Reading Time: 35 minutes
The Significant League (TSL) and Different Truths (DT) together offer an Anthology on World Humanitarian Day (WHD), the sixth tie-up between the two. Seventy three poems, by 48 poets, showcase the humane aspects of the poets from world over. Cruelty of man against his fellow beings have taken monstrous proportions. WHD is an attempt to sensitise the world community about the attacks of workers engaged in Humanitarian works. Earlier, they were spared from attacks. Not anymore. War, religious or political persecution, caste and colour discriminations continue unabated. Other acts on inhumanity make it worse. Child labour, human trafficking, sexual assaults on children and women. These force millions to leave their home and hearth, for some, while many others continue to live with those who abuse them. Those who do not die are left with deep psychological scars all their lives. This anthology of TSL has been put together and edited by four eminent poets, Dr. Ampat V. Koshy, Sana Rose, and Niladri Ranjit Chakraborty . TSL and DT wish to sensitise people toward Humanism and Humanitarian issues. This anthology is part of the Special Feature on WHD by Different Truths.
On World Humanitarian Day, what I would really like to say, as one of the editors of this marvellous mini online anthology of poems, co-edited by four of us, that exhibits a widespread and sprawl in terms of topics but not in terms of excellence in that the quality of poems on display here is very high, we are glad to see that humanism and humanitarianism are still very much alive and kicking. For me to say this is a strange thing, as I am one of those rare post-human or anti human philosophers in India, espousing a larger worldview that is more than scepticism, that includes cynicism at the grand project or meta narrative of the Enlightenment called being human or humane, meaning being rational and socially responsible, etc. Man has increasingly proved himself to be both ignorant in the face of vastly expanding knowledge according to me, but also proved himself to be increasingly an irrational animal, a political animal, a religious animal, a selfish animal, a power hungry animal, a greedy animal and a violent animal, instead of the social and reasonably sexual and rational animal we wanted him or her or them to be. In this scenario, what seems relevant is more mutation, hybridisation, revolution, modification and evolution than what is emerging, which is a cold blooded fascism that cares only for nothing and definitely not for non-human life forms. The poems here are the cries of a dying humanism according to me yet invaluable being also the record of a genuine struggle at the same time for something new and good to be born from this hour of our dying to the old. Please read the poems, if only to say I am wrong, which, if true, will not necessarily be a bad thing. Though all fifteen themes we suggested are touched upon Kashmir, Syria and the suffering of human trafficking victims seem most touched on.
~ Dr. Koshy AV, co-editor.
There is only so much we can do about the waning essence of humanity. We feel sorry for a lot, we acknowledge and discuss about the ‘situations’, we ignore another portion of reality and read and turn the pages of a world that is more or less virtual to us as social media is. There is a sunset out there, a nightfall that has no hope for a brighter sunrise, a safer day, a calmer breath. There is blood, money and screams. There is shackled freedom and a perfect line between neighbours in the name of everything from colour to faith. Through versifying some of these silenced truths, even if they are just speckles in the endless pink snow and rubbles, even if they are unheard whimpers in the midst of blood-curdling screams, even if they are not going to change the world overnight, this is an attempt to reminisce what we dream of – a world without the need for such poems. It feels glorious to be a part of this anthology of compassionate grimaces that gifted me with glimpses of degrading humanity at its peak.
~ Sana Rose, co-editor.
In the recent times, the frenzy of unjustified violence, discrimination and hatred against people of other races or colour, preferences or disabilities and even animals have skyrocketed across the roof of tolerance. Gender-based violence has shaken both the developed and third worlds. In times like such, immensely baleful natural calamities also tested our hearts and our strength to remain united. The fact that injustice continues to dwell, while we are aware of it, only complicates the picture of our parochialism and ignorance, which is ever-aggravating. The overlooked prejudices, which have spoilt the societies and sabotaged the ‘human’ in human beings over centuries are no different than the lunacy of someone seeking pleasure from harm of others. There are courageous men and women spread all over the world, who have reached out to the needy, overlooked the differences, escaped from the shackles of ironbound preconceived notions, broke the maddening silence which only spoke of self-regard and acted ‘human’ for a change. They did their picayune bit in controlling the damage. Sticking to its bona fide purpose, the World Humanitarian Day Anthology aims to recognise the unheard voices of people who have succumbed to such circumstances, who are striving to see a better day and the volunteers unheard of, whose compassion alone aided in neutralizing the evil forces of nature and mankind. In the hour of the need, I think, we cannot remain silent spectators and stop ourselves from mellowing into better human beings. As writers with cognisance and compunction, we possess the privilege of speaking for those who cannot. Our pens could be the weapons against injustice and our words, the voice against it. The Significant League (TSL), a league of good people with extraordinary ambitions and writing skills have once again collaborated with Different Truths (DT) web magazine to bring out its collection of powerful poems promoting peace and rationality. Thanks to the editors of DT, Arindam Roy and Anumita Chatterjee Roy and Dr. Koshy AV, the motivating spirit of TSL, who had forwarded us, the co-editors, this virtuous cause and trusted us with it. I candidly believe that readers will enjoy reading this anthology and will find it thought-provoking.
~ Niladri Ranjit Chakraborty, co-editor.
Editors: Dr. Ampat V. Koshy, Sana Rose and Niladri Ranjit Chakraborty
The Tattered Coat
Under a tin shed which they call home,
Huddle a couple old
Surrounded by bruised and battered pans,
A cauldron bubbles away on a rusted stove
The woman mashes boiled potatoes
As a cold December wind lashes and thrashes
The couple old.
Against the wall, a man sits drinking away his wages
And a rag picker eyes the neighboring dustbin
With a proprietorial air, as a mangy pup whimpers and moans
And the cold wind drones.
The loud music from a marriage celebration
Across the road in a five-star hotel wafts over
The pup races to the marriage venue,
To gorge on the left–overs.
Some women are getting pedicured and manicured
in the five-star boutique.
Ah, they come out looking beautiful and chic.
Discussing Monroe’s tresses and dresses
None bother about the old couple under the bridge.
“The locks of her hair are going on the auction block soon.”
Trills one. Is she about to swoon?
The guy with a patch of alopecia aereta on his head stares blankly
As the women in the boutique, yak on while getting exfoliated.
