I often visit the
off the beaten track
no longer tended
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
Memory has turned mossy green
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.
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.
I wanted to do this post for a long time but choosing some poets from the wealth of Hindi Poetry was an uphill task. Each poets has a special place in my heart, each poem touches some deeper chord. The reason for this journey is to relive the glorious history of hindi poetry. I will be doing a series of post to accomodate some of my favorite poets and their poems.
I am posting some poems of Jaishankar Prasad, Ramdhari Singh ‘Dinkar’ and Sumitra Nandan Pant in this post.
In Aadi Kal and Bhakti kal the language for poetry writing was mainly Braj and Awadhi apart from sanskrit. It was only in the 19th century that Khadi boli came to become the accepted language for poetry writing. Mahavir Prasad Drivedi, Maithili Sharan Gupt who were the forebearers of Khadi boli ( today’s Hindi) and wrote beautiful verses and established the new trend modern Hindi language.
Then came the Golden Era with a bouquet of memorable poetry from Jai Shankar Prasad, Mahadevi Varma, Suryakant Tripathi ‘ Nirala ‘ and Sumitra Nandan Pant. Each of them inspired me in one way or the other. Jai Shankar Prasad remains my all time favorite. ‘Kamayani‘ my most loved poem. There is something in his poetry that draws you and holds you for a long time. This maha Kvya or allegorical epic poem is one of the finest in Hindi literature. It has beautiful interplay of human emotions, thoughts, and actions.
Here is an excerpt from the verse
हिमगिरि के उत्तुंग शिखर पर,
बैठ शिला की शीतल छाँह
एक पुरुष, भीगे नयनों से
देख रहा था प्रलय प्रवाह |
नीचे जल था ऊपर हिम था,
एक तरल था एक सघन,
एक तत्व की ही प्रधानता
कहो उसे जड़ या चेतन |
Lajja part 1
नयनों की नीलम की घाटी
जिस रस घन से छा जाती हो,
वह कौंध कि जिससे अंतर की
शीतलता ठंडक पाती हो,
हिल्लोल भरा हो ऋतुपति का
गोधूली की सी ममता हो,
जागरण प्रात-सा हँसता हो
जिसमें मध्याह्न निखरता हो,
हो चकित निकल आई
सहसा जो अपने प्राची के घर से,
उस नवल चंद्रिका-से बिछले जो
मानस की लहरों पर-से
I wish I could do the traslation here , may be I will in some other post.
Another poem of Prasad which is worth mentioning is अरुण यह मधुमय देश हमारा . I always loved this particular poem of his. It is a very inspirational poem and gives me goose pimples. Enjoy ..
अरुण यह मधुमय देश हमारा।
जहाँ पहुँच अनजान क्षितिज को मिलता एक सहारा॥
सरल तामरस गर्भ विभा पर, नाच रही तरुशिखा मनोहर।
छिटका जीवन हरियाली पर, मंगल कंकुम सारा॥
लघु सुरधनु से पंख पसारे, शीतल मलय समीर सहारे।
उड़ते खग जिस ओर मुँह किये, समझ नीड़ निज प्यारा॥
बरसाती आँखों के बादल, बनते जहाँ भरे करुणा जल।
लहरें टकरातीं अनन्त की, पाकर जहाँ किनारा॥
हेम कुम्भ ले उषा सवेरे, भरती ढुलकाती सुख मेरे।
मंदिर ऊँघते रहते जब, जगकर रजनी भर तारा॥
Raat Yo Kahne Laga Mujse Gagan ka Chaand by Dinkar is my favorite poem. He was a rebellious poet and mostly wrote in Veer Rs ( Brave mode) but this is a beautiful verse which I would love to share
रात यों कहने लगा मुझसे गगन का चाँद,
आदमी भी क्या अनोखा जीव है ।
उलझनें अपनी बनाकर आप ही फँसता,
और फिर बेचैन हो जगता, न सोता है ।
जानता है तू कि मैं कितना पुराना हूँ?
मैं चुका हूँ देख मनु को जनमते-मरते ।
और लाखों बार तुझ-से पागलों को भी
चाँदनी में बैठ स्वप्नों पर सही करते।
आदमी का स्वप्न? है वह बुलबुला जल का
आज उठता और कल फिर फूट जाता है ।
किन्तु, फिर भी धन्य ठहरा आदमी ही तो
बुलबुलों से खेलता, कविता बनाता है ।
मैं न बोला किन्तु मेरी रागिनी बोली,
देख फिर से चाँद! मुझको जानता है तू?
स्वप्न मेरे बुलबुले हैं? है यही पानी,
आग को भी क्या नहीं पहचानता है तू?
