in the half light of dawn the breeze-
laden with the scent of mango blossom-
drifts in from the courtyard,
calling her thoughts to the waiting river;
quietly she leaves her bed,
gathers her unkempt hair in a loose bun
then pauses for a moment,
listens to her husband’s measured breathing,
then silently tiptoes out,
tucking in the corner of her sari at the waist
she hastily collects the fallen Parijatak in her pallu
placing a few in her hair at the same time,
the red from their stalks rising to her cheeks;
beside the well the empty pitchers wait,
nearby the battered clay stove
recalls her own scars,
for a split second she wavers, then crosses
the threshold, her heart frantic with haste,
leaving behind the walls
that had risen around her brick by brick;
the river hears her hurried footsteps
with rapt attention, at its bend
under the shade of the mangroves,
a boat and a promise patiently wait
ready to carry her away.
I have been fortunate to connect and make friends with writers and artists from across the globe. Social media channels have been a big boon to me as far as my writing journey goes.
I have had some wonderful reviews in mainstream newspapers / online journals and websites for my books but the small notes of appreciation that come via Twitter/Facebook/Goodreads etc mean a lot and are equally special and cherished.
Matthew Bialer is one of the brilliant writers I met on FB. We have not met in person.. not yet. He is an exceptional photographer and painter too. Sometime ago he posted a mini review of WAYFARING on GoodReads but it appeared under author Siddharth Gigoo’s review as a comment. I missed it then but found it later. Here’s what Matt had to say,
Some more writer friends I admire are reading the book. Chandini Santosh sent me a reader’s Pic and Dominic announced the arrival with a small note. I will write more about Chandini and her books etc in the next post. I am excited and nervous about her feedback. She is one of my favorite writers and needs to be read by all. More later. 🙂
Dominic Albanese is a poet and a war veteran from Florida. You can checkout his work HERE. Most of the books can be downloaded for free. He’s been writing poetry since 1966. This is what he wrote on FB:
Twitter has got me many followers on the blog. I have come to know a lot of bloggers/writers/artists/ filmmakers there. Here’s an insightful review of ‘Wayfaring’ from a Twitter reader friend. A poet and translator himself though he prefers to be in the shadows. Thank you Ayushman . Do click on the link to read the full ‘tweet review’.
The biggest news came yesterday when ‘Wayfaring’ found a place in the National Daily Hindustan Times’s City Supplement, HT City of 28th March.
This is my third media mention in HT. Two of them for Wayfaring and the earlier one for my blog. It is a very special feeling. Encouraging too. Thank you Nabanita for your short yet insightful review.
This what she said about the book:
“…emotions so vividly expressed that it’s difficult to move from one verse to the other.”
All this good news means celebration. I have an appointment with the dentist tomorrow. I’m scared and fretting as usual but I know he’s one of the best. Keep me in your thoughts. Hopefully it won’t be a major procedure and I’ll be able to celebrate my mom’s 88th birthday the next day. It would be such a joy to have all the children / grandchildren together under one roof.
Here’s to Poetry
she stands among the ancient trees,
hair fluttering protestingly over her full breasts,
strings of beads resting around her neck,
draped in red cotton her dark skin glistening in sweat,
her kohl eyes like fiery embers,
a sliver of sun on her forehead,
behind her, smeared in symbolic vermilion,
the Goddess sits cross-legged,
leaning against the matted roots of a tree,
defiant, wise, independent,
the power stemming from her womb,
from a quiet corner I watch them,
fierce, unapologetic; both born of the soil,
somewhere beyond the hills a river turns red,
an embodiment of the eternal truth –
the Aashad clouds gather
beating their ancient drums
as the earth receives its first rain
The city around me is a fucking cemetery darkened with age where buildings stand cramped together like old, forgotten headstones representing a rift between living and dead. Pigeons, like monks at prayer, line up on balconies and window ledges. Nothing romantic or mysterious. Nothing historic or glorious. Nothing eerie. What lies beneath is dead. What lies above is stagnating. Slowly it will all crumble and die to give place to a yet another set of graves. Funeral is the word filling my mind right now. Somewhere a bird sings a mournful song. Must be a nightingale.
