Large black drops.
Out of the blue.
Forming a pattern.
On the hard earth.
A mosaic of possibilities.
Stopping. As suddenly as it had begun.
What can you tell me about yesterday’s rain?
Knocking. Seeking. Shelter. From the morning light. In a city too crowded. For people. And the light. Too blinding. For an early summer. For the night birds.
I woke up to a pair of white owls outside my window.
There are boats. And then. There are boats. So far so good. This one. Was special. You could tell. By looking at it. A boat with a fine lineage. And pedigree. Rich bark on both sides. Rugged and robust. Excellent breeding. Years of seasoning. The grain. Dark brown. Deep and determined. With patterns that did not repeat themselves. Solid. And sturdy. Steadfast and purposeful. Capable of sailing on any sea. Able to withstand. Resist. Endure. Weather. Storms.
There are storms. Windstorms that whistle loudly at night their ghosts seeking shelter; tempests that drown ships on seas; whirlwinds and gales; strong winds and squalls that howl through the deserts; dust storms that blind; rain storms that flood cities; lightning showers that set forests ablaze; hurricanes that wail and mourn, keening at graves; hailstorms that savage harvests; avalanches and snowstorms that invade land and mind.
Oh yes. There are storms.
An urban lake. Filled with the concrete. Surrounded by glass. Steel. Tall mountains that trap the sound of the city.
Tall silver lampposts. Modern day Oaks. Attempting to replicate daylight. And failing.
The dog howls the arrival of yet another dawn.
The song of the lakewater
wavelayers that unbidden danced
un-dulated to the wind-and-the-light
music had the smell of deadfish
lappingshores and hulls-of-boats these stale
chords made discord-ant mixed with fumes of
diesel-run-houseboats hewing their way
up down up like giantcorks gulping oilheavingair
hollow-toneless-flat voices deadened by the rain
as water covered with hyacinthsgreenandpurple
peculiar-to-water-bodies of this kind sank
below the water where upsidedown roots
lay waiting to trapchoke fish strangle-the-lake
in an endless tangle of a natureconfused
and gasping for breath.
Standing before the aged oak looking down at me its branches inside my head entangled in light from the sun and the moon depending on the time of day or night you chance upon it provided that you are able to enter the inside of my head where the tree I speak of resides enmeshed in the light I spoke about from the sun and the moon depending on the time of day and so on and then of course there are the leaves that learn to play the flute suitably attired in restless shadows that are unable to settle down or be still or quiet because of the wind that whistles even as it doubles up as both musician and teacher and raises a storm that keeps everything it touches in a state of agitation in motion in anxiety quite like attempting to walk on the deck of a ship at sea when the sea is out of control and stretching towards the horizon in a dance in praise of the morning causing the waters to swell and the ship to lurch and sway making it impossible to stand still or walk without holding on to the railings and that is what I am trying to do as I set out for a walk amongst the forests in my head as I had begun to do when I talked about the light that had got itself tangled in the branches of the tree in my head like a conversation that began with the sun and ended with the moon though I cannot for the life of me recall which of the two began it and why but I do sense the gravity of the situation after all it is not the kind of thing you take lightly even though the words that had lost their way amongst the trees in the forest and had to seek the help of the branches holding on for dear life while making their way in the storm the sea had unleashed having found itself rejected by the sun that had failed to rise and had in its stead sent clouds filled with rage to vent their ire though why this would be so inside my head which used to be a place of calm is hard to understand as it is to find one’s way out of the forest which seems to be unending and vast and full of shadows that have begun to replace the light that had entwined itself around the branches of the trees inside my head making it difficult for me to find my way in the dark as easily as I used to hundreds of years ago when the oak had neither grown so sturdy nor so dense and its branches had barely begun to soak in the light from the sun and the moon and the wind had yet to acquire the skills needed to play the flute it would later go on to teach the leaves for it was after all a time when the dark was simply a place that comforted one to sleep.
There used to be a tree. Right here. In my heart.
Its branches bright with flaming orange flowers.
Like the wildfire that blazes through the imagination
Now the ground is strewn with leaves that are grey like ash.
The twilight detached itself
from the evening’s grip
and slipped into the night.
Taking only the candle.
And the cold wind.
The solitary match.
The last one in the box.
Set itself on fire.
