O’ elusive slumber..

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‘Let me have men about me that sleep at night’
Said Julius Caesar, and by jove, he was quite right
For blessed are the souls who can sleep
A sound slumber, restorative and deep
Those fortunate folks who are not tormented
By demons of anxiety and such: I have often lamented
My inability to sleep well, plagued by emotions
Of anger, inadequacy, envy, dissatisfaction
That encroach upon my ability to rest
Many nights, despite trying my best
To end my days with positive vibes and gratitude
I long for the emotional stability and platitude
That would allow me to forget at least temporarily
All the slights and misgivings, real or imaginary..

Yet there are days when after putting in hours though the day
Of honest work, accumulating good karma along the way
I am able to find the elusive depths of sleep
The next day glorious rewards I reap
That follow a mind and body that wake up refreshed
I hope to continue in the same vein until my hopes are dashed
And a bad day gives insomnia as a gift in parting
I can foresee the cycle of misery restarting..

The only way I know to break this cycle (I keep trying)
Is to work harder in the day, such that upon lying
Down at night, I can channel in gratitude
And close my weary eyes with the right attitude…

 

Victor, vanquished

soldier-random-acts

I have often wondered what happened that day

That made me behave in such an uncharacteristic way-

Was I so jaded that my sensibilities were blurred

Was I so disillusioned that it never occurred

To me that on opposing sides were we

Fighting for our respective causes, similarly

Except.

My army was the victor, yours vanquished

On your own soil you were lying in anguish

When I heard your feeble voice calling for water

And I, be-numbed by indiscriminate slaughter

Approached you with caution, out of habit

Bloodied you were lying, by a bullet hit

My gaze caught your insignia, I realized right away

That you were in the enemy camp, but the way

You were lying defenceless, without a weapon nearby

Wounded perhaps fatally- here I don’t want to lie-

The idea of claiming one more life as a victory

Did cross my mind, but was tossed out in a hurry

Maybe there was an ounce of mankind left somewhere

Within me- or victory had made me generous- I am unaware

Of the exact reasons why I decided to help you-

You, from the enemy camp- it was dangerous too

 

I dragged you to my hideout, gave you water to drink

Dressed your wound, mechanically, I could not think

Or plan my next step, I was afraid, you know

To be seen helping my enemy so..

**

I had a heart that was dead, when the war was won

Yet something came alive each day under the sun

That I nursed your wounds, watched you grow stronger

Fed your body, nourished my soul, was afraid no longer

Of being seen with the enemy, because something told me

That this was the only way out of misery 

For both of us- regarding punishment, who cared anyway?

When we were dealing with nightmares everyday

**

We went separate ways, once you had recovered

I built a new life, never whispered a word

About what had transpired at the end of the war

Why dig controversies, when I had come so far

Privately, I continue of think of that experience

As a key instrument for my sustenance 

After the war, when a walking corpse I had become

Being with you had that lifelessness overcome…

**

My eyes are tearing up as I read today

Your moving account of what happened that day

You sent me the first draft of your memoir

You wanted me to see it before any publisher

Could set his eyes on it- it was an honor

For me to read this- from you, a published author

I had not known where you were, never thought

I would see you again- look where destiny had brought 

Both of us- the way we mutually saved each other

Does make a capital story, my enemy brother!

**

I am so excited to meet you tomorrow

To share our happy moments, and our sorrows

Drink to the day when we defeated the war

And made humanity emerge the victor!

(Image source: https://www.pinterest.com/idaney/random-acts-of-kindness/?lp=)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wandering Mind

“Let your mind wander in the pure and simple. Be one with the infinite. Let all things take their course. – Chuang Tzu”

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One of the lessons that I have been taught

Is the value of focused industry, tinkering is not

For maximal productivity, quite conducive

Giving a hundred percent to your work is the way to live

So when my mind wanders away like an aimless itinerant

I chide myself for lack of focus, I tend to resent

Those who are able to fully attend to the tasks at hand

They are the ones who rule the world, as I understand..

**

So I was intrigued when the concept was introduced to me

That letting your mind wander can boost your productivity-

May be not in tasks that are mundane and repetitive

But a vagrant mind belongs to a person creative

New solutions to problems surface subconsciously

When the mind is allowed to wander aimlessly

**

My mind protested- I am not in a creative profession

In fact, focused practice and dedication make a physician

My hours of the day should be filled with work that is constructive

I cannot idle away my time, surely I have much more to give

To the society by toiling away night and day

I don’t think I should let my mind wander away..

**

This is what I thought, until I realized

The truth staring at me, and it left me surprised

My problem-solving was best in the day

After exercising, since my mind had been wandering away

While the rest of the time I was trying to tame

My roving mind to pay attention, subjecting it to blame

Each time it derailed- while getting my daily exercise

I let my thoughts drift away, turns out I was wise

**

Letting your mind wander is a form of rest to the brain

Rest rejuvenates, as we know, and once again

I was reminded of the value of random thoughts

Without which, my creative space would exist not!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The six yard wonder

“The six-yard wonder” refers to a saree/ sari, the traditional garment of India.

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Six yards of fabric draped around me

Six yards of tradition and history

Six yards of connection to my roots

Rebelling against my boring dress and boots

Six yards that make me travel back in time

To the mirror in front of which I would mime

My mother, exuding her kind of confidence

Wearing a saree was the best form of “grown-up” pretense..