I muse about this as I walk around the city of Delhi. I feel that the culture has died in the eyes of almost everyone you see. If this is a fact, then I guess we must be independent of it, and seek out those who are also independent of it, in order to live at all among the ruins. I look at a different perspective. Vitality lies in the past, whose traces remain in those very ruins, but we cannot go there: our relationship to that, like our relationships to those we love, must advance, change – which is the very thing the ruins refuse us – but in its balance of decay, a change disrupts it, so any thought is a victory. Nightingales can learn plenty new songs. Delhi has layers and layers of surprises. It is a city full of emotions.
Emotions make me think of a blue Yamuna, a river we have collectively brought to a slow death with our neglect and apathy. No one cares to visit her banks or give a little thought to her. The monsoon rains give us a glimpse of the glorious river momentarily but then again she reseeds to be dismissed as a dirty sewer. No one thinks who turned her to be what she is now. I think of the women in my country as I look at her from a distance longing to reach out and touch its waters. There is something so deeply comforting and soothing about sitting at the bank of a river. I am dreaming of a blue Yamuna.
November has been benevolent in more than one ways. Someone special has brought good tidings in my life. A daughter I always yearned for. Bless her. She’s an exceptional poetess too. There is still a hint of autumn in the breeze but slowly we’re heading to the real Delhi Winter with all its glorious flowers, snug, colorful woolens, fests, music and art festivals, visits to the monuments and parks. Winter is also the ideal time to experience the incredible Delhi Street food, the pipping hot aalu tikkis, kachoris, gajar halwa, hot jalebis, spicy sweet potato and fried potato chaats and also cold rabri falooda. yes, I’m one of those who love to eat ice creams and kulfis in winter. 🙂 exploring the city for authentic food is a journey of discovery in more than one ways.
Speaking of journey reminds me to tell you about Djelloul Marbrook. He is the editor-in-chief of The Arabesques Review Magazine. Originally from Algeria, he lives in the US now. An exceptional poet, writer, he’s someone I look up to as a student learning the craft of writing. You must check out his website and YouTube channel. It is a gold mine for poetry lovers. When my publisher and friend James Goddard told me that he’s reviewing my book I was slightly nervous but at the same time extremely happy too. This is the first review for ‘Wayfaring’ before it releases on the 20th of Nov. I don’t have words to tell you how proud I feel right now of my evolution as a poet and as a writer. He has written a glorious review of the book and touched the soul of my poetry.
Here’s an excerpt :
Tikuli is a skilled plein air painter; her palette of words is spare, meticulously chosen and applied in a variety of metrical patterns that, while not avant-garde, are modernist and reliable. The reader is never required to study her metrics; her focus is on the act of recollection and its requisite imperative. She has stories to tell, portraits to paint, ghosts to address, and issues to redress.
The complete review can be read here – A Journey Beyond the Baggage of Pronouns in the tradition of Hafez Rumi and Al Arabi
The review moved me deeply and to place my poetry in the league of some of the greatest poets of all times that I love and admire is very humbling. Thank you Djelloul for this precious gift. I will cherish your words forever.
On another note, I have not been very regular with my blog post except the recipes but will soon resume updating the other blog categories too. I plan to visit some old, historic places this winter.
I’ll meet you at another place, another time, another field. The prettiest and most resilient flowers grow in broken spaces like the cracks in the sidewalks. Look out for those places.
A lot is happening at the same time. Delhi is shrouded in toxic smog but our shopping has started in full swing for the upcoming wedding of my son. I hate shopping. ;( It drains me out physically and mentally but this time I am excited so enjoying the researching and hanging out with my boys for some time even though it is walking miles and miles in the midst of shopaholics.
This is the sight that brings relief to tired burning eyes.
Did I share the photograph of the couple? They make a lovely pair. Perhaps you can say a little prayers for them and send your blessings as they embark on a new journey. Can’t wait for these two to get married.
To add to the good tidings my new poetry book Wayfaring is here. Not very many copies. I have earmarked a few for friends and guides. Rest of you can buy it from amazon or any online book seller worldwide. Do let me know if you pick up a copy. Write a short review, post a reader’s selfie. Show your love any way you wish. I am looking forward eagerly.
