The Lost Garden

It was an October evening and there on the playground made green by the lush grass and the receding rains were butterflies hopping from one shrub to another on the lookout for that elusive flower that could provide some nectar.

A group of children were huddled together making huts of mud and sticks where the sticks came from twigs, discarded ice cream sticks and dried branches. In that group were budding potters, architects, masons and designers. They surveyed their creation and now made walls of clay. They planted some twigs that now looked as trees in the tiny courtyard. In that group was a boy who was telling stories of long lost kings and warriors to eager ears as the huts were being built.

The sun which was shining so bright on glazed leaves when they had started off was now beating a hasty retreat behind the large block of buildings in which they lived. A miniature well was getting dug and some kid brought water from the nearby tank and poured it into it only to see it disappear. The next generous lot of water persisted in the freshly dug well to make things look complete. They surveyed their creation and sat for some time as the storyteller among them was fast finishing his story partly because it was getting dark and also it was getting difficult to feed his imagination that was now running wild as the script.

There was some sand that had been dumped for construction by a shop long back and this was used by another group of kids who were designing roads and tunnels across and over it.

A puddle of water made by the overflowing tank in the morning had some kids busy digging canals and launching paper boats. This all looked funny to elders and adults surveying the group below from floors above but nevertheless it meant so much to the children who always descended on this play field and got creative every day to make most of the strip of land to feed their imagination.

With the disappearance of such strips of land in metro cities, imagination that was once put to constructive use in such a lost garden, was now restricted to new games that came up for the new generation…

Wonderful foggy night scene at a playground, BBD Bagh, Kolkata, India
Brett Cole Photography

 

Orpheus and Eurydice

I do not know how many of you have read this lovely story of Orpheus and Eurydice that ends in tragedy. I am repeating this story for the benefit of my readers as this mythological incident teaches us something important.

If anyone who reads the story wonders what we learn or why Orpheus failed to regain Eurydice in his memorably journey to Hades or the so called netherworld, it will come back to two simple words.

It teaches us how important it is to use faith and patience as our two legs in our journeys, and if you use them well, you will reach your intended destination with the person whom you set out with…

Source: www.greeka.com

Orpheus is known as the most talented music player of the ancient times. It is said that god Apollo was his father, from whom he took his extreme talent in music, and the Muse Calliope was his mother. He was living in Thrace, on the northeastern part of Greece. Orpheus had a divinely gifted voice that could charm everyone who heard it. When he was presented first the lyre, as a boy, he had it mastered in no time at all.

The myth says that no god or mortal could resist his music and even the rocks and trees would move themselves to be near him.

Humans and beasts alike would be enchanted by it and often even the most inanimate of objects would yearn to be near him. Well into his youth he had mastered the lyre and his melodious voice garnered him audiences from near and afar.

It was at one such gathering of humans and beasts that his eyes fell on a wood nymph. The girl was called Eurydice,who was beautiful and shy. She had been drawn to Orpheus enamored by his voice and such was the spell of beauty in music and appearance that neither could cast their eyes off each other. Something inexplicable tugged the hearts of the two young people and soon they fell dearly in love, unable to spend a single moment apart. After a while, they decided to get married.

There was one man who was despising Orpheus and desired Eurydice for his own. Aristaeus, a shepherd, had plotted a plan to conquer the beautiful nymph. And there he was, waiting in the bushes for the young couple to pass by. Seeing that the lovers were approaching, he intended to jump on them and kill Orpheus. As the shepherd made his move, Orpheus grabbed Eurydice by the hand and started running pell-mell through the forest. The chase was long and Aristaeus showed no signs of giving up or slowing down. On and on they ran and suddenly, Orpheus felt Eurydice stumble and fall, her hand slipping from his grasp. Unable to comprehend what had just happened, he rushed to her side but stopped short in dismay, for his eyes perceived the deathly pallor that suffused her cheeks. Looking around, he saw no trace of the shepherd for Aristaeus had witnessed the event and had left. Few steps away, Eurydice had stepped on a nest of snakes and had been bitten by a deadly viper. Knowing that there was no chance of survival, Aristaeus had abandoned his try, cursing his luck and Orpheus.

After the death of his beloved wife, Orpheus was no more the same carefree person he used to be. His life without Eurydice seemed endless and could do nothing more than grief for her. This is when he had a great but yet crazy idea: he decided to go to  the underworld and try to get his wife back. Apollo, his father, would talk to Hades, the god of the underworld, to accept him and hear his plea. Armed with his weapons, the lyre and his voice, Orpheus approached Hades and demanded entry into the underworld. None challenged him. Standing in front of the rulers of the dead, Orpheus said why he was there, in a voice both mellifluous and disquieting. He played his lyre and sang out to King Hades and Queen Persephone pleading that Eurydice was returned to him. Not even the most stone-hearted of people or Gods could have neglected the hurt in his voice. Hades openly wept, Persephone’s heart melted and even Cerberus, the gigantic three-headed hound guarding the entry to the underworld, covered his many ears with his paws and howled in despair. 

