Sunday, May 31, 2009

Tribute to Kamala Suraiyya

I want to be loved
If love is not to be had,
I want to be dead; just dead. (Kamala Das)

Kamala Das aka Kamala Suraiyya aka Madhavikutty reigned in Malayalam literature like a queen. One of first feminist writers in India, she was a prolific writer who wrote both in English and in Malayalam. She died today after being hospitalised because of respiratory troubles. A tribute to her, this afternoon on hearing about her death.

You were brave enough to bare your soul,
When other women played with hypocrisy,
You dared to speak of things that mattered,
To a woman more than anything-love.

Your quests for love shadowed your stories,
Poems revealed the highs and lows of love,
True to the dictum that poetry is a song
From a broken heart or a smiling mouth.

Others followed the trail that you had set,
In a land swallowed by traditions and rules,
You broke all rules to follow your own heart,
Frank, straight and a trigger of controversies.

Mother, your words soar like the eagle you're,
Lone but high above in the clear blue skies.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

An empty garden pond

One single waterlily
In pond can splash colours,
Make a huge difference.

Friday, May 29, 2009

New god-daughter

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Scent of rain

The earth forgets the scorching summer,

At the first drop of pelting rain

And its scents are translated into perfumes

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Garden flowers

Monday, May 25, 2009

Mouse in the mousetrap

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Saturday, May 23, 2009

To err is human; but to laugh is natural!

Once in a while, as an English teacher and learner, I encounter certain errors in usage. It's not normal to hide your mirth when somebody says: I passed away in 2004" when the right sentence should be "I passed out in 2004".

Still, students are students. The inspiration for this article came from a test that I gave my students today. They were asked to write the meaning of the word "greasy" and use it in a sentence.

Well, they did and three of them put their heads together in spite of my strict vigilance. The result was a rare gem.The three answers went like this:

Ramu is a greasy man.
He is a greasy man.
Ravi is a greasy man.

How did all these guys become greasy? Well,I saw that one of them has written the meaning of greasy as " Helpful"!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Our story

On the walls of the street I have seen
Our own faces on Radha and Krishna;
While the busy traffic rushes on roads,
And we search for a life of our own.

When this spring that much-awaited
Reaches us finally after a long wait,
It has taken the leaves of our calendar
And left behind nothing but a shadow.

Radha and Krishna swing and sing,
Play games of togetherness always;
While you and I are gentle and aloof,
Looking at the happiness that drains.

The years we lost will never return,
But hope lies hidden in words of loss.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Borrowers

Have you ever wondered where all those safety-pins that you had brought have gone? The little things in your home that suddenly disappear all on a sudden and never reappear- a doll and its set of accessories, pins, match-boxes and stamps.

The Borrowers by Mary Norton gives a fantastic picture of what happens to these small items. They are borrowed by small people who are smaller than Tom Thumb or Thumbelina. They use these small items in their day-to-day life. A piece of blotting paper can carpet the entire floor of their home, a stamp can act as a wall-paper, a wad of cotton can be a stool for Arriety Pod, the heroine of the book.

Arriety Clock lives with her father Pod and mother Homily under the floorboards of the kitchen of a large house. Pod is "seen" by a human "bean" and the parents are troubled. To prevent emigration, they introduce Arriety to the concept of borrowing. Pod takes her with him and she meets a small boy who is on vacation from India. They become friends and she reads stories to him.

Strange fact is that there are class-divisions even among these small people. The Clocks are a respectable lot who live next to the clock and whose house has all middle-class luxuries though they are sad that they don't have anyone to appreciate or envy them. The boy lavishes gifts on them- more carpets, more tea-sets and furniture until somebody finds out the truth.

The story is interesting in that Mary Norton creates a world that is small and believable. It fills you with awe in a way no other book does because even a mile's walk is a long journey for a Borrower because of the small size. The humans have conquered many of these limitations through advances in science and technology; so it is a relief to feel that this world is unreal and only in books. Otherwise a lot of our basic beliefs would be destroyed if such a world exists for humans as well. No wonder, Mary Norton's The Borrowers won the Carnegie Medal for the best children's book in 1952.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


In his essay The Over-Soul, Ralph Waldo Emerson, the nineteenth century American Transcendentalist philosopher writes of his belief in Providence:

The things that are really for thee gravitate to thee. You are running to seek your friend. Let your feet run, but your mind need not. If you do not find him, will you not acquiesce that it is best you should not find him? for there is a power, which, as it is in you, is in him also, and could therefore very well bring you together, if it were for the best. You are preparing with eagerness to go and render a service to which your talent and your taste invite you, the love of men and the hope of fame. Has it not occurred to you, that you have no right to go, unless you are equally willing to be prevented from going? O, believe, as thou livest, that every sound that is spoken over the round world, which thou oughtest to hear, will vibrate on thine ear! Every proverb, every book, every byword that belongs to thee for aid or comfort, shall surely come home through open or winding passages. Every friend whom not thy fantastic will, but the great and tender heart in thee craveth, shall lock thee in his embrace. And this, because the heart in thee is the heart of all; not a valve, not a wall, not an intersection is there anywhere in nature, but one blood rolls uninterruptedly an endless circulation through all men, as the water of the globe is all one sea, and, truly seen, its tide is one.

