Archive for the ‘clouds’ Category

the reading

November 26, 2016

the essence of piousness

his beard flowing in the wind

all white with few strands

of black to show

he was once young

and the ustani aunty

piousness epitomized

who took pains with the girls

as much as the bearded one did

with the boys

even the aunties would ask them

to correct their reading

of the book revealed

so long ago

read duly corrected

unfollowed except to the classes

where the show was about

of who had the more expensive one

lucky were the kids they said

whose house the maulana came to

to teach them that which

between bismillah and aamin

was all that would matter

to be forgotten the next day.

and how great the ustani was

to agree to take the girl to teach

and in her own home too.

little did the kids know

these visits by the exalted molvi

always corrected by an elder to

say moulana sahib

as if this made any difference in the

impish minds of the kids.

or the going to the ustani

the elders always adding “gee”

when she would find it convenient

to teach the girl alone

and then one day while

reading the text divine

the teachers reached across

and kissed the cheek

by way of a shahbash

and benignly smiled

or patted the back of the neck

caressing slowly as the boy faltered

in his reading, to the touch

while with the other hand

they made it a point

to openly scratch between the legs

or brazenly expose the top to scratch

and this became the ritual

daily repeated daily forgotten

and then the scratch became harder

and needed the kids hand

to scratch so the teacher

would feel relieved

and then slowly

the itch became a daily matter

and the kiss moved from

the cheek to the lips

and the hands became

demandingly exploring

one day the kid told his sibling

but was hushed and told

that was the way it was

and the kid next door endorsed it

so the next step was but natural

and so it went along

till one day sooner than later

the itch demanded

that the kids hand

go inside not over the dress

do i need to tell you the rest

another conquest and another

childhood lost to the depravity

of what the kid associated

with the reading of the book

now despised and not revered

and since that time

the hatred for the teacher bearded

deep seated within to this day endures

and when the time

for the kids kid came to read

the kid ensured their kid

were not left alone with the teacher

thus four ustanis and many more months

than the two hundred days or so

is what it took

for the reading to be finished

of the great holy words

that if left to their devices

the teachers would have taken

with half of that time

spent on their lecherousness

leaving the kids scarred for life

but then life goes on

not ready to accept that

the teachers of the book can be bad

we end up repeating

the reading and the rituals

not really bothered

how the kid is scarred

how the life is marred.

and life goes on

as it has gone on

for us and for ours before us

not ready to accept

not ready to stand

not willing to say

things can be wrong

for after all

life goes on!

 

*****

read out at Lahore in a session on childhood abuse

written between March 14-16, 2016

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Back Home Blues

April 27, 2016

An essay i read on 27 April 2016

A hectic week of buying, sorting out and ticking off of the list, and packing; with farewell dinners and teas thrown in for good measure; found me sitting in the GTS bus for a journey to Abbottabad, with the proverbial pae’tie (tin trunk) and canvas bistar bund (bed roll) loaded on the top of the bus – yes in those days of non AC Foton and Daewoo busses the luggage was carried on the roof top rack!

And so on the evening of 4th June 1969, I reached Abbottabad, got into a waiting military truck along with a few other gangly kids for the 15 minute or so ride to the Pakistan Military Academy.

The next many years were spent serving between Somiani on the Arabian Sea to Siachen, the highest battle ground in the world and having the best of times.

Home was the sarkari ghar allotted – setting it up, decorating it, living and entertaining in it, till the time came to pack and move and the process restarted.

In all this setting up homes and moving from city to city, somewhere at the back of the mind was the picture of “back home” – the home I left in 1969 and visited once a year every year, meeting the permanent inhabitants of that home, my parents.

Welcoming us as they would do guests – who would soon go back to the alien world they came from and life would come back to the normal without such intrusions.

Of course there were unscheduled visits back home also, deaths and marriages called for our presence – obediently following the rituals returned to our life outside this cocoon of our youth!

In all these changes the only constant being a flower pot with a money plant planted in soil which like the money plant was taken from the flower bed back home.

And then as they say life came full circle and it was time to finish the business in alien lands and return home.

Roots tugged, I now wonder if it were the soil calling the money plant or home calling me?

Visions of walls with antiques, paintings, artifacts and rooms large enough to accommodate the whole house that we had lived in flashed in my mind. An empty nest was easy to pack for having lost my better half and knowing back home was also without the mother was hard; yet knowing I would be welcome to the home of my youth, missed for forty seven years but not acknowledged for fear of nostalgia intervening and making life difficult.

And then the off white walls of the house and the memories, and the laughter of days gone by, and the mischief filled hours, all started to pale before the reality of life back home; where once my youth thrived now lived a lost in nostalgia old man who responded to my calling him Daddy with a smile, and occasionally with stories of an age gone by.

