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richasmukherjee.com

love, laughter, pain, joy, life and its lessons, one word at a time

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Poetry

The genie never came..

 

PicHad I known it was the last smile, I would have bottled it away. Filling it with sand and pebbles, sending it off on a finite voyage, till it found me again on a deserted shore, sometime, some place

Had I known it was the last caress, I would have held on, for a million minutes.
Feeling every bit of your warmth that embraced every bit of hopelessness and despair in me
Had I known you would never return to this threshold, I would etch your feet into the floor. To have a path to follow and find you by my side forever

Had I known this was the last walk, I would never stop walking into nothingness and everything, for a destination is meaningless if I don’t arrive with you
Had I known this was the last whisper, I would make a museum of your voice
So it could ricochet into the walls and back into my heart, as fluid as that symbol of infinity
Had I known this was your last breath, I would lay beside you, breathing till the end
And fill my lungs with you, never to exhale…
How I wish I had known…

When the tigress lost her stripes..

Pic

This is the story of a fierce tigress who used to live in a jungle called ‘The City’

Fearless and bold. Her decisions, the future. Nothing fazed her. She believed in writing her own story

She would soar on the wings of her zest for life, knowing that only the sky was the limit

Blessed with the protective sheath of family and friends, no vagaries of life would come her way, she thought, as long as these angels were in it

One day she started drifting towards a certain someone who would become the love of her life

Things could only get better from the perch of her reign, there would be no sorrow, no pain, no strife

But somewhere down the road, a distant rumble of thunder, was bringing an impending storm

An ominous trickle of cold, sharp rain started to take form

That someone took her pulsing life and throttled it out of her

With wounding words and raining blows, her enchanted life seemed like a blur

He wounded her each day each night till there was nothing left to break

He left her with her wounded pride, but she held on with all her might, his crumbs now she would take

One fine day she looked in the mirror and couldn’t seem to recognise

The face in the mirror was someone else, all the stripes gone, her heart felt splintered with ice

She ran from friend to family then foe, trying to understand

Why she felt so empty, so vacuous inside, this was certainly not part of her grand plan

She knew deep inside she had all it took to make herself happy again

But all she could feel was the dark outside, the gloom within and a debilitating pain 

As the world got louder, she went quieter still, till she barely even spoke

Many tried in vain to break her free, but she seemed to be locked far away behind an invisible cloak

Fear took her heart and her strength was next till hopelessness consumed her all

She was so resigned to staying on the ground, that she never even contemplated the pain of a fall 

Then one fine day, lying on her back when she felt she couldn’t even breathe 

She saw a tiny sparrow struggling to build a nest where she could set her little ones free

Trying and failing she rose again, this tiny life was such a symbol of hope

That she felt ashamed of wasting and withering away when deep down, she knew, nothing was really broke

She dusted herself and shook her mane, letting her shackles fall away

It wasn’t the world, she had to fight her mind, for right here is where she wanted to stay

She fell over and over, just as the sparrow did, but she found the strength to stand

There was hushing and laughter and curious whispers all around, but also many a helping hand

She nursed her spirit, her soul to life, knowing with grit she could do it all

She would bruise and ache and there would be bad days, but she would try and stand tall

She tried and tried till one fine day, the fog began to clear

The small inner voice that was silent for so long, she started to finally hear

Then rose a sun that shone so bright, it cleared the mirror where she had lost her sight

She stood again to face the world, her eyes unwavering in the brilliant light

The muscles were flexed, the paws were firm, her heart had returned to a long lost shore

The tigress had her stripes back on and once again, she was ready to roar!

Queen of hearts

Ma

An ethereal beauty beyond words
Why must you conform to worldly standards of which we have become slaves
Vanity can come from a place of pride 
Beyond a face, beyond skin, beyond the usual trappings
Let the hair fall away, your brilliance is enough
Let the skin peel away, what lies beneath is even better
Let amorphous shapes that your body takes become continents of discovery and wonder
Let not your beauty be eclipsed 
For when you are bare, you are beautiful beyond compare…
These are words I wrote for my mother when she was propped up in her hospital bed with a wan smile on her face. A smile that never left her. Through the rigour of years, through the hardships of sustaining a large family, through vicissitudes of life and economics, there was always a smile to spare. Writing for this piece made me reminisce about the true beauty of my own mother. Its easy to write about your mother most would think. But this decision is not based on mere anthropology. It is because she is most definitely one of the most inspirational, resilient, positive and beautiful people that I’ve had the good fortune to encounter so closely in my life.
For a person who had such affluent beginnings, she never grudged being married into a humble family. A kathak performer, a sangeet visharad, a science and maths gold medalist was assigned to the kitchen and brickbats from her new family but she never complained. When my sisters and I were much older, we learnt of what all she had endured with silence. Again, none of this information was volunteered by her. She never played the victim card. Not once. Through tragedies, ill health and suffering. Her entire life was dedicated to her family, not just the army of four children and the beloved husband but anyone who ever came to her door. Whether it was long lost relatives, beggars, house help, donation seekers, it didn’t matter. No one left with empty hands or  hearts. I often wonder how she managed to be a mother, the coolest granny, a wife, a best friend and confidant when she was navigating through various roles of an electrician, plumber, handyman, world class chef and finance wizard, identities that her keen and scientific mind had sought out to keep her interests alive.
But for someone with such immense zest for life, life had other plans. Unbeknownst to us, there were silent killers eating away at her insides. While her angelic face continued to glow with love and compassion, her diseased body was rotting on the inside. Despite our best efforts, the hospital became her second home for many years. But through it all, the smile stayed, a shaking hand always ready to stick a thumb up in the air, to fool us into thinking she wasn’t suffering. I’ve never in my life seen anyone with a bald head, shrivelled skin and fractured limbs look so radiant and peaceful. For it came from a place of immense strength and real beauty, from deep within. For she refused to give in and smiled till the time she closed her eyes forever. When I held her hand for the last time, I still remember my sister had painted her nails in the ICU. An odd, bright red, to cheer her up. Frankly speaking she didn’t need the varnish. For in that shrivelled body lay the strongest and most beautiful woman, the saviour of a thousand lives, a soul that gave more than it ever took, a beauty beyond compare.