Six yards that marked the rite of passage

Of finishing high school, of coming of age

Draped in gauzy silks for the farewell party

Similar to prom, yet as unique as it could be

Snapping photographs in the era before

Instant sharing on social media came to the fore

Six yards of elegance in a muted hue- 

Personality enhancer for my first job interview

Pressed and pinned, perfectly pleated

A business-like look, not often repeated

Six yards of brilliant silks that accompanied

Me on my journey to wedded bliss indeed

In shades of bright red threaded with gold

With henna, jewelry and adornments bold

Captured in still photography and moving reel

Six yards that made me like royalty feel

**

Six yards of resplendent silks lying tucked away

That I found while cleaning my closets one day

Relics of a past that in my life at present

Seemed to have, I admit, limited relevance

No occasion to don those six yards, or flaunt

My Indian roots, yet at that moment my heart did want

Me to drape the fabric, and pretend to be

An Indian diva in all her finery..

**

So, while my husband and child were away

I decided to dress-up and play

With various clever ways to drape

The six-yard wonder, and escape

Into the past, in the land of my origin

Loving the feel of smooth silk against my skin

Of course I was decked up when my family returned

The admiration in my husband’s eyes made me learn

That he liked my ensemble, much more than I had expected

My son was amazed, as the ornate “pallu” he inspected

**

Since then, whenever I want to feel a connection

To my roots, I go through my expanding collection

Of the six-yard wonder, that never fails to put a smile

On my face, I recreate my country in my exile..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Translator

25299154_10155906710596241_8737651808013923264_nShe loved words, this was no secret at all

They played in her head, to her they called

Voraciously she read, mostly in a language

She had adopted to be active on a wider stage

 

Well-versed was she in the vagaries

Of English language, loved the imagery

That brought alive in her head tales countless-

Words were magical-she could confess…

**

Words she loved, and longed to write

Yet despite all her insight

Into the world of words printed

She could not conjure a story, instead

She spent her time chronicling reviews

Of books she read, she would choose

With care how she reviewed each one

Yet she felt unfulfilled, this was not fun..

**

One day in a flea market that she frequented

She came across a book, quite nondescript

In her native tongue- it was unusual

To find books in languages regional

In the United States, for who would read

A book with limited readership indeed?

For a quarter, it was an investment quite good

She was its rightful owner, read the book she could

She settled down in her reading nook 

Proceeding, without expectation, to read the book

**

Halfway through the book, she was spellbound

It was a masterpiece all around

A well-spun yarn, though in India based 

The story was universal, it could have been placed

In any corner of the world, it would still resonate

With its readers, this she could confidently state

**

She finished reading, then googled immediately

The author of the book, out of curiosity

Very little existed on her on the web, but she did persist

An idea was forming in her head that she could not resist

What if she translated the author’s work into English?

It would be a way for her to fulfil her wish

While  exposing to a wider platform the regional author-

Yet the first roadblock was how to find her..

**

Consumed with her idea, she traveled back

To India, with some ingenuity she managed to track

The whereabouts of this elusive writer

Then managed to schedule a meeting with her

Turned out she had written much more

Though few read regional literature anymore

The writer was nonchalant about her proposal

At least the idea was not greeted by a refusal

So with her permission she proceeded to translate

The first book, to her it was pre-ordained by fate

**

Words came alive as she continued to translate

Embellishments she added, but did not deviate

From the essence of the story, she was done

In a remarkably short time, THIS was fun!

**

That first translation launched a career

For her in the literary sphere

A renowned translator for her language she became

Her translations brought indigenous writers fame

She still marvels at the serendipitous discovery

At the flea market- that wrote her success story!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Way to live

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There are many ways to die

She thought with a sigh-

A swift, painless accident

Or a fulfilled life coming to an end

Or this- the agonizing, slow oozing

Of life from within, the constant cruising

Between crises, trying to find

A respite from your body for the tired mind..

Such was her death sentence, her disease

Sapping at her strength, no prospect of release

The pain, the isolation of a chronic illness

Threatened to turn her into a soul feckless

Giving into her illness, she felt control receding

Life was ebbing away,  slowly bleeding..

Tormented with the question “why me?”

She raged and despaired simultaneously..

**

Her rage spent, a new normal she found

Trying hard to focus on the positives around

Her disease became a part essential

Of her, many things became inconsequential

As she developed for life a new respect

Each day without pain was a blessing, in effect..

**

“There are many ways to live,” she says

“One may live for a purpose, or just while away days

Living with gratitude for being alive and pain-free

Each day, is as good a way of living as can be..

Being able to breathe, being able to see,

Smell, taste, hear- savor everything around me

Is a gift for me, not to be lightly treated-

I remind myself, when I feel defeated

There are many ways to live, and I

Choose to live every day under this sky

 

 

 

 

 

A mother’s fear

madhubaniAs a mother my greatest fear
Is to pass along to my child dear
Everything that is flawed in me
Twisted genes, bad habits, insecurities…
I wish all that is in me undesirable
Somehow is rendered unable
To be transmitted to him, I wish somehow
For a filter that would only allow
Positive attributes of mine to flow through
While sieving out negativities too..

Alas such a filter exists not in this world
I have to be cautious in deed and word
To prevent my child from imbibing my less attractive traits
I fail to do so often, then myself I berate
For setting wrong examples, being weak
Some form of redemption then I seek
I am hypervigilant often for signs of projection
Of my insecurities on him, he needs protection
From my flawed ways of thinking which have brought me
Anguish and sorrow, quite frankly…

Many a times I am convinced that I
Am the worst patent under the sky
But my son ends up bringing my soul solace
When a positive attitude he displays
Of my internal struggles he is unaware
I am the one he follows everywhere
When he works hard, I am glad to see
At least he has imbibed from me industry
Yet when he displays impatience, it is a reflection
Of his having absorbed my imperfection..

I set the examples, therefore I should
Set good ones, it’s expected from motherhood..