I

Slivers of algae shine on old baoli,[1]
with brick walls crumbling into gravelly stones–
some kicked into ravines
by jaunty joggers.

But baoli never complains:
how could she?

Once she throbbed with Om shanti om[2] shakti[3]
and chants of gopis[4],
yearning for blue moon.

But yesteryear’s gopis are asleep
and sacred words silent.
Godly reverence
is no more baoli’s virtue.

Long time ago she quenched Manto’s[5] thirst
when he spun tales of sorrow
under the rag-tied pines.

Now baoli waters trickle
into misty phantoms,
crawling over wooded hills.
And her bygone dreams glare in the owl’s screeching.

Rags fluttering on chinar[6]
witness baoli’s echoes and dreams.
A solitary passerby stores them in cheap plastic bottles.

Someday a genie will escape from the bottle
to fill
curious traveller’s eyes with
despair.

 

II

Weedy shrubs
sleepy with drenching rain
sing in unison
with the muddy baoli waters.

Blood stopped pounding
aeons back
in their drab existence;
sometimes mushrooms sprout in shriveled coppice.

Fed by wails of night demons
and sighs of fireflies
that twinkle