I believe every woman has TRUE BEAUTY within her in all the roles she plays. For over 18 years across 650 plus salons across the country, Naturals has been helping the Beautiful Indian Woman get more Beautiful.

Today Naturals Salutes the Beautiful Indian Woman.

Presenting Naturals TRUE BEAUTY… http://bit.ly/naturalsOF 

An itch to remember

EE

 

Word count: 597

I have never prescribed to the popular theory of the ‘onset of weariness’ with respect to your spouse as the years go by. All the jokes about the ‘7 year itch’ and ‘Shaadi ka laddoo’ etc elicited a few appropriate and perfunctory titters at best, but their meaning was pretty much lost on me. Why? Because when you fall in love with your best friend, your soul mate, your brother from another mother, your 4 am friend, your gossipy girlfriend, all rolled into one and marry them, it leaves very little space for complaints about spending too many years with them. There, I’ve placed a cliche of my own before you now, possibly as soggy as the Parle- G biscuit you dunked into your tea this morning but I really am being sincere. No matter how much we fight over the most inane things, call each other names like children despite being parents and drive each other up the wall, that love, that oozey gooey brownie kind of love that sticks to the roof of your mouth always lingers.

Of-course being so in love with your hubby doesn’t solve many other worldly issues such as gifts. Yes they are a token, yes, you keep giving each other things through the year so how does one day matter etc but who doesn’t love finding the perfect gift. Seeing a flicker of surprise, happiness and appreciation is something every gifter craves innit?! I was one of this tribe, sitting on the eve of our 7th year of marriage (yes, the ironical significance of this ‘itchy’ year is not lost on me) wondering what on earth I could buy my husband that would make his day truly special. There was a romantic dinner planned but what else could I buy to bombard him with my love?!

Like a possessed Juliet, I made some time and ran to the mall and a few stand alone stores, sifting through everything from practical to romantic gifts, from chaddis, to perfumes to watches to desperate measures like spa vouchers. It was all done and dusted (well, except the spa vouchers of course) nothing appealed to me and after 4 hours of driving myself nuts I was sitting dejected, at a coffee shop, lost and licking my wounds of defeat.

My mind was wandering but my anxious social media seeking fingers went from one post to another till I landed up staring at a poem. ‘I carry your heart’ by E E Cummings. I sat at that coffee shop for a long time, savouring every word, feeling happy and nostalgic and melancholy and grateful, all at once. That poem took me through my own journey, making me remember how we had we met, how we fought to be with each other, how we had made so many precious memories together and how we would make so many more in the years to come. On that eve of our anniversary, I sat in that coffee shop and had a pre-celebration all of my own. Of-course, once I pulled myself out of my trance, I rushed to a late night service where I printed this poem out and gifted it to my husband over our special anniversary dinner. That is the thing about words. They made the stoic, warrior-hearted husband’s eyes moisten up and reach for my hand and he held on to it through dinner. That poem and that evening are still emblazoned in my memory. The day I found those words. Rather, the day that they found me.

THIS POST IS WRITTEN FOR NOVEMBERSCHILD IN ASSOCIATION WITH KALAMPEDIA – QUEST FOR KNOWLEDGE”

the art of being fine

I guess I’m fine

I’m always fine

When your warm hand slipped out of mine after an entire life of holding on and became cold, when I didn’t want to live anymore, they told me, don’t be like this

You’ll be fine soon they said, so I was fine

I think it’s been so long since you’ve gone that I should feel fine all the time. But to be honest, everything feels lacking, a bit sub-par

I eat all the same things we used to but all of it tastes a little bit different you know, like its missing some salt

When I look up at the sky, I sometimes see your face in an odd shaped cloud floating by. That does make me feel better for a while

No matter how many times I make your side of the bed, it never seems right. I think I mess it up myself, just so that it can look like you’ve slept in it

I try to keep myself busy but ever so often, silly things, little things flood my head with you,

A smile I see yours in, someone slurping tea like you did, a nervous hand tapping a table that used to drive me insane

Once I had to berate myself quite severely, when I saw your rusted razor and I cried for days

Don’t worry I’m better now

I have to feel better don’t I? There’s no choice

I try and go for long walks but lately I’ve been forgetting the way back home so I try not going too far

I go to parties but I feel even lonelier sitting all by myself in a corner of the room

I can understand. I don’t blame them. I don’t hear too well and have nothing much to talk about either

So you see? I’m living my life. It’s not much of a life without you, but I live it.

