Dec 28, 2020

Death By Water

 

She would never call
Or mail, or text
Until I did

As if her heart was leadened
And sunked her soul
Into some dark dangerous depths
Every time I let go

Some day soon
I might just hold on to her
As she slowly sinks into her goodbyes
And go drown with her



Listen this poem here

Dec 16, 2020

From here to there

These ageing wheels creak
But unlike my bones
They can be greased

I am on a slow train Home
And when the coal runs out
And the pilot call it quits
These tracks would hold no meaning anymore

It is this slow movement
Through the ups and downs
Of an undulating terrain
That I thought is what we call life

The blind beggar woman
Who would just not fold up and die
The achingly bright cities
And the abjectly poor
With their unholy cries

The covid infected watchman
Who coughs for a week
Before the government calls him
And asks him for a good date to die

The little migrant girl child
Who saunters in the sweltering summer Sun
And will never know KFC
Or ABC

To the son I never had
Little rascal of mine
This place won't miss you
And to my little Princess
My dearest
This isn't a place you would miss

I hear the rickety wheels changing tracks
Soon, it will be a slow beat to a stop
And it will be my turn to alight.

Light a lamp my dear ones
Let there be some light.


Nov 25, 2020

The Better Version

Some versions of us live on through the eternal onslaught of time.
Deep inside, that person is still there, who last saw you walking
Into the land of frozen memories.

I remember you as achingly beautiful in your off whites
And those were happier times

Looking back, it's like a Christmas movie
Santa and snow and miracle and all

Some version of me still lives there
With some version of you.


Sep 30, 2020

Lightning

Over the years
Across thunderstorms
I have grown to fall in love
With all the lightnings 
That lit my broody skies
And fear the thunder 
That reminds
Constantly
Of what I survived.

Sep 15, 2020

The Roots that live on

Why do roots stay alive long after the tree is gone? 
When the little one asked this to me, I was busy clawing and pulling and hacking at an old stump in the garden.

I looked around and sighed.
All the hard weeds all around the garden were fathered by this one tree.  Wherever its roots went, it spawned stories that entrenched itself like fables and myths. 

Looking back,  I think it would have been easier living with her
Than dying everyday,  fighting her memories 
Spawning all over
Like weeds in an eternally damaged garden.

Sep 13, 2020

Revolving Door Syndrome (RDS)

The stories that my mind weaves 
For me to hold on to memories of you
Are finely spun silken strands of time
Crisscrossing through the ups and the downs
Of our tumultuous universe.

Here I find a wormhole and claw back to where we first met
and there the gravity from a distant star
Bounces me off the make believe ride
And I lose you again

It is not unlike a revolving door
That opens
And closes
Into a room
full of you.

Aug 21, 2020

You don't fall in love with the Sea

It was her idea to visit the seashore.

She rarely asks anything of me. At the break of dawn we were near the Jetty. Not many people around at this time. I looked at her closely as she looked at the waves splashing on to the wooden decks. There was the smell of dead and drying fish, and barnacles, and burnt diesel from the boats.

I looked at her for a long while, expecting that she would say something to bridge the divide. Nothing. An hour later, when the crowd of morning walkers started increasing, I asked her: Shall we go?. A nod from her and we were back on the road.

As I dropped her home, I looked at the house, the street, the gate with the postbox and the hedges and the weeds once more. I knew that if there is a next time, it will be a long time later.

 

You don't fall in love with the sea
There is nothing from these shores
That can fill her longing for the Oceans
 

 
 

Jun 17, 2020

What made News?

20 Indian Soldiers martyred in border skirmish
China reports casualties too
(Big relief)
For our Sons who died
We killed too

Cameras to be fitted in Covid Hospital Wards
Says the Home Minister
Now we can record the dying
Sleeping with the dead

Migrants should be transported back home
Within 15 days
Rules the Hon' Supreme Court,
(Only) 75 days after the lockdown
Was first imposed

Sushant Singh Rajput hangs himself
He was 34
Who are you to call us lunatics
Asks Kangna in her Whatsapp post

Chennai count of deaths double
Clerical error blamed
Maharashtra deaths may double
A clerk is being identified
So that he or she may be blamed

Why is Telangana not testing
Asks a bewildered High Court
Bodies of two dead persons missing
Family seeking answers
And the State Home Minister says
These are difficult times
Such things happen
Next time, we will paste photos over the dead bodies
That way you can take a selfie
And pray that the one inside
Is your dad
Or your brother
Or the beggar
Who died of hunger
And no one noticed

Or the migrant
Who would not beg
And hence hanged himself

Jun 10, 2020

Into the night

© Jonathan McHugh 2020
The day is getting shorter 
The nights, longer. 
Tired from all the shining
All season long
The Sun slowly gives way
To the waiting Stars in the sky. 

I can see so many more of them 
The new ones
Of the old ones
Who did not have time enough 
For their final goodbyes. 

-----

In memory of the elderly who passed away during these pandemic times.
Image © Jonathan McHugh 2020

Jun 8, 2020

This Tear in the Fabric of the Universe

I look around and I see all my known acquaintances busy as an ant. I think they live in a different dimension. I think I am plugged into the wrong nodes of the universe.

The blind beggar woman who lived in Bolaram Bazaar is probably dead. It was only the other day that I picked her up from the middle of the road and gave her some water. There were so many people around her. No one came. I asked a bystander who was cuddling his dog what had happened? She just fell down, she is probably dead, he said.

