lets no starlight
through; darkness complete without
Author’s note: A Lantern is a Japanese poetry form with 1,2,3,4,1 syllables forming the shape of a lantern.
lets no starlight
through; darkness complete without
Author’s note: A Lantern is a Japanese poetry form with 1,2,3,4,1 syllables forming the shape of a lantern.
Most of you might already know how my daughter is crazy about animals and birds. She has been asking me to get her a pigeon for ages. To know more about our first conversation, visit my post: Negotiating with Intelligent Beings. She has been at it ever since. Every couple of days, she reminds my husband and I how much happier she would be if she could get a pigeon.
We have been fighting the never ending waves of emotional torture using various means.
At times, we try to make her see how our house is like a bird sanctuary where so many birds visit us every day–pigeons, doves, crows, babblers, parrots, hornbills, owls, eagles, hawks, and so on. When she said she wanted birds that would meet her every day, my husband bought a couple of clay parrots in a cage.
She played with it for a couple of days and the cage broke. She was afterme to build a nest for them and get eggs but that plan never came through for the lack of grass needed to create the nest.
And then, I got her a set of unbreakable plastic birds. She played with them for a week and now they sit in a box awaiting their owner’s return.
Lately, she started her barrage of requests for a pigeon again. We had to decline point blank, reminding her that the bird would probably hate her for caging her and die an early death too. That was when she relented and, with a sadness of Romeo upon the death of Juliet, she said that she’d would not cage a bird.
I guess God smiled that day because what we saw next was divine intervention. A pigeon started visiting us.
We are not sure if it is the same pigeon, but it certainly looks the same and chooses the same branch to sit–right in front of our window–on the same time every day. So, as soon as my daugher has her bath, we open the window to let sunlight in and there it sits waiting for her. Then my daughter takes some time socializing with it.
When the visits became a habit and a daily expectation, my daughter finally named it as Rapunzel. Honestly, I always thought Rapunzel is supposed to have hair long enough to reach down a few floors. He seems more like the prince visiting my daughter (who is Rapunzel, living on top of the tallest tower). But since my daughter is the Disney Princess expert here and the owner-apparent of this wayward pigeon, she gets to decide the name.
At least, she is happy now. Thank God!
“So, did you find me yet?”
“Ouch! When was the last time you cleaned this place? It’s cluttered with regret and anger.”
“Don’t evade the question.”
“I’m trying but it’s too dark in here. Can’t see a thing.”
“I know. It’s long since I saw any light.”
“You’ve covered the windows with deception.”
“Yeah! Coming up clean is long overdue.”
“Help me help you. Shed some light.”
“It hurts my eyes
“Fine! I’ll still find you somehow.”
So many dreams shatter every year,
Lives lost and tears shed,
Coz we can’t step outside the role
Thrusted upon us the moment we were born
Against our wishes.
We are molded to accept it
As our nature and our destiny.
There is no question of not falling in line.
I am the woman: The fairer gender? Homemaker? Caregiver?
You are the man: The stronger gender? Bread winner? Protector?
You can’t cry.
I can’t stop.
There is no question of not falling in line.
So many dreams shatter every year…
Jis samandar ki lehero me tair ke laut aaye hum,
Suna he ki log usme doob ke paar ho gaye.
The ocean that I swam in and returned from unscathed,
I’ve heard, has drowned many and let them pass.
Author’s note: In Urdu poetry, a Sher is a couplet, where two lines present one thought or story.
Sir jhukaye, asman ko neelam lutaate dekhta hu,
Sharm he ki hatheliya dua me khulne nahi deti.
Head bent, I look at the sapphires falling from skies above.
Pride forces my palms in pockets, ashamed to spread heavenwards and collect.
In Urdu poetry, a Sher is a couplet, where two lines present one thought or story.
I run another site with urdu poetry and I’m moving my work here gradually. I will translate the pieces, but not verbatim since it seems impossible without breaking the spirit of the piece.
My daughter has got a way of being inspired by other works.
For instance, lately, we have been competing to create stories involving different animals. We give each other random animals and, then, the other had to create a story out of that animal. A couple of days back, my daughter gave me rather a tough combination: Peacock, Hippo and Rhino. I asked her to reduce the number of animals but she won’t relent. So, here’s the story I created.
