roshan doug

 

A Snapshot

We were sitting in a summer’s afternoon, you and I.
A taboo.

Click.

We were a picture like a painting, a poem. A snapshot in time.

Click.

We measured our distance in smiles.
Subtlety, discreetly.
It’s not what we said but what we didn’t say.

Click.

Your eyes, the glimpse.
Not what we did but what we didn’t do.
Your words, my nods – dancing in unison.

Click, click.

The flick of your hair, the taste of your kiss.
The freshness of the breeze, your scent.
The unsayable, those lips…

Click, click, click.

 

Giving Birth to a Poem

the water’s broken
something’s
pushing out
from the dark
deep breathing now
in out in out…
tonight I can feel a poem
coming on
or a lyric
drenched in melody
butter and milk
or music that outlasts
the artist
honestly
I can feel it
in my body
the way a woman can feel
an unknown
heartbeat
taking shape inside her
I can sense its air
its vitality
its calling
its delicate cry
its subtlety rising
as it gains the sky
like a bird
taking its first flight
and then flying
close to the Sun
to the stars
something
in the cosmic world
is moving, whispering
honestly
in the nether regions
of our soul
its developing
the way a fetus grows
slightly, silently
cacooned in connection
alive
but flickering
in blood
in bones
in ancient rays
in colours
in shades dazzling
all white,
all gleaming
the way a candlelight dances
on a ceiling
on gods in a temple
those deities
who listen or not
its sensing my eyes
the state of my heart
my loneliness
honestly
I can taste it on my tongue
like a piece of jaggery
fresh
from an Indian village
sweet
as a kiss
or a lover’s breath
all-consuming
its smell like garlic
that scent
that clings on to you
like old age
death or disease
honestly
I can hear it
I can feel its underbelly
swelling and swirling
life in its sinews
rushing and gushing
its whole outline taking hold
of these letters,
these words
forming a dot
the creative process
a thought in the cold night
taking hold of life
this empty page
filling rapidly
honestly
last night
I could hear it in my sleep
its breathing
gently, regularly
guiding me
nudging me
pushing me
to these lines
these patterns
they’re taking a design
a shape
illuminating a thought
emerging
from the soil
like a sunflower
smiling, breathing
honestly
sometimes
I can touch its inner walls
that point
the core of its being
the Om
a mantra for shanti
or the Word
in the beginning of the Bible
when God says
let there be light
it’s a phrase
a text
speaking
and means so much
like a promise
of young love
or temporality
or broken pieces
of relic
destroyed by bombs
that mean everything
and nothing at all.

***

The Wardrobe

The mind is like a wardrobe, cluttered with stuff that’s old, out of fashion, no longer fits or half-tried styles that were never really you… Those flares, those platform shoes. They belong in our yesterdays, the past not today and modernity. You keep them because you think they represent you, somehow. But the world is changing, rotating. It’s moving on, not standing still. All those garments are a discordance of shapes, a jarring of colours. They’re placed or misplaced or left behind. In actual fact, you’ve probably outgrown everything in it like your thoughts and ideas. You have to move on, stitch by stitch, inch by inch. It’s painful but you have to. You owe it to yourself. You have to clear the place, it’s too small to house all your fancies, all your youthful dreams – the gap between what you imagine you are and what you’ve actually become. Show some respect to the future, those strangers, the opportunities and the endless possibilities. You’ve got to make space, throw away your lies, your make belief concepts, all that you never believed. The light in the universe wants to come into your wardrobe, those unknown dreams, fresh hopes, new love. And yet all you keep thinking about is your jeans two sizes too small, that jumper she bought, now faded, that shirt, a little torn, that tie… How can you find peace and oneness with yourself and the universe when you won’t allow the light some room. Declutter your wardrobe, declutter your mind. And make space for all that can be, all that can come about, today and tomorrow.

