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Poetry

Art

Short Stories

Essays

Poetry

By Emily D.C.

Acknowledgement
I wish to express my gratitude to Ms.Nilakshi Borgohain for inspiring me to write poetry – a labour of love I had earlier not dared to venture into. My maiden flight took off on the first janata curfew announced in March 2020 in connection with COVID 19 and landed straight onto Ms. Borgohain’s blog. Having achieved some kind of immortality in print  
( thanks to my friend ), followed by her kind words of encouragement, some confidence was built up to pen a few more poems on subjects close to my heart.
Ms. Borgohain herself is a prolific writer, poet and lover of Mother Nature. Her works have inspired me into writing which brought along a great sense of  satisfaction and fulfilment. I have realised that poetry helps to pour out one’s feelings into words and makes one aware that the ‘ brain is wider than the sky’ to borrow a line from Emily Dickinson.
      I am very thankful to Nilakshi for guiding me to another unique way to experience the joys and happiness in life. ___Emily D.C.2020.

 

October,2020.
 Allamanda  Cathartica                                                    

Striking yellow flowers
Bloom in profusion,
Shaped like bells
Laden on boughs
Hang gracefully across the wall
From an old gaunt tree, ten feet tall.


Gnarled, bronze bark
Twisted and knotted
Rooted into Earth's luscious lap,
Thrive under the wide firmament.


A canopy of heavy foliage,
Oval,  green  leaves
Countless whorls of five
Dance overhead :
Serenity and peace reign.


Overarching branches spread out far
Enfold trees, shrubs that come by;
Embrace and creep heavenwards
Magnificence shared with living creatures.


Mild breeze caress the ingenuous flowers,
Five lobed sepals tumble down in a shower;
Yellow flowered carpet beautify
Long winding walkway outside.


Allamanda! reborn each season,
Beauty burst forth again;
Evergreen story recounted
Of hope,
Grace and colour.
So rise souls anew
Exude joy and splendour;
Life, so precious and dear.

*************

                    

September2020.

PUPPY  LOVE

White and furry, soft and snowy
Eyes shut, new born pups
Come and see, all lined up
Leila’s special gift to us. 

Leila, now in Heaven,
Looked keenly
Quite contentedly
At her new family.

Cute and cuddly, eleven in all
Crawling on the parquet hall
Careful, the litter doesn’t come
Under your feet, avoid a fall.

Pups growing big and fluffy
Brown eyes and full of energy.
Climbing chairs, running up the stairs
In a frenzy, driving us all crazy.

Demands arose at home for pets
What could be better than get–from Leila’s set
‘This little one has stolen my heart,
We’ll call her Lara, rhymes well with Leila.’

Life’s a roller coaster,
At home with Lara.
Darting around all day long
Under sideboards and beds
Getting caught between our legs.

Pairs of socks shred to tiny bits
Hair brush broken in a few minutes.
Shoes and sandals, all chewed up
Lara’s wormed her way into our hearts.

Any sound at the main gate
Lara rushes out to guard our place
Curling up to snooze on deep easy chair
Four grubby paws thrown up in the air.

Lara is now nine,
She is fit and fine.
Loves to hug, get a belly rub.
Not frisky and playful
Nor such a big handful
No running or jumping
Still our most beloved darling.

                            
                        

‘Dogs are better than humans because they know but do not tell’…… Emily Dickinson.

             ———————————————————-

July, 2020.

L I F E


Tread softly oh twilight years

Stumble onto life’s uncertainties and fears,

Turning the pages of days gone by–

How time flies.


Memories emerge from the mind’s eye

Of childhood dreams and adventure stories

Sibling fights and secret delights

Days of youth will not come by.


People known have come and gone

Many were old and a few young

But the world moved on like before

Business is as usual, say no more.


Travelled the arduous journey of life

Endured one’s share of struggle and strife

Held steadfast to beliefs and desire

To love, protect and persevere.


Fears and worries of everyday life

Kept one awake on many a tearful night

Faith and prayers helped surmount,

Only love and peace did count.


