Down the Memory Lane

I was walking down the memory lane

with trepidation and fear

Jangling my pocket full of

memories to peak and peer

Long had I dithered

taking the half forgotten paths

Was spooked at the thoughts

of old buried wraths

Kept telling myself, would do it

when I had the time to spare

Alas! Lacking courage

taking this road I did not dare

The first memory I pulled out

made me smile with pure joy!

For who can ever forget the mate

who shared her prized toy!

The next one was smooth and shiny

Because its constantly used

This friend I still call

When I am hurt or confused.
The one that I pull out of pocket now

has rough and jagged ends

It still hurts to recall the bitter fights

With those who were supposedly friends.

Ah! I so well remember that day,

My sole claim to glory

When I was patted by my teacher

For a well told story

Ohhh! This one I must confess

Still makes me teary eyed

Cos I was caught and reproached

That one time I had lied!

The pride this one evokes

Believe me is worthy

For I know how I completed

The long cross country.

Along with these, is a handful of sand
Each separate grain imbued

With the fragrance of mates

Of every shape and hue

As I reluctantly consign

each memory to my pocket

I now know they are my talisman

To be always worn like a locket.

Gone is the fear and the trepidation

I can go back in time, any time

And come back with elation

Painful memories have been given
A long overdue burial

Happy memories and revisitation
Will now become a ritual

I will jauntily walk down the memory lane

Jangling my pocket full of

memories without any pain.

When Beauty Fades…

I look at my hands, hard with a few callouses,
From washing, cooking, mending and fixing.
I peer at my face, frown lines and crow’s feet,
From getting angry at kids and squinting in the sun while waiting for them.
The hair is greying, frizzy and wiry,
For worrying sick about one and all.
The waist has thickened and refuses to budge,
From eating all the leftovers and postponing exercise.
The eyesight has dimmed
From gross misuse over phone and computer.
But me thinks also from age catching up.
I am an enlarged and battered version of my youth.
But the smile remains just the same,
And so does the pigtailed girl in me.
All the changes just prove,
I have a loving family, am surrounded by friends,
There’s food on the table
And I am richer than many can claim.

The Last Dance 2

Another take

She smoothed her skirt and patted her hair,
She smiled nervously at the jokes her friends cracked.
He was merrily dancing away,
With all the pretty girls  present there.
She willed him to look her way
Just once, whichever way.
The last dance started with all the girls in a circle,
The boys moved anti clockwise in the outer circle.
As she danced with bated breath,
She knew she was next.
As he twirled each girl laughingly,
She felt herself short of breath.
They stood facing each other, their arms extended,
And…the music stopped.
The last dance had ended.
As they stood there still, looking at each other,
Time stood still, till someone nudged her.
They never met again,
No clue where the other was.
But she would attend the golden jubilee for that one last dance.

The Last Dance

He stood in a corner,
Summoning up courage.
She was the belle of ball,
No dearth of suitors.
As she whirled past him,
Holding on to her partner’s arm,
His heart momentarily stopped.
And then the last dance was announced.
It was now or never,
For tomorrow they would all be gone.
As he moved towards her,
He saw the Casanova of the class striding ahead.
He slowed down, disheartened.
The dance started, blindly
He asked the girl standing near him.
As the dance progressed,
They changed partners.
His heart soared, he still had a chance.
But luck again eluded him.
Just when they stood facing each other,
The music stopped.
She looked at him with laughter in her eyes
And for one whole heart stopping moment
Their eyes locked.
The moment passed and they moved on.
Never did their paths cross.
But every year, he attended the reunion
Hoping to have that last dance.
Perhaps, she would be there at the golden jubilee…

वो मुलाकात

बरसों पहले, कुछ दोस्तों के बीच
दो अजनबियों की मुलाकात हुई थी।
अजनबी तो वे न थे,
पर उस से पहले कभी बात न हुई थी।

उस दिन भी कोई बात न हुई थी
पर वह मुलाकात दोनों को याद रह गई।
मन में शायद कोई उमंग उठी हो,
पर दोनों में से कोई भी उस मुलाकात को आगे बढ़ाने की हिम्मत न कर सका।

बरसों बाद जब दोनों की मुलाकात फिर से अपनों के बीच हुई
तो बरबस वह बरसों पुरानी मुलाकात याद आ गई।
दोनों हैरान थे कि वक्त की मार से धुंधलाई यादों में,
वह मुलाकात ऐसे याद थी जैसे कल हुई हो।

इन बरसों में वे दोनों अपनी- अपनी राह पर बहुत आगे निकल गए।
इक मुकाम हासिल कर लिया, और जिंदगी से कोई शिकायत भी न थी
पर उस मुलाकात को याद कर यूँ जरूर लगा,
काश…

No One Comes Here Any Longer

This house was a home once,
Ringing with laughter and voices,
Pattering footsteps, whispered secrets,
Boisterous debates, guttural guffaws,
Serenading songs and comforting silences.
It was the scene of serenity and tranquillity,
Of get togethers and meetings,
Of anniversaries and soirées,
Of hurried breakfasts and languid dinners,
Sunday brunches and sometimes takeaways.

