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Je vais tisser

un peu de ciel un peu de tes larmes un peu d'océan bleu avec son sel aigre-doux un peu d'eau claire de fleuve descendant d'une montagne haute la chanson d'un oiseau le sourire demi-édenté d'un petit enfant l'innocence vive dans le cri joyeux d'un chiot la paix d'une sieste volée aux échéances le babil d'un bébé pas pollué par des significations le sifflement du vent l'émergence d'espoir d'une petite feuille verte une pensée simple des matins ensoleillés et les silences oranges et toi, et moi avec ceux-là je vais tisser un rêve

Sunday morning

Sunday morning, on a walk with my dog. Avoiding the middle-aged, fit and not-so-fit joggers and the senior citizens stripping shrubs bare of flowers are a murder of crows, pecking a dead pigeon apart. One is trying to strip off the flesh from a wing as others attack the meatier, juicier bits. The joggers are careful to give them a wide berth, while trying not to step on the discarded condom lying alongside, for who wants seed stuck on the sole. I cannot quite 'avert my gaze', for a horrified fascination takes hold of me, watching the crows feast on a rare treat. They are careful not to go near the condom too. The gentle morning breeze, with the fragrance of fresh blossoms and the songs of the magpie-robins and sparrows, playing with the fallen, yellow autumnal leaves and the soft, warming sunlight in the cold air: do they add to or subtract from the ambience? I don't know. Like the joggers, I sidestep and walk on.

Saturday Night

I could have spent my Saturday night drinking. One large whiskey and soda and stop sharply at that. And spend the rest of the time watching others slowly degrade themselves into gibbering morons, uttering invectives at all and sundry. Descending into hell even as they hallucinated heaven. Instead I spent it with some children, not quite bright, but wise enough not to go searching for happiness. With them I was positive in thought, freed from the need to kvetch at the world, or the schadenfreude of ratting on colleagues. But I learnt to take the day as it came, to filter out the loathing and retain the pats on the back, to rejoice in joy, anyone's joy. That night, I didn't discover what I could be. I discovered what I should be.

چین / चैन

चैन से तो नीन्द आती है, शायरों को कभी तुम चैन मत देना چین سے تہ نیند آتی ہے ، شاعروں کو کبھی تم چین مت دینا

نقاب / नक़ाब

کچھ نقاب ایسے ہوتے ہےں جنکے اہوڈھنے پر کئ اور نقاب اتر آتے ہےں कुछ नक़ाब ऐसे होते हैं जिनके ओढ़ने पर कई और नक़ाब उतर आते हैं

History

History is always a tragedy. But the bodies on the road, overrun by maggots, the tyres burning away hope, the women screaming, begging, pleading not to be raped - are as real as they were the first time. The second time, we just learn to close our eyes.

School Friends

The good thing about school friends is that you can always make fun of them, even if you last met thirty years ago. They may be have got a Padma Vibhushan for distinguished service in medicine, with FRCS, FACS after their name, but to you they are still Snotnose, Kombda, Gotya and Monkeybrain. You never forget their birthdays and their children's names though you forget your wife's or your own children's. You may not attend your cousin's wedding, but something will make you travel halfway around the planet, to attend that of your school friend. At school reunions you instinctively head for the same spot in the school canteen, crack the same jokes, though the others stare at you. They'll send you the same cliched birthday cards (rarely gifts) but you'll treasure them above all else. And when you have been forgotten by your colleagues after retirement, and your children after they move out, it is your school friends who will come to be your pall-bearers.

My weed garden

Mother gave me a patch of garden. I ploughed it with a trowel and seeded it with dahlias, geraniums, marigolds, and chrysanthemums. I watered it everyday and watched with delight as they began to sprout. Then one day I saw a new plant, with tiny bright green leaves. Mother didn't know what it was. Se called it a weed. She told me to remove it. I didn't. I thought it was pretty. Prettier still, when it had tiny, yellow flowers. And then there were other plants - short ones, tall ones, prickly ones, with white, yellow, even red flowers. One flower had petals that were violet outside and yellow inside. Mother called them all weeds. The geraniums and dahlias and chrysanthemums didn't seem to grow well. They were short and had small flowers, not like mother's patch which had big, pretty ones. Mother said it was because I had let weeds grow. But I had lots of little flowers - like little me. Mother said I had grown a weed garden

A dog's tail

The default state of a dog's tail is up. It takes a lifetime - of stones by cute boys, beatings by smart trainers and neglect by loving masters - for it to go down.

Sunday is...