Soared upon the wings of success

Trophies and awards, settled for no less

No place for them in the world today

Old age has come to stay.


Visits to exotic places made

Souvenirs collected and showcased

Gathering dust on shelves today

Happy one would be, to give them away.


Children flew out of the happy nest

To seek places that suit them best

Evenings spent in quiet twosome

Reminiscing yesteryears’ ups and downs.


Reaching out to the poor and needy

Save at least one soul from misery

Blessed to be of any service

Before the good Lord calls for me.

**********************

March,2020.

The  Rain

by Emily C.

I love the rain

Herald of spring

Bearing dark grey clouds

High above tall thick boughs.

Lightning and thunder

Stormy winds and rain water

Lashing upon gabled tin roofs

Little ones scampering in bright waterproofs.

Hail stones hurtling down

Upon wet slippery ground

Dried palm fronds

Scattered all around.

Frogs constant croaking

In flowing white streams.

Infants wake up crying

To loud rumbling din.

Birds and dragonflies descend

Into muddy pools in a dream.

Dusty leaves and swaying trees

Washed fresh and verdant green.

Lilies  in abundance bloom

The singing bird lifts our gloom

Ushering a new season

Of happiness and freedom.

***************

Sounds of curfew

Sitting in my latticed balcony

Only winged friends to keep me company

I view the scene below

Of closed shops and empty street

No humans swiftly walking

Stray dogs in confusion striding

Wondering where did all the humans go?

Cars not plying, vendors not calling

Only the sound of silence ringing…

My pet parrot is shrieking

Pigeons are cooing,

Butterflies fluttering by

The woodpecker, I see, is pecking

Many times on my bedroom window

On the bark of that old kanchan tree,

She sits waiting for her soul mate

The common mynah flutters her wings

And stares at me to say

Why are you here today?

Oh blessed Nature!

The green grass, blue skies, tall trees

Fragrant flowers and beautiful creatures

The sun rays and gentle soft breeze

How could I overlook the dazzling sight

Expansively spread before my wide eyes.

Did it need a Janata curfew

To appreciate a few

Of Nature’s gift to mankind?

Did the chanting and trill

Drive the corona virus away?

But Mother Nature did come,

Closer to me I must say.

                                  

********************

Dear Mother

O Mother, dear Mother

I miss you everyday.

Especially today

Because it’s your Birthday.

Your day begins with a special prayer

I do so fondly remember

For it seems only yesterday

That we celebrated your last birthday.

A large chocolate cake

At home you would bake

Not because it’s to your taste

Only, for your grandchild’s sake.

We sit around and jabber

Stretching our hands to the fire

While Mother, you rush in and out

To fill the table from your larder.

Too shy to cut the cake yourself

Mother, you whisper to your grandchild

And with the slim ribboned knife

The round chocolate cake sliced.

The delicious aromatic flavour

Draws us close to the spread

All six dive in to savour

And before long, it’s all over.

While Mother, you watch silently

A soft smile on your placid face

Did anyone have the grace

To fill up your empty plate?

Friends and family come to greet,

Anybody else who came to wish,

Nobody must go hungry, you said,

There’s enough for all to be fed.

While the fire crackled

The fireflies blinked,

Joy and laughter echoed,

Mother, your beautiful face radiantly glowed.

And before the day ended

With love and pride in your heart

You blessed us all

Wishing each one

Many happy days ahead

On Your Birthday!!

By Emil C

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Art Work

                            

Painting by Kalpana Rajput

Dr. Kalpna Rajput is a poet, translator, reviewer, editor and co-author of several books. Her poems, articles and papers appear in journals in India and abroad. She has edited  books on poetry and criticism. She paintings have appeared on the covers of a number of books.

Short Story

Farewell, My Blue Friend
The connection was invaluable. 
By Sarada Tata 


“Mummy, after all, it’s only a sari, I will get you another one – more beautiful and more expensive. Stop kicking up such a fuss about it!” said my daughter. 

