To New Beginnings: Nature’s prelude to Diwali…photos are of this morning!
A seamless blanket of fluffy white clouds –
as of crocheted white patches of floating cotton:
formed a gauze to swathe the wounded world,
still aggrieved and suffering from the coronavirus.
A cool breeze kissed my face – a balm for souls,
lavishly applied by fleets of birds, assuaging hurt
from rejections, defeat, betrayals, loss of trust –
also poverty, disease, or cyclones playing havoc.
Soft sunlight ushered in rays of benign hope,
through sieves of formidable white gauze-clouds,
as hibiscus, champa, myriad flowers bloomed
to birds chirping – as loud bells at temple doors!
#diwali #clouds #poetry #new-beginning # positivity #sunrise #hibiscus #photography #kolkata #autumn
Over dinner at the restaurant, at its ‘Happy Hour’,
we were jubilant to say the least – on Margaritas:
At a price of two we got four – ordered four more,
yet cointreau, lime juice, Tequila – a perfect mix.
Dislodging slices of lemon, from the glasses rim –
tasting salt on it, we gently squeeze lime juice in:
ingredients shaken well with ice, tingles tongues
spiced up with prawns, lamb, also fish n chips.
Our conversation light with drizzles of sadness –
to thaw frozen hearts it takes not many cocktails:
Stirring your soul where the past is a hurricane –
like lava hurt melts overflowing a brim of reason.
Night after we return for the ‘Happy Hour’ bonus –
they run out of cointreau to our disenchantment,
but as wells of sadness haven’t yet exhausted,
to infuse in it joy we opt for eight Mojitos instead.
#worldpoetryday #poetry #love #sadness #happiness #margaritas #mojito #dinner #loveandlife
“Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one’s head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no to-morrow. To forget time, to forget life, to be at peace.” — Oscar Wilde, The Canterville Ghost
The nurse woke me up at seven this morning,
though to my phone alarm I’d already arisen:
so I may shower, dress, and be ready by 9 am –
to be trolleyed to a theatre for the operation.
Mildly sedated the night before so I sleep well,
I am fresh and mindful of my every move now:
though not a droplet can I drink since waking,
nor a bite of food did I intake past ten at night.
It’s a bright sunny morning outside my window,
yet there isn’t a spring in my heart, step or voice:
A solemn calm pervades my soul prepared to die –
like in films – convicts in readying to be hanged.
I brushed, looking outside a wall-to-wall window –
as if a painting of a tree by a multicoloured house:
Two nurses walked in-and-out readying my room,
laying out a starched white backless surgery gown.
I showered breathing slowly, conscious of my form –
in bathing a dead woman before her funeral sojourn:
Drying my hair, I shrouded in a white hospital gown,
to lie in view of a sky that’d be – even when I’m gone.
Wheeled on a bed – down the corridor and into a lift,
conscious of each turn I shut my eyes looking within:
Would my soul grief in not returning on these aisles?
I realise there’s no regtret – I’ve made peace with life!
Ouside an OT they dial my mother, sister, two friends –
with each on video chat – I realise how detached I am:
Like it didn’t matter if I were never to see anyone again –
I’ve given everything I had to give, to every relationship.
Shielded in a sky-blue blanket they peeled off my gown;
the writer in me shut eyes after a mindful look around:
Then the only sensation I was aware of was biting cold,
like I had sat up on my death bed on a thick slab of ice.
I knew for sure I wasn’t going to die, my mind’s strong –
shutting off life was just my soul’s defence mechanism:
A test of spirituality, after living every moment of life;
the fighter in me would survive – I’ve unfinished tasks.
Anaesthesia overriding – took over the baton of my life –
passing it on to the expert surgeon and team to resolve:
First thing I profess floating up to life – is searing pain;
soft sunlight on my face – in baby pink suit I feel reborn.
“Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a” torrent of light into our dark world.” — Mary Shelley
“Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.” ―Ernest Hemingway
PS: I had this experience, on the 15th of October 2019.
Yet it took me almost two weeks to be able to put it into this flow of words…Only when experinces and ensuing thoughts are left to cool off, can they be written dispassionately. As I tend to with life’s experinces, as a responsible writer, I had to first step back, heal the physical pain, then let the thoughts process in my mind…
After a city tour, also Ashoka Pillar, Thai temple, Stupa at Sarnath,
to which we added the Banaras Hindu University’s campus –
including the new Vishwanath temple – that students frequent:
we reached the Ganges at Assi Ghat, after the arati had commenced.
A number of young women rushed to us – as a swarm of locusts;
buzzing around – into making us buy their last leaf boats with diyas
of candle – that lit, along with flowers and incense are floated –
by those seeking to make a solemn wish, or purely in reverence.
After offerings to Ganges, we hired a motorboat for a long ride –
which would be tough on a rowboat in high tide – at this time:
to go past ghats lining Banaras – ending its enhanced facade at Rajghat,
painting an exquisite sight over the canvas of balmy dimming sky.
