It’s Okay

Do you remember

The first walk we took?

We strolled in the garden

Round the red rose bush

 

Do you remember

When you tried to cook me dinner?

We nearly burned down our kitchen

We had to eat at that café in a small corner

 

Do you remember

When giving your speech

You forgot the words?

You were so embarrassed, you cried yourself to sleep

 

Do you remember

When you forgot the days?

I comforted you because it could

Happen to anyone who wished it wasn’t Monday

 

Do you remember

When you blanked out too often?

You forgot where you were

Felt lost in our own garden

 

Do you remember

When the doctor gave us the news

I was terrified

But you held me close to you

 

Do you remember

When you forgot my name?

I told you it was alright

Because you still recognized my face

 

Do you remember

When you didn’t react to

Me visiting you after two days?

I tried so hard to get through to you

 

Do you remember

When you grabbed my hand

Made me promise

To keep your memories intact?

 

It’s okay to remember

That you were once in a better state

Just paint a brighter picture

On a clean slate

 

It’s okay if you don’t remember

Your life before it fades

That’s why I wrote this letter for you

It’s the only memory that won’t wither away.

©Isha Malaviya.

Ignorance is Bliss

A wall. Interpreted as ignorance by myself, and my team- Anoushka, Melanie and Ritika. The following poem was written as a conversation between a man and the wall his own mind has put up, around him. It is a collaboration between Anoushka Gupta (who speaks as the man, and has written the first and third stanzas) and I ( the wall, and have written the second and final stanzas).

The myriad possibilities are endless
A gleaming cosmos with colours so bright
However all I see is starless, hollow darkness
I am powerless against the hands shielding my sight

Wall of stone, wall of darkness
Don’t fear, for I will shield your eyes
What you know is enough to suffice
I have nothing to offer from the world outside

Helpless, I have given in to the ignorance,
The world beyond, a trap, a snare.
These walls control my conscience,
And save me from destruction and despair.

The world outside is crumbling apart
Stand far as the walls of weakness wither
The one I am, and a part of yourself
Is the only one that will remain forever

 

Picture Courtesy: Melanie RK

©Isha Malaviya.

 

 

Routine of a Sleeping Beast

I stood at the edge of the water

As the sand sparkled on the beach

The roaring waves in the background

Reduced to whispers in the sea

 

Bubbles frothed at the tips

And burst with the touch of a stone

Shells peaked from under the mud

As the tide pulled away from the shore

 

At dawn the sun slowly lit up the surface

As the day brought an iridescence

Waiting for the evening to set in

The colours would fade in their evanescence

 

The following morning it would wake in rage

Like the stir of a sleeping beast

By noon the aggression would recede

To a calm, crystal-like sea.

(Inspired by John Keats’ On The Sea)

©Isha Malaviya.

Survivor

The war cry echoes for miles

We get up, and put on our pride

The arms at our sides weigh us down

The outcome of the fight occupies our minds

 

Our minds that look for the slightest movement

Between the blades of grass, in the midst of the field

Our rifles and snipers stand ready to fire

For every man who shoots at us is our enemy

 

The enemy who releases the first bullet

Is greeted with one sent by our men

Each one of us becomes target practice

Until our bodies reach a point beyond amends

 

Amends cannot be made with the aggressor

Once soldiers have fallen, once we lay defeated

The horrors can never be erased from our heads

Once we’ve seen how the ground erupted

 

Where the ground erupted lay lost lives

Who are honoured and buried in peace

Normal life is to resume for us again

We are given our medals and released

 

Released from the army but not from the nightmares

That haunt us every time we close our eyes

Hark at the glint I spotted in the mirror

Is a sniper about to take my life?

 

The war cry echoed for miles

We got up, and put on our pride

One hundred men marched to fight

Half returned home with tormented minds.

[Inspired by Goodnight Saigon- Billy Joel, Dulce et Decorum est- Wilfred Owen, and the movie Fury(2014).]

©Isha Malaviya.

