Wonders of the World

Azure skies and dragonflies
Rain showers and cool bowers
Tall Deodars and twinkling stars
Water stream and pale moonbeam
Are all but wonders of the world.

Fragrant rose and glistening snows
Staple crops and mountain tops
Melodic tunes and sandy dunes
Vibrant blooms and peacock plumes
Are all but wonders of the world.

Sunny rays and winter haze
Red beetles and pink corals
Bee swarms and irate storms
Rocky shields and paddy fields
Are all but wonders of the world.

Sarus crane and lion’s mane
Pristine lakes and rattle snakes
Raspberries and morning breeze
Ocean waves and ancient caves
Are all but wonders of the world.

They’re found all around,
In the heavens, on the ground,
Waiting to delight you
With their beauty so true.

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This photograph was taken on November 22, 2015 in the small village of Senthal in Northern India.

It shows a cluster of haphazardly packed shanties offering a meagre housing support to large families living in squalor and scarcity. These one room shacks are built of clay, bricks and plastic sheets, each accommodating a family of 7-8 members, of which majority are children. The earning of the residents comes usually from the seasonal employment in agricultural farms and from daily wage labour.

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There is an appointed time for everything that is meant to happen
For the other things that are not meant to happen, there is always an alternative

The Guilt

Dark corners of being
House the murderous guilt;
Murderous, let’s call it
For there’s blood I see spilt
– Oozing out slow,
Staining the pristine.
A blot of shame
On unholy and unclean.
A moment not so glorious,
A tread not so right
Call the killer quietly,
Away from the spotlight.
I dare call it poisonous
For poison it slips
In the cup of serenity
Touching thy lips.
A ghost of conscience
Haunting the hollow,
Preying on thy soul
There’s peace to swallow.
The mind cries foul
And throat chokes within
When the beast of guilt
Flashes thy sin.

कुछ ख़्यालात…

दश्त में जाता वो कारवाँ तो पुराना है
उन्हीं मदहोश लोगों के बीच मेरा भी ठिकाना है

फसानों की बस्ती में पलता मेरा भी एक फसाना है
नुमाइश-ए-आलम में अपना शामियाना रोज़ लगाना है

दो जोड़े कपड़े और दो निवाले ही कमाना है
रोज़मर्रा की रोज़ी तो सिर्फ़ जीने का बहाना है

फ़तह के ईनामों को मुझे तो बस सजाना है
ताज पर वैसे तो हर किसी का निशाना है

अफ़सोस की खुद को जीना यूँ सिखाना है
दरअसल अब ये जालसाज़ों का ज़माना है

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दश्त – desert                                                         कारवाँ – caravan
मदहोश – unmindful                                              फसाना – story / tale
बस्ती – a small town                                             नुमाइश-ए-आलम – the fair of this world
शामियाना – tent                                                    रोज़मर्रा की रोज़ी – daily wages
फ़तह – victory                                                       ईनामों – prizes and awards
ताज – crown                                                          जालसाज़ों – fake people

In The Misty Woodlands Of My Memory

Perched atop the edge of this hill
The rugged valley below me
I see the trail left behind
In the misty woodlands of my memory.

The woods are dark and silent here,
The breeze is strong and chilly.
The crimson sun is slowly setting
In the misty woodlands of my memory.

A solitary figure standing away
From wonted rush and frenzy,
I think of what is lost and buried
In the misty woodlands of my memory.

The climb upwards saw many a face,
Now most are blurred and hazy.
Withered away, they lie somewhere
In the misty woodlands of my memory.

The journey began as a cold race
– A quest for promised glory.
I ran my best to beat the rest
In the misty woodlands of my memory.

Pausing was losing, so I believed
Then how could I stop and tarry?
I pursued the chase with fervor and pace
In the misty woodlands of my memory.

With time did pass many a year,
With time did change the scenery
While I was on a solemn march
In the misty woodlands of my memory.

I look up at the peak so far
Only half way through the story
– A story that was once so weaved
In the misty woodlands of my memory.

Chasing the Autumn Wish

A wish dawned early in an autumn morning,
A lively inspiration from a secret yearning.
I lay in bed, my eyes wide open
Head buzzing and chest heaving.
Little did I care how the hues would change
The autumn was knocking, it felt so strange.
The streaks of yellow and the patches of brown
Painted the bustling labyrinths of town.
The wanderer in me woke up at the hint
Of a sweet invite, laced with a tinge of mint.
The breeze that bore the message so bold
Blew all the way over the mines of gold.
I must leave tomorrow, I decided
At the crack of dawn, hopeful and guided.
The time slipped fast and soon I set off,
Riding on the high of dark, malty quaff.
The sun shone weak on the misty woodlands,
The trees swayed pretty on the dreamy highlands.
The magic of scenery pulled the right string
Not wasting another moment, I jumped right in.
I planned and plotted, and prayed and prowled
The dusky terrains where the beasts growled.
I knew my prize was somewhere close
– The buzz was louder, the rush was more.
The owls hooted, and the lions roared
The snakes slithered, and the dragons soared.
On and on, as I fiercely advanced
Over the swamps, the fireflies danced.
I walked and ran, and ran and walked
Charting my course, my plan was chalked.
I was near, of that I was sure
But just then a thud hit the floor.
Its deafening sound echoed through the woods,
And wolves howled amok from their dark hoods.
Thereafter, a spooky silence fell over
Stillness around, not even a slight stir.
I froze in horror and sank in despair
Clutching at my chest, I breathed some air.
The eerie moon shone pale yellow that night
– That night of trial and endless fright.
How far I had come, I couldn’t believe
It was then too late to fret and grieve.
I did realize that maybe I was lost;
By then it was winter, cold and frost.
Frigid, I slumped against an old oak
I saw no fire, but there was smoke.
It stung my eyes and choked my throat
While my mind kept playing a melancholic note.
The winter just dragged in a sad lull,
The walk back home was slow and dull.
I slept one night cursing the autumn wish,
Hoping that the jinxed journey would soon finish.
There came another morning right after that
I woke up and saw my town as I sat
Up on the mound of earth
And anxiety gave way to mirth.
I reached, at last, in the mad maze
Of my mad town, where the sun rays
Hit the populace
In all their grace.
Maybe the spring was coming…
I guess I was gone for too long
Not to worry, no, because I came out strong.
I rushed back home,
I didn’t want to roam.
Not anymore, you see
For the chase had cost me
A good night’s sleep and a dozen more things.
I’d rather stay home and enjoy all springs
Than be out there in the land of unknowns,
In the pool of mud, or on the pile of stones.
I know the wanderer in me is still alive,
Only now it thinks before taking a dive.

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