Kavita Ezekiel Mendonca (Voices Within)

Kavita Ezekiel Mendonca was born in Bombay to Prof. Nissim Ezekiel and Daisy Ezekiel. She attended Queen Mary’s School, St. Xavier’s College, Bombay University and Oxford Brookes University, U.K. She holds Bachelor’s and Masters’ Degrees in English, American Literature and Education. Her career spanned over four decades in Indian colleges, American International Schools and Canada, teaching English, French and Spanish. She’s a published poet, and has her poetry page at https://www.facebook.com/kemendoncapoetry. Kavita also writes short fiction. Her work is strongly influenced by her father’s work. (The late Nissim Ezekiel was an eminent poet, well-known in India and overseas).


Robin on the Fence

He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’
Robert Frost ‘Mending Wall’

The low fence between our houses
Has stood for many years
The wear and tear of wood keeps time
And tells of bygone seasons
Protruding nails and striations
Like the rings of a tree
Reveal age,
Previous owners built it
To mark the boundary.
There’s a gap in it now
A wood plank is missing.

Their little dog respects the space
He peers at us but
Will not venture to our side
At least not when we are looking.
I wouldn’t mind a visit
He has the sweetest face.

A rabbit or gopher, perhaps a lost cat
Has wandered in and out between our turfs
Unaware of fences, turfs or unspoken rules of neighbourliness.
I’ve seen the cat once,
The little children might have
Played hide and seek with ours.
They’re all grown up now,
Theirs and ours.

Birds of varying plumage
Have perched on the fence
Glanced quizzically into my kitchen window
Some have snow on their feathers
Harbingers of the changing seasons.

My favorite though, are the robins
And how they puff out their red breasts
I love this one
Because he posed for a photograph
And let me capture the still life
I couldn’t paint.

We would make good neighbors
With or without the fence
We both have flowers and Apple trees
And two children each.
They have a dog, we have cats
The robins, squirrels and lost cats
Walk the fence with full ownership rights
And we exchange barbequed chicken and other grilling
As the aromas waft over, between and under the fence

Frost said that there was ‘something that did not love a wall,’
And we agree about fences,
And there’s no talk of walls.
Some fences may make good neighbors
But some neighbors, like the robins
May straddle the fence
To be photographed,
And should the one missing plank become two
And the gap widens
We may not need to repair the fence.
Perhaps broken fences make better neighbours.


The way I fell in love

I fell in love the way
You fall asleep: slowly,
And then all at once.
[The Fault in Our Stars]

Not me!
I fell in love not slowly.
It was ‘all at once’
Fast, like an express train,
Not stopping at all stations
Not the taxiing plane that lumbers
Taking its time on the runway
But a rocket shooting for the stars
That knots the stomach on its ascent.
When I fell in love
I became a comet, a shooting star
A cheetah, an impala
A wild ocean
Loud, thunderous, relentless,
Free falling and
Not able
To catch myself
The parachute did not open
I stayed in love wrapped tightly.

My usual pace of life is slow
Like the snail
Unhurried and calm
Pulling in the feelers from time to time
To deliberate and take stock
Of the situation.

I was no snail when it came
To falling in love.

I didn’t fall in love slowly
A paradox of my Nature
To understand the irony
You need to really know me.
  
Being human means being Impulsive
Being perfect all the time
Is not part of the human psyche
Though we may try
So I had my moments of quickness
But they were few and far between.

I took the pace of life quite slow
Except for falling in love


India reborn in my Soul

‘Let me find my song where I belong’ (From Poster poems by Nissim Ezekiel)

I have forgotten why I came
My vision blurred by snow and mist
Perhaps.
The journey back home is long
And the time changes there
The body clock needs to work harder
To fight the jet lag
And the lagging spirit.

What country is mine?
The unceasing doubting
Of Mind and heart
Denies the reality of the present
The repetitive refrain poses questions.

I was not running from war or violence
No persecution or famine
Only running from myself
And the endless soul-searching
Common to the human condition
To those who think deeply,
The Quiet here is deafening.

The choice is made now
A sometimes unfathomable choice
The land of my birth
To be grasped in dreams
And Street Food shows
On You Tube.

I have forgotten why I came

Walk the quiet streets, or take
The uncrowded bus or train,
Home is not where I am,
The sound of Quiet is different
Here.
There are no sounds
Of noise here
No people on train tops
Or dangling out of the train
No arguments in the bus line.

Quiet, Quiet
All is Quiet
Someone speak to me please
It’s lonely.

When the sound of soft falling snow
Or the snow plough at night
Ploughs furrows in your brain
And fitful sleep is your potion,
I know I’m not a pin
On the familiar map shape
Even my rotis don’t turn out round
They are shaped like the map of India.

Rain snow and mist
Drop to earth in quiet so low
Make some noise please
Speak to me someone please

It’s lonely here.

I have forgotten
Why I came

Reborn my country
A thousand times
Transported back
In cups of chai
And samosas
In this my adopted home,
No geography can
Erase those smells
That taste, those smells are
India alive
In my soul.

Chai Chai
Garam chai
Drink the liquid noisily
Break the mud pot
Clink Clunk Crack!

Churning yearning
Ceaseless Constant
Perhaps nostalgia
Perhaps not
Dialogue with the mind
To stop
Its answer is a stubborn refusal

Giving a name
To yesterday’s ghost
Calling bluff to the phantom
Of times past
Of sunny- orange skies
And whispering sea breezes
The dilemma deepens
Which country is mine?

Some can love two countries
And some many more
I am the divided mind
A broken clay pot
A Humpty Dumpty
A thousand men
Could not put together
Again.

I have forgotten why I came
Or why there is no turning back.

Make a loud noise
Ring the bus bell loudly
Blow the train whistle
Need the rickshaws and the barking of dogs
It’s so quiet here
And everyone is on their phones.

I’m here to stay
Or so I think
At least I can write my Poetry
It’s quiet here
Perhaps the poetry
Can make the noise
A joyful noise for all to hear.

I loved to play with kaleidoscopes as a child
The balloon man sold them on the beach
My vision shifts like the pieces of glass
And I am sometimes home
And sometimes not.
And still
I have forgotten why I came.

Voices Within-2020 :: Setu, February 2020

2 comments :

  1. Pleased to see my poems published in your reputed magazine. Thank you to Gopal Lahiri for doing an excellent job of editing this issue.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Pleased to see my poems published in the reputed Setu magazine. My thanks are due to Gopal Lahiri for doing an excellent job editing this issue.

    ReplyDelete

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