Thursday, April 30, 2015

Zen in life & death ( in the memory of my late father)


Blogging from A to Z Challenge [April 2015]



We used to talk a lot

about death

and yet

your physical absence

is so heavy to bear


the suddenness with

which you disappeared



was that the last birthday gift

teaching me


one more time


I was always

your strong girl

in your version of me

I could take on

the world

on my own


Maybe I could

because you stood

by me

as a shield


Now you are

my arrow and my bow

my aims and my means


you were warmth

and now you are light


I read this poem

to myself

every night


and I know

you are watching

me do it right.
       "Love never disappears for death is a non-event.
I have merely retired to the room next door.
You and I are the same; what we were for each other, we still are.
Speak to me as you always have, do not use a different tone, do not be sad.
Continue to laugh at what made us laugh.
Smile and think of me.
Life means what it has always meant.
The link is not severed.
Why should I be out of your soul if I am out of your sight?
I will wait for you, I am not here, but just on the other side of this path.
You see, all is well.”
- St. Augustine

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Yell Silently ( in the memory of my late father)


Blogging from A to Z Challenge [April 2015]


I will just say

don't just listen to

the loud voices

the evident noises

listen to


that mourn alone

and yell silently


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

eXit (in the memory of my late father)


Blogging from A to Z Challenge [April 2015]


Since that day
you passed away
the world has changed
in a strange way
my soul has altered
it seems
with the same eyes
I see different things
At a public place
under an EXIT sign
an old man
on a wheel chair
head bent
waiting to be
taken somewhere
and all I think
is about
you and me.
and the exit
that was bound to be

please continue
to live in me.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Without you (in the memory of my late father)


Blogging from A to Z Challenge [April 2015]



The air I breathe is heavy
the colours dull
the food bland
the words meaningless
days just endless motions
of the hands of a clock
I am not myself
the world is not the same
without you.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Vanish (in the memory of my late father)


Blogging from A to Z Challenge [April 2015] 


Only the touch is gone
the fragrance lingers
the voice will not be heard
the words etched in memory
you are a permanent embroidery
on my being
So I know
your body has vanished
into the five elements
we will never be separated.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Unlearn (in the memory of my late father)


Blogging from A to Z Challenge [April 2015]



I go back to

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

Tuesdays with Morrie

The Bhagvad Gita

Rumi, Eliot, Basho


to chanting

to  cups of tea
to the loneliness of being

to reading, thinking, writing



Memories like gut-wrenching pain

from an old wound

every word, sound, smell

a trigger for a deluge

I am trying to shed

and struggling to

a grief soul-deep

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Tea & Travel ( in the memory of my late father)


Blogging from A to Z Challenge [April 2015]

I try to remember
all the places
and all the types of tea
 you had with me
In mud cups,
in fine china
roadside glasses
trains, buses, cars
in the comfort of our home

and across journeys
from aluminium kettles
ornate flasks, travel mugs
wherever ,whenever
there was tea
we were always ready :)
 of the many gifts Papa
I wish my girl would inherit

 from you and me

one of the best would be
our love for travel
and our passion for tea.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Signature (in the memory of my late father)


Blogging from A to Z Challenge [April 2015]

I remember how in school
friends would pity me
because your craggy signatures
were impossible to forge
on a bad class test
I remember  how disappointed
you were when I first signed
for my first ever bank account
"no style at all !"
you had teased me all day long
Thousands of signatures later
yours and mine
I now remember only two
your last one on your cheque book
and my shaky one
in the crematorium record book
I hold your pen often
and try to feel
the last warmth of your fingers
on its cold steel
I sign my name
a hundred times for you.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Raison d'etre (in the memory of my late father)


Blogging from A to Z Challenge [April 2015]


Who was whose
reason to be
who knows
You my root
I the tree
And now a
dainty little branch
swings and grows
from me
The raison d'etre
for your memory
and me.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Q & A (in the memory of my late father)


Blogging from A to Z Challenge [April 2015]


 Did you think of me one last time?
Was the going away painful?
Am I doing fine without you?
Are you fine now?
Will this emptiness ever go away?
Is there actually a hereafter?
Will you always remember me?
Will we ever meet again?
The necromancer promises
Me all the answers
I prefer your memories.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Pay it Forward Parenting (in the memory of my late father)



