A Late Winter Evening

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A late winter evening

silence falling

with frost ghostly

on roads wet, cold, empty

pit-a-pat

unceasing.

Mist on my window panes

hazy, scary, uneasy

time, hungry, lies crouching

outside,

but for the comforting tick-tock

of the old wall-clock

that keeps a different time

inside.

 

Wooden doors, glass windows, thick curtains all drawn,

the dull yellow glow of my room lamp warm,

carpet below my feet soft.

 

A room heater glows ruddy

cheerful and busy,

a glowing ember

stolen from the sun,

one day –

larky, flappy, sunny and blue skied,

long-long ago.

Gurgles like water,

steaming and bubbling,

kept on stove at my grandma’s

for long evening teas

when life was a long winter vacation homely

. . . long-long ago.

 

Wisps of vapour

curling out of the red-tea

in my big mug

languorously,

two biscuits of Marie, lightly sweet,

A reward for one more day-long battle against time

so bitter, so challenging, so scary.

 

One more nameless day,

Of the thousands more

that I want to live

before I bid good-bye

(hungry me!)

with it’s nameless battles, toils, heartbreaks over,

contused but unconquered

I sit –

recollecting, reconnecting, releafing,

listening to the frost falling on my window panes

pitapat unending,

I sit –

on the armchair aging with me

curled up in my old shawl

that still smells of warm winters at my grandma’s

when life was a long long winter vacation – unending.

 

The child who never knew

of the future battles

fast approaching

that she would choose to fight,

long after life ceased to be a vacation

lilaced and larky;

and of the winter evenings

she would snatch away

from the clutches of time

that would lie

all night

crouching, waiting, hungry outside

while she releafed and healed inside

and the old clock chimed a time

that would live –

sunny, lilaced, larky, flappy, and blue-skied,

a long time hence.

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One cold winter morning, I heard the sun knocking at my window

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The night had not left my warm bed yet, and the morning sun still lay hidden behind the thick curtain of morning mist. I sat wrapped in my old easy chair, with a rather late cup of morning tea when I heard someone whispering very softly and suddenly – from behind the misty window panes – a golden river of warm morning sun came flooding, rippling, sparking in, lighting the darkness in my room. And the window glass panes suddenly seemed to melt into a golden flame and . . . I smiled!

14.12.15

Autumn Diaries – III: With full moon, Autumn’s first cycle, “Kwaanr”, Begins in India . . .

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With sun-splashed glittering mornings and moon-washed sleepless nights, autumn has begun its first beautiful cycle, “Kwaanr”. As I strolled in my garden last night after dinner, I saw my old Harsingar shrub laden with tender white buds. I heard its sun-stemmed white buds opening softly to offer their fragrance to the full moon. I post here a photo from the last year of tender Harsingar flowers that seem to have thick silken threads of sun woven into saffron stems that glow:

i collected these harsingars from my garden in the morningI spent some quiet hours in my garden today in the dew-decked hours of  the morning and took a few photographs: Continue reading

Autumn Diaries – I

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No, it is not autumn yet but the sun is already yellowing like the big crisp leaves on my wild old Saal in September used to, before it was felled. Afternoons have become thicker, like a big spoonful of sun dissolved in a glass of water, quieter like the fisherman who sits for hours on the riverbank with his bait, and as clear as mama’s savory broth cooked on low flame. Afternoons are already lazing out under huge shady Molshree trees with their favorite autumnal pastimes on their laps, holidaying after months of stormy turmoil. Their long sabbatical is about to begin and will continue till winter drudgeries begin. Yes, I can smell it in the gentleness of the air, I can feel it – on my skin and inside me, I can hear it in the soft rustling of the Amaltas leaves, I can see it everywhere around me – the air carries its faint notes and golden dust – autumn is coming! I post here a photo of Saal in bloom:

WP_20150912_14_41_44_ProAutumn in India is different – quite different. It is the season of poised quietness and serene mellowness. Mornings are never more benign and chaste, afternoon ditties never more languorous and unhurried, and full moon never more magical and nearer in any other part of the year. This is the season for all the idle books that you kept locked in your shelf the whole year for an ideal time. No harsh winds, no jarring cacophonies, no disquieting anxieties, and no feverish excitements that get on your nerves – it is the time of the year I most eagerly wait for. It is the season of healing, of calm recovery, of rediscovering your inner ‘self’ – the time to recuperate and revive.

