Category Archives: Original poems

Unfinished Tango


lastdancepp-1

The music begins to play somewhere in the background
And the tango of our emotions takes stage……

There is no mention of the long absence
Or your sudden arrival
There has never been…..

We dive into words with a hastiness that only distance can create,
As I douse you with endless stories of those we both know.
Filling the blanks created these last few months,
With tales of new entrants who are now part of my life.

You laugh at my anecdotes, never exasperated with their triviality.
Your eyes light up listening to me recount that amazing experience,
Where you were missed deeply,
And imagined and wished if you had been there.

I beam with happiness, smiling with pride,
At your accomplishments and the distance you have traveled.
While visualizing if I had been there,
As I put a wish out there for countless more.

You confess to meeting new people,
Some who uncovered unknown biases,
Others who surprised you pleasantly with their kindness and generosity,
And made you believe in miracles again.

I watch with joy the happiness you experience
As you hum that song your little girl can’t get out of her head,
Recounting how she drives everyone crazy
With her nasal rendition all day long.

We share a meal; discover karaoke for the first time,
Grind spices to cook a meal, listen to jazz.
Hope changes hands, trust strengthens, comfort created
And love transferred.

The harmony of our emotions reaches its peak,
With every swing and twist in tandem.
But that’s all the time we have.
As the music begins to fade, we make that final move with a clink of our glasses.

This unfinished tango will continue another time
Picking up right where we left it.

============

A late night rendition for a an old friend that is dedicated to friendships that allow you to pick up just where they are left off….

tango-feet

I love these 2 poem by Gulzar for their simplicity just as much as for the visuals they create.

Poem by Gulzar

Main rehta is taraf hu yaar ki dewaar ke lekin,
Mera saya abhi dewaar ke us paar girta hai

Badhi kacchi si sarhad ek apne jismo-jaan ki hai

I live on this side of my friend’s wall and yet
My shadow falls on the other side

Very weak the border between body and soul

Sketch By Gulzar

Yaad hai ek din
Meri meez par bethe-bethe
Cigarette ki dibya pe tumne
Chote se ek podhe ka
Ek sketch banaaya tha

Aa kar dekho
Us podhe par phool aaya hai!

Remember one day
While sitting at my table
You sketched on a cigarette box
A tiny plant

Come and see
That plant has bloomed!

This visual has been the most lingering for me!

 

Beatify or Demonify


I am looking for that flawless symbol, like sterling gold,
To place them on a pedestal, and wait for them to show me the light,
Never swayed by temptation and never choosing the line of least resistance.
For faith requires to believe in the unblemished, the wise and the faultless,
In those who when at the crossroad, have made better choices..

Handed to me are stories of their deeds, wrapped in gold and velvet sheets,
Epic tales, mysteries revealed, and miracles delivered
By gurus, prophets, monks, oracles and saints.
With hope and a little trepidation I hope to uncover these,
And peel each layer, tantalized by their moments made indelible by history.

At the fulcrum, I feel the pressure of other faithfuls not to delve too deep,
Close your mind to those nagging questions they say,
And in that instance when you do, don’t let logic get in the way.
Heretics raise questions and let doubts mix in the fray
The light will escape you, the gates won’t open, the answers you seek will fade away.

Don’t talk about the knowledge of Ravan,  the failures of Sita’s husband nor the feelings she hadfor Karan.
Never speak of the tortures that the Imam reigns on his wife.
Nor mention the crimes sheltered by the Church on innocent minds.
Never question holy wars, inquisitions or religious warriors of yore.
Nor debate the decisions made by the woman now crowned a saint.

As each story leads me back to myself and I begin to question not them but myself

Why seek a symbol so unerring, virtuous and clean?

For every inspiring story was of a human somewhere in the past,
Made superhuman by kingmakers and partisans,
Justifying each shade of grey for the greater good.

Why try to beatify them when they never asked to be aggrandized?

For these expectations I have of them,
Are not they a means of justifying my own shortcomings,
Or a sense of resentment fueled by my flaws and blemishes.

Why try to demonize them completely?

For every villain has a heart, something that makes them go soft.
Even as I feel entitled to forgiveness every instance that I falter,
I chose to pick on every culpable fault of theirs.

Can gods, saints, gurus and prophets be all white?

Even though we know of their anger that can destroy the world,
Their act of abandoning faithful wives for the sake of wagging tongues
And watch as the dedicated Mother chooses comfort in her time of death.

husain_mf_mt

This long tirade of words has been simmering inside me for the past 2 weeks, fueled by controversial stories about Mother Teresa of India, a Noble Laureate and the women behind the Missionaries of India movement.

I asked numerous people around me, what they thought about it, and these conversations led to ever more disputable opinions that touched upon different religions and its many icons made dust by controversy. I think what bothered everyone was duplicity, hypocrisy and using human misery to promote either themselves or their faith.

Illustrating once again our own expectations of ourselves and of the others.

