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

एक शहर ये भी – कविता 3 – दिल्ली में बसंत


                                                          

 

दिल्ली में बसंत तो हर साल आता है

पर इस बार बहुत सालों बाद 

हमारे आँगन की अमराई महकी है

उसी रंग उसी गंध में सराबोर

वो सड़क जो तुम तक पहुँचती थी

नीम की बौर से ढकी है और कुछ दूर

चटख नारंगी सेमल धधक रहा है

तुम्हारे घर की दीवार से सटे टेसू ने यादें

फिर रंग दीं हैं और मन फिर उन्ही

महुआ की रातों में घुल गया है

वहीँ लोदी गार्डन में जहाँ मेरा फेवरेट बेंच

कचनार की गुलाबी महक में डूबा हुआ है

वहीँ दबे पाँव जाने कब उस गुलाबी बोगनविला ने

डक पोंड के पास वाले तुम्हारे पसंदीदा बेंच को

क्लाद मोने की पेंटिंग में बदल दिया है 

दिल्ली में बसंत बिलकुल तुम्हारे प्यार जैसा है –

क्षणिक  – अविस्मरणीय

एक शहर ये भी – कविता 2 – हुमायूँ का मक़बरा


 

सब्ज़ बुर्ज से कई बार हुमायूँ के मक़बरे तक

खामोश रास्तों पर हम कभी कभी युहीं

पैदल ही निकल जाते थे

निजामुद्दीन की हवा में एक खुमार सा है

जिसे लफ़्ज़ों में बयां करना मुश्किल है

एक अजीब सी कशिश, एक खुशबू

शायद उस नीली नदी की जो कभी

पास से गुज़रा करती थी

अमलतास के पेड़ के नीचे बैठ

हम घंटों दूब के क़ालीनों पर उभरते

शाम के सायों को मूक आखों से ताका करते

और परिंदों के कोलाहल के बीच

तन्हाई में लिपटा हुआ संगेमरमर

और बुलिअा पत्थरों से बना हश्त – बहिश्त

बेबस सा ये मक़बरा अपनी रगों में

मुग़ल सल्तनत की महक समेटे

बगीचे की नहरों के पानी में

कुछ ढूढ़ता रहता

और इस बीच आहिस्ता से समय

युहीं कहीं किसी

मेहराब या गुम्बद पे आके थम जाता

जड़ पकड़ लेता दरख्तों की तरह

हम अपने ख्वाबों की परवान को थामे 

किसी दर -ओ -दीवार की परछाईं

नापते और अतीत के झरोखों से

छन के आती सूरज की आख़री किरणों

में ज़िन्दगी के मायने खोजते

और फिर हाथों में हाथ दिए

बस्ती की तंग गलियों में निकल जाते

तुम कबाब और बिरयानी की खुशबु में खो जाते

और मैं महबूब ए इलाही के रंगों में रंग जाती

आज बारापुला फ्लाईओवर से

निजामुद्दीन बस्ती की छतों पे सूखते कपड़ो

 के पीछे उन्ही रंगों की महक उजले

नीले आसमान में उड़ती नज़र आयी

और मन फिर जा कर अमलतास की उस डाल

से लिपट गया

एक शहर ये भी – कविता 1

Summer Of Love – A Poem


 

The sapling you planted
near the pond in the courtyard
has blossomed
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.

Travel Poem – Memory – 1


This poem is from a set of two travel memory poems first published in Cafe Dissensus Everyday.

