Volume 4 Issue 2, June 2020
Special Issue for Indian Poetry

K.V. Raghupathi

COVID-19

                           

It came stealthily like a black mamba

and poisoned the city, Wuhan

ravaged it to a necropolis--

a human-made calamity.

Soon it spread its tentacles like an octopus

and the world came under the spell

of the tiniest primitive invisible life form like a tsunami

that outrageously controlled the behaviour and destiny

of the most intellectually evolved human life on the earth.

 

 

And we forcibly stayed home –

Abnormal became normal like butterflies.

Cattle and dogs walked with an uncovered face.

Streets, roads, lanes, and by-lanes sparkled with no littered organic waste

Every town, every city, and every home

became a  virtual concentration camp

that I heard and read only in history books.

 

Time, horrifying, meaningless and heartless -

the biggest challenge.

We however reconciled as the clock ticked painfully like the war bugles,

learnt new unheard vocabulary,

quarantine, pandemic, social distance, transmission, lock-down, etc.,

read untouched books and listened to unheard melodies,

watched aged romantic films,

rested and exercised like caged birds,

lived without temples, churches, and mosques

prayed to the invisible God  for a visible war against an invisible enemy.

Began to look at our planet for the first time,

think differently

and learned new ways of being

meeting the shadows of death first time,

looking deeper like medieval philosophers,

contemplated and meditated like the Vedic sages

upon the meaning of existence.

We have time to share and care.

Of what use is life without these?

Even the earth began to shudder

as the dead had a lonely journey and a lonely burial.

 

.

We made new choices of living,

dreamed of new visions and new ways of life

and healed ourselves by consoling one another.

But something we missed, we realized -

the big FREEDOM we valued most

for which nations bled in history.

 

But when every time the lockdown eased

we found each other

grieved for the dead

thanked ourselves for being spared

and celebrated the regained elusive FREEDOM.

 

 

The ultimate irony of humanity –

Will the world ever be the same again?

 

 

  

 

Her Last Fulfilled Wish

           

Covered with transparent wax

she lay there on an ICU bed

beneath the odourless paling sky

battling and gasping against the last dregs of life

with her last scribbled wish now fulfilled.

 

Her half-tendered eighteen-month-old babe

lay on her belly like a tortoise.

 

Grief is constant now,

hope, the last word unspoken

with her eyes as blank as the blank medicated walls.

 

Alone in the ward the two are.

Words appeared as hard stones now

as the monitor stopped, the two  in deep embrace,

one clutching the belly in half-sleep

and the other, gratified, in eternal sleep.

 

No kin can make the journey for her,

only one crow screeching outside the window.

Now the wheel is completely broken.

 

Who comforts you, the little babe?

 

 

 

 

Language Dilemma

 

My mother sang to me

while I was a child

in a language that she was born in.

It carried rage, clarity, force, naturalness, and ease.

But as I grew up, I was drawn

into a language that she knew nothing of.

I wrote in English and kept on writing

poems, stories, and memoirs

that my mother, servants, shepherds, and cowherds failed to decipher.

Later, in my sixties, I lost my mother and her tongue,

I became voiceless in the language that my mother sang once.

I lost its purity, intelligibility, and acceptability.

I wonder in what language I should sing

that can be precisely understood by shepherds and cowherds.

 

 

 

The Heteronymic World

           

What is the sex of the world?

The world goes everywhere, chaotic.

Who said? It isn’t heteronymic.

What kind of conclusion you have arrived at?!

 

No one is responding in the audience.

The discourse meanders, at times boisterous, at times smooth sailing.

All of us are stationed at the same bay

impatiently waiting for a bus to board.

 

We are like puppets in glass sheets

We see right through nothing except the air

whining through the perforated sheet.

 

Real-life is nowhere

It is right here, the strife, the sex, the pleasure.

We are failed clairvoyants

to see the better of us here.

 

Someone shoots a book at me,

its pages flapping like life’s sailings.

It contains nothing as long as it is untouched.

The mere touch – the moon rattles in the spilled water.

Something is contained and revealed like the secrets of medieval caves.

The world is like that – the heteronymic world.

 

 

 

 

 

so i am not bad

           

they don’t have a genealogy

but I have

so I am not bad

 

they don’t change their dress

but I change flamboyantly

so I am not bad

 

they eat food that is thrown under the sun

but I eat that is served

so I am not bad

 

they sleep on the pavements

but I sleep sheltered

so I am not bad

 

they don’t read, debate and confuse

but I toil to make myself fool

so I am not bad

 

they know only one text, “alms please”

to express emotions

they don’t know its discourse

but I write poems and short stories

to help me get through life

so I am not bad

 

they don’t know how to feel sad

but I cry, shout, and weep

so I am not bad

 

they don’t know how to keep food and money

but I save and suffer

so I am not bad

 

i see them gay moving around

but every day I see people who are bad, sad and mad around

they deserve a second chance of a life

but I deserve the end of this life

not because to make me poor and worthless

but because let them live like me

but because there are many wrong things that I wish to dispense with

so that they are not bad

 

 

 

 

 

May I Approve of Myself as Your Worthy Companion and Friend!

 

With tumultuous strength, you stand on the ground

like the ageless monument

in hypnotizing silence for all around.

 

You need no nurturing and mastering

but you have nourished and mastered the land around,

outsmarted philosophers and poets alike.

 

Withstanding through storms, rains, and winds

through winter’s cold and summer’s heat

with your ancient wisdom, you guided masters and yogis

adventurers, warriors, and conquerors alike.

 

Still holding upon your chest shooting trees as high as touching the occult sky,

convoying clouds in clusters in your shrouds

neither skulking nor rejecting,

always standing firm before the gale

with weight of the sky you shoulder from falling.

 

I seem to feel in your mass

immeasurable depth of hold and breadth of Infinity.

I take your luxurious presence

so cool and freshly green

as Time is nothing to do for you.

 

The nameless mountain glows along the horizon

edged with rainbow coloured flowers with depth and freshness.

The west is delighted; the east is enchanted as much.

I fancy – nothing is true upon the earth.

May I approve of myself as your worthy companion and friend!

 

 

 

 

About the poet

Poet, short story writer, novelist, book reviewer, and critic K.V. Raghupathi has published twelve poetry collections, two short story collections, two novels, eight critical/edited books besides four books on Yoga and numerous stimulating and thought-provoking articles in various international journals, both online and print. His poetry collections include, Desert Blooms (1987), Echoes Silent (1988), The Images of a Growing Dying City (1989), Small Reflections (2000), Voice of the Valley (2003, 2014), Wisdom of the Peepal Tree (2003, 2014), Samarpana (2006), Orphan and Other Poems (2010), Dispersed Symphonies (2010), Between Me and the Babe (2015),  On and Beyond the Surface (2018), and The Mountain is Calling… (2019). An Indian author best known for his poetry in the English language, his poetry is rooted in the abundance of philosophy, nature, transcendentalism, imagery and social perspectives, and replete with similes, metaphors, personifications, apostrophe, irony, climax, anti-climax and full of rhetoric and symbols.  More often he takes the readers on the spiritual exploration of radical philosophical thoughts which strongly speak through all the collections.  He is a recipient of several awards for his creativity at the national level that include Michael Madhusudan Dutt Award (2000), H. D. Thoreau Writing Fellowship (2001), Best Chosen Poet for 2003 (2003), Lifetime Achievement Award (2010), Rock Pebbles National Award for Creativity (2014), and King Phrasal Arbind Chowdhury Award for Poetry (2018). He lives at Tirupati, AP.

Email: drkvraghupathi@gmail.com

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Published by The Alternative.