Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Yamini

Yamini the wood nymph lived by
Waterfront and woodland bark.
She swished by the trees so high,
Her presence smooth and sharp.
Her unwritten code others wrote.
By the seven breeze brought,
Day in and day out she rode.

Yamini once found joyously at lunch
Punch drunk in squalling wonder
Something in the air - a hunch.
She threw out her arm slender
To entice my green heart within
I followed her like a sin
Just for her loop-sided grin.

Yamini in pleasure flew past
A temperamental sprite to live
And haunted elements in these parts.
We travelled so, for days but five
Far away from the outside sound.
In the days to come I found
My identity a single round.

Yamini, my imagination can't just die!
To keep her alive a wonderful lie.
Looking for her in these woods, I dry
"Yamini, my imagination you just died"
Leaving an empty shell without her fire.
In a flash I knew she was my desire
And my dreams were her sire.

Custodian

I am my worldly goods,
Sole custodian of property;
I accumulate more in detention
While amassing a plenty.

Chattels around me swarm;
Swarm me in fond intimacy.

Silken cloak of dusty membrane
Collecting cobwebs and green.
Self-employed cleaner carrying
Detergent and soft-towels clean.

Chattels around me swarm;
Swarm me in cleaning frenzy.

One more brass candle stand
Or one more golden bracelet
Brass and gold are my metal
I polish, I dust, I collect and keep.

Chattels around me swarm;
Swarm me in collecting freak.

Selected as my husband
A stranger tied the knots
In polite social net caught
Remained strangers well thought

Chattels around me swarm;
Swarm me in cold reality.

A holding on my hoarding
My last will and testament decree
A finalised printed statement
"The custodian was the custody"

Chattels around me swarm;
Swarm me in seasoned rationality.

Painfully conscious of running time
Dripping and drenching me
Crippled of life within
I search for new meaning

Chattels around me swarm;
Swarm me in lost sanity.

Where once was a human
Now there is brass and stainless steel,
Old vat and jewels of pure gold
I quite forgot why I collected these?

Chattels around me swarm;
Swarm me in barren vacancy.

Jasmine Arch

On the lone backyard
Was a young jasmine arch
Strong, sinews and hard
Waited this congenial perch

With daybreak upon the arch
Were the four sparrows,
Seeking respite from their search,
Lined up in a row.

Together they sat for a while,
But one flew away to the side.
Now just the three in a file
As one within the climber hides

Remaining three chirps in unison
Praising the passing days,
Drinking the morning sun
Finding their journeying ways.

Time passed, as a tick in a run
Sun’s shadowed speckle view
Part learning and part fun
An unfinished picture self-drawn.

Second sparrow flew, leaving
Just the remaining two
With a jerky flap of a wing
Left the sparrow in a huff.

The second sparrow sought
A branch higher and green
While the two below caught
Singing new refrain, are seen.

The silent arch seems to sing
Those refrains of twin-sparrows
Remaining two flew too, leaving
Silence like a sunken arrow.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Scarecrow And The Owl

In a vast field of corns stood a shabby looking Scarecrow whose coat was tattered and stitched in many places. On a fine autumn morning, the Scarecrow was guarding the swaying ripe cornfield, which was ready for harvest. The Scarecrow's Master arrived with a dark frown upon his brow one evening and instructed his Farm hand that if the corn stealing Birds are not frightened of the Scarecrow in this harvest season then he was to burn the Scarecrow. When the Scarecrow heard these words, he was very shaken and miserable.



That night the Scarecrow's friend the Wise Owl who lived in the Oak tree near the field came over to visit. The Owl flew over and perched on his friends shoulder. Looking upon the grieve expression of his friend the Owl inquired what was troubling him.



The Scarecrow told him about his Master's plan to burn him if he failed to guard the cornfield this season. Moreover, explained the Scarecrow the Birds were not even frightened of me. They would make fun of me and pulled out all my hay stuffing moaned the Scarecrow in misery.



The Owl after much thought advised him on how to outsmart the Birds and save himself. The Owl urged him to be fearless of the thieving Birds. He counselled that the Birds who can only rip off a few hay strings from him, he can replace it but a fire could do much harm to him. After advising him on the plan, the Owl bid him goodnight and promised to visit him the next night. The Scarecrow spent the night pondering on his friend's advice.



