Glass Walls

Photo courtesy: https://unsplash.com/@ctwtn

In a world full of have’s and have not’s, we have taken flaunting it to a new pit of insensitivity. Are you, like me, guilty of not seeing what exists on the other side of the glass wall?

Glass Walls

There’s a shiny glass wall
Brightly lit from inside
That beckons
Every time you drive past the mall
And every time you look
The neon sign flashes
A giant burger
At you
In gaudy colours
And you imagine how it would be
Biting into
The cheesy entrails
Squelching and dripping
Down your fingers
And although you are not hungry really
You park your car
In front of the shiny glass bubble
Trying to make up your mind
About the free cola or the unlimited fries
And because
The price point is so sweet
You decide to have both
Telling yourself not to overthink
Especially the calories
And so you bite into
The big sloppy burger
Knowing the insides will pop out
From the other side
It embarrasses you a little
And surreptitiously you glance around
To see if anyone noticed
But they are all lost
In their own piece of rotund heaven
Inside the glass bubble
And outside in the dark
Thin faces
With hunger
Oozing out of their eyes
Watch
The fat burger
Stuffed
Into mouths
Not hungry really
Just buying into the price point
And a selfie for foodstagramming.

Jyotsna Atre
April 8, 2021

This post is a part of the Blogchatter A2Z challenge

Feed it to the fire

Photo Courtesy: https://unsplash.com/@hip_dinosaur

It was so long ago, but she remembered it still. A pile of wood stacked sky high in front of the house, waiting to go up in flames. She watched as women in silken fineries circled it, worshipped it, offered specially made sweets to please the Gods in an act of penance, an easy way to scorch the demons that consumed the soul.

And always, from her charpai in a corner of the aangan, Dadi would summon her… ‘Feed the fire!’ She would say in a voice filled with urgency.

‘Did Dadi see herself in me? Was she trying to save me from a future that spoke of the past? Had she seen my downfall?’ The woman wondered.

Feed it to the fire

She walked towards the fire
That was now leaping towards the sky,
Flicking a thousand orange tongues
To satiate its burning appetite.

“What will you feed it?”

She could hear her grandmother ask.
And just like that, she was six again,
Chanting the words over and over,
Until they finally were branded on her brain.

“Greed… and jealousy…
Anger… and hatred…
Selfishness… and…”

“And…”

Even today, she didn’t want to say the word,
Although she remembered it rather well.

“Something that means I shouldn’t think
I am smarter or prettier or better than anyone else.”

“Is there a word for it, little one?”

“… but I am Gramma!”

“You are what, little one?”

“Smarter, prettier and better.”

“Such a tiny being and such ego.”
The old voice quivered.
“Feed it to the fire, little one. Or
You’ll be your worst enemy. Feed it to the fire…”

She stood there,
Intently watching the flames,
That had the power to destroy,
That had the power to cleanse.

Tomorrow,
Her ego intact,
She would start afresh.

Jyotsna Atre
April 07, 2021

This post is a part of the Blogchatter A2Z challenge

Edge

Photo courtesy: https://unsplash.com/@icanshoottoo

When school grounds go virtual, bullies go online.

Cyber bullying is real. So real that India ranks right up there in cyberbullying. There’s constant badgering online, whether through social media platforms, online games, chat apps… but never limited to this. It makes children more vulnerable emotionally because the messages spreading falsehoods, threats, jokes meant to humiliate and embarrass the targeted individual, are there online for everyone to see, 24×7. And because digital messages are so easy to share forward, they are pretty much thgere forever… They can push a child to self destruct.

