Her too – not just Nirmala

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Unending steps, Nirmala embraces her own race

A famished charm hovers cautiously over her face

Her bone structure festered into a trained solitude

Hands a healing force, as her knuckles protrude

 

Red bold kumkum circle, an effort to distance that lech

Conjugal bliss empties itself into an abundant acidic belch

Saree pleats tucked aside, as she scrubs and furiously cleans

Stubborn tarnished spots, wrestling the numbness in Nirmala’s spleen

 

Her manuscript written with contradictory life strokes

Confused, Nirmala’s ghungroos silenced by fearful ghouls

Excruciating pain, joyous treasure, intense process of birth

A sense of submission, defiance echoes in her widening girth

 

An unnecessary ornamental, fact like mangalsutra beads adorn

Strings showing through, her insipid emotions tired and torn

Everything Nirmala has ever felt is a quiet bangle encircling her wrist

The hushed restraint of her space, contradicted by colors that insist

 

Phantoms, come each night when she curls again into herself

His fantasies break her into tears, tenderness set aside on the shelf

Dreary dawn nudges her awake, she washes, prays, wears resistance again

Collecting a potli of dreams, a composed Nirmala walks into the rain

 

Defying the grammar of traditional womanhood, impoverished lives

Her daily life embraces tomorrow, today’s hunger submitted to archives

Nirmala’s bio presents strange attributes; observe, listen, resilience

I witness her laughter hesitatingly, jolting trauma into obedience

 

Repetition nourishes days that hide the broken scars of the night

Finding her truth in rooms, doors and windows, peeping skylights

Questions that face her, are tattooed into the kaajal of her eyes

Wretchedness was a corpse, Nirmala embraced her Kaali in disguise

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Wildflowers in Wagah

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Wildflowers 

Luminous in sadness

That holds their blooms together

Before they fall into the abyss

 

Nodding a silent scent

Into the breeze, languid salt of tears

Drooping low at the ruin of human race

 

Waning colors, into the night

Gathered in bunches of feeble shapes

Of hope towards the waning moon

 

Drooping stems that bear the weight

Of those who are lost in war

Adorning vases  along tombstones

 

Silent wildflowers, pressed against

broken hearts, and shallow breaths

Petals shredding themselves, letting go

 

Testimony to all that is trampled

Tickling thorns coax us awake

to the tragedy of our fallen selves

 

Perennial in our ignorance

insistently we flirt with

war, mortality and grief

Pulwama, your saffron fields

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Forty dead, bodies returned, soldiers mourned, nation angry

Pulwama was known for saffron – and is now dripping

in the pigments of blood-drenched fields and flowers

 

Forever forging ahead, at the hands of a callous nation

Obnoxious politics, a distressed tricolor on coffins

Repeat, rinse, repeat, repeat, rinse, repeat

Telling the same story, imposing sanctions

Yesterday, forty mothers were silenced by a 21 gun salute

 

Forlorn eyes, barren pyre for there was no body

Our men left forty letters of relinquished hope

Repeat, rinse, repeat, repeat, rinse, repeat

They had valor, imbecile nation owners

You owe, your tears to their dry-eyed wives

 

Fellows in arms, fellows in war, fellows in death

Opened gaping wide, the earth shudders in shame

Repeat, rinse, repeat, repeat, rinse, repeat

Their graves are decked with smothered dreams

Yet we shamelessly, switch channels and pay homage

 

Repeat, Rinse, Repeat, Repeat, Rinse, Repeat

limbs, arms, heads, skulls, eyes, feet, necks

guts, innards, blood, flesh, bones, marrow

Repeat, Rinse, Repeat, Repeat, Rinse, Repeat

Forty Bravehearts, shattered into the air

Will haunt the apathy of your existence

They won’t come home, but neither will you

 

Rathod Nitin, Virendra Singh, Awadesh Yadav, Bhagirathi Singh

Ratan Thakur, Pankaj Tripathi, Amit Kumer, Jeet Ram

Kulwinder Singh, Vijay Mouya, Maneswar, Mohan Lal

Sanjay Sinha, Ram Vakeel, Jaimal Singh, Naseer Ahmad

Tilak Raj, Sukhjinder Singh, Rohitash Lamba, Jaimal Singh

Vijay Soreng, Vasantha Kr, Guru, Subramanian

Manoj Behra, Mahesh Kr, Narayan Lal, Pradeep Kumar

Sahoo, Ramesh Yadav, Hemraj Meena, Sanjay Rajput

Kaushal Rawat, Shyam Babu, Pradeep Singh, Ajit Azad

Bablu, Maninder Atri, Ashvini Kaochi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

about polar vortex etc

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about comparisons

that are relatively subjective

about paradigms across poles

which span extreme contrasts

about weather apps

and small talk

about experiments

with freezing points

about metric systems

and the rest of the world

about endangered environment

and presidential twitter posts

about driveways buried

under severe inability

about vast emptiness

which is white open

about deserted streets

and pensive fireplaces

about beverages that thaw

not just coffee and tea

about swallowing cold

into your guts

about trivial romance

of moonlit shadows on snow

about chapped lips

and hesitant words

about shut down stupidity

and political brain freeze

about breaking thresholds

and enabling new normal’s

about selfies and stories

that are conveniently privileged

about hibernation

into myopic silences

about freezing hope

staying alive in squirrels

about stubborn determination

alongside sober realizations

about super power control issues

being put into cold perspective

 

 

 

 

Cradling contradictions

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I write my own story

I create

delivering a composition

of myriad emotions

cocooned in me

my blood and insides

a twisted tale which

descends into depths

of union, of ecstasy

a forceful passage

dark tunnels fiercely

contracting into voids

an abundant first cry

delivered with respite

I give birth

to significance

I give birth

am exorcised of

pain, and shame

I give birth

to begin again

reborn into

my cyclical

ability to refresh

renew

reclaim

Part 1 – At Birth

is the child coincidental?

to  the deepest moment of love ..maybe lust!

the curled toes

the tightly shut eyes

the pursed lips

churns your blood with a warmth

deeper than you have ever embraced

chills your spine with a current

stronger than any you have ever survived

in a daze

you walk across the threshold

and into the door of parenthood

The sign reads –

“buckle up! it’s an amazing long ride”

 

Part 2 – Growing up, us

During your growing up

Growing up, and older is about detachment

Easier said than done though

The patter of your baby’s first steps

The unabashed pleasure at the toddler’s antics

The acoustics of teenage chatter

Being symphony to your ears

Replaced and refreshed now

Balanced with the sounds, sights and smells

Of the broader world, a world not as narrow

Such that your children

Are now an extension of your ecosystem

Rather than the center of it

It is a freedom of sorts

Freedom from many compelling obsessions

That is every mother’s woe and pride

Of wanting to be present in and make note of every milestone

Or what you assumed were global events at that time

the eyeball move

the baby bum lift

the first step

the changing smell of the potty

the pa’s and the ba’s

the smile or what you thought was one

the sticky first kiss

the sloppy attempt at poetry

the colors and form that became the art work

the handclasp and the finger grasp

the voice breaking at puberty

the announcement of the first period

the prom preparation

the first tie knot

the drama and the debates

Waking up one morning

Looking into the mirror

I see

Two clumsy adults

out there owning the world

Conquering, defeating, being beaten, wondering, doubting, loving and discovering

The transition has occurred and is happening now

The pleasure is immense

And as I turn away from the mirror

Gently patting my eyes

Just so the kajal stays in place

I know

I received these human’s as gifts

To hold and deliver into the world

Playing my brushstrokes

and filling in the colors over the years

That was how it was always meant to be

I was told very clearly that birthing, is not about replacing

Yet I do want to ask

Can I hold you, carry you, kiss you, hug you

One more time so I can bottle that smell, that warmth, the tender smile

I promise not to ask again

I promise to be standing right here when and if you need me

As well for those you bring into your lives

Also

Neatly bottled for you and those you love

Will be the alchemy that works when all else fails

In an inexhaustible supply, and from that irreplaceable recipe

my confidence, care, and courage

my bones, my flesh, my blood

 

Part 3

Playing Host

Hosting you for 9 months

The beginning of you starts with the sky

Pouring itself into my womb

With a thumping palette comprising

Of shades that transcend over 

Nine months 

The conversation starts as you settle in, one

Moving on to a sonnet of meditation, two

Salvaging doubtful nausea, into glowing cheekbones, three

We both partner in the architecture of you, four

Visible to the world by now, we relish the attention, five

I live inside of you, as you move within me, six

Conceived in dreams, you pulsate with developing form, seven

Preparing to pause, I embrace the flutter in my belly, eight

With a swaggering stride, I bring you into the world, nine

And I repeat to myself, my prayer for you

One that wishes for you 

a substantial life

stained glass in the summer

frosted windowpanes in the snow

and crunching embers of the fall

tears that leave salty leftover hugs

smiles which pour laughter into heartbreaks

fear that trembles into your confidence

family demanding you to run for cover

a mirror reflecting to you your ugliest flaws

and as I repeated the prayer

 

You broke into the world, delivered

Into my heart with all that is the start of you

The start of you

an end to nine tumultuous months

months where I fell in love with you

a guest embracing my womb

The start of a new musing

as it negotiates

its way into me

I yearn for us to begin, again 

I feel your gnarly fingers clasping my breast

I sense your sticky eyelashes, tickle my face

I write my own story

I give birth

to begin again

reborn into

my cyclical

ability to refresh

renew

reclaim

2019, quietly delivered

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to our doorsteps

 

You unwrap yourself

With a smirky smile

And halt at the threshold

Knocking your announcement

Before the doorknob turns

2018, sways to a countdown

And pretends to heal

Without an offer of justice

You are unconvinced 

There is no guilt, instead

Denial is almost palpable

You hold your breath

Thoughts ticking to hope

Waiting for some magical

Moment of sincerity

Listening for an apology

2019, you watch

As the balloons deliver 

Insignificant specks of gold dust

In that moment, the gong

Sounds loud and piercing

Trust stays drowned

2018, walks out and away

No bridges exist

Yet 2019 cautiously 

Steps in, through to us

Whispering a dream

Into our ears

 

A dream about handshakes

And bridges being built

Over an abridged world

2019, you will be different

My Original Men

 

Sahir,

You are our magician

Your conduct inspires

 

This 26th birthday

You are wished

Love that is ever present

Discipline to dream

Courage to face life

Ability to listen and seek

 

Papa,

You are the original inspiration

Your stature motivates

 

This 83rd birthday

You are wished

Many more adventures

With Purpose and pride

A sturdy stride and strong hands

To hold us in your loving care