VERSE | BEAUTIFUL LAHORE

LISTEN TO THE POEM BEING READ HERE: https://vt.tiktok.com/ZSdfyAeep/
The green of its grass
The gleam of its lights
The vestiges of old world
Splendour in its sights

The scent of its jasmine
It’s blooming beds of flowers
It’s sun yellow amalthas*
Pendent in graceful bowers

Its little gardens street-side
Manicured like queens
Its men-in-waiting
Watching over the scene

Its shiny happy people
Their hearts full of joy
The radiant faces
Of every girl and boy

Its golden brightness
Its days all a-shimmer
Its chimerical nights
Purple skies, stars a-glimmer

It’s spirit and its grit
It’s beauty that I behold
Fills me with sweet nostalgia
This place full of soul

This is my beloved city
That I wax eloquent for
This City of Gardens
My beautiful Lahore
* Amalthas: Indian Laburnum

VERSE | CHECKMATE

I’m in the throes of such exhaustion 
At all of this deception
This shameless commandeering
Of the resources of our nation
This unbridalled corruption
This lewd and shameless arrogance
This swagger, this ostentation
Like a monstrous pile of steaming
Shit!

I feel so much frustration
Such griping exasperation
At this propaganda, misinformation
At our barefaced prostration
To the lords of subjugation.
At our global commoditisation
At all this brazen exploitation
Like the hapless one who’s used to hearing
Checkmate!

VERSE | IN THE SHADOWS OF NIGHT-TIME

LISTEN TO THE POEM BEING READ AT: https://vt.tiktok.com/ZSdaYMvKB/
I’m looking out through my balcony door
The glass gleaming - I never miss that
That sheen itself is a pleasure to see
The gloss, the shine makes my heart glad

Then I look outside at the city lights
Some glimmering others sunny bright
I look beyond at the skyline that now
Boasts a few high rises above the eighth floor

My mind telescopes into some homes
But please hold that thought, don’t let it roam!
It’s not a voyeuristic enterprise of the mind
It’s reading the drive behind the grind

What makes that man who lives alone
In a one room apartment on the third floor
Wake up day after day after day?
What makes him go out his front door?

What special dreams has he woven with time?
Which ones has he decided to leave behind?
Is the light in his eyes still glowing bright
Or is he just stolidly marking time?

That woman who is holding down
Two jobs in two different parts of town
What is she hurrying and scouring for?
What makes her oblivious to her aches and her sores?

That young boy barely into his teens
His moustache is yet to take place of state
On his young, adolescent face
What is he doing out on the steets so late?

The young girl who sits up late by herself
Stitching joras* that must go on the shelf
Of an elite boutique. Do her dreams still speak?
Or are they now mute wraiths of themselves?

In the pit of my stomach lies a spot of guilt
The quickening of my heart tells me the truth
Of the relentless grind, the killer odds
But I tell myself - what can you possibly do

The gleaming door now to my back
I look over my balcony railing this time
Beyond is a world that is dusty and raw
My own pleasure wanes in the shadows of night-time
* Jora: In Urdu, a set of clothes, usually shalwar kameeze.

VERSE | THE QUINTESSENTIAL INTROVERT

I am the quintessential introvert
There was a time I had my social spurts
But all that seems like a lifetime ago
The Corona has given our spacetime a blow.

I absolutely love my solitude
When I say ‘Leave me be’ I’m not being rude
It’s just the way I’m internally wired
Too much nodding and smiling just makes me tired

That’s not to say that I spurn the cliche
Of the Island that No Man Is
I’m just more prone to proverbs that sweep
Through Still Waters that tend to Run Deep.

And now I’m on the back foot yet again
By that adage I didn’t mean I’m a Brain
An Einstein, a Galileo or an Edison
(Well .. maybe a tad like A. Tennyson).

Dear reader I’m the embodiment of reserve
I don’t seek adulation that is undeserved
But even as I spin this meter and rhyme
I think every enterprising poet doth have her time

In the shining confluence of our universe
Of writers, and scribblers, masters of verse
But since I’m the quintessential introvert
I’ll tell my tales from my quiet corner on earth

Still, if by some providential twist of fate
Some of you think that my writing’s first rate
Know that I still love my solitude
I’ll thank ye kindly and then I’ll respectfully brood.

VERSE| CREATURES OF THE COFFEE SHOPS

Following from “Creatures of the Park” (link attached below), this piece is inspired by my varied experiences at the 2 or 3 cafes I frequent in Colombo city. As with my regular evening walk, I am also a devout tea and latte aficionado. And as a creature of habit, I do tend to absorb the full gamut of gastronomic, service and atmospheric experiences at the handful of places I go to. So here is my affable ode to the characters who, like me, are also found at the oft-frequented coffee places around town.

Angst, amusement and even downright vexation
Are some sentiments that have inspired this particular narration.
Because when my adrenaline is not racing haphazardly around,
Yours truly can’t weave verse or prose that is suitably profound.
So here’s a bit of a congenial ramble
About coffee shop folks and their queer, quirky angles.

The first of this set that I chanced to espy,
Was the gaggle of ladies who meet over coffee and pie.
They are genteel and smiling and conversing lightly
Of Ruwani’s boyfriend and Andrew’s new-found sobriety.
Of weddings and parties and stand-out memorial services;
Of yoga class affairs and other sexagenarian caprices.

Following sharply on the last set’s heels,
Is the would-be Romeo who’s eternally spinning his wheels.
While on his regular tarriance through the cafe,
He’ll go through the motions, happily epitomising the cliche-Sauntering gait, wandering eyes, and obnoxiously loud!
Because how else would this Adonis be noticed by the crowd?
This one engenders both frustration and pity,
Deluded sense of self; diddly squat in the mental kitty.

This next one (my favourite) is quite off the charts,
The 93 year old with tremendous love in his heart!
He’s delicate and fragile and yet undauntingly sure
Of his libidinous vigor and marvellous allure.
He speaks in faint tones, each gossamer vein outlined;
“I want to make love to you”, he solemnly opines. [True story!]

There is also the resident troop of servers,
With personas as varied as their gelato flavours.
There’s the hero who averts a gastronomic disaster;
And the shrinking violet who couldn’t have disappeared faster.
You’ll also see “Lurch” on his tropical vacation
Waiting tables, no doubt, for some fiscal augmentation.
(Who’d have believed the fiendish frugality
Of the profusely gilded Addams Family!)
There’s also Happy and Dopey and Sneezy and Bashful-
Each cafe with its own quirky take on the fairytale.

The likes of me, of course, continue to be,
The nose-in-the-book kind, with the-tail-on-the-seat.
Looking up only to rest remonstrating muscles,
Perennially ensnared in the Introvert’s social tussle:
Latte on standby, with napkins and spoon,
I’m in a world of my own in the bustling tea room.

The rest of the coffee shop throng is assorted
The foodies, the guzzlers, the loners, the courted.
The suited and booted, the flip-flopped, the Collared*
A theatrical cycle of life streaming onward.
This gamut of movement, that with spirit is rife
Is what makes modest coffee shops larger than life.
And so I continue to frequent the tea rooms and cafes
To reclusively delight in the milieu and lacteous lattes.
* Collared: priests, monks and other caffeine-relishing clergymen.

Read “Creatures of the Park” here: https://theroamingdesi.org/2021/05/11/the-creatures-of-the-park-2/

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