Story of a Ruin

Hindu temple, Ubud, Bali
Pura Temple, Bali

On the banks of a winding river
covered by shade giving trees
stood an old temple now a ruin
one day, was I mighty surprised
to see myself walking towards it?

The glaze from the noon fiery sun
as it struck many majestic pillars
at first blinded me; I could see
a deity of a goddess unattended.

Offering my salutations to her
I looked around to spot anyone
who would come this desolate way
but alas, no one seemed to exist
except me, in these lost quarters.

I walked the once trodden steps
when having heard a sharp noise
I turned around, to my wonder
the old sanctum door now shut
who shut that door, I wondered.

Around the farther side were
trees plenty next to a cool pond
with flowers growing amidst it
my eyes spied in the shade of trees
a monkey, a squirrel eyeing in awe.

The breeze and the fruits in bounty
took me to a dream of bygone days
I dreamt of that place back in time
how festivities rocked the still ground
where people flocked lost in joy.

The temple fair with pristine glory
attracted one and all, near and afar
a visitor in me now in different attire
there I saw a beautiful girl standing
at the steps of the majestic temple.

Was she beautiful, was she radiant
was something about her charm
observing all who were lost in fun
who she was, so bright as the sun
my mind at sea, churned thoughts.

I climbed the lovely temple steps
devotees praying to the goddess
somehow the glow on the deity
could very relate to that on the girl
one in divine, one in human form.

Casual inquiries it was made known
she was the child of the temple priest
a devotee who cared for nothing
engrossed in the service of his folk
worship a mother who was his child.

I circled with the crowd at every turn
her radiant smile, the mighty holy
doubts cleared with the compassion
she bestowed on us with her love
a mother pleased at her children.

At a loss, keep the discovery to myself
do I make it known, had I the courage
should I approach her I wondered
would she listen, as others her age
a woman, she of a countless age.

One day, she was playing with kids
getting close towards the little ones
when she sensed my approach,
the all knowing smile asking
was I attracted to her these days.

With courage, I went near divine her
while the kids not at close quarters
asking her, was it true, I had sensed
she the divine in human form said
keep it to you, which I did this time.

Days were spent meeting and asking
had she powers she could exercise
could she keep the village blessed
she would wait for them to pass a test
then, would decide to be a part of it.

Months passed by, days of joy to me,
one day, the priest’s daughter fell sick
ailments added to her father’s plight
one said of a physician with the king
might help her to tide over her state.

A journey to the palace was too far
to ask for a cure might invite wrath
a lad I was, to carry the message
private to the medic, to respond to
a person glowing, despite her pain.

I went to the court and with difficulty
manage to get his consent, for the call
but he asked a fee, which I doubted
any one, of the village could afford
but they could have tried and helped.

With sad tidings, I got the message
no one cared to help the priest
who did selfless service for them
helped bring blessings from Her
just as She had blessed him with Her.

Chiefs and landlords refused to help
in kind or in money, left him sad
the priest died, broke, just as he was
was this test you told of, she smiled
she was to pass, with me by her side.

Rain clouded to the delight of all
but my plight, no one could gauge
I lost her that night, hands in mine
radiant as ever, loving eyes upon me
in torrents, it poured from the sky.

The river nearby rose in anger
submerged all with its people
waves climbed the forsaken temple
they also washed away our lost selves
I must be glad to part with my body.

It all came back, I was driven here
a place where I loved a girl of glory
a divine Odyssey it got me here
left to reminisce the story of a ruin
would She come again for me…

If you liked reading this, hope you enjoy the sequel that continues as a story in Yajnavalkya

My distant pal

We became chat friends at a net cafe

Most of the time we sat next to each other

Not knowing  it was she  and I  him

We did wait for the bus at the stand

Just  a smile passed when our eyes met

Our mind always busy with the distant pal

One day the pal was all gloomy while chatting

Inspite of my inquiry she kept quiet

I smiled at the stand but she didn’t look

I sat in the seat as she stood thoughtless

I offered the seat next when it went vacant

Her exam results were out, she confided

Oh,  is that  all, I smiled cheering her up

I am leaving tomorrow for I cannot stay

won’t you be seen at the net cafe then

I will not be there as I need to pack up

She bid a sad bye as she got down

I saw her walk and disappear in the blocks

While the bus carried my sadly hurt weight

The next day dawn, I logged in at the cafe

She had put a mail thanking me for support

she was leaving the city as it was not in her

to crack the exam even in her third attempt

also was not sure if she would chat with me

I looked at the vacant seat beside me

Then it struck, she too had said the same

Logging out, I broke into a run sweating

the bus was waiting as if asking me to board

I hopped into it and off  where she left it last

I retraced her last seen steps into the blocks

meeting and confirming it was her was vital

walking in the sun long my vitals were failing

when a car bumped into me with her in it

What are you doing here, she asked tending

I came to meet a friend who is flying today

But miss I did just like this car gave me a kiss

Do you want me to drop you at the airport?

