un-portrait

colors wilt. the
summer hangs high on
her forehead, spurts

blood. my palms are nets
of lines that grow, collide,
fish ambiguity. and

suddenly constellations are nothing
but jealous wishes. from the other
side of the mirror, she
whimpers- come closer. her

lips are parched. i can
see the fear in her eyes, burning
hungry over her hollow-ness-

i can see myself reducing, i say,
quietly as time ticks her Soul off- i will
metamorphose into you

©Mohana Das

Lined to d’verse Meeting the bar

Moments II

Everyday I travel 40 km up/down in crowded suburban locals. College and back home. Outside the window of the beige and green Eastern Railway locals, Bengal unfolds her saga of pleated greenery. Fields blend into each other. Deep greens and pale greens. Sap greens. Moss greens. Greens of devious algal delight. I don’t count telegraph poles anymore, or watch with wonder how the wires dip and rise, dip and rise. These days life calls their little dance, sinusoids. I watch, like everyday, and my eye are balls of fatigued marbled glass.

Today, I am late. Out of nowhere, evening has swooped with alacrity. The dregs of winter wistfully hang across a violet sky. The palash is in bloom- fiery red flowers blaze the naked branches. The cool wind slaps my face. Inside the coach, it is mid-summer already. The humidity runs her sticky fingers over my clavicles. Saaris cling to all shapes alike, lithe or voluptous or mid-way. We cross the bright orange housings of Mankundu. A lady shoves her little boy down the aisle. He looks at his mother, a hint of fear in his large brown eyes. She insists. He comes and stands right in front of the window, his tiny fingers loosily holding onto the black bars. I look at him. Smile. He looks away shyly.

Stations fall back. Another train screams on the next track- a blur of white fluorescence- and it is gone. Bhadeshwar recedes. The darkness presses tighter against the inky sky. The moon is a feeble crescent, with hollow cheeks. I lean against the cold metal for a little fresh air. Before me, the little boy is wide-eyed, his red mouth a perfect O, beautifully expressionless. Suddenly my senses are taut. I watch as his eyes devour the landscape:

The mist has carved itself into long, white striations, swinging gracefully round the palash, the palms and every other tree I cannot name. Acres of emptiness bloom outside under a pall of luscious melancholy. A heady scent of some wild flower creeps into my blood. Fireflies glow like green stars- improbable, aimless drops of waltzing lights. Underneath, the semi-dry canal whimpers, his throat choked with distilled loneliness. The high banks are empty. The slopes shelter a hundred different ferns and lianas and bushes and greenery. Trees wears tiny tiaras of those green-lit worms, all bereft of leaves. There are stars, I know, but my eyes cannot trace them. Time has transformed into poetry, opening petals like tantalising secrets.

We come to a halt. The moment has passed. I quickly recollect myself. The little boy is looking at a man selling peanuts on the station. The ecstasy in his eyes has dissolved.

The magic is over.

This post has been published for the Kissan Nature’s Friends Contest on Indiblogger.
Official link: http://www.kissan.in/

Of long lost summer vacations

Dear Maa,

I am spending the summer with Dadu-Thamma in Begambari. Dadu talks of you all the time. You know, finally we have electricity here! And the roads are no more mud tracks. And Dadu has planted a new mango sapling called Amrapali and Thamma’s knitting me a new sweater, red with pompoms. God! There is so much I want to tell you about.

Summer is blooming and Dadu’s orchards are graciously ripe. The wind whispers and waltzes all day inbetween the trees. And sweet, wet rain comes pelting down at will, tapping the tin-roof, beating music out of the silence and suddenly the scent of earth and wood permeates everything. There are caterpillars everywhere, munching fresh leaves- half of them dying beneath feet of careless men, half curling into the chrysalis, metamorphosing into bright yellow butterflies. The sojhne trees are their favorite! Tall crowds of grass beckon you, waving their arms, from every direction. The sky is usually a perfect blue, with clumps of fat white and grey clouds lazing around. The atmosphere is scrubbed clean. Mimosas crowd the aisles inbetween fields, their fuzzy purple heads held high. I watch with delight as their pinnate leaves shy away at my tender touch. Today baba took me around the village, to see our fields and the village school. The palash trees are still in bloom- fiery red flowers blaze the naked branches. The ponds are full with hyacinths, their iridescent peacock plumed petal mesmerise me. You know maa, they have replanted the paddy and I slipped and fell into the thick mud. Had to claw out my sandal! My legs and arms were nicely splayed and baba said let it be and laughed! He laughs so little these days. Life is suddenly so empty without you.