The next day dawned with autumn sun shining in great splendour and the corns in the field were as usual swaying in the gentle breeze. The Scarecrow stood watchful with all his courage for his winged enemies to enter the cornfield. The moment the first few Birds started pecking the corn the Scarecrow greeted them aloud and nearly frightened them from their perch. The Scarecrow asked them if they had travelled very far to different places. The Birds mocked and pecked the hay from the Scarecrow for having dreams of travelling to places with one wooden leg and no wings.



The Scarecrow continued unmindful of their mockery if you have travelled to many places unlike me then you must know about this rather old riddle but then you are not wise enough to know the answer. This outraged the Birds and all of them shouted in unison that they could answer any riddle that the Scarecrow had for them. The Scarecrow reasoned, "What is the use of solving a riddle if there is no prize to win or lose?" The Birds reluctantly agreed to this statement. "Very well then", said the Scarecrow " if you are able to answer my riddle then you may eat all the corn seeds". "But if you fail", warned the Scarecrow " you are to leave my field alone until the harvest season is over". On hearing, these words from him the overconfident Birds felt that they could answer any riddle, as they were wiser than the Scarecrow. The prospect of eating all the choicest corn seeds had the Birds complete interest. Therefore, they readily agreed to the condition and were willing to answer the riddle.



"A blind creature lives in a temporary yellow house. He sleeps by the day and eats by the night. He stays hidden right underfoot of where you fly and feed. Whom am I talking about?" riddled the Scarecrow. The Birds were greatly puzzled and were not able to answer the riddle. After several attempts at solving the riddle, they finally gave up and left his field promising to stay away until the end of the harvest season.



That day the Master was happy to see his cornfield intact and not squandered by the Birds as always. The Master ordered the Farm hand to stuff the Scarecrow with fresh hay and replace the old coat for a brand new bright colour coat. The Scarecrow was very happy but a little confused. Therefore, he decided to wait for his friend to clear his confusion that night.



When night fell, the Owl came over to the Scarecrow who seemed a little perturbed but very happy. The Scarecrow questioned the Owl what the riddle had meant. The Owl explained that the riddle described a blind harvest-mouse who lived hidden in his field making his nest in the corn stalk and hunting for food in the night for fear of becoming a prey to the Wild Birds. The Scarecrow then asked the Owl why the Birds did not know about the blind harvest-mouse. The Owl explained that the Birds had never seen him by daylight and they were fast asleep in the night when he was out in the field. The Scarecrow now understood how the Owl had outsmarted the Birds and saved him from the fire. All was silent for a while as both the friends watched a shooting star rush by in the starlit sky. Unspoken the words of gratitude was shared between the friends. Both of them in the vast cornfield were welcoming dawn the chariot driver of the Sun heralding the beginning of another fresh autumn day.

Yakima Turns Greedy

Yakima was a fisherman, who fished unsuccessfully every single day. Yakima would hope to catch at least one fish on his way to the sea. He became famous as an unlucky fisherman in his village. But one day, he saw a shining golden fish in his net. Yakima was overjoyed; at last he had caught one fish. When he pulled the net and was about to remove the fish from the water, a voice suddenly interrupted him. He was shocked to hear a fish speaking in a human voice. The next moment, the golden fish transformed into a merman. “Yakima, please spare me. I promise you three rare fish every day hence-forth”




Yakima could not believe his ears. “How do you know my name? What’s the surety that you will get me three rare fish every day if I let you go?”



The merman said, “I’m the Sea Prince, Ju Shan, and I have knowledge of all things beneath the sea and above. I promise you, my subjects will fetch you three rare fish every day.”



“All right I shall let you go,” said Yakima after much thought.



However, before Ju Shan swam away, he warned Yakima, “Remember, you must sell the fish only to an old man; and don’t ever try to eat them. If you do, you will not get them any more!”



The next day, when Yakima was surprised to find that he had caught three rare fish in his net. He looked around closely and saw mermen and mermaids swimming near his boat. He thanked them for fetching him the three fish. He went his way back with the fishes. When he got back to the shore, he looked for someone to buy the fish from him. An old Chinese man, with thin moustache and a long beard came upto him.



The old man asked him, ”Are the fish fresh? Will you sell them to me?”



Yakima replied, “Yes, but they are rare fish and so they are pretty costly.”



The old man thought for a while. “How much will they cost?”



Yakima eyed him. “Each fish will cost one gold coin. Give me three and take all the fish.”



The old man took a red velvet purse and gave Yakima three gold coins and took the fish from him.



Yakima walked away feeling happy, while the old man tottered away with the fish. Not worried about the old man anymore, Yakima fingered the coins greedily.