One cannot guess their age
Buried it is under a crisscross of wrinkles
Are they octogenarians, or nonagenarians?
But Monroe would have been 90 in June, they know.
With one gnarled hand, the old woman
Stirs the watered- down stew.
With the other she pats her tubercular chest.
The old man hobbles towards his shivering wife
Takes out his tattered coat and with shaking hands two
Covers her frail frame.
In the rampant ugliness, this act of beauty burns bright
But, ah with some undiagnosed pain she doubles
The fire burns and the cauldron bubbles.
At the marriage venue, supple bodies writhe and groove
But, alas, no song and dance for the couple.
Only the dance of Death lurking in the shadows
And a funereal song yearning to burst forth
Any moment now.
Till then the couple survives on a coat full of love, though tattered
And a thin stew, but has it not always been love that has mattered?
We do not ask
Which country we belong to
When we are born
But cry for our mother’s milk
Humanity has no country. Except love
Neither all the ones who ill-treated you
Nor the ones you ill-treated
Were able to do so, without their mother’s milk
We are all children of the universal mother
Having drunk of her breasts
But grown up unwise
Mother, forgive us all –
Actors, bystanders of various hues
Craven, making this paradise hell –
The small child fed tulsi leaves to the white lamb and the young, brown bull-calf
Next day, they were forced to part and go off in three directions
She was sold for sex, the lamb for slaughter, and the young bull taken to a temple for an offering
No one intervened or interfered, though knowing all things
The world now awaits final judgement, and God sharpens His sickle
To put it, in His day of wrath, into the bodies of the buyers and sellers
In Babylon, to punish them and all who kept silent
Their blood will rise up to the horses’ bridles on that day
And no one will save them for their cruelty to the animals, and children
Who were dumb and innocent but killed or maimed or sexually abused and ruined
By this world, that knows God does not delight in iniquity
Or sacrifice, or offering any more, in these end times
God wants mercy, love, compassion and justice.
May we not be found, now, among those who worship idly
But with the ones who were against such immoral traffic.
She waits impatiently for the deep pits can swallow no more
He comes drawn by the lure of quick money. At sunset, the deal is struck.
Three bars of Lux soap, two large bottles of kerosene and coconut oil,
a floor cleaning lotion, jasmine-scented (he insists on it) and 4000 rupees
change hands but no handshakes are expected or given. They vanish into opposite dusks.
She into the house to fasten every window and spray fragrant Oud.
He to the shop to binge on stuff that will quell reason and preserve his sanity.
The night soil stream gallops through sleeping backyards as a well-oiled drunk works diligently,
scooping up and surrendering all his rights, laughing and retching in turn at court orders
spraying kerosene over each load of shit he pulls up till the slabs are cemented back
A moonlight bath with the floor cleaner and a bar of soap
then dinner on a banana leaf left for him outside the locked up house
He opens the last two bottles of toddy dousing the stink of memories
taking home the scent of jasmine, two bars of Lux for his wife and 4000 rupees for his child
which the hospital takes from him once a clean day dawns.
From being hissed at too much, we have become venom
gliding glibly over your bristles, our skin speaking a new language
you cannot decipher without a forked tongue
Feeding you your poison, remaining untouched at the core
Strengthened by the knowledge you lack
Mimicking your insecurities
but also mocking them while being subdued by the weight of your bones
The chains have shifted from soft bodies to minds mired in myths
pampered by obedience and shrunk from disuse
The knots are no longer where they were once put
The fabric has changed and the woman in it has ridden off
Liberty now moves like a breast drummed upon by the rain
and no longer wears heels, fishnet or your name
What you still clutch at is clay of your making
How little you read of what we write on our skins!
A mad, creepy stench seeps into me.
The night, smelling like litter and raw onions
Perforates my inner core. But wait, what is it?
The exposed visage of my yet to develop breasts
that might become a river, swelling with milk
and burnt poetry some day?
The parched, trembling virgin lips that an unknown mouth crushes
Merciless, shoving his ugly, flabby, dated body into
A crescendo of submission, devastating the silken petal
between my thighs? Drops of virgin blood from a defenceless vagina,
Assures my clan that my father’s honour is in right hands, that
My girlie dreams of unknown ocean pearls, decorous words, counting tricks
Taught in a useless girls’ school will burn away in the tandoor,
Like all other ‘haraam’ around me. A child bride of Arabia, Africa, India, Syria,
I am chipped, peeled off, tender pieces, craving for light, my biggest sacrilege.
Note: In solidarity with the thousands of little girls, who are forced to be child brides in various parts of the globe, sacrificed in the alter of ‘marriage’ and forcefully initiated into brutal sex and a life of ignominy, deprived of the minimum education, hygiene and empowerment that she rightfully deserves.
eyes see; hearts feel; visceral is the hunger
of starvation, privation, exclusion,
so insurmountable for so many,
trapped in circumstance born and borne of birthplace,
of learned, or imposed suffering
hands reach; hearts yearn; desperate is the urging
to assuage the gnawing, burning lack
of all which might make survival possible – or humane…
and when, as each new life is formed,
and strains to seek, each day, fulfilment,
are we alone in choice, in action, in responsibility,
or do we stand, together —
unique in expression, but joined in essence; empathetic …
flowers blooming in proximity
to Life beyond boundaries of time or place?
it is easy to look away
from the less powerful, the less protected, the less abled;
easy to escalate the invasive, indelible crimes which stain
our common humanity,
which wreak their cycles of depletion and destruction
upon this Earth we share
with so many other creatures…
we walk, not alone, but so lonely,
among and along the steps taken by so many,
through the ages, and across the waves of space unmapped…
inexorably, our humanity, our composition as organic beings,
can be reduced, to the common components of ‘nobility’ –
the star-stuff of new life, new planets, of possible kinder realms
as we melt, and meld, in the crucible which returns us, each and all,
to the premise, the promise which we may yet grasp — Light in our own lives.
9. Girl, 10
She stands out in the crowd
A frail figure in a weathered dress
Her unsmiling eyes older than she is
Like whirlpools in which slowly drown
Mud-caked reveries, one by one.