a pre-autumn late morning in my verandahAutumn is not restless, capricious, and youthful like spring, it is gentle, kind, and slow in movement, and in its mellowness, it somehow always gets linked up with the memories of my old grandma who I remember for her simple wisdom and kindness. Vicissitudes of life had given her that mellow wisdom which only comes and ripens with age. I remember my Grandma’s home – time somehow always seemed to slow down over there, afternoons became longer, unhasting wafts of breeze from the river slower and evening tea lazier. No sickening hurry to reach somewhere, no anxieties to fulfill assignments of daily routine, autumn is the ideal time for vacations. Just a pot of tea simmering over stove, a motionless blue hornbill sitting unflustered on the high end of the garden fence and an autumn-washed sky that is never more azure and deeper in any other part of the year – autumn conjures up so many enchanting images.

1a14279be374677f98afc8632e2b1753We call it ‘Sharad’ here in India – the season of festivals. Life dresses up for quaint fiestas to remember the victory of truth. Every town, every village, every corner of the nation welcomes and celebrates the season in its own charming little way. College and schools close down for weeklong folk theatricals called ‘Ramleelaa’ and colorful and musical local night-processions called “Dal”. People clean their house, paint new patterns on mud-mopped walls, and burn the evil “Ravana” to mark the victory of Ram. Here is a photo of a typical Raamleela show:

456144514I have some of the most beautiful memories of my childhood and my school days associated with this season. Yes, it is the time for “autumn vacations”. Nothing in this part of the year can force me to work and nothing can disappoint me more than some unavoidable compulsion placed by time to part with it. And when I see so many people rushing past that brooding old bench over there – under the singing trees of sun-drenched Saal, just where the road bends, I feel sorry. They do not have the ears to listen to its jingling autumnal melodies, they do not have the eyes to see the gold in the air, they do not have the heart to feel its radiant goodness.

  benchTake a day out for an evening stroll on the quiet riverbanks – you will see tall Kaans in wild bloom – huge feather-like grasses that surge like sea-froth after the rains stop. Here is a photo of Kaans in bloom:

2923995684_4ef12d8d9eThis is the first part of my Autumn diaries. Hope you will not miss the second part i am presently working on, which seeks to explore select paintings and photographs that communicate the soul of this beautiful season.

I would love to hear from you some tales of this season, how it blesses your part of the world. Do drop in your enriching comments and experiences.

Do Come to My Home this Summer!

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Our guest room in late morning hours welcomes sunrays but not the heat. you can sit  and have the most beautiful daydreams here. Image

You can feel a silent summer charm in this dark and green room. Temperatures are soaring high, out there in the open, but this more than a century old room says, “do not worry!” Continue reading

One afternoon I kept all my work aside . . .

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Do you know what afternoon langour truly is? Have you ever experienced it? Come to my room, but softly, you may break it in your hurry – see, it is a golden afternoon – golden and green in its glassy silence that is echoing with the muted afternoon chirping of birds that are weaving their nests outside under thick green bushes. these tender green bushes seem to be taking their afternoon nap under the shade of sun-drenched trees that are singing their age-old afternoon ditties that few notice now. But i have come to love them so deeply that one note on the string anywhere and i can tell what it is. My grandma knew them too; she knew so many of them. What a happy woman she was! But she passed away and the songs she knew passed away with her too. Well, who has time for all that now?  It is a busy and complicated world. The ambitious middle-class is a captive of its market-driven ambition and aspiration and the hard-pressed labouring class of its sorry conditions. silenceMy old house stands today surrounded by a neo-rich poplulation that looks like an oasis in a desert to me. And this middle class demands so much from life today – status has to be maintained at any cost. But i remember my grandparents never knew of all this. They were happy with their old furnitures and old style of life. Few new things could find their way into their old house. Simplicity has become a thing of past friends.

It is a long and thick afternoon, poised delicately bmy windowetween winter and summer. As these fleeting golden afternoon hours slowly vanish forever and the busy birds build their nests and the trees sing on this beautiful day of spring – i know, totally deaf and blind towards all this, all the ‘business’men who dwell in this predatory jungle of concrete, must be busy with their everyday round of files and documents in their offices or shops and their women either dozing off the golden noon in marbel-floored and heavily curtained rooms or watching some soap on their bed and the young ones preparing for life-extracting examinations; and believe me, none of them will ever live life – none of them would ever know the divine song of life. But i have decided to listen to all of them, to listen to them and live my life with simplicity and modesty in their honour.