Edge

Edge

he stood for a long time
at the edge of his world
it was so far down
it made his mind swirl
it was scary to think
about how hard he would
hit the ground
and he worried too about
how mom’d take the news
but then he remembered
those kids in school
poking fun at him
taunting, bullying always
cos he was not as cool
a sharp pain stabbed
at his chest
he hated himself when
they plastered
hateful posts
all over the Internet
telling him always
to just go die
so now that’s exactly what he’d do
he’d show them how it’s done
and be free of the hate
finally
that last thought floats
in the air
before gravity takes over

Jyotsna Atre
April 06, 2021

This post is a part of the Blogchatter A2Z challenge

Death of a dialogue

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@travisessinger

Memories are a constant dialogue in our minds, reminding us of the years gone by in vivid colours, smells, sounds, fleeting touches… They are snapshots of our entire lives from birth until…

But what happens when memories begin to fade away, leaving white spaces where colour used to be? When silence echoes where sounds used to be? When we can talk with our memories no more? When the mind is emptied of its thoughts and its conversations with the past die…. stripping even the most brilliant, the most creative minds of the rich tapestry that they spend their lives weaving.

And what happens to those who love you when they see themselves die in your memories?

Death of a dialogue

The vacuous eyes, the empty stare,
The way the doctor said it’d be,
Her mind is shutting down,
She is losing her memory.

The memories in my head,
They don’t chatter anymore,
And when I try to remember,
I wonder what I’m looking for.

I push back a loose strand of her hair,
‘I am here, Ma! I say,
A fleeting flicker of recognition, and
The blank stare again. She just looks away.

I wonder who you are,
I wonder why you stare,
I wish you’d keep quiet, and
Please don’t touch my hair.

‘Tomorrow she’ll remember,
Don’t you worry, honey.’
But why can’t I believe,
What you are saying Daddy?

Someday, I hear voices from faraway,
Ma singing a lullaby, sitting next to my bed,
The baby gurgling happily,
When Daddy held her above his head.

‘Do you need something dear’?
Dad is trying his best.
I can see he is tired,
At his age, he too needs some rest.

The hands in my lap look so wizened,
And my bones feel frozen and cold,
I want something to keep me warm,
But I can’t think of the word for what keeps out the cold.

Do you remember Ma,
When I burned your favourite cake?
Do you remember how we laughed
And you told me I should never try to bake’?

That woman who holds my hand every day,
I think I know who she is,
We played together once, and shared secrets
Can you tell me her name, please?

Shall I play your favourite song,
The one you always loved to sing?
The one about flowers and birds,
When it was time for Spring?

Why do I feel so confused, so weak, so lost…
Why do you hold my hand?
Who are you? Do I know you?
And why do you keep calling me Ma?

Jyotsna Atre
April 05, 2021

This post is a part of the Blogchatter A2Z challenge

Change is My Cat!

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@pactovisual and https://unsplash.com/@grakozy

Love is fleeting. Glory is ephemeral. Families grow apart even during a lifetime, while friendships so rarely last. Haven’t we seen crowns crumble? Haven’t we seen that power is always lost? Why then do so many hanker for stability, permanence, forever?

Frankly, nothing lasts forever. Dinosaurs didn’t. And humans won’t either. Change is the only rule. Change can be the only constant. Which is why, if we accept that you and I must turn to dust someday, we shall know peace.

Change is my cat.

I notice how he averts his gaze,
Just so slightly,
When I look him in the eye,
And that always is the hint,
I have discovered, when a love is about to die.

What do I do now? Do I rant and rave?
Lament the years gone by?
No. That I will not do.
We were great together, while it lasted,
And for that I thank you.

It’s sad of course, when things change,
But hey! Change is my cat.
She will shake out her fur. She will make sure she survives.
She will land on her feet always,
Because Change has nine lives.

Three to play. Three to stray. Three to stay.
So I will take a chance and start over.
Change is the only constant, I have always heard them say,
And if that be the case my dear,
Give me a cat any day!

Jyotsna Atre
April 03, 2021

This post is a part of the Blogchatter A2Z challenge

Broken Bonds

Photograph credit: https://unsplash.com/@arnosenoner

They say, we are born alone and we must go alone. Yet we believe that while we are here, we cannot live alone. We share love. We nurture friendships. We form bonds. Have you ever stopped to think that we are feeding a mere illusion? Because you see, the ‘alone’-ness never fades away. Whether it is a child learning to live alone… or the mother craving to be alone. Sooner or later, the bonds of birth must also fall off.