Glittering silhouettes of ghats, distinct in architectural constructs –
breezed by as if in a motion picture we might be viewing from our car,
in an amphitheatre or at a drive-in open-air theatre complex:
titles extoled on the horizon, rousing images of the ghat’s heritages.
A jarring motor sound disrupted the quiet, barring conversation,
over that insects hounded us – attacking our faces, hands and neck:
yet they couldn’t diminish the exquisiteness and bliss of these flashes –
as we focused on relishing every moment – in spite of life’s deterrents.
The Banaras Hindu University’s front facade…from our car, as we’re leaving.
The floating diya…
Happiness does not depend on what you have in life – it is the ability to condition your mind to the state of contentment inspite of your external circumstances. Such that those who see your smiles may be sceptic of the cause behind it as they cannot have it – inspite of everything that they think they have more than you do.
The surest way to find happiness, is in first having a personal vision for your life even if it is to be the ‘best’ mother or house wife… and setting goals to achieve that vision, such that climbing every rung envelops you in the essence of achievement and contentment.
Without a spiritual bent of mind, by dwelling in shallow and frivolous thoughts, and looking at other’s aspirations and weighing their ability to achieve them – you can never find the light towards real happiness.
If you allow your smiles to be dependent on your children’s successes, your loyal and doting wife/husband’s ability to get you whatever you want, your financial situation and lifestyle – your smile can never emanate from your depths. The happiest moment then will only be fleeting as a butterflies life, for profound and constant happiness – is deep rooted within yourself and emanates only from your “self” esteem.
Don’t rely on anyone else for your happiness and self-worth. Only you can be responsible for that. If you can’t love and respect yourself – no one else will be able to make that happen. Accept who you are – the good and the bad – and make changes – not because you think someone else wants you to be different.
Once you become fearless and habituated to standing close to the edge, from years of practice, you don’t really care about the threats, baseless fears, inferiority complex and insecurities of those who preach from their limited exposure and shallow thinking. You would rather fall and learn newer lessons each time, than allow their negativity and pessimism restrict your thinking, even if they like to construe – your self confidence that can only come from having taken that dive so often to successfully surface and swim back to shore – as arrogance and irresponsible behavior.
— Shuvashree Chowdhury
“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.”
— Dale Carnegie
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
— Thich Nhat Hanh
My cottage in the green woods is
made of mud and pine wood, it’s
nestled in the crook of tall ferns
and a variety of thick green bush.
To the right side is a clearing in
the woods – drops sharply into a
deep ravine, over which sunlight
creeping uphill – stealthily sneaks
past my ethnic Bhutanese – blue
and red blinds, waking me at five.
I am now sitting at my doorstep –
the topmost of a five stone stairs
where the cool breeze is floating
with haze, and caressing my face.
I listen raptly to piercing whistles
intermittently from atop the Fern
and Cypress, amid diverse chirping
of mixt birds hidden from my sight –
Perhaps sitting on branches astride:
Noting, envying my solitary delight.
I can still hear the rain pattering
on red and green ridged tin rooftops –
against silhouettes of mountainous forests
in varied lush tones of emerald.
Grey clouds are soaring skyward, as fog
steadily descends: between clouds
and fog a magnificent light bursts-
illuminating the land of thunder dragons.
Ink-blue sky peeps intermittently below
the grey clouds right through the splendid light:
Even as rain stops and fog creates a halo over
the stupa’s many tiered golden roofs.
A man or two in tartan brown and black Gho
have descended onto the washed streets,
as a woman in a purple silk Kira walks by my window
cautiously, as do cars ascending a light-swathed valley.
In the distance I see grey peaks, white peaks
that are etched out in thick smog,
as clouds through them hop in and out in turns –
as if characters playing their part for a live audience.
The green wood’s stage irradiated as if by Arclight
is visible in fog, also mud-tracks on hills in the backdrop:
as hearts in ‘the land of happiness’ – Bhutan illumined
by spirituality: are unfazed by anguished deluges.
It was at twelve-thirty of a late June day
with light showers through the sun’s soft rays,
we set out to climb on foot – the narrow, steep
mountainous trail at Paro’s heart:
driving past her white-pebble lined arterial river Pachu –
that flows eloquently through her rustic
frame, is then flanked by flower-lined cottages
and bridges – on uphill picturesque paths.
After peering over numerous handicraft
stalls displaying mostly stone-jewellery
of every colour and form, under the wood,
and tin canopied shopping enclave –
we crossed it to step on to the narrow, rarely used trail:
foregoing the broader, safer, beaten track –
people climb on colourfully dressed ponies
or trudge uphill – to reach the fog draped
mysterious cliff: At 3,120 ft. above sea level –
that cradling Bhutan’s holiest monastery
majestically beckons one to its amorous heart.
