After the 2004 Tsunami’s lethal hug,
a mother-daughter duo stood
locked in an inconsolable hug
where their mud hut hours before stood.
The ocean by now had hugged
a state of deep depression.
A bunch of young men sprang up
from nowhere, hugged selfless action,
extricated bodies from under debris
and then went away
to hug anonymity.
The verandah of the primary health centre
Hugged dead bodies for days on end;
Until a common burial pit
Hugged a hundred bodies at one go.
And not far away, a bower lay crumpled,
except for the two-some of a neem
and a banyan in an iron hug.
Government for three days hugged inaction
Public tears hugged the crocodile’s
Relief at last hugged publicity/corruption.
And a hellish stench hugged the town for three months.
DEMONS’ PROGRESS AND DEMOCRACY’S DEMISE.
A prayer this is to the Lord,
From where democracy lies floored;
To shine sanitizing light
On this contaminated night.
Trashed, yes, by demons who lobbed
Questions at us at first and throbbed
With answers so prompt and pat
until, before them, we fell flat.
When they mocked at the ‘old’
And it became an art that sold
And issued threats and acted smart
We applauded to our heart.
But, greed was their main creed,
Some ‘ism’ or the other their feed;
Movies and cricket their deities;
With those icons lay their fealties.
Their answers went awry,
They hacked up humans by and by,
Teasing grew into carefree rapes
And post-rape manglings and escapes.
Mother killed son, son killed mother,
Someone else went and killed the ‘other,
And wondered aloud if a dad
Should anymore be called a dad.
Triumphantly they marched
To where a hungry tribal reached,
Looking for a mouthful of food,
And they beat him to death, so rude.
A bun-in-the-oven woman
Then loomed in their horizon.
They kicked her belly and she bled,
Her baby-in-the-womb went dead.
This was their avowed holy rite,
The act of faith and displayed might,
Unstoppable their juggernaut,
With power centres lies their clout.
The songs of empathy they sing
Do not at all mean a thing.
It is all ceremony like
The calm before the storm strikes.
Democracy we have faved,
Now it needs to be, long term, saved,
Raise it above just poly-tricks
Into where humanity ticks.
Note: This is a very recent poem. It has as its theme the degenerate society that we came to inherit, as reflected in the daily news reports, like the killing of a hungry tribal by a gang, and the physical assault on a pregnant woman leading to her miscarriage, which are only two such incidents that came to mind readily, though there are many more gruesome tales like them.
They poured in, before the deluge
To outnumber the natives
folks in their cribs-through-hearse stages,
trusting like kids, a sky,
burnished into a bad blue-white,
a tantalising wrong and right,
and the mountains, inwardly grumbling ,
Snaking it up to the high spots of primeval Gods,
thro road-ribbons , a happy-go-lucky grey, loosely wrapping;
sleeping in structures disputed by the rivers
on questions of right of way;
they milled about, haggled and honeymooned,
peed and pilgrimaged, at Badri and Kedar,
belonging to the likes of Sankaras, long before
touts and tours stirred their sequestered spaces .
And the super giant suddenly fancied a good shower,
of unusual cloudbursts , landslides followed
And down flowed oodles of old filth
with silt settling to ceiling heights.
The ones who managed to cling on to life
watched their kin, their bearings, settings and links,
uprooted, tossed and broken, hurtling down,
Escapees from being buried in debris,
now cornered in hell, bereaved and battered,
famished and plundered, living and dying from moment to moment
on nothing, save air laced with rotting-death-fumes
sanity tipping, pondering their turn of fates;
development vis-a-vis disasters ;
disasters vis-à-vis puny mitigation measures
tragedies-in-the-making vis-a-vis remedies forsaken;
freak instances vis-à-vis climate changes.
They remain stranded , for days on end,
despite the IAF, army men and their copters
( not the other Services who hog all the limelight
but take to heels when push comes to shove)
risking their lives on a huge rescuing effort.
The natives, rescued or not, stranded for life, though.
* This is about the colossal loss of lives and destruction caused by sudden cloudbursts and landslides in the Himalayan heights in the middle of 2013.
ON SEEING A PHOTOGRAPH
“Our task is to listen to the news that is always arriving out of silence”
– -Rainer Maria Rilke –
A rare prologue gone awry
Drafted as it was in the midst of
A hated denouement
Plain and bare , shorn of frills
Exposed to all the evil
And in a fluster
Here left incarcerated
Within walls of mutilated words
Words that just couldn’t tell
That wouldn’t at all hear
Nor be fair
Before getting snuffed out
By the most blasted hand that ever
Pulled a trigger
And here I stand listening to the news
Arriving… arriving …
Out of… out of…
“—- —- —-“
• On seeing the photograph of the 12 year old Balachandran, son of Tiger Prabhakaran, moments before the boy was shot dead by the Sri Lankan army during final days of their offensive against the LTTE.
Which veil b
ur view of the app
arent , what
lice, that we should f
sense of the rebus
it is or to
her the his
hieroglyph it is.
See the man
that makes it more
than a guts-for-garters
t fails the
ains, take a loo
k at the bipeds
on the other
side and the end-
ages they s
they are again
and attitudes, gun
gho and ra
us, vapid busy
Note: This is what is called a ‘Cut’ poem. The cut style looked apt to describe the broken-down and shattered condition of the Gaza strip after the marauding Israeli forces overran it in 2014.
S. Jagathsimhan Nair is the author of three poetry collections, the third of which won the Harish Govind poetry prize,2017. He has one prose work too, a translation into English. His poems have appeared in poetry journals and anthologies. He lives in Trivandrum presently.