Sailors Of Light…

Dear readers,

This is my tottering effort at putting words together in rhyme…! please bear with me!

I dump my wrecked ship to join you on another adventure….
But you are on your own voyage…n you leave me ashore.
I watch the puffed chests of proud vast sails…
Ready to take in the winds… ready to fly! Not sail!
I watch your glittering mast…and flutter of thy flag…
I feel the eager breath of that salty venture brag…
I am deathly silent…
That is all you lament…
You expect a warm goodbye…
And like a statue, I just stand by….
I wish so much to stretch into a smile…
But I can see, my ship’s a wooden pile…..
I rode the thunders…I sailed into darkest of nights….
I may have done blunders…But I fought my best fights…
Your brave pat on my back, I remember…
As I sailed home, through the thunder…
I felt the dark night was a sun-filled day…
Your smile spread around me that way!
To hell with the ship, that wrecked in the winds!
Nothing can stop our enlivened minds…
I knew my wind rider is by my side…
Why to lament loss of a petty ride?!
If I held thy hand, I would fly to the moon!
Who cares for the seas and bounded lagoons?!
But you packed alone…adventure on your face…
The zest of your smile! I couldn’t have grimaced…
“When will’ya be back”, I ask..
My voice quivered as I shuffled my gasp…
I know my brave smile gave away the secret…
I only hope you knew, I felt no regret…
You touched my face, ever so light…
For moment elated, my heart took flight…
“wont take long, my dearest girl…
I will be gone and back in a swirl…
Never you lament… stop that tear…
My precious one, you live right here..
And with those words you gestured your heart…
But you punctured mine, with the words of dart….
Your love was agony… and I asked for it…
You wanted some smiles… just that I did…
With a tiny smile, I bid a goodbye…
Watched that sail, vanish on the sky…
Awaiting your ship I am standing right here…
Squinting to the blue, demanding it to clear…
Looking for an evidence of a rising mast…
Glittering in the sun, approaching me fast…
For below the mast…will be your liner…
And riding the liner will be my loner…
O wind rider, why to be a loner….
When I wait here, around the corner?!
You n me can build a new vessel…
Studded with stars and tied with tinsel…
Sails of will can never tear off…
Mast of vision can never wither off..
I will lay my body, at the keel of our ship…
If you look up and know how much I worship…
This mighty ship will sail through the thunders..
And it can survive as nothing but a wonder…
No doubt, we can reach our horizon….
On demand, we can fly to the moon…
Thinking of this, I stood right there…
Squinting to the blue, demanding it to clear…
Looking for the evidence of a rising mast…
Glittering in the sun, approaching me fast…
For below the mast…was your liner…
And riding the liner was my only lover…
I chirped in joy… and danced with frolic,
Just when you reached…I jumped on the deck!
There was the smile worth a thousand sun shine…
That was my man… back from the marine!
He never sailed beyond several knot…
He wanted me…so he right came back…!
Back on the sea…on the play of tide…
Here we come….Gales moved aside…
Sailing through the oceans…
Riding the torrents….
We sailed into sunrise…
Into light we vanish…

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Imprints of places…

Every place….every city and every village has its own distinct weave…. And she displays a unique side of her self to every traveler, who treads the soils her paths…

Every city and village I believe is like a bollywood actress who changes her attire five times in a single song!

Delhi....

Delhi, the heart of India…. Her all faces are enticing gestures of a flirty north Indian maiden! Twisting bazaar lanes of old Delhi those are ornate with all sorts of merchandise to lure women of all age!! Wide plush landscaped roads of capital city, New Delhi….

Rashtrapati Bhavan….with its wide gardens…Sight if India gate through morning mist… and her beating vein of metro-lines…

Delhi is inspiration of so many literary pieces, verses and movies….but for me…Delhi dwells in Karol bagh lanes…clad in vibrant colours, twisting and wandering through lanes…glittering with jhumkas and everything! Her rhythmic steps flaunting jutti!!

Amritsar....

Amritsar…is holy land of the Sikhs, the place where the Sikh epic of faith and perseverance starts. Each moment in the golden temple is mystic for every one who enters it, whether a religious soul or atheist…. Golden temple embraces all in its golden glow…. Forever on chanting of bhajans and devotional songs….saints and gurus wearing white… devotees, old and young, newly wed couple …everyone comes there to bow their heads in front of revered Guru…

Through all the glimpses of Amritsar, one that drifts first to my eyes is that of one old grandpa….who was doing service in the temple. His simple welcoming smile and childlike innocence so mismatched to his robust appearance!

Mumbai...

He stood in the premise of temple, giving out “prasaad” in disposable bowls pinned together from leaves…. Chanting name of god he smiled at everyone, as if he could see god in each person passing by…. His smiling face is all the essence of Amritsar for me…..

