Call of duty

He was not supposed to leave. He had promised to be my side after his last call of duty. And he kept his word. It was an idyllic life, filled with music, books, food and long walks. I was happily busy, he was contentedly lazy, what else could one desire!

Then a phone call changed everything. I cried, I pleaded, I sulked but his set jaw told me his mind was made .
“I cannot refuse to go”, he said flatly. “You know what the situation is like. And once its over, I’ll be back.”
Through clenched teeth I asked, ” For how can I be sure?”
“I shall see again the world on the first of May”, he promised grimly, a steely glint in his eyes.

I live on tenterhooks, waiting anxiously for April to end.

Written for dVerse. Today’s host, Merril, says: Write a piece of flash fiction or other prose of up to or exactly 144 words, including the given line.

For how can I be sure
I shall see again
The world on the first of May”
–From “May Day” by Sara Teasdale

Malleable (NaPoWriMo) Day 1

When our eyes first collided, of all the clichéd places, across the library aisles, there was no bang and clang, except my accelerated heartbeat! His bourbon ones fringed with thick inky lashes gazed at me from under bushy laughing brows, mine; nondescript muddy brown, were expectedly affronted. Not only because our fingers were clasped across the same book but because I thought he was laughing at me. But the intensity of his eyes was like a frission up my spine. I left the spine of the book. That’s when my gaze fell on his hands, I visibly gasped. Nut brown and muscular, they were in stark contrast to his fair skin.


“I am a blacksmith”, he said as if reading the questions in my eyes. I shrank back, not knowing how to respond.


When finally I was able to unstick my tongue from my palate, I croaked, ” But what are you doing in a library?”
His unrestrained laughter had the librarian scowling at us.


Our relationship was doomed before it could start. My prejudices got the better of me. But he wooed me relentlessly, leaving exquisite iron figurines at my doorstep on the first of every month.


After six months when the bell rang, I found him at the door, beaming and his hands behind his back. With a flourish he went down on his knee and presented me with a perfectly made cast-iron skillet! In awed silence, as I held it in my hand and felt its weight and admired the seamless craftsmanship, he quietly lifted the lid. Inside, nestled a beautiful handcrafted platinum ring!

The prompt for today is based on Robert Hass’s remarkable prose poem, “A Story About the Body.” The idea is to write your own prose poem that, whatever title you choose to give it, is a story about the body. The poem should contain an encounter between two people, some spoken language, and at least one crisp visual image.

Home

The lanes were familiar, the faces not. Time had not been kind to my hometown. The roads seemed bumpier and dustier, the markets crowded and disorderly.

Houses were in a state of disrepair; paint peeling off, gardens growing wild and laundry languishing on lines. In the hope of catching a glimpse of him, I wandered and I wandered.

Lonely as a cloud in a fierce sky, I scudded across the bylanes, shading my eyes. Regretting my foolhardy decision to return in the hope of a reunion.


Despondently, I trudge back to the railway-station, the burden of desolation heavier than my baggage.


As I sit forlornly on a lonely bench, waiting for my train, a familiar voice from the past calls me. I turn to find intense brown gazing at me. As I am engulfed in a tight bear hug, I know I am home.

Written for dVerse prosery. Today’s host, Lillian, says: The line I want you to include in your prose/flash fiction of 144 words or less, sans title, is “I wandered lonely as a cloud”.  Remember, you must use the line, word for word. The punctuation may be different….but the words must be there, ordered just as they were by Wordsworth, word for word.

One of six seasons

Huddled in coarse blankets, with a bonfire and a handheld lantern for company, getting-chilled-to-the-marrow farmers keep a vigil on their standing crops, ready for harvesting any day. It is the shishir ritu, (शिशिर ऋतु) the winter season,( sekki) one of the six seasons of India and the coldest. Shishir means dew or precipitation. This time of the year is usually the foggiest or should I say the smoggiest! 

The month of magh(माघ), from mid Jan to mid Feb, is the eleventh month in the Hindu calendar. Each lunar month is further divided into two phases,(पक्ष) paksha.The bright phase (शुक्लपक्ष) shuklapaksha, lasts from new moon to the full moon. Whereas the dark phase (कृष्ण पक्ष) krishnapaksha, lasts from the full moon to the new moon. We are now in the krishnapaksha or the minor season (kō). It is marked by slightly warmer days but chillier nights.

Sun plays hide and seek
we shiver and sweat by turns
season of illness

The weather especially during this time can be very unpredictable. It can get very warm in the sun but indoors remain chilly thus often leading to sniffles and cold.

But I, as a homemaker-poet, have my own ways to deal with this. Ginger-lemon tea works very well to combat colds and coughs. The sights, sounds and smells that surround me in the capital city are my inspiration. My simple joys and woes translate into verses.


Seasonal produce is always better than out of season exotics. Mackerel is available in abundance and is best had drenched in spices and then baked to a lip-smacking deliciousness.

Baked mackerel


Greens are the mainstay of all meals. From mustard greens, spinach, dill, onion flower stalks to bathua there are plenty of local varieties to choose from. Then there are beetroots, bell peppers, carrots, cauliflowers, turnips and so on. Moreover we now locally grow broccoli, celery, asparagus and more. A favourite of north Indians is gajar ka halwa (गाजर का हलवा) or a dessert made of carrots and milk slow cooked for hours.

Gajar ka halwa (carrot helva)


We also have a plethora of winter fruits from oranges, kinnow, grapes (black and green), guavas, cape gooseberries and more.

Cape gooseberries

One of the major festivals of krishnapaksha is Saraswati puja or Basant Panchami, which falls on 5th February this year. It marks the birth of Saraswati, the goddess of learning and knowledge.


