Kasi (10)

No, I may not return (Can’t? Won’t?) ever.
Yes, that’s destiny, self-scripted/inflicted.
Had I known/written the script, contemplated
The end of the road less travelled? Had I, ever?

Past is not a place to revisit in form bodily.
Past is not a phase to re-live and change.
Past is not a page to rewrite: rich and strange.
Past is past; the slippery sand that slipped dryly
From between the fingers of palm, is lost,
Is gone irretrievably. Has happened irreversibly.
It makes you first and then it does un-make.
What time gives first, it has its ways to take.
So, years of careless days were bait to be happily
Swallowed fast – greedily, unmindful of the cost.

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Kasi (9)

All old order is subject to decay, they say.
and when fate summons, old ways free fall.
Heart-held loves, friends, hatreds, foes: all
Yes, all give way to mighty time’s sway.

Indestructible, invincible, great yothful years
With each passing year suffer wisdom’s sedimentation,
While marching on way, time fills in fears
And knowledge of future: quite an accumulation!

That knowledege and fear lose all their power,
For lost is that fear – a servant attentive.
For lost is that fear above head always hovering.
So, lost is the fear of not ever returning
As roots are cut now, or withered, ineffective.
The heart, now hardened is drained of that terror.

Kasi (8)

Ghats, narrow lanes, sand, temples, river:
Images that flash, in all presentations
Consistently close to “always”; combinations
Of all or some of the elements present ever
In pictures of Kasi, the city of light eternal.
And Kasi conforms to, is stuck with what’s given,
Presented to all as Kasi true, real.
Yes Kasi is all, yet something internal
Is missed essentially in simplification.
The spirit, the life, the transience present ever;
The sorrows, the joys, the filth of the flowers,
And all that’s seen or not, at all hours,
In city simplified, made easy. Multifaceted? Never.
Simple city understandable – post-esentialization.

Kasi (7)

Filth, they call it ubiquitous; obnoxious.
On streets, in heaps, in lanes, scattered.
Life in Kasi goes usually on, oblivious
Of filth, or death, with ease. Unfettered

Feet, undaunted – of pilgrims, of people
Who walk with purpose, or aimlessly wander
The timeless lanes narrow, with space ample
For all who come, who live and die there.

Disgusting, the filth, reflected or not on faces.
Cow dung, house waste, refuse and grime,
Scattered, removed, then scattered, a repeat
Performance, seen and felt on skin, in nose, on feet.
Yet feet go on, undaunted, eternally, in time.

Life runs to death, from flesh to fire to ashes.

Kasi (6)

My river rests, soundless; no winds blow
Darkness, a distant din, wave-twinkling bulbs –
Those bulbs, the stars and the distant glow
Of city lights, orange-red over silver-black sands.

Black is the colour of darkness, that they say.
Black is the colour, definitely, it’s quite true.
Black is the colour of darkness, night and day.
Yes, it’s black, but black of un-fixed hue.

Some are the days on which the river flows
Under the moonless sky, the black of tar.
Some are the days that see the black with blue.
Such is the colour of nights while young moon glows.
Some are the  nights of light – lamps near and far,
Lit on endless steps, on the river too.

Kasi(5)

My river’s angry today, or call it restless.
Its foaming, rolling waves make swishing sounds.
Its former flow has changes, with broken bounds,
My river stays the same, or little less.

For Ganga, swollen, broad, it still is called.
But Ganga it sure is not, in its own ways.
The course and flow and colour of summer days,
All change, and what we saw, is fully changed.

And thus will it go on, a month or two.
Unbroken crescent of ghats that used to be
Can now not be walked, are now submerged.
One can walk the lane – a river one can see –
That crowded, parallel, sinuous runs un-merged
To go the same few miles, a month or two.

Kasi (4)

Rows after rows, steps rising from the river,
Rows after rows, steps falling to the same,
Rising, going westward, falling, coming – a game
Words play on life; and life, a little later

Shells the words all down, it finally leaves
Just the strong impressions, firmly etched,
Deeply carved, with colours true, fetched
From the days of old, when life was lived.

The game, when it’s over; whistles blown,
Feet when tired come over the falling steps,
Tracing back the same old worn out stone –
Steps at the end of a summer-day-long run,
Over them of a never-resting sun –
Lead them gently riverward, down the steps.

Kasi (3)

Look a little southward, facing the suns,

When northward blaze the morning burning pyres.

Ghats of Kasi, all a crescent that runs

Miles with majestic mirror-river that never tires.

Morning sun rays sparkling on waves dancing,

Colours all changing – theirs and of water.

Infant sun keeps growing in power, rising,

Shining with heat – burning stone and river.

Brown patched railings, rows of clothes just washed,

Spread drying endless on strings and steps of stone.

Rotten hulled boats, water-rot some more; sun-shrink,

Post-immersed idols dragged to shore, just returned.

Closer the river, stench of filth-fixed stink

Stays and grows its proportion and power till monsoon.

Kasi (2)

Warm, yellow, early sun rays on steps of stone,

Cold, turquoise, early Ganga water;

Early, sleepy echoes all around; I alone

Not lonely, daily drifting, quite out of the river.

Vermilion, late, reflected, warm, green:

Stone steps, water, temples, river, air,

Later, resting echoes all around; I between

Stone and water looking foul yet fair.

Conch shells, damrus, drums all sleeping

Wake up, call out the coming of night.

Conch shells, damrus, drums sleep once again

Waiting to wake up with the coming of light:

With cold, vermilion, new-born sun smiling,

Drenching the stone-water in rays-rain.

Kasi (1)

Closed eyes show what the eyes miss open:

Narrow lanes, stone steps, ghats, temples, river-

Not any river but the one Ganga chosen

As the opening chapter of my life near water.

Yes, those days; not yet lost to oblivion

Pushed down the bottomless pit of unconscious;

But those days kept alive for the vision

That lightless arises from the mind; held precious.

Wonderful, first time, sweet as love I remember,

They say when looked at, backward, once its lost.

Pain and joy both jointly arise and meld in one

As metals that alloy, so different, yet become then one.

Joy is the thing that’s bought with pain as  cost,

Or, is it the pain for which all joy we squander?