 

 

 A window opens through time
scented by Deodars and Pines,
as I lie on the wooden balcony of our cottage
my eyes linger on the shadow stencils
of the Dhauladhars rising beyond the valley,
the leaves murmur as the breeze tugs at them,
the sun, forgetting to set,
filters through the swaying branches
and meanders along forgotten paths,
a twist of smoke rises to meet the sky,
I breathe deeply, eyes closed,
inhale the aromas that we once shared,
the crackling warmth of wood stove,
the tang of our salt-laced bodies
with their steam rising into the stillness
like the echo of dreams haunting this house,
outside my window time advances slowly

Poetry this month is hexed


 

I am hunting for words,
in the marginalia and in
the frail silences that 
crumble at touch.
My mouth is filled with the
warm metallic taste of loss,
I bleed in letters of a language
I no longer understand;
everyday a fresh page,
smudged words, crisscrossed paragraphs,
images, music and sketches
skirmishes, idiosyncrasies,
noises and distractions,
thoughts pressed into wayside,
visual ideas, blotches of ink
there is a storm on my fingertips.

“Do not write of angst,” I’m told,

but I do not intend to wear a mask

I want to lay bare myself

I want you to see how
your love has affected me.

You are a sylph,
and I am haunted by you.

you can read all the You and Me posts Here 

You and Me – You Said


You said I was haunted, that my body was filled with shadows. You said I did not belong with you, that I was rebellious, difficult, unmanageable like my tresses.

You said I couldn’t be trusted, that I held words captive, that they became portals at my touch, possessed, like dark seeds planted in disturbed and twisted soil.

You said that I hovered between sleeping and waking, and in that limbo I was spinning webs, writing verses, stories, the words casting spells disguised as literature.

You knew fear. You feared the skeletons that rattled in your heart, the ones you could not escape, the echoes of memories that have haunted you across the years.

 

You said I disturbed the secrets long hidden inside you, those things you want so much to forget, the private darkness that erupts within you when you least expect it.

The fact that you abandoned me I was hurt, but injuries can heal; far worse than this you called me a witch, a Lorelei, a temptress 

and with those words

you stole my hope.

First Published in Life and Legends

You and Me – The Unsigned Poem


CONCESSION

I painted myself

in a corner of your room

I painted myself in invisible ink

so you don’t know I am there

watching you secretly

sometimes you stop

whatever you are doing

and look in my direction

and I really have to keep my heart still

lest you recognize the familiar beat

That afternoon

when the sun was concentrated

in a shaft of light

that fell on the corner

where I stood

you, fresh from the shower,

had come and stood in the pool of light

that had gathered at my feet

looked at me with a strange light

in your eyes

and slowly traced your finger

over my invisible form

lingering over my lips

then

at the base of my throat

and further down

my heart beating wildly

under the tip of your finger

for a moment I had thought

the heat from your naked body

would end my little secret

and bring me to life

but

you turned got dressed

and went without a glance

since then I am trapped

in my own image

invisible to you

invisible to me

painted

in one corner of your life

starved for attention.

(First published on Memoirs Of A Homemaker)

Sometimes The Scars bleed


Sometimes 
falling all the way in
is the only way out.
Sometimes 
time is all 
that’s left between two people.
Frozen.
Everything else melts.
Sometimes 
only the reflection are clear
rest is all distorted.
Sometimes 
what is straight 
is twisted 
the temple of love
just a deception.
Sometimes 
the message lies
in the shadows and the dust .
Sometimes 
the light doesn’t 
guide you home.
Sometimes 
the best stories 
are written in the margins.
Sometimes 
the drama isn’t 
in the script.

Some wounds
run too deep for healing
sometimes
the scars bleed.

You and Me – Yearnings


 

I am attracted by your  unavailability

the half-shut windows where

we sometime connect

between the traffic noise and the

drone of the garbage bins being dragged in and out

days , time specified

Mostly the windows stay snap shut
but sometime
they jerk open to test their hinges
a sound, a glimpse, a rustle

and that’s it. Click, snap, shut.

you can create new or find new windows
but for that you need to know the walls

it takes effort and time

then there is the door
to our private haven
now blocked by the cherry trees
that we once climbed
laying there in bare longings
spring has long since deserted them
trees like love need nurturing
it takes time and effort
and yes, inclination too
 I, I in the middle of all this
try to find solace
in
your being
and
not being

I have all the time
and inclination
for me its effortless to love you.