I was on my morning walk that day, and on the way to the park I had seen the woman begging into thin air. On my return, as if by some invisible force, I was driven to the bazaar road. Like all the educated crowd, I absolutely stay away from busy places for the fear of catching the Virus (Covid19). But it was almost as if I knew that something had happened to her. And there she was, lying bang in the middle of the road, with scores of people simply looking at her still body. As if it were a snake, dead but alive in our fears and our instincts. When I poured the little water that I carried in my small flask on her still face, she came alive with a shake and started reaching out in all directions to get a hold of my hand. I gave her my hand and she clenched on to it tightly, and started asking for more water.I asked for some more water from one of the houses from where I saw people observing me. They left a bottle of water at the gate, and I collected it and poured some more water into the beggar woman's bowl.

I moved her on to the side of the road and asked a known shopkeeper to feed her. And I left her there. I reached home and washed my hand with disinfectants and soap and took a long bath. I looked at the overhead shower, and running water, and smelt the fragrant pears soap, and started to cry in the shower.

I prepared my breakfast and as I set it on the table, the cold watermelon and a warm cup of milk won't go down easily. I felt as if I would choke on the watermelon, and die.

And then I remembered the little child, butt naked, following her father on the road, in the sweltering heat of an unforgiving city in lockdown. She would probably survive another hour. And then die of dehydration. Or maybe she will survive a couple of days, and die of hunger or probably she will survive a week, and a truck will run over her. She will die. She will die.

I have not been sleeping well. All my cries for help have always been answered, except now. Now it seems that my village Gods have taken a vacation. It feels like tired of all my demands for food and dignity and love and care, Hanuman Ji has moved back to the mountains.

This level of agony was supposed to be hidden. Hidden behind the veneer of the prosperity of our cities and the noise of our Benzes and Audis. I wonder who tore what bit of the fabric of this charade and out came tumbling the horror of indignity and suffering of our poor from the sewers of our existence!

Such horror!

Jun 3, 2020

Muddy flows the Ganges

The river of time flows muddied 

Through weeping shores in spate.
It carries with it
The hunger of our orphans
And the neglect of our masters


Here a child died 
There a friend held on
To a dead friend
Here a mother gave birth
To a still-born
And there a old man
Sang to the Sea
For redemption from the heat

The sins of many
Would hang heavy on all of us
And when it is time to collect
Let's be ready,  without apologies
To pay. 

The river of time runs sullied
From the lament of the multitudes
Who were sacrificed by some 
Who blamed a virus
For the wretchedness of their soul.

Mar 10, 2020

Us and Them, at the Secunderabad Station

They see my starched white linen
And my custom leather shoes:
Another White guy, they think
And don't hold my glance

They make way for me
So that their dark hungry frames
And their smelly patchy clothes
Don't invade my privileged spaces

Nothing from their struggling beings
Should waft into my being
And fight my Davidoff.

Even their children
A ball of unkempt hairs and leaky nose
Rarely return my smile

Ma Bharati
This land that I walk on
Is not my land
It is their land
The land of the slowly dying
And the barely living

I should be dead
For the unforgiving sin
Of merely being alive. 

Feb 24, 2020

Come with me into the Sea

The undulation of the terrain
Matches the ruggedness of the soul
Here I grow into you
Grass and roots and boughs and all
And there you run away from me
Silt and soil and sand and all

Here I am the land
And there you are the river
Together, muddied and sullen and silent
We whirl our destinies
Into the awaiting Sea
With our longing and our lust
And our memories and our Souls entwined
We all journey
Into the Sea,
Into the Sea.

Feb 6, 2020

Standing Tall

Can I stand tall
In the face of this all
As if it were my life
And it were my battle
And my hell
Full of my favorite daemons
In my own closed attic rooms,
Alleys and corridors?

Can I call to this Yagn

All the angels and the Gods
And all the Patriarchs
From the abode of the Old?

Can I stand tall
In the face of this all
As if it were my life?

I close my eyes
And I can see you sulking through
Shoulders drooping
Eyes no longer ablaze
Your soul tired
From battling all this
All alone..

I can
I Can.

Feb 5, 2020

Can you still hear me?

If I could reach out to you
Through the crisscrossing noise
Of the crushing static undertones

You would hear your name
Read out aloud
In every prayer I let out
Into this now empty universe.

You are in the crackling
And the sputtering
Of breeze stricken diyas
From all Diwalis past

You are in the daily din of life
That is walking by
Without looking back at the souls
Stranded on cobblestone pavements
And left behind in time.


If I could reach out to you
Through the dense fog
Of distant minds and angry hearts
You would hear my heart beat
With the same erratic thump
That you left behind.

Jan 13, 2020

That City Girl

For me you have been a traveler
The one who rides the oceans
and the big blue seas
Seeking experiences
That can be framed into postcards
Of wonderful memories
For a future 
That is yet to unravel. 

Your today's rush you
Into your tomorrows 
And in its wake
Small boats likeme
Would mostly sink
Into long forgotten memories
Of abandoned islands 
Where you now live no more. 

As I watch you sleep
The glasses back on your face
The little girl back in the rug
The silent one yearning for a hug
I feel you tug at my cuffs
Ten more minutes,  you say
Stay with me,  for ten more minutes...
And then I am scared
Of who you will be
When you wake up.

Goodbye Ganesha

As long stretches of empty cranes stood waiting, for the last of the Ganesha's to bid adieu, I felt my eyes welling up from a sadness th...

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