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

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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

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.

Memories : Two Poem


“This Post is being written for THE POETRY CONTEST at blogjunta.com as a part of WOMEN & BLOGGING month” and link it to www.blogjunta.com

 

1.

Scarred, faded
jaded memories
kept alive
because sometimes
forgiveness is not
what we believe in

In the catacomb
of our hearts
they abound

a penance for loving thus..

 

 

2.

We break

and go our own way

but

tattered remnants

of memories

tangled like shreds of cloth

stuck  in barbed wire fence

flutter

with each passing wind of time

 


Poem : Under the Bruised Sky


For the last time

just before we parted

wrapped in silence

I sit across the table

dewy eyes, head bowed

mourning the love

he had slowly killed

averting his gaze

there at our favorite joint

I eat my dreams,

promises, hopes and desires

Words turn stranger

as a surge of memories

the bitter  hot coffee

scalds my tongue

I struggle to cope

with the ending

so ruthlessly imposed on me

Everything was beautiful untill

the darkness of familiarity and ego

began to cast their shadows

Each time I looked at him

I saw myself

through him I began to understand life

He gave meaning to my identity

I was more of me when with him

than with myself

I found and lost myself in him

and never found again

and then

I lost him

Now

sitting under the cold, wet, bruised sky

I wonder

did I lose because he was he

or because

I was I ?

Vote on Indivine Here

Poetry : Beloved


A silence has descended
In our heart’s garden
Where love blossomed
And butterfly hopes fluttered in a
Kaleidoscope of colors
Where fragrant jasmine dreams
Intoxicated and merged
Our souls into one
Where silver moon shone each night
And days were kissed with lucid sunbeams
Where winds whispered sweet nothings and
And trees swayed with melodies unheard
Now I look at the willowy moon,
And at the jasmine vine
Clinging close to my window
The collage of your pictures
On the fire place mantle
Or the old letters, gifts,
All neatly tied up with silken string
Every thing carries me to you
Though you have moved my love
You see, you left a little of you in me
Little by little you drifted away
To some distant land guarded by walls
Little by little you pushed me away
And closed your soul to my cries and calls
But
If ever you feel that you need to come back
If ever your soul seeks me again
If ever the passions ignite your heart
If ever the memories of bygone love
Haunt your nights and visit your days
If ever the loneliness sweeps back again
And the longing, the urge grips your being
Then my soul mate, my love,
You will find me waiting
Just like before
For the fire in me is
Neither extinguished or forgotten
And the tender sapling of love
That you planted in the soil of my heart
Has taken firm roots and
Turned into a flowering tree
The fragrant breeze that flows
From my land to yours
Over the tranquil blue waters
And golden sand dunes
Like a guarding spirit
For as long as you live
Moves with you
Binding us together
With an invisible thread of love