The Poetic Meanders

The Poetic Meanders
The Teesta River - captured by Parth Adhikari

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The Stranger

The Stranger

 To the innocent bespectacled stranger. For I wish I see you again.

Confused in the city of Bangalore
(Having come from and having to go far),
Under the sweltering sun of the day,
I stood waiting at the stop 'Big Bazaar'
(Ironical though, with no such thing there).
A fine lady had led me to that place,
With directions spoken in swift Kannada
While she sweated at her hands and her face.

So, as I impatiently moved back and forth
At the stop, waiting for a red Volvo,
I saw the girl there for the first time, dressed
Impeccably simply in a yellow
Kurti and a churidaar; she was there
Sitting on the bench talking to a friend.
I thought of seeking their help, stranded there
By Google Maps that I couldn't comprehend.
I showed her my phone, "Excuse me, could you
Kindly help me with this address on here?
I was told to board a bus from this stop,
But which bus do I need take and till where?"
She seemed somewhat amused and she smiled,
"Umm...You should get down at Kundal Halli.
As for the bus, why don't you come with us?
We will be taking the 500 C."
"Thank you. Umm... So does it come from there?"
I asked her, pointing to where the road turned.
"Yes. Don't worry. It's a bus. Not a rocket!
It will stop here. Please don't be that concerned."
She assured me thus. She wore spectacles
And was lean with midriff-length, well-kempt hair,
Her cheeks were dappled with red spots and of a
Captivating charm she had her fair share.

She had something - what? A simplicity
That perhaps I had never seen before,
Or was it that tiny yellow bindi
That had my fiddling heart beating sore?

The Volvo arrived nearly vacant, we
Boarded it and sat across the gap lane
That divided our seats; the conductor
Approached me. I let my phone's screen explain -
"This." I looked at the girl; she told the man,
"(In broken Kannada…) to the Colony."
To me, she said, "Pay him thirty rupees.
It is so because of the bus' A.C."
She smiled. I reciprocated. I paid
The fare. I asked her, "Are you from this city?"
"No," she replied. "I've been here for a year.
What about you? Your first time here, clearly."
"Yes, I am new here. I arrived three days back."
On the left, I saw a white building outside
"That is the Sri Sathya Sai Institute
For Higher Medical Sciences on this side."
"Oh, it is big," I foolishly observed.
I felt dumb stating the fact with large eyes,
But there wasn't much to talk about, you see,
And we all have our social lows and highs.

Her friend, hitherto unnoticed, said something
Quietly to her; she asked me, "Where are
You headed? To SJR Brooklyn, no?
Well, actually that place comes after our
Bus stop. But don't worry. I will help you.
This here is the Marriott hotel, see?
Three stops after this there will be a turn
Then there'll be the college CMRIT.
Be on your guard when next the driver takes
A left, then ask him for Kundal Halli.
I am sure that will help you locate
The SJR apartments quite easily."

She talked with suave hands that gestured directions,
Her glass bangles had tinkled all the while
And she would move aside one wayward hair
That kept falling on her forehead, with a smile.

The bus slowed down. They got up with some others,
And moved toward the opening double door.
My eyes followed her eagerly as the crowd
Got down from the BMTC low floor.
The most surprising of things happened then -
She stopped at the door and she turned around,
She smiled and waved a hand at me. I too
Waved back and mouthed "Thank you" (without a sound).

The bus proceeded on the promised route.
I did as she had advised; I got down
Where the irritated driver told me -
“This is colony.” (With an irksome frown)

Now it has been some days since that meeting,
But there’s an indelible mark on my heart,
Of the ten minutes’ (or so) journey where
Something did end, yet nothing did start.

There had been nothing special then.
No skipped heart-beats, no stagnant time,
No jaw-dropping, no flowing breeze,
No sweetly resonating chime.

But why do I hope to be lost again
When next I visit Bangalore city?
But why do I hope to see her there in
The yellow dress, aboard the 500 C?

 For you may sometimes find something where you get lost.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014



Totally fictional.

Her ‘Last Seen At’ had been two twenty three,
Then we’d argued; she changed her privacy.
I cursed her in my status,
That did cause some hiatus,
Now for all I know she’s bloody blocked me.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

To Mother


 Happy Birthday, Mother
Undergoing labour while pregnant with me
was (as you say) merely the beginning
of your hardships that you knew you would face
all the time when you would be raising
your second child (one of your complexion).
But you and father did the drill again -
being awake all night to my shouts and cries,
singing all those lullabies in vain.
You mouthed 'ma' and other monosyllables,
you watched with care as I toddled about,
doing uncertain things with certainty -
eating things that you would make me cough out.

So amidst toys and Cerelac I grew,
I learnt little by little the alphabet,
Yet both of you (helplessly) shared silence
with me when prying relatives could not get
me to speak much; you faced embarrassment;
you said nothing, just let me be my way
in front of those others. You loved me so.
Thus, freely and nonchalantly (as you say)
I grew older to be three - came the time
for school admissions, but there too I kept
quiet (apart from chewing candies offered
by some considerate teachers). You wept
seeing the results that weren't in my favour.
You and grandmother continued to pray
and fast to help me intonate better
my English introduction (as you say).
Finally having secured admission,
I started going to school - properly dressed
(with a white handkerchief pinned on my shirt -
something upon which the class teacher stressed).

Time passed. You were cautious with me - banning
all wrestling shows on T.V., permitting
cartoons only when I did my homework,
which teachers back at school saw befitting
a class fourth child. Mother, I remember
how you would check the school daily diary,
how over Maggi (with vegetables)
you would make your regular enquiry
about how the day went (was it boring?)
When I fell ill, you used hydropathy
And what not to get me alright again,
comforting me and staying up beside me,
taking leave the next day for both of us.
You would also dress me for annual day,
You would listen to me recite my poems
and improve 'pon the cadence (as you say).

You said not a thing when I taped over
your precious audio cassettes with my voice,
You knew your naughty son had the itch
for misadventures and he had no choice,
but to be. You understood everything -
How I could never go learning beyond
the octet on your old harmonium
(of which you were so entirely fond).
You shared with me the important lessons
about love and the principles of life.
You shared over our evening coffee
the secrets of leading a content life.
I remember you dropped me at the school gate
and later picked me up on the farewell -
How you told me that an important phase
was past now, how to us school was a shell.

College began. I gained little freedom
and money (to which you from your own purse
would add), being reminded of your old days
(at IPCW), then in reverse -
I re-started college at a place far
from home. Life has, since then, not been the same.
You are far. And although you are on Skype
and Whatsapp (with your photo and your name),
there is some void. It explains its presence
with your absence. But I'm consoled daily
with your sweetness-filled voice over the phone,
By how when I reach home you hug me tightly,
How I throw the luggage down to hug back,
How you cry when I leave for the station,
How days between those days seem to fly past,
in doing remaining days' calculation.
It has been a fifth of a century
loving you, more so with each passing day,
and albeit the distance between us, your
love reaches me here from that far away.
I remember lessons you have taught me,
I remember our friendship (as you say).
Mother, I'll be home when time next allows,

But for now, I wish you "Happy Birthday."

P.S. - 

Mother, I remember once asking you
if given a choice between us two, who
Did you love more – Samridhi or me?
And you’d rather diplomatically,
Say - “Son, I don’t want to tell you lies.
Both of you are just like my two eyes,
How can I pick one over the other?”
I remember sulking on this, mother,
But as (in some measure) maturity
Has (finally, as you’ve prayed) dawned on me,
I do, after all this time, understand
That your witty answer will always stand
The same way; and there lies in that answer
The answer to why you are great, Mother.

I love you, Ma.