Her dusky skin blessed by a thousand suns,
She carries bricks, not flowers, on her head
To decorate someone’s personal palace
And now she knows that her overseer
Stares at her like he stares at her mother
With an unmistakable glint and a betel-stained smirk.
The bangles wrapped around her slender wrist
Break into pieces when he barks: In a world
Where we have lost touch with the voice inside our head – –
Another child whose childhood passed her by.
The debris of tear soaked vistas
The obituary of snow squashed hills
The litany of mad demented tulips
The land of decaying artistic chinars
Bear some more you beauteous one
You Cleopatra who bathed in ass milk
O vale of Kashida and Pashmina
Mounds of apples and cherries
Walnuts almonds in your pockets
Chenab Indus Lidder a-sobbing
Dal Nigeen Anchar a-wallowing
Vyath hides secrets in its bosom
O Kashmir, wait for the Awakening!
She dragged her aching feet
As if boulders were tied to them
The pockmarked man, swarthy and menacing walking ahead
Munni surreptitiously sold by her own penury stricken parents of four daughters, she was merely an extra mouth to feed
Emaciated and pale faced her bony rib cage pushing against her thin kameez
Munni, not yet thirteen dolled up in her brightest tatters
Her face smeared with cheap powder In a valiant attempt to lighten her ebony skin tone
Her baby lips mutilated with garish lipstick
The farcical trade of Munni’s flesh conducted in an absurd language
The pimp pretended that she would
work as a maid in an affluent household
Her mother’s maternal instinct knew where her daughter was going to end up
Grief mangled heart choking as her alcohol doused husband pocketed the bulky wad of currency
Her dad dreamed of country made liquor and her mother thought of a stomach full of food after years of hunger
Little Munni trudged bravely behind the man who was going to ravage her frail form
Imagining the huge mansion where she was supposedly going to work!
“A Lonely Grave in Nawa”
O dear angles and fairies of God
Descend on this grave
Of unlived dreams
Watch the flowers turn brown and dry…
This sweet little mouth
That wasn’t meant to cry…
Nothing beautiful will ever grow
Of this tiny little body
Take him take him
Beyond this land of wrath and tears
Where this lovely heart can live
Without hurt and fears…
Take him take him
Fly him away from blood and chaos
Wrapped in garlands of jasmine and rose…
Fault or Fraud
When my eulogy is being read
With the kind of life is lived…
Would I be able to tell them all of the nights
I felt so hollow inside
There’s a scar on my skin
Speaks thousand stories
And a thought grew slowly…
Bit by bit in my empty mind
When I felt trapped in my rough skin…
As if it doesn’t fit to my all pink soul…
I’m a flower of hope…
Standing firm in the winds of change…
Ecstasy running wild
In my veins that bleed inside…
Like bites of rattle snake
This world makes my soul red and blistered…
I look towards the sky and I ask God
Is this my fault or are you a fraud?
“Don’t talk to strangers,” we tell them,
“Don’t race to open the door
to whoever rings the door bell,” we keep telling them.
“Don’t take candies from strangers,” we remind and they nod.
What we forget to teach them is,
there is a demonic stranger
in every other smiling face they encounter –
in their fathers, uncles, brothers, friends of their protectors,
in the limping old man next door, the watchman of their colony,
in the driver and doorman of their school bus,
in the friendly teacher at their kindergarten,
in the smiling aunties in their town,
in the religious scholars at their madrasas, the monks, priests and sages,
in the sweet shop just around the corner, the milkman, the newspaper boy.
And the list is a work in progress.
The sweet-but-dusty-faced child had wrinkled hands,
unruly hair and perforated fabric,
revealing his round belly and rachitic legs.
The parched tongue reflected in his drowsy eyes,
so did his peeling skin and beaded ribs,
as he crawls to the barrel of uneaten dinners
loaded in the back of the truck parked by
the richest street in town.
He is no hovering fly, creepy worm or greedy scavenger,
he is just another human soul, more unfortunate
than those creatures devouring your leftover extravagances.
Yet, you so deftly look away as you walk
to the organic trash bins, proud of your excesses
parallel to the deficient, deliberate curtains
drawn across your eyes, blessed by fate…
Blind, But Not!
(A Ghazal for Fluorosis-afflicted children)
Why a wonder it is that you think you are kind, but not?
Behold those weary red eyes you think, are blind, but not.
Behold the misshapen legs, fatigued body, the jaspé teeth
Of our feeding hands drinking poison who do mind, but not.
Elixir of life – yes, water it is – they pull from the dark abyss.
In the sweet darkness, relief from drought they find, but not.
Hold your breath! See a new generation of crippled boys
And dreams shattered in thousands, of mankind, but not!
What stops you from feeling that feeble hand that feeds?
Is it too easy for your silence to unwind, but not?
Injustice and inequity, are only what we propagate.
Sweet words of hope we speak to spellbind, but not!
Let us overcome the disparities, give life to a generation
Of thirsty to whom we owe, for we are blind, but not!
©Niladri Ranjit Chakraborty
The Rohingya Grave
A perilous boat journey across abysmal cold waters
Impatiently roaring with abounding hate,
Loathing our existence which was contempt
Clipped our wings of freedom in an attempt
To make even the mother’s pristine milk unkempt.
When I was younger, I was told by my mother
The world is our home – where we can freely roam;
But no one told me the cost of this freedom:
Women of the family raped, father killed,
Brothers starved and their bones milled.
In the East where they say the sun rises,
There is a deluge of bodies dropping dead.
Looking at the skeletons beaten by cold rain,
Cantillating a thousand stories of unexpressed pain,
Thought I, even dreaming of my grave would be in vain.
©Niladri Ranjit Chakraborty
Syria, I Love You…
When I love You
You become the creator
And I too,
And we stand up to stop
Bombs that on Syria drop,
And Molotov cocktails
We drink them bellyful
To defuse them without fail,
When I love You
I become the annihilator
And You too,
And we stand up to erase
Fears and tears from aggrieved days
And hot lead of molten bullets
We put into our hearths
And by them our rooms we decorate.
