Indrani Raimedhi is a People’s Poet

POETRY EDITOR ANANYA S GUHA’S COMMENTS:

These poems are about people imagined and real. Wrought in dexterous verse they are lyrical and fluid. They transport you to a world of love, nostalgia and compassion. The lyricism is innate in these memorable life giving poems. A must read.

ABOUT THE POET:

Indrani Raimedhi is an author and columnist. She is currently the Features Editor of The Assam Tribune.

THE ARTIST

Contours of an evening

One balmy October evening

when the city was bathed

in a honey glow

my sons took me

around Dilli Haat

my youth was fading

as were the stars in my eyes

happiness came in little snatches

like rustling breezes

all around me were the exquisite

craftsmanship of india

gorgeous carpets, shawls, bidri work

on vases, luminous pearls

jholas with mirrorwork

then I saw the tall, lean artist

his form sprawled on a chair

charcoal and canvas before him

on an impulse I longed to pose for him

my sons looked at each other and smiled

their mother could do anything for a lark

I sat on a rattan chair

the artist began his quick, light strokes

opening up his life for me, a stranger

He was from Jodhpur

born into the kshatriya caste

but there was nothing of the warrior in him

he loved instead the visions of his mind

come to life

his clan was full of anger and scorn

so now he embraced the life of an exile

as honey turned to black

a ring of spectators formed around us

many made appreciative noises

finally he held it up for me

the woman in his portrait looked dreamy, pensive
a free spirit

he framed it and handed it to me

with a courtly bow

it is one of my precious possessions

I wish I had asked him his name

~

THINGS

all the people in my life

who have left this mortal shore

took with them some things

that encapsulate their invisible forms

one grandfathers bulky radio

tuning into Chinese ballet music

on insomniac nights

another grandfathers wooden clogs

carrying him deep into the countryside

where fireflies lit the way

one grandmothers basil plant

in the centre of the mud plastered

courtyard beneath which her oil lamp

glimmered

the other grandmothers poem of gladness

on her grandsons wedding

uncles left behind motor cycles black jackets

dog eared copies of James Hadley Chase

aunts their spectacles embroidered cushions

and neglected gardens

our father left for us

an infinite capacity to dream

~


LIVING AGAIN

To remember is to live again

in this way i have lived many lives

days of spring sunshine

the sky incredibly blue

thunderstorms at midnight

the rumble of an avalanche

memories of friends

our noisy childhood games

our changing bodies

the long corridors of college

being taught  Herodotus, Hemingway

the memory of me at my own wedding

shy, trusting, troubled

In the versions of my adult sons

I remember chubby cheeks,

restless limbs, cries and laughter

one by one, like wrinkled autumn leaves

loved ones drifted away

one story slips into another

some remembered, some shared

here I am stitching a giant patchwork quilt

of all the pieces of memories

of every shade of colour

to remember is to live again…….

~


A LIFE UNLIVED

She shall remain nameless

but once she lived on the top floor

of the house by the river

smiling her idiotic smile

and standing for hours

on the balcony

watching with uncomprehending eyes

the ferries ploughing through the waters

fishermens nets on the sandy stretch

flights of birds at dusk

the smell of roasted groundnuts

the pealing of temple bells

her father got her medicines

to keep her placid

her mother went to holy men

the brother  never brought his friends home

each in his or her way tolerated the idiot

then the boy was a man-handsome, successful

one by one he met girls to be his bride

one by one the proposals were turned down

the idiot smiled through it all

she would never leave her fathers house

be loved by a husband and bear children

but she did leave her father’s house

laid on a pyre, ashes to ashes

no questions were asked

no explanations were given

some months later a bride

entered the house

on some nights

she heard soft weeping

its the river, he said tenderly

go back to sleep

~


OLD FASHIONED

Yes yes i am old fashioned

I anoint myself in sandalwood paste

and weave mogra on my bun

i know the verses of love

that trickle like honey

from my tongue

i twirl on marble floors

till my eyes

lined with collyrium

meet yours

at midnight

when my ankle bells scatter

and roll towards you

I know i have entered

your dream

~


As I WRITE

I try to write

each word is a tiny shell in the sand

brought in by the tide

there is no one on the beach

you must be alone

if you want to write

the big shells carry in their whorls

the ferocity of tempests and

clashing swords of pirates ships

at the bottom of the sea.

the small shells tell stories

of nameless mortals

and their small hates and loves

without these shells,these words

my mind is as empty as the sky above

for almost half a century i have picked

shells, in lonely beaches

each of them speak to me

i am never lonely.

~


A GIANT TREE

A giant tree on the

Side of the busy thoroughfare

Watching over drunks, lovers,

Strangers in cars

Gliding, stopping in the jam

Honking their horns

In the madness to move ahead.

The old tree, benign, silent

Watches the whirling madness of man

And in his shade

A mad woman sits, gabbling

Then one day

Men come with electric saws

And drill through her trunk

No one hears her

Frantic screams

And her dying gasps

As she falls thundering to the ground

Some mourn her loss

But remain silent

She has not bled

As living beings

She has not resisted

It was easy

To kill her.

~


WAGES OF SIN

Listen, you will not sleep tonight

the air raid sirens sound

like a primeval monster

in the stygian ink of the night

and your hearts leap to your throats

in the next moment you could be incinerated

or your little ones lifeless in your arms

who knows who will be buried under rubble

or choke on lethal fumes

this is not the Russia I want

give me the land of apple cheeked girls

dancing under the cherry trees

Tolstoy working at his farm

Dostoevsky turning his eye on sin and redemption

give me bejewelled  and fur cloaked couples

watching Swan Lake

give me chekhov’s exquisite prose and pushkin’s wisdom

give me its haunting vistas of endless snow and sombre forests

its lavish dachas and crystal lakes

make me forget the horrors Stalin wrought

and the sorrows of the silent poet Anna Akhmatova

Brothers and sisters of Ukraine

you are in my prayers tonight

*******

Ananya S Guha

Ananya S Guha

Ananya S Guha works in the Indira Gandhi National Open University, Shillong (Meghalaya) as an Academic Administrator. He has over 30 years of teaching and administrative experience. He has six collections of poetry and his forms have been published world wide. Some of his poems are due to appear soon in an Anthology of Indian Poetry in English to be published by Harper Collins.