Days passed with Yakima getting three rare fish every day. He would trade with the same old man. As time passed, Yakima began charging higher prices for his three fish. Selling them to the old man, he started possessing a lot of gold coins. Soon he moved out of his shabby hut to a strong house. With more money in his possession Yakima grew more greedy. He wanted more than three fish each day. The next day when he went to the sea, he ordered the mermen and mermaids, who were delivering the rare fish to him to take him to their Sea Prince.



When Ju Shan heard what Yakima had to say, he was saddened by the greed in his eyes. However, he promised him more fish to fall in his net. Yakima went back home content and happy. A few days passed, and he became rich by charging more for the fish that were really rare. Soon he was living a grander life.



With his growing status, Yakima married a charming girl and lived with her in a big house. Soon, he became known as the rare fish seller. His popularity grew. All these got into his head. He now hired fishermen to work for him and opened up a wholesale fish market. But he kept going for fishing the rare fish himself. The same old man continued to buy them from him for whatever price he demanded. One day, surprised that the old man was willing to pay any price, he decided to ask him what he did with the fish.



When confronted, the old man replied, “I cook them and eat! They have a rare property that lengthens my life!”



Yakima was intrigued by what the old man had told him. He now thought of eating the rare fish himself. He totally forgot the warning of Ju Shan against putting the rare fish to his own use.



So, the next day, when he caught the rare fish, he rushed with them to his house. He cut and cleaned them and started to cook the fish on the fire. But soon the stove caught fire and black smoke rose from it. In the smoke, Yakima saw the face of Ju Shan. He admonished Yakima. “I had warned you not to eat the fish yourself. You’ll be punished for not heeding my warning.”



The next minute everything that Yakima had built up vanished and he was back to his ragged clothes. His business, palatial house and wife too, had mysteriously vanished. Nothing remained of his fortunes.



Even though Yakima tried to look for the mermen and mermaids, he could not see them anymore. Once again, he came to be known as the unlucky fisherman.



Yakima loved his wife very dearly. For many days, Yakima rowed his boat along the coastline in search of his wife and the Sea Prince. He was surprised to see the old Chinese man walking along the shore. He approached him to seek his help. “Old man, do you remember me? I’m the fisherman who sold the rare fish to you.”



The old man replied, “Of course, I do remember you. What happened? You don’t look your previous self!”



Yakima answered, “After I tried to eat the rare fish myself, I have lost all my wealth and my wife. Please, you must help me to get back my wife. Do you know the where I can meet the Sea Prince Ju Shan?”



The old man replied, “You must have angered the Sea Prince. The only way to regain your wealth and family is by pacifying him.”



Yakima asked, “How can I pacify him? Please tell me”



The old man said, “You’ll have to meet him in his palace beneath the sea. Remember, it is a difficult journey.”



Yakima replied with confidence, “I shall undertake any hardship to find my wife.”



The old man said, “You travel to the north of your country and you’ll come across a snow covered mountain. When you climb to the mountain summit, you will find a fissure. On full moon nights it would expand into an opening. Enter and you’ll come across a cavern.”



Yakima impatiently interrupted, “Does the cavern lead to the Prince’s palace?”



The old man replied, “Yes, it does and the cavern will lead to a tunnel. But you’ll be tested thrice while in that tunnel.”



Yakima asked, “Test? What kind of test will they be?”



The old man said, “The tests are to find your weakness. So, beware your weakness would be your downfall.”



The old man walked away, leaving Yakima alone with his thoughts. He packed some food in a piece of cloth and found a sturdy stick to help him along. He had to reach the mountain summit before the full moon which was three days away.



Two days and one night had passed by the time Yakima reached the summit. He found the fissure and sat next to it, waiting for the moon to rise.



At midnight the fissure expanded and Yakima entered. He would have hardly walked a few paces into the cavern when he came upon a bright silvery light from a bend of the cavern. He took a turn to find out what it was. He came upon a room filled with silver coins and glittering ornaments. Yakima could not believe his eyes. It was more wealth than he had ever possessed in his life.



For a moment, greed took over his thoughts and he wanted to take them away with him, but just then he remembered the old man’s warning. He also remembered why he had come into this cavern. He proceeded further in.



He had just walked a few more paces when he came upon a bright golden light. He went to find out what it was. He came upon a room filled with gold coins and golden ornaments. In disbelief, Yakima left the place to continue his walk to the underworld palace.