Mumbai… One cannot think of Mumbai without its spiky skyline….without bustling markets and buildings of British elegance in south Mumbai… without her new jewel of the sea-link… Whether in British times or in present days…Mumbai still wins the crown of marvel in man’s engineering skills! She holds half the wealth and charisma of this nation on her tiny sea-fronted land…..

Goa….it unavoidably brings scenes of beaches lines with palms…and the temple of Goddess Mangeshi…. I can still smell sweet smell wafting from amboli, a kind of pancake prepared with fermented rice flour and coconut milk, when I think of Goa….

Chennai...

Chennai….had won me over in the first look of the railway station, I must accept! But when I think of Chennai, first glimpse that flashes to my eye is that of a curt madrasi uncle in traditional white wrap standing next to his plush car, with an air of elite unconcern about the world!

The warm smell of filter coffee on Chennai station….. “quaaapi” as the most southies pronounce it!! That small quiver tone on “quaaa” is matchless! Just to hear that coffee call again, I wish to go back to Chennai!!!

Mahabalipuram reminds me of lazy foggy morning around the Shore temple….. The streets overflowing with stone sculptures….. It is indeed a place to worship god through stone! All forms that god may have taken to bless his devotees; these artisans have tried to worship them all through their chisels!

Madurai has a special place in my heart…. A treasure kept safe in my memory is the city of madurai. It is special for me to write about her….like revealing this most treasured glittering diamond.

A fresh clear morning…. I woke up with heavy bells ringing in distance…. And the first sight to my eyes was the aerial view of the meenakshi temple lit up for morning rituals….. Bells could be heard clearly through the winter cold air…..I did not know if I was awake in reality or I had dropped into another dream…..

Madurai....

Elegant gopuram lit up early in the morning….still glows in my vision, even today….

The fantasy day that started with the goddess calling out to wake me up preceded the same texture of madurai! Those few minutes in garbhagriha of the temple….the Goddess glowing in sacred chamber… clad in ornaments and flower arrangements….she smiled. Her prowess to mesmerise my mortal eyes……cannot be compared to any other attraction!

When I think of madurai….I remember the sharp glittering diamond nose-pin of that goddess….

Its brilliant reflectance had caught me off my guard…..and since then I am still musing about the mesmerising smile of the Princess of Madurai, Goddess Meenakshi….

All these places will have different images in everyone’s mind. I am sharing with you the images that I carry in my heart…. And I am eager to know what imprints you carry with you….may be of these places or some other places as well….

I have not travelled far and wide….it is only few places…few imprints that I have shared here. That only reminds me that there is so much to see…so much to reach out to…

Don’t you too feel that?!

Crisp Winter…

It is crisp winter in the Indian subcontinent. And the Deccan plateau is covered as usual in its multicolored drape of deciduous forests. Here we do not have a single fall season. Every tree sheds its leaves at different time in winter. And the mountains always look covered in different colors all through the winter.

The air is crusty and cool. Though the sun heats up open meadows, there is pleasant cold shade under most of the trees. If you are tired hiking through the sunny countryside, the shady ovals marked under the trees call you to rest, occasionally dropping a solitary dried leaf in your lap….

Winter-scape of Sahyadri

The mornings and evenings stretch till mid day in winters… Except few hours of afternoon the weather is calling you out to run wild in sharp dry streaks of wintry air… You feel like running miles through solid curtains of morning fog hung in valleys, fighting with the chill. As sky grows brighter, sunlight comes to your help. The fogs scamper away and you can locate chirping bird far in the valley….

Then you wish to fly, to chirp, to sway on the treetops, just like the bird…

There is laughter in the air and inside you…. If you look down at yourself you see icy bright light in your body… The winter air lights you from within…. Like a bonfire night….under the deciduous tree, occasionally dropping a solitary dried leaf in your lap….

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Three Mad Woman…

I lived in central part of the old city at that time….in a congested, cozy neighborhood…where everyone knows everyone, with all their past histories and extended families too….

There was a mad woman….roaming out on roads…with no house…no shelter…..no whereabouts of any sort…. She was mentally disturbed beyond repair…She was unkempt but a very beautiful woman. Fair, tall and with a proud erect posture…she used to walk with grace not conceivable to any ordinary woman….her cloths were torn and patched…but she wore them well….there was an air of dignity around her…. her stark white hair were tangled but she kept them rolled in…what used to be an elegant roll.

Even through those disoriented eyes I always saw a glint of energy…..