Once upon a time, a peacock was flying. Since they are heavy and not used to flying too far, this one decided to sit down on a rock beside the river. It was a huge grey rock and as soon as he sat down, the huge grey rock began to move. The peacock thought it was an earth quake and flew up lest he would be crushed beneath the now freely moving rock which also sprouted four thick legs. After a few seconds in air, the peacock again felt tired and chose another rock–a huge brown one–inside the river. As soon as he sat down, this rock too gave a huge lurch and started walking out of the water. The peacock took flight in time to see the rock open its huge jaws to display teeth large as daggers. Now, wary of rocks behaving like animals, it chose a fallen log beside the river. He had come pretty close and was really hoping to sit down, since his long wings were now soggy and heavy with water, when the log opened its yellow eyes and bared a log set of sharp teeth. The peacock decided that ground was not safe for beings like him anymore and sat on a tree far away.
My daughter felt the story was not long enough. So, I asked her to create another story with the same combination she gave me: Peacock, Hippo and Rhino. She was not allowed to tell the same story as mine. She pleaded her case as being only four-years-old and requested to reduce the number of animals. I refused, hoping to give her a taste of her own medicine. Here’s my daughter’s story.
Once upon a time, a peacock was flying. S
ince they are heavy and not used to flying too far, this one He was flying for hours, got tired and decided to sit down on a rock beside the river. It was a huge grey brown rock. As soon as he sat down It sat there for sometime, then, the rock began to move. The peacock thought it was an earth quake and flew up lest he would be crushed beneath the now freely moving rock which also sprouted four thick legs. After a few seconds in air, the peacock again felt tired and chose another rock–a huge brown grey one –inside the river. As soon as he sat down, this rock too gave a huge lurch and started walking out of the water. The peacock took flight in time to see the rock open its huge jaws to display teeth wary of rocks behaving like animals, it chose a fallen log beside inside the river. He had come pretty close and was really hoping to sit down, since his long wings were now soggy and heavy with water, when As soon as he sat down, the log opened its yellow eyes and bared a log set of sharp teeth. The peacock decided that ground was not safe for beings like him anymore and sat on a tree far away. The tree began to move too. It ran in really long strides. The peacock decided that only safe place to sit was bare ground and that was where he stayed for the rest of his life.
I argued with my daughter that this was more or less my own story. But she pointed out that in her story:
Well, I really couldn’t argue against such a strong case. So, I gave up trying to pry another story out of her. With five animals, her story trumped mine!
It reminded me of remixed songs–add an extra beat, a couple of extra instruments, a few hip-hoppers, and you have a quick hit and a chartbuster.
Plagiarism with brains!
Wake up to find
that the day has changed but life has not.
Office’s still on.
The child still drones on.
Husband mutters in his sleep.
hoping all’s well and all,
with no hope of meeting any time soon,
with responsibilities weighing me down.
Life goes on.
My 4-year old daughter, a Muslim, was super excited when she created this flag and hoisted it on a stick yesterday.
It was India’s Republic Day on 26th January. It is the celebration of the birth of our Constitution, which is the backbone of all our laws–existing and new.
The preamble of the Indian Constitution is the keeper of the soul of India–a constant reminder of what we are and what we strive to be. It speaks of freedom and equality, and gives the common man the right to challenge government and court decisions where they lack. It is the backbone of becoming a Socialist Secular Democratic Republic.
Let’s keep that in sight when we choose our government this year and next.
Let’s all vote.
Let’s vote for the people who work for growth, equality and freedom, not for a particular religion.
It is time to rise above our petty quabble and stand up for ourselves and each other. Let’s ensure that your children and mine grow up as proud of being Indians.
Happy New Year, Readers and Co-blogggers!
If you are wondering why I am late by five days in wishing you all, rest assured I wasn’t drunk or nursing a hangover or dealing with an LSD side-effect. I was busy vacationing…
Of course, vacation now means a car trip from my place to my parent’s place, and binge watching cartoon movies and Harry Potter on TV. Gone are the days when people went to beach for sunbathing or to hills for watching snowfall. Earth’s smallest organism has ensured that we are all inside our pigeon holes, never daring to poke our heads out.
Well, I made new year resolutions: rising early and daily exercise, which I have already broken on the first day. It is a norm, of course. I have made that resolution every 31st December night for the last 19 years and broken it the next day. It is sort-of a private joke now.
I remember my first time clearly. I slept through it, of course. After five months, when my parents could clearly see that I needed help waking up, they voluteered. They woke me and my elder brother up on a cool morning in May. It was 5 am. We walked sleepily with them to the closest park and sat down. When they forced us to walk around, we slouched for a few metres and sat down again. My parents left us there and began walking along the diametre of the park.