Soon he came upon a rainbow coloured light. He went near and saw a room filled with precious stones - Rubies, Mother-of-Pearls, Catseye, Emerald, and Diamond! Yakima once again refused to be lured and followed the route to the palace.



The tunnel now widened into a passage made of glass. Outside he could see water and sea creatures floating by. Yakima could very nearly touch them. At the end of the glass tunnel, there was a huge iron door. When Yakima stood near the door, it opened to let him in.



He saw an inner chamber where on a high platform there were several silk cushions. Some fanfare announced the arrival of the Sea Prince Ju Shan. He sat down on the cushions. He appeared not surprised to see Yakima. “I knew, the old father of the sea would guide you to me. If you have reached my palace, then you must be reformed in your ways.”



Yakima hurriedly spoke, “Sire, I just want my wife, and I shall never eat your rare fish. I shall never seek wealth beyond my means.”



Ju Shan smiled. “I forgive you for all your mistakes and I shall return your wife along with the fortune you amassed. But be advised that you should never ever become greedy.”



Yakima thanked the Sea Prince profusely and left with his wife to his seaside country.

The Painting

In the distant village of Kalishah, there was a palace in ruins where little boys and girls were scared to go and play. They would be seen gathering firewood and grazing their cattle and occasionally indulging in a game there. Among them was Badri who was very bold and who liked to play only there since he had a strange attraction towards the ruins and was often seen exploring the place.



Even though the walls had cracks and were broken at places, they had many interesting murals done by an unknown artist. As the walls were covered by dust all over, the paintings looked faded. Badri would stand in front of the huge wall, wondering about the paintings.



One day, during his exploration he came upon a wall with a beautiful garden painted on it. He was most fascinated to see the intricate details of the garden. Sadly, it was getting late and he had to lead his cattle home. So he decided to come back again in the morning for a closer look at the painting.



Badri got up early and reached the place long before the others went there to graze their cattle. In the rising sunlight, the painting looked dazzling. On the bushes, he could see dainty fairies with fluttering wings. He tried to wipe the dust on the mural so that he could see the painting a little more clearly. When he tried to wipe the dust off, a strange light appeared between his fingers. A live fairy, fluttering its wings, appeared on his palm.



When the initial shock had passed away, he lifted his palm close to his face. Suddenly, the fairy called him in a soft voice. Badri was surprised that the fairy already knew his name. Unable to size up the situation he was in, he started doubting whether he was awake or only dreaming. So, he pinched himself sharply and yelped in pain. No, he was not asleep, neither was he having any hallucination.



After passing a few minutes in silence, a fascinated Badri asked the fairy, “Who are you? Where are you from?”



The fairy smiled, “I’m a wish fairy. My name is Yagnavalika. I belong to the colony of fairies, in the city of Pearls. An evil sorceress imprisoned me on the wall as a painting.”



Now Badri was puzzled, “But, why were you imprisoned? How are you free now?”



The fairy flew away from his palm and did a somersault in midair. “It’s a long story. One day I came to Kalishah with my friends to play in the nearby gardens.”



She did a flip. Her wings fluttered leaving behind trails of gold dust. She did not stay in one place for more than a minute. Badri felt giddy, watching Yagnavalika and gave her a mild reprimand, “Do stay in one place and tell me what happened to you?”



She continued: “My friends and I were playing a new game without using our magical powers. We had loads of fun. Soon, dusk was setting in. My friends decided to return to our colony. But I did not want to go with them and decided to stay back and explore the gardens a little further.”



She paused and did another somersault. Badri was impatient, “What happened then? Did the sorceress come?”



“I flew around the garden and came across a hut which had a door of human bones. I touched the door with my wand and the door opened. I peered inside and saw Vilamba, an old hag well known in those parts. She was mumbling to herself over a big book in which she was recording something with a quill. There was a cauldron burning bright. I heard her say ‘I need the bark of a thousand year old tree and some gold dust.’ Vilamba opened the loudly creaking door and banged it shut after her. She left the hut in search of the barks. The hut fell silent, except for the sound of the boiling cauldron.”



The fairy took some breath, a twinkle appeared in her eyes. “I was alone in the hut and I started exploring it. I saw several bottles with different coloured liquids on the shelf near the stove. I flew up to it and sniffed the odourless liquids. As I pulled the cork out of one bottle, it slipped and a few drops of the blue liquid fell into the cauldron. A fire bellowed from the potion and accidentally I bumped into the other bottles in my fear. A few more bottles broke and the liquid in them dripped into the concoction. Fumes of different colours appeared and a dark cloud with lightning hovered above the cauldron. I struck the dark cloud with my wand and made a small rain of gold.