A kids’ haven, a wife’s domain,
A man’s refuge and a place to retire for the old.
Welcoming and peaceful,
A place, where weary heads when laid on the pillow,
Awakened invigorated and rejuvenated.

It was bright and sunny on a cold night
Beckoning invitingly with warmth.
In summers its cool confines provided solace,
Soothing heart and mind.
The smell of baking inveigling the senses,
The freshly laundered clothes, flowers in vases,
Just like it should be

In a home.

And then, everything ended.
It is now a mere shell of itself.
Quiet, desolate and forlorn.
The kids have flown the coop
The elderly passed away.
The middle aged live listlessly
Ageing everyday, day by day.
Life moves on relentlessly
And strangely,

Turns homes into houses

And houses into homes in its wake.

Freedom

Every one tells me I am free
I live in a supposedly free country
A freedom that came at a price
The cost to which we pay lip service
And take this freedom for granted
As a birthright, to on others’ toes tread.

But all said and done, am I really free?
Free to make a choice,
Free to roam unfettered
Free to raise my voice
Free for my whisper to be heard?

Can I watch without being censored
Can I speak without being lynched
Can I read without being banned
Can I eat without being panned?

Will I be allowed to rise on merit
Will I be nudged out by reservationists
Will my religion guide my identity
Will my nation always suffer from mediocrity?

I have to free myself from mental shackles
I have to rise above the caste barriers
I have to tame the tyranny of unlettered leaders
I have to be the freedom, I look for in others.

Freedom means responsibility
Freedom means accepting others
Freedom means not looking for a scapegoat
Freedom means rowing your own boat.

If I can free myself of prejudice
If I can free myself of power and pelf
If I can free myself of all conceits
If I can finally free myself of self
I think, then I will be truly free.

A Like

Somebody liked my poem on my blog.
Friends who post their likes are familiar
And I have thanked them sometime or the other
I don’t know who it is, for the name is unfamiliar
It could be the child of a friend,
An acquaintance of an old student,
A friend of a friend,
Or a random reader who chanced upon the site by accident

I really don’t know what she liked,
Which turn of phrase delighted her,
That she let me know that she liked it
And now a week later, perhaps she too wouldn’t remember
She might also forget the poem and the poet
Or how she came across the site

I am grateful to her for liking what I wrote
As well as for not learning it by rote
So that she might discover and rediscover
Something to like again in my poems,
And let me know over and over
As well as be interested in reading more poems
By me and so many other poets.

Thankful I am to this medium
For letting me know
That what I had written was liked.
And perhaps after I am gone,
My poems may continue to delight
Someone or the other.
I don’t want to know what gave them joy
Happy to know that I touched a life
with my words.

For I could not let many poets and writers know I liked their works.
Perhaps it is not too late to do so,
At least to those still around.

Delhi Meetella

( Written to the tune of Tarentella)

Do you remember the resort
Sandhya?
Do you remember the resort?
And the hugging and the falling
Of friends in the lobby
The pleasantest surprise of the overseas guy?
And the purse which was stolen, where lunch was eaten
And the food that tasted heavenly because of company!
And the story of measuring of height against a camel,
And the whiff of a crush of the transporter,
And the cheers and the jeers of not so young 81ers!!
Do you remember the resort, Sandhya?
Do you remember the resort?
And the lining up for photoshoot,
And acting like kids of the group
And the snake making appearance for the movie?
The dressing up of the girls for the party
And the NRI turning up in shorts and tee
And the clamour and the din?
And the hip! hop! hap!
Of the clap
Of the hands to the swirl and the twirl
Of the group gone dancing,
Glancing, and foot stomping,
And the gay abandon of twinkle toes
Backing and advancing
The side splitting tales of years gone by
Of young Lotharios of our times?
Do you remember the resort, Sandhya?
Do you remember the resort?
Oh! Once again my friends,
Once again and again,
We must meet to carry on to this beat
We all must walk down the memory lane
And not be waylaid by naysayers
It is with heavy hearts that we parted
But the promise of meeting again
Has our heart lifted
So remember the resort,
My dear friends,
Don’t ever forget the resort!

Women

Either we are docile cows
Like the proverbial doormat,
Or conniving harridans
Who fight at the drop of hat.
Quiet or cunning,
We are endless source of mirth
And men are always
right, from their day of birth.

Brainless, spineless and mirthless
Or shrewd, shouting and shameless.
We are never seen actually for what we are,
We have to fit the prototype that men prepare.

They see no normal, average women around
If you are not cowering,
Then you are the epitome of wrath.
You may have your feet always on ground,
But they will put you on a  pedestal
Or push you to hearth.

Of course we cry and occasionally shout too!
But we are as much human
As much as are you.
Stop this caricaturing
And the stereotyping
Each one of us is an individual
Don’t herd us all.

Just as all men are not alcoholics, wife beaters or nincompoops
Similarly we are fun, intelligent and tolerant to boot.
We don’t mind if you have a few laughs at our expense,
But please stop portraying us, as if we are dense.
For even if we emerge victorious, in the end
The joke is always on us, lets not pretend.