Yes yes! I scream, my dream having come true

In the cab I asked her where she was leaving

Both the answers matched and then I asked

What made her think she should quit study

She said she had fallen in love with her pal

Who went pale on hearing such sweet words

I don’t know how to tell him, her eyes damp

cause the pain in the heart now unbearable

Now that you have told him, he would know

I haven’t told him it is you I told, she flamed

Her looks made me all the more to smile

Can you tell me how it happened, I teased

The exam or love is what you want to know

I am asking you on your  love stupid, I joked

How can you call me stupid, she flared up

If you can call me umpteen times on chat

Why cannot I sweetly one time in person?

Ajay, you of all persons, she exclaimed!

After a silence that seemed an eternity

She told the cabbie to turn back home

I am not going anywhere but here

as she held my hands with gleeful eyes

With Ajay why can’t I Vijay over my exams?

What A Waste is War

What a great waste is war

For it puts everything to waste

It is all for a need they say

To bring back the lands together

But that is what they said long back

When the united  land was divided.

It is all for a need they say

But it takes away our needs

there is nothing left to feed

no place to work or play

no houses left for us  to rest.

As the enemy is on the march

we are looking  to resist and rest

how long can we run from the land

where in peace once we did dwell

where the winds of  war seldom came.

Then you came and felt the need

good counsel came from all sides

but the need made you pay no heed

in the midst and stuck in the mire

Is it too late to turn back now

when the evil of war became your peril?

Why so unhappy?

The friends ask you to party

You must try this restaurant

The movie is worth seeing

Why haven’t you bought a new vehicle

Is satisfying the senses real happiness?

Aren’t the so called senses the demons?

That shield you from the creator

Who keeps waiting for you

To break the curtain

To see the real Him

After which the senses wither away

And seldom call you to satisfy them

For having walked with the divine

They know they have lost you

While you got lost in the love

Of the one who created you.

Nature

A child fed the crows and the pigeons daily and it had been almost a year. She tried her best that each one got its bountiful share. They still bickered with each other during feeding time. Some of them became plump and some were average while others looked famished. She tried to feed the famished ones but the well fed ones came back everytime for their share.

She used to feed the crows first lest they fight the pigeons off. Even then they used to pull the pigeons by their tails and make fun of the famished ones. After that she would find the crows fighting with each for no particular reason.

One day she asked her father, why is it so dad that inspite of all the freedom and the food they get, they behave so? The dad replied, “every form of living beings have their own nature and it is mighty difficult to change it. Some think over their actions and get better. Even we humans are no different, child! You will understand this when you grow up”

A helping hand

For those who have already read Reach to the Poor, Pravin and Raju are familiar characters now.

It so happened that during one of their recent visits to the town, to augment supplies to their shops, both had the feeling that it was time they visited a hair cutting salon.

They always lodged themselves at the Hazari lodge which was slightly away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It was a Sunday morning and after a quick breakfast at a nearby dhaba, they walked in search of a salon. A few minutes into their walk they saw a ruffian at a distance arguing with a wayside hawker woman. It appeared that he was threatening her to part with some amount of money as weekly hafta to shore up his fortunes. The misfortunate woman with no one to seek help, it being a Sunday morning with most of the shops being closed, parted with her earnings.

The money collected, the ruffian parted soon from the place. Our silent observers at a distance, walked upto her, heard her out. They took some time to console her, helped her with some money saying they would teach a lesson soon, to the so called terror whenever an opportunity presented itself.

On their look out for a salon, they came upon a few other hapless hawkers who too had to bear the brunt of the so called Gajya the illegal tax collector.

A poor man was pulling his cart of ice slabs at a distance. They hurried upto him to make inquiries. Despite the heat and a sweating brow, he was kind to stop and help them with directions and also offered water laced with few pieces of ice if they wanted. As was their nature, they politely declined the warm offer of cold water and hurried to the salon.

The road to the salon was a bit bad and they had to take care not to fall into the many inviting potholes. As they reached the shop they could see one hair dresser and two persons waiting on one of the two worn out benches. They seated themselves on the other one and picked up a conversation as was their wont.

The hair dresser also lent his ears and the topic turned to Gajya. Most of the shopkeeperd feared him, said Jayanti Lal who was finishing his creative work on one of his customers and at the same time eager to be friendly with the visitors he asked Raju as to what they did. Pravin with a laugh said, “I burden those who come to me and he sees to it that they don’t die” . Hearing this Raju also laughed in big tones.

This is a poor locality, Sir and we do not have that much earnings to share with anyone said Jayanti Lal with a confused look. Offlate Gajya has been asking for more which we cannot give and that gives rise to skirmishes with him. I don’t mind giving him a free hair cut and a shave if he demands and he paused, maybe that offer I can give to you too. One of the bench customers, Javed looked with fear about himself and in a whisper told Pravin… He carries a knife with him, they say. Oh no, talk of the devil and here he comes….