After a few minutes, the liquid turned a reddish pink and bubbles started to form in it. Just when a froth formed in the potion near the edges of the cauldron, I could hear footsteps. It was the sorceress. I quickly tried to hide behind the books on the shelf, which was on the right side to the door. There was an old box and I hid behind it. She entered the hut carrying some barks, a red pouch, and an old cat.



She stopped at the cauldron and became suspicious on seeing the broken bottles scattered all over. The sorceress let out a scream. “Someone has dared to enter Vilamba’s hut!” Just as she began searching for the intruder, the box popped open revealing a ruby pendant with a four petals flower embedded in it. On looking at the pendant, I had strange sensation that my power was draining out. After a while, I began to sneeze from the corner I was hiding in. Immediately, Vilamba removed the book from the shelf and I was caught sneezing uncontrollably.



Vilamba grabbed me by my wings and held me close to her only eye that was open. She quickly shut the box and replaced the book on the shelf. She laughed aloud making the entire hut shake.”I thought of taking her life by breaking the pendent and destroying the flower. But she shook me until I was left with no breath, as she exclaimed at her luck in catching me. She gave me a toothless grin and imprisoned me in a glass jar.



Vilamba drank the magic potion from the cauldron, which changed into a young woman after some confusion. She then snatched the bottle, in which she had imprisoned me, in one hand and left the hut. We would have walked a mile before we came across a huge palace. She entered through the back door and magically put everyone in the palace to sleep. She entered the chambers of the youngest princess and lifted her from the bed and stealthily took her away on her shoulders. She then cast a spell on the entire kingdom to be unaware of the missing princess.



That night Vilamba took her to a dark and deep maze, where the moon appeared to shine in the middle of the maze at midnight on a full moon night. She chanted a few words and converted the maze into a palace in ruins with murky murals. Though the princess kept begging, the sorceress refused to let her go and told her how she was going to gain more magical powers after sacrificing her. She then hid us among the painting so that no one could find us and warned us that a human being alone could rescue us from her. At the same time she was sure that she would kill any human who tried to rescue them. Yagnavalika has stopped her narration.



Badri was moved by the story and he asked, “All right, now tell me, how can I help you?”



Yagnavalika said, “You must hurry because Vilamba’s wait shall end in two days, for the next full moon to sacrifice us to acquire stronger magical powers.”



Badri pondered for a moment. “How can I rescue both of you from Vilamba’s clutch?”



“You’ll have to trick her into releasing us,” said Yagnavalika.



Badri queried, “How can I do that?”



Yagnavalika explained, “All the powers of Vilamba are encased in the pendant which no magical power can touch. Only a human can touch it. If you open the pendant you’ll see a big ruby stone. If you were to break it, all magical powers will vanish. Inside the broken ruby, you’ll find a flower with four petals. If you break each petal, she will lose her life slowly. So, follow her tonight to her hut and grab the pendant from box in the bookshelf.”



When night fell, Vilamba came to visit the palace. Badri stealthily followed her to the hut. He waited till she fell into a deep sleep he then entered the hut. He went to the shelf that Yagnavalika had described and removed the pendant from box. When he removed the pendant, the whole hut began to shake, and Vilamba woke up to see Badri holding the pendant. She immediately tried to snatch it back from him, but Badri ran as fast as he could until he reached the palace. Before she could utter a curse on him, he quickly broke the ruby and destroyed the flower embedded in it. Vilamba died and the entire spell was broken. Everything returned to normal.



Thus Badri rescued both the princess and the fairy from the clutches of the sorceress. Yagnavalika bade goodbye and left for the city of Pearls. Badri took the princess back to her palace where he explained all that happened and how he had rescued the princess. Everybody in the kingdom rejoiced in the return of the princess and praised Badri for his brave deeds.

Master of Miracles

A silent witness to a divine vision
Flowing out with water twin pendant
Body, mind and spirit set in fusion.


Clouded mind of past tension
Seeks solace from a mendicant
A silent witness to a divine vision

With years of penance as pension
Seekers sight angled at a slant
Body, mind and spirit set in fusion


Ways and means a sound mention
Grapples against the seeming rant
A silent witness to a divine vision


Weak moments faltering attention
Clarifies illusions and a being grant
Body, mind and spirit set in fusion


Every new thought turned to action
Dipped in reality the dear saint plant
A silent witness to a divine vision,
Body, mind and spirit set in fusion.