          It was ‘just a sari’ for her. In fact, it was just that for the entire world. But for me it was much more than that. Six yards of silk had an entire lifetime’s story woven into it – good times and bad, happy times and sad. It had seen me through 50 years of my married life.
Old memories came flooding back.
I was 18 years old. An educated, ambitious daughter of a successful lawyer. I was a tomboy and a constant source of joy to my father and worry to my mother. I loved my father and his work. I knew more about briefs and arguments than needlework and cooking. My mother and aunt had given up on me. I was on the way to a degree when things took an unexpected turn.
My father had a fatal heart attack. My ambition of a career in law went with him. My brother, the only breadwinner in the family, did what was expected under those circumstances. He fixed my marriage with the first good match that came his way.
“He is an engineer, foreign returned, works in a good firm and earns three times as much as l do-what more do you want?”he asked.
“What indeed,”I thought.
He was 10 years older than I was ,a little on the plump side and his hair was already thinning at the temples.
“ls it his second marriage?”asked my friends.
“You look more like his daughter,” commented another kind soul.
So l got married to this”not so young” respectable engineer holding a great
job.My dreams of becoming a lawyer got a decent funeral at the holy fire of the wedding.
I cried silently blaming it all on my bad luck.Little did I realise that things may be different from now on.
My brother fell ill during the wedding. There was no one to accompany me to
my husband’s house.So we travelled alone-my new husband and I-to my new home and new life in a remote town in Odisha.
In the train I saw my husband for the first time.He was handsome despite his double chin and thinning hair.He was very soft-spoken and extremely understanding.I felt much better as I got to know him.
We arrived at the station in the wee hours of the morning.The platform was crowded even at that early hour looked as if the entire town had come to fetch us.My husband’s friends gave us a very warm welcome and I felt good for the first time since that fateful day when I lost my father.
It was then that I discovered that our luggage had been stolen. “Don’t worry, we will pick up something on the way,” said my husband consoling me.
“All my Kanieevarams, my wedding gifts -all gone,” I wailed.
“I will get you everything one by one,”he said reassuringly.
So we started our new life with a hunt for clothes. There was one shady shop in the small town. 
“We keep only cotton saris,”said the owner apologetically.
I picked up a few good prints.
Then, as if he had second thoughts, the old man went in and brought out the most gorgeous creation in silk I had ever seen.
“Sir, I got this for my daughter. She is to be married next month. I will sell it to you. I will pick up one more for her.”
That was the beginning of a great friendship. It was a blue silk sari with a zari border. The border was no ordinary one-it had a row of elephants walking,
holding tails!
I conquered the little town in my new blue sari. It helped me forget the loss of my red Pochampaili sari. 
On my eldest son’s first birthday, I greeted guest in my blue sari. It was the same sari, which saw me weep with joy as each of my four children graduated from school to college and careers.I did wear other saris during festive occasions, but 1 never let go of my dear blue sari with the elephant border.
Today it was my granddaughter’s annual function in school. She was playing Snow White.
“I will come as the blue fairy,” I promised her.
I went to the dry cleaners to pick up my saris.
“Sorry, madam. We cannot find one sari. maybe, it got damaged in a fire that we had in our shop last week. Of course, we will compensate your loss” said the man at the counter. 
I could not believe it-I had given three saris. Why did only this one have to go. I could not stop the tears from roiling down my cheeks. That irritated my daughter.
“Come on, mummy. It is only a sari. I will get you. another blue sari-much more beautiful than the old one you lost.  Accidents do happen, you know,” she added more kindly.”You will get compensated anyway, so why are you crying”
I did not say anything. It did not warrant any compensation. You cannot compensate one for intangibles like sentiments. To me it was not just a sari- I treated it as a part of me. I loved everything on it. I even named the elephants in the border and talked to them when I felt like talking to someone-no one would or could understand that. Fifty years of beautiful memories up in flames-and no amount can compensate that loss.
“Maybe, it was time for it to go,” said my husband as I put my head on his shoulders and cried.
° Maybe, it was time you gave it rest. I wore another sari for the function-
something 10 times more expensive and more appreciated than my blue sari.But to me that was just another sari.
That night my husband and I went through the old photo album and said a silent goodbye to my dear blue friend, that had, on more than one occasion, helped me face the world with confidence.

