Valentine's Day 2020

Happy Valentines (or is it?)!

Oh what’s this game
Played with beating hearts
Love is its name
Cupid aiming his darts
Will it be a hit or a miss
Will we love each other to bits

The hit gives such a high
Higher than the highest mountains
But the miss
It dives deeper
Than the deepest oceans
Leaving crumbling remains
Of a shattered heart
And the heavy burden
Of an anchored soul
Anchored in the high seas
With nary another soul
In sight or flight
With only doom and gloom
For company inside

As I write
So I realise
I carry and I feel
The pangs of a beaten heart
More than a happy one
Is that what is special
About me and mine
That unique ability
To have a friend
In solitude and celebrate
To treasure my torn heart
To cherish the gaps and cuts
From which pour
My feelings in words
My art in colours
My passion in poetry

Maybe it is true
What they say
Having loved and lost
Is better than
Not having loved at all
Yes I am a romantic that way.


This man: Lee Kuan Yew

Lee Kuan Yew was the first Prime Minister of Singapore. He was a greatly admired leader and was a force to be reckoned with, in these parts of Asia. He had his fair share of positives and negatives, as does any human. But his reputation as one of the greatest leaders in history is well-deserved, as evidenced by the hundreds of people who turned up under umbrellas and lined the streets on a rainy day, to show their respects during his funeral procession.

My friend’s sister wrote a poem in Tamil in his honor and I have tried to translate and recreate its meaning in English. I hope you get to see his greatness through our words and are inspired to know more about him, his legacy and his Singapore.

This man
Our very own
Iron-man
Our treasure
Our savior
Lost too soon
To the wiles of time.
 
This man
Our very own
Force of resistance
Our immunity
Against the evil
That threatened
To cloud the nation.
 
This man
Our very own
Warrior
Before whom
The ghosts of failure
Scattered into smoke
Decayed into dust.
 
This man
Our very own
Lethal legend
Who brought back
From the brink
Of decline and demise
And let this nation
Strive and thrive.
 
This man
Our very own
Revolutionary
Radical leader
Who gave us
The Tamil tribe
A home and haven
An island and identity.
 
This man
Our very own
Keeper
Nourisher
Who served and sacrificed
To forge this red dot
Into an exemplar
Of trials and terrific triumphs. 
 
This man
Our very own
Messiah
A timeless titan
Who vowed
To rise from the dead
To vanquish future misery
To punish the sinners
Who dared to harm
His precious nation
His beloved people.
 
This man
Our very own
Father
A fearless leader
Admired, respected
By the whole wide world
Seemed immortal
In his glory
But passed away
Humbled by life’s mortality.
 
Dearest Sir
Our Lee Kuan Yew
Can you hear
This nation’s hearts
Beating as one
Celebrating your life
Unwilling to let go
Of your legacy
But bidding farewell
A final applause
Before you leave
To rest in peace.
 

Once Upon A Sunset

I wrote this two years ago, thinking back to the amazing sunset that I witnessed on the beach of Ostia Antica in Rome. I have never been more at peace than when I was there: on the far away beach of a foreign land, by myself, surrounded by black sand, pebbles, gentle waves and the occasional surfers and airplanes flying across the sunset. Ohhh, you should have been there to see it! It was a spectacle: full of possibilities and joy. There I believed in myself, and I loved myself for who I was and who I was going to be. I hope this poem brings to you that feeling of love and completeness that it brought me.

Somewhere, a long time ago
There was this happiness that I knew
Out of time it grew.

The kind that settles deep within
Breaks ground blooming
Sprouting colors of joy
Amidst the shadows of sky
Golden, blush and purple
Grey, blue and subtle.

Sunsets are a lot like love
Burning passion this moment
Cooler warmth the next
But forever the fulfillment
Of two souls that magically met.
Scene I – The Beginning
Scene II
Scene III
Scene IV – The End

The Soul Spices

Life is tough. But, friends and family, sunrise and sunsets, clear blue skies and a warm breeze help us smile and get through it all. I think, a sincere acknowledgement of the nature, people and the planet that give us so much to live for, that spice up our otherwise mundane lives, is warranted.

It would do us well to recognize what we have and appreciate all of it, even the bad, because it has shaped us to who we are today.

It is always a good day to be grateful. So, here goes:

Warm words and smiles 
Emotions without art
A sky full of stars
Blessed souls one and all.

Life with its ups and downs
Bumpy and beautiful
Like, streams with rocks and pebbles

Oceans that feel like peace
Mountains that feel like home
Books that feel like a holiday
Friends that feel like forever

Songs that fill up the universe
Beats that rhyme and pulse
Yield sighs aplenty
Of joy and content.

Breathe in the divine
To believe and thrive
Breathe out, let go
To live and love
With abundance and amity
For now and eternity.

The Girl in the Red Dress

I never knew her
The girl in the red dress
I saw her
On the Charles bridge
Walking across, on her heels.