...a late morning, a tumbler of degree coffee, a birthday greeting to a friend (thank God for Facebook), another tumbler of coffee... ...a hot water bath, catching up on weekly politics, rice and bitter-gourd curry with jeera rasam and pickle, a long unhad siesta... one murukku made from old rice, ground by hand and made in coconut oil, one piece of jangri - not too sweet - washed down with hot degree coffee... a walk with the dog drongo-spotting in the garden, and old family stories with mother under the jamun tree... ...a little poem, a bit of light reading, and an interesting online chat on the Dhammapada... ...and finally an ascent to heaven with curd rice and vadu-mangay, before the fall to the netherworld of Monday.

Mahim Bay from Rangsharda, Bandra (revised)

Encased in concrete, with a dying orange above, and the silver turning grey below, the waves crash futilely against the Bandra fortress -I suppose one might, on careful listening, hear steel versus steel again; Boats bob by those decayed ramparts, signs of of an eternal poverty dependent on the wealth of the sea; On open sea a marvel of modern engineering rises - a some triumphant half-finished proclamation of victory over nature; above the clouds thicken, but loosen not as in impudent demonstration of whose writ truly runs; In the shanties of Bandra, in the towers of Worli, and in the middle-classness of Mahim, lights come on one by one - a dying day, a sleepless city.

I'm sorry, Ghatkopar

I'm sorry, Ghatkopar. I'm sorry you don't have the red sunsets and cool breeze and palm fronds and soft, babbling waves somebody else has. I'm sorry, Ghatkopar. I'm sorry that the British did not find you Queen material, and didn't build their Grade III Heritage bungalows, outside which teenage girls faint after slitting wrists wanting Dev Anand, Amitabh, Shahrukh, Salman to marry them. I'm sorry, Ghatkopar. I'm sorry that all you have is Somaiya Book Depot, Bharti Jewellers and Ratanshi Khimji Patel, good people in their own right, but no Gucci, Swarovski or even Subway. I'm sorry, Ghatkopar. I'm sorry that all you get is navratri dandiya and kitschy Ganesh pandals, instead of self-styled poets slamming about you. I'm sorry, Ghatkopar.

Drops

Drops that make the ocean - one from from the tears of a woman betrayed, one from dew on a fresh-blossomed petal, one from the blood of a fallen tyrant, one from the drool of a child beholding sweets, one from the labour of an unknown ryot, one from the wrath of a vengeful storm.

'Sheldon'

Sister calls me 'You Monster!'. Don't know why. All I do is pull her hair and yank her dolls' heads off. And sometimes spill ink on her homework while playing with her pen. Then I go running to mother and press my face into her sari. 'Babloo' she calls me, and wipes my tears, and gives sister a scolding. I point my tongue at sister but mother doesn't notice. Father is not like that. He is nasty and unfair. He likes sister more than me. He makes me stand in the corner for spilling ink and pulling hair. And he calls me by my school name. I don't like Daddy. Hey auntie has come. Get out of corner and run screaming "Auntie, Auntie, Auntie". She picks me up in her arms and says "Babloo baba, cho chweet!". She is not nice when she pinches my cheeks and makes me recite 'Baa baa black sheep'. But she is nice when she gives me a big chocolate which I eat in front of my sister, and don't give her anything. Nasty sister. Rohit is

நீ

நீ அழுதால் முத்தார் ஓடும் நீ சிரித்தால் கல்யாணி ராகம். உன் மௌன முகம் உரு சொல் இல்லாதப் பாட்டு, உன் புன்னகையால் வசந்தம் இனிக்கும். நீ எது செய்தாலும், அதில் நான் ஒரு காவியம் படைப்பேன்.

Traps

Once, to entrap me she needed grace sketched in ink upon lavender-scented paper. Six sheets folded neatly in a card paper envelope affixd with a pretty postage-stamp. Or electromagnetic waves which when decoded became the voice of an amorous koel jewelled with honeyed, enslaving words. Now she does not need fetters of a hundred and forty characters; a colon and closing bracket will do.

