Sasha Banhotra: Art & Poetry (Life, Cognition and Creativity)

This freedom that I call mine

Wondering how Religion took it all away from us 
The freedom to practice our undeniable interests. 

The same freedom that allows the pandit to worship the carved stone
With his bloomed self-esteem while adorers celebrate his throne. 
The same freedom that allows Allah to rest in tranquillity 
Inside the celebrated walls of a masjid built in Limestone.
The freedom that propels each Sardar to offer langar
To every passer-by who enters their golden walls. 

The freedom that my country received 
a long time ago, in fact! 
When slavery wasn’t seasonal 
Rather, an everyday ship that they had to row 
While, painstaking Indian farmers hurriedly hit their plough. 

It was indeed instilled in my citizens’ blood
Swept off the hardships from their fatigued foreheads  
Since at least they carried the freedom to breathe bold.
Freedom wasn’t brought easy upon them,
They had to fight to lay it easy upon us.

And even after seventy-three years of living in a free country 
The citizens who define themselves as patriotic 
Have now come up with different semiotics 
I often come across incidents that push me 
To question the idea itself called ‘freedom’
Since we are free but are, we really? 
I ask myself quite seldom. 

This freedom that I mightily call mine today 
Was brought to me by my ancestors who had to 
Barter their bodies to send it my way 
To practice this freedom right every day
Is the only wish I make today. 
For its a legacy I wish to leave for my children 
As I don’t want them to become slaves to the 
Inane ideas that sway across countries today.

I wish freedom for them in its truest mightiest sense 
When they would be flying free as a bird 
not to hunt or prey but to feel the breeze 
and along with it, they would sway.

The Bulb of their Living Room

She does trip and fall; she goes by heaving herself every day
amidst the fuss and that's not all! She is often found calculating her miles. 
Oh, how she goes by cluttering everything that surrounds her life.  

She has been thinking, Me: the wife, has been drinking 
the wine of his insensitivity, incapability, and hypocrisy.
Oh, the hypocrisy! Sure, is overlaid on the carpet of their living room 
as it portrays the lovely Lilies in the falling June.

Don’t even get her started on how they proceed with their lives;
every morning brings a sour taste on this tragic tongue, that’s her life.

For she never came across a man. 
A man in its true sense. 
A man of his words. 
A man she read about: Intellectually Intense  
With his attention directed to her. Now, she regrets the rejections 
she made, while still in her young years.

Would it ever make a difference to him, if she hung herself,
in their living room, swinging like a pendulum on loose?
Then it occurs to her, hanging herself would cost her life to her.  
The same life that was carried in a womb for nine months 
with an exhilarating oomph!

She certainly can’t gift her mother a hanging body, 
a draped soul in a white khadi. So, she leaves behind 
everything that pulled her down, decides to free herself
from the obliterating hounds. Got up from her chair, 
renewed by the fresh thoughts, walked into the same living room. 
She stepped up on the table reaching for the fan only this time 
to replace the bulb hanging there from the last ten years of a time. 

Take me back to thy water

Have been floating in the dead waters
How does the alive one feel like?
Is it as charming as a toddler’s laugh?
Or as motherly as a newly discovered lost scarf?
Oh, maa, surely, I knew while inside you
but now I am just too grown, died you.

Remember, when one’s alive before born?
Floating actually developing slowly
inside the amniotic sac of water holy
So, to enjoy the privileges of this
brittle battle called life, solely.

Simple matters surely
whether it’s the rising sun boldly
spreading splendid rays marking its territory
with grooving little specks in it dreamily
or stars shining amidst the night shy
bright, subtle, and soothingly shimmery.

A baby plant while tiny aims for the sky
An array of utter strength and days go by
to grow the tallest one day and reach the high
heightening without distraction but the sky
unknowingly serving breath to every passer-by.

Water broke maa, making way for
a much-celebrated life only nine months old
Here comes the first cry, the skin’s cold
loud enough to mark the existence of its own kind
unaware thousands already battling in the grind.

Arrives the moment of mourning realization
where the water can’t hold or protect anymore
Suddenly, appears to be destructive in nature
Unlike the days gone in my early early phase
now holds the power to chase.

There exists no such water
like the one that brought me here
It held me inside away from fear
Kept me safe a miracle they hear
A miracle of its own kind, adhere!

Maa, now when I think about you
I dream of the sac I was confined to
Perhaps, after much prep, I might too…

The remorseful reality breaks my heart 
with you not here it’s going to be hard
now inside me beats an innocent heart.

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