Today when I am a parent myself, I feel some of my most special lessons in parenting come from my father. These were not written in some kind of a rule book or spoken aloud like quotable quotes but these came to me in actions that were louder than any words.
  •  About three and a half decades ago in a quaint little town you were a diaper dad by choice. I understood parenthood as being better than the highly popularised motherhood.
  • I always saw you helping mummy around the house, especially with my tasks- tiffin, getting the school dress in order, homework. My first lessons in gender-neutral parenting and partnership.
  • Unlike a lot other homes, me and mummy would watch a cricket match and you would make us tea. So the first person who broke down gender stereotypes within the family for me was you.
  • In teenage years, periods or sanitary napkins weren’t a taboo, I could talk to mummy or I could talk to you. It made me so much at ease with my body and my sexuality.
  • Unlike a lot of parents, contrary to public opinion and even your own preference for the Sciences you supported me when I opted for Humanities right after school. There was no pressure to be someone I was not.
  • You kept struggling with your own patriarchal upbringing to accept my male friends, boyfriend, my independent lifestyle choices, but you never held them against me even when some of them went horribly wrong. You allowed me my mistakes and their lessons.
  • You always told me no matter what you were proud of me and that you would always love me. This realisation is such a huge part of my self-worth.
  • You always believed and displayed so much of confidence in my abilities that I could push my boundaries every single time. You gave me all my strength.
Trying to raise my child with self-belief, gender-sensitivity, an independent mind and a strong voice, just like what my father did for me.

This post is an entry for father’s day contest by kreativemommy

Friday, April 17, 2015

Open Letter to Papa (in the memory of my late father)


Blogging from A to Z Challenge [April 2015]

Dear Papa

Almost 45 days ago you ceased to physically exist in this world. A couple of days after that while I was sorting your drawers I found the few letters I had written to you over the years and the cards and messages your grandchild had sent you neatly arranged in a folder labelled :special mail.

So today I am writing another one for that folder because I know this longest-distance relationship that we have now will not stop you from reading this. There is still so much to be said.

As you were aging and your ailments were taking their toll on your health and memories, we often talked about death and the hereafter. I do not know many parents who do that but I know it was another of your valuable life-lessons for me. We were both learning to come to terms with the inevitable.

You were preparing me to face the known miseries of the world without the comfort of having you there and I was letting you slip gradually into the unknown hereafter.

No tribute can rightly summarise what I want to say to you now. But if physical existence is some kind of a chance at learning life I say Papa you always were and will be my spine and my voice.

Despite my personal shortcomings I am proud that you have shaped me into a strong and independent mind and a compassionate and sensitive soul. Ever since I first held a crayon or read a word you have done everything to unlock my creativity and imagination and so it is alright I guess if by genetics I also happen to pick up some of your annoying habits and traits. J

Almost every day there are times when I shatter to a million pieces, when I feel like a rootless tree which will not endure the next storm, when I call out for you over and over again. But I know you are always watching over me and my little one. I have lost a parent but I have gained a guardian angel.

Keep sending me and her your love and life lessons. I promise I will keep growing in your memory.

PS: I remember you had once told me – no real learning is ever without pain.



Thursday, April 16, 2015

Never Again (in the memory of my late father)


Blogging from A to Z Challenge [April 2015]

Never again

will I run my fingers in your hair

Never again

will we sit together and talk

over a cup of tea

Never again

will I hear my name

in your voice

never again will

I feel like a little girl

and as I write this

Never again

I hope

we will meet

in a new dimension.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Mourning - My Way (in the memory of my late father)


Blogging from A to Z [April 2015]


Among a thousand other
learned behaviours
is also mourning
the ceremonial tears
the loud cries
of non-acceptance of loss
but we both knew
from the start
I am a non-conformist
the tears didn't come
when they all waited
the loud wailing
was missing
I smiled
because I was
remembering him
I have cried
and held his photo
for hours
and then made myself
his favourite tea
Now I know
he wanted me to mourn
as he wanted
me to live
- my way.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Letting Go (in the memory of my late father)


Blogging from A to Z Challenge [April 2015]



Every passing moment
is an act of letting go
yet the human heart
is made of absorbent clay and so
it holds back
a moment, a fragrance
a look or a word
even in the pain
of saying final adieu
and letting a loved one go
we are rehearsing
our own going
in the incessant
cosmic flow.