19. From Kashmir
A friend of mine
coming back from Kashmir,
thought to narrate the story of a poet,
who was born there and there bred,
who had seen the guns and the bayonets
from his attic where he hid
to help himself and others bid
farewell to noises of rattling steel,
there as he told, he read Anne Frank,
there as he told, he drew petals on plank
of wood, dried by the sun which rose,
there, as he told, he his God chose,
drew his garden of Hope,
and declared if there was something to cherish,
it was only his Love for those who had perished,
and that gave his garden all the moisture,
and that gave his garden all the flowers,
and when the buds bloomed,
he wrote he had been at their hearts.
20. Survived Syria
We still play puddle splash
in the broken harem of stones,
Sitting in silence over our mother’s grave.
She loved sprinkling drops of a brook,
Streaming down fountains of our bath tub.
Those tubs, marbles are no more,
Mother sings no more.
Not even a lullaby past sirens and bombs.
Walls ripped, ceilings gone.
Floors stained with deathly stench.
Yet, when it rains,
We still play puddle splash.
We speak of dead souls,
But watch out for birds beyond the smoke,
And a rose bush behind rubbles and stones.
Maybe numerologically Casimir shall prove lucky for this beleaguered land,
Bharat’s Paradise that needs to be regained!
Native Kashmiri Pandits, driven out of their homes and hearths,
by hate-bullets spewing maniacs.
It’s high time, the world over,
people acknowledge the natives’ right to his motherland!
Let’s silence the high-pitched harangues of those crying wolves.
Let’s silence the rabble-rousers once and for all!
Let’s show the world at large, we take care of our own!
22. Paradise to Vice
Kashmir once a paradise
Now a story of depravity and vice
Streets where hung beautiful shawls, artefacts, carpets
Are desolate, blood smeared, belligerent
Lush meadows, flower valleys, orchards silently cry
Saffron fields unattended left to dry
People fleeing the place they were born
Weep for friends and relatives couldn’t take along
About those beauties Sufis sang in pride
In darkness quiver with sisters and daughters hide.
Separatists have set explosives in humanitarian roots
Nights have forgotten the owl hoots
Sky not starlight, the propelled shells and rockets shoot.
Stands in dismal paradise! Stomping terrorist footprints on the rise.
Still prevail ‘human for sale’
For inhuman profit makers a bale
Lives worth mere paper currency
Money in exchange for humanity
Selling lives, selling dreams
Locked in stifling containers unheard screams
Act so gruesome mire us in shame
Unmoved myopic gainers money in vein.
Human rights violations on the rampant
No one to stop the delinquent cruel mind-set prevalent.
Freedom, democracy talk of the naive
Human still trafficked, butchered, sold as slaves,
A gory story of 21st century
Trust me it’s today not history!
24. Lost Spring
Those soft, innocent hands toil day and night
On ruthless textures drawing patterns of plight.
Shackled to solitude, a burdened flight
Dumbed as a quintain in this long fight.
An age as tender as a raw earthen lamp
Ripped, torn and broken, owned by Masters who stamp.
Creators of beauty and smiles at home or on ramp –
They are rivers having no zest to vamp.
In torn clothes; sewing decor, to feed little tummy
In darkness; welding, never taste something yummy
Serving skyscrapers, coerced into cramped slummy
Sound sleep – a shattered dream on the lap of mummy.
Robbed, the smiles, let them break the hurricane!
Tell the Deaf Lord, their agony and pain
As the world is insane, dead drunk in a den.
Queer? LGBT? Can’t They Learn to Love Like Us…
Pining teens, often filled with shame, with
Tingling chest and burning thighs they came;
Boys made advances, with their puny erections to impress,
Revolted, with them I had no business.
Then one evening she caught me square by the cheeks,
And kissed me on my lips, hugged me close, her breast on my breast,
I melted and put my head on her soothing chest
We’ve never parted since then, we’re so much in love,
She lives in my heart and I live in hers;
Decades have passed but nothing has changed,
Our cup of life brims with love and happiness;
Families moved away from us, I miss my folks, I do,
Friends never understood our foolish bliss.
But come social pressures, or draconian laws,
None will part us lovers; can’t they learn from us to love?
Please let Them be
Please let them be with their parents, to whom the Maker caused them to be born.
Rich or poor was not their choice, the colour of their skin was not their choice,
Whether of love or lust conceived, was also not their choice;
You pluck them from their cradles, be it an old sari knotted to the branch of a tree,
Be they toddlers, sucking on pebbles, as their mothers work on construction sites,
You take them away, maim them, throw them to a life sans dignity, begging on streets, trains and buses.
I marvel at your craft, one moment they’re there, next moment they are lost,
And the gurgling city simply gobbles them up, no police, no pictures
Flashed on television, printed in newspapers, help,
Those little children are never found again.
How they must sob, wince and weep, and perhaps cry themselves to sleep,
As the poor parents bang their heads on heartless walls, dying a thousand deaths
Happy children on their way back from school, suddenly go missing,
Someone simply changes their fate, forever; pushed into child labour, sex industry, or what not.
Please let them be, find yourself another craft, another trade, save yourself, save your friends, save our children.
Inconsolable as Syria
I saw a dhow that fumbled, a creaking row that caused more, Laden by
Human and plight, fear and hope, amidst floating beings- some living and the rest still.
The sea engulfs all that fall in its vicious grasp, who knew how they could give themselves some life?
It’s dark- she bleeds from her millions, flooding and flushing them to run beyond the shore,
The wooden plate at dusk left alone by an abrupt dash, a cradle sickened by the sight of an ugly gash,
Where only ears can see, is hurled into air- the metronome off a rifle and the boom of a possible grenade,
Steadily the waters swell- as she wails and weeps.
Kandisa and Alhamdulillah emerged from minarets built as brothers once,
The vibrant life of alleys carved with great care and love,
There now stands nothing but strife, baring its ugly chest.
A slab of meat that beckons hounds to a mean fight,
Yet these hounds- driven by faith they yell. Setting ablaze the rest they call Kafirs – to light their path to Heaven,
The guards at its door are but creatures bred in inferno,
Who is the God that needs them to embellish his empire?
While the lawns of Aleppo, Damascus and their siblings choke- bloodied by these- vampires…
My Brother Flutters
To the beat that we marched as breath did all along, He tried to be one,
But stuttering as we saw, muddied clothes and chagrin reign!
The proponent that saw in him a possibility, a tendency that magnets
Baulked at, for they were ‘borne’ of the beat as well.