         Previously published in The Women’s Era.

The beautiful Sarada Tata.

Sarada Tata graduated with Economics Honours from the famous Asutosh College in Calcutta ,a commendable achievement for a woman during that period of time. She choose to give her undivided attention on being a good homemaker after her marriage instead of joining service.

A voracious reader, she loves Jane Austen and Daphne Du Maurier. An independent individual who continues to find joy in reading, writing and discussing on myriad topics.Her contentment exemplifies how books can remain one’s lifelong companions and how they can influence one to adopt a positive attitude toward life.

Essay

          Two Sisters search shared Spirituality in their 

 Visit to Sri Aurobindo’s Puducherry

           True Spirituality is not to renounce

             But to  make  Life  Perfect  with  a

                        Divine Perfection.

                                                 ….Mother.

It was not an impulsive decision like hey, let’s go and buy a pizza for dinner tonight.  It was a wish long nurtured but remained locked within our hearts for the appropriate time.

Our dear father, I remember, would oft repeat quotes at home of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother (  Mirra Alfassa ), speak of Sri Aurobindo’ s philosophy, spirituality and struggle for the country’s independence  during meal times. So it was quite natural that my sister and I decided on a visit to Puducherry as it is now called.

Our visit turned out to be almost a surreal experience. There was a quiet peacefulness in the Aurobindo Ashram.  A serene atmosphere of faith, devotion and spirituality which seemed sublime, almost tangible .  Devotees from all parts of the world sat around the samadhi constructed under the service tree praying silently. Others slowly walked around the samadhi with bowed heads as if they were speaking to the Divine soul and asking for inspiration . A variety of flowers of different hues bloomed everywhere and the soft breeze carried their sweet scented fragrance all around us.The samadhi itself was totally covered with an abundance of different flowers and wreaths and more were being heaped upon it by the incoming visitors standing in the long queue. Branches of the service tree hung low like a canopy giving shade to the disciples on warm sunny days. We felt quite overwhelmed at the scene before us and sat down quietly to  pray for love, peace and compassion.

Eighteen Kilometres from the centre of the city was the village called Auroville which was founded by the  Mother. The drive  to Auroville was a pleasant one including the long walk that took us through the vast stretches of green fields, tall thick trees and beautiful manicured gardens with waltzing flowers in full bloom. It made us feel very close to Nature. The sun on our backs and the warm earth while walking was very comforting and  as we reached the top of the hill, a perfect view of the golden coloured dome constructed with hundreds of gold coloured cemented petals was visible from where we stood. This structure called the Matri Mandir was an amazing sight. The sun’s rays shining on the dome made it look like a gold petalled igloo in the midst of undulating plains.  We entered one of the several meditation rooms built over thousands of the petals of the dome for a quiet peaceful hour. Every meditation room was assigned a name like Desire, Love, Sacrifice and so on and anybody could choose any of the rooms one desired to meditate in. We decided on Gratitude because we felt blessed to be there and had so much to thank God for.

Mornings were spent sipping the early morning cuppa in the balcony of our room which overlooked the sea, listening to the  constant rolling of the waves hitting the shores. It was music to our ears. And then the celestial  sight of the great ball of fire slowly rising  in the horizon, spreading its different magical shades of crimson and gold across the blue sky was beautiful. Soon daylight broke outside and activity started buzzing in the Guest house and in the street down below.  We moved away to start our days’ planned visits.

Evenings were spent leisurely sitting in the balcony after the afternoon siesta to watch the brilliant colours in the twilight sky as the sun went down.  We took  long walks along the beach where  throngs of people strode the length of the beach road aptly named The Promenade . The beauty of the sun gliding into the sea while the shimmering sea waves caressed the shores never failed to take our breath away every time.

