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 warm cup of Hibiscus Tea with cinnamon and honey, happiness recipe for winter mornings.
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 .
Did you hear the shriek of human silence?
A quiet so hushed—
The waves in the rivers and oceans ceased to quiver;
A dead weight quiet gloom—
Tranquil breeze or blustery wind, failed to lift;
A quiet lost and forlorn—
Even the passerines tired of singing
In their effort to sway the human spirit.
Doors bolted, people fretted,
Each passing day gnawed anxiety to stress;
Death loomed outside the gate,
Playing hide and seek, using
Friends, relatives, as pawns;
Gentle touches of warmth and love as weapons.
So unfamiliar from old fears of
Wild animals, enemies, and missiles.
Visits turned virtual,
The distance from the fond one
Was this nature’s drama designed to demonstrate :
Humanity is laced together with gossamer,
The moneyed, 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,
Inspite of the varying shades in our skin tone,
Our assigned hierarchy
In compartmentalised societies;
This strange pandemic of foggy origin
Grimly attested rudimentary truths:
This planet is not
For us to plunder, devour and mutilate;
Human life is a gift, bestowed
To appreciate in gratitude
With humility, empathy, honesty and love;
And to apportion with
Creatures big and small on our Earth;
That Nature may
Weed out humans with a tweak.
Shaken, we sobbed with sorrow,
Implored, begged, prayed in pursuit of a panacea.
Until kind Nature, who accords
Even the perfidious cuckoo a euphonious voice,
Unable to bear humankind’s pain,
Yielded, extended guidance to heal,
Trusting us to continue this journey
Of life beautiful in peace and plenty
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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