The law of life now constrained by beliefs and boulders they breed,
Beaten by havoc and pandemonium that ties all the creed,
Reduced to a theorem, now in desperate proof and implication,
This law who made so, none knew, this decree.
Today my brother flutters atop territory besieged by honesty and truth,
On bland lands, a tulip has emerged, a sheath decimated, I see the bright orange.
In those prayers I selfishly wove, will now be you Oh dove!
In the tranquillity I ache to anoint myself with, will be your share.
What tithe I pay I know not, Lo you bleed so much,
Having already reddened- accept my love.
In those prayers I selfishly wove, will now be you Oh dove!
Etch to Owe!
(A Roseate Sonnet)
This blue planet famous for its nectar,
That Mother Earth feeds and nurtures us from her breast, precious water,
Pleasing to the eyes, refreshing to touch, quenching to thirst,
Where it rains after a long flight up from a cloud burst.
Even the purest of virgin water that travels from the fountainhead,
Of lofty ice capped mountains that cold sterile winds fed,
Polluted, adulterated, treated, bottled, confiscated,
When nature penalizes, corporates capitalize with windfalls manipulated!
While water is abundant to feed gardens and theme parks,
The underprivileged wait for rationed water that a government with a Mega plan embarks!
Rape will mankind, this earth of her very prerogative,
Owing to his callousness, apathy, indifference, of a demonic land native,
Segregation of his brethren that is parched for a water drop,
Earth never imagined for herself such a crisis, as women in queues stand all night to fetch water… Will it ever stop?
Expression of being Oneself
expression of being oneself
an unique expression
understanding beyond colours of humanity
transcending issues going beyond discrimination
pure love as love is love
motivating to light and love
ever flowing in the immensity of human spirit
connection to life anew love is love
©Roy Mark Azanza Corrales
Humanity Always Understands
Humanity always understands
how to relate for every person
showing great respect to all
the minority of society allays anew
death is just numeration
listening to the behalf as love is love
overflowing in the wholeness of every person
as one part is part of the whole in the world of living
expressing in due time as one evolves in this endeavour.
©Roy Mark Azanza Corrales
Heaven on Earth, Kashmir… Lost
Amongst clamour and disclaimer
Occupancy and rule
Politics and diplomacy
allegation and agitation
alienation and provocation
election and referendum
burglary and brainwash
belief and disbelief
real and pseudo
acquisition and proclamation
Pride and prejudice
fire and blood
annoyance and aghast
ransacked sanity… humanity in chaos.
No More Child Labour
Aargh! cried Sheikh of nine when hit on leg with a cane
Tears flowing down intense, why can’t they see his pain
He’d dozed off out of exhaustion toiling twelve hours
Ribs peeping through torn shirt, flesh devoured by hunger
I’m ten, I’m paid ten bucks, my sick mom cries says Sue
Wish to play with friends at school, will my dream come true
Som of eight, begs with infant brother strapped on back
Traumatised, sweats daily fearing brute uncle in shack
Tiny hands maimed making crackers for selfish aims
To protect why not the governments intervene
Stop clipping today’s flowers, extending sorrow
Who gave you the right to ruin country’s tomorrow
Thieves who steal innocence shaming human race
End child labour malady, O man, save your face
Let new Sun gift love and insight to child today!
34. Kashmir Gasps
Now there are walls all around us,
walls to discriminate us from our neighbours,
walls to fence in our love.
Ensconced within walls we claim ‘this is mine!’
ominous clouds of violence hang o’er,
Pellets kill dreams prematurely
Chenab weeps silently,
wails of mothers rip apart the sky in shards
coffins queued up to fill the hunger of graveyards.
green wilts, curfew is rife
– a paradise lost in mindless strife.
Will we ever see the tulips bloom?
or are they forever doomed?
A tiny fist, ready to grasp the world,
plays with itself on a Kolkata sidewalk.
A kohl smudged dot at the side of forehead
mama has lovingly put, to ward off evil eyes.
Hand me down clothes and boiled rice twice,
the boy grows up, a smiling apple pie.
A little older and mama gone,
the boy loiters running errands.
Washing cars, serving tea,
odd jobs for local hoodlums.
Petty crimes too, of varying degree
– a childhood lost
due to lack of pedigree.
No one to see her tear
the weeping no one to hear
faith dead, kinship fled
She was cursed being poor
her parents illiterate
Penury was the conspirator
in their innocence they trusted a man unknown
from a faraway land,
to marry their daughter
to enmesh her with love and shelter
eyes full of dreams and with immense love and faith
with him she treaded on an one-way path
reality revealed, in benevolence of
a fake marriage she was trapped
she was she no more,
with a new identity, now she is a whore
Snow Changed to Pink
On my land Kashmir
When snow covers peaks
From silence of the cold
Blood rises to speak
Heat rises from the ice
Breaking hostility with bullets and bombs
Blood like water those murderers spill
Till my land from white turns bloody red
Then they gradually grow to turn rosy pink.
Valley of Kashmir blooms hue pink
Coffins of whites are covered pink
With their echoes, these valleys flow.
In silence of the ice mothers grieve
Stories of the martyrs on inches etched
What if people knew that all these parameters that make us a little less human, are set by us, and us, ourselves?
What if dark was made beautiful, and fat was appreciated?
What if the girls who weren’t virgin would’ve been more significant, and a body with flaws was looked upon?
What if a man was considered manlier if he didn’t fight for his beloved physically but smartly, and the guy at a coffee shop wasn’t just a waiter but a human who served?
What if the one who was blind, or differently abled was not given sympathy but love and money was never a parameter to fall in love?
What if women were beautiful if they were fat and dark, and men were handsome if they were thin and short?
What if education was never a parameter to racism, and whores were appreciated for their gratefulness?
What if a girl was never judged by her age, and a size of penis didn’t define manliness?
What if humans were humans and not judges?
Can you hear it too,
the beating of her heart?
Everything burnt away
The fire alarm has been
ringing for decades
The sirens have been going on for months
The violence in the street has aged beyond its expiry date.
The young ones have long finished their last supper.
The bulbul now only sings the death song.
But my home breathes.
My home still lives.
