The Moon Sails Across the Sky

K Radhakumar
The last two days
It was pouring with rain;
I did not enjoy the days all soaking wet.
It left me feeling listless and depressed
And the world looked washed out.

Suddenly the rain stopped this morning
And the world was beginning to hum with life.

In the afternoon
I heard my little garden calling.
Ah, the exotic blooms in the garden!
I caught a whiff of her perfume
In the gentle breeze of the early evening.
I felt life had gone on ahead
And I took a stand to catch up with it.
I sat on the wooden bench
And wondered about the vastness of the sky.
In the hazy sunshine
I had the mental image
Of my place in the cosmos.

Out came a fly
And it was buzzing against my face
Against my ears…
It disturbed me and so I tried to kill it
First with my right hand
And then with both hands.
I could not for the life of me imagine
How the little thing escaped my wrath.
I tried and tried and tried
But escape it always did.
At long last I killed it
The black dot that spoilt my evening.
It did not trouble my conscience;
I was glad it met its nemesis
And I met mine
In my struggle to kill a fly
In my eternal hope.
I did not get my hopes up
Come what may.

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The Shattered Visage

K Radhakumar

My dearly beloved parents
Live in my memory.
Now that they are dead,
They are beloved parents.
I failed to appreciate their parental concern
When they were alive.
Now I do
And I have seen my children growing up
Like flowers starting to open in the morning.

My eyes fall on a wall
Fallen onto the ground
The Berlin Wall is falling down
Is falling down;
There is no wall dividing
The living and the dead.

My morning dream is to be a poet.
But the noonday sun says,
‘Dream on.’
The afternoon sky cries,
‘Dream on.’
I am getting on in years
And I know
I have not written a line
Worth remembering.
Perhaps, one day I will write about
All my hopes,dreams and fears
Which are no longer mine.
And at sixty
There is still a glimmer of hope.
It is within my right to claim
I am the monarch
Of the realms of memory and hope;
Never have I been an inhabitant
Of the living moment
Never.

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Uneasy Coexistence

 K Radhakumar

The husband-and-wife team!
There is no teamwork
This morning.
They are not talking to each other
Right now.
He is all talk.
So she feels.
He talks and talks and talks
But does not say anything.
The husband expresses his individuality
Through his bookish knowledge of
Plato, Roman civilization and Greek architecture;
The wife expresses her individuality
Through her vanity bag.
She always wears make-up
And the husband compares her
To a tree trunk all hollow inside.
She’s grown into an individual
And he’s also grown into another –
Next month they will be celebrating
25 years of marriage.

I remember a swarm of flies
Buzzing all around a country lamp post.
Yes, flies buzzing at a distance
Not too far nor too near the lamp.
If they are too far from the lamp,
They will be frozen to death;
And if they are too near the lamp,
They will be burned to death.
I remember flies enjoying light and heat
Buzzing all around lamp posts.
Like two individuals enjoying married life.

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April Showers – Sketches

K Radhakumar
On one occasion,
he thanked a kind God
for his success.
‘You are a kind God,’ said he
and looked at the understanding sky.
On another,
he blamed everybody except himself
for his failure.
‘Fate is not kind to me,’ said he
and stared out at the vast emptiness
that was the sky.
His words disappeared into the ether,
debt of gratitude, deep sigh and all.

A baby was crying…
Like lightning came in
The mother busy as a bee.
She took it in her arms
And changed its wet nappy.
Her clean and soft palms
Caressed the baby fat
And cradled it against her breast.
The baby was no longer crying, and
Slept soundly
And it bloomed in her sleep.

The baby grew up…
April showers or not
He cried as if there was nothing to smile about.
When he was a child
There was at least someone to say,
‘Don’t you be such a crybaby.’
Today there was none.
The river of life
Flowed down into the ocean of the unknown
The swift current taking along
The silt of cancer, HIV, terrorism…
And he cried himself into early grave.

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April Fool

K Radhakumar

The rain stops
And I see the bloom
In the cheeks of the sky.
The world is painted blue
And is very lovely
Like childhood memories.

What are these brightly-coloured flowers
In my little kitchen garden?
The exotic blooms of April
In my little garden!
As if it had never been there.

My love story!
It’s a long story.
I would like to call it
An incomplete story.
One day I gave
A bunch of red flowers
To the heroine of my love story.
She said ‘Thanks’
And I was not happy
With her grateful thanks.
I smiled at her
But she did not smile back.

Then came the rain
And it did not go away.

I have met her at a fair
And she has been with her kids.
We exchange hellos.
I no longer know why
I should call my love story
An incomplete story
And also why it should be called
A love story.
When the rain stops
I see the bloom
In the cheeks of the sky.