The twelfth month, phalgun (फाल्गुन ) begins in the next kō and has two major festivals Shivratri and Holi.

Written for dVerse. Today’s host, Li, says:

The format for each  is as follows:
•the title of the Major Season or Sekki
•outline why it is called that
•the title of the micro-season or kō
•outline why it is called that
•write a haiku that speaks to the kō
•include insider information on the haiku and include information about the poet (you)
•seasonal fish, information about it, and including ways to prepare it
•seasonal vegetable, information about it, and ways to prepare it
•seasonal activity, often including the holiday or tradition involved, etc.
•a preview of coming attractions for the next kō

In addition, there are images of artwork, drawings, photographs, etc. of the highlighted

Your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to create your own major season and then a micro-season, or kō within it using the format above.

I have tried my best to give the correct information. If any of my compatriots find something amiss, please let me know in comments.

Beyond books ( Prosery)

Looking at the young, fresh faces she felt a rush of enthusiasm. Teaching was not the occupation of her choice, but her love for literature and the challenge of teaching troubled teenagers had made it her vocation. In the quest to become a better teacher, she had become a learner again. She opened the book, glanced at their disinterested faces, then put it away.


“Come on, everyone! Let’s go out to the playground. And bring no book, for this one day we’ll give to idleness.”


They looked at her in surprise. One smart alec at the back remarked sotto voce, “I am sure she is quoting a poet or an author!” 


As the backbenchers sniggered, the young teacher’s mocking voice rose over the hubbub.


” Can you identify the poet?”


The class erupted in laughter. She was relieved to sense a thawing in their response.

Written for dVerse. Today’s host, Ingrid, says: Use the line “And bring no book, for this one day we’ll give to idleness.” from  Wordsworth’s ‘Lines Written at a small distance from my House…’ in a piece of Prosery. The rule is that Prosery should be no more than 144 words, excluding the title.

Aunty

Reblogging this old poem, especially for my young readers from the Indian subcontinent.

paeansunpluggedblog

In India it is a common phenomenon to be called ‘aunty’ or ‘uncle’ by complete strangers. As soon as a young woman gets married, she is elevated to this stage. For here, it is disrespectful to call anyone older by the first name and the concept of calling someone Mr./Mrs. X has still not caught on. So you are aunty to a toddler, a teen, a college grad, a vegetable vendor, a doorstep salesman et al.

This poem is inspired by Duke of York’s speech from Richard ll.

(So here goes, with due apologies to the dear departed Shakespeare.)

Aunty me no aunty, nor behenji* me no behenji*

I am no upstart’s aunty; and that word ‘aunty’!

In a relatively unknown’s mouth, is but profane!

Why have these strangers’ mouths

Dar’d to forge a relation?

But then more ‘why?’ Why have they dar’d to

So many times address unsuspecting women,

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Picking up pieces (OctPoWriMo)

(From Pexel)

Day 8

Prompt: After the storm

Form: Mirrored Refrain

That night was like nothing before
Tearing apart victories hard won
Though am shattered and scattered
I pick up pieces one by one.

I promise myself to focus on positives
I’ll not dwell on being battered
I pick up pieces one by one
Though am shattered and scattered.

After the bewilderment, I crave calmness
I walk gingerly, for a while won’t run
Though am shattered and scattered
I pick up pieces one by one.

The rainbow, they say, will appear
My dreams are there, though tattered
I pick up pieces one by one
Though am shattered and scattered.

Finally the dawn will break
My eyes are fixed on the horizon
Though am shattered and scattered
I pick up pieces one by one.

Uncharted terrain (OctPoWriMo)

(From Pexel)

Day 5

Prompt: Journey

Form: Prose Poem

How does it feel to have the well-worn, comfortable rug beneath your feet pulled suddenly, unceremoniously and with ferocity! How does one get rid of the grit in the mouth as one falls flat on face! The dappled sunlight that I was enjoying on my well charted path is long gone! The shady trees pruned by the vagaries of time allow the harsh sun to scorch the ground beneath my naked feet. I stumble blinded by the turn of events, meandering into the unmarked path. I look for  solace provided by the ever bountiful words. Sometimes they are the prop I need to stand straight, at other times an escape from the burden that living seems to have become. I fear not the unknown, I am wary and weary but I plod on. Life is for living…this gift I cannot squander.

(I will be posting a poem or maybe two everyday this entire month. I look forward to your support and encouragement, at the same time I understand that reading every blog is not possible! Drop in whenever you can.)

Contemplation (OctPoWriMo)

(From Pexel)

Day 3

Prompt: Contemplation

Form : Free verse

The blank page stares
at me with a steady gaze
no censure, no complain
just a vast emptiness; inviting me
I try to imitate it
pushing away ebullient thoughts
they chase around each other merrily
I try to smooth my mind as I would a sheet
bit by bit I see the crinkles ironed out
I call my orphaned soul to sit still
defocussing from everything
mindfully I try to listen to the voice of silence
At first all I hear is the roar
of thoughts noisily bustling by
one by one they quieten finally
I hear the rush of blood in my veins pulsating
then the steady beat of my heart settles into a hush
eventually my mind as blank as the white sheet of paper.

Then all of a sudden I can hear the clouds tiptoeing across the skies
and the moonbeams caressing the leaves gently
I carry in my heart all the galaxies now
as well as the dark mysteries of obscurity
I embrace my incongruous self, sharp edges and all
in acceptance I finally free myself.

And I feel peace descending ultimately.

(I will be posting a poem or maybe two everyday this entire month. I look forward to your support and encouragement, at the same time I understand that reading every blog is not possible! Drop in whenever you can.)