“Wrapped in your Presence”
I’m sitting on your Rattan chair in our balcony,
viewing over a dozen earthen potted plants –
ceramic ones have now lost their colourful charm
yet regaled by intermittent chirps of varied birds.
A wind chime on which sits a metal bumble bee –
has gone silent now in the still, early May air,
but the crows, pigeons and varied feathers chirp
aggressively – questioning why you’re not there!
I listen to distinct voices now – of mynas, pigeons
and god knows who else among your friends –
as one by one they come in view then fly away,
marking attendance – as in essence you’re there.
Always the teacher and principal till the end of life,
students loved you – plants, birds, and househelp
who you tended to with a gardener’s vigilant air –
in it an airplane passes low as if bearing your smile.
A black pedestal fan, I’d ordered for this balcony
as April brought in gusts of warm Calcutta air,
also to give you company as you sat here daylong:
he stoically awaits you – it’s a year since you left.
There’s a light, cool and soothing breeze now,
but not enough to tingle a mourning wind chime –
who’s watching me with the clock reading 8am,
knowing I can sit here in your presence till night.
“My Guiding Star”
Mom, you’re the Best, because…
Whenever I needed you, you were there,
Whether or not I asked for your hand;
You have always been the Guiding Star-
Shining on me from wherever you are.
You always urged me to go that extra mile
To ensure my future is wrapped in a smile;
Who I’m today, is because you were there –
Nudging me, when my mind wasn’t made up.
After often prodding me - right over the top,
You ensured you were there to cushion my fall:
If it was not for your firm, propelling hand –
As an Oyster, I might have remained in my shell.
“One’s work is what will count,” you always said,
“Beauty regimes, fashion, can be done without.”
You’d say to me, “Never ever neglect your duties –
Good things will then come to you automatically.”
Whenever in life’s race I felt I couldn’t carry on-
Holding my hand, alongside you ran along:
When the baton in exasperation I’ve dropped,
Picking it up, you’ve ensured I just did not stop.
Integrity, strength, and values you inculcated in me;
A sense of duty, confidence and self-discipline:
Whenever in life’s journey I may begin to slip,
It’s your teachings every time I will mentally flip.
All your efforts Mother, may they not go in vain –
My success in life, is what then will be your gain.
Truly fortunate I have always been throughout life,
An excellent coach, and role model in you to find.
for my Mother, Dr. Mahamaya Chowdhury.
PS: several short stories in my book ‘Existences’ depict my mother as coach and role model. The 2nd poem here is from my first poetry collection ‘Fragments’.
Ma (Mahamaya Chowdhury) retired at the age of 60, at the end of Sept 2000, as Principal of a teachers training college in Kolkata – after a long career as lecturer in Gwalior – Jiwaji University, and then Delhi University for about 8 years each.
Incidentally, just after she passed a year ago, on Ma’s desk, I found the handwritten rough draft of a very pertinent speech now — Ma had made on the passing away of someone, as a college student in Gwalior — at the same institution that she went on to be a lecturer in the next year.
These profound thoughts reflect her spiritual perspectives even as a young woman. And ironically, what she would have wanted to say to me just now from the other world.
“Good evening, my honourable teachers, affectionate brothers and sisters. I take the privilege on behalf of my class M.P.E (final) to speak a few words to you.
Every one of you seems to be thinking that it’s a sad occasion, but let us not mind. If one does not create the place, the others cannot fill in. If every one of us is to exist forever, this world would have been a horrible place to live in. Nothing is lost as the scientists believe, so do I. I am an optimist, why should we sit and cry.
As Shakespeare said, “This world is a stage and we all are actors and actresses.” So we must act our role well.
I do not know whether we have acted our part well or not, that judgement is not in our hands – it’s unto your audience to decide. And as to what standard of finished product we are going to be – the outer world will judge by seeing our work.
One piece of advice to you, it’s not a bookish idea – it’s what I have learnt in my life. This world is a two way process, we cannot demand from our fellow human beings when we do not give anything to them.
This world is what we make and it is upto us to live to the standard.
…it’s continued in more pages
by Mahamaya Chowdhury – 1965/66 LNCPE, Jiwaji University, Gwalior
Dedicating my post along with my story from the literary magazine Himal Southasian, also in my book Existences, for all mothers of the world, today…https://www.himalmag.com/a-doctor-story-shuvashree-chowdhury/?fbclid=IwAR38eVaUVJbWZiDHvurXX8FQ4KMaG3Eg4qaeU4E-VlsejEOdY2ekeVMmwmI
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