Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Comin' on Christmas

Christmas time 2021 and it's hard to feel particularly Christmassy with masks on when out shopping. Or in church. It felt all kinds of weird trying to sing behind a mask as we did last Sunday evening. Good effort with it, pastor. But singing with masks on is a no no, I think we all agree. 

To get back to the un-Christmassy feeling, it makes you want to cry looking at the traffic point at Zarkawt. Every other year it's bedecked in strings of lights and tinsel and foil and green and red and what have you, and always always, the obligatory nativity scene stall. On No Vehicle Zone day, pedestrians en familia happily glide along the middle of the road while some make a mini-queue posing for photographs by the stall with its figures of the holy family. I remember one year when they had particularly Mizo looking figurines, high cheekbones, broad flat noses, stout legs et al.

I miss all that now.






Thursday, May 13, 2021

October

 And suddenly it's October again.

The dank dark damp will soon be gone

with the slush and wet. Shadows

will lengthen in the angled sunlight

we shall warm our backs to

on chilly mornings when winter sets in.

Morning pools of cotton wool

white-wreathed across valleys and mountains,

blue skies piled with immense white clouds,

evenings that explode with colour,

brown confetti from the gulmohar tree

long past its May days of glory.

The dry and dust bring back childhood memories,

riding homeward from sun baked plains

up cool, winding highland roads

the nuns at boarding school left far behind,

Father wrapping a warm arm around one of us,

home to Mother and the dear little house

at the top of the dusty hill.

Season changes worm out memories

buried in time. And the more things change,

the more things remain the same.

(October 2, 2020)

Lockdown Covid 2.0

 I am slowly beginning to forget the pleasure
of waking up in the morning,
anticipating what the day might bring.
One locked-in day after the other,
pacing within these four walls,
classes over zoom, attempting to reach
confused students behind computer screens.

In these hills too, the second wave is harsher,
statistics surge every day, nudging at five figures,
ambulances scream under cover of the night
ferrying the infected to safe places,
and patients wheeled into the ICU
do not all leave upright anymore.

But life here is kinder than in the plains,
there it’s a nightmare come alive,
swollen bodies floating in rivers
washed up on embankments
for stray dogs to feed on,
a desperate sister’s calls
of Balaji, wake up, Balaji echo in the ear,
as the summer sun mingles
with smoke and fire from funeral pyres,
people gasping for breath and finding
no hospital beds, dying on roadsides.


I feel a sense of survivor’s guilt
but these lockdown mornings are so unendingly empty.

(May 12, 2021)

 

 

 

Sunday, December 27, 2020

The Silence of Sundays

 One day, some day, 

when the pandemic is over

and the world is back to normal

I will look back and miss

the quiet of Sundays:

the stillness, the peace,

the leisurely calm, 

the silent streets emptied 

of traffic and pedestrians

but for the odd two-wheeler or two

running an emergency.

The Sundays that kept us at home

from church, our social meetings,

the bells clanging at 10 

in reminder of busier times.


For now, I will bask 

in the soothing winter sunshine

and soak in this quietude.



Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Koorie



We lost our sweet Koo Koorie last night. 13 years old, kidney failure.

My sister fell in love with her and adopted her from our neighbours in 2005 even though we already had some five or six dogs at the time. She was always a happy little thing and got on well with all our visitors, unlike our other dogs who tended to be very territorial and wary of strangers. The neighbourhood kids all loved her and would often come to spend time with her across the gate. Over time, she grew old, slow and tired, and her heavy weight from her love of food, didn't help. Between Christmas and New Year, we learnt she had severe kidney problems. IV feeds and treatment went on for a week but in the end, it all got too much. 

Be with the angels, little one.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Long Weekend Musings

Maundy Thursday night. I should be in church now, and I had actually showered and washed my hair this evening after I got home from another hectic day at work. Eventually though I was too tired to go.

It's been another brutal week at work. Last week was the same. Being HOD may sound like a grand designation to throw around but in reality it's nothing more than being glorified clerks. The amount of clerical work we do is staggering. Mounds and mounds of paperwork. And crunching numbers. There's still some of it waiting on my table right now. I have to have it all ready on Monday but it's a long weekend ahead so I'm treating myself to putting it on hold tonight.

Good Friday and Easter week. Over the last three/four days or so, I've been hearing people continuously read Biblical passages over a PA system somewhere down the valley below. Young voices so probably a KTP project. I've been engrossed in my work (yes, been bringing it home, as well as slogging over it at work by day) so I haven't really been listening with any real attention. But it did pass through my mind how reading out loud can be both so banal and a treat. Most of us tend to just go through the words in a flat monotone. A to B to C. Boring, b-o-r-i-n-g. It sounds so much better when someone puts a little effort into it. Variations in speed, pitch and volume. A little drama, a little theatrics, and the page comes to life.

Excusa moi, I think I'll go practise a bit. Nothing like practising what you preach immediately.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

We Are Nostalgia

We are nostalgia
old friends who go back a long, long way,
raw-boned and scrawny,
barely out of our teens,
a motley bunch
in pursuit of a master's degree
in that cold, pine-needled land across the state
because ours didn't have
a postgraduate setup then.

Coping with study stress, cultural divides
and bouts of homesickness,
we sealed strong bonds at Mayurbhanj, Long View, and Bijni,
over guitar sing-alongs, dinners, socials, and picnics
out in the wilds where the boys would disappear
into the bushes (for Dutch courage)
before asking the girls for a dance,
and complain when the girls wouldn't oblige
but declare it time to get back to the hostel!

Vacation time, homeward bound,
early morning risings to catch the hired bus,
long hours on winding mountain roads,
stopping for meals at little shacks,
rewinding cassette reels with a ball pen,
nodding off on one another's shoulders,
promises to stay in touch.

Thirty odd years down the line,
in varying positions of power at work
we never dreamt to attain,
old friends meet and greet again
at funerals and at weddings.
So much history forged together,
yes, my friend, we are nostalgia.


Thursday, December 01, 2016

The Slip Away

When it comes
at a time when life
no longer holds promise or magic,
when ailments are part of daily life,
and you no longer dream dreams
for so many have been realised,
you feel you shouldn't be too greedy
but be satisfied with what you have,
and your discontent with what you are
and what you have accomplished
is quietly washed away with drink.

But the drink eats away at you,
at your insides, and time after time
you cheat death
in painful, close escapes,
and you go on,
tiredly,
knowing you're not too old yet to sit back on life
while all too aware you're no longer
young enough to start afresh
and tackle those dreams you never fulfilled.

That's when it comes,
the swift, sudden call,
and you go, quietly, alone,
you let go for it seems so easy
to slip away from the weariness of it all
and you don't really care anymore
what waits on the other side.