Anyways, I made a new friend here, a girl named Papri, who calls her pet stray “Kulfi”! She is teaching me to cycle on the school grounds. We had a whale of time, rolling tyres on the lanes, eating sour mango pickles, chasing pigeons, waving at the train ofcourse, running like dryads through green green fields! Late afternoon, we came back home, our mouths stained with the vibrant violet of jamuns. Oh! how I love those juicy little fruits! We are planning to sneak into their neighbour’s orchards tomorrow- the litchi looks welcoming, hanging low in bright red clusters. But sshhh, this is a secret! And you know maa, there are spirits in those bamboo groves, she told me!

Day end, the cattles and the goats are herded back, and the scarlet sun throws long shadows of the sisals and palms on the flat fields. Blackbirds and sparrows play hide and seek in the shimmering shadows. Stars appear more youthful here, blazing bright like the cheeks of a maiden- just kissed. And the moon, I swear, has been repainted with fresh coat of nacre. The midnight rain bathes the drooping hibiscus buds as they wait for dawn to unfurl. Dewdrops sleep on broad chested kochu-pata and dangle from the tips of tightly rolled bamboo leaves. I wish you were here, maa. We would have walked in silence over acres of lush fields, or held hands and walked over the railway tracks. You would tell me stories of your childhood, how you climbed the mango trees in the backyards of mama-baari, and played hop-scotch under that ancient banyan. By the way, this scent of jack-fruits annoy me. Dadu says you loved it. Did you? Or is he trying to trick me into tasting it? No way! And not the fish either.

After sundown, the cicadas take centre-stage with their incessant song. Thamma still has to light her earthen lamps and kerosene lanterns because electricity is very irregular. Lithe coconuts, palms and arecanuts sway overhead like deceiving ghosts as the wind keeps whooshing around. The handpumps groan their sore-throated groan, the water splashes loud on the cement below, and frogs croak and hop away. Tommy turned 5 this year. He follows me everywhere, wagging his tail. At 8, the last train whistles like a bansheee past the signal. We sit on a charpoy in the courtyard, drenched in pearly moonshine, the sweet scent of mangoes sheathing us, munching on jhal-muri. I tell you, maa, that pungent smell of mustard oil and fresh chillies is ethereal! Conversations unravel easily over Darjeeling tea. Then the hot pakoras with hotter chutneys come in. The night seems endless.

We talk. We laugh. And in the midst of life, maa, I find you so close.

Love,
Nimi

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Word notes: Dadu-Thamma is paternal grandparents, sojhne is Indian drumstick, palash is the Butea monosperma tree and its blazing red flowers, kochu-pata is Colocasia leaves.
Begambari is a small village in the Purnea district of Bihar.

This post is published for the Kissan Nature’s Friends contest on Indiblogger. All photographs belong to the author.
Official link: http://www.kissan.in/

A little more closer

Outside the little square window, there is a fetal moon hanging by an invisible thread. It floats over billows of silver clouds. Everything else is black, save a few pinpricks called stars.

I rest my head on his shoulder. Flight BA 256 glides smoothly across infinity. We have been together (atleast on paper) for exactly three years now. Our jobs keep us busy, often apart across the country, and holidays are either visiting my loud in-laws or my louder family. Those rare weekends we are together, exhaustion closes in. Bills to be paid, grocery to be bought, laundry to be done and before I know, I am at my desk again, coding. Between us, there are just a few emails. I write epics. He answers in smileys and “hmmm-s.” My husband, Mr.No-frilly-silly-Romance who has never read a novel, let alone a piece of poetry! (His favorite book probably concerns Quantum mechanics. Yes, I could literally cry!)

And this is his gift! I swear my heart DID stop beating for a while. “To celebrate us in style,” he had said handing me those tickets. Early April. Under a light off-season drizzle. I had kissed him like a hormonal teen on the curb! I lace my fingers in his, and think of the rolling hills of Cumbria, the foxgloves, the larkspurs, deep blue lakes, churches, steeples, castles and whisper in his ears, “going so far to come closer. Doesn’t it sound strange?”

“Not far enough. I could go further for you,” he says quietly.

“How far?”

He smiles that crooked little smile and I know he’s not answering my question. But even after so many years, that smile still makes me all nervous. My fingers tingle. The way his dark eyes twinkle. Like fireflies, I mouth soundlessly and shut my eyes, breath in a sigh.

“There was this scientist.”

“There was who?” I am jerked out of the limbo by this sudden announcement.

“A scientist.”