I always lay out an extra plate for you, every-day. It looks empty, just as I feel inside, but I know that one day we will hold hands again

And then I shall truly, truly be fine

There’s today


Life is a constant and unrelenting pursuit.

Of dreams, of destinations, of meaning , of purpose.

What am I doing? How can I do this better? Is this enough?

I sometimes think no one is happy with where they are.

It’s like being on a train journey, always anxious, in anticipation of the next stop
.

Instead of enjoying that mild sedatory rocking motion, that numbing of the nose while sticking it out of the window in the cold nippy night, fighting sleep to crack that murder mystery you’ve carried along as a perfect companion.

Who says striving is bad?

It has tremendous power.It powers us to do more, to do better,to not give up.

But if God intended us to be constant strivers, he would have delivered us as robots.

It’s our imperfections, our pace, our need to slow down that makes us real.

Tomorrow is great but today is amazing.

That picture looks great but put down that camera and let your eyes behold real beauty.

You might not have finished 3 lucrative assignments but you finished that little dollhouse project today.

You never made it for the fancy holiday your friends are on, but you had a piping hot cup of coffee watching the sun set with your head resting against the only shoulder that matters.

You’ll never make everyone happy.

You’ll never have everything to desire.

You’ll never make all your dreams come true.

But look around, take a deep breath, and know that today, you’re already part of an amazing one.

Drive

 

When was the last time you took a drive?

Just sat in the car, unclutched all your thoughts and accelerated far away from whatever is holding you back or towards whatever you want

The headlights come on, clearing your mind and the path ahead, showing you where you’re heading

The seat belt clicks you back into reality but as you pull out of the garage, you feel unfettered, free

Is it necessary to know where you’re going? Sometimes

Will you always know where you’ll end up? No

But does it matter?

The blinking street lights zip past like orderly, well behaved fireflies

Suddenly there is no traffic and you are left soldiering alone, against the inky black sky

Enjoying the solitude, enjoying the nothingness, enveloped in nothing but a nippy breeze

As you stick your hand out to tame the wind and try to grab fistfuls of it, your hand keeps flailing around, almost merry

And it’s a loss of control that feels amazing

Your hair, pulled away from your face is the only thing looking back, taking notes

While you blaze ahead, liberated, anxieties annihilated

Feeling like you’re infinite

An heirloom

 

I owe you so much little one
I’ve tried to repay this debt in tears, patience, lessons, hugs and kisses
But there is so much more I want to show you before this world implodes and consumes itself
A million crimson sunsets, where you can just hear that slight thud when the horizon gets greedy and gobbles up the fiery spheres
Beautiful rivers that carry hopes and goods and people, up and down, like the tides of life
Mute verdure mountains awash with the beauty of simplicity
Kind people who help everyone in their paths like gentle streams rearranging pebbles along their way
Gestures that are laden with hope and happiness, not reciprocity
Long drives taking us to new places, new people, new experiences and sometimes to nowhere
This basket that I’m weaving for you is full of small, simple, happy things
I’ll cover them all with a blanket of hope as I pass them on to you
I know you will look back and wonder what there is left to love in a world packed to the brim with hate, violence, blood and sorrow
But that is when I want you to sit with this little basket and see the wondrous world that was, and still could be, through my eyes

Static


The axis of just about everyone’s personal universe is balanced on something precarious and unpredictable.What will he think? What will she think? Will I look stupid? What will they think if I fail?

This brotherhood of apprehensions comes in a thick book full of myriad shade cards.

One more debilitating than the other, leading to paralysis.

Of intent, actions, determination and resolve.

It’s that same look you see on a child’s face, tapping his bat nervously, waiting for the ball to come in the backdrop of a sea of expectant faces.

Behind stooped shoulders and a quivering mouth, desperate to answer a lingering questioned scribbled and left unanswered on a blackboard.

In an unfinished joke that withers away on unsure lips.

On the beads of perspiration dripping down throbbing temples, which were full of a speech, now frozen, having already predicted failure and judgement.

All they really need to do is see nothing, assume nothing, hear nothing, but the sound of their own voices.

They are the masters of their destinies.

Opinions and tags are like transient ash from a withering campfire.

Long after the ash, fire and heat are gone, what will remain are the coals and pebbles of their determination.

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