It had begun with something trivial. Like the stars bumping into each other; because the moon had lost its way behind the thick clouds; or the layer of dust that had wiped the shine off the North Star; or it could have been that the sun had overslept; failing to wake up when it should have; leading to a late dawn; which meant that the stars had to patrol longer; all the while trying hard to stay awake; and twinkle; there is also the rumour that the moon had refused to budge; sulking; till the fox had reluctantly agreed to jump over it; thereby keeping a fuming sun waiting; its face red in anger; older and wiser, the woman who had helped stitch the milky way had another story; the sky had been ravished; torn apart by a pair of thunderbolts; vying for its attention; a serious accusation if true; it could lead to at least ten years of exile; by which time the bolts would have lost their voice; become feeble; and without strength; and therefore vulnerable; it was also in the realm of the possible that Mars and Jupiter and Mercury had conspired to take over Earth; but had failed to do so; unable to reach a consensus on who would lead the brave new order after victory; and do not forget that through all this bickering over futile disputes the clocks of the world had struck work; refusing to tick; their small and big hands frozen; protesting the unfair practices of the watchmakers; the ones who crafted pendulums out of cheap brass; passing them off as the finest metal; this forced Time to stop; leading to a serious problem; nobody could move forward; or back; in fact the realization of this non-movement in itself; was not fathomed; the sensation of time passing had come to a halt; the clocks had indeed struck a fatal blow; and to think it had all begun with something trivial. Like the stars bumping into each other. Because the moon had lots its way.
Only the whistling wind ruled. The dust. And
the sand. Of the riverbed. Buried deep. The ghosts
of the fish. The ones that had failed to swim. Fast enough.
The river. Long and dry.
In the darkest part of the woods is a lake. It is said that it is made of granite. There are some who claim to have seen people swimming in it. Some others say they have seen children walk across its surface without sinking. Throwing little stones in front of them. Even as they hop skip and jump in pursuit. A woman claims she saw thirteen young girls singing and dancing on its waters. Yet others argue that it was a foot above the water that they danced. They have pictures. A few who ventured close to it have been dazzled by the sun reflecting off its surface. Not granite at all. A mirror. Yes the surface of the lake is a mirror they said. But the best story is the one about the caravan of butterflies that were seen diving into the water. Each carrying a tiny boat. Made of fine-grained bark. A flotilla returning home. Victorious.
A lake full of magic.
I decided to investigate. For myself.
Shortly before sunrise. Making my way. Into the forest. I hid amongst the trees. And waited.
And true enough. There was the lake. In the darkest part of the woods. Silver grey in the breaking dawn. Allowing itself to be caressed by the morning breeze. Gentle ripples breaking its surface into a million glittering shards of delight. The water so inviting. Breathing in the morning. Every now and then young dewdrops diving in with the tiniest of splashes. Birdsong. Crickets jumping with joy at another sunrise.
There was no sign of granite. None at all.
Just when I was about to turn around I heard a rumble. Not the arrival of a herd of deer or even a flock of migratory birds flying in dense formation. But the rumble of machinery. Looking to the left and then to the right of the lake. I saw hundreds of bulldozers appearing. Like an army.
Hundreds of bulldozers, here to fill the lake.
A most peaceful and angry God
slighted gone wild playing his flute
while the wind turning blue
hammered the surprised and still day
causing fruit to shudder
and detach itself ferociously
from windswept trees
whose heads full of branches
drowned into rivers rising high
and black while the god
in his anger danced and
raged amongst the oceans
drumming up an immense and
a monumental turbulence
as the sun watched
in a state of utter and
clutching holding on clinging
with all its might
to a sky being ripped
from its moorings
even as it pleaded with hands folded
on knees bended in supplication
with the angry musician
to stop before the mountains tall
and brooding tore themselves
beating their chests
in anguish and desperation
into an avalanche of rocks
smashing all the worlds in their path.
to stop the flaking sky
paint bleeding off walls
a landscape melting
in a sun relentless
the eyes feigning
a haze now resides
the rainbow too has paled
into a pinpoint
except in my clenched eyes
where its bow still arches in brilliance
across skies a memory
slow this disappearance
What then will happen
to this scorching summer land when
fissured at noonsun
the ploughs ruptured
with effort made impotent
to look the wasted earth in the eye
to whisper words of succour comfort
knowing that it was late
to place their hands on the forehead
of an earth feverish delirious or
rub the knots in their once proud bark
as monks do when rapidly counting beads
to stem tides that begin there some where
out of reach or control for this then is
that elsewhere over which
only nature reigns
or so one believed and
then when somehow
we do not know how
things began to change spiral
leap out of control
leaving even nature’s defences
Naveen Kishore is publisher at Seagull Books.