Sunday, October 12, 2008

Paper boats

Day by day I float my paper boats one by one down the running

In big black letters I write my name on them and the name of the
village where I live.

I hope that someone in some strange land will find them and know
who I am.

I load my little boats with shiuli flowers from our
garden, and hope that these blooms of the dawn will be carried
safely to land in the night.

I launch my paper boats and look up into the sky and see the
little clouds setting their white bulging sails.

I know not what playmate of mine in the sky sends them down the
air to race with my boats!

When night comes I bury my face in my arms and dream that my
paper boats float on and on under the midnight stars.

The fairies of sleep are sailing in them, and the lading is their
baskets full of dreams.

- Rabindranath Tagore

Monday, October 6, 2008

Home They Brought Her Warrior Dead


 Home they brought her warrior dead: 
She nor swooned, nor uttered cry: 
All her maidens, watching, said, 
‘She must weep or she will die.’ 

Then they praised him, soft and low, 
Called him worthy to be loved, 
Truest friend and noblest foe; 
Yet she neither spoke nor moved. 

Stole a maiden from her place, 
Lightly to the warrior stepped, 
Took the face-cloth from the face; 
Yet she neither moved nor wept. 

Rose a nurse of ninety years, 
Set his child upon her knee— 
Like summer tempest came her tears— 
‘Sweet my child, I live for thee.’ 

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Peace to pieces


The ironies of a day devoted to nonviolence on the birthday of dear Bapu, Gandhi Jayanthi . They cut down the beautiful tall coconut tree grove in our college campus to ‘clear’ the site for another telecommunications department. The justification .. a renowned architect will be designing it! So tell me, who has all the more responsibility to say ‘no, wait don’t raze them down, we’ll take care of them.?’. The architect again.

They were age old coconut palms.. I am sure, much before the campus came into being. And I couldn’t believe my eyes , as I saw the tall ones fall to the ground, stripped of their grace by a neat chop and slice of the running blade. It was the first time I saw a tree being chopped . And believe me it felt nothing short of witnessing a mass execution in the public. There were the librarians who had left their desks to come out in the open to see them. The old staff members winced and shrugged the shame away, while the new staff members reveled in this new human quest.

It reminds me of a poem we studied in school that had sent shivers down my spine with its heavy satire..


How to kill a tree

by Gieve Patel



It takes much time to kill a tree,
Not a simple jab of the knife
Will do it. It has grown
Slowly consuming the earth,
Rising out of it, feeding
Upon its crust, absorbing
Years of sunlight, air, water,
And out of its leprous hide
Sprouting leaves.

So hack and chop
But this alone won't do it.
Not so much pain will do it.
The bleeding bark will heal
And from close to the ground
Will rise curled green twigs,
Miniature boughs
Which if unchecked will expand again
To former size.

The root is to be pulled out-
Out of the anchoring earth;
It is to be roped, tied,
And pulled out-snapped out
Or pulled out entirely,
Out from the earth-cave,
And the strength of the tree exposed,
The source, white and wet,
The most sensitive, hidden
For years inside the earth.

Then the matter 
Of scorching and choking
In sun and air,
Browning, hardening,
Twisting, withering,

And then it is done.


Today a thousands sms’s will fly here and there , emulating ahimsa and the likes. For that moment when the person forwards the message, he may feel a hint of being part of larger peaceful collective .Then again, he is back to his daily cribs and his daily worries. It is ultimately a lone journey .Each man to his own. It is ultimately a lonely world. A loner has no right to take another’s right to his own piece of earth , sky, sun and water.