Friday, June 3, 2011

The Thorn

It hurt
sharp and deep
Twisting the heart
Making me weep
Then it faded
with time and sleep
New tidings
covered it deep.

Buried and forgotten
I thought it lost.
Sometimes with longing
I still sought
Happy though
That it was not
Bothering me
I thought.

Then came the fragrance
of a flower in bloom.
Raking up memories
Of the thorn that seemed doomed.
A sharp jab to tell me
that it lay still within
Biding its time
taking me by surprise
Clouding my thoughts
making me wild
Confused and unhappy
pacing awhile.

Then it faded again
leaving me in peace
Content and happy
in the present bliss
But never do I forget
that it lies hidden
Sharpening its claws
to tear me in
Less than a minute
of remembering it
Just when I think
I have forgotten it.

Other poetic attempts: Tearing through the Blue; The Tiny Drop

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Many Faces

A woman is worshipped as the mother.
A woman is the president of the country.
A woman heads the party heading the government.
A woman is elected head of state.
A woman is sent to jail for corruption.
A woman heads a leading private bank in the country.
A woman heads an international organisation.
And yet, in this country where women have broken the glass ceiling, female infanticide is the highest. And for many girls who escape this fate, slave trade awaits them.
Their sin - being born to poor parents?
Can the lure of dollars be enough for a mother to sell her daughter for prostitution?

The New Goddess; The Scholarship; Worshipper of Goddesses

Out of the Box

A narrow road with small tenements. The access from the main road only through a narrow lane. Nothing beyond these houses that one could make out. A long passage, up the stairs and two small rooms - one drawing with kitchen and another presumably the bedroom. A terrace where the workshop is.

The woman, not more than five feet tall. Maybe a graduate, may not even be that. Daughter of a lift man, a union leader. Surely would know only a smattering of English, but extremely clear communication in Tamil, and sharp clear thoughts.

Currently running a creative business with her husband, she is already thinking beyond the coming 10 years, when the demand may reduce. She is already thinking what the next enterprise should be, and is conducting a research on the demand.

"My aim is to create jobs for others. I am teaching my son that when he grows up, he must earn well and help other poor children get good education."

Even as I scribbled her words down on my notepad, I don't mind confessing - she made me feel envious. In social and economic terms, to the external eye, she has less. But inside, she has more, much more.

Read about Jaya Ramakrishnan: At 72, she works untiringly giving women an opportunity

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I had written this for a book but it didn't get published. I feel proud to share this with my friends:

I was reading the newspaper sometime back (a rarity for me), and I saw the statistics that in Chennai, only around 25 percent of the old people are economically independent.

And I was struck by the fact that in my family, 100 percent of the old people – my parents and in-laws – belong to that category though they may not have been part of the survey.

My mother is the youngest of those four people at 69 years. She started teaching music sometime after she was 40, after her three children had grown up, and is not ready to retire yet. Till she was about 64 years young, she insisted on using the public buses. A very bad knee forced her to consider autos – but that was the only concession she gave herself. Today, come rain, come sun, she is busy from 10 in the afternoon to 8 in the night, teaching music. Her students include housewives who come in the mornings, office goers - she teaches in the Income Tax office to working women during lunch hour, and school students from after 3 – both at her own house and in other people’s homes up to a radius of 5 to 6 kilometers. To meet her, you need an appointment.

My father, a seventy-three-year-old retired government employee, waited for retirement to enjoy life after having slogged at the customs and central excise for all his employable life. His goal was to catch up on the music programs that happen in the city, and evenings find him in one auditorium or the other. But to me, he has grown into a hero of a different sort. During his youth and my growing up years, I don’t remember him “fathering” me much except as the breadwinner. But since I started my own family, despite a bypass and an angioplasty, I only need to call him and he comes running to take care of my young children as I rush off to pursue my career or my passion – dance. My husband complains that I am stressing my father out. But my father simply says, “I am able to do it. So you don’t worry about it.”

Now I need him less, and he has found some translation and proofing jobs that keep him busy. Pension keeps him independent of his children. Recently, he released a CD of his songs - TV Debut - and this has spurred him to write some more.

My mother-in-law, seventy three, is also a music and veena teacher, who, despite having a back problem, cannot dream of giving up her work. Though she teaches mostly from home, her commitment is first to the classes and then to everything else.

But I leave my father-in-law for last not only because he is eighty-one-years-old, but also because only this January, we forced him to retire. He abounds in restless energy and uses his bike to commute short to medium distances. Even after he officially retired, he has been working steadily. He was last Vice-Principal at a spoken English training school. Even after he quit there, he continues to take classes on Saturdays at the institute.

Seeing their positive attitude to life and work, it is difficult to tell them to rest and relax - they have adapted their lifestyles to cope with their physical limitations while still using their mental faculties and talents.

I think all that the current generation and the next one can hope for is to keep this spirit going.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Nothing Permanent About It

The mind - the monkey
Swings from tree to tree
emotion to emotion
desire to desire.

When someone near dies
it decides it will follow
the straight path
not pick up fights
not be bitchy or mean.
It's after all one short life.

And a week later
it is already complaining
about a relative, a friend, a colleague.
It doesn't want to give,
and is ready to grab
though it knows
that death takes away all.

The mind, the monkey
feels overwhelmed with gratitude
when someone extends a help
and thinks that it will never
ever forget that person.

A few years later
it doesn't know why
this person and it
are still 'friends'!
He did help,
it acknowledges with guilt,
but I have more than repaid,
it consoles itself.

The mind, the monkey,
it sways from tree to tree,
thinking this is it,
the final destination,
the ultimate moment of joy.

And yet, in no time,
it is looking
to swing away
discontented and disllusioned
for a greater source of joy.

The mind, the monkey
holds us in its sway.
Though we know
it has to be controlled,
we think just one last time,
let me indulge,
and it can be leashed again.

The mind the monkey
laughs at our feeble efforts
tempting us with fruits
sweeter than this.
And like a fool
we give in
thinking it is we
who control the mind.

On similar lines: The Dilemma
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