The voice of Orpheus was so moving that Hades promised to this desperate man that Eurydice would follow him to the Upper World, the world of the living. However, he warned Orpheus that for no reason must he look back while his wife was still in the dark, for that would undo everything he hoped for. He should wait for Eurydice to get into the light before he looked at her. With great faith in his heart and joy in his song, Orpheus began his journey out of the underworld, joyful that he would once again be reunited with his love.

As Orpheus was reaching the end of the Underworld, he could hear the footfalls of his wife approaching him. He wanted to turn around and hug her immediately but managed to control his feelings. As he was approaching the exit, his heart was beating faster and faster. The moment he stepped on the world of the living and was in the light, he turned his head to hug his wife. Unfortunately, he got only a glimpse of Eurydice before she was once again drawn back into the underworld. When Orpheus turned his head, Eurydice was still in the dark, she hadn’t seen the Sun and, as Hades had warned Orpheus, his sweet wife was drawn back to the dark world of the dead…. In conclusion, when one runs out of patience, he loses faith and vice versa…

 

My Poems

The Lost Series

The Lost Sparrow
The Lost Poet
The Lost Explorer
The Lost Dog
Lost Forever
Never lose a friend
Balance Lost

Nature

The Indian Summer
Indian Monsoon
Clouded Vision
When it rained
The waterhole
The Open Window
Marching Soldiers

Grief

Maid for you
Friends who blossomed
The Wait
The poor girl

Reflections

Unanswered
Making of a guru
The Inspiration
To know it was the day

Adhoc

Sense with Eyes
The tea maker
The Eerie House
Sentries
The Messenger

Sun Stories

Ganga had come late to school today also. The teacher chided her for being late every now and then. She was late most of the days in a month, let alone some days when she was absent. The only municipal school that stood at the periphery of  the village had an assortment of pupils drawn from various walks of life from the village residents.

Little did the teacher know that Ganga’s day started at 4 in the morning. She had to supply milk from Lalchand Seth’s diary to around 25 households which used to get over by 5:30 and go to Ratan Seth’s house to wash and clean the dishes.
Today the teacher had had enough and decided to give the punishment to the little girl. As she stretched out our hands for the cane to land, the teacher’s eyes fell upon the marks on the hands. It was full of cuts and bruises. When asked what had happened, Ganga preferred to remain silent. She escaped the beating this time, but will have to sit outside the class for 2 hours as punishment. As she sat outside, her eyes fell on the chirping sparrows playing in the sand and the parrots flying to some far off land. If only, I was one among them, she wondered as she shielded her eyes from the hot Sun making his presence felt.

Bala is standing beside the road with an assortment of guavas and oranges. Like his elder brother Shiva he is also a bread winner for his family, berefit of their father, and with 2 more siblings and an ailing mother to support. Both of them are out all the time selling wares. In the case of Shiva he has a make shift stall outside the main market that he uses to sell bangles, beaded chains and all  such items.

Bala used to buy 5 kilos of guavas and oranges and walk another 2 kilometers to a vantage scenic spot on the highway so that he could sell them to people or tourists frequenting the place. There were lucky days, when before reaching the spot, his goods would have been sold on the road itself. Bala had gone to school till his 4th standard and after that what ever knowledge he had gained in the last 5 years was  from these very tourists; He had picked up a bit of few languages at least that came handy in negotiating during the purchase or the haggling saga. There were days when very few people picked his wares or gave him a decent money in return for them. Today was a hot summer day and there were not many  people who even cared to look at him, let alone his fruit basket.

Rakesh was enjoying his vacation as his summer holidays had started a few days back. He along with his family is on the way to Nasik and planned to visit places that they had skipped in their visit last year. On the way, they saw some tourists have disembarked from the magnificent vehicles to see an attractive waterfall.

They also stop to get down to take pictures, selfies with all backgrounds possible. At this time, a boy of 12 approaches them. “Saab, madam,   Peru, Santra lo na; yeh bahut sast hai, saab ” in a pleading voice (translation: Sir..please buy these fruits Peru(Guava) Santra(orange), these are very cheap). Rakesh looks at the boy aged same as him, he appears shabby and sun burnt. The boy is watching him with awe and wants him to negotiate the sale with his parents. No no, the father says, we have enough food and fruits stocked in our car, no point in buying from this boy, don’t even know from where he has plucked all these.