Gajya’s frame came into view to all eyes who looked his way. With a Pepsi bottle in hand, he was idling his way to the salon. At the same time through another lane, came a ice cart pulled by an old man. One of the cart’s wheels got stuck in one of the pot holes and he asked for Gajya to help him out not knowing who he was. All eyes were riveted on Gajya as to how he would react. The irritated ruffian slapped the man and continued walking towards the salon.

Javed bhai whose turn was next whispered.. Now it is his turn, we will have to wait till he gets his hair cut and beard shaved. We, the timid always have to wait.

Raju’s blood was boiling. He would strike this bully as soon as he was within striking distance come what may. Pravin sensed Raju’s mind and decided to teach a lesson in their own way. Touching Raju he said a word which only Raju could understand. “Big boy”. Many a childhood scenes of skirmishes flashed in Raju’s mind. He smiled briefly. It was time to act.

Raju got up and stood near the dressing chair. The current customer had got down. Javed bhai afraid of annoying Raju whimpered, ” but it was my turn”.. Raju looked at him with a fearful avatar and said “Did You say something” . As if taking up the cue Pravin rose from the bench remarked, “Yes it was Javed bhai’s turn. How can you..” . Raju just laughed.

Helllooo, blared out Gajya. “Everyone will have to wait because it is my turn”. Pravin not even showing that he had seen or heard Gajya rushed to Raju and chided Raju for breaking the queue. Raju told Pravin to keep himself outside of this and tried to get himself seated. To the onlookers, it seemed Raju and Pravin were strangers or not friendly to each other.

Gajya was finding it a bit difficult to make his presence felt. Today it seemed these persons were deaf and blind at least these two strangers as others were atleast passing him a glance. Maybe they didn’t know his credentials. So he shouted at Raju to get out of the chair. Pravin meanwhile was trying to pull Raju out of the chair to the consternation of Jayanthi Lal. Today it seemed he had to deal with not one but three thugs who might pull the rug from his feet if he didn’t act in time.

Pravin nearly managed to drag Raju out of the chair ignoring the pleas from the hair dresser and good old Javed bhai who had now withdrawn his case and awarded his turn to Raju. But Pravin would not let go of Raju and pulled him out. Gajya came and tried to sit in the vacant seat or so he thought but Raju on his way down pulled him down with him. Now Pravin asked Javed bhai to seat himself to which the poor Javed bhai said he could wait. Now Pravin looked so angry that Javed brother got into the chair.

This was too much for Gajya who got up and was trying to work himself into a rage but now Pravin took hold of him and gave him such a resounding slap that his face turned outside to the lane where his eyes met the poor fellow still grappling with his cart. How in a few minutes the equation has changed, he thought. “No, I will not take this beating quietly” he loudly said. You will have to pay for this and he pulled the infamous knife from his pant.

The gleaming wicked looking weapon was well sheathed and in Gajya’s hand could work wonders. It was not without its labor that its master had become himself respected out of fear. Slowly as everybody stood frozen, came the knife at Pravin but the plunge was arrested with a timely kick to the knee from Raju.

What followed was a brawl. Gajya didn’t know from where all the blows came, so thick and hard that he cowered before the lot. A few passer-by fellows also joined in the revelry. It seemed to everybody that Raju was a much bigger thug than the punitive Gajya. All the cash on Gajya was taken out by Raju and he was unceremoniously kicked and dumped out of the shop. The knife now in safe hands, Gajya had to run out for his life.

Raju bhai please be seated said all in one voice to which he laughed and walked out with a smiling Pravin. On the way they treated themselves to cold water offered by the old gentleman after having helped his cart out of the gaping pot hole. When they looked back at the salon, they could see Jayanti Lal and Javed bhai saluting. On their way back they parted with the money to those few hawkers who had lost their money earlier. “A visit to the salon can wait, Big boy” said Pravin as they walked hand in hand back to their lodge.

No Time

There is no time to look at the blooming flower

There is no time to look at the perched bird

Nor any chance to find time for a small prayer

Time ambles along with you glued to the gadget

as you spend time looking at the varying stocks

undecided for there is no time for you to decide

for there is no time to sit on the rocks and gaze

at the time keeper setting far away into the dark

You have no time to enjoy the delicious food

no time to thank the loved one who serves it

as you kill time on chat with a distant friend

who has no time to meet you anytime soon

Time stops and slowly passes you over

for chiming time has proved time and again

you have no time dear available to value it.

Happy Birthday

I woke up to the sound of
birds chirping and the
bard singing his tunes.
In the distance, a church
bell rang in sweet chimes.

Down in the street, there
appeared a few people
celebrating some event.
With bugles and trumpets
they were all ready to start.

The wind had a fragrance
and a vibrance never seen
before, and yet little
flowers kept beckoning it
to keep them swaying.

I wondered what it could be
memorable as it seemed to be
and then remembered it to be
a special day, that could only be
a day to cherish, Your Birthday!