Freedom Songs: Santosh Bakaya

Santosh Bakaya
1. Nocturnal Whispers

I stood near the window.
Someone stood spewing spiels of stinking sagacity, 
passing it off as profound maturity.
I watched a cloud morphing into a dandy
 adjusting his silk cravat, smiling at me languidly,
rebuking me in a gently chiding tone.
“I want you to clear my doubt.
I fail to understand what this is all about. 
Does this barbarity give you a sense of liberation-
An unexplained elation?”
He threw the accusation at me with an angry pout.
  “What? I stuttered, uncomprehending. 
“You call yourself a writer?
Why can’t you write away this asphyxiating existence, 
this uncompromising cruelty, this ruthless indifference? 
Don’t you see hatred gloating, dripping bellicosity?
Treachery is in vogue, befriending rowdy rogues.  
Do something. Do something”.
Soon it had turned into a hawk, throwing up its talons
 in frustration; mocking me in a in a high- pitched whistle.   
A hoarse, screaming celebration.
 It held hands with other clouds and broke into dance. 
Each cloud held a glass with a concoction of brandy.
A mocktail of some sort.
The clouds sang on, as though drunk on liquor kegs 
going utterly berserk, teetering on cottony legs. 
Truth scurried towards me, dressed in rags. 
Suddenly psychedelic lights glittered. There were police sirens.
Truth needed a hiding place. 
 I quickly swallowed the truth. It tasted sweet.  

Yes, sweet – like Freedom! 

2. Caprice 

I wondered at the caprice of hope.
The invisibles live on and on 
in the charming, seductive continuity of hope. 
Ah, a sensuous seduction! 
When one gate closes, another opens, they hope,
 feeling secure under a threadbare duvet. 
Naively escaping into a dream world, their only way to cope 
with their nightmares. [Or so they think.]

The night crept into my room, clad in a dark habit. 
Habits die hard, and this night with its die- hard habit 
was a hard nut to crack.
When would this dark night end and visibilise the invisibles? 
Would their eyes ever glimmer? Their dreams ever shimmer?
Darn! Hope was again spinning yarns. How capricious!
The night was now a smug knight in a dark armour.  
The owl, the nocturnal charmer, hooted. 
A rabbit, by force of habit, bustled about in the shrubbery. 
Perched on my window sill, the night waited.
Absolutely still. I saw, what I imagined 
were the silhouettes of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde
waltzing under a tree.

I could hear the colors of the music 
floating towards me.  
The lyrical notes flaunted different hues. 
 I heard them all –
 the greens, yellows, pinks, purples, reds and blues. 
And soon felt the noose around my neck loosening. 
The colors spoke- loud, clear and lilting.
They spoke of Freedom. 

3. The Flickering Flame

A nocturnal poet stumbles around, 
half drunk on his poetry.
 He is hunting for his lost muse 
on uneven terrain, absently smoothening 
the serrated edges of his words, 
trying to yank away his invisible shackles, 
listening to the notes of a flute, 
piercing the stillness of the night. 
Where was the flautist hiding?

In the nearby shack, 
the man in rags looks at the flickering flame 
of the last candle in his pack. 
He watches, keen- eyed, as a frail string of smoke 
slips off the top of the flame, 
drifting towards his battered ceiling. 
The man in tattered clothes watches it 
hanging there for an instant- 
then it is gone, leaving him with a sinking feeling.   

He sits in bed, 
catastrophizing the string of disappointments 
that he might come across the next dawn. 
Cursing the privations of poverty, 
he sits mulling over things, 
while an obscure bird outside sings – and- and sings - 

She sings of Freedom 

4. Little Folk

I was squirming in bed, tearing my hair. I clearly saw them.
Little inconsequential folk crawling about like maggots, 
while raucous ruffians roused the rabble
raising slogans, thumping the toxic air.
One of the ruffians pulled out his expensive wallet 
from the pocket of his branded jeans and flipped it open. 
With the air of an emperor distributing largesse,
 he flung a handful of currency notes at the maggots. 
Do maggots thrive on money? I had my doubts. 
A guilty conscience was poking and nudging me.  
I quickly switched gears, imagining myself lounging in a bathtub, 
drowning in foaming gel smelling of sun- ripened raspberries.
 I resurfaced- saved from the rants of the rowdy rogues. 
At last- 
free from those guilt pangs. 
Freedom smelt sweet, so did those raspberries in a tub.  
Rejuvenated, and free of a guilty conscience,
 now, I could write those Freedom songs, unencumbered 

5. Sinister Shivers 

A sinister looking man with a clump of messy hair 
on his almost bald pate, flicked his pistol 
barking orders to some petrified women.
They shivered, their stomachs knots of helpless outrage.
A gull cruised overhead. 
There were contorted mouths jabbering, yakking.

The women shivered.  

I felt giddy, 
as though someone had given me an upper cut to the jaw.
Who had the audacity to take the law in his own hands?

The lapwing sat at my window sill. Fidgety.
Its shrill squawks still, but it made other noises.
It pecked at the window- peck –peck- peck.
"What the heck!”
It did not hear my bellow; the cheeky fellow continued to peck. 
Peck- peck- peck.
Craning its neck this way and that, 
seemingly in love with the sounds that it made. 
Peck- peck- peck! 

In the neighboring house, a grandfather 
excitedly tried his hands at a new keyboard, gifted to him 
on his eightieth birthday by a doting grandson. 

The sun was up.

Another neighbor pounded ginger for his morning tea. 
I stretched my languorous arms wide. 
Freedom notes rang in the air, 
lifting me from a deep, dark dungeon.

I peeped through the window, and was bewitched.
A mother sparrow, hovered protectively around her nest. 
A couple of eggs waited to be hatched. 
A new birth. 
A new beginning. 

Freedom was just round the corner.

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