Saturday, 12 August 2017

[Poetry] Picture Poem

The poem was written in response to this picture.


I will walk into the tide

Break and fall upon the waves


One by one I have undone

my hold upon the world

The world is a blue void

The sky above the sea below

The sand sinks softly under my feet

Soothing calluses earned

From thorny pathways tred

The sea would fall

Caressing, lavaging the pits

And undo it all

The world is a blue void

Hearts with love devoid

Man, a trampling humanoid

With every fall

No hope at all

The race is lost

Before the start

The relentless waves

break hard against the shore

With a vigorous uproar

The sound and the fury

Of infinity

The salt from my tears

Blend with the spray

I blend a finite life

Of petty woes

Pitiful throes

I find my peace

I find my cure

In this azure eternity

Thursday, 10 August 2017

[ Short Story] Afternoons in Childhood


Amrit threw down the pencil in frustration.  Doing fraction sums on a half empty stomach upon a Sunday afternoon was neither easy nor desirable.
His stomach growled.
He should not have protested so strongly about the beetroot curry. He went into the kitchen to see if his lunch plate was still there. His mother sometimes left it covered, knowing that he would return, even adding an enticement like papad or a small bowl of sev.
But today, she had been particularly annoyed.

He tiptoed into his parents’ room to see if they were asleep, then he crept out of the house, wheeling his bicycle to the elevator.
His lived on the fifth floor of a 9 storey apartment block.

He pedaled to the back yard to check if any of his friends were playing.
No one was about.
The summer sun hovered threateningly above, shoving
wanderers indoors.

Crows waddled about, pecking at food droppings from over flowing dumpsters their feet half buried in the soft-top soil.
He chased them on his bicycle. They rose cawing furiously; some flew threateningly above his head.
He soon grew tired of this pastime.

He circled the building and through shaded eyes scanned the monolithic column to see if any of his friends were playing in the balconies.

Suddenly, the smell of potato bhajjis roasting in hot oil, assailed his nostrils. The hunger he had kept in abeyance, rose again.

He took a couple of listless turns around the building.
He hesitated. Perhaps, it was time to go home. His mother might relent or, would she?
He made his way irresolutely towards the elevator.  

He left his cycle in the corridor and rang the bell.           
Lalitha opened the door; her right hand was caked with flour.
 He saw Vipul at the head of the table, his cheeks bulging with the bhajjies stuffed hurriedly into his mouth.
Vipul glared at him, shaking his head vigorously, signalling him to leave.

“Aunty, I wanted to see if Vipul wants to play…” He gave her his winning smile.

She nodded and let him in.

He smiled triumphantly.

He had been right about the house.



Thursday, 13 April 2017

[Poem] The Woman in the Woods - An Ekphrastic Poem

                   
                            Painting by Sushmita Gupta
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I spied her among the forest trees
Her soft humming echoing in the dusk’s stillness
A forest nymph swathed in green georgette
Hiding her long lustrous hair in a tight oiled coil
I lost myself at the brink of the deep swirl of her liquid eyes
Evocative, their power moated by kohled rims

She plucked a hibiscus and struck it absently in her hair
I knew it would remain there
Secure – much like her fastened thoughts

The stark vermillion mark on her forehead
Was it there, to ward off advances
Or was it a symbol of her own confinement?
I wondered…

For, her lissome beauty
Would enslave all that she surveyed

Even the modest beads swinging from her ears and neck
Shone in borrowed glory

Yet, the downward curl of her lips,
The angry red spots on her cheeks
Invaded my aesthetic ruminations…

I drew closer.

Dear woman, you are no Ravi Varma damsel with bashful eyes
Life had visited you Time and again -
You bear its marks
The angry red streak on your forehead, perhaps sustained from a fall
Your cheeks roughened by vicious assault

Yet you go on
Defiance burns in your eyes
And in the firm set of your lips
Life’s attempts to break you fail
You fight back
And sport with the dragon flies

Sunday, 2 April 2017

[Poetry] Haikus and a Tanka

SUMMER BREEZE (haiku)
Embraces, plays with my
hair, clothes, but not just with me
- truant summer breeze

 DUST STORM (Haiku)
Nostrils clog with dust
Leeching every crack - sneezes
- Clear sky ponders me