The pre and post dinner talks on spirituality turned out to be extremely  interesting so we participated quite often . Mr Mukherji was a PhD on Sri Aurobindo and an author of  books. He has published few of them. He told us he visits the Ashram every year to work in the Ashram. We gathered in the furnished lounge and took our seats in the many comfortable chairs placed in a semi circle as did several others interested in the discourse.  Mr. Mukherji would lead the discussions on the life of Sri Aurobindo who was brought up in England from childhood, he had a full western education and was  adept in Greek, French and a few more foreign languages. He talked of Sri Aurobindo’s fight for independence from foreign rule, his true relationship with the Mother, and also of his spiritual transformation during the year he was arrested and sent to prison. It was during his prison life that there was an awakening in Sri Aurobindo to a deeper faith in man and God. Sri Aurobindo believed that God sent him to prison and turned it into a place of meditation and his trysting ground.

In 1910, Sri Aurobindo came to Pondicherry  and in 1914, the  Mother joined Sri Aurobindo in Pondicherry.  Together they conceived of a collective ideal which calls for collective effort for its realisation  in every field of human activity – a task to build a new society that strives to express and embody a new consciousness which Sri Aurobindo calls the ‘Supramental’.  He speaks of integral yoga, a search for the truth underlying human existence and how to find ways of bringing joy, beauty, harmony into our lives. It would need much effort and time to know more deeply about Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy and mission but the lectures of Mr Mukherji gave us at least a peek into the great man’s ideas and vision. Mr Mukherji was accompanied by his wife who is a petite lady and equally accomplished. Both scholars were a delight to listen to in the cool evenings. I would not hesitate to state that the talks were an interesting part of our visit.

I cannot close without making a mention of the Auro shop and the Auro Cafe run by the Auro Service Trust. The shop showcased different products and merchandise of high quality exhibiting the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo.  One needs to pledge ones time, effort and resources to help ones fellowmen and that the sustainability of any initiative lies in appealing to the higher human values and ensuring commitment of all volunteers . The design, the colour combination and the craftsmanship of each item was very attractive and displayed a distinctive style. We spent one evening in the Auro Shop and collected a few  mementos to carry back with us.  A visit to the Ashram bookstore is a must. We picked up a few books which obviously included the Tales of Prison Life  and Sri Aurobindo’s Thoughts and Glimpses.

Indeed, we were lucky to make a short visit to the Raj Niwas as well and see the beautiful garden and lawns. It housed a grand old majestic piano, the size one rarely gets to see. It caught my attention immediately and wondered where and when it was manufactured. The keys could still  be played and heard but it needed tuning perhaps. The furniture were old and grand, possibly from the Victorian era, with bookshelves lined with  innumerable fascinating books. It was certainly impressive.

The day of our departure drew close and we were a wee bit sad that our visit would soon be over. Memories, however, will linger and the calm and  peaceful time will remain alive in us.  We spent time and connected with people who were keen to give of themselves and what they possess to the more needy for better, happier and spiritual life.

It is better to give than to receive.

                                                   ……… Emily…….

______________________________________________

Emily draped in a red scarf with her sister.

The charming Mrs. Emily Chowdhary completed her school and college from Kolkata and Darjeeling .  In 1976-77 , selected as the Rotary Scholar she studied Special Education in the USA for a year. She completed her post-graduation in Business Management from Australia.
She belongs to the 1979 batch of the Indian Administrative Service. She held several key posts in the Government of Assam as well as the Government of Meghalaya. She was also Secretary to the Governor of Assam.
Mrs. Chowdhary retired from service in the year 2013 as Additional Chief Secretary to the Government of Assam, Department of Public Enterprises where she introduced several new initiatives for better governance. She now lives a happy and fulfilling life in Guwahati with her husband and two dogs. After years of office work she has finally found the time to indulge in a favourite hobby, writing.

Gardens

Kamal Siddhu is a devoted homemaker with a passion for flowers. Her beautiful garden in Chandigarh blooms the year round and is a safe heaven for many a winged visitor.

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The Cherry Blossom Tree.

Photograph by A.B.

                                  

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