Many a time, I have seen the gifts of Providence in this life. Blessings were placed in my way so beautifully that all I had to do was just to open the door and see the miracle that was before me. When I see before me what I have always wanted, I recognize that a benevolent spirit provides you with the right answers throughout life.

Books, friends, help and a lot of other blessings have come at the right time so many times that rather than asking God for anything in particular I have always asked to give me the right thing at the right time. For who can say that you are praying for your needs?

It has happened to me that a lot of things that I pray for in life become superfluous once I get them. Such a situation is more like praying for a variable in this world of rapid changes.

This life has seen the world for a little less than three decades but I guess every little thing counts. So next time you before you start regretting the past, you need to sit still in the present and count your blessings!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Letters to a Young Poet

Go within and scale the depths of your being from which your very life springs forth. At its source you will find the answer to the question whether you must write. Accept it, however it sounds to you, without analyzing. Perhaps it will become apparent to you that you are indeed called to be a writer. then accept that fate; bear its burden, and its grandeur, without asking for the reward, which might possibly come from without.

Rainer Maria Rilke wrote these words to the young poet Franz Kappus who had sent the manuscripts of his poems to Rilke. Much to Kappus' surprise, Rilke read all the poems with genuine interest and he wrote ten letters to Kappus for the next five years. These letters were published under the title Letters to a Young Poet. These letters reveal Rilke as a gentle and large-hearted person who went out of the way to offer his encouragement to Kappus. A must  read for all aspiring writers, as a great writer like Rilke advises Kappus not to listen to negative criticism and to understand that a creative spirit has to suffer from aloneness in life. 

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Word addiction

You may find it amusing but sometimes while having food alone, I find myself reaching for the pickle jar; so that I can read the information on the label. It's not that I don't know what's in the pickle; I guess it's a habit or rather an addiction to printed words.

This might extend to the information on creams, food products, cleaning solutions, toothpastes and so on. On some print-deprived days, there is a longing to read something strange, something new and pleasant. These are the days on which I set forth in the blogosphere for interesting reads and stumble across some good blog like that of Swapna

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

For a lost friend

A green-dot on my screen,
Dribbles my heart with pain,
Remembering a lost lifeline.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Focus, focus, focus

The snap of a cow taken in jest. My folks teased me about being snap-crazy. So this one, I took while on a trip home.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Only you, only you, your smiling eyes whispered,
As you sang our song, unaware of the huge crowd,
For I couldn’t believe it, standing where we were,
How you could look before you, and see only me?

Your eyes illumine the words as a leaf under light
Your solemn face, singing of trysts at moonlight,
Like by magic took on a look so soft and tender,
By what spell or charm it still makes me wonder.

The words you sang to me long ago, now, crowd,
Like colour against monotone, promises unlived,
Your songs of love and longing in forgotten days
In a gaze that read me, in a million uncanny ways.

Like buried seeds coming to life at the touch of rain
You come back with new tears as ungrieved pain,
Our tragedy was not breaking up but fading away,
With distance and fights that broke out twice a day.

Your eyes now sing to me from crowds this night,
Whose look has turned wan like the words I write.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

To a Lost Self

Like a strain of music, long forgotten,
You were lost somewhere along the way.
The song that you were faded in memory,
Only to resurface all on a sudden.

That song that you sang so beautifully,
How you could make a garland with tears,
With songs and tie it around my neck,
Suddenly played upon my lips unaware.

You and me were strange and unique,
Who were happy just by being together;
We could gaze into each other's eyes,
For hours and still be happy.

Now that years have passed after the song,
Even I know how to tie garlands with tears.

Friday, May 08, 2009


My home comes to me as an image,
Mauve-coloured walls, clean floor,
A dream that we all built together,
With prayers and with lots of effort.

It lost its value only because of me,
One erring step of mine crumbled.
The beautiful interiors, sunlit walls,
Floors of white remain unexposed,

Often I think about unlocking it,
Just to wander through its space,
A sacred space, mine, ours, yours,
Now remains locked to all eyes.

The day of your rescue isn’t far,
When time will heal all rifts.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


You, my lord, have many names and many faces. That's what I, who loves you like a devotee think- chanting your name every day and viewing you in each and every passing face. You are never seen only imagined as near me, with me and always in love with me.