फयान / فیان

मैं सागर का मछवारा, तेरे सदा पर आऊँगा तू मादर मेरी, तेरी हवाओं के गीत गाऊँगा तुझी से हर बरकत है, और तुझ ही में ख़ात्मा तेरे लहरों का बच्चा हूँ, इन्हीं में घुल जाऊँगा میں ساگر کا مچھوارا ، تیرے سدہ پر آؤنگا تو مادر میری ، تیرے ہواؤں کے گیت گاؤنگا تجھی سے ہر برکت ، اور تجھ ہی میں ہے خآتمہ تیرے لہروں کا بچّہ ھوں ، ینہیں میں گھل جاؤنگآ

आप मुस्कुराकर / آپ مسکر

आप मुस्कुराकर मेरी साँसों को मत रोकियेगा धड़कन तेज़ हो जाती है, इस तरफ़ मत देखियेगा आपकी रौनक़ देखकर, यह चश्म कुछ और ना देख पाएँगे पर मेरी ख़ुदग़र्ज़ी मानकर, परदा मत कीजियेगा آپ مسکراکر میری سانسوں کو مت روکیےگا دھڈڑکن تیز ھو جاتی ہے ، اس طرف مت دیخیےگا آپکی رونق دیکھکر ، یہ چشم کچھ اور نا دیکھ پایےنگے پر میری خود غرضی مانکر ، پردہ مت کیجیےگآ

Rose

Fifteen rupee rose for a girl's bewitching smile. Not a bad bargain. Published in  Writing Love an Anthology of Indian - English Poetry , ed. Ashmi Ahluwalia; Rupa Publications 2010. ISBN 978-81-29116-66-6. OR Fifteen rupee rose. She gets a half-hour's pleasure. I get a poem.

न तुमने जाना न मैंने

चमन के कोने में एक फूल मुर्झाई, न तुमने जाना न मैंने| बनकर रह गयी महज़ एक परछाई, न तुमने जाना न मैंने|| उसकी ख़ुशबू जो मदहोश करती थी, क़तरा ब क़तरा सूखने लगी| जलती तपती धूप में वह छटपटाई, न तुमने जाना न मैंने|| उसके रंग जिनसे महल सजते थे, फीके बेजान होने लगे हैं| आँखों के दीदार के लिए तरसाई, न तुमने जाना न मैंने|| उसकी ताज़गी जिससे हर थकान मिट जाती थी, अब बिखरने लगी| अब ख़ामोश है वह जो कभी इतराई, न तुमने जाना न मैंने|| वह जो किसी गुलदस्ते की शान बन सकती थी, गुमनाम बनी रही| उसका तक़दीर - बस मुसलसल तन्हाई, न तुमने जाना न मैंने|| कोई ख़ानाबदोश उसे तोड़कर ज़मीन पर फैंककर चला गया मालिन मलबे में डालकर चली आई, न तुमने जाना न मैंने چمن کے کونے میں ایک پھول مرجھائ ، نا تمنے جانا نا مینے بنکر رہ گیی محض ایک پرچھائ ، نا تمنے جانا نا مینے اسکی خوشبو جو مدہوش کرتی تھی قطرہ بہ قطرہ سوکھنے لگی جلتی تپتی دھوپ میں وہ چھٹپتائ ، نا تمنے جانا نا مینے اسکے رنگ جنسے محل سجتے تھے ، پھکے بےجان ھہنے لگے ہیں آنکھوں کے دیدار کے لیے ترسائ ، نا تمنے جانا نا مینے اسکی تازگی جس سے ہر تھکان مٹ جاتی تھی ، اب بیکھرن

The Ballad Of Jean-Pierre Dominique

There was once a singer tall Specialised in Greek technique Who sang in Sydney Opera Hall Called Jean-Pierre Dominique! He sang tenor, he sang bass, He rose to falsetto. But not one note in its place Oh no no no no no! The audience was sorely tried And they threw tomatoes But his zeal did not subside When faced with potatoes. Once upon an ANZAC Day Gathered on Taylor Square The orchestra began to play Advance Australia Fair! Now our Maestro Dominique Who was then passing by Saw fit to use his Greek technique And took the tune on high! “Australians all let us rejoice, For we are young and free; With golden soil and wealth for toil, Our home is girt by sea…” He thought it fit to raise his pitch To mezzo-soprano! He thought it was the method which Was right for piano! The audience was knocked-out flat - “A storm of gale-force ten!” The veterans feared they’d landed at Gallipoli again! They stopped his song, they dragged him down, They beat him blac

on weirdness

who knows for sure what's truly weird and what is normal when I follow my heart they call me weird, when I follow my head and come up with wild schemes they call me weird but when i follow the herd dressed like it eating like it talking like it and refuse to listen to my heart or my head as it stampedes to its doom they call me normal

फ़रेब

लोग कहते हैं तुम्हारा इश्क़, इश्क़ नहीं फ़रेब था| हम नहीं मानते ‍ तुम्हारे फ़रेब को भी हम इश्क़ ही समझेंगे|

A rural schoolboy's revolt OR An antipastorale

Who prefers to have flies in his bedchamber? Or for that matter, all manner of insects? How romantic to consider the prospects Of a cricket's chirps that rob one of slumber? Yes, the stars are bright and the grass is tender, Arcadian dreams are gay in many respects; Yet lying in Elysian fields one suspects That adders do not make for sweet surrender. It is much to the credit of Tennyson And other fools of the English Lake District To pen rhymes for - a cloud, a lark, a peasant By the fireside in their stately mansions But who asks the cottar before they depict A fancied idyll that only sounds pleasant?