Monday, April 13, 2015

Keepsakes (in the memory of my late father)



Blogging from A to Z Challenge [April 2015]



Your watch on my wrist
like your pulse beating
next to mine
the old dog-eared diaries
still preserving
some warmth
of your fingertips
this chair in my house
where you would
always sit
for your evening tea
that something
that wells up
every now and then
and wets my soul
all precious keepsakes !

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Jottings for the Journey(in the memory fo my late father)



You taught me how to walk
and get up
every time I fall
You taught me
and how my gender had
nothing to do with it
at all
You allowed me
my mistakes
and face my fears
you taught me to
look for life lessons
and never be shy of
memories & tears
and somewhere along
some day
in your mysterious way
you had led me on
to this realisation
the journey is
always the destination !

Friday, April 10, 2015

Idiosyncrasies (in the memory of my late father)

Out of the thousands of things
a child knows a parent by
a prominent one
is the idiosyncrasies
the knack of storing
newspaper cuttings
older than me
the fountain pen
the Chelpark Dark Blue Inkpot 
and the calligraphic writing
the carbon sheet
for a duplicate copy
of every handwritten sheet
the radio news
thrice a day
with strong tea
the phone diaries
of every shape and size
the neatly arranged
shaving supplies
coins of every denomination
in small jars
by the bedside
only cardigans
no pullovers
only blazers
no jackets
ironed and folded
hankies all whites
a no stubble look
a six decades old hairstyle
there were no headlines
80 years old, father of a girl, died
but a million idiosyncrasies
that were only his
some I inherited
some died.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Hide and Seek (in the memory of my late father)

A vast green campus
of several historic structures
amidst a thick pine forest
The heritage power station
- your workplace
my childhood home
those endless mazes
of cobbled corridors
stone walls
where my little giggles
and Jackie's* mild barking
would echo for hours
we would run around
playing Hide & Seek
till you would call out
for me and him
and before the echo of your voice died
we would come
running to you
Now I know
you will never call out
my name again
Jackie is long gone
Hope you meet him up there
and his coat is still shinier
than my hair
This time you both
have gone hiding
and I seek you
over and over again.
*Jackie was our German Shepherd, who had come to our home before I was born, was a constant companion, almost a sibling during my childhood. He passed away while I was still a child.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

G- Grandparent/Grandchild (in the memory of my late father)


Blogging from A to Z Challenge [April 2015]

She knew him
for six brief years
so I presumed
she would have
only baby memories
toys, candies
stories, mischiefs
but I was surprised
how she knew
so much about
his childhood
his likes and dislikes

the details she recalls
about his 1947 tales
anecdotes of his work life
his friends

his wrinkled hands
combing his white hair
random Punjabi words
he would sometimes use

their last phone chat
the last kiss
 on his forehead
saying the final bye
she tells me
she whispered
"I love you Nana*"

and now she says
she will be him for me
and I know
souls live on
as residue
in other souls
they have loved

a grandparent lives on
in his only grandchild.

*Hindi word for maternal Grandfather

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Feet of Clay - (in the memory of my late father)


Blogging from A to Z Challenge [April 2015]



Had long ago read a poem
about Ozymandias
"Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies..."*
As I grew year by year
The halos of my parents
did gradually disappear
I now saw them whole
as humans with their flaws
their feet of clay**
and all the faux pas
Now as a parent
I have to come to terms
with life's full cycle
when my little one
turns around
and sees me
as a regular woman
who has her flaws and
is less divine more human
I forgive you Papa
as you had once said
- "because none of us is perfect
what matters
where we are
we give it our best."
* Lines from the poem OZYMANDIAS by Shelley
**Feet of clay is a reference to the interpretation of the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, by the prophet Daniel as recounted in the Book of Daniel.The analogy is now commonly used to refer to a weakness or character flaw, especially in people of prominence

Monday, April 6, 2015

et ceteras (in the memory of my late father)

Blogging from A to Z Challenge [April 2015]

Medical bills, legal wills etc.
lotions, potions
unwanted commotions etc.
joining letters,
transfers, promotions etc.

black and white faces
in forgotten photos
numbers unknown
new fears born etc.

lists and payments
questions and arguments
incomplete forever
lifetime etc.

touch that was lost
fragrance remains
moments gone
memories remain
pain etc.


