The Saree

It was a windy day in November,
There was a power cut,
I went upto the chhat,
And lay there under my,
Ma’s colorful sarees,
Billowing in the window,
With each attempt,
Trying to escape the hold,
Of the clothes’ pegs.

With every gush of wind,
The green saree,
Screamed to be let out,
And when the wind left,
The saree tempered down,
And lovingly caressed,
My face in return,
Just like Ma.

Just like Ma,
I thought,
Wanting to be let out.
She wants to flow,
Freely with the wind.
But something or, the
Other always holds,
Her down.
And when she can’t,
She’ll still come back,
And lovingly,
Take me in her arms.

©Darshana Mehta

Note: The saree is a garment consisting of a length of cotton or silk elaborately draped around the body, traditionally worn by women from South Asia.

Note: Chhat refers to the terrace or roof of the house.

Of Death

On the banks of the Holy Ganges, Rishikesh, India

Of Death
Do we contemplate
Sanctimonious souls
Do pontificate
But in death
We stand apostate

Of Death
Do we construe
Unbeknownst we are
About what’s false
And what’s true
Discern, can you?

Of Death
Do we ponder
What’s left with us
Once our soul departs
What lies yonder
Anticipated, have you?

Of Death
Murakami once said
Not antithetical of life
But nurtured by it
Will life hath meaning
If it were incessant?

Of Death
We remain oblivious
Or pretend to
Until one day, it embraces us,
In it’s cold arms
Unpretentious

© Darshana Mehta

P.S.: Yes that’s me in the cover photo. Shot on my phone MiA1 while on a college trip to Uttarakhand in December 2017

स्त्री (strī)

One Two Three Four
Don’t ask for more

Five Six Seven Eight
Don’t go out so late

Nine Ten Eleven Twelve
Completely cover your self

Thirteen
Don’t talk to boys
Fourteen
Don’t look them in the eye
Fifteen
Don’t wear lipstick
Sixteen
Don’t wear those jeans

Seventeen Eighteen
For marriage aren’t you keen?
Nineteen Twenty
Can you make a round roti?
Thirty
How many kids do you have?
Forty
You still can’t talk back
Fifty
You are of no use to me
Sixty
Widowed, you are set free
Of all rights and duties

Seventy
You’ve found refuge in a shanty
Surrounded by others like you
Alone, yet together
Together, yet alone

Eighty
Wrapped in a white sari
You stood up proud
One last time
To breathe in
The air of liberty.

©Darshana Mehta




Note: Strī means a woman in Sanskrit, Hindi and in many Indian languages

Note: I was thinking about the “Widows of Varanasi” while writing about this. To know more about them: https://www.scoopwhoop.com/Widows-Of-Varanasi/

2020

The roads lay bare
The glass buildings stared
At each other’s reflections
The air lay still
Waiting for the mighty train
To whisk it away
To lands unknown.
The empty streets
Whispered to each other
Bidding their time
Till the noises resume,
Only, they still haven’t.

There was light
But not bright enough
There was darkness
But not impregnable enough

Yes,
We stood nonplussed
Yes,
Uncertainty surrounded us
Yes,
Our every attempt failed

But look,
The birds are singing once again,
The flamingoes have returned
The air is breathable again
The trees rustle in unison

And all it took,
Was a microorganism.

©Darshana Mehta

物の哀れ (Mono no aware)

Harr ki Pauri, Uttarakhand, India

How quickly do,
The years pass by,
Once a stranger,
Is now a name,
You swear by,
From a stream,
To a river,
And now, the sea,
Melting into the ocean,
The reality today,
Was once,
Just a vision.