In crowds of dead hearted men and women living lives equivalent to rats breeding in dingy holes….she looked like a ray of undaunted hope… though she was labeled a hopeless case, and I was warned to run home whenever she entered our lane…

People teased her…..and she used to get angry…lose her mind….she looked like a lost doe in the middle of hunters…..so helpless…. Those dignified elegant eyes used to shed tears…it wasn’t pain though…..it was anger…pure hot anger pouring down from her heart….

But in such old rickety neighborhoods people are very closely knitted to each other…. She had a few well-wishers too…..who saved her from those scavenging beast like men…..

I remember an old lady, who used to sit in the parlour of her house, watching the street, while her fingers ran on a rosary, singing god’s name….. She used to call this mad woman in her quivering voice….to come and sit with her for a minute or two…. I have seen the mad woman sipping tea with the old lady…..like a married daughter had come to her maiden home….to chat with her mother…. Those old cataract eyes showered her with love! They did not care about her mental disorders, did not care about the dangerous anger of the mad mind….they only knew simple innocent love!

That day the old lady called out to me while I played on the road, in front of her parlour… we never used to talk much…but she often gave me a sweet from a glittering jewelled box on her shelf. That was all the communication that was needed between us. In return she would get a hard unsmiling stare of five year old me! I hardly smiled at anyone…..but still the old lady knew that I appreciated her sweet very much…and that I liked her wrinkled toothless smile more than the sweet! But our custom of wordless speech was broken one day…. The lady told me to sit with her….on the clean daubed parlour floor of hers…. And I sat silently…we were at ease….homely….

She suddenly spoke to me…. A conversation that had started in her mind I guess….

It was the story of the mad woman….told to me without asking for it…..

A story that stayed buried in my heart….forgotten for all these years….

“Once upon a time….the mad woman was not mad….she was an only daughter of her parents, and only sister of her brother. The family was respectable middleclass household….known for a generous hand and kind heart. The daughter so beautiful was also a girl of good “samskara”, a well- behaved intelligent kid, she was delight to all…..

In her teens she met a boy who liked her very much…..pursued her till she too fell in love with him…..

A silent love story was taking shape in that neighborhood….where everyone watched it….and smiled naughtily! Love is a wonderful power that binds two hearts together….”

I was watching the old lady….her eyes were lost in the rosy memories of past!

She kept continuing the story though…

“Of course a long family drama took place as a prelude to that legendary love marriage! But the girl was not just well educated but also wise…..she took us elders of the neighbourhood to her parents…. Our eyes had seen so many seasons…..we knew that this man who loved her so much was the right partner for her… he wasn’t as educated as she was….he was not of her cast…..but you see, once in a while god makes a match like that…to show the real fabric of love to entire world!”

The old lady winked at me with a childlike laughter as her shaky voice narrated on….

“so finally the marriage was agreed upon…..

The bride was ready in a traditional red outfit….clad in jewellery from head to foot….yet she glowed in a light that was coming from a lovely smile of hers!

What a marriage it was! Whole lane was decorated with flower streamers! not just her house….! There was music and sweetmeats and kids danced around in the crowd…..

And who knows whose jealous ill gaze fell on her….. Police took away the groom, under the crime of murder of a well known industrialist in the city….

Everyone was aghast…. He never looked like a murder to me… I always thought he wouldn’t even hurt a fly!”

The old lady was still resolving the puzzle of human mind while telling me the story…

“Who knows what happened of that boy….nobody saw him after that night….. this girl went mad slowly….waiting for his return….. her family took care of her for a while…tried many psychiatrists…but she was not cured…. After few years, her brother got married. I always told his father that the girl was not right for him….but he did not listen to me….. He said, with your consent I agreed to marry my daughter…and see what happened of her…. I need no more suggestion from you” Right he was….

I could do nothing…but watch the family going to pieces in front of my eyes…. The new bride that entered the house changed not just the furniture, but the soul of that house….

Now the parents are sent to an old age home. The brother and his wife have put a fat lock on the door….they now stay abroad. And this girl….roams around in the lane….coping with her own lost mind….”

“Was it destiny….was it the law of karma….who knows what ruled the whim of that almighty?!”

“I am past age of a hundred now…. I am watching his world sitting right here in this parlour that he gave me….. I have fulfilled the role I was given responsibility of…. Now all I look forward to is the tryst with the almighty god himself!”

She remained silent now…..

The old lady was a simple common neighbourhood granny….who was talking to one tiny me…. She never doubted if I understood her well…. Or may be she did not care that much?!

I remember her parlour growing dark…as the twilight faded off the sky…..a skinny wrinkled old lady sitting with another skinny five year old… and then there was the mad woman in the story….sitting next to me…. And I was not going to run home because she was here….

We were three generations….three women of different age and time….three people marked as mad somewhat! We were in one time and space gathered together fetched from three different worlds…. We were wise….carefree….and unaware of the world of other humans that bustled in front of that parlour….