Guru ilmuh [READ]
the village boy has returned
on a full-moon night, I flew over to dar’ul jambangan
the south wind under my wings
my wishes were specks of silver dust blown
across the narrow strip of ungus poteh and the placid sowang from Bilangbilang to Si Mariki to Santacruz.
Among the fringe of stilt-houses, bathed in gentle drizzle and a cooling sunlight,
I saw you navigating the narrow catwalk, careful not to
bump into a naked child, an army of whom have claimed it for playground.
Bare-footed women were hastening home,
water from the bamboo-jugs were precious silvers and crystals
dribbling down their tout golden arms
blouses dripping wet with sweat and breast-milk.
By the beachfront, men mending nets and smearing sealant on their boats, discussed politics and every now and then raised their voices
Arguing about the future and life in the city,
there, no roosters crowed to herald the dusk and dawn.
A house-cat sat idly on a plank, its tail curled close to its belly, dreading the licking high-tide
in the golden twilight, you paused by the jutting rock and took some time
to catch the shifting colors of sunset, hoping to purse the image forever in your eyelids before retiring for the night,
you scanned the cloudy skies for a glimpse of the full-moon
simple rituals that have become rarer with the passing of years
with more than half of your life-time spent
on endless days behind the wheels and in-front of the computer
the cassettes, the letters, old photographs and the verses
had been a poor replacement to the warmth of handshakes,
to the cool breeze and the smell of fresh roasted fish.
Trance-like, you touched the papaya flowers and brushed away fronds of strayed palmtrees, as though to mark the once familiar landscape
I watched you among old friends and relatives
exchanging smiles, pecks on the cheek, or pats on the back.
amidst the scenery that had hardly changed
you have been a missing pandan thread
now woven back to complete the pattern
in the colorful mat that was your village,
as it was not too long ago, you were once again
the dusky boy
the dripping shorts,
the chattering lips,
and that one last dive
before the sea was swallowed by the asphalted highway.
8th May 2001/23 October 2008…
NH47* bridge of no return
(Kerala revisited in 21February2010)
How could we ever say goodbye?
When we were twin souls lost and re-united
We met, we loved, then parted ways.
‘No vows, no promises!’
But we vowed, we promised.
No goodbyes, no back-glances,
Not even keepsakes would we take.
Yet spare the memories we both agreed.
To weave and knit into a quilt,
The grief, the guilt, we cleverly concealed
Bohemian hearts bore no conceit.
Yet as no parallel bridges were built to inter-sect,
So neither would two open gates.
Should there be union in different faiths?
CHOCOLATE NIGHTS OF DJOGDJA
languid, melancholic, dark and mystic
With breath held, sip thick chocolate
night of Djogja.
Southern sea goddess
The first story they told me
Was that you have sired kings and princesses
your promised brideship to every emperor
of this honored land
keeps your name linger perpetual
throughout its history
I could learn a thing or two from you,
Of how you conquered freedom,
Of how you reined the will,
Teach me the subtle art yet never be licentious
Teach me how to paint my lips crimson
yet never be construed promiscuous
and tainted in my name.
floating pungent in steamy mid-morning,
lingering with the tang of evening breeze
your fragrance is the freshness of early morning dew,
oh, virginal white,
once you have bloomed and blest my day
for a fleeting moment your dazzling petals quivered in my touch
then dropped limp and gentle into the earth.
on sleepless nights your memory possessed me
you made me delirious and forgetful.
Thus shall I leave you behind.
once out of sight, out of heart,
I pray I am forgiven for this transgression
for letting you carry me away
for willing to be mystified by your potent beauty
when I ought to have kept myself celibate
my passion properly restrained and caged.
to the drunken chocolate nights of Djogja
oh, please, hush
never bid me once more to return
and suffer being tangled in your complicated love again.
Three Poems and India
(a farewell to India)
I catch myself staring
At the vast emptiness
Of your back
My thoughts freely wander
In tortuous circuits
Like some cartographer
Trying to memorize
Each line, plane and curve
Of the back of your head, your slender neck,
Your sloping and proud shoulders
Down to the narrow of
Your back and tapered hips
Your golden flesh
That burns mine,
Oh, scorching Kerala clay,
You are wine igniting fire
In my parched throat.
In big gulps I swallow
07-April-01/Planing out of Kerala to Madras, India
(Highway connecting Cochin to Trissur, Kerala)
How could I say goodbye
When you parade before me
Splashing colors of the rainbow
Emotions so deeply-seated?
How could I ever say goodbye
When we have just met
Kissed and made love under
The sultry, humid April dawn
Though you have
Never really spoken to me of
About our future?
Yet in haste
I must take my leave
Lest I get drunk
Over you (again)
And never find my way back home.
(The Fire Bearer)
In his eyes are
of flame extinguished
by the gnawing acid
churning in an empty belly and
that of his progeny
in arid desert.
this bearer of light
upon hundred of frenzied elephants
and the green frothy fire
of glee and jubilation
of the Pooram
never really reaches
the eyes that have
witnessed so many
those of his kind
wretched, pushed into
the bottom rung
now staggering to keep
the rich and nobles’
feasts and gaeity
08 April 01/ Trissur