Two Words

The sheets of paper tried to fly away

Beads of perspiration raced down my cheek

The words seems to fade into the lines

My chances of success looked bleak

 

The tip of the pencil pressed against the white

Until only its dust remained

Silence resonated in the room

At least one other person shared my fate?

 

My eyes got glassy

As my brain became fuzzier

“Write something on the paper”

Maybe if I started thinking it would get easier?

 

The clock was nearing its cycle

The alarm sounded- oh what a shame

I finally handed my exam in

With two words- my name.

©Isha Malaviya.

On Whom the Coffin Closes

Nana was about to die. She could barely hold on, had almost stopped talking, until one day when we were huddled round her bedside- “I want to choose my coffin.” We all stood dumbstruck, those could potentially be her last words, and they were not very memorable. We knew she had always wanted everything to her liking but surely she wasn’t going to be picky about a coffin? “Satin sheets, with soft padding, clean white and roomy. Do not get me any tacky yellows or greens, I will not be amused.” Since she seemed to have made up her mind about dying, no amount of motivation could make her budge. She was as stubborn as the rock that refused to stay atop the hill, no matter how hard Sisyphus tried.

                    And so began the extensive search for the “right” coffin. It may seem like an easy job but either one had silk sheets, or it was a dirty shade of white, or it didn’t feel comfortable enough. We went to such lengths as to get inside a few coffins, and on some occasions, naughty cousins had tried to keep us locked in.

                    Twenty stores, forty coffins, and forty sharp “no’s” later, we had reached… nowhere. Nana hadn’t made a decision and we were running out of options. “Build one. I will not pass quietly if I don’t get the right one. I will haunt you all.” The prospect of being haunted (if it were possible) scared us to our cores, and the only options we had were to either build one (which was part of nobody’s résumé) or search outside the city, state, or continent, if it came to that.

                    There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with choosing one’s own coffin, it was just that Nana had a rather long and specific list, and no one had the heart to reason with or defy her on her death bed. See, she was very old- in her late nineties, and so her due passing had been accepted by the family. She was perfectly fine with it too, and everything had been done to make her as comfortable as possible- a private room with a beautiful view, in a quiet corridor, and her favourite scents by her bedside. Even at that age she would curtly remark “sit straight” or “that tie don’t match your suit, son”, and because she was so loved, keeping her comfortable even after, was top priority.

                    Just as we were looking at antique coffins, Father got the call about Nana’s passing. The funeral was to be in church, a day later. In our hurry we chose a pale blue coffin with satin sheets and bearable cushioning.

                    It was a closed viewing. Beautiful tall candles lit up the aisle that led to the coffin. Relatives I had never seen but heard of through gossip, stood at the back. I connected names with a few faces- Aunt Kathy, who, rumour has it, tried to sell her sister’s engagement ring when she found it in her drawer; Cousin Al, who had been accused of trying to poison somebody who had apparently attempted to steal one of his treasured vintage wines. Upset faces stood in the gathering, although we had all come to terms with the passing. Nana had been satisfied with the long and adventurous life she had lived.

                    A minute of silence was called for, and eyes shut. Thirty seconds had barely gone by; when a muffled but peevish voice yelled “my back hurts! What in your right minds were you thinking when you chose this? Damned be you all.” It came from the coffin.

©Isha Malaviya

Diary Entry of a Young Adult

“Last night was a blur

Woke up in a hotel room

Five miles from home

Can’t remember where I started

Don’t know if I was alone

 

Checked out this morning

Ran out as quickly as I could

Eyes were sore

Had a splitting headache

But my heart hurt more

 

Had no luggage

Except the pain my shoulders carried

From the last relationship I had

She ended it four nights ago

Because she fell in love with another lad

 

Just as I had done for the last few days

Went home and stayed

In bed all day

Had a glass of wine for dinner

Headed out again to get wasted away

 

Life is better single

I told myself

But deep down I longed

For a companion or friend

Someone who wouldn’t do me wrong

Again.”

 

©Isha Malaviya.