Monday, November 20, 2006

Mack English

Mack English is spoken
Though at times it’s broken
In Bombay and in Girgaon,
In Goa and in the Konkan.

Grammar we know none,
Speaking Mack is fun.
We talk like dis only
For we are like dis only.

Father forgive, don't hate;
Mass and confession can wait,
It's feni and fish we crave
Before the call of the grave.

Johnny play the bongo,
Michael sing the Fado[1],
Together we will dance,
And Rosy and Reena we will romance.

[1] Fado, a Portuguese song

Friday, November 03, 2006

To a Reluctant Writer

You can pick meaning off words,
You can paint pictures;
You can laugh at them,
Who laugh at you;
You can mourn,
The follies of the unwise.

To write is power,
Of words, thoughts,
Limitless, boundless,
As the sky above and earth below;
You will never be alone,
When words churn in your mind.

You can be heartbroken,
And cry and cry;
But a poem would wipe tears,
Puts a smile on your face,
Erase the pain,
Of loneliness and love.

So won’t you write?
A letter, a poem, an essay;
We would wallow in its depths,
Smile at its humor,
Relish what pains it took you,
And forgive friendly trespasses.

(c) November 2006

Thursday, August 17, 2006

To my son

You will realize this wisdom, son
When you are my age, and experience,
Gained from being in dire situations,
Yet, being out of it. Son, you do the same,
There is joy in detachment,
Forsaking instant pleasures, pains,
For things deeper and more enduring.

This world isn’t black and white
But shades of grey, punctured with black
Because I gave you freedom
Don’t assume strange men are as generous.
Don’t be a slave to the work
Of smart slave-drivers in confined spaces,
Instead explore the works of men,
Who have experienced the truths,
And distilled in their words, wisdoms,
Which may grate your ears now.

Like me, don’t be prey to sudden,
Rushes of anger that comes over cables,
And with emails and posts demolish,
Without thinking of consequences -
I have done that and am living to regret.

Choose friends wisely, son, wisely choose enemies,
Don’t drink bottled and sealed lifestyles
Its sugar, water and carbon dioxide
Will dither you, disorient you, and sap you.
And don’t eat fast food with loose change,
They will suck you into their assembly line.

Lastly do not try to see with darkened eyes,
And hear with deaf ears, keep them open.
Those digital beats and rhythm can corrupt,
And make sinning and dizzy highs seem so tempting.
The age of innocence, son, is gone by, in another age,
Every man unto himself is a mercenary awaiting chance.

If you follow this advise, son,
When you are mature and wise as me
You will say, one day, “Thank you Papa,
For at least speaking your words of advice,
To my children, too, I will pass on these words.”

Sunday, August 13, 2006


I pause midway in the in the whirl,
Of deadlines, things undone,
And averaged the sadness and joys -
There remains only loneliness,
Of which I see no cure,
No bitter palliatives, no anodyne.

We remain in life’s journey,
Like loners sitting depressed,
On solitary park benches, or,
Staring at people from balconies,
Loneliness gnawing at our minds,
As hungry ants at a grain of food.

Often in life’s vicious lanes,
In lonesome moments,
It’s our failures we ponder,
Not the joys and victories; both,
We have given and earned;
Not others’ courage, but faults.

When in each passing lonely moment,
I count the millions of seconds,
I was alive to witness this world, and,
Mimetic thoughts that pass into eternity,
My loneliness vanishes, I shout,
“I live; I am alive this lonely moment.”
(c) John, August 2006
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Friday, July 21, 2006

Time Stands Still over Govandi Station

A kite flutters,
On a high tension wire —
Against a stark blue sky.
A beggar and old mother huddle
On Govandi Railway Station —
The dirtiest station in the universe.

He shows her a plastic watch,
Smiles, “See I have time,”
She, old, gnarled, wrinkled,
Looks through beady eyes,
“I have no need for time.”

Jagged slum roofs puncture the sky,
Open drains stink.
Half clad children toss rubber ball —
In frenzied passion and sloth.

Mother and son —
Hungry, disowned, dispossessed —
They eat and sleep in Govandi station
A plastic bag of muddy clothes beside them,
He extends a begging hand,
A black plastic watch on his wrist,
“God will perform miracles,
If you give poor man rice and roti.”

The kite flutters;
Time stands still over Govandi Station.

Sonnet for Mother - Her Last Journey

Decked in varied floral blooms,
Swaddled in gold filigreed shrouds,
Smeared with perfumes,
She travelled into the clouds.

An existence of love she had lived
Years of more giving than taking
A life of suppressed sobs and tears unshed
Of turnings and missed crossings.

She lies in rigor mortis beside father,
In an earthen grave dug specially for her,
On previous visits she knew this sepulcher,
And with her man, one day, she would rest there.

There is a time when we connect
And then we must all self-destruct.


In your bosom we wake up with fear,
In your sky there’s only unending tears,
You always roar, but within,
Hangs silence like a shroud of death.

You are rocked, periodically, by bombs,
Yet, we go about our business,
As if nothing happened, all’s well,
Are we too dazed to protest?

In your hungry, convoluted entrails,
Lie pauper and millionaire,
Separated only by the whimsy,
Of your very partial caress.

On your skyline of sooty chimneys,
Decaying concrete, bristling antennas,
Are the sad stories of fortunes,
Made and lost, just as lost loves.

City of gold, they say, which never sleeps,
Will you stay awake, tonight,
Wipe away our cascading tears,
And give our tired bodies some sleep?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Communally hated!

This is me, a martyr:
Bleeding inside, lacerated,
With a thousand wounds inflicted
By all of you, strangers, whom I hate.

You who deprive me of my livelihood,
You who entice and raped our women,
You who bring your skills and toil;
Where I was comfortable with existence.

You should die for your sins
There’s no forgiving your greed;
You who snatch our jobs, our money,
And money order it to your kin, must die!

I am good, you are bad
You have no right to exist;
A world without you is my dream
You manipulator of my destiny.

You live on my soil, drink my water,
And don’t respect my culture.
I will kill you for bringing your alien rituals
And polluting my environment.

You are different men and women whose rages
Have been compromised into smiles;
When you laugh, you do not
Laugh with us, but at us! So, Die!

For your transgressions, you must flee,
For the harm you have been doing
We must teach you a lesson
And kick you out of our homeland, our state.