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The Olde Worlde Smile

K Radhakumar
After incessant rain for days
Suddenly the morning shines brightly
And happiness sings inside me.
I am in a good mood now
And so is the morning today.
You’ve never seen a lovely morning?
You haven’t lived!
You haven’t lived!

The foul mood of the rainy dawn!
Where has it gone?
It vanishes without trace.
Who suffers the sudden mood swings?
The morning or I?

I call for a stocktaking
Of the predicament I am in
And what does the scoreboard of life show
As my achievement, my accomplishment?
Love – an indigestible story.
Education – an indigestible meal.
Have you heard the full story of the old man?
Not yet.

Know thyself
That’s the age-old commandment;
Life ages the law
Before it is fully appreciated.
My idea of myself is a mirage.
In the hard times we live in
Life is too full to find time
For asking who you are.
Mother of all mornings!
Perseverance is my watchword
To live this life to its full potential.

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A Drunken Dream

K Radhakumar

No name I have.
Yes, no name.
No address.
And this is no story.

I wake up late in the morning,
Brush my teeth,
Wash my hands and face.
Then I read the morning paper
Over a cup of tea.
I light a cigarette –
The TV advert says smoking kills.
I take a shower –
I need to clean up and change.
I do not work mornings
And do not eat much breakfast.

These are all everyday objects –
There is nothing to it.
And this is no story.
Dear me!
The morning sunshine does not cleanse me
Of the night blues.

After doing an MSc
I have been running a machine
For the last thirty years.
The management has introduced
A new technology into the workplace
And I feel out of place
Among the young successful persons.
I no longer know
If I am running the machine
Or the machine running me.

In no time it is the late afternoon
So the sun says.
In the evening
I take solace in the whisky bottle.
The homeless one smiles
As though solaced by the memory
Of a name.

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The Paradisal Earth

K Radhakumar
He was born in the country
A beautiful and peaceful place,
A paradise on earth.
His house, a vibrant little house
Stood beside an unpolluted meadow
Inspite of vultures and crows picking at cattle’s carcass.
A boy was seen riding a pony
Through a herd of buffalo
And the place was littered with cow dung.
Still, it was a lovely place;
Everybody had a great time.
There the lush green meadow
The range of surrounding hillocks
The infinite blue with white patches of cloud
All rolled into one, and created
A harmonious whole of living colours, sights and sounds.
Whoever made this part of the earth
My place of birth
Is a real artist.
The faint smile of the place
Touched the corners of the sky
And it breathed clean air.
There he grew up
In the self-contained community
Far from the madding crowd.

First higher education, then employment opportunity
(He doesn’t have much choice, does he?)
And then other factors
Took him to another place
Very different from his place of birth.
A place with all modern facilities!
Perhaps there was a lurking desire
For another paradise
An idealised version of his own life
In the little paradise on earth.

‘How’s everything with you?’, I asked him.
‘Fine, thank you. And you?’, he replied.
He seemed to have everything –
Education, family, money
And he did roll with the punches.

He grew old…
He followed the twists and turns of the weary way
And outlived his wife by twenty years.
The sky grew dark and the rainy season set in.
He sat alone on the bench in the garden
Of the old age home
And watched the setting sun
And birds with homing instinct flying.
He was born a Hindu
But religion did not occupy his mind
And he did not believe in the life after death.
Now at the ripe old age of 92
Death had become a reality
And had the looks and care of one
Long separated but not divorced
From the hard realities of life
He talked to himself aloud of late
And also murmured things beyond his reason:
If I were reborn as a man
I would prefer to be born in the country
A beautiful and peaceful place,
A lovely little paradise on earth.

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The Election Trap

K Radhakumar

I have spent the whole day
Talking with my head
And not with my heart.

It is way past my bedtime
And I feel lousy
But the stream of thought

From no beginning to no end
And also with no logic to it
Does not send me to sleep.
The old desire to write a poem
A poem of life –
It is coming back,
It is coming back to me now.
Here it is,
The one and only poem of life!
The only poem
I have always wanted to write
But have never written!
I also feel
It will die a death.

He who talks with his head
And not with his heart –
Is he an animal, a brute?
The human animal?
A thing worse than an animal?

Humans or the only animals
To have developed speech –
I have been back in civilisation
Under the pressure of the increased workload
In the last two weeks
After the notice for election is issued.
And I have spent the whole day
Talking with my head
And not with my heart.

The divorce
Between science and religion,
The divorce
Between civilisation and history,
The divorce
Between the innate conservatism of the old
And the iconoclasm of the young,
The divorce
Between a human being and another!
Ah, my heart is separated
From my head
But not yet divorced.
And the old desire to write a poem
A poem of life –
It is coming back,
It is coming back to me now.

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