My Favourite Works: Santosh Bakaya

Santosh Bakaya
1. The Jowly- Faced One

Why is that jowly- faced one
looking at me in that menacing manner?
Is it the Grim Reaper glaring at me with a triumphant glint?
Dropping hints that I will soon be out of print?
The thought makes me smile – a sad smile.
An oxymoron that one.
But then life itself is an oxymoron, isn’t it?
Come to think of it, Life is the autobiography of death.
‘I was born on this day- this happened – that too.
Dirty weather was knocking around the world.
The lights were dim- and I was having stew,
while life, through force of habit,
 sang the refrain of the extraordinary and the mundane.    
Come to think of it, isn’t Life the beginning of death?

Still clinging tenaciously to life’s trinkets,
I will soon depart – But where?
Where does one go after one stops breathing? 
Will there be folks waiting with marigold garlands and greetings?

Well, life is just a hallucination.
Let me hallucinate on, and let my heart keep breathing.

Why is that shady character still prowling?
Still scowling? Did I just hear it growl?
Foul ! I call it foul!

Listen, it is still beating. I am still breathing.
Ah, I am alive!
So – so alive.
My ears are alive too- so are my eyes.
I hear the notes of misery, and lingering sighs.
I see misery.
I exist!  I exist.
See, I exist in sync with the notes of misery.

The old couple sits in the patio shredding pods of garlic.
 Now and then exchanging smiles.  Sad ones.
Had they ever dreamt [nightmared, rather]
that they would spend the last days
of their lives shredding garlic?

Autocorrect wants me to correct nightmared!
Why should I? I am nothing.
Just a typo in the book of life.
Typos cannot correct typos.
And, I have always done my own thing.
So what, if I love to sing off- key songs?
 
The old man pops a strand of garlic, remarking,
“It keeps the heart healthy.”  


Death sits, brows creased, bloated, and stealthy,
giving the final touches to its autobiography, gloating.

 *11 September, 2023 [Unpublished]
***

 

2. The Stentor*

 I tick another day on the calendar,
and time spurs on. Galloping away.
Another today becomes yesterday.
I once again dream- New dreams
-dreams of winning a marathon race,
 crushing that malevolent smile
from the demagogue’s face.

I dream,
not of experiencing the craziest river rapid
[That would be a nightmare!]
 or touching the highest mountain peak.
But, I just sit and dream vacuous dreams,
 ticking days on the calendar, nonchalantly.
Twiddling thumbs, staring into nothingness.
Not bothered about the thought:
Who will clean the mess?
Did someone convince me
that ticking of days was a good pastime?

The Stentor spoke on, weaving lie after lie.
“Fie on you!  Fie!” Said that pesky little voice inside me.

[This yakitiyakking can be so nerve-wracking, you know!]

Shake, shake, Wake- Wake.
Why are you so silent?  Have you no tongue?”
“I am just a pipsqueak, what difference
will my speaking make to this bleak world?”  

What will be the culmination of these
falsehoods and fulmination?
I yanked myself away from this rumination,
and once again started ticking days-
Days for the Stentor’s comeuppance.

Ghoulish silhouettes and eerie sounds
were hounding me. Irritating. Persistent.
Oh, there were more sounds; existential sounds.
Sunday morning sounds and smells.
The water running, the smell of burnt toast,
 refrigerator door slamming.
Cups, saucers, pans, and platters, clattering.
Flipping pancakes in the skillet needed focus.
Focus- Please Focus.
The worldly hocus – pocus could wait.
Justice and fairness could wait.

A cauldron bubbling- Bubbling- Bubbling.  
Superimposing itself into these Sunday morning sounds,
 a Stentor speaking stridently. Unstopping.
Churning one falsehood after another.
And yet another.

*Published in 2023 New Generation Beat Poetry Anthology
***

3. The Nocturnal Gab Fest* 

 

Why was my larynx so tight, so dry?

Dizziness clawed, 

grabbing me with all its might. Sigh! 

The night lorded over me, gabbing- gabbing-gabbing- 

The garrulity of the night, heightened.
 Poking

 Jabbing.

Nabbing,

Stabbing me 

With scary tentacles malevolently.

I tried to slither away -crab-like. 

But failed. The night wailed.

 

I was jailed.