Broken Bonds

Do you remember Ma
That rainy day in June
When you drove me to the boarding school
You barely saw your little girl
Melting into a tearful pool

I was confused Ma
I could not understand
Why I no longer was welcome with you
But I must have been a heavy weight
That, I can see now

Eight years and nine months
Of living your life for me
I don’t blame you (Really)
But you were my life Ma
You were all that I ever knew

And it still hurts when I remember
How I stood outside that building
Watching you drive away
And in that moment Ma
I heard all that you didn’t say

In that moment
When you abandoned me
Outside that building made of stone
I grew up Ma
I learned to be alone

Jyotsna Atre
April 02, 2021

This post is a part of the Blogchatter A2Z challenge

Apologies

The past can throw up shreds of life that were never lived.

Life may not always turn out as we imagine it would. But when reality changes, is it possible to give up what could have been? To set someone free, to unshackle them from the burdens of shared dreams?

I am not sure what the reply to this postcard might have been? But I do imagine that it was a practical acceptance of fate. The more interesting part for me is exploring if happiness found its way to the shredded soul. If the winds of fortune changed sails… however late?

To reflect the theme of delay of my first Postcard Poem, this post is intentionally late.


Dearest,

Apologies
For being late.
Posting this from the
Hospital bed.
Do not worry, just shrapnel
From a stray grenade,
That missed me… Took
The man next to me instead.

Not sure if I can call it
A lucky twist of fate, though…
For it seems I’ll have no use for my legs
Henceforth, that’s what the doctor said.

And since he told me the news,
Hard as it was to palate,
I have tried innumerable times
To picture a life for us without feeling the weight,
And so, unbearable as it is,
I have decided,
Not to burden you with a love,
That must one day evaporate.

I do not doubt your unwavering devotion,
But I cannot allow my altered state,
To define your life. And I take solace in
Believing that this is what the Gods have decided.

Yours. For the last time.

Jyotsna Atre
April 01, 2021

This post is a part of the Blogchatter A2Z challenge

A2Z once more…

Who knew that the world would be a forever changed place in a year since the last BlogchatterA2Z challenge?

Some things never change, though. Like the Blogchatter challenge. It continues to bring us joy, incite creativity, and lend a sense of purpose in these difficult times… even going a step further to turn us into a community… so essential in these disconnected times, when we are locked down in our pigeonholes.

I am not an avid blogger. But all through April, I will experiment with a literary form I have never tried before, using it to craft a story of love, life and losses. I do hope that you will enjoy it.

My theme for the Blogchatter A2Z 2021 is Postcard Poems.

This post is a part of the Blogchatter A2Z challenge

Book Review Ebook Carnival (Unlocked by Sonia Dogra)

History… for better or for verse!

Aptly titled, here’s a book that unlocks history in a way that has never been done before!

Sonia Dogra sets the tone for her unusual choice of theme, right from the first verse, as she wonders if the world would be a different place, had Adolf Hitler been treated better as a child. She follows up on this train of thought with a rib-tickling tale about Cleopatra’s long nose, considered a parameter of female beauty at the time, and speculates if the Roman Empire would have had a different future had her nose been shorter!

From Muhammad Ali’s missing gold medal, to the unknown story of Milunka, the girl who dressed as a boy and became the most decorated woman soldier in the history of warfare, yet died penniless and unsung with only her medals standing testimony to her bravery and patriotism… Sonia paints canvas after canvas of events long-gone, on every page of her book with her lyrical brush… Each stroke bringing forth a dimension of the past, in a unique and entertaining manner.

Writing in verse-form, the author uses words and syntax that are simple enough to rivet the attention of a casual reader, yet powerful enough to bring alive the unknown and un-celebrated episodes of history from across the globe.

Sonia has carefully chosen the subject of each of her historical verses to cover a gamut of themes… chronicling the controversial and uncontroversial tales of bravery and deception, of pathos and anguish, before veering away to lighter moments talking of historical noses and beards!

The book is structured into two sections. The first, called ‘The Famous and the Infamous’, is where the author writes about personalities from the past, prying open their lives to understand the unknown stories behind their actions and decisions.