© Darshana Mehta

Note: Often considered to be untranslatable, mono no aware refers to the bittersweet realization of the ephemeral nature of all things. It is the awareness that everything in existence is temporary. (https://theculturetrip.com/asia/japan/articles/what-is-mono-no-aware-the-japanese-love-for-impermanence/)

Note: The cover photo was shot by me while on a college trip to Uttarakhand, India (March 2019) on my phone (MiA1)

Stars

Kanyakumari, the southernmost tip of India

Stars above her,
Stars in her hands,
That’s how I remember,
Watching her, holding her,
Probably for the last time,
Her skin glowing softly,
Against the black sea,
Against the black night.

“Mama! Look! “, she bubbled,
Or that’s what I presumed,
She might have done,
If only her tiny hands,
Still had their strength,
Instead they just lay,
Unmoving, as the waves,
Lapped to and fro,
With each encounter,
Deposited iridescent phytoplankton,
On her porcelain arms.

My arms were strong,
Mother’s arms,
Had always tended to,
Sheltered her child,
And yet, they couldn’t
Protect her, from disease.
They couldn’t hold her,
Tightly enough, when
With her last breath,
Her soul left,
And scattered itself,
Across the universe,
Amidst the stars,
Again.

©Darshana Mehta

P.S.: The coverphoto’s of my hand

Boom, Boom, Ciao!

What is it about love stories, that demands incompleteness? How can two lovestruck entities, who were an explosion of passion, a whirlwind of emotions, stay together for long? As Palermo from La Casa de Papel, rightly stated, Boom, Boom and then Cíao. True love doesn’t last forever. Asking for more, and being cupidinous will only lead to disillusionment, disenchantment, and alas disappointment.

But does increasing the distance between these two entities work? Most couples would flagrantly disagree as it will only burgeon their longing for each other. Even nuclear force, one of the strongest forces in nature, doesn’t work that way; the two entities need to be close enough for it to act. That does happen in the “Boom, Boom” phase, but what causes  the saudade after that.

Is love just a hyperbolized human emotion or a force of nature, scientists have yet to discover. Or is it a far-fetched manifestation of quantum entanglement, much like Plato’s soulmate theory. Or at the end of the day, it could just simply be, “Boom, Boom” and then Cíao.

©Darshana Mehta

References:

  • La Casa de Papel S03E04
  • Cosmos: Possible Worlds

नैकष्ट (naikashta)

Shrivardhan Ballekila, Rajmachi Fort trek, Lonavala, India

The sky
A myriad blend of colors
A thorny path strewn
With dead flowers
You stand at its end 
At the gates of paradise
Want to reach out but
Am wary of cowardice
Questions float in my head
Answers to which
I’m unable to realize
Should I bloody my feet?
Bloody my heart?
Or bloody your back, instead?

©Darshana Mehta

PS: नैकष्ट (naikashta) means fickle, unsteady or changeable in Sanskrit.

PPS: This photo was captured by me, on my phone (Mi A1), while on a trekking and camping trip with friends in December 2019

Winter is Coming

Tungnath Trek, Uttarakhand, India
(January 2018)

How many days of youth left,
When exactly do you become old,
When the sun reflects,
Off your wrinkles, off your skin,
Which once used to glow.
Dreams of flying, fluttered,
In your infantile eyes,
Now your bones creak,
And you know,
Words don’t, actions speak,
So you sit, and count,
How many days of this youth left,
How many days of this summer,
Till when will these flowers bloom,
And when will your roads be,
Finally, snow-covered.

©Darshana Mehta

Note: The image above has been shot by me, (on my phone, Mi A1) when I had visited that place, 2 years ago, on a college trip.

प्रमाथ (pramātha)

It wasn’t dark yet
Just four in the noon.

I wasn’t going to a night club
I just wanted to reach home

My dress wasn’t short or revealing
It was a salwar-kameez, with a dupatta

I wasn’t being chatty, wasn’t being bold
But I couldn’t resist screaming, under his hold

I wasn’t even a woman yet
I was just eleven years old.

© Darshana Mehta

Note: प्रमाथ (pramātha) means rape or molestation in Sanskrit.