Perennially Incarcerated, 

I slouched, as night crouched. 
In hushed whispers, berating me for my cowardice.


“Have you lost your tongue?  Can’t you speak?
Come on, burst your lungs. No point being meek.

 

The gabfest continued.

I clung on, passing the test, 

imbued with the notes of a new loquacity-
 lilting and befitting.

 

I gaped as I saw the dark night slinking away, 
afraid of my newfound confidence. 

The dawn was just an hour away. 

 
I had decided no longer to be silent.
Crisp, hard-hitting words hovered on my lips,
 and with the dawn of the morn,
I lisped out a new song, no longer inchoate.  

*Lothlorien Poetry Journal, June 19, 2023

***


4. This Happened Last Night*

Yes, she was still there,
wearing anklets.
I could hear them singing- chiming,
miming the sound of raindrops.

No, my ears were not ringing. 
The wind hissed sharply.
Sleep sitting on the edge of my eyelids
yanked itself awake,
and looked around- wide–eyed.
Could it hear the anklets too?
 
Hoo-----hoo----hooted the owl.
Hoo is singing?  Hoo hoo hoo-
tell me tell me … Hoo?


It continued sitting,
glued to the edge of my eyelids – sleep, I mean,
looking around keenly. It leaned a bit towards the window.
Yes – yes- yes. 
The woman in the clouds was still there.
Sleep perked up, jumped out of the window, and was gone.
Then-
a tinkle- a jangle – a jangle- Hush!
 
There was rain.
Pitter –
patter
splattering
the window pane.   

Hoo-----hoo----hooted the owl.
Hoo is singing?  Hoo hoo hoo-
tell me tell me … Hoo?

Now she was singing with a full-throated ease,
so pleasing
sensuous,
sinuous,
soothing
tip
tip
tip

Hoo-----hoo----hooted the owl.
Hoo is singing?  Hoo hoo hoo-
tell me tell me … Hoo?


*
Lothlorien Poetry Journal, April 15, 2021
***

 

5. I can hear you, Vincent

[A Tribute to Vincent Van Gogh on his birthday – 30 March]

The golden hues of your Sunflowers drenched me
as I sat mulling over things to do.

 I am all ears, Vincent,
listening to the colours lisping, as you splashed
them over the canvas, long, long years back,
in the silence all -pervasive, as we fight on, in these despairing times.
 

I now hear the heartbeat of the peasant woman as she looks at the man
on her right, in your iconic oil painting, The Potato Eaters.

Is he her husband? Maybe just a neighbor?

What is the emotion floating in her loquacious eyes?
I can hear the

Drip
Drip
Drip
as one peasant woman pours coffee into cups and they

Sip
Sip
Sip,
and partake of the rich yield of potatoes from their fields.
 

Yes, I can hear you Vincent.
I can hear the gnarled fingers,
creating a symphony as the poor folk
prick the potatoes with cheap forks,
and I almost choke as the claustrophobic silence grips me,
suffocating me.

Socially distanced, I feel close, very close to these potato eaters,
surviving yet another day on their meager meal,
and I feel one with them.
 Yes, I can hear you, Vincent.

 *Lothlorien Poetry Journal, April 15, 2021
***

 

Santosh Bakaya: Winner of International Reuel Award for literature for Oh Hark, 2014, The Universal Inspirational Poet Award [Pentasi B Friendship Poetry and Ghana Government, 2016,] Bharat Nirman Award for literary Excellence, 2017, Setu Award, 2018, [Pittsburgh, USA] for ‘stellar contribution to world literature.’ Keshav Malik Award, 2019, for ‘staggeringly prolific and quality conscious oeuvre’.Chankaya Award  [Best Poet of the Year, 2022, Public Relations Council of India,], Eunice Dsouza Award 2023, for ‘rich and diverse contribution to poetry, literature and learning’,[Instituted  by WE Literary Community]  poet, biographer, novelist, essayist, TEDx speaker, creative writing mentor, Santosh Bakaya, Ph.D has been acclaimed for her poetic biography of Mahatma Gandhi, Ballad of Bapu [Vitasta, 2015], her poems have been translated into many languages, and short stories have won many awards, both national and international. 
She writes a popular weekly column, Morning Meanderings in Learning and Creativity. Com. Her twenty- three books cover different genres; her latest being, What is the Metre of The Dictionary?

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