You Are Still Here – A Response Poem


Kashmir Lit is a wonderful journal of Kashmiri and Diasporic writing. The journal is run by Ather Zia and Huzaifa Pundit. Sometime back they had given a call for ‘Response Poems’. The idea was to write a response to any poem by a well known poet that inspired or connected deeply with the writer.

Amrita Pritam is one one of my favorite writers and most of her poetry speaks to me at a personal level. I chose to write my response to one of her well known poems ‘Main Tenu Phir Milangi /I Will Meet You Yet Again’  You can read the original poem and its English translation by poet Akhil Katyal by clicking the link.  This particular love poem was Amritaji’s last and was written for her partner for half a century, Imroz Sahab. Her promise to him of eternal love transcending lifetimes.

This is the link to my response ‘ You Are Still Here‘ that got published in Kashmir Lit recently. I am posting the poem along with my Hindi Translation of it for you. Do let me know your views. My idea was to write a response as Imroz sahab would perhaps have written. Though one can never match the brilliance of either.

This is my tribute and love note to a woman I admire for what she is (always here. Never gone). I am a poet because of her.

You Are Still Here 

Seasons shift
The cycle continues
Delicate harshingar blossoms
Fall like fragrant stars
I gather them gently
As my heart fills with you
Your presence radiating
From the source of our love
Your heart opens up to me
The fiery center of a flower
I catch your familiar scent
As you draw near
It seems that you’re with me
The breeze murmurs
“I’ll meet you yet again,
When, how I don’t know.”
Your words touch my skin
Unforgotten words
Words that I remember well
I know you are here
I listen to your breathing
I see dust-motes dancing
Iridescent daydreams in the sun
The morning sky is a canvas
Words shimmer in the light
Whispering your promise
“I’ll meet you yet again,
When, how I don’t know.”
But dear Amrita
You were never gone
You never left this place
Your presence echoes all around
Fragile flesh perishes
But love is strong
It outlasts the brevity of life
It changes form… it endures
My life is a palimpsest
Layers of memory
Absent yet strangely there
Graffiti waiting for the ink to dry
Then existence shifts
In some other time and space
“I’ll meet you yet again,
When, how I don’t know.”

 

तुम यहीं हो, यहीं कहीं हो

 

फिर मौसम ने करवट ली है

एक रुत आयी एक गयी

महकते तारों से झड़ते नाज़ुक़ हरसिंगार

जब आहिस्ता से दामन में जमा करता हूँ

तो मन तुमसे पुलकित हो उठता  है

एक तस्वीर सी उभर आती है तुम्हारी,

चटख नारंगी, अनुरागी

और वही पहचानी सी खुशबू

जैसे तुम यहीं हो, यहीं कहीं मेरे पास

और हवाओं की सरगोशियों में

तैरने लगते हैं तुम्हारे वो अल्फ़ाज़,

मैं तैनु फिर मिलांगी,

कित्थे ? किस तरह पता नई

छू जाते हैं मेरे रोम रोम को

वो भूलने वाले अल्फाज़

जो अब अभी मुझे याद हैं

मुझे पता है तुम यहीं हो

यहीं कहीं आस पास

ये तुम्हारी साँसों की आहट ही तो है

जब धुप में सुनहरी धूल के कण

थिरकते हैं जगमगाते सपनो की तरह

और सुबह का आसमां एक कैनवास में

बदल जाता है, रोशनी से झिलमिलाते शब्द

फिर तेरे उस वादे का इज़हार करते हैं,

मैं तैनु फिर मिलांगी,

कित्थे ? किस तरह पता नई

पर प्यारी अमृता, तुम तो कभी गयी ही नहीं

तुम्हारी मौजूदगी गूंजती हैं यहाँ के ज़र्रेज़र्रे में

जिस्म नश्वर  है पर  प्रेम शाश्वत

अडिग, अमिट हर पल नए रूप नए रंग में,

मेरा जीवन एक पुराना किस्सा है

परत दर परत तुम्हारी यादों का

अभी यहीं, अभी ओझल आँखों से

कुछ शब्द जो स्याही के सूखने का

इंतज़ार कर रहे हैं

फिर समां बदलता है, एक भीनी सी

सरसराहट छू के निकलती है,

मैं तैनु फिर मिलांगी,

कित्थे ? किस तरह पता नई

Poetry Prompts With Kaafiya


I am working on some poems and a few other things so not very regular here. Today while going through my drafts I realized I had not shared these poems with you.

Kaafiya had a Rhyme along with Adil Jussawalla poetry prompt session on their FB page as part of their #KaafiyaMilao series in May 2017. The Poem I submitted was among the four winning poems selected by their editorial team.

The Prompt was from his beautiful poem Turning Seventy  You can read his poem by clicking on the link.
Prompt – “My body is a pile of papers left behind on a bench.”

Here’s my poem :

 

 

There was another poetry prompt last year in April with poet / Writer Abha Iyengar. The prompt was a line from her favorite poem. Here is Abha’s poem which I copied from Kaafiya page .

Prompt-

Two poems
And a conversation

Poem-

What we have is
A table.
Two poems.

And a conversation
That neither of us began.

But as we speak the lines
We say everything in between.
We spill
Over the distance of the table
That separates us.

We move our legs back
Under and behind our chairs
Scared of touching
That which lies
beneath the lines.
Knowing that we will overflow
Over and above
The table
Knocking it over
Sometime
Anytime
Even as our bodies strain
To keep back
All that drives us forward.
Two poems
And a conversation.

 

And here is my poem that got selected along with four others.

This what Abha had to say about the poem,” “Tikuli talks of how an innocent outpouring of the heart into poems, and the doubts and assumptions that riddle a married life or a relationship bring an end to everything.”