Kashmir – The Burning Hell
Have you seen that burning valley, a paradise they called it once
Now turned into Botticelli’s hell
Burning in its own fires of greed, of anger and of lust
The once beautiful boulevards so full of laughter and cheer
Are now just another venue for a crossfire
In a land of peace and love, bullets are now fired to kill
Yes tulips still bloom in this valley – but it is not colour but blood
Splashed mindlessly and ignorantly across their petals in different hues
And while the warmongers quench their thirst
There are others working silently
Giving hope amidst despair, teaching love amidst hatred
Putting out the fires of anger without listening or caring
About the threats from demons
Risking their lives to save countless others
Lending more than a hand, to save the valley from the savages
The valley they once called paradise.
Black and White Blood
A hush fell in the room as he entered
People staring, whispering, abusing openly
But then he had learned to live with this humiliation
From his early childhood he had become aware
That he was inferior, an object of despise
A slave meant to serve his white masters
For they were of pure blood, he perhaps of impure
That was until he saw a white man bleed
With the similar deep red fluid flowing in his body
And was confused, was he really impure
Or was it God who seemed to have forgotten
To fill white men with white blood and black with black
To make it easier to understand the difference
Between black man and white man
With their black and white blood…
We sat around a hearth of dim fires, sipping coffee.
Considered as most acclaimed and influential poets,
We were focusing on mankind’s fate.
We remembered the illustrious moments
Of great inventions, fighters of liberty, the abolition of slavery,
The languages, the writers and the satires, the painters
And the singers who spread around love
Giving no chance for hate to rise.
We as avant-gardists of our times,
Our unrelenting passion for humanity’s progress
Which must glow like paint on canvass, realized together that
Man’s evolution must not lead to man’s degeneration.
While the columns of smoke rose like falcons
For the great heights, with graceful composure,
We eased our troubled hearts and prayed
For rising hatred to disappear and be replaced by growing love.
A Move I Wish to Make
I wonder if you ever pondered about me
About the food in the plate of my family
Through my bones and sweat
Through the hardships I’ll never forget
For a couple of pennies I sacrificed my education
For three years, since I was 10, I’ve been stuck in the situation
I run errands, I can lift
I create coal, sometimes a thief
You! Yes, you!
Sitting on your throne
I want to hit you head with a freaking stone
Blindly you’ll never see
The society you lead was doomed with hypocrisy.
These are the moments that I wish never existed
To dance for strangers on the street
To be wasted
To move and entertain
For money not for fame
For a bag of rice and a can of sardine
I forgot what it meant to be a child
Innocent from sins
I forgot about my dreams
The dream of a brighter tomorrow
My mom said, it maybe dark as it seems,
Cos it won’t be anything but a cloud full of sorrow.
I Command You
You say, I am not my own reflection, not my own voice,
I am just there waiting,
To live and die at your command.
You say, “Forget not, your existence is through a sperm”
I say, generations of submission.
I know power is everything,
Power over voice, freewill and dreams
But who has power over you?
Have you ever thought chaining your tongue?
If the ego realises it’s instability to understand freedom,
Command will condemn your voice.
Who will say, “I command you”?
46. Rising Hatred
Patience uproots anger,
Tolerance uproots hate,
Acceptance uproots jealousy,
Calmness uproots self-doubt,
We all are aware, we all know the truth,
We all love the other, we all forgive blunders,
Still like an ant’s tomb it rises,
Higher than the ego and blurring wisdom.
A growing mind, a passionate soul is killed in the race to win.
We know the reasons, we know the solutions,
Yet we fall prey to the follies.
The moment of judging ourselves is the moment of overcoming
the rising hatred.
47. Water Mixed with Blood
Till five decades ago things were distinct
When joint families shared the same dwelling
Cheerful gaiety of siblings with spouses
Parents, grandparents all in same houses
Including uncles and aunts married or not
Peace reigned, on ownership there were no qualms
Where and why have those golden times vanished
Can we analyse the reasons furnished
None can doubt selfishness, greed to possess
Own house, own business and bank balance
Came spite, lack of patience, no tolerance
Tall walls of hate delineated partitions
Hearts in shards, deteriorated relations
Love of kin changed to fake independence
Water thinning blood’s loving coexistence
48. Queer In Kashmir (Our Sterile Love)
Ripping people’s lives
Piece by piece
For a piece, a piece of land
Justifying it by markings
Made by homo sapiens
Destroying water sources, air, land
When did rage get coded in our double helix?
And when I love. I. Love. You.
You love me. You. Love. Me.
Do we need/have to take permission,
Permission from 370, 377 believers?
Can’t we – you and I
Reproduce love in this world of wars?
Sipping kahwas, listening to:
‘And the Nightingale sings to the flowers: Our land is a garden’
For once, enjoying toddler’s laughter.
Life evolved from micro-organisms
Now we have narrowed our micro visions
In our pursuit of self-aggrandisement
Skewed the delicate balance of species banishment
Connected were we living beings with yoke
Denuded poached trapped some choked
What has man done to man
Encroaching wherever it can
It is not for us to break the chain
Linked we are with osmotic main
One for all and all for one is Nature’s gain
Once we co-existed serenely with Nature
In joint families nurtured each other
Symbiotic are the veins of creation
Hope dawns soon with this realisation.
50. Cry of a Wave
I come and softly lap you
Go away and again come back
You lie still, only the sand moves
Like children all over
I want to hear your squeals
See the shuffle of the tiny feet
The smiles as I come near
I know you get angry
When the sand castle crumbles
Come running after me
But I quickly vanish into the vast bosom
Come back to wake you once again
You are in deep slumber, the touch is cold
I cry my tears flow, they form into foam
To cradle and keep you warm, away from harm
From inhumans, in this world who freely roam.
51. The City
Where the goats start grazing tiny soft greenish leaves, begins the city-
The sharpened chopper of a slaughter man!
One person extends the other, the residue of a body
As if the city were the huge hungry jaw
Devouring forest of tigers, elephants, insects and men
Why the city taking the bark away from the body, poaching the skin, slicing the flying wings of dream?
Is the head over the neck our roof, like the sky the roof of the city
Is the city only a residue of decimated solitude?
52. Signature of Nightmare
Another signature of nightmare, blood oozing out the vein of the earth
Pen inscribing another epithet tattooing the ghastly picture of terror on humanity’s arm
This time Peshawar!