We may not fully agree with some of these humans, who by example have shown us their amazing work, inspiring millions around them.  But the operative word here is ‘human’. Every faith-religion-clan defies this logic, by creating reasons such as touched by god, incarnations of that supreme power or holy blood. Thereby reasoning that each of them received some kind of revelation from that universal power up there making them unblemished and obviously better than us the lower mortals.

But I choose to believe that each one of them was human, although an exceptional one, who shone because of their actions and sacrifices, something I can only aspire to do. And like me, imperfect, blemished and aspiring to the best version of themselves.

Before I share the poem of Javed Akhtar on Mother Teresa, where he questions her acts even as he praises and celebrates her, I want to share an excerpt from an essay written by Robert Fulgham about Mother Teresa in his book, ALL I EVER NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN, admiring her work:

mother-theresa

There is a person who has profoundly disturbed my peace of mind for a long time. She doesn’t even know me, but she continually goes around minding my business. We have very little in common. She is an old woman, an Albanian who grew up in Yugoslavia; she is a Roman Catholic nun who lives in poverty in India. I disagree with her on fundamental issues of population control and the place of women in the world and in the church, and I am turned off by her naive statements about “what God wants.” She stands at the center of great contradictory notions and strong forces that shape human destiny. She drives me crazy. I get upset every time I hear her name or read her words or see her face. I don’t even want to talk about her.

Read the Full Article here: continue reading

Transliteration

Mother Teresa
By Javed Akhtar

Aye Ma Teresa
Mujhko Teri azmat se inkaar nahi hai
Jaane kitne
Sukhe lab aur viraan ankhein
Jaane kitne
Thake badan aur zakhmi roohen
Kudhedaan mein rooti ka ek tukda dhundate nange bacche
footpath par galte sardte buddhe kodhi
Jaane itne
Beghar Bedar Bekas insaan
Jaane kitne
Toote kuchle bebas insaan
Teri Chaoon mein
Jeene ki himmat paate hai
Inko jo apne hone ki jo sazaa mili hai
us hone ki saza se
thodhi si hi sahi
Mohlat paate hai
Tera lams masiha hai
aur tera karam hai ek samandar
jiska koi paar nahi

Aye Ma Teresa
Mujhko Teri azmat se inkaar nahi hai
Mein thehra khudgarz
bas ek apni hi khaatir jeene wala
Mein tujhse kis mooh se poochu
Tune yeh kabhi kyu nahi poocha
Kisne in bad-haalon ko bad-haal kiya
Tune yeh kabhi kyu nahi socha
Kaun si takat
Insaano se jeene ka haq cheenke
Unko sadko aur kudhagharo tak pahuchati hai
Tune yeh kabhi kyun nahi dekha
Wahi Nizaame-zar
Jinhone in bhukho se roti cheeni hai
tere kehne par
bhooko ke aage
kuch tukde daal raha hai
tune yeh kabhi kyun nahi soocha
nange bacche
bhuke kodhi
bebas insaan
Is duniya se
apne jeene ka haq maange
jeene ki khairaat na maange
Aisa kyun hai
Ek jaaanib mazloom se tujko hamdardi hai
Doosri Jaanib
Zaalim se bhi aar nahi hai
Lekin sach hai
Aesi baatein
Mein tujhe kis mooh se punchoo
punchunga toh
Mujh pe bhi woh zimmedaari aajayegi
Jisse mein bachta aaya ho

Behtar hai khamoosh raho mein
Aur agar kuch kehna ho toh
yahi kahoon mein
Aye Ma Teresa
Mujhko Teri azmat se inkaar nahi hai.

Mother Teresa!
Translation by David Matthews

I cannot deny your greatness.
Who can tell how many
dry lips and vacant eyes
Who knows how many
exhausted bodies and wounded spirits
Naked children searching for a crust on rubbish tips
Old lepers, putrefying and rotting on the pavement
Who knows how many
Destitute human beings, homeless, without roots,
Broken trampled, helpless human beings
In your shadow
Find the strength to live?
The punishment they have received just for being,
From that punishment for their existence
They find some respite
However small.
The touch of your hand is their Messiah
and your kindness is an ocean
which knows no bounds
Mother Teresa.

I cannot deny your greatness
But I am selfish:
All I do is live for myself.
So who am I to ask you this?
Why have you never asked
Who has made these miserable people so wretched?
Why have you never thought
What power
Has robbed humans of their right to live,
Bringing them onto pavement and the rubbish tips?
Why have you never seen
That this very system of gold and riches,
which snatched the bread from the hungry
Because of your word,
throws down scraps
Before the starving?
Why have you never wished
That naked children,
Old Lepers,
Helpless humans,
Should ask from this world
Their right to live
And not juts charity to live upon?
Why is it that
One one hand you sympathize with the oppressed
But on the other
You are not abased by their oppressor?

But this is true,
How dare
I ask you such things?
If I ask,
Then I shall I have the responsibility
From which so far I have escaped.

Perhaps it is better to keep silent,
And if there is anything to say,
Let me say this one thing:
Mother Teresa!
I cannot deny your greatness.

This is my 50th post on Bikhre Lavz…..hope the poets continue to inspire! 🙂