Many of you have been asking me about this porcupine-like vegetable It is teasle gourd or spiny gourd.It’s easy to grow and can be fried, stuffed and cooked in a gravy or simply boiled and mashed.It’s a nutrient dense vegetable.
The lockdown days have given us ample time to indulge in our love for gardening.Most of the trees in my garden are from the seeds of the fruits I have eaten.These include the papaya ,pomegranate and guava trees. To grow tomatoes I use ripe tomatoes.I have discovered that a herb garden is useful not only for an endless supply of flavourings but many herb infusions make refreshing beverages.
Fresh tomatoes from my kitchen garden.It is a good idea to ripen tomatoes in batches for use.
A banana flower can make a tasty stir fry dish.The banana flower hangs at the tip of the bunch of bananas.
Spices and Herbs
A few days ago, a storm broke a heavy branch from my neem tree and I was left with a basketful of neem leaves.I washed and dried the mature leaves and made pouches with gauze and pink ribbons and placed them around the house, the cupboards, book shelfs, kitchen etc. as an insect repellent.
Neem is a blood purifier.I used the tender copper and fresh green leaves to make fritters with a light batter, a tasty way to eat these bitter leaves .
Have you heard the shriek of human silence?
A quiet so hushed that the waters in the rivers and oceans
Fear to quiver;
A quiet so heavy that the tranquil breeze,
The blustery wind, fail to lift the gloom;
A quiet so forlorn that even the passerines tire of singing
In their effort to sway the human spirit.
The doors bolted.
People fret and brood
With each passing day
Anxiety turns to stress
As the messenger of death
Looms outside the gate
In every other individual.
Behind locked doors
Saving lives— theirs, others.
Visits turn virtual,
The distance from the fond one
Humans have known to fear
Wild animals, enemies and missiles
But this time death knocks guised
In a well-wisher, a friend, an individual one may admire,
Playing hide and seek
With harmless words, a gentle touch;
Seducing, hiding behind a cloak of deceptive security.
Is this Nature’s drama designed to shout out :
A common human thread
Interlaces us —
The moneyed and the paupers, scholars and illiterate,
High ranking officers and migrant workers, daughters and daughters-in-law,
Irrespective of the Gods we worship, or not,
Regardless of where our ancestors began their lives’ journey from,
Despite the varying shades in our skin tone,
Our assigned hierarchy in compartmentalised societies;
That we knuckleheads still refuse to acknowledge?
This strange pandemic of foggy origin
Threatens desperate humans with
A grim reminder
Of the rudimentary truth
That this planet is not
For us to plunder, devour and mutilate.
That human life is a privilege, nay, a gift,
To appreciate in gratitude
With humility, empathy, honesty and love.
And remember to
Apportion with all creatures big and small
May, if so wishes,
Weed out humans
With a tweak.
Sob with sorrow,
Implore, beg, pray.
Run helter skelter
In pursuit of a panacea.
Until kind nature, who accords
Even the perfidious cuckoo
A euphonious voice,
Is unable to bear humankind’s pain,
Heals this beautiful Earth
For humans to rekindle life
With courtesy towards the cosmos.
This poem is dedicated to a treasure of an individual, my dear baideu, Mrs. Anuradha Bezbaruah, a beautiful woman who embodies all that is positive and good, who first suggested I write a poem on this period of lockdown, preferably concluding with a note of hope.
Feedback on The Silence:
Anuradha Bezbaruah on The Silence:
In the poem,The Silence, Nilakshi Borgohain portrays the world as it is now—hushed and still. Clever use of poetic techniques enable us to HEAR the silence, FEEL the silent intruder lurking around, arousing in us fear which knows no bounds . We realise that the intruder could be in the garb of a friend, well-wisher or even a dear one. Who and in what shape does it plan to attack next? The poet asks,’Can you hear the shriek of the human silence?’ This is completely paradoxical. We realise that today’s silence is not normal.
The silence is unwelcome for it has brought in its wake human misery and suffering. It shrieks of pain and grief. The irony of the oxymoron, shrieking human silence, fleshes out the depth of despair, piercing our minds.
What follows is less harsh in language usage. In a gentle tone the poet refreshes our mind with the flowing wind and gentle breeze. Nilakshi raises our hopes only to end in disappointment. As we have been all these days with the contradictory news which flows every day. Alas, the wind has failed to blow away the gloom we find ourselves enveloped in today. Even the hushed song birds fail to cheer. Fear, anxiety, stress, as the poet says, has left us numb.
The world as it is now, come alive through words that mirror present human emotions. ‘People fret and brood. With each passing day, Anxiety turns to stress….’
Stifled and suffocated., we are still full of ourselves. The poem shows—that no matter what divides us, be it race, religion, colour, social status—we belong to the same human race.
Nilakshi Borgohain conveys another message. We should give Nature the love and respect it deserves. As Nature may, if it desires , vanquish from Earth humans with one tiny tweak.
‘Tweak’ stresses upon the fragility of human existence against the might of Nature.
Borgohain, shows where we have blundered and failed to live in alignment with Nature. In the concluding stanza, the poet provides relief, albeit a conditional one. Nature relents. On witnessing the agony of humankind, Nature heals the Earth so that we can resume our normal life. Only this time , with ‘courtesy towards the cosmos’. The mean nature of the cuckoo , does not take away its ability to serenade. This reflects Nature’s graciousness toward all living creatures. Nilakshi’s words transports us to the dark world of the pandemic. The last stanza draws the curtains to let the light in and we can FEEL that we are emerging from the gloom.
A brilliant portrayal of the pandemic- a mirror image…. with atonement and hope in the end.
Anuradha Bezbaruah *( Bio on Critical Assessment Page).
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