मैं न वह जो स्वप्न पर केवल सही करते,
आग में उसको गला लोहा बनाता हूँ ।
और उस पर नींव रखता हूँ नये घर की,
इस तरह दीवार फौलादी उठाता हूँ ।
मनु नहीं, मनु-पुत्र है यह सामने, जिसकी
कल्पना की जीभ में भी धार होती है ।
वाण ही होते विचारों के नहीं केवल,
स्वप्न के भी हाथ में तलवार होती है।
स्वर्ग के सम्राट को जाकर खबर कर दे
रोज ही आकाश चढ़ते जा रहे हैं वे ।
रोकिये, जैसे बने इन स्वप्नवालों को,
स्वर्ग की ही ओर बढ़ते आ रहे हैं वे।
Sumitra Nandan Pant was my favorite during my teenage days. I loved the way his poetry flowed like a young river and made me smile each time I read it. Vasant is a lovely poem and I hope all of you will enjoy it .
चंचल पग दीपशिखा के धर
गृह, मग़, वन में आया वसंत
सुलगा फागुन का सूनापन
सौन्दर्य शिखाओं में अनंत
सौरभ की शीतल ज्वाला से
फैला उर उर में मधुर दाह
आया वसंत, भर पृथ्वी पर
स्वर्गिक सुंदरता का प्रवाह
पल्लव पल्लव में नवल रूधिर
पत्रों में मांसल रंग खिला
आया नीली पीली लौ से
पुष्पों के चित्रित दीप जला
अधरों की लाली से चुपके
कोमल गुलाब से गाल लजा
आया पंखड़ियों को काले-
पीले धब्बों से सहज सजा
कलि के पलकों में मिलन स्वप्न
अलि के अंतर में प्रणय गान
लेकर आया प्रेमी वसंत
आकुल जड़-चेतन स्नेह प्राण
This is a lovely poem composed by Swami Vivekanand( Jan,12, 1863- July 4 , 1902). I have been a follower of his and his writings have always been very inspiring.
The Song Of The Free
The wounded snake its hood unfurls,
The flame stirred up doth blaze,
The desert air resounds the calls
Of heart-struck lion’s rage.
The cloud puts forth it deluge strength
When lightning cleaves its breast,
When the soul is stirred to its in most depth
Great ones unfold their best.
Let eyes grow dim and heart grow faint,
And friendship fail and love betray,
Let Fate its hundred horrors send,
And clotted darkness block the way.
All nature wear one angry frown,
To crush you out – still know, my soul,
You are Divine. March on and on,
Nor right nor left but to the goal.
Nor angel I, nor man, nor brute,
Nor body, mind, nor he nor she,
The books do stop in wonder mute
To tell my nature; I am He.
Before the sun, the moon, the earth,
Before the stars or comets free,
Before e’en time has had its birth,
I was, I am, and I will be.
The beauteous earth, the glorious sun,
The calm sweet moon, the spangled sky,
Causation’s law do make them run;
They live in bonds, in bonds they die.
And mind its mantle dreamy net
Cast o’er them all and holds them fast.
In warp and woof of thought are set,
Earth, hells, and heavens, or worst or best.
Know these are but the outer crust –
All space and time, all effect, cause.
I am beyond all sense, all thoughts,
The witness of the universe.
Not two nor many, ’tis but one,
And thus in me all me’s I have;
I cannot hate, I cannot shun
Myself from me, I can but love.
From dreams awake, from bonds be free,
Be not afraid. This mystery,
My shadow, cannot frighten me,
Know once for all that I am He.
This is one of my favorites among many of the Ezeliel poems. For some reason It stayed with me since I read it as a teenager. For a Jew poet in post independent India, he was a lonsome figure. I love his tight rhymed quatrians and the Indianness in his poetry written in English. Something about his work captivates the reader for a long time. I also love his poem, ‘Poet, Lover and Birdwatcher’.
Night of the Scorpion
“I remember the night my mother was stung by a scorpion.
Ten hours of steady rain had driven him to crawl beneath a sack of rice.
Parting with his poison — flash of diabolic tail in the dark room — he risked the rain again.
The peasants came like swarms of flies and buzzed the Name of God a hundred times to paralyse the Evil One.
With candles and with lanterns throwing giant scorpion shadows
on the sun-baked walls they searched for him; he was not found.
They clicked their tongues. With every movement the scorpion made his poison moved in Mother’s blood, they said.
May he sit still, they said.
May the sins of your previous birth
be burned away tonight, they said.
May your suffering decrease
the misfortunes of your next birth, they said.
May the sum of evil balanced in this unreal world against the sum of good become diminished by your pain.
May the poison purify your flesh of desire, and your spirit of ambition, they said, and they sat around on the floor with my mother in the centre.
The peace of understanding on each face.
More candles, more lanterns, more neighbours, more insects and the endless rain.
My mother twisted through and through groaning on a mat.
My father, sceptic, rationalist, trying every curse and blessing, powder, mixture, herb, and hybrid. He even poured a little paraffin upon the bitten toes and put a match to it.
I watched the flame feeding on my mother.
I watched the holy man perform his rites to tame the poison with incantation.
After twenty hours it lost its sting.”
“My mother only said:
Thank God the scorpion picked on me and spared my children.”
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)