An honest homage

Death trudged along;
A lonely hitchhiker
In a very alive world.
A few lives here
And a few there;
It moved on-
Hardly keeping a count.
Somewhere, in this
dispassionate murder of life-
Loved ones were lost.

Simple things are
The most difficult
To say.
Let us try.
There was life.
And then there was none.

No. It doesn’t make the cut.
Let us try again-
Maybe, they are in a better place.
Maybe, there is a heaven
Where good souls socialize.
– that is a pleasurable thought.
All the peddlars of credulity
Would have you believe
In grey heavens
and afterlives-divine.
Belief is easy.
Should we try belief?

What is a soul?

I am because-
I think.
I think because-
I can.
And that is all there is.
To think and to believe
Are very different things.

Shall we try again, then?
It is necessary
To document
Good lives.
Is otherwise
A drudgery of wars
And deaths.

There was a man.
And now he is dead.
There is a void
Where kindness once was.
Death was not vengeful.
It was life
That was-
And yet simple;
He did well. He was true to himself.
We will leave it at that.

Colored Homes, makeshift lives

The tent was blue, the floor – brown.
There was dirt. Dirt was the floor.
It used to be blue, the girl said
Pointing at the floor.
You don’t mind me looking? I asked, hesitant, prying.
The girl shrugged – It’s an open tent.
What is there to hide?
I drew her home in my black book.
She came and sat beside me
And offered to color it – a little help, she said, smiling.
Tell me about you, I urged
After a few pleasantries.
Her green eyes looked up from the book
And gazed at something far–
I couldn’t see.
It was a village in the slopes, by the woods.
She said there were chairs and fireplaces –
You could sit down. It was cold and it was warm.
That sounds enchanting, I said.
She smiled and colored some more.
There were bookshelves, bigger than the tent
In her school.
She had colored the cracks in them
While she waited
For someone to come rescue her –
That is how she had broken –
All the colors she had
in her rusted crayon box.

I asked her if she understood
Why she had to be there –
In the shelter, as they called it.
She said, she did – a little –
There were bombs being thrown,
people were dying.
It was important to live, she said.
I looked at her – young and wistful –
And asked – who was throwing bombs?
People, she said.
Why? Why do you think?
Because – when countries fight,
they did that, she reasoned.
Huh – I stopped.
So, countries – were fighting? I checked with her.
Yes, they disagreed on things –
Things like fences and gates – she explained
Drawing fences in the air.
They have ideas – of where those begin
And where they end.
They fight about those. She surmised.
Who are they? I asked.
People, she guessed.
So people of countries, fight over ideas? I quizzed again.
She shrugged and looked away.
That is vague, her eyes said;
Her loss was real.

There was a village. We may not see it anymore –
The loss is real – I summarized in my mind.

Last time, it was not like that – she tried to explain –
Her previous ordeal with tents like these;
They were fighting, but they were not countries.
Who was fighting, then? I asked, trying to see
How the coloring was coming along,
All around the facts – in my little black book.
People of religion, she said –
They had ideas too – of what was right and wrong –
So, they fought about that.

This is it – she said, handing over the book to me –
This is my home.
I looked at it,
She had not colored the tent
Instead, she had drawn her home.
It was green, like her eyes.
Blue and red adorned the walls.
It was warm and it was cold, like how she said it was.
It is bright, I said. It is beautiful.
She looked far away again.
I wrote beneath
That picture of home –
While we play, a surreal game
With our wits and guns,
She sits there – looking past
Dreary shelters and makeshift lives –
At a home that was untouched
By anything
but a clamor for life.

My lines, scribbled in haste
Looked nothing like
What was in her mind.

A lesson in Ichi-go ichi-e

The rust on the gate felt raw,
the path ahead too small –
as she stood watching a visage,
committing images to memory –
Almost — almost aware
that an era will end soon.

A diminutive figure walked the path.
There was the customary goodbye
from its definite end,
where bigger roads began.
What battles were he going to wage?
Did that tap on the shoulder mean take care?
Did he know –
when he showed her the moon,
and the tunnels to and from it –
his alternate realities;
Did he know, that she had learnt
to assume, a deadpan face;
while holding on
to the sound of his words?

If they had known,
that no more words
shall come to pass
between them,
Would they have embellished
the last few a trifle –
and not have let them
gotten lost
in the shifting air?

She knows not whether
the road became him;
Or whether, he found
a better abode;
Or whether, he fell
to time’s rampant march.
Possibilities and ignorance juxtaposed
in a confounding doublethink;
Until she found an accomplice to embrace.

From spaces and silences,
Closure develops.
Explanations and rendezvous
are poor substitutes.

Ichi-go ichi-e, it was.
A lesson in how not to –
patronize a tear
when life revels in its transience.

Acceptance is a good accomplice.
Acceptance, she decided
Is closure.


Note: Ichi-go ichi-e is a japanese term for “one time, one meeting”, often translated as “for this time only,” “never again,” or “one chance in a lifetime.”

Letting Go

I let you go in parts.
First your heart,
Then your eyes.
Your heart set my tempo
And your eyes scorched my path;
So I let them go – one at a time.

Your hand I had held –
Timidly – I let it go too.
I am secure now – in myself.

But against the hollow in my heart,
your voice rings – still.
Just as how memories carve a niche
In the crooked passage of time.

Elements of Resilience

I am so used to hope-
I could carve one out,
of the densest rock.

I am so used to peace-
I could set to its tune,
throbbing waters of the seas.

I am so used to love-
I cannot leave it’s high throne,
for shallow depths of the other.

I have not found a single grief-
I could not wash away-
with ounces of time
and drops of neglect, studied.

I cannot live the night,
bound to the dark!
I delight in the sweet conquests
of smatterings of distant lights.

I cannot be undone-
by a mere travesty.
I do not trade,
a lifetime for a penny.