My brother, with his charming and respectable personality, was in a traditional kurta-pajama that day. He was sitting on a bench and I was down on the grass in a traditional salwar suit. Not sure what inspired him. My brother began preaching me in pure traditional Hindi about ‘Nidra Devi‘ (the godess of sleep), which was a beautiful construct of his overactive imagination. Like a true Swami, he preached me that sleep was a way to being close to God. I sat at his feet with my hands joined like a true follower, crying out intermittently in a loud voice, “Swami ji satya kehte h. Swami ji amar rahe.” (“The Great Preacher says the truth! Long live, Great Preacher!”) Together we sang a bhajan in praise of this newly-discovered goddess. His language and my acting was so impressive that people began to come close to hear what the wise man had to say. By the time, my parents had done two rounds of that park (around 1 km), we had shamed them enough never to bring us along again.
I tried again some years later when I had joined office gym, but that meant bathing and breakfasting in office. After having heavy breakfast (exercise makes you hungry) with a bunch of friends (laughter helps gain weight), I gained even more weight in that month. So I stopped.
Well, now the first resolution is broken, I made new New Year Resolutions: I will try to remember when to take medicine; I will try to eat healthier, if not less; I will try to spend less time on laptop and more with real people…Of course, the promises were broken the same morning when I forgot to take my calcium tablets, ate gajar ka halwa and potato sandwiches for breakfast while watching a movie on my laptop.
I am unsure if I should make more resolutions or ‘re-resolute’ myself to keep these old ones.
What do you say?
Did you make/break any new year resolution too?
I had long wondered why my family had the tradition of eating peanuts on long winter nights while sitting on the bed, preferably, inside the quilt. It is certainly warm but considering that peanut shells and their inner pink foils tend to stick to the quilt cover until washed, and makes them look dirty and forces us to wash them more frequently, it seemed like a lot of work for a little bit of warmth.
Hence, I tried to break out of the age-old tradition and eat peanuts at a table yesterday. I began to break open the shells using my fingers. That’s when it happened…
As soon as I would turn my head to talk to my daughter, who talks non-stop, peanuts would jump out of my fingers, land on floor and dive for cover. I would look around, meaning to find the lost bounty, to wash and eat it anyway. But to no avail…
The peanuts would just vanish in thin air. Frustrated at defeat and adamant on finding them anyhow, I moved the furniture and everything within three feet radius, even sweeped the floor using a broom so that, at least, we won’t step on them. But somehow, they managed to avoid me.
That’s when I realised why we eat them on the bed and inside a quilt–to trap them…
That’s what I am doing tomorrow too–I will wash the quilt covers later!
Maybe they had been a little rash
and stopped a little too late.
Do we throw away people with driving accidents?
A bad choice of date,
an indulgence in drugs with shared needles
at an age when life seems too short
to go slow and think twice,
a blood transfusion,
a used needle,
isn’t it all an accident too?
AIDS patients are victims,
Before you judge,
remember, you could be one too…
As a lot of you would know, today is World AIDS day. It is unfortunate how we have to create a day to spread awareness about a disease.
Out of all diseases, AIDS is the most unfortunate because of the stigma associated with it. A COVID patient, at least, recieves government aid, society’s sympathy and family’s emotional support but an AIDS patient, at least in India, is thrown out of the house for being infidile and bringing shame to family–as if those not infected have not been doing exactly the same things. AIDS patients are simply unfortunate to have received the disease that someone else had either hidden or carried unknowingly.
Shabana Azmi was India’s first actress to openly support the cause and come on television and say in a public service ad, “Chhoone se AIDS nahi failta.” (Touching doesnot spread AIDS.) That someone had to say that out loud on national television in an ad that was repeated everyday speaks volumes about how AIDS patients were treated then. Unfortunately, they are still treated the same way.
Virginity before marriage is the first demand for social acceptance in India. AIDS shatters that mirage. If an average Indian meets an AIDS patient, they jump to conclusions regarding their character without accepting that it could have been a mistake, true love, or simply blood transfusion or infected needle.
When Phir Milenge, a movie on AIDS with big starcast, was relesed in India in 2004, it only recieved critical acclaim, not box office success. People were afraid to be seen outside the movie hall that showed such a movie.
Even with laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a person with AIDS, it is sad how AIDS patients are still treated the same way. It doesn’t just kill them, it kills their wish to live.
Let’s remember, we are all humans who err. Let’s be humane…
even when small,
on cracked ground
and storms in sight,
with fists clenched,
and face tight.
