay away, you must'.
But, without adventure, what is life?
So she ignored warnings that the board brings strife.
It gave her answers, one by one.
Revealed secrets, past mistakes she'd done.
A cold shiver ran down her spine,
This was seriously getting out of line.
Out of the house she ran,
Abandoned the board near a dustpan.
Walked back to her room to gulp down water,
She didn't hear the chuckle, silent laughter.
Forget the madness, she said, get back working!
And then she froze:
The board was still there, almost smirking.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Bidya Mosque

This is a sleepy fishing village
Off the eastern coast,
Away from the glitz of neon lights,
Away from skyscrapers touching the heavens,
Away from busy people whose every action
Screams 'Look at me! I am important!'
No, in this little mosque
All is quiet, tranquil.
If you listen carefully,
You can hear the waters of
The Gulf of Oman
Crashing onto the sandy beach.
There is nothing else.
On a Friday, sacred day,
There will be a steady trickle
Of visitors:
The faithful, the pious,
And the plainly curious,
Along with some tourists
Always identifiable
By the pouts and poses
For selfies and facebook statuses.
Soft cries of Allahu Akbar
God is great!
And then it is quiet again
In this quaint mosque
400 years old
Built of mud and stone
Four circular domes
Vestige of an Ottoman past?
One never really knows.
If you listen carefully,
Amid the deafening silence
You can hear the voice of God.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Grandpa

Slowly shuffling into the kitchen
Feet wrapped in rubber blue Bata chappals,
He boils milk in a saucepan
For the first chai of the day.
Long morning hours engrossed
In the hidden meaning of the Scriptures
And then the tiny newsprint of the Hindu,
He gently falls asleep,
Mouth open, like Mr Whatzisname,
A similarity I pounced on with glee
Since those were the days I lived
On a steady diet of Enid Blyton and
The magic of the Faraway Tree.
A faint snore, and then
He awakes with a start
Goes outside, to the balcony
To collect the dry laundry.
Every time I cry,
He wipes away the stubborn tears.
His eyes reflect pain;
He shakes his head and says,
'Don't cry, mol'.
He looks at the photo of Muruga
The warrior god, after whom he is named.
Pointing at the photo, he smiles.
'Why do you fear, when He is here?'

The temple at Marudhamalai,
Cave shrine at the bottom of the hill,
Where a self realised sage, a siddhar
Spoke to slithering snakes,
Green aluminium cupboard
With all its naphthalene balls
And carefully preserved silk,
Bottles and bottles of kashayam,
Camphor lit at dusk,
Vanishing in the heat of the flame,
A priest applying vibhuti on the forehead
Of a small child,
Tokens of blessings,
Sacred fire to ward off the evil eye.
They all remind me of him.
How he'd stand at the doorway
Welcoming us back home.
And when it was time to leave,
He'd wave till our car had disappeared.
He'd always insist that I say,
'Bye, I'll go and come back'.
Not a plain bald 'Bye'
That we toss around so casually in English.
And yet, when he left,
It was an abrupt cruel 'Bye'
No promise of a return.
A final goodbye.