Monday, October 25, 2010

Choicest wife for a North Indian Son

Choicest wife for a North Indian Son

Ma, find me a cherub-face woman, a wife with tongue, with cheek,
neither anorexic nor geek, whose gift is to cook and eat
three aaloo paranthas, while I feast on six.

I don't like the skins stretched tight on bones,
those puckered jowls, like empty bowls,
interest me not. For me a woman is hot
when she has neither too less nor too much makhan-butter
under her skin. Ma my liking begins when hips
are strong for carrying pots of water like in medieval
paintings, and there's a sideways swing, in her walking.

Ma, find me a tamatar-face woman, whose hobby is to stitch
loose-fitting Punjabi salwar-suit, and vaddi joy in wearing it.

Ma, our family must not have a bahu without a pallu,
for you know, I am a man who does not display
his wealth in open, and I like my woman to know it
that sachchi beauty lies within, and you mustn't show it.
It is no easy matter,  the pallu-less lack character,
(all my friends and countryman say so). I am not picky Ma,
about she wants, eats or wears, but the world has tongue and ears
and you only tell me Ma, who wants it to end in shame and tears?

Ma, find me a plum-aalobukhara woman, a wife with cheeks and chin,
neither moti nor thin, one with happy grin, with a bite in her beak,
and yet koel melodious, may honey drip off her lips.

Ma I don't like the soft lip, I want to hear it, clanging loud and free speech,
if she is not frank, there's kachra in her think-tank. For if she reads essays
by feminists, and thinks our family as male-violent, keeps her anger latent,
she will famish from within. My woman must express, blast music speakers with her voice,
for if she visits a restaurant or a shop, every customer ought to sense and know it.
Ma I want my woman to curse, when others commit errors,
and I want her to rehearse heeran-ballads at all hours. 

I am sitting on empty ground Ma, I want her to make it a playground Ma.

Ma I desire a wife, not intellectual strife, not daily gripe, only ripe
with the juice of life. I don't care for her grades Ma, nor for twenty-four waist Ma.
There is no haste, take your time Ma, but remember, I am turning twenty-nine Ma.

Age is not a issue, caste no issue, Ma, but she must have some height Ma,
A four feet, seven inches wife, with a six feet tall hunk, doesn't look right Ma.
Also check that she has no boyfriends, medical tantrums, no eloping plans,
no divorces in her family's past, no crime in eleven generations, no genetic defects,
her birth-chart should be right Ma, (Lila's love-marriage-waala husband died Ma).
Finally Ma: She must respect the elders & rituals in all weathers, cook aaloo-gobhi and tarka daal,
have no stoop, no eye defects: sohni kudi, te sohna-face, with enough cheek and thirty-two teeth,
and just the right combination of head, heart and makhan on less than six number-size feet.

Notes: aaloo - potato, aaloo-parantha - fried, oily roti with stuffing of aaloo,
tamatar - Tomato, vaddi: big or enormous, pallu- veil, (chunni); bahu - daughter in law
aaloobukhara is plumlike fruit; sachchi - true, moti- fat, kachra -trash
aaloo-gobhi - cauliflower-potato, tarka daal : a lentil dish, spiced in a certain way.
Sohni- pretty (also a legendry beauty, Sohni-Mahiwal fame) sohna- pretty....
Sohni kudi te sohna face: pretty girl with a pretty face;  makhan: butter

Published first in Mastodon Dentist*; dedicated to my single friends!
* The published version has fewer words in Punjabi, the original version is full of them, and the original version is copied here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I must

I must
              - “koyle ki khan se hi hira nikalta hai”*
              - For Africa, the lost Eden of our common ancestors

I know / my words, / like embers, / will turn to dust,
and yet I burn,/ for dazzle I must.

My black skin hides within, / an anger, / a fire,
even when reduced to ash, / smolder / I must.

Do not play with me, / I'll soil your hands too,
I was raised in darkness, / dye everything black I must.

My tongue moves in hearth, / my voice is loudest on pyre,
to show what I really am, / martyr myself / I must.

A piece, my own, glittered,/ a piece caught your fancy,
a piece sells for millions, / for pennies / sell / I must.

I am amorphous you say, / its my way of existence you condemn,
to be a John of Arc again, / perform on stake / I must.

I've no spark within me, / sans spark I'm a stone,
such is Vivek’s destiny, / to live, / first die / I must.

Note*: Allusion to common Hindi saying: Diamond comes from the same mine as coal.

Published first online: Poets for Living Waters.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Missive to Ancestors, about Oil Spills in Nigeria and Gulf of Mexico

A Missive to Ancestors, about Oil Spills in Nigeria and Gulf of Mexico

Tell us again Conrad, that saga of my wanton ancestors.
Let my grandsons know, we were like our rotten ancestors.

I have joined the tribe of world-wide-web philosophers,
We formulate the myths for our forgotten ancestors.

Like callous children, we let you deal with your disasters,
O Africa, the lost Eden of our common ancestors.

See the dead birds floating in gulfs and deltas: Oil color!
We exhibit as artists our devotion ancestors.

Oil, blood, river, mud, to hanker after fistful of crud.
Its human destiny to imitate your passion, ancestors. 

Why cry over spilled oil, why blame a naughty child?
To waste the nature's gifts is our tradition ancestors. 

Send us Agastya again, to drink dry these polluted seas,
Again with Bhagirathi, we must refill our ocean ancestors. 

What underlies your concern in Nigeria or Gulf of Mexico?
Why is to profit forever motive of our action ancestors?

Face the mirror Vivek! You're not a flotsam. Do something.
Overcome the grime with grit, like the best of our ashen ancestors. 

*Vivek: Samskrit word for wakeful discrimination between right and wrong, proper and improper, evanescent and eternal.

PUBLISHED first online at Poets for Living Waters