“Whao! Where did that come from?”

He ignored me and continued. “He loved a girl. But as Fate had it, she died. He missed her, missed her so much-”

“So much that he wanted her alive.” (A story? Stupid girl! That is impossible! Is he trying to trick me into meeting some eccentric scientist on my dream holiday? So many questions bare their fangs inside my brain. I shake my head and pay close attention, ready to attack in case he is.)

“Yes. He wanted her to come alive. So much that he shut himself away, setting out to find a way to bring her back. Years passed, he kept experimenting, “there has to be a way,” he said, “a way to bring back the dead.” The entire house was overgrown with creepers. The garden was so gnarled you might think elves and goblins lived there. The windows were sheathed in moss and fungi so dense that neighbours thought he must have died when an experiment went wrong. The kids said the house was haunted and never ventured near.

One day, the scientist made a discovery. Think of it like cloning, okay? And he kidnapped a girl, injected some of ‘her’ into her genes. But she was far from perfection. It is not his lady-love, it was not even close. Disappointed, he tried again. And again. And finally he found the glitch. His discovery cannot work on a woman. There has to be a Y-chromosome for the perfect transformation to take place. But he didn’t want to turn a man into her.”

“So he gives up?”

“Standing in a dim pool of candle-light, he made the final decision. To turn himself into her. He would reduce himself to nothing if it only felt she was close. Somewhere, inside the fuzzy details of nerves and genes and chemicals, they would be together again.

As his consciousness died, she slowly woke up.”

I eye him with disbelief. (He told me a story? Should I pinch myself? Or did I miss something? Is this mad scientist real?) Too much sci-fi flicks, is my verdict on the plot. “Wasn’t that-”

“This is how far I would go to be close to you,” he suddenly says.

The air is sucked out of my lungs. With my breath hanging half-way like that autumn morning when I first saw him more than a decade ago, I can only gape.


 
Published for the Go further to get closer contest on Indiblogger.
Official link: http://bit.ly/1epU8Uj

do you ever think of her when we’re close?//this is why i don’t

because she can’t smell of you. she can’t
tremble the way you do. or explode at my touch.
she can’t hold me this way. see-
like i am a piece of glass. a piece of the moon.
like i am precious. like i could break.

she wouldn’t whisper to me nightlong,
long after i’m done listening. long after
the stars have made love to fireflies.
she can never curl into a poem, or
fall asleep inside my ears like a lullaby.

if it weren’t you, i could never wake up to mornings with
a letter, a poem, a fragment-song inked next to my navel,
or on my thigh. down my spine, sometimes on the inside of
my wrist. sometimes right across my heart,
in dangerous slants, “i love you.” and

she can never kiss me like you do. as if
your tiny mouth is a volcano exhaling life.
she doesn’t smile like dawn. or meteorites crashing
where they belong. no other lips can etch symphonies.
no other fingers can sketch storms.

darling, you look at me like i’m magic.

©Mohana Das

Quote

Asking too much

I want you to tell me about every person you’ve ever been in love with.
Tell me why you loved them,
then tell me why they loved you.

Tell me about a day in your life you didn’t think you’d live through.
Tell me what the word home means to you
and tell me in a way that I’ll know your mother’s name
just by the way you describe your bedroom
when you were eight.

See, I want to know the first time you felt the weight of hate,
and if that day still trembles beneath your bones.

Do you prefer to play in puddles of rain
or bounce in the bellies of snow?
And if you were to build a snowman,
would you rip two branches from a tree to build your snowman arms
or would leave your snowman armless
for the sake of being harmless to the tree?
And if you would,
would you notice how that tree weeps for you
because your snowman has no arms to hug you
every time you kiss him on the cheek?

Do you kiss your friends on the cheek?
Do you sleep beside them when they’re sad
even if it makes your lover mad?
Do you think that anger is a sincere emotion
or just the timid motion of a fragile heart trying to beat away its pain?

See, I wanna know what you think of your first name,
and if you often lie awake at night and imagine your mother’s joy
when she spoke it for the very first time.

I want you to tell me all the ways you’ve been unkind.
Tell me all the ways you’ve been cruel.
Tell me, knowing I often picture Gandhi at ten years old
beating up little boys at school.

If you were walking by a chemical plant
where smokestacks were filling the sky with dark black clouds
would you holler “Poison! Poison! Poison!” really loud
or would you whisper
“That cloud looks like a fish,
and that cloud looks like a fairy!”

Do you believe that Mary was really a virgin?
Do you believe that Moses really parted the sea?
And if you don’t believe in miracles, tell me —
how would you explain the miracle of my life to me?

