A Collection

A Collection long poem

Photo by Infomastern

I’ m kohl dark,
darker than darkness,
my skin, coarse and dirty,
disturbs you.
but you say dark is beautiful!
you are “correct”!
although I smile,
it’s painful.
And you get up and go
the moment I sit next to your skin!
This writer’s wife!

After being with you through it
page after page after page
of parallel emotions, moods and pains,
the book arrives.
At the reading
they ask,
do you give him coffee after coffee after coffee?
do you read his work?
(do you understand/ know anything?)…..
I smile. how would they know?
Then the agent comes to me and says,
you can sit and collect all the money!
I’ m shocked. is that all I am?!


Some pictures from the past

The refugee colony

There’s a window
I can see through it.
The colony is busy the whole day
There’s a ‘danki’ in the middle
women are filling water
there’s a row of buckets and pots waiting

Bapuji is cleaning his teeth
he’s very noisy as he gargles and spits
Ba, inside the kitchen is busy too
she has to feed her family of fifteen and more

Bhagvati, the eldest daughter,
just married, is waiting outside
she has just come back
she is crying
she doesn’t want t go back.
bapuji shouts at her
and ba cries
“They pushed her under the cot and beat her!”

A couple of stray dogs

There’s a dilapidated bungalow
they call it ‘gandanu’ bungalow’
mad men’s bungalow
they have small faces
I wonder why
children bring drinking water from there
why are they mad?

There’s a sand pit on one side
there are children playing there

At night it is pitch dark
not a sound
they are outside
with blankets covering their heads.
the colony sleeps.
They forget for a while
‘We ran from karachi to safety.’

A small figure, small face, small eyes behind thick glasses,
all smile always, that was her, all love and care.
she made nimbu pani from the lemon she plucked from her tree
she made biskuts and mouth- watering gulabjamuns
but she hid someone in the room behind
‘don’t disturb him,’ she said, ‘let him sleep.’
I never asked who that was.

(that was someone prom lahore or punjab)

she was huge
and filled the doorway!
she had a loud voice too.
every evening
she boiled milk to thickness
then she called all her children
one by one
to drink.
Ammooma always had a huge bindi on her forehead

she loved making sweets for all of us
but made a mess in the process
‘bring this vessel, that vessel,’ she said
as she sat in the middle of them all
no one dared to comment on her sweets
she was giving out of love, better eat it!

Ceaseless rains, no school,
cool breeze outside
I sit on the steps
little plants flutter
the grasses have sunken into the new pools
more rains, more breeze,
a distant thunder,
all those silent trees are wet and dark,
a couple of wet ones stick their heads out,
then a loud thunderbolt
and a downpour once again!

I stretch myself on the couch
I’ve nothing to do
I can read, doze off or fall asleep
there’s pounding in the backyard
some chillies for grandma’s pickles
a mango drops crushing the leaves below
a squirrel runs up the tree
nothing else moves
that afternoon!

birthdays have smells
of new clothes, jewellery, feast…..
krishna is dressed especially for me
he’s smiling to wish me
the temple smells are great
of flowers, sandal, oil and camphor
the best is yet to come i feel
the whole day!

Grandpa’s pet elephant
a she elephant
moved her ears like fans
swung her trunk
ate large balls of rice
bathed spraying water fountain from her trunk
ate bunches of plantains, coconuts and jaggery……

one day she died

grandpa stayed in his bed and cried for two days
that was the last pet he had!

don’t prepare
I know you do
your tired eyes speak volumes
and you drag your legs to walk
I don’t care and I do
your presence matters
that’s all
don’t make me cry today
I’ll die a thousand times more
without you!

my krishna
though blue
is no stone –
he came in the rain
all covered and wet
a gift, a packet of love.

one gaze, there,
in the temple,
draws millions.

like cattle, we move,
for one small glimpse,
getting pushed and shoved.

but he’s no stone,
I tell you.
that one second is enough
he’s in your heart.

but here,
at home,
he gives me time.

I adore him,
change his clothes,
he sits on my lap,
a baby, I give him fruit and honey,
he smiles
and behaves like a doll!
I cuddle him

but both there
and here
he talks to me
without words
and tells me-
it’s time now,
I’m there

my blue stone!


Mother is here
watch her in silence
her nose ring is shining in the dark
the lamp is being lit
then the incense and camphor
there are flowers and garlands for her
isn’t she beautiful?!
now the sweets, honey, raisins. .. for her
she loves them all
now the songs for her
she loves music and dance too
let me offer myself
she’s all love and protection!

She said,
Look at the neem tree,
It flowers at the peak of summer!
I looked up.
Yes, they are smiling,
Heads up, facing the harsh bright sun!
Not a single leaf moves.

I remember them,
Father and mother.
He, a thin figure with a cap,
his shirt clinging to his frailness,
exhausted, taking long strides.
And she, sweating, anxious, waiting,
Having toiled long
In those cubicles of despair,
Sweating out her soul!

Where were we, then?

Again she said, breaking the silence,
Then it rains somewhere,
And our river beds brim
To say, when we bear, you receive!

How shall I ever return?!
I have only received!
And, they’ve become gods!
I can only fall at their feet!

God, let me like the neem tree.

I watch my face grow ugly
In the tiny hidden mirror
Looming large in front of me.
I try hiding my face,
But I see coils of prickly thorns!
My tears taste of a mixture of acids
Burning my mouth and intestines.
Every sunrise I watch the birds fly
I have been standing here long!

My grandmother’s house, huge,
Has pillars and corners,
Dark and haunted.
There are thousands of voices,
Thousands of smells,
Alive and breathing.
Ancient presence
On the damp walls.
Far away
Through the huge windows
Stands the moon against the mango tree.
let me be me
now, my friend,
my soul has to fly today.
you brought those magical days back,
let me breathe.

thunder showers,
our voices drown in the rain
and we laugh,
wet, with books and all,
(we dried our books under the fan!)….

now, after all these years,
you open this door,
and tell me,
I’ve changed.
but you haven’t,
one bit!

So many summers!
So many songs!
In scorching heat
On mango trees
Lazy afternoons
We grind the fresh green henna leaves
I hear the pounding
Smells of chilli powder and pickles
And hot sun
All quiet
A mango falls
Fresh sweet juicy mango
I crush those dry brown leaves
Not a single leaf moves
Not a sound

On top, a few wings flutter
They peck on those half- eaten left-overs
A flash of a tail
It runs down

Endless afternoons
Never-ending summer

Then one day
They gang up
Those dark grey rolling sacks and bundles
A gusty wind blows
The tree tops shake
More mangoes fall,
The very last of them
All those dryness scatter and fly aimless

They are coming
This is the beginning
The dust rises and scatter
More leaves fly
Then the smell of dampness
The earth smell, and gentle rain

How much I have longed for this!
So many so many summers!

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Geeta Varma

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Now a writer, still struggling. Have been a journalist and a teacher. Love music and the Himalayas. Lived in different parts of India. Married to a writer. Have two sons and a daughter-in-law (more a daughter, new and ready made). I also have a brother and a sister, and four lovely nieces, a nephew son and a little grand niece. I live with my mother and my mother-in-law. All are book-lovers.
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Viswas Menon

very nice collection


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