The large guavas, for Rakesh, seemed inviting as also the boy’s eyes but his pleas fell on deaf ears and he had to get into his car that was raring to go with his parents. But before getting in, he waved back to the dark boy with his basket of fruits who was still looking at him with one hand shielding himself from the afternoon Sun.

While speeding through, in the cool comfort of his Innova car, that was now negotiating a hump, his eyes fell on a girl sitting outside a small school veranda near to the road. Pointing to her, he nudges his father.  Why is she sitting outside father? He curiously asked. “Maybe she hasn’t done her homework before coming to school ” was the quick reply..” Put the blinds on son for the sun is really hitting us even through the tinted glass”.

 

The Lost Poet

She wrote a poem while at school
many liked it and praised her well.

She wrote a few more but then no one
found time to read and appreciate them.

Why did her friends lose interest suddenly?
Why they failed to notice her creative head?

One day she took the sheaf of faded poems
discarding it  sadly along with her dreams.

She sold them to an old newspaper store
but divine providence had some other plans.

A publisher’s son saw the still lying papers
was overjoyed to read but could not trace her.

The publisher then had one published
every month in his  popular magazine

He, hoping,  kept the last line always blank
for his readers to fill it out and complete it.

A year passed by; He got a matching line
and another matching one on the next one.

It was time, he decided to invite the lost poet
and gave her share of the fame and appreciation

and made her creation known to the whole world
her past and her, would be delightful, future poems.

And no wonder, the Divine Creator was happy to see
the events as they happened just as He had planned

It was a great event with the blessings of all her fans
when our poet got married to the publisher’s son…

 

Note: Thanks to a fellow blogger through whom the Sun shines who put this seed of imagination in me with her recent post “Fill in the Blanks”…

https://sunnshhine.wordpress.com/2016/06/14/fill-in-the-blanks/

 

 

Lost forever

There never was and never will be
any one dear to me as you were
but it took long years to know it
now that you are no more with me
How will I reciprocate the feeling
that now criss crosses my mind
now that you are not there…

It took years for the love to mature
just as good old wine with sweetness
that fermented and lingered
How can I now raise a toast to you
to commend you on your support
etching those memoirs in my mind
now that you are not there…

Snatched away

As I entered the ward, I saw her lying calm
It was a dull morning, though seemed bright
cause the surgery being over, a job well done
adding to the numbness she must have felt.

I sat beside her, shaking her hand with a prayer
telling her it would be a matter of time before
she could be at school making merry of the past
in a few weeks, I thought, how she must have felt.

While leaving her, I took her hand, encouraging
her, at the same time with a prayer on my lips
looking at her eyes, where she returned my glance
a faint smile on her lips, how she must have felt.

I turned back and left, hoping to meet her soon
when time permitted,  at home with her family
a few days back or so, then I heard the sad news
she had left us, parting with pain, and how weak I felt…

 

The Lost Dog

 

images
Pic Courtesy: Dogingtonpost.com

He appeared out of nowhere
looking for his lost loved ones
whimpering on his great loss
he looked at me only once at first.

He was lost in his own thoughts
would his master discover his missing
would he ever able to spot them again
will they come back for him or never.

It was then the poor dog  observed me
who was all the time trying to read him
the rain made things worse for him
a confused bundle of fur he appeared.

The road provided him no shelter
and running to and fro at first
It was then he observed me well covered
and  came near my large umbrella

When I offered a few biscuits, was he glad
as he looked at me with benevolent eyes
to gulp it down and rush back to the road
to be on the lookout for his lost master…

 

The Lost Traveler

All the while in the tour bus, you were fed up of all the hard talk among the tourists and wished you had some peace to yourself, for which you had opted to come along this tour to the forest lined by river tributaries and a lot of green foliage you had wised to see. From the town to the forest was a good 40 miles of beaten track which wobbled your internals as the bus tried its best to grip the undergrowth that had become so slushy with overnight rains.

You never were interested to get yourself muddied and dirty as you had forgotten a fresh set of clothes in the town hotel that closely resembled a war shelter of the 50’s. The decibel levels of the crowd in the bus had come down, as some were starting to shift their observation out of the windows rather than talking and observing their occupants inside.

A few bends where the bus almost toppled sent a section of the crowd including you on to others who resisted much as they could, only to see themselves thrown off on to others at the next bend. Whatever was eaten at the restaurant seemed to churn inside and threaten to make itself made known to the outside world, because of this rollicking ride.