SEASHELLS (haiku)
Deserted homes
dot sands- treasures await
gleeful enthusiasts

SAND DUNES (haiku)
Hillocks stretch smooth soft
Ridged, ever changing -the wind's
Eternal playground

PRAYER (Tanka)
At wishing fountain
people toss coins -prayers dispatched
with a token fee
Needy urchins' nightly haul
Silent thanks for prayers answered


Tuesday, 28 March 2017

[Poem] Nest - A Ghazal

Built we a home, a place, our nest
A place of love and of rest, nest

Some homes are built for conceit
 But ours, is no weaver bird's nest

In the pile of straw, grass and twigs
Tiny eggs ripple in the warm nest

This home, an open womb, an incubator
Eager fledglings cackle and grope, in the nest

The laughter and cries of children,
The sound of running feet, fills our nest

Wonder why some choose to discard
Their eggs, their future, in another nest?

Perhaps they are the wise, perhaps they know
Fledglings will grow wings and desert the nest?

Oh Illakiya! a few feeble twigs, limp grass and floppy straw
A shell that houses empty shells, is that still, a nest?

Saturday, 11 March 2017

[Poem] Control


Many things in life, have to be admired and experienced from a distance.
But sometimes we are seized by a childish desire to own, to appropriate for ourselves alone the beauty that we see. But the owning, might result in the disappearance of the very object we covet.
This poem uses a glass of water as a metaphor to elaborate this idea.

A glass of water sits on the table

I detect
Patterns of iridescence
the colours of the rainbow
twinkling 
As the light falls
The breeze
Causes delectable ripples

I let it sit there
Drinking with my eyes
And incredible joy engulfs my being

Then I pick it up
Let the liquid flow
Drop by drop
In my mouth's hollow
The last drop lingers in my lips
but it too vanishes
at last

I thought the drinking
Would leave me all tingling
Brimming with the overflow-
A surfeit
Filling all my pores

Yet, there is only an emptiness
A loss, a void,
A regret at what once was
And IS no more again...

[Poem] The Curse of Modernity



This poem was written in response to a contest conducted by Dr Saantosh Bakayya, who took the above picture. It was declared as a winning entry along with four other poems, in the literary group The Significant League. 

Please click on this link to hear the audio recording of the poem

https://soundcloud.com/bhuvaneshwari-shankar/the-curse-of-modernity


When did my world begin to change?
Frozen in a dizzying time warp,
I stand nailed to the ground
Feeling a a giant train blast through me
Littering my world with alien debris

The television came
With it, the advertisements
That bid to change with the times
Oh! the relentless bombardment
Day after day
Bewilderment
Day after day

Watching shadows, I could tell the time
Unlearnt it - to own a watch
My spun cotton no longer trendy
I spend a better part of my earning
On clothes that no longer fit
In pantaloons badly stitched

The local grocer changed his ware
Traditional was passe
Potato silvers, biscuits, soft drinks in the display
We ate that too, because the advertisements told us to

The rich own the world
They always do
They get the best slice of the consumer pie
We get the crumbs
 And call it nectar

All this talk of organic farming
But we have always been organic
Till the pesticides came on the scene
Our water ways on the verge of pollution
The village air
Toxin free for now
I dread the sick world
Which is my child's inheritance

The local shaman has been shamed
 By men in white coats
He has not the wherewithal
To fight diseases of the modern world

The city - a tantalizing temptress beckons
Dimmed- the senses lie, in the bright lights
 But I have come not to drown in her pleasures
Disease is a demon at my back
And, I have come gathering  all that I ever owned
Fear compels, so does hope for a death postponed

The giant shark waits
Its mouth wide open, fangs exposed
It swallows all
And hungers for more
My money, my dignity, even my footwear
My life is a study in despair

I await the word of the shaman in a white coat
Little realizing that he is but a sham
I squat here my defilement complete
In a shabby road unkempt
The corporate shark has sucked
My life's blood
Barely have I, anything left
for a meal or even a bottle of water
A hotel stay is but a pipe dream

All around me vehicles blare and hurry past
Men and women move fast
Hurrying towards something
I am all alone
In a loveless world
Shorn of everything
I squat in the filthy street
Dreaming of the green fields back home