Celebrating Diwali

Demon goes down by dear wife,
Butter thief god driving chariot.

All’s well, the demon duly dead
And we would light up inky sky.

But on festival night , it poured
And sky was its fireworks show.

It was not a sky’s light of sound,
But a silk soft rain on our night.

Serial chilly crackers sputtered
Like sesame seeds in frying oil.

Kids lighted their pots of light
And ran back, in rain and fright.

Earth pots sent up fire flowers
Into the rain like trees of light.

Rain did not dampen crackers
Or the children’s festive spirit.

(Diwali is the day when we celebrate the slaying of evil demon Narakasur at the hands of Satyabhama, Krishna’s wife)


Toy train

The train chugs in with men hanging from it
As if they are fleas hanging on a lion’s eyes,
Its eyes closing in on patient understanding.

I like its leisurely pipe smokes in a winter sky
And roars of annoyance as men come its way.

It is not a train to take me to the world’s end
Where mountains lose their peaks to the sky.
With only a tiny fire in its belly it is just a toy.

(The train is the Darjeeling- Himalayan railway between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling, nick named “toy train)

The ghats of Ganga in Varanasi

We keep a sun hot and smoking
Beyond this river’s stone steps.

We cannot find rubies by river,
Only half burnt bodies to drown.

But the body grows old and ripe
On the harmful calcium carbide.

We have just not enough wood
And the sun is hot and smoking.

( Some references are to Andrew Marvel’s poem To His Coy Mistress)

Red green and blue

The trucks left their tire’s treads
In fine dust layers on the roads
All the way to green sea, where
Ships went blue  with containers
For yellow men of other shore.

The red dust covered the trees
And roads and walking people
All the way to an invisible sky.

The earth is now a red planet
At the other shore of the sea.

(Large scale iron ore mining for export to China has left our mountains totally devastated in parts of South India)

Thirteen and heaven

I am thirteen and drink water
At six P.M. and go to my bed.
You will see me in white light.

I shut window and lie my self,
Drawing a white sheet to chin.
Heaven is right up to my chin.

(A thirteen year old girl dies after fasting for 68 days as part of a religious ritual believed to be to bring her father’s gold business out of losses)