This poem is also a part of my new book ‘Wayfaring‘ . I did a few changes to it before publishing  and I am grateful to Abha for allowing me to include it in the collection.  The book is available with all online book vendors worldwide so please go order your copy today.

Do look up the Kaafiya Page and follow them on Twitter to participate in their weekly prompts and other good things they do.

I will be sharing a few important posts soon. Just getting into the rhyme and rhythm of things around me.

Stay with me here and keep sharing your valuable feedback.

 

Two New Poems On Love


MOSS ROSE 
I want to place this red blossom
in your hair just behind your ear
as you stand by the window
in the shadows of morning
people think we are close friends,
brothers even, so long have they seen us
laughing together
soon they will know we are lovers
I want to walk along the street
holding your hand, your hair with its flower
giving spring to the town
in the heat of summer
( Inspired by a photo and caption posted by Onir on his Instagram story )
****************************************
MY LOVER IS A WOMAN 
I couldn’t love so I wrote
words became fingers
the paper her skin, raw, sensual,
quivering with desire
my love for her became a protest
love – a weapon, a tool,
an agent of change
I wanted to rebel with poetry,
with dreams, with colors,
with Kohl lined eyes,
lips upon lips, with spring pollen,
with rhythm of the rain,
a bit of summer sky,
the seasons of the city spilling in her veins
– her body an alchemy of color palette –
Gulmohar, Jacaranda, Bougainvillea
 It is in these words I found her
and in turn found myself
and since then I can’t stop coming out
I want to come out in all possible ways
I want to come out and love
unabashed and unapologetic
I want to come out in rainbow colours
and say out loud –
yes, my lover is a woman
and you can put me behind bars
but never back in the closet

Poem – Where We Lived


I often visit the
abandoned house
off the beaten track
Its yard
no longer tended
Here
In the forgotten places
Littered with broken shards,
Rotting leaves, gnarled branches,
Entwined vines and
Dried unruly weeds
I follow the scent
Of unseen blossoms
I trace my fingers
On the ancient walls
Moist with night dew and
On which
Memory has turned mossy green
In places
I look through the dusty windows
That reflect nothing
The sadness of which
Speaks to me
Then, as the seasons change,
In the midst of decay
The tree of sorrow blooms
Night after night
Romancing the August moon

 

First published in ‘Collection Of Chaos‘. You can buy the book from any online book vendor.

First Review Of ‘Wayfaring’ And City Musing


 I’ve watched this city moult. The change in its personality. The struggle to live and work through the masquerade of urban beautification. The slow and painful makeover. The contradictions. The altered demographies. The inequities. The restlessness and the river that quietly flows through it all.  I’m composing a new set of Delhi Poems. Somewhat ungrand this time.

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.

The River Yamuna from Nizamuddin Bridge, Delhi.

I’m sailing on silent waters
between dreams and 
half rememberings
In a floating world 
where nothing is as it seems

 

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.

WAYFARING copies are here ! ; ORR Interview And Poetry At LBP


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. 

Snigdhaditya

Perfect 10 / SnigdhAditya

 

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.

Cheers!

The Dance Of The Eunuchs by Kamala Suraiya Das


Kamala Suraiya Das also known as Madhavikutty, considered India’s ‘Poet Laureate,’ set a bold new tone for India’s women, poor and disenfranchised.Kamala Das’s poems epitomize the dilemma of the modern Indian woman who attempts to free herself, sexually and domestically, from the role of bondage sanctioned by the past. She was a revolutionary writer. I started reading her works very recently and of her memoirs, verses and stories and novels left a deep impression on me. No one has portrayed women so daringly as her. Her death has created a void in Indian English Literature.

Here I share with you two of my all time favorites.

The Dance Of The Eunuchs

( kamla das 1934-2009)

It was hot, so hot, before the eunuchs came
To dance, wide skirts going round and round, cymbals
Richly clashing, and anklets jingling, jingling
Jingling… Beneath the fiery gulmohur, with
Long braids flying, dark eyes flashing, they danced and
They dance, oh, they danced till they bled… There were green
Tattoos on their cheeks, jasmines in their hair, some
Were dark and some were almost fair. Their voices
Were harsh, their songs melancholy; they sang of
Lovers dying and or children left unborn….
Some beat their drums; others beat their sorry breasts
And wailed, and writhed in vacant ecstasy. They
Were thin in limbs and dry; like half-burnt logs from
Funeral pyres, a drought and a rottenness
Were in each of them. Even the crows were so
Silent on trees, and the children wide-eyed, still;
All were watching these poor creatures’ convulsions
The sky crackled then, thunder came, and lightning
And rain, a meager rain that smelt of dust in
Attics and the urine of lizards and mice….
(From Summer in Calcutta)

*****

The Looking Glass

Getting a man to love you is easy
Only be honest about your wants as
Woman. Stand nude before the glass with him
So that he sees himself the stronger one
And believes it so, and you so much more
Softer, younger, lovelier…Admit your
Admiration. Notice the perfection
Of his limbs, his eyes reddening under
The shower, the shy walk across the bathroom floor,
Dropping towels, and the jerky way he
Urinates. All the fond details that make
Him male and your only man. Gift him all,
Gift him what makes you woman, the scent of
Long hair, the musk of sweat between the breasts,
The warm shock of menstrual blood, and all your
Endless female hungers. Oh yes, getting
A man to love is easy, but living
Without him afterwards may have to be
Faced. A living without life when you move
Around, meeting strangers, with your eyes that
Gave up their search, with ears that hear only
His last voice calling out your name and your
Body which once under his touch had gleamed
Like burnished brass, now drab and destitute.

(from ‘The Twentieth-Century Indian Poets’ Ed. R Parthasarthy)