Just a piece of land mapping a country, a continent, a planet!
A scar is a scar over the body and it hardly matters if it is inside the tongue or lung
What matters is the tumour
It is gender neutral, no caste of its own, no creed no religion either
Scarcely it differentiates infant from the senile
The heart of the globe beats a bit faster today
Blood trickles down drop by drop through the scalvein set
The world is awaiting with folded hands.
53. Fading Co-existence
We exist because others exist
And yet, every day, we pretend others don’t exist.
Let us learn to co-exist.
Let our growth be stable, slow and continuous
And perseverance, the fountain of our creations.
Let us sit together and look at the sun-lit lake,
The lush landscapes, the meandering rivers
And while we string the beautiful jasmines
Our children will grow together
As men and women who will be makers
Of a perfect civilization,
Where man has no nationality
And his only identity is the spirit of
Brotherhood, love and compassion.
54. Rising Hatred
I saw a strange look in your eyes
A cold dead look
Yet it shone on
It haunted me.
The venom you spewed on and on
Making you senseless
And I knew
That you had ceased to be Man
Converted to a Mob
This age has seen strange things
Bomb blasts killing innocents
Honour killing and brutality
Marriages that make a mockery
Out of decency.
And yet you prod on
Believing in this old fashioned
Emotion called Love
Beyond the scope of gender identities
While the rest of the world speak hatred
You speak love
And they call you Queer?
56. Care and Share
It was Draupadi, the majestic queen
With a single grain of rice, at the bottom of her shame
And it was the mighty Krishna, standing like a sage
Such is the state when hunger takes an edge
He fed himself and the humanity on what but just a grain
The legacy of the Mahabharata sung through times unknown
Thou shall only reap, what thou have sown
Generations come and go
We don’t understand what we know
It’s heaps of food , we waste and mock and throw
We forget so many hands and feet, who shrivel and die of hunger
Come for once let’s play being human
The humane way our scriptures show
When religions and their teachings take over
Let’s understand the preachings we already know
Let’s for once give up selfishness this way
Share and care… make it, the call of the day!
57. Human Trafficking
Say it lust or love, scrape my skin out
My lips were meant to sing, and not just pout
The guts you can tear off, and rip my organs out
Put a tag on each part – vagina, kidney, liver, the eyes
Am I still a human is the worse doubt!
I have forgotten the name mom gave me
Maybe her face will also be finally gone
And if am (un)lucky enough to see the greys
I will die all scarred and forlorn
Trafficked in beds at night
Jammed in so called humans all day
I eye the blue skies in a silent prayer
May this be the world’s last foray
Living in Syria
Is living in Hell
A man made hell
At any time! All the time!
Dying hearts earnestly
59. Stop Terrorism
Hearts smeared with hatred
Saturated with stinking thoughts of separatism
Brutality thirsting for blood and dead bodies
Wretched souls wreak havoc with weapons of cruelty
Tainting people’s mind with the toxins of terrorism
Kids , women and innocents they mercilessly slay
Slaughtering has become their favourite play
Humanity is ripped and torn to shreds
Grenades and bombs are distributed by mad heads
I make a wish upon shooting star
To bring back the forgotten love and peace from afar
To stop this violence and replace the grace of goodness
To send the healing light and drive away darkness of terrors
To renew the indissoluble unity and destroy all discriminations
To bless humans with love, peace and enlightenment.
60. Water Crisis
Ancient Indians built temples
In which they built a pond and planted a tree
Considered holy both the pond and the tree
Insisting indirectly to preserve water and plants
The kings and rulers dug ponds and built lakes
There are stories of a stepwell
Built in memory of a king by his widowed queen
Ancient people knew the importance of water, conservation and preservation
Knew the ways of clarifying and purifying
Modern theories and ideologies of environment, politics and economy
Have created water scarcity and crisis
Inefficient usage and exploitation of resources
Have bred the lands plagued by water scarcity
It’s high time to learn how to effectively
Conserve, preserve, manage and find solutions
61. Fading Coexistence
There was a time when there was a little ‘i’… which existed with several other ‘i’s,
Together they played and ate and talked and bickered,
The cacophony of several ‘i’s never mattered or bothered to others,
It was when we were growing up, the days of half pants and frocks, the days of dividing a laddoo into several pieces was easy,
Breaking little ‘i’s heart was an unknown affair…
Then came a time when we all grew up fast… for studies and work we went far,
Learning and Progressing does have its own pros and cons,
It made the ‘i’ arrogant and conscious and taught the little ‘i’ the survival tricks and trades,
Slowly and steadily the little ‘i’ became ‘I’ with time,
Sharing and caring for other ‘i’s had now no benefits as in earning every lies all charm,
Climbing social ladder is important for the ‘I’ and co-existence with others is a matter of give and take,
The cacophony at home has now lessened a lot as the I-pads/I-pods/I-phones are our friends now,
What is Mine… I will not give to You!
62. Child Labour
That child who served us tea and moong kachauris at the College Street’s Putiram,
‘How fast his small hands worked’, I wondered at that time!
With a soiled piece of cloth he cleaned tables and quickly served,
No respite in between constant flow of customers,
Decades ago… I had not thought,
“How he lived/ where was he from/ did he go to some school what he eat/ did he have some rest or how life treated him,”
Nor could I ask him the patent question, “what does he want to be?”,
Carefree souls we were that time,
Studies, Scores, Bf/Gf’s mattered to us more,
Pitying someone was all that we did/could do,
Understanding of such situations had yet to be matured,
Since I embraced motherhood my thought-process changed,
I dread thinking how unfortunate it would have been,
To work at the time when one should play,
To toil and sweat and feed family from a tender age,
To get robbed off from a carefree childhood stage!
63. Child Labour
Stationery playing hide and seek
Visionary not ready to peep
Bruised hands with fainted lines
Cleaning dirt with Noble smile
Discoloured shirt sobs for a while
Swallowing a biscuit rapidly
With a glass of watery tea
Working till the moon shone bright
Slept in darkness bearing enmity with light
Where is the sunshine?
How does one welcome a grin
When poverty displayed sadness
Demonstrated hardships and cries
Little Raju weeps holding the picture
of his parents who lost lives in famine!