 

The Earth

If you observe our planet, somewhere from outer space, the earth just looks like a dry rust-filled-ball, a lonely boulder. It swirls slowly in darkness, occasionally in masses of white and blue. There’s no God to be seen. No angels nor demi-gods to map its motion. Its breathing the measurements of all we are, all we do. Our treatment of one another. There are no extremists dying or killing. No heaven nor hell. Only a void. Somewhere from the incessant space it turns in silence, a rhythm of serenity. It appears almost speaking and hypnotic. Like a union. Its pain is our pain. All its clouds are our clouds. All its waters, all its seas are ours from which we’ve evolved, to which we return. When someone dies, a part of this earth dies with them because we live both in and out of it. It carries our tragedies, forgives us for our crimes against its soil, its air and humanity. It forgives for our sins against life and being. Millions of years from now, we will vanish and fade into its beauty. Will someone look for us in its seas, in its soil? Will they find us submerged in its coating? Will there be traces of mankind in the ground, in its rocks and its fossils? Will someone point to us, hold our remains in their hands and say there was life in these rocks. There was hope in those beings. And will they stand and pause in the earth’s reverence, the solemnity of its silence? Despite how cold or dark it gets, this planet will breathe and remain, forever turning.

 

My Ancestors

Some of my ancestors appeared in my dream last night. A crowd of them was knocking at my door – my grandfather, his father, my uncles, their lineage stretching back to the dawn of time. I opened my house to them and they walked in, slowly one by one. But at the back was my father who stood at the door, refusing to come in. He was much younger than when I saw him last. He looked youthful with a dark suit and curly hair like his passport photo taken in 1957. He was cancer-free, pain-free. But he didn’t recognize me. He stared through me and merely smiled like a stranger. I had travelled in time. Or he had. I wanted to touch him, hug him and say, ‘Dad, are you well?’. But I didn’t. We didn’t speak. Odd but intense sadness overwhelmed me to such an extent that I woke with tears. I couldn’t get back to sleep. So I went to the window and stared at the landscape, at the dark sky, at the trees. The silhouettes were still, the murmuring voices echoed. In the night there was something in the breeze, in the dawn breaking. Night had fallen on everything – on people, ghosts and nature – and subtle light was emerging through space, into our world of parting, regrets and dreams. Let their visitations be.
So this morning I pay homage to all the men in my family, whether they be Dougs or Duggals, here and there, living or dead.
Let me, oh earth, walk in their footsteps, gently at their pace. May their spirits guide me to the light, to the darkness, and that cold hallowed ground.

 

Toasting

Come and sit with me at this table. Come and join me. You’ve got time, haven’t you?… Come. Take a glass. I know we’re strangers now, but let’s toast and drink this wine. Here’s to us, to the past we never had, a world we never imagined. Or did we imagine it? Time. To all the hours that ticked away, that gap between the stars, the darkness. Tide. To all the ghosts that live and breathe in the oceans. To the cold silence that cuts to the blood, to the bone. To all those places we’ve stamped, places we’ve never been. Here’s to our chances. Our missed opportunities. To all the things we said, didn’t say, things we should have said, things we did. Our promises. To all our regrets stretching out to the dawn of time like death and suffocation. To that faint feeling of a kiss. A moment, an instance – or a lifetime. Our tenderness. Memories fade. Tonight we are standing, face to face. Somewhere, somewhat in the whispering of the universe, the light and falling leaves. Their randomness is striking like a destiny – falling in ones and twos quietly, now, quietly. The way love dies. The way we speak about that time as if it had nothing to do with us. That bond, it had nothing to do with us, my sweet. Not. At. All.

 

Christmas

I am living. Though sometimes I feel I have lived too long. All these lights, these shoppers, this festivity. I am surrounded by Christmas. The well-wishers breathing the season. The music, the carols. A cacophony of noise. Deafening.
Outside it’s dark. This weather, darkening. This rain. These clouds converging. We imagine distant gods, you and I. We sense their gathering. We believe, not quite believing. And then, silently, we return to our homes. Separately in separate worlds. We collide with other people. Living our lives half-asleep. Dancing to a tune designed by fate, defined for our keeping.

 

 


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