With a few more upward rides around narrow streams lined with boulders, the driver stopped the bus, as if anchoring itself near a river that passed right across its path. This was where we were to alight, as the path had disappeared under the river. The flow on the top seemed calm but there seemed to be a  current that could drag one along, were one to step into it.

The group broke up into different directions after the babel of tongues had stopped, and each one including you wanted to have a shot at solitude and silence. Hark! what was that, a huge eagle scampered across the trees upon the arrival of your footsteps on the foliage  of dried leaves, the rustle which seemed deafening in the silence of the retreat. The crowd and the bus was far left behind as one had the time to take a look around . Also, everyone had been alerted to reach the bus in 3 hours time for the return back to the shady township.

There were a lot of rivulets, streaming branches of the main waterway, causing you to make a lot of diversions in your path among the trees, where the descent down to another attractive tributary had you almost running down, so much so, that you had to apply all brakes to stop yourself falling headlong into the river. But fall you did, with your hands supporting and arresting your fall. When you got yourself up, your hands were full of mud. You walked a few steps, where you could wash them in the flowing waters. There seemed to be a lot of fish, in various colors and shapes, scampering away, as your form appeared to them. The crystal clear water was tempting enough to take a drink out of it with your now cleaned and cupped hands.

Rejuvenated by the refreshing drink, you take your camera, a prized possession of any tourist, and start shooting pictures. You step carefully to the edge of the water to take your best shots, at the delightful nature around. You walk along the banks, as the ground is a bit steep to take you back along the path from where you had descended. Enjoying the unfolding flora, you have now left your bus and fellow passengers a mile away. But then there is a lot of time to go back, as you survey your new surroundings that present itself to you. A few butterflies appear as if from nowhere, and as you train your camera, they vanish into thin air. The way has given way to white gravel, rounded ones, large as potatoes, that you have to be careful while you step on them in your progress with your shoes now wet and beyond repair.

It is now, as you near a bend, that your eyes fall upon a canoe, long discarded by some native who might have lived nearby and or had drifted himself to this very spot, and would have abandoned it in search of food, as water along cannot sustain one for long. This seemed to you, once in a lifetime opportunity, as there was an oar that seemed to roar at you to get in, and have the ride across the placid waters of the river now getting wider as it wended its way along. You step into the canoe, which appear wet at the bottom. Throwing all caution to the winds, you get in, seat yourself comfortably amidst the drenched leaves that you had placed as a cushion, you now take the oar and start to row as you had seen rowers throw their arms in the television. Rowing seemed easy partly because the oar was a far cry from its original weight, eager to learn the new skill, you pace the canoe along the bank, keeping it best away from drifting towards the center of the river which appeared to have increased its vigor. The sun was making a hurrying exit made easy by the mountains that now seemed to converge on to the river path. It all seemed to be a perfect setting to enjoy a vacation, until now.

Suddenly, as if the curtains came down, rain bearing clouds stretched itself up the river path ready to welcome you, you who had never accounted for this turn of events, the breeze made way to the wind, which started beating down on your face with droplets of rain that hurt you as you tried to take cover. There was some amount of panic creeping somewhere in you, as the canoe now started to have a life of its own and started cruising along the center and the rain came down heavily. You tried your best to row yourself out of this pandemonium that had started like an orchestra, but tired arms was failing to nature’s fury. You forgot the camera, the bus and the tourists and wished you had stayed put with the crowd instead of venturing yourself out along into a misadventure that would soon culminate with the canoe and your sinking soon. The canoe was going at full horse power, as if an engine had been put on it, but with the rain water beating down, it was fast becoming a vessel full of water.

The only escape out of all this mess was now to jump out of it and swim across to the bank right or left you cared not, for life seemed to be weighing itself up and down based on your decision that you would make now right or wrong you would leave it last to decide. But you never were a good swimmer and always at school knew best how to sink in the pool after paddling with your hands and legs for a few minutes. The depth of this river you could never fathom, if you would jump now, but there was no time for analyzing your pros and cons and how you would fare once you were in the cold running water. How you wished you had stayed at home rather than recklessly scan your brain now at its wits end. There appeared a long log of wood which looked to have got stuck in the drift and this seemed to be a perfect opportunity to jump. Jump you did as there was no moment to lose, now trying your best to swim to the branch and just as you appeared yourself sinking down, you caught hold of the frail branch and crawling on all four limbs, all the while wishing your had long nails on your hands and your feet was webbed as you reached the firm ground on the bank. It now dawned upon you in the fast approaching dusk, that you had lost yourself in nature and had to wait till help arrived after your desperate SOS call from your cell had luckily reached the tour operator…