|Dr Santosh Bakaya|
WHAT WAS THAT SCREAM?I had a dream, yes, a vivid, talkative dream
It talked and talked, nineteen to the dozen
The trees quivered with joy
As the pig-tailed girl bantered with her cousin.
Children romped about in bright clothes,
Chattering animatedly, guffawing loudly
Clapping noisily, back slapping boisterously
Songs waltzed and tangoed inside my mouth,
Some big, some small
Always on call.
Boisterous and happy
Like that pig-tailed girl of my talkative dream.
Hey, what was that scream?
In the blink of an eye, the rosy dream was gone.
The door waited in an agony of apprehension
For that familiar touch,
Untouched by intimidation.
A lone pigeon pecked at the glass window of the ghostly house
Knock, knock, is someone there?
Alas, there was no one there, only a few slivers of memories
Stashed in dust-laden shelves
Skulking inside abandoned boxes
Staccato bursts of laughter in dust motes trapped
And an untiring spider weaving its web.
The sky was filigreed with smoke
Dark and sinister
And memory had become a blister
Which pained and pained.
Tired eyes looked around for that pig-tailed girl
As the wind wailed
Somewhere life was creating itself anew
GRANNY FINDS HER ROOTSFather left his roots behind in Kashmir
Coming to Jaipur, in search of pastures new.
Hearts apprehensive and nerves taut
The place though humid and hot
Soon became their new home.
But granny missed her home a lot
Often lost in wistful remembrance
Shattered by life’s evanescence.
One day, the child in her realized
That here, the cock a doodle was no different
Even the donkeys brayed
With the same passion as in her homeland.
With a serendipitous gleam her eyes were bright.
Things slowly appeared to become right.
Slowly, she exchanged her pheran
For a crisp, cotton sari white.
But tenaciously to the Kashmiri language she clung
Shooing away dogs with a smattering of her mother tongue
They looked at her in bewildered incomprehension
Scurrying away like cartoon characters in animation.
Unable to understand the language
But in her frantic gestures reading her rage.
Poplars and firs slipped into the landscape of her dreams
So did the lakes, rivers and streams.
Now gulmohar and neem trees were her trees
And one neem tree, a sapling once,
Was in the garden now firmly rooted.
On a chair under its shade,
With a wistful smile on her wrinkled face
She dreamt of her homeland, no longer feeling uprooted.
The mouthwatering bread from the bakers
In her hometown had many takers.
With the inexorable pertinacity of a child
She would go wild
Yearning for morsels of that sumptuous bread
Its flavor whirring in her head.
But under the ministrations of the tree,
The fragrance soon tapered away.
The tree sighed happily, at a job well done
A long awaited victory won.
A frisky squirrel in shady seclusion of trees chattered away,
Tail twitching, hoarding away, for a rainy day.
A solitary sunbird from the foliage
With his luminescent purple plumage
Darted out, making her feel at home
A home away from home.
MY GROVEHey, what was that?
A horde of young footballers, ranging from age four to twelve , had intruded into the precincts of , what I , till now , used to think , was my exclusive grove . After my usual morning walk, my feet would invariably head towards this particular spot in the joggers’ park. Surrounded by verdant luxuriance, serenaded by scampering squirrels , yodeling pigeons and chirping birds, I penned many a poem here, ignoring the raucous guffaws of the laughter club members , the incessant chatter of the bench –sitters , who would supposedly come to the park to exercise , but , could be seen only sitting on the bench ,talking , tittering and texting away.[ come to think of it , all this was enough exercise of jaws and fingers !]
Today, as I sat there, gnashing my teeth in frustration, because of the intrusion of the football players, a small, white rabbit scampered through the shrubbery next to me, catapulting me back in time.
No, he was not wearing any waistcoat, like the white rabbit of Alice in Wonderland, and muttering, “oh dear, oh dear, I shall be late”, but it somehow, reminded me of my dad, who was a stickler for punctuality, and everyone in the English department in Rajasthan University, Jaipur, was aware of the fact that he hated being late for his classes or any functions.
Sometimes, he would reach the department even before the peons had knuckled away sleep kinks from their eyes, sometimes just refusing to have his breakfast , arguing that mental fodder was more important , than food for the stomach , and quipping ,” I am like the white rabbit of Alice in wonderland , always afraid of being late .”
Soon, memory chunk after memory chunk engulfed me, but before I could be drowned completely in an avalanche of memories, I came back to the present with a thud!
A thud that I felt on my head.
A group of young footballers stood before me in apologetic profusion, some trying to retrieve the football from the shrubbery where it had disappeared after hitting me on the head, and some looking sheepishly at me.
Had the Queen of hearts of Alice in Wonderland also disappeared after her order, “Off with her head!”
I surreptitiously looked around, yes, I caught a glimpse of gold in the shrubs.
Was it the glimmer of the queen’s crown?
Oh, silly me, it was the majestic sun covering the shrubs in golden hues.
Afraid that the white rabbit would appear again, and mistaking me for his house maid, would ask me to get his gloves and fan, I reasoned, it was time for me to disappear too, before the foul-mouthed queen again shouted “Off with her head!”[Which is always so full of memories]