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Death Certificate - in the memory of my late father

A piece of paper
to make me believe
it wasn't a bad dream
the pyre, the cremation
are fears my overactive mind
a disinterested old man's
blank stare
from behind the piles
of files
thousands of deaths
stocked as papers
as legal statistics
no record
of the empty beds
unused creams, toothpastes
specs through which
his eyes saw the world
his rosary wrapped on my wrist
to feel his rough, old fingertips
to hear him murmur
his sacred chant
questions unanswered
I love yous
whys ,unsaid
a 22 second sound recording
a blurry video
of him having his evening chai
in an inexpensive mobile
a death certificate
for a date and a time
none for the years
and moments
gone forever.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Childhood snapshots - (in the memory of my late father)

                  Blogging from A to Z [April 2015]

A childhood buried
across the border
a yellow tri-cycle
shared with siblings
a permanent bite mark
on the left earlobe
for an extra dollop of butter
watermelons thrown in wells to cool
delicacies cooking all day
in mud pots on slow fire
radios as magic boxes
with voices trapped
djinns and fairies
who could light a bulb
in Rawalpindi*
a school across the river
where first alphabet was Urdu
in black homemade ink
on wooden writing boards
swimming lessons
self-taught in Jhelum**
religion a happy word
and trains that could
one day bring FREEDOM
playing hide and seek
on full moon nights
in the cobbled lanes
fields, cow sheds
and one day a label
that stuck lifelong
- Refugee
He chose a full moon night
to say the final goodbye
I'd like to believe
they were waiting
up there
Kartar, Ashfaq
and others whose names
I didn't know
to play hide and seek
around the moon.
* Rawalpindi is a city in Pakistan, close to where my father was born in 1934.
** Jhelum is a vast river where my father learned to swim with his childhood friends.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Blessing of being a BIBLIOPHILE- in the memory of my late father

                                       Blogging from A to Z Challenge [April 2015 ]



In the various homes that I have lived in since I ever remember there was always less space and more books. On the shelves, side tables, bed boxes even wardrobes. My mother who was herself a teacher and is an avid reader till date did not understand me- as to what kind of a girl would put her dresses aside to make more room for books.

Where did I get my first taste of books from?

As old timers in Shimla will tell you, in the extreme last segment of shops on The Mall, towards the HPTDC lift there used to be the old Asia Book House. Whenever and that means every time I would go there papa would buy me a book- a book to read, a sketchbook, a drawing book anything that had a world of wonder enclosed in its covers.

My first ever that I remember clearly was the abridged version of The Count of Monte Cristo. Then came the write-n-wipe ones which were such a novelty then, the hardbound, the imported ones,the fiction, biographies. I was given every genre to try my hands on.

For every small or big achievement, for every occasion I was given a book, memberships to libraries and every possibly opportunity to have and read books. Books are my ticket to the millions of lives I can't possibly live in this one, guardian angels who never give up on me.

I always feel that best fragrance on this planet is not some exotic bottled perfume,  next in line to the fragrance of fresh rain on the parched soil is the fragrance of old books, of libraries, of book stores.

My father himself was not an avid reader. Most of the books he had were technical/professional but he took great care of them and loved them. He had once told me that when he was an engineering student there were no Xerox machines so if one student had a particular sought after book there used to be a waiting list in college to get that book for one day.

So maybe he ensured that I will have no waiting list for books. A day he passed away I was reading Tuesdays with Morrie and a line stood out - Death ends a life not a relationship.

After he passed away,as is customary,I was giving away his things but I kept back one of his books- Industrial Engineering. A hard bound, faded grey cover, from his student days. Its subject matter means nothing to me, but its yellow pages will always remind me that one of my best blessings from my father is my love for books.

Strangely my little one loves books too and I hope some day she knows that this love for books is a blessing.

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To Kill a Mockingbird
The Catcher in the Rye
Animal Farm
The Alchemist
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Romeo and Juliet
The Odyssey
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Count of Monte Cristo
Eat, Pray, Love
The Da Vinci Code
The Kite Runner
The Silence of the Lambs
The Diary of a Young Girl
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Notebook
Gone With the Wind

The Human Bean Cafe, Ontario

The Human Bean Cafe, Ontario
my work on display there !!!!!