Life on Tide

 

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Lonely Boat, gray water & gray sky – Sunderban National Park

A little black boat

Floats where molten gold merges

With gray somber sadness.

The little black boat

Holds a bundle in its heart

A sad tired soul.

A lone little boat

No island in the distance

Only water surrounds.

Life has no meaning

When the unnameable strikes

Yet they need to fight.

Woman adorns white

Her man may never return

Life has no colour.

He must live, sail back

To be one with her again

Life is not easy.

Supplies have run dry

His son cries, hungry he sleeps

So he must provide.

Scorching sun burns deep

Salt eats away aging skin

Air stands heavy, still.

If storm comes unseen,

Or tides change their course at will

All his dreams will end.

Dreams are luxury

Uncertainty is the truth

As life plays with death.

Yet she waits for him:

Her ‘jele’ will sure return

He dreams on, she prays.

Lyrical ripples

Dance; Matla intoxicates

In the last daylight.

Wait never ceases

Here in the gray tide country

Miseries live on.

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Boat in the last day light – Sunderban National Park

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The Silver Shine

sunderbans

The Silver Shine

Oh dear moonlight!

You are the true jewel of the night

I can never tell how sweet you look,

In your flowing silvery gown

That shines and paints a picture bright

Of a night so true, calm and quiet.

 

Your doting lover never ceases to wait

For the kiss of your soft silver touch

Upon the silken darkness of his skin –

A gift of the sun…

You never cease either, to please

Your sublime sylvan lover,

With a shy embrace,

A magical charmer that you are!

 

You fill him with your love

Flowing into his heart;

Or sometimes just playfully,

Engulf him completely

With your divine light

As you glide by relentlessly.

 

The wind stands witness and so does the sky,

The river flowing by

And that little faraway light –

To your passion and union.

Nothing that has not beheld your beauty

In the serenity of a night so quiet

Can ever tell the story

Of your endless love that is now and forever.

 

What am I?

Just a speck of mud

Or a tiny glow worm perhaps

Looking at your everlasting love –

A dedication that willingly takes

Upon itself all that he has to give.

 

Or is it something deeper in intensity?

A promise: to be there,

To hug and softly caress

Till the end of time when nothing remains,

But only your silvery threads –

Weaving the net to hold you tight

Into a completeness

Of filling each other with only yourselves.

Kolkata: A City with a Soul

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Victoria Memorial

Long time ago, in a half-forgotten article, I had read a few lines that remained unforgotten. It said, in India, if one is looking for greenery, Delhi is the city to be in; if one is looking for money, Mumbai is the city to find a job in; but if someone is looking for a city with a soul, Kolkata is the place to live in. As I had spent all my life in Kolkata, I did not realize the true meaning of these words, until, one day Gurgaon beckoned and I had to pack everything in order to settle in a city I had never known before. As the flight hovered over Kolkata before soaring high up in the sky, I knew, without anyone having to tell me that I would return someday, for I was leaving my soul behind. A feeling of emptiness filled every part of me, where my soul should have been.

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Green Expanse of Maidan

A year later, when the emptiness could not be borne anymore, a decision was taken – to return to my hometown, Kolkata, the city that had occupied much of my thoughts for most part of the year I had stayed in Gurgaon. As I boarded the train, from New Delhi Station, my heart longed to be reunited with its soul – to feel complete yet once again. That night was spent in restlessness onboard and when at last the all-important new day dawned, I looked out of the window at the bright landscapes. The green countryside looked greener, the white clouds looked whiter, the chirpy birds looked happier. We went past the lakes and streams, the paddies and trees at lightning speed, faster than I had imagined. It seemed the whole world had been secretly planning to take me home and nothing could stop me now from going back to where I truly belonged. When the train gradually entered the station, I was not appalled by the filth on the train tracks or the stench on the platforms teeming with faces of poverty-stricken masses. Neither was I confused by the chaos nor put-off by the noise that filled every corner of the station. I knew I was back to the place I longed to be in – my Kolkata.

Durga Puja

Festival: Durga Puja

Upon my return, I realized that the soul of this city does not lie only in her picturesque skyline with the majestic Victoria presiding over it, the songs of Tagore or the world-renowned ‘Rosogolla’. It also resides in every road and corner of the city, a boat ride on the Hoogly River, the expanse of the evergreen Maidan, the bustle of New Market, the old world charm of colonial Churches, the madness of the maddening crowd, the revelries and festivities year round, the narrow winding lanes of North Kolkata, the calls of “Didibhai” (loving sister) and “Dada” (brother), the countless fast food counters, the unending rivalries between the football clubs: “Mohun Bagan” & “East Bengal” and innumerable other unseen elements. In Kolkata, one finds satisfaction in searching for tranquillity in turmoil, peace in unrest and conviction in confusion. If the hustle ever stops or the noise seizes to exist, if the roads are ever deserted or the hawkers stop screaming, if the tram stops running or the music loses its meaning, if the love for sweets and fast food dwindles, the soul of Kolkata with die with each one of them. The soul of the city lives in every heart living in Kolkata and everything that gives the city its distinct character, embalming them all with an unfathomable sense of everlasting companionship and completeness.

