Wait

I
will wait
for you
till the turn of the season
when rivers
have just begun to get full,
their thirst quelled
by generous rains
that will soon move on further north.

Come,
if like the river,
you too want to be nourished,
your thirst quelled
with a thousand touches
all coming together at once.

I will time my jump off the cloud
to the moment
when your space on earth
is right under the crosshairs.

You have to be patient,
and not move too much.
Do not get distracted
by the laughter of the caterpillar,
or the scream of earthworms
as they rush out of their burrows.
Whatever happens, do not move.
Else I won’t catch you,
even with my eagle eye.

Once I have landed,
I will wait.
Like raindrops wait
to fall off the eaves of mud houses into the ground,
so I will wait to seep into you,
and consume you.

But I will wait only till time permits me,
until the wind and the cloud
succumb to the red hot fury of the sun,
and choose to escape,
until the frogs disappear
to wherever they do
to hibernate
or perhaps to preserve
the touch of water on their skin.

Then I will wait no longer,
for like the rain,
I will have places to go too.

Back to the 100 Days of Happy Poems challenge. Poem 7.

Star

Years ago, we stood under a moonless sky
looking at stars.
We tried to figure out
which one was which
and who was who.

Trouble was we had only twenty fingers between you and me.
How many celestial objects could you point with these?
What about the ones that slip away?
What about the ones that died fifteen years ago,
the ones whose deaths would reach us tomorrow?

Stars create light
not knowing how far it will go.
I don’t know if they care.

You tell me you began collecting them when you were five.
I started at seven.
You slowed down at six;
you were afraid you’d drain the sky of its brightness if you kept adding to your collection.
Who would want a box full of light in a world dressed in black when they turned ten?

When you turned eight,
you left the box open outside your door,
uncovered under a depleted sky.
There was a meteor shower that night; the universe was thanking you for setting its children free.

As you grew, you would see it expand, its brood growing.

You made friends with the distant lights;
you were an easy talker
and they could listen.
Man, they could listen and listen and listen
all through the night.

Maybe the day gave them time to sleep over your stories, to absorb them.
Maybe that’s why they would come back brighter the next night.
You wondered if they used your stories.
You gave them some more hoping they’d get brighter.

They never disappointed you,
and you never ran out of stories.

On a clear night, you could weave a trail across constellations, following the path of your tales.
The sky, a network of your memories.
Your first kiss driving a cleft between the stars of Orion’s belt,
the school bullies pierced by the horns of Taurus,
Aquarius carrying memories of the cat you rescued from bandicoots
but could not save from being blinded by street cats.

Some stories would sink into a black hole,
their memory shredded in a vacuum.
Deservedly so, you think.

Why would you want to remember
the time you were groped on a bus,
the time you were told geeks could not play football,
the time your first poem was ridiculed when a friend saw what you had scribbled,
the day a part of you went six feet under?

There they stayed for years. Some defied physics and came back to haunt you.
You were stronger this time; you had brighter stars to lean on.
Some of them lent you their colours,
some their burnt edges.
From a few you borrowed unyielding streaks of light.

Some stories stayed put in the black hole
while it collapsed in on itself.

It’s a good sign, you tell me. Every scar can’t make a bookmark.

We are out wading around the universe tonight,
floating between those celestial lights.
Somehow, you’ve managed to whizz past black holes.

Looks like it’s a new trick you’ve learnt.

When the nation wants exclusive love

“Pakistan isn’t hell”, she said,
At which the lawyer turned red,
“A case I will file,
Our country’s defiled,
She’s a traitor, now off with her head.”

For those unaware, a bizarre event happened recently in India. A sedition case was filed against Indian actor-politician Divya Spandana for her comments praising the hospitality of neighbouring Pakistan.

Of course, this might not surprise those in the know. As chestbeating nationalism becomes more and more common, one who does not kowtow to this jingoism is often considered a threat by aggressive nationalists. Social media is an ideal platform for such hyperpatriots to vent their abuse. The state’s archaic laws, in this case, only encourage such intolerant behaviour.

Okay, so I love my country. Should that stop me from being appreciative of another nation? Is nation love some kind of an exclusive relationship, a monogamous marriage?  Or maybe I don’t love my country, depending on how I feel disadvantaged and oppressed by my countrymen or the state. Do I have a right to voice my opinion or not? And irrespective of my love for the nation, why should my opinion – as long as my words do not incite hate or violence – be strangled?

Should we devolve to a nation of 1.25 billion people all nodding our heads to a populist sentiment or a government’s fascist diktat?

Kudos to Divya for standing her ground and refusing to apologize for her comments.