And “back home” was no longer the colorful and joyous memories kept alive for forty seven years, but back home was blue.

I could not sit and enjoy things happening around me, because nothing happened unless I did it. Reality.

Reality also was that now I was no longer the same gangly footloose and fancy free boy of 1969, but a weather beaten experienced and rubbed on the wrong side by life garrulous, grumpy getting on in years man.

Reality was being called uncle or sir gee in shopping malls as I took time to read labels to see if the ingredients were good for me or not.

As I sat and thought about rediscovering home, I wondered if I was somehow thinking of and writing about what a few years from today my children would be experiencing when they came “back home” from their sojourns in foreign lands?

And I cringed, and wrote about rediscovering home.

Only this became back home blues.

Blue Ice

culture of silence – blog post in the newspaper Nation

February 28, 2015

A little over five years ago, I needed to talk to someone, anyone. I needed catharsis to find if the doubts, fears and guilt I faced were mine alone, or I was part of a larger group with similar issues.

And I found myself stonewalled at every step.

No one was ready to listen to me. Every one found sanctuary in an age old cultural and social desire of not discussing any issue that questioned the beliefs and norms – of acquiescing to what is happening – something that is so deeply entrenched in us with years of “teaching.” In plain words, one must accept misfortune in silence in the hope that time will heal wounds.

culture of silence – new blog-post

the smile

November 3, 2013

as i walk
life’s thorny path
treading softly,
to lessen the
thorns prick.
yet leaving a red
footprint to mark
the passage from
one to the other step.
till along the way
eyes closed tight
against the pain
as i put my torn and tired
foot on the ground
i felt not the thorns
but a gossamer soft
cooling balm,
healing the pricks
shocking me to open
my eyes in disbelief.
to see standing there
an ethereal smiling vision
multihued diaphanous dress
wafting in the cool breeze
turning the thorns
into spring blossoms!

28-10-2013
8:14 pm
on bus between lahore and islamabad, crossing the salt range

Shackles

March 18, 2013

Shackles

Shackled

To the peg of life

Shackling

To a state

Torturous

Defiling

Denying

That what is wished

Leaving no place

For desires

To be had

Thoughts to bloom

Just a void

Where wants should be

Granted

Wishes Given

Desires acceded to

But the schemer

Of schemes

Has schemes

Which defy thought

Leaving another void

In which we

headlong fall

Crying unfair

But the schemer

Turns another leave

Of his book of schemes

Shackling more

The shackles

Called desire!

March 16, 2013

23.44 hours

Voices

March 10, 2013

I am not me

But the voices inside

Which haunt me

Waiting for their turn

To be heard

Over the din infinite

Silent, yet eloquent.

And I drown their voices

In unnecessary chatter

Not wanting to hear

That what they will say

For they may have

Something that may

Break in an exact extent

The serene circle

That I have

So painstakingly made

Around me to keep

Away, precisely such voices

From telling me

And making me brood,

Am I wrong?

*

*

March 10, 2013

2:45 pm

dawn

December 18, 2012

a deep troubled slumber full of

tossing and turning in the night

dreams disjointed and flitting

unconnected and rushing

unremembered shadows of darkness

peeking from behind unknown slats

chasing each other till it was dawn.

and the cacophony to challenge

the faithful to a lot better than sleep

erupted from loudspeakers all round

vying to drown the call of the other

intruding blissfully on the state

in which the night had passed

finally spent and tired of the fitfulness

i turned in bed and slept,

oblivious.

17-Dec-12 6:45 PM

new poem – untitled

November 30, 2012

omnipotence
presence
all-encompassing
supreme
lord of being
and all that has been
or will be
how can one
comprehend
the depth
or breadth
of the sway
at His disposal
when one can not
even know
the deep dark inside
of one’s own self
hidden under a sheath
a thin sheen
dulled by time
dust and grime
running after what
should be in our watch
forgetting what is for us
to be in the scheme
made on the day when
He molded the clay
to form till eternity
all, to obey
remember
exalt
but mortals we
not doing and
wondering
what went wrong?

23-Nov-12 6:58 PM

Life Goes On

September 4, 2012

Life Goes On 6.

best depiction ever!

this was Pakistan also

August 13, 2012

we were a tolerant, caring and loving people. then something went wrong – Allah’s wrath visited us for the sins of intolerance, please see these links for the stories – what we were and what we have become are two entirely different planes!
http://dawn.com/2012/02/09/also-pakistan-2/
http://dawn.com/2012/05/24/also-pakistan-ii/
http://dawn.com/2012/07/26/also-pakistan-iii/
http://dawn.com/2012/08/09/also-pakistan-iv/