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Boats on Hoogly River

With the past disappearing fast, replacing much of all that is traditional with elements of globalization, many conservatives fear that Kolkata will lose her myriad façades in very little time. However, some hopefuls believe that Kolkata will never lose her soul as it will continue to live through its people, some of whom dare to give up brighter prospects just to return, live on and sometimes pass away in her arms.

Goodbye: A word not just for humans

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Goodbye (Photo credit: Lennart Tange)

 

 

In every step of our lives, we say goodbye to our friends and families at one time or another. ‘Goodbye’ is a word that inevitably follows a ‘Hi’. We say hello to so many people from the time we take our first breath and then we say goodbye to them knowingly or unknowingly as we gradually take our steps into the future. We hold human relations and the humans who are part of those relations close to our hearts. Friends, grandparents, parents, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, husbands, wives, sons, daughters and all those who cannot be categorized are always hard to say goodbye to. In the midst of all these, little do we realize that we say goodbye to many more elements that go unheard or unseen and almost always are never thanked.

The first bench in our first class, the playground of nursery school, the innocence of childhood, the stairs of high school, the dear books and clothes we part with to make space for new ones, the warm bed in our parents’ house when we leave home for the first time, the first mobile phone, the first car, a destination we return from after a long vacation, the festivities when they end, every loved moment with our first pet are just some of those elements that pass by unnoticed. When I left north India in the beginning of this year, left Gurgaon – a city I almost despised – I did not know that saying goodbye even to a place you never liked can hurt and remain somewhere deep inside. A few days back, I realized that a city is not just a place; it is all about the elements it comprises. So, in my case, it is the apartment with the large terrace, the innumerable sunsets, my voiceless friends like the pigeon and the stray dogs, the park across the street, my long reading sessions, the taste of warm food in chilly winter nights, the sound of guitar that echoed through the rooms that I miss today the most about Gurgaon. I have said goodbye to them and can never return again.

I went back a little further in time and I felt I said goodbye to so much more:  I said ‘bye’ to my favorite festival – Durga Puja, one month ago. I had to say goodbye helplessly to my kitty Sandy, when I put her in grave three years ago. I had said goodbye to my favorite Indian destination, Kerala, four years ago, after a long vacation. I had said goodbye to my first job during recession five years ago. I had said goodbye to the fields and trees and the long balcony of my college 9 years ago. I had said goodbye to my school church and the beautiful sound of its piano 12 years ago. And I have said goodbye to so many things and elements and seasons in between without saying thank you.

I realize now, that I say goodbye to every breath, every time I breathe and with it I say goodbye to a part of my life. I know now that I will not let anything that touches me, pass by, without saying thank you before saying goodbye. I believe every non-human has feelings and if it has made a difference to my life, it has helped me live through another day. A thank you or a goodbye can never be meant for humans alone. These two words are for everything that makes us what we are today – living or non-living, tangible or intangible and very thing in between, that help us live through each day and give us memories to live with, tomorrow.

Life in a New City

Gurgaon House: Terrace

Gurgaon House: Terrace

A little more than a year ago, I had to leave my hometown for starting an independent life. My husband had to relocate to the Millennium city of India, popularly known as Gurgaon, for his work and I had to make a choice between: (A) going away from my family members as well as a stable life; and (B) staying away from my husband and letting him pursue his career in a new city, all by himself. The decision was tough to make. But when I had married, I had taken another decision – of being with my husband and never to leave him. I have always believed that marriage is more about “togetherness” than “stay-apart-ness”. The decision suddenly became easier and I packed our bags and all our memories and bid a teary “good-bye” to my dear old Kolkata.

The western world perhaps can never fathom the feeling of staying with one’s parents for almost 29 years and suddenly leaving them behind, unattended, lonely and sad. But in India, the scenario is quite different. Most of us not only stay with our parents for all those years before marriage but also, with the in-laws after marriage (this is mainly true for women). Leaving all the pampering and love behind and taking the first steps toward the unknown is not an easy task and so, it was not easy for me too.

Gurgaon winter was bad, when we finally arrived – cold and chilly and dry – everything that I detested. Filling an empty house with warmth is what we decided to achieve first. But my husband would go away for work, and I would be all alone – no one to talk to or share smiles with, no one to have lunch with and no one to give company but the emptiness of the rooms, the warm sun in the sky, the chirping of birds and the greens of trees nearby.

Gradually I began to rediscover my relationship with my husband, now that only two of us were together. Cooking, cleaning, washing and watching loads of movies – I found the new side of my husband – a true friend who would help me in the kitchen, in buying groceries and even drying out clothes. Very few Indian men would do what my husband has done, and there were days when I felt a great sense of gratitude toward him for being by my side.

Winter went by and a new season made our lives miserable: the unbearable Gurgaon summer. Skin burns, burning water, burning room, burning air – the world seemed to be on fire. My days at my new work place eased out difficulties but the city seemed to be asking for life’s blood. The scorching heat gave way to flooded streets during monsoon and the city seemed to be afloat perpetually. I longed to get back home to the monsoons of Kolkata – the misty mushy smells that emanated from the wet soil had been a part of all my growing years.

The monsoons and heat seemed to linger for eternity. The discomfort was accompanied by fears of the hungry monsters lurking around the dark corners waiting for the first evil strike. And then, suddenly the tide changed for the better. I got the news of the possibility of our return back to our hometown. Today, the possibility has changed into a reality. My home beckons me with love as I await to paint myself, yet once again, in the color of its warmth.