Your stories have become legends; your memory like a burst of monsoon raga. No wonder the relation between you and m elude me like an unnamed scent. Once when in love or anger, you scattered my name across the land as a battle to be won. You barged into my space for a drop of love, for a little shelter from the cruel world.

Many a battle was won in silence; in those long months, when I faded away into insignificance and when your desperate words reached nowhere in real. Whatever the outcome, you and me were someday worshippers at some unknown sacred space. That's how the circles have remained as changing and dynamic forever. 

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

2 a.m.

The hospital smells of disinfectants.
Outside the ICU, a watchful crowd,
Waits on the chairs and on floor,
Crouched on bedsheets.

They watch the door, open and close,
Every time, as the duty nurses,
Whisper the news of change-
Death or recovery or medicine.

Each time, the ears listen,
Sleeping men and women,
Sit up and listen to the name,
The nurses utter this time.

This time, the nurse walks,
Towards a dark frail girl,
Sitting for days together,
In her crumpled pale sari.

She screams "Amma"
Falls to the ground weeping,
As her father mourns quietly,
Her sobs shake her body.

Now and then she screams,
Utters the word "Amma",
Looks up with swollen eyes,
For the approach of more news.

The stretcher is rolled out,
From the ICU, by staff,
Her sobs grow loud and wild
At the sight of her dead mother.

For days, she had sat outside,
Meeting her mother twice a day,
Three minutes at a time,
Her sobs are muted by tiredness.

The eyes, where life flickered
And love shone is still and closed.
Denied a word with parting spirit,
She retreats into a blank silence.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Ralph Waldo Emerson

To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the approbation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty; To find the best in others; To give of one's self; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived - This is to have succeeded.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


What wonders have time brought,
All at my window.

The numbers keep changing,
Every day new life springs,
Out of old ways of thought.

Oneness with the universe,
With a thousand kindred souls,
Spread across the earth,
Space and time and universe.

Sitting before my gizmo,
I wander with delight,
Through snow-covered landscapes,
Gather in my curious hands
Sheaves of snow-sprinkled wheat.

A bird spreading its wings,
The earth from space or a tiny flower
A thousand scented candles-
All new ways of bringing me back,
To my centre, my self-
All at my window.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

On the death of the Beloved

By John O’Donohue

Though we need to weep your loss, 
You dwell in that safe place in our hearts, 
Where no storm or night or pain can reach you.

Your love was like the dawn
Brightening over our lives
Awakening beneath the dark
A further adventure of colour.

The sound of your voice
Found for us
A new music
That brightened everything.

Whatever you enfolded in your gaze
Quickened in the joy of its being; 
You placed smiles like flowers
On the altar of the heart. 
Your mind always sparkled 
With wonder at things.

Though your days here were brief, 
Your spirit was live, awake, complete.

We look towards each other no longer
From the old distance of our names; 
Now you dwell inside the rhythm of breath, 
As close to us as we are to ourselves.

Though we cannot see you with outward eyes, 
We know our soul’s gaze is upon your face, 
Smiling back at us from within everything
To which we bring our best refinement.

Let us not look for you only in memory, 
Where we would grow lonely without you. 
You would want us to find you in presence, 
Beside us when beauty brightens, 
When kindness glows
And music echoes eternal tones.

When orchids brighten the earth, 
Darkest winter has turned to spring; 
May this dark grief flower with hope
In every heart that loves you.

May you continue to inspire us:

To enter each day with a generous heart. 
To serve the call of courage and love
Until we see your beautiful face again
In that land where there is no more separation, 
Where all tears will be wiped from our mind, 
And where we will never lose you again.

Friday, May 01, 2009

John O’ Donohue

When one flower blooms, spring awakens everywhere.

Two books that I have read again and again, treasuring them close to my heart are Anam Cara and Eternal Echoes, written by John O’ Donohue. These books revealed Celtic mysticism and spirituality in a very simple but poetic English. I discovered them on my visits to the British Council Library three years back and was enthralled by the beauty of the words and thoughts in them. In my earlier blog, I had put extracts from both the books as well. Now, I find that O’ Donohue died sometime in January 2008. 

Strangely I read some more Celtic poems after discovering this amazing writer. His writings have comforted me at that time, though I do not remember the exact words. Surprisingly his New Year Blessing, I took this year as my guiding words for the year, on the front page of my personal diary. As a tribute to such an unknown but helpful soul, I’m posting his own poem in my blog. May your words inspire and comfort many, loving soul! 

Pensiamento Fantastico: The Kitchen God’s Wife

Amy Tan’s novels serve as cultural documents that describe the immigrant experience in terms of communality and identity. They con...