©Megha Sumant Sharma
They seem to come to their vow sent by god.
A girl child is sold in an agent’s fraud.
She came to city the city became fatherless.
She shouts to cry and cries to shout when the dark reality to face.
She is Nandini. She came from Dinajpur.
Word by words she sold her watch to watch the door.
Her house her dream is lost.
She is raped at all dream’s cost.
Mama, don’t send me school
I promise to be Nice and gentle
Not annoy you at all
Good mama! Don’t send me school.
You go office, l stay home.
Promise never cry, not insist, I’m happy with my crayon and doll.
I love my tricycles
Teddy Tom and Barbie doll
My picture book, scratch n scroll,
They not scare me harm either
They love, as l love them all.
The busman uncle, the school guard, office boy whoever
They scare me with scratchy fondle
And unkind stare
Why do they touch me?
While I’m not aware!
They squeeze my cheeks
Kiss me hard
They are mischievous
Mama l swear!
Mama! I wanna be a good girl
Obedient and orderly
Your darling doll…
Sweet mama! Don’t send me school.
The struggle ended
with a blow of sharpness
while an endless spring of blood
spilled over unseen floors
and no one could hear
the cries of that moment
killed in need for others
while blindfolded to a death
of another beating heart,
since unheard sounds and stories
do not exist…
and in such an existence
we see images of little girls
and women struggling
to free their own dark shadows
from memories not created
and we witness broken links
of families in which once
little boys played in gardens
and grown up men wished
to meet happy tomorrows
the struggle continues
amidst cycles of birth and death
like a never ending
mistake committed by some
till it ends each time
with a blow
and remain dozens of meatballs
on life’s plates.
67. Filched Childhood
Greasy hands yearn for broken toys
Little hearts crave for some tiny joys
They play on swings in their dreams
Or dance by some imaginary streams
Some get woozy in the teary nights
Some remain awake out of plight
Why is their childhood filched?
Why are their wishes squelched?
We are the ones to find the ways
to lit their nights and brighten the days
Let the children have some fun
Let them smile and let them learn
68. Book of Love
the book of love
lost its way
few pages were stolen
few got stained with tears of love
kind men on the way added their pages
pages of god, religion, caste, race
countries and their grace
different colours, genders
houses and their structures
each in a unique language
exhilarated, love sprinted back
causing turbulence in the pack
each one screaming
slogans of hate
in the name of love
The entrails of glory
As I trudged past the war-infested landscape; bullets filling the void of air,
The ravage of battle clearly visible in the soldiers’ eyes-
Men killing men on orders and commands, for victory and glory
Building a fortress of dead men/soldiers; the ground erupting in fiery turbulence
Eating and engulfing the cursed souls; grenades answered with/by bullets
Ricocheting of the flesh, gnawing and re-opening wounds; fresh blood re-flowing
Carcasses of enemies sleeping together – death, the final unifier
Amazes me, with life, they fight against each other, sworn nemesis
Sans it, they huddle close for warmth; looking as if they are sleeping, well almost
Indeed, without a hair of doubt, glory is gory.
Guns, shells, bombs, powder, dust, blood, mucus, fire, steel, wood segueing into one infinite mass.
It was then I observed a young boy; of about nineteen, his eyes nocuous,
No glint of childhood innocence; repeatedly stabbing a man in his heart
His face contorted, displaying anger; like a perennial rainbow…
©Biswadeep Ghosh Hazra
70. Medical Negligence
Your body, my soul
I feel black while you lay on the table; I feel your condition is far from stable;
Yet you open your eyes and try to force a smile, to cease my pain…
I am forlorn in this world without you, faint memories I know you will recall,
Before your “from the edge of the cliff” fall;
It’s a wonder how you survived…
With needles from every direction in your flesh,
Oh look at you, you’re a bloody mess, and I confuse you with the Virgin Mary on the cross…
I despise you, but I hope you’ll realize it’s me who saved you…
Seeing you in this condition made me poignant; and for some time (an eternity, it seemed) as if I’m ignorant of your sins,
The lights on the ceiling, passing one by one…
As you lay on the stretcher senseless and numb; the jaws of death room opened in the form of doors…
And a red light blinked to life, look what you’ve made of yourself,
The E.C.G died, but I thought it lied (machines do lie sometimes, don’t they?)
I know deep down you’re still alive…
©Biswadeep Ghosh Hazra
We born, we rise.
We school ourselves, and then minimise.
We hunt for work, and joins.
Hence commencing the never-ending thirst of collecting coins.
We earn, We gain.
We lose, We retain.
New positions, high negotiations.
Some relations, and a few associations.
Motivated though enter into marriage as we head ahead in life.
Entitled to “new titles”, blissfully enjoy the emotions rich in delight.
Here comes the time to give “birth” to a “new life”
Just to make him do all we had done so while.
World, like this, goes on and on…
Noticing no change!
72. Medical Negligence
As the saying goes
“Prevention is better than cure”
Has all the reasons to be adored!
The inexorable stress of life
Upsetting my brain.
Hence breaking me down
Smouldering me slowly towards illness or pain.
I may feel helpless
at time of trouble.
And worry if I delay
It may turn to double.
Oh Physician! Come my mate
And be my Samaritan!
From Allopathy or Homeopathy, Ayurveda or Naturopathy
You’re the prerequisite of my system update.
There’s a strong plea
I long to achieve – a state of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual wellbeing.
73. Throw it in, not out!
O yes Starvation
I can well imagine and feel
Oh no say NO to wastage of food
Millions and millions have toiled under the scorching sun, starving for food.
Some died hungry
Let’s not waste the food that could feed millions hungry kids and needy humans who are strolling on the lonely road.
A waste of grain is a murder of the poor soul.
Let’s not leave a single grain on the plate.
Amidst the crowd, she sat and wept only for food
I called her near and asked for a reason; she mumbled and told it’s the food we throw.
A fragile smile on her lips told all the hidden truth that buried underneath.
A starving stomach and tearful eyes reminded me how important food is.
If a single waste of food could be saved for a day, it could bring joy to a starving human
Do let’s take a vow to feed a child without wasting food.
Remember, a single grain could save a child’s life; we should join hands on Humanitarian Day and work together.