The Tale of the Mistletoe

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“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.

 

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Travel Tale: Floating in the Poetic Dusk

A big ring adorned Mamta’s nose, silhouetting half her face as we huddled around a bonfire for warmth. And sitting there with the glorious Kumaon hills girdling us and Mamta reading one of her poems for me, I learned how nature and words soothe a crumbly spirit.

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It was only a day before that I had met Mamta for the first time when the hosts of my retreat centre introduced us. Our small chat had concluded with her beaming at me and exclaiming in broken Hindi, “Didi, I will come and see you at the inn tomorrow!” She wanted to know what a bunch of college girls from Delhi were doing in Kausani!

Which brings me to: What could I do here? In 3 days?

For starters, I could sit on these porches that always welcomed us with tea and viands. I could talk to these people who always regaled us with colourful stories. With them, I could drink these buttery noons and tangerine sunsets. Maybe along the way, I could pick up a few Kumaoni words, understand a new culture, unspool its richness and authenticity. But, who could’ve imagined that I would do just that and more, and that Mamta would help me with most of it!

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She joined our group for tea just like she had promised. A few moments later, we were scribbling Aipan designs on random scraps of paper—and in the next few—up on our feet, matching folk tunes with our own versions of Chholiya as the sun dived between the hills. Here, in an Indian village in the quiet vicinity of the Himalayas, the Italian saying of il piccolo mondo got a whole new meaning!

Within hours, I was sitting under the pin-pricked night sky, listening to Mamta’s voice as she read a poem from her notebook. And while her words warmed the December air, I took a closer look at the poetry of the land I was in. I could see and feel it in the Buransh (Rhododendron), in the chartreuse farmlands, and in this amazing rendezvous of nature, people, and history.  

That’s how I was always going to remember this village cradled in these verdant hills. As a place where I felt freer, happier, lighter—all at the same time. My souvenir: A friendship that began with a Kausani local asking me, “Tumar naam ki cha?”

This Chatty Bench

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Can you hear the lullaby

Or my mother’s touch feel.

Can you see the Alphabet

That I learned here to read.

Can you picture that first kiss,

Sense how it filled me with glee.

Can you listen the sweet warble

Of his first letter to me.

Can you tell the heartbreak

Didn’t fight shy of cutting deep.

Can you grasp the moments

Of which this bench holds memories.

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

Boxed In

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My eyes are rheumy

My heart’s gloomy

Everything poses a question

Why do they tell you what’s best for you

And box your wants in a prison.

 

“What do you hope?”

“Let go of the rope.”

“Get out, find your passion!”

“You won’t know until you go.”

But there is always a condition.

 

“Do what is ‘right’.”

“Come back on time.”

“Get your grades in order!”

There are no answers that they might have

There is only confusion.

 

 

My Recent ‘Feels’ Playlist

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When it comes to music, my song picks end with anything that has strong lyrics. A song that marries the sensation it evokes with the emotion it comes from sticks to my playlist for a long time. This may be because of that thing about music – it connects, makes you feel less lonely. So, today I decided to list down a few such songs; I call it my ‘feels playlist’ as it has the power to soothe my melancholy and elevate my joy.

Nostalgia: The songs that disinter the sweet moments.

Journey: Companions for when the going gets tough.

Perseverance: For me, these songs are like anthems that obviate the blues.

The Rationals: These songs can work wonders to kill the din and clutter of a bad day from your mind.

Happy listening!

surface

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you look me up and down

smirk, snort, frown

wonder why my laugh’s so loud

i am awkward, i‘m fussy

i am confused, i‘m messy

i throw a fit, i slouch

but you just look, not watch

you see, you don’t peek inside

i‘m just a girl on a ride

in the jungle gym of life

 

*a vulnerable rant

 

Hues

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There was a land blue and green

That soon turned gray, sanguine.

 There was a fort gold and silver

That now was dusted black, pewter.

 Not that purple had ever limned white

But this time it was a different fight.

 Years of oppression and persecution

Had ignited the flame of revolution.

 Those who dared to ask why

Said they’d walk with heads held high.

 The jar had a million hues

And it finally broke free, unloose.

15.8.1947

Midnight snacking

In a dusty corner of a small mezzanine is a scrap of paper scribbled with poetry. Sea Fever by John Masefield – is a friend that is around when it’s  hard to sleep. So here goes:

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
                                And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.