We present this work in honor of Thiruvalluvar Day.
So clandestinely does
the night sketch the night,
like the fingers of darkness
entwining those of the shadows
caressing so intimately that
one becomes the other.
some stealthy lines
drawn on the inner paths
forking in separation
touching or un-touching.
some specks of light
perceived or un-perceived.
some dark forebodings
of a fall or of death.
mining the secrets of the dark
should be a meditative act
like all robes unravelled
from the body which then
weaves itself on its nude self.
night should be made love to
so intensely as a couple
raining by themselves
kissing again and again
the drops of sweat
dripping from the bodies
seized by ecstasy.
night is a poem
written by a woman
with her head bowed
while black serpents
slither along her tresses
to be read only by those homes
that have turned insomniac.
We present this work in honor of Vikram Samvat New Year.
Youth’s splendor is on her limbs,
on her face the sweat of toil
and the sun’s red burning;
a basket of golden grain upon her head,
she comes and goes along the boundary dikes:
her waist supple
and thighs that shimmer—
eternal child of rain and heat and frost,
with a sprig of wheat between her lips.
Heigh ho, two days—
That’s all her youth!—
dream of a moment
not long remembered.
Ground down with sorrow,
worn out by troubled times,
her body withers,
its wealth of youth untimely spent;
a blad of grass adrift from shore,
that laughed and played a few brief moments with the waves.
What is seen is not the Truth
What is cannot be said
Trust comes not without seeing
Nor understanding without words
The wise comprehends with knowledge
To the ignorant it is but a wonder
Some worship the formless God
Some worship His various forms
In what way He is beyond these attributes
Only the Knower knows
That music cannot be written
How can then be the notes
Says Kabir, awareness alone will overcome illusion
On the city streets
Roam strange creatures,
Human-like, yet, not quite human,
Cruel caricatures of humanity!
Yet they move and speak,
Like debris they pile up by the road,
Sit, foraging food, on piles of garbage
Came the month of Kartik and the end of the rainy season.
The great Emperor Akbar
Died in the city of Agra.
The news of his death reached Jaunpur.
The people, bereft of their emperor, felt orphaned and helpless.
The townsfolk were afraid,
Their hearts troubled, their faces pale with fear.
Heard of Akbar’s death.
He had been sitting on the stairs,
The news struck him like a blow upon the heart.
He swooned and fell,
He could not help himself.
He cracked his head and began bleeding profusely.
The word ‘God’ slipped from his mouth.
He had hurt his head on the stone floor
Of the courtyard, which turned red with his blood.
Everyone began making a great fuss;
His mother and father were frantic.
His mother held him in her arms,
Applied a piece of burnt cloth to his wound.
Then, making up a bed, she laid her son upon it
His mother wept unceasingly.
Meanwhile there was chaos in the city,
Riots broke out everywhere.
People sealed shut the doors of their houses,
Shopkeepers would not sit in their shops.
Fine clothes and expensive jewellery–
These, people buried underground.
Books recording their business transactions they buried somewhere else,
And hid their cash and other goods in safe and secure places.
In every house, weapons were gathered.
Men began to wear plain clothes
And casting off fine shawls, wrapped themselves in rough blankets.
The women too began to dress plainly.
No one could tell the difference between the high and the low.
The rich and the poor were alike.
No thieves or robbers were to be seen anywhere,
People were needlessly afraid.
The chaos and confusion continued for ten days.
Then peace returned:
A letter came from Agra saying that all was well.
This was what the letter said–
“The great Akbar was emperor
For fifty-two years.
Now in Samvat 1662,
He died in the month of Kartik.”
“Akbar’s oldest son
Sahib Shah Salim,
Has, in the city of Agra, assumed the throne
In Akbar’s palace.”
“He has taken the name of Nuruddin
This news is being given all over the kingdom,
In every place where the emperor’s authority holds sway.”
This was the news contained in the letter
Which was read from house to house
And spread around Jaunpur
Causing the people to give thanks in relief.
There was joy in Kharagsen’s house
A state of well-being prevailed, gone were sorrow and strife;
Banarasi recovered, and bathed;
The family rejoiced and gave alms generously in their joy.
We present this work in honor of Indian Independence Day.
A house in which all the hearts are united
In misery and joy all of them beat as one
If one is elated all the rest are delighted
If one is in sorrow, all others are saddened
That humblest of dwellings is surely more blessed
Than that royal castle where one soul is depressed.
We present this work in honor of the poet’s 60th birthday.
The insulted corpse spoke to me at night:
Can’t you see what’s planted in my hands?
Definitely, this gun isn’t mine.
I do not recognize bullets,
except the one that pierced me.
Those diary entries aren’t mine,
the hitlists were appended later.
Though murdered, I’m not a dimwit.
even I want to see the hellish diary
that added our names into the hit list,
a diary that vanished
because it was never written.
I came to know from the rotten,
powdered and wounded corpses
about the guns that were planted
between their dead fingers,
about the insult thrust upon them
by exhibiting their gun wielding pictures,
about romantic diary notes
that were written in their names.
Corpses don’t lie.
We are the truth, the sole truth.
But what can corpses do?
Even if we are erased from days
and appended to newspapers,
bulletin boards and
lazy after-dinner miniscreens,
even if our lifeless recline
is repeatedly insulted,
our blood silently appears
in honest mirrors at night.
Pressing the lips
against every ear that is awake,
It will chant this till sunrise: Do not sleep. What dawns is your turn.