Santosh Bakaya (Voices Within 2023)

Santosh Bakaya, is PhD, poet, essayist, novelist, biographer, Tedx speaker and has written twenty- four very well- received books across different genres. She has received many awards: Reuel International Awardee [Poetry, 2014], Setu Award for ‘stellar contribution to world literature’ [2018], Eunice Dsouza Award, 2023, [WE Literary Community]. Her poetic biography of Mahatma Gandhi, Ballad of Bapu and only in Darkness can you see the Stars [Biography of Martin Luther King Jr.] have been critically acclaimed. Her TEDxTalk on The Myth of Writers' Block is very popular in creative writing classes. She runs a very popular column, Morning Meanderings in Learning and Creativity. Com



“There is nothing like the smell of the good earth.”
The old man sighs, picking up a handful of earth
 and keeps inhaling the smell, ineffable joy on his face.
A fistful of earth has catapulted him to a parallel realm,
where he hears fish warbling, dolphins gamboling, and
ducks merrily quacking.

Then slowly he hobbles back,
stooped shoulders, sighing a long lingering sigh.
He is slowly escorted to the operation theatre.
Will he come back alive? He sighs.
Then he glimpses something.
A tiny sapling pushing through a crevice
its little leaves turned towards the east,
where the sun is making its appearance.
Saluting the grit of the sapling,
 he yanks away the escorts’ hands.
 Head held high, shoulders straight,
he walks into the operation theater, unaided.
A hopeful smile covering his face.

Not Within Reach

The dream was just within his reach
 He was flying in the blue sky in curves and loops, sailing,
cruising, swaying, humming, and strumming
 an imaginary guitar.
Flitting like a butterfly, tickling a cloud,
touching their silver linings, pining for his parents.
Maybe they were walking hand in hand
behind the cloud cover.
Don’t forget to drink your milk”, his mother had said,
before she stepped out- out of the house- out of the world.

Maybe he could catch a glimpse of them.
He wanted to shut out the happenings in the land below.
He felt so light – so light.
The clouds spoke to him in soft, soothing tones,
drowning the moans and groans that roared
 in his ten year old mind.
“Mama, are you there? Papa are you there?”
A resounding silence met his ears.
He woke up, screaming, flailing his arms.
There was a loud noise. A weird cacophony.
 He missed his parents.
Why do people kill? Why is there war?
Why so much hatred? Why can’t people love?
The noise became louder.

It was the rumbling of trucks,
 carrying humanitarian aid, medicine, and food.
He smiled at the rude irony of it all.
First kill and then cure. What human gall!
He wiped his tears, and joined the queue.
His stomach was rumbling too.


The Gardener
He was digging about the roots
with a spade, laboriously stirring the earth.
The rain had been relentless. When would it stop?
Every now and then,
he stroked his grey- gingerish straggly beard,
in a thoughtful mood.

His plants looked lackluster and drooped.

Spade in hand, he looked towards the east,
and saw the calm, bronze rim of the rising sun.
He also something which made him break into a grin.
It was a yellow – reddish bloated cloud.
He imagined it was a little pup
merrily turning somersaults.
Everything seemed to twirl about him in a frantic dance.
He was exultant, as though he had been given a new lease of life.

The sun was up; so was he, so were his plants,
which now stood erect like exclamation marks!

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