The evening my innocence died,
I saw the West wind luring the wind vane,
I heard the toll of a church’s bell,
I saw the world shifting,
I felt the universe wrapping the sky around me
As if trying to protect me
From the cold embedded in its air.
It was as if the cosmos
Reflected my naivety
In trying to protect me from itself,
As if we can shield ourselves
From the monsters inside of us,
From the tiger raging
In the jungle of our nerves,
From the ogre prowling
In the beanstalk country,
From the red silence of the sky
When the fire of the sun is replaced with steely blue,
From the dusk of revelation
And the crucifixion of faith.
Ps-my source of inspiration for this poem was a play by Tennessee Williams.
The mighty hand of Deception
Will gently dig Its fingers
Into your ruffled,fragile heart
And scrape it clean
Clean of innocence
Clean of every scruple of faith
It ever harboured
The mighty hand of Deception
After caressing your heart
With Its tender palms
Will dally it on Its fingertips
Your cold little heart will be
So close to annihilation
Ever so close
The mighty hand of Deception
Will cradle your heart in It
Trace Its fingers smoothly down it
Then lift it
It will dance a dance
That will look like
And when the same mighty hand
Pushes your ruffled heart
Into the pits of
And pound with more fervour
Than ever before
I see the mahgony guitar, specked with chipped paint, leaning against the dusky wall, and a flood of memories washes over me. Almost instantly I can see you sitting on the worn down, unstable stool with your strong arms holding the same guitar, your tanned hands striking the chords, creating a melody so smooth, so sad in its tune I can almost feel my heart twisting in pain for you. Shafts of sunlight stream through the window and wash over you, caressing your high cheeks, kissing your subtle jaw, making you look like a divine, mythical creature. You have your eyes closed, you’re sunk deep into the harmonious music you are creating, you seem distant, lost in a land where the music has drowned all your sorrows. Your tolerance for pain is a thing of legend.
A gentle breeze follows, the wind ruffles your thick black hair, leaving them disheveled, reflecting the state you constantly find yourself in. Dappled with spots of sunlight, you look like you’re made out of gold. You sit there unaware of how the sun has illuminated your skin, of how unreal you look. The guitar is leaning against your chest, the poetry of the music resounding in your heart. Your sight makes me feel like I’ve come out of a dark room into the sunblast of a spring afternoon.
The music is fading, its fainter now. You open your eyes. A golden haze settles over the room. Its warm and dusky, but the sun has lost its shine. We sit there soaking up the warmth. There is an inexplicable sense of gloom around us, like the strange wistfulness of used bookshops. Silence alone fills the void in the room. We sit there unmoving, two people lost in forgotten music.
I look out of the car window,the red lights from the headlights pierce my eyes. Amidst the din of hooting car horns and hollering drivers,a small group of children standing in one corner of the street catches my eye-tattered kurtas,worn out chappals,hands spread out for alms. I take a closer look at them. I notice their muddy,snot covered faces. I look at the broken finger nails and calloused hands. I notice their blistered feet. I look at the desolate eyes.
Nearby,a flashy car comes to a halt. A little boy steps out of his air conditioned mazarati. Crisp shirt,ironed pants,freshly washed hair,toy sky viper in his arms.
A stark contrast.
All along,I have been staring intently at the down trodden faces.
I can almost hear their hearts breaking inside their chests. A feeling of despair and indignation takes over me. What did they do to deserve such fate?On what bases are we given or not given these blessings?Are they distributed randomly?And why?A long list of unanswerable questions comes to my mind. I try to look for the answers. I try to look for the answers in the despondent eyes of the underprivileged ones. I try to look for the answers in the aura of grandness the little prince carries.
I ponder over the ecology of ideas. I look for the answers high and low. And then,the realization hits me-it’s not in the power of ordinary human beings to extort the secrets of universe.
The traffic lights change colours and my car speeds off.
Childhood.It feels like an eternity ago, doesn’t it?
What comes to your mind when you think of childhood?
Does it remind you of the days when your mother sang lullabies to you and rocked you back and forth so that you would stop crying,when you went running into your dad’s arms and he threw you in the air and you cackled with delight,when the soft hands of your mother caressed your cheeks,when she would touch your forehead with her warm lips?Or when your grandpa would take you for steaming hot tea during winters in his little blue car,when your teacher drew a star on your hand everytime you completed your classwork on time,when your grandma baked spongy little brownies for you covered with think marzipan,when your dad would howl with laughter at your little acts of stupidity and mischief.Does it take you back to those days when the word pain was not in your dictionary?Well, let me tell you something.Childhood is not how you think it is for everyone. Repeating the word “childhood” only floods me with painful memories; memories I can’t cherish; memories which gnaw at my soul,memories that have scarred me,memories that remind me of who I am,where I stand.
I’ll tell you something,a little secret.Life wasn’t as kind to me as it was to you.
I didn’t have a house to live in,my childhood was spent in a place that was more like prison.They called it an orphanage.While you enjoyed treats of chocolates and thick golden honey,I was given cold crisp bread.While you splashed in water and laughed with your friends,I was made to scrub the walls.While you played hide and seek with your dad I whimpered in the dark,all alone, holding onto my plastic necklace that was the last gift given to me by my mother.While you snuggled in your warm woollen cardigan I was lying on the cold hard ground,dying of fever with no one to look after me.You were blessed.You were loved.You were protected.I was not.
Life is unfair.It always has been.
Ps-this is entirely fictious.
Maybe this is how life works. Maybe we are suposed to be engulfed in sorrow at times so we know what happiness is. We think these bad times will last forever. We cry when we’re all alone,in the darkness of night. We bury our faces into our pillows,we muffle our shouts,we clench our fists so tight our knucles turn white.Blood boils inside us.
But then come the good days-those days when the agony of the bad days seems unreal. Those are the days when we experience the true essence of life,the days when we rejoice the fact that we endured the bad times,those days when we realize how strong and beautiful we are. These are the days that keep us alive.These are the days that are more real than the reality of the bad days. These are the days when we do not apprehend the rising of the sun rather we anticipate it. These are the days when the dark of the night isn’t our haven,rather the waning light of the moon is soothing to our soul.