Fire

IMG_20170321_221454_728.jpg

“We are all born with a divine fire in us. Our efforts should be to give wings to this fire and fill the world with the glow of its goodness.”

APJ Abdul Kalam, Wings of Fire

Stepping Up

IMG_20170609_121147_788.jpg

It was one of those turbulent days when you forget that rubbing your eyes this hard could possibly leave you with no lashes, when the comfort of your bed makes an unreasonable case escaping responsibility, when the present is hazed by a head full of voices of past mistakes and a heart curdling with the uncertainty of the future. In that moment, you look up and find the stillness and streaks of light you yearned for within you. You pick up the monster machine lying under your pillow and let some of this light in through its lens. This moment is crucial, for after that, you close your eyes for a minute, step up, and step out of bed.

To small victories, each day.

Roots

IMG_20170521_193749_969.jpg

Try to wash the dirt off my leaves,
The sun would make the drops fly,
Brown would coagulate,
And then you’d sigh.
Green would sprout
With an outward brightness,
An inward progress, shining loud,
Only if you water my roots
That burrow far from the hyped cloud…

 

Swim

jacob-walti-447 (1).jpg

“This summer I went swimming,
This summer I might have drowned
But I held my breath and I kicked my feet
And I moved my arms around…”

Loudon Wainwright III, Swimming Song 

Pain

thought-catalog-217861

“The pain is smart enough to poet out a space, where bruises are verse and rhymes are moans, over and over again.”

Tiffany McDaniel, The Summer that Melted Everything

Click here to follow me on Goodreads. Read my review here.

Madness

IMG_20170416_105634_730

What is this strange thing that occludes her insides
Like dried paint in small, old glass bottles,
Solid and unmoving,
Its cracks making a case for the time it’s been left undisturbed
And unwanted.
This feeling within her of worms gnawing
At a surface she can’t smear with make up
Or hide under a fort of pillows.
This action spurting out of her
Seeming like a storm flying makeshift roofs off a slum.
All these shadows dancing around her,
Trying to convince her that they don’t need light to exist.
What is this madness
Keeping her from all she’s capable of,
From all she could fight and become.
All they are too ignorant to see.
And she,
She’s too tired to try.
All she does is fall,
Doze off, forget,
Looking for an ouster at the very outset.

Compromise

IMG_20170314_233113_926

Bugs,
I’ve let them colonise,
Harbour inside,
Create their own paradise.
Words,
I hear hollow advice,
They’re cold water,
To my wounds,
I taste the lies.
Mirrors
Bring to light
My spots and lines,
Cut, seep, squeeze out
Demons mine.
Darkness
Guzzles my mind
In one swig,
Clear and precise.
There’s no out,
Just in,
So I smile,
Learn to live
With these sighs.

Exploring Delhi: Humayun’s Tomb

IMG-20170322-WA0020

Those walls
Resting on symmetry
Climb up to a bulbous head
And finials reaching out
To a clear firmament.
Those walls
With holes and crevices
Let light in
And shine it out
Out of those rooms
Full of stories and sounds.
Those walls
Of rust red tombs
With six-pointed stars set in sandstone
Chipping away
Living on.

IMG_20170328_203807

Humayun’s Tomb was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1993, and has undergone extensive restoration work since.

One fine day, a friend and I were idle, magically, at the same time, and we decided to head to Humayun’s Tomb, the mausoleum of the Mughal emperor Humayun built in the 16th century in Delhi. What ensued was a realisation about how we often overlook the beauty of our own city while hankering for escapes to outstation destinations. A wondrous escape was right here, under our proverbial noses!

IMG_20170323_091732_427

We reached the main tomb enclosure after passing several smaller monuments that adorn the path leading up to it. It was more than 400 years ago that Humayun’s first wife, Haji Begum, commissioned the tomb near the banks of river Yamuna.

IMG_20170323_170114_028
The site was chosen because of its proximity to Nizamuddin Dargah, which is the mausoleum of the Nizamuddin Auliya, a celebrated Sufi saint and a favourite among Delhi rulers.

img_20170325_094733_959.jpg
Designed by a Persian architect, Mirak Mirza Giyath, it was the first garden-tomb to grace the Indian subcontinent with its ‘Charbagh’ gardens. The structure portrayed a leap in the design of Mughal royal mausolea, which reached the apogee with the Taj Mahal at Agra.

IMG_20170325_115120_780
Naturally, it is one of the top tourist attractions in Delhi, being a monument that gives a peek into history together with art and architecture. As for us, this small trip was also a fresh change from the long hours spent amid papers and books and electronic devices.

IMG_20170322_112134_270As much as I wish that we had chosen a breezier day and time, the sight of lush green fluff shining bright under the buttery noon more than made up for the mid-March heat.

IMG_20170322_110341_270
Even more memorable was that this mini-exploration culminated under the cool shade of a tree overlooking the six-pointed stars set in red sandstone, in the good company of an old friend and alloo paranthas packed in a steel lunch-box.

Featured image clicked by Ishan Sharma.

Travel Diaries: Laxmi Ashram, Kausani

5

Dharti hai ek,
Aasmaan ek hai.
Phool hain anek,
Baghbaan ek hai.

All the squeaky voices, hushed conversations, and noisy banters were replaced by a mellifluous chorus as I sat down in the back of the classroom. Morning prayers at Laxmi Ashram, as I found out, are always unifying affairs, and down-the-line cheerful and cathartic.

Forty five minutes previous I was tossing Imli toffees in my mouth to prepare myself for the ensuing altitude sickness. I was going to hike to a seven-decade-old, all-girls residential school run on the principles of Gandhi’s Nai Taleem. Established in 1946 by Catherine Mary Beilman or Sarla Behn to empower rural girls and women through education and holistic skill-based learning.

When I reached the Ashram, there were two smiling faces, waiting. Waiting to open me up to a world of simplicity and unity. To show me how empowered and independent young girls go on to become pillars of strength for the rural community.

I was a bit late, thanks to the multiple stops I’d made during the hike. Some girl students were collecting their books while others had already started ascending the stairs to their classroom. I entered the room from the back, and quietly sat on the floor like everybody else. I was soon going to hear them sing a prayer song that would footprint my heart.

Untitled.png

I left the place humming a tune of togetherness, and optimism. Of a song that distilled in a few words this beautiful message:
There is one Earth. And it is but one sky that canopies the flowers on its face. The flowers may look different, still there’s but one Gardner who looks after all of them.

The Tale of the Mistletoe

mistletoe-berries-16393_1280 (1).jpg

“Oh, don’t ever harm Baldur!”

Beseeched Frigg to each n’ every one.

But overlooking the mistletoe

Brought death to her precious son.

She wept and howled, distraught,

Her tears forming white berries,

This loss even the Gods could feel.

So they brought Baldur back,

Put her out of her misery.

 

It’s an offering dropped from heaven,

Said the Greek and Roman.

For lovers to embrace,

And enemies to find peace.

Resilient like a warrior,

It feeds and heals,

Even when trees shed all their leaves.

 

Elks, chipmunks, robins,

Porcupines and bluebirds,

It brings all together,

And not once cleaves.

In life as in the legend,

Mending, thawing, binding,

Rounding very crease.