विरासत / وراژت

बज़ोर ए शमशीर क्या पाओगे - खोखले मकानों की रियासत, ख़ौफ़ के दम पे खड़ी सलतनत, खोखले ईमानों की सियासत? ख़ुदा का पैग़ाम तो मोहब्बत है, उसे तुम दर-दर सुनाओ, तुम दिल-दिल में छोड़ जाओगे, अपने वज्द-ए-अज़्ल की विरासत بزور ی شمشیر کیا پائوگے - کھوکھلے مکانوں کی ریاست خوف کہ دم پے کھڈی سلطنت ، کھوکھلے ایمانوں کی سیاست خدا کا پیغام تہ محبّت ہے ، اسے تم در-در سنائو تم دل-دل میں چھوڈ جآئوگے ، اپنے وجد-ی-ازل کی وراژت

Saudade – I

At first the distant mountain-tops Fade into the coming rain cloud And then the hills nearer to My village draw their misty veil. At last it pours over my home. Silent's the square, empty the shops, The street's bereft of all its crowd Excepting for the luckless few Who seek shelter to no avail. At last it pours over my home. Thus freed from care about their crops That bloom and thrive under the shroud My village came to life anew. Their joyous shouts do ring out loud - But I have strayed from all I knew Accursed to roam from vale to vale. Though I regret all that I threw There is one reason not to wail - At last it pours over my home.

Pour un ami perdu

J'écris cette-lettre-ci Et je la mets dans une bouteille Avec l'espoir Qu'un jour dans le futur Tu le liras. L'espoir des ondes. Il y avait des temps Quand nous étions inséparables - Toutes mes pensées Étaient les tiennes, Si je rirais, tu rirais Si tu a compris ou non, Pouquoi j'ai ri. Avec la résonance mystérieuse Tu porterais bleu Si j'avais porté bleu. Il n'y avait des lettres Ni l'espoir des ondes. Puis nous avons grandi Nous avons acquis des diplômes Et nous avons trouvé des emplois. Tu, là où nous sommes nés, Moi, dans un coin du monde Loin, inconnu - Où je n'ai que les moustiques Et l'espoir des ondes. D'abord, je t'écrivais les courriels Chaque soir disant que j'ai fait Et j'aurais un de toi Avec les succès et les échecs de journée. Puis c'est devenu une semaine Et l'épopées sont devenues Des paragraphes et enfin des sentences. Je ne souviens pas Lorsqu'ils se sont arrêtés. Tout ce que j'ai maintenant

I

I am a ship out of wind an engine out of steam a fisherman far inland a mountain-dweller in the plains a writer out of ink a ghazal without a radeef an eye without tears a song without words... I could do with any wind - a breeze, a gale, a storm; I want a boat and a rod; ink of any colour; a day of sorrow or joy, that would fill my eyes... something, something to fill my canvas... From these I shall fashion a poem a dream an anchor a beginning...

Words / Mots / الفاظ

at first there were words exchanged between eyes in the millions they became emails five in a day four three two one email of five paragraphs four three two one in a week a month a year an eternity * d'abord il y avait les mots échangés entre les yeux en millions ils sont devenus des courriels cinq d'un jour quatre trois deux un e-mail de cinq points quatre trois deux un dans une semaine un mois un an une éternité * پہلے الفاظ کی ادلا بدلہ ہوتی چشم بچشم لاکھوں کی تعداد میں وے ایمیل بنے روز کے پانچ چار تین دو ایک ایمیل پانچ دفعہ کی چار تین دو ایک ایمیل ہفتہ میں مہینہ میں سال میں ازل میں