Here is what joy looks like
I shared a teaser video earlier and here is another fantastic video of my poetic journey with Leaky Boot Press. The video is created by my Publisher friend James Goddard.
It can get hard sometime but when you are approached for an interview by Kulpreet Yadav, India’s best selling thriller writer, friend and editor of a fabulous lit mag Open Road Review, life gets a new high Check out his Andy Karan series and new Vicks Menon thriller Murder In Paharganj on all major book sites. ORR earlier gave space for my poetry. It is a magazine I am proud to be associated with as a contributor.
Except from the interview:
“Kulpreet – As a poet do you have a long-term goal? Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
Me – “For a writer, it is very important to develop their sense of their literary journey. To evolve and grow as a human being and as a writer is the only goal I have. I don’t think about future. Let’s see what the universe unfolds as we go along. As a writer, I just want to enjoy the process.” “
Here’s the link to the full interview
When there is so much goodness around one needs to celebrate with some sinful chocolate mud cake from my favorite Cafe Delhi Heights. Give it a try if you’re in Delhi.
Keep watching this space for more updates on the book or check out the book page at the top menu of the blog.
The sapling you planted
near the pond in the courtyard
The lusty boughs of your mango tree
are laden with pale green; ambrosia
is fragrant on the southern wind
The black bees flock to the nectar filled
mango blossom and fill the
pleasure garden with their songs
From a high branch a cuckoo
calls his mate, his song piercing
the shadows across my heart
Below, the sun flirts with the
water lilies as it warms
the cool waters of the pond
The swing, unused now,
moves gently when caressed by
even the lightest breeze
The days have lengthened
since the blossoming of our love
and summer is lonelier than ever
My hammock sways to music
I cannot hear, as I recall
Those fragrant, leisured days
Our joyful laughter and games,
our feet soothed by the
waters of the lotus pond
Twigs and flowers in our hair from
guilty afternoon naps in the grass,
books left upturned on our bellies
Seasons quickly change,
luscious fruits, long summer
evenings filled with birdsong
The blossoming of our love
in the pleasure garden
our first kiss, lying side by side
And then came the season for grief,
we parted in silence in the early morning
before the sun had dried the dew
Years passed and we were apart, but this year
the lane that leads to our garden
is fragrant with love
The lotus pond is brimming with pink buds
the courtyard is carpeted with golden petals
the air is filled with the cuckoo’s call
Won’t you come my love
From ‘Collection Of Chaos‘ my debut poetry book. You can buy the book from any online bookseller including amazon. Do check out my new collection ‘Wayfaring – Poems By Tikuli‘ that is available for pre-order now.
It is a beautiful day in my city, cool breeze, cotton clouds and a melodious cacophony of birds and crickets outside my window. I’m listening to Nina Simone on YouTube with a hot cup of coffee and some clotted cream shortbread next to me.
A perfect time of the day to share another good news with all of you.
My second book of poems published by Leaky Boot Press is now available to pre-order. It has a very different set of poems from ‘Collection Of Chaos‘ which was published in Jan, 2014. This book is very special to me for various reasons. The entire process of writing and assembling this book was a learning experience in various aspects of writing, editing, and presenting a literary work. I also realized how hard an editor’s job is. No one thanks them really.
James Goddard, who is a fantastic writer/photographer/editor/ mentor gave hours of dedicated time all through the making of this book and before that to help me polish my writing. You will see what a fabulous job he’s done. Thank you Jim.
Here is the cover, a gorgeous photograph by James Goddard. I will tell you the cover story later 😀
There were times I felt that the book was jinxed but here it is to pre-order . Soon it will be available with other booksellers and online retailers worldwide too. Keep checking.
You’ll buy, won’t you? Show some love for poetry folks, we need it especially in the times we are living in.
The printed copies have arrived in England and will soon come to me too. The book releases on Monday, 20th Nov, 2017 and will be available with all online book sellers across the globe.
I will be getting some extra copies that I have earmarked for a few people. Some will be on sale too. Maybe at a lower price. Need to figure out the numbers and other logistics.
I will keep you updated on events connected to the book though there won’t be any readings etc for now.