In Sergeant Major Gandhi, she tries to unravel the reasons behind the controversial support that the Mahatma lent to the British against the rebel tribes of S Africa.

In Entombed Mysteriously, she writes about how and why Gengis Khan “…was laid to rest at an unknown place, Those in the funeral procession slaughtered without trace.

Interestingly, the author doesn’t limit her prowess of narrating historical tales to prominent figures. Consider for instance, the Mutiny of 1857. It would be sacrilege if any Indian worth his or her salt doesn’t know about the sacrifices made by Mangal Pandey and the other brave-hearts. But Sonia looks beyond the popular and the known, and uncovers the forgotten heroes, or should I say heroines, who stood shoulder to shoulder with the rest. Read about the Cawnpore Courtesans and their brave deeds, in my favorite verse, ‘The Dance of Rebellion’.

The second section of the book, ‘Epoch Making Episodes’ lets the reader peek into the trajectory of events that changed the world as we know it… Beginning with Radcliffe who hastily drew a line on the Indian map, and forever condemned the country to religious hatred, “leading to the biggest Human exodus”, and genocide… to how Fat Boy ‘tore through life’ and decimated an entire city, condemning the few survivors to a lifetime of physical and emotional pain… to tracing how history repeats itself in the poem ‘Quarantine’.

Tempted as I am to review each verse individually, I must restrain myself, if only to preserve the mystery of history for you… the reader. And I promise you, you will enjoy every bit of this book, whether or not you are a history aficionado!

For those, who have given a miss to their history classes in school, Sonia introduces each of her interesting and engaging verses with a brief write-up to place the event or anecdote in the course of history.

For the more serious reader, she has provided footnotes at the end of each verse to make it easy to refer and read further.

To sum it up, as I read Sonia Dogra’s volume of historical verses ‘Unlocked’, there was only one thought on my mind… ‘Reading history would have been so much fun, if someone had turned the events long lost in time into stories’!

An excellent book to add to your reading list, whether or not you have been a history fan.

Author Bio

A teacher and a reporter in her previous avatars, Sonia Dogra is perhaps at her best as an author who reflects on events, and pens them for her readers. This is her 3rd published book of poems.

Book Review – Ebook Carnival (Blossoms and Foliages by Daisy Bala)

Nature, in all her magnificence, envelopes us. If only we take the time to see and appreciate.

Daisy Bala takes inspiration from Vincent Van Gogh… quoting him in the opening line of her introduction to this delightful volume of nature poems, “If you truly love Nature, you will find beauty everywhere.”

Although she terms it her maiden attempt, her words, delicately woven together, paint a visual so vivid, that it has the power to transport the reader to a fleeting moment in time.

Read about a white snowy landscape in the poem, ‘White sweet morning’…

“Whitewashed escapades

Cold breezy silhouettes

Snow deluged branches

Dripping snowflakes

Or savor this delicious description of waves on the sand in the poem, ‘The clarity’…-

“The turquoise waters splash

In sea foam green and varying teal

The wind rustles past the blushing spume

Swirling in crispy broth

On the sandy beach.”

Word by word, the poetess evokes a sense of enchantment, drawing the reader into her world, to witness with her the ephemeral beauty of nature ‘through a kaleidoscope of seasons’.

Not only does she pen pictures of “the dandelion silhouetted in pale morning lights, The breeze caressing the florets.”; she writes with equal élan about ‘An earthy stone, Standing aloof in these savanna’s’, bringing it alive for her readers, as she follows its gaze at the world around.

If you love nature, you will love this bouquet of poems.

P.S. Daisy has taken special care to describe every image that accompanies each of her poems for visually challenged readers. And these descriptions are as beautiful as her poems!

About the author

Daisy is a passionate author and blogger living in Chicago suburbs with her husband and two kids. She is a nature lover who draws her musings from the verdant green bounty around her. Her walk-in woods continuously inspire her to drink through the day’s eye and scribble the thoughts in her blogs. If not writing, she’s running around her 9 months old, changing diapers or teaching her 8-year-old basics of geometry. Her love for seasons and flora is implicit in her vivid writings.