Who are you?
Image by Ross Stone on Unsplash
Recently, my daughter asked me to check whether it was really Johney Flynn 👦 who drowned the cat 🐈(Ding-Dong-Bell-Pussy-in-the-well fame). All of a sudden, I started wondering how we can be sure of certain facts told in Nursery Rhymes.
I mean, the cat 🐈 could certainly not tell who threw her in the well and this Johney Flynn 👦 doesnot seem like a I-cannot-tell-a-lie kind of person. So, it is simply Tommy Stout’s word against his. Yet, through the centuries of this rhyme’s existence (first recorded in 1580 AD), we continue to blame him for being ‘a naughty boy who drowned a poor pussy cat’. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was bullied as a cat drowner and grew up to be an emotionally defunct serial-cat-murderer, seeking revenge for the unjustified blame.
Similarly, people speak of Humpty Dumpty 🥚 as a careless egg who sat on a wall and fell. Nobody cared to explain why king’s horses 🐎 and men 👮 were involved in trying to put it together. Was he a kin of the king? Was he a victim of a conspiracy? Did someone push him off the wall?
And what about Jack and Gill 👫? How did they fall? How can we merrily sing about someone breaking their head 🤕?
All these questions have taken away my faith from all the nursery rhymes I have ever read. I fear a conspiracy behind every story now. I am scared someday someone will tell me that Santa Claus 🎅 doesnot exist…
I really had to share this. Please read the entire series.
This is the seventh part in an ongoing serial I’m writing. To read from the beginning, click here.
‘So what you been doing for two hundred and fifty years?’ Damon asked his brother.
Crispin shrugged. ‘You know…stuff.’
‘What sort of stuff?’
‘You know,’ Crispin repeated. ‘Same old, same old.’
Damon was about to sigh, when he realised he wasn’t particularly interested in hearing what Crispin had spent the last two and half centuries doing. No doubt it was nefarious. No doubt some of it at least, was criminal.
They fell once more into silence, though it could hardly be described as companionable. Yet it wasn’t too long before the sound of rattling could be heard somewhere amongst the gravestone to their right.
Damon halted and peered into the gloom and a moment later the cause of the noise became apparent. ‘Oh no,’ Damon whispered.
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Ammpryt’s painting is out for sale. Connect through comments for prices
Resuse, Repurpose, Recycle is the rage of the day. It is fashionable to paint stained T-shirts, cut old socks into mittens and carry the old, ‘vintage’ bag your grandmother received on her wedding day while sporting the latest shoes (that needed a home loan to buy) to eat out in restaurants that were once aeroplanes. I am supporter of recycling old stuff to save the environment.
But my daughter has taken the ‘Resuse, Repurpose, Recycle’ phrase to another level. I had once shared her story where Lambert, the Sheepish Lion was repurposed to be Lamabert, Hippoish Hippo.
After creating several versions of the story (Lambert, The Sheepish Crocodile, Lambert: The Wolfish Lion, Lambert: The Sheepish Hippo), she stopped and I sighed with relief. I am not the one for plagiarism. Now, she has taken a similar approach for a Hindi kids song, “Aaj Mangalwar h“.
Original plot: A mouse gets ill on a Tuesday and goes to doctor. The doctor gives him injection and he cries in pain, “Ooi, Ooi, Ooi”.
First day she asked me to replace the story with another animal, I got creative, using a Giraffe, I built a story where Giraffe, being too tall, could not find shelter on a rainy day and fell ill. His mom took him to the doctor. The doctor tried injection but it broke. So, he gave him a medicine and Giraffe became well.
Big mistake! Now my daughter asks me to build stories around the same plot, using:
The idea is superb since the combinations are endless but it is a blow to my creativity.
Once, when I retaliated and declined to honour the request for these stories, my daughter decided to humour me by telling me the stories herself. In one of them, she gave 100 injections to a lizard baby.
I feel for the lizard baby and wonder if she survived the wrongful detainment and the horrific treatment. Nobody deserves that, even in imagination. As the diseases and their treatments become more graphic, I am praying this fetish passes soon before we get a notice from PETA…
Hey All! My piece was published on Whispers and Echoes eMagazine.
Shaily Agrawal is a small-town Indian and a working mother. Her skewed perspective is apparent through her stories on her blog: https://fishinthetrees.home.blog/ You can read her first short story collection, The Forest Bed on Amazon Kindle.
My post Wild Flower was published on Drabble today. Take a peek.