I loved her
The lone girl
Crossing the rain
Under an umbrella
In the dark, on the bridge
Where, Street lights and statues
Stand as Sentinels of virtues.
I knew It was folly
To fall for her melancholy.

I lost her
Carelessly, on a train
Helpless and insane
She haunts me still
As a memory
Of having loved, and lost
Too soon.

I never knew her
The girl in the red dress
A contrast to the rest.
She was special
Among other things vain
In the golden lane
An art to adore
At a souvenir store.

I only ever knew her
That girl in the red dress
As a sketch, Of black and red
In the castle, much ancient
At Prague, magic so vibrant.

That girl in the red dress
She dwells in that stretch
Flesh, blood and bone
Style, spirit and soul
Where, paintings come alive
To pipe and to jive.

The girl in the red dress
That portrait, that piece
Forever, I shall reminisce.

I fell in love with the city of Prague. It is shrouded in ancient magic that both isolates and enriches the city’s allure. It can only be understood by experiencing the magic, by standing under the statues of Charles bridge at twilight, by wandering around the streets on a cloudy morning and absorbing its quirky charms. Simply put, it’s romantic, in an old world sense and I would be delighted to go back another time just to feel the magic throb in my veins. I got a small painting as a souvenir, of a girl in a red dress, on the Charles bridge. But, I lost my bag at the end of the trip and all my souvenirs along with it. It’s still a sore memory but I would never, ever forget Prague or that girl in the red dress. This is a tribute, to her and to Prague.

I Cry; and, I Hope!

Just a reminder: to hope, despite everything else. Hope is that scrap of wood that we hold on to, amidst a sinking ship and turbulent seas. Hope saves lives every single day. It could mean a world of difference to someone struggling to get through everyday. So, have hope, spread hope and discuss hope 💚 Pay it forward, people!

I cry
With nostalgia
With vexation
With barely repressed
Frustration.

I cry
For the loss
For all the never will be(s)
For my utterly lacking
Current should be(s).

I pray
To Her
To guide and protect
To save my wretched being
From fading into nothing.

I pray
For us
For peace
For there to be joy,
And beauty.

I wish
To grow
To help
To be kind
In thoughts and deeds.

I wish
For goodness
For courage
For the heart
That breaks but also heals.

I hope
To wonder
To wander
To dream
Of a world with favour.

I hope
With my soul and spirit
With my strength of will
With all of my stubborn heart
That we shall survive,
And thrive
In the thrills of life.

Star-pockets: a toast to love, life and Korean dramas

A mother advises her daughter on a Korean drama I watched, that, marriage will  never be easy. She says, “Collect your happy and bright moments like stars and store them in your pockets, so that, whenever there are bad moments, you can look at your star pockets and receive  comfort from them”. The whole drama was like a book, comforting, in small doses. But, what I have also realized through this is that, life is never easy and that star pocket principle applies to everyday moments too.

I and my two best friends used to go to the beach in the evenings, lie on the sandy shores on our bags and just stare at the moon and listen to the small sound of the waves. That was 4 years ago. Now, we live far away from each other. Life is running its course and those moments, that shined so brightly, I may never experience them again. I remember their sparkle and the warmth but where do I go now, for the same warmth and comfort? Life looks bleak, if I think of it like that. But, the most wondrous thing is that those memories bring  forth a smile even now, and even though it is not happening right now, it is enough to tide me over.  Life becomes bittersweet, if I think of it like this.

There are many instances or examples of life being a bittersweet journey. My parents’ youth is one such. My dad is going to be 60 this September, i.e., in a few weeks. I remember him pushing me on the swing, decades back. That is one of my earliest memories. He was 35 then. Where have all those years gone by? I don’t remember. It all seems like a blur and I feel I am doing him a disservice by not remembering the distinct passage of time. I still don’t feel like he is going to be 60. Although he is world weary at times and wisdomous due to the years lived, he still holds idealistic hopes and has humour and heart. He is my father, my strength, my fall-back person, the constant that will always be present. But, what do I do when he is getting old? I am his kid and I love him too, in my own way. But, I am selfish and I will need him, always. How do I or how do we get over this? The answer, a different Korean drama tells me, lies in gratitude. Here, a character narrates that, time will pass and so, there is no use in holding back and having regrets later. So, the narrator says, “tell your loved ones, when you have this time, now, that you love them and say thank you”.

So, I say, I love you, to my parents, my brother, my friends, K-dramas, and a huge thank you for their love that’s kept me sane all these years, through thick and thin. As I kept writing, this has become a tribute post to my loved ones, although I always assumed it would be a more cheerful piece. But, I realise I am growing old and world-weary as well, and every lens is tinged with a bit of nostalgia, despite looking forward to greater  adventures. Love and peace, everyone!

PS: Go on, open up to your loved ones. Express your appreciation, let them know how much they mean to you and how, they make this short existence, a worthwhile one!