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

Spring In Delhi, A Poem, A Story And Some Thoughts

The more a voice gets stifled, the louder it gets. So much has happened in past few days. There is too much anger and anguish inside me and I am just not getting into the rhythm of regular writing. Pages are still lying blank. Pen poised over them like a finger on the jugular.How can one remain composed when  voices of dissent are silenced. When Rohith Vermula is pushed to commit suicide. When peaceful dissenters (students) are painted as “anti nationals” charged for  sedition without any proof, for just having a different political ideology and guess which one got targeted as a terrorist and why? When news channels incite the public with doctored videos/audios. When evidence is manufactured. When goons are given protection and encouraged in their hooliganism. When students, teachers, journalists are beaten up for speaking up for what is just. When Perversity rules. When acid is thrown on the face of a  woman tribal right activist to muzzle yet another voice of dissent. When the country burns in the fire of communal hatred. When you are hounded and trolled for your stance on what is happening right now in the country When a twelve year old child is hit and her father killed for asking a second helping of meal. When the tragic suicides of the farmers is termed as “fashion”. When there is a complete breakdown of law & order. When anger kills the power of reason. When you are targeted because of your gender, caste, name, political stance or simply because you use your mind and speak out against the unjust.

It makes me uneasy. Makes me pause and reflect.

I fear for my life every single time I open my mouth in this country where I was born and raised. Who will stand up for me or any ordinary citizen? Who will listen to our pleas? I am not as articulate as many of my writer friends but I am a thinking and concerned citizen. A woman trying to stand for her rights and her dignity. A mother watching two young adult sons growing up in an environment that is getting vicious day by day. I taught my children dissent, I taught them to participate actively as citizens. I taught them to be discerning without being judgmental. That is what my parents taught me. I do the same. Does that make us Anti Nationals? Tell me how? Be very careful when you label anyone. Know its power. Labels box you in. I have been boxed in and I know how it feels. It dramatically changes your life in a matter of seconds. Most of the times scars you for life. Listen to that little voice of conscience and dissent that is knocking from within you to wake up. Listen and act.

In the midst of this unrest the spring came quietly to the capital bringing myriad hues of flowers. Every roundabout, every garden, every park is a riot of colours. The barbets, the flaming golden woodpeckers and the parakeets and many other birds are here. The roadsides and roundabouts are full of nasturtiums, yellow poppies, purple asters, yellow violas, red pitunias, Cinnenarias, dog flowers, marigolds, sweet peas, sweet williams, chrysanthemums, dahlias and bougainvilleas in varied hues have painted the city in every colour. Some of the Mango trees are blossoming too and then there is this distinct fragrance of the Saptparni tree across the city. The coral trees and the Silk Cotton trees are beginning to bloom too.

Delhi also hosts flower shows during Feb-March. I went to he 29th Delhi Garden Tourism Festival Yesterday to get soaked in the colours of basant (Spring)

And when we talk of flowers and blossoming how can we forget poetry. A poem got published in prestigious Open Road Review Magazine recently. You can read it HERE.

A Short Fiction also found a platform in Read Fingers, a portal for those who enjoy reading and writing. This story is very close to my heart. Do read it HERE.

Heartfelt gratitude to the editors who appreciated my work and included it in their magazines.

Talking of magazines, if you have not submitted your piece for Cafe Dissensus March issue (23) then please do it fast as the last date is not very far. Here is the submission link. I am guest editing the issue this time. 

I will leave you with this brilliant piece by my friend Nabina Das. – ‘After Every War’: Reading poetry in the dark times 

And One more by Saif Mehmood – Repression and Resistance, Delhi 2016: Through The Prism Of Urdu Poetry  





The Silk Cotton Tree : The Flaming Glory

Spring is in the air. The month of March covers Delhi, the capital of India into a tapestry of colors. One can see a variety of colorful flowers all over the capital and the stately trees along the road sides flaming with red silk cotton flowers along with many others.

Semal or the silk cotton tree (Bombax malabaricum), the harbinger of spring, lines most of the important roads in central and south Delhi and is full of visiting birds, squirrels and insects who enjoy the brilliant scarlet or orange blooms and variety of food on these majestic flaming trees.

In the beginning of summer the tree beers long green pods full of silk cotton. They hang from the branches and as they ripen and turn brown the fluffy soft cotton escapes from it with the slightest breeze and floa like a snowflake everywhere. The strong dry winds carry them to far off places. Most of the time our balcony is filled with the soft cotton balls with a black seed attached to it. My boys often collect lots of such flecks of silk cotton and fill small pillows with it.

Semal wood is in great demand as matchwood. In India, almost the entire annual yield of Semal trees is reserved for matchwood industry. It is used to make plywood, being eminently suitable for light plywood containers. It is also used for packing cases, boarding, planking etc.

The light, buoyant, soft, strong, elastic, resistant, water repellent floss from the Indian silk cotton tree is used for stuffing cushions and pillows, upholstery, wadded cloth quilts and also as insulating materials for refrigerators and as packing.

The Semal tree holds a reputation as medicinal tree in Ayurveda. Every part of the tree is used from the roots to the flower. The one to two years old roots are known as Semal Musli are used very frequently by the healers as aphrodisiac. The roots are also astringent, anti dysentery, analgesic. It is given as a cure for Diarrhea. The paste of bark is applied during skin eruptions and inflammations. Paste of flowers applied over boils, sores and itches. Dried young fruits are given in chronic inflammation of bladder and kidneys. The gum that oozes out of the bark is astringent as is used as a tonic and in other form it is used in book binding and food industry.

The fiber derived from the inner bark of the tree is used to make ropes. Seed oil of the Semal is used in the manufacture of soaps and lubrication substances.

Young Flowers and Calyces are edible and are often used for making pickles and vegetable.

The tree is a delight to watch with its unique flowers and the variety of birds that visit it.

The flowers of this stately tree are at their best in mid February to March end. The tree sheds it’s foliage in the beginning of winter but by January its bare branches are covered with countless marble sized green buds which have plum color sheen to them.

In February, when the weather warms up a little, flaming red flowers appear at the top crown of the tree.

The tree is at its best in the month of March. The flowers range from deep red to orange-red and even a peachy color that’s uncommon. The trees, when in full bloom, present a striking blaze of crimson.

The large chalice shaped has five thick glossy petals that curl backwards. The deep center of the flower contains more than 60 stamens at a time. They grow in a circle of five unequal bunches with a bunch in the center. Yellow at the base their red tips merge into the flower.

The flower of the Semal tree has nectar secreted in its hollow which makes it a favorite with birds and bees alike. The cacophony of the birds like Myna, parakeets, crows, jungle babblers and many others can be deafening at times as they feed on the nectar all day. The birds and insects also act as pollinating agents.

The nectar also attracts insects which in turn bring the insect eating birds flocking to the tree. It is a feast laid by nature and thoroughly enjoyed by all creatures big and small. Even the fallen debris of the fleshy flowers are eaten by animals like squirrels and dears.

These pictures are from a park in front of our home. there are three massive silk cotton trees right there. The collony is dotted with them