See, I wanna know if you believe in any god
or if you believe in many gods
or better yet
what gods believe in you.
And for all the times that you’ve knelt before the temple of yourself,
have the prayers you asked come true?
And if they didn’t, did you feel denied?
And if you felt denied,
denied by who?

I wanna know what you see when you look in the mirror
on a day you’re feeling good.
I wanna know what you see when you look in the mirror
on a day you’re feeling bad.
I wanna know the first person who taught you your beauty
could ever be reflected on a lousy piece of glass.

If you ever reach enlightenment
will you remember how to laugh?

Have you ever been a song?
Would you think less of me
if I told you I’ve lived my entire life a little off-key?
And I’m not nearly as smart as my poetry
I just plagiarize the thoughts of the people around me
who have learned the wisdom of silence.

Do you believe that concrete perpetuates violence?
And if you do —
I want you to tell me of a meadow
where my skateboard will soar.

See, I wanna know more than what you do for a living.
I wanna know how much of your life you spend just giving,
and if you love yourself enough to also receive sometimes.
I wanna know if you bleed sometimes
from other people’s wounds,
and if you dream sometimes
that this life is just a balloon —
that if you wanted to, you could pop,
but you never would
‘cause you’d never want it to stop.

If a tree fell in the forest
and you were the only one there to hear —
if its fall to the ground didn’t make a sound,
would you panic in fear that you didn’t exist,
or would you bask in the bliss of your nothingness?

And lastly, let me ask you this:

If you and I went for a walk
and the entire walk, we didn’t talk —
do you think eventually, we’d… kiss?

No, wait.
That’s asking too much —
after all,
this is only our first date.
 
― Andrea Gibson

Travel Smart!

“SkyScanner has just made life easy for us!”

Sleepy-eyed I wondered what her victory dance was for. “See this!”

In the next few minutes that followed of exploring the website, I was no longer a sleepy eyed zombie but the empowered planificateur de tour officielle. The pain called planning, booking, blah-blah that I had been postponing and postponing since weeks seemed no longer a pain. In a month we were leaving for our first girl-gang-sans-parents tour, a 15 day Thailand extravaganza, and suddenly adrenalin zapped through my nerves.

“Lets just do it! Now!” my voice tasted wild with excitement as the crisp blue-black website said hello on the screen.

The first thing that caught my eye was the “Everywhere” option. Without even knowing where? Oh yes! And fly! Yes, it is that easy!

We had our destination settled, but I promised myself that someday I would do this! An impromptu tour anywhere!

With Koi Samui’s glittery beaches and turquoise waters painting poems inside my head, I typed out our destination in the search box (You can also click on the map.) You have a lot of options when it comes to deciding the dates. Either go for a specific date, or a week, an entire month or even the whole year! Oh and by the way, you won’t need a currency converter. This baby has that option too. See:

Check out the lowest airline ticket prices either on the Calender view, or

On the Chart view. Whichever is cool for you!

And hop over straight to travel agents and vendors to book your ticket. That difficult job made easy. So easy!

Flights done. The best deal chosen. Smug smiles. Wide-eyed wonder.

Now the hotels.

As a bunch of recent graduates, we wanted a budget place but no bedbugs, thank you very much. With immensely helpful reviews, SkyScanner lets you search hotels not just region wise or city wise but has options like nearby attractions and streets as well and you get to compare prices from a number of agents before zooming in on one. “What about this or this or this?” B chipped in. “Which one?” I asked. “Oh God! I am spoilt for choice!” “This is epic!” B almost jabbed the screen with her pop pink nails!

From lowest deals to closest attraction, could it be any better? Oh yes! Run the pointer over the map. And on the panel to your left, you have your hotel. Rating, tariffs et al!

SkyScanner also has a car hire portal. Give it a go for airport transfers!

We were overwhelmed! I wondered what would my two other buddies say when they would hear that everything’s done: the entire job of booking and reservations d-o-n-e in less than an hour! I thought of their surprise-shock look and sighed with relief.

If you think this is all you can do here, you are wrong. In comes the SkyScanner mobile app. Anytime, anywhere for you smart phone addict! Create a account, log in and before you know it, the travel bug has bitten you and you’re flying off to some exotic land!

“Lets say a little thanks to this Fairy Godmother,” B said with her brightest smile!

Travel smart, the SkyScanner way!

Official link: http://www.skyscanner.co.in/

Published for the Travel Smart with SkyScanner contest on Indiblogger.