Wanting to save on time, we’ve risked
a tedious climb, as our group of six –
of four local Bhutanese youth comprise:
who’d take us up in two hours by a short-cut
instead of the ascertained three to four hours –
reaching us well before the monastery gates
close at five – barring us from the peace
of the sanctum we seek; relieving our sins
as popularly believed – through the toil
of the wearying, challenging climb.
I was excited over the first few yards, by
the picturesque view of dainty bridges, tiny stupas,
also varied Rhododendron around hill-water crests
from which by the hand-full we thirstily drank:
till a colourfully saddled, rider-less horse –
came gawkily strutting downhill;
with his coir reins in his front hoof entangling –
he ensnared my attention, wilting my heart
with his helpless plight, to trot off straddling my steady breath –
to gasp terminally the rest of the precipitous
climb; a native girl by hand, sturdily lugging me up.
After a three hour climb and a half-hour halt
in steady drizzle – once Tiger Nest’s white stone walls,
golden tiered roofs are visible: our Bhutanese friends
now in respect drape their Gho and Kira
the traditional dress: as I bid my last dash of strength
to press on, though my breath soon threatens to desist
on the final 350 steep stone steps – on which
the air is so sharply thin and crisp
I gasp ominously – alarmed it’s my Death Whistle!
Once inside the temple, as if floating between life
and death, I bow my head to the floor to Guru Rinpoche –
the patron sage, and this manifestations: till I interpret ‘nirvana’
on viewing the mystical glow on Buddha’s striking golden face.
Oh My God
A close friend never ceases to tell me that all the struggles in my life are due to my not being religious, that I don’t say prayers or perform a puja daily. He has been consistently advocating my visit to a religious guru who he claims is a god-man, and on meeting whom monthly, he gets the blessings and the support of the almighty God. A few months back, this friend in all concern also went to the extent of gifting me a diya (brass lamp) and a pre-recorded player with various chants like the Gayatri mantra, the Hanuman chalisa and other varied Hindu prayer forms. Initially scared into subservience by his words of the power of God, I prepared the wicks to the multi-faced diya and lit it every evening to the sound of a prayer-chant in the background. But it was just a few days before I abandoned the lighting of the diya and resumed my normal tête-à-têtes with God, like I had been having since a child.
My first encounter with God to my conscious memory was as a non-baptised Catholic at the boarding school I went to, before the age of five. I was first introduced to Jesus and Mother Mary, at the grotto at the school garden on the day of my admission, followed by the regular attendance of Mass two to three times weekly at the chapel and compulsorily at the parish church on Sunday. In time, I learnt all about St. Joseph and other Christian saints along with their strengths. I even enrolled at the school choir a few years and recall praying to St. Anthony- on learning he helped to communicate your wishes to Jesus faster. I also learnt the difference between Catholic and Protestant churches and practises, as I went to a Protestant boarding high-school.
I had been taken to Hindu temples much before I joined school and to Puja’s by my Hindu parents, but these were cursory visits which resulted merely in my ability to identify common Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Thereafter, with the strong Christian influence in my life year round at school, temple and festival-puja visits during vacations were like excursions. I recall my mother did her daily puja at home before the deities placed on a pedestal at a designated place in the house and it seemed that her praying was enough for the rest of the family. She always brought the diya over to where we were and with her hand over the flame brought its warmth over my head as well as that of my father and sister, thereby invoking God’s blessings on us.
Through all my years at school, even while visiting church or temple, I would communicate with God through the day that is chit-chat with him mentally. I always referred to him as God, irrespective of who I was visiting, not Jesus, Mother Mary, Krishna, Kali, Prophet Mohammed or Allah- whom I didn’t as yet have much awareness about till I went to college. I recall kneeling at the school Chapel pews over Mass or joining my hands in prayer at temples and praying to ‘God’ at both places but only cursorily, as I knew I could talk to him anytime I wanted later. Churches and temples are where I bowed down to God in subservience, but the rest of the day or night he was my friend.
Till this day I talk to God, like he were my best friend. I know he loves to test me more than most people, and I believe it’s because he knows I can endure it and will only get stronger from it. I can never think of going to a god-man or to a priest to ask him to take my prayers to God, though a number of my friends have suggested that like them I visit ashrams and spiritual gurus or attend courses like The Art of Living etc. to find the stairway to God. But in my own humble way I would like to find the stairway to God myself, through my own awakening.
Sometimes I even take God for granted, like I would a close friend. I curse him when I’m angry with him, then make up with him when I’ve cooled down and again ask him to help me, but I never forget to thank him when things go well. He dwells in me and I communicate with him anytime, anywhere and everywhere. I would never consider indulging in rituals like drowning shiv-ling’s in milk, shaving my head, squandering money on priests to appease God, yet on occasion I visit temples, churches and even Dargas, to let him know that I have the humility to go and bow down to him. Though he is my friend and dwells in me and everything around me, he is my creator and I acknowledge that.