तुम आए

तुम्हारे नाम पाठ पढ़े, व्रत रखे, मन्दिरों में यग किये पर तुम न आए तुम्हारे नाम रोज़े रखे, सजदे किये, मक़बरों में चादर चढ़ाए पर तुम न आए दिल को मना लिया के तुम न आओगे आशाएँ दबाए हौँसले छोडे तब तुम आए तुम आए मुस्कुराए कुछ कहे बिना चले गए फिर से मैंने व्रत रखे, सजदे किए ग़रीबों में अनाज बाँटे पर तुम न आए फिर मैंने सपने बिखेरे तमन्नाएँ दफ़नाए फिर तुम आए, मुस्कुराए, राज़ें फुस्फुसाए कुछ कहे बिना चले गए तुम दगा दोगी समझकर मैंने अपने गीत मिटाए अपने नज़्म जलाए एक नया बाग़ बसाया नए फूल उगाए नया कल्पवृक्ष खडा किया तुम्हें भूला तुम्हारी यादों को दफ़नाया उस वक़्त तुम आए बिजली बनकर आए तूफ़ान बनकर आए आकर मेरा बाग़ उजाडा और फिर कुछ कहे बिना चले गए

Silences

Silence, the silence of poignancy The silence before the confrontation The silence of simmering revolution Silence, the silence of love The silence of speaking without words The silence of conversations between eyes Silence, the silence of prayer The silence of the grateful's devotion The silence of eternity's equipoise

خاموشی

خاموشی ، حدّت کی خاموشی یورش کہ پہلے کی خاموشی بڑھتے ینقلاب کی خاموشی خاموشی ، وجد کی خاموشی بن آواز صحبت کی خاموشی چشم ب چشم باتوں کی خموشی خاموشی ، عبادت کی کاموشی مشکور کہ بندگی کی خاموشی ازل کہ سکوت کی خاموشی

Diwali 2009

Booted laptop. Connected datacard. Check. Logged on to Facebook. Collected gifts. Sent gifts. Read wall. Commented, liked. Did what was needed on the application de rigeur. Check. Tweeted wisecracks. Re-tweeted other people's wisecracks. Check. Logged on to Gmail, Yahoomail, Hotmail, Rediffmail. Read funny mail. Forwarded to all. Check. So now I'll go have my oil bath. Then I'll put on new clothes. Then I'll eat the sweets. Diwali has begun.

Conversations with a stranger

He is a "Facebook" friend Someone I have never met But someone whom I know intimately - by his updates, his notes, his mystical poetry. We chatted today across a thousand miles of optical fibre cable (the inventors be blessed) but there were no miles separating our minds. We celebrate a common festival of lights, moi, where I was born he, in a distant hemisphere and we talked of origins, of wandering, and of growing of roots. We talked about poetry And photography - I told him that I must employ always thousands of words to paint my images because I am no good with a camera. And then we parted he to finish his day and I to begin we began "Facebook friends" strangers, but now we are brothers-in-arms.

Conversations avec un étranger

Il est un "Facebook" ami Quelqu'un que je n'ai jamais rencontré Mais quelqu'un que je connais intimement -- par ses mises à jour, ses notes, sa poésie mystique. Nous avons bavardé aujourd'hui à travers un millier de miles de câble à fibres optiques (les inventeurs soit béni) mais il n'y avait pas de miles séparant nos esprits. Nous célébrons une fête commune des lumières, Moi, où je suis né il, dans un hémisphère lointaine et nous avons parlé des origines, d'errance, et de la croissance des racines. Nous avons parlé de la poésie Et la photographie -- Je lui ai dit que je dois employer toujours des milliers de mots pour peindre mes images parce que je ne suis pas un bon avec une caméra. Et puis nous nous sommes quittés il pour terminer sa journée et moi pour commencer nous avons commencé "Facebook amis" étrangers, mais maintenant nous sommes devenus confrères.

Ho pais kalos

You weren't to be seen this summer. Your face is a little less adolescent than before, but those flowing locks and that red bandanna haven't disappeared, I see. I whisper softly to myself ho pai kalos. Looking closely at your lips tells me you've had your first drag of a cigarette, the way your eyes now look at girls your age tells me something is now lost. I whisper softly to myself ho pais kalos. You've taken to sitting around with some friends on walls or riding motorbikes; you no longer play football with your hairless chest glistening with sweat. I whisper softly to myself ho pais kalos . No longer a jejune, young man you've grown up, Adonis No more Laches on the shard of the ancient Athenian drinking cup, a gift to handsome boys, inscribed the boy beautiful - ho pais kalos .

का नाही आलोस?

जेव्हा शेतकार्यान्नी तुला शोधले तेव्हा का नाही आलास? बालकृष्णाचे हान्डी फोडली तेव्हा का नाही आलास? गणपती बाप्पा येउन गेले तेव्हा का नाही आलास? अत्ता तुझ्याविना जगणे शिकलो अत्ता कशाला आलास?

நீ வந்தாய்

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