Then, at the dead of the night
A river’s waters rose , swelled
And spilled over to the village.
The mountains then looked on
As a flying chariot-in-flames
Had sheared the edges smooth.
The river then swelled in pride
As rain poured into catchment
In rugged Western mountains.
Now the river is within limits
Tamed by the monstrous dam,
With no excitement of a spate.
It is now so much brown sand
With streaks of shallow water.
Nowadays , funeral fires rage
On the sun-baked river-bed.
On those annual festival days
Thousands of merry- making
Peasants and townsfolk alike,
Congregate on the hot sands
To celebrate a god’s birthday.
It is as though I was there the other day.
Only they have grown bigger and taller
And their inner spaces more cavernous.
Remember I tried making pretty pictures
On their scraggy walls in stunning hues
To celebrate leafy arrivals of a silver oak
And jack fruits sitting heavily on barks
I drew lovely pictures of charging bison.
Our women danced dimsa all night long
As we drank cup after cup of palm wine
And the dappu shivered in rising frenzy.
Millions of years ago I saw this mountain
Gurgling to form a gigantic gas bubble
That has hid the parchments of ancestors
Who went beyond those tall mountains.
Some times I can see their dark specters
In the cavernous womb of this mountain
Clinging to the mossy roof upside down
They shriek out secrets of other-world
And of life beyond the mountain-peaks
That pile, one on other, on a sunny day.
(Borra caves are stalagmite and stalactite caves ,believed to be a million years old, situated in the Eastern ghats in Araku valley near Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh)
A beauty’s desire, succulent, ripened quickly,
The fevered body hated to be whipping boy.
Arjuna’s friend had told him contrary things
Leaving him and us befuddled, minds giddy.
Nachiketa asked death what it was and why,
Not clear knowledge is death before or after.
Now this beauty thing, is it the physical glow
Or its spirit-layer,eternal and into the clouds.
Look at this beyond-thing, a lack of horizon.
At this Godchild seemed to smile exquisitely
His beauty-waves reached perplexed minds
From beyond the coconuts and tiled houses.
My beauty pixels vanished, a wholly washed
Incandescence dissipated in sky space above
Clusters of coconuts ,houses nested in them.
Moonlight is back on roof and sky,
A flour rolled into dough for bread
For the men to take their bites daily.
Men are reading boring news daily.
Wives will see their faces in sieves
The round and perfect full moons.
(On Karwa chauth , after completing a day’s fast for husband’s well being , a woman looks through a sieve first looking at the rising moon and then at her spouse)
He is the boss of beasts ‘n birds
Who stayed mere stone to watch
A rubble of homes and temples
That would bring down our men
They had sheltered all their lives.
He was stone god,not brick God,
A phallus who destroys to create.
His ashes are about our bodies.
(Nepal the Himalayan kingdom experiences its worst ever earthquake with a casualty figure of around 10000 and enormous destruction)
We try to picture great grandmother.
We did not know who our g.g.m. was
But would dream her in holy thread
On shirtless chest, a lump in throat.
Our sacred thread runs left to right ,
And is reversed on chest right to left
And we have placed three rice balls
On a banana leaf with sesame seeds
For g.g.m,, g.m. and m. in that order.
As lineage grows , g’s go from them.
We will join ranks with them.
In return, they will mourn us,
When, later, our turn comes ,
A sound arrangement for all.
Our street women have made
Breast-beating into a fine art.
They do it to some fine music.
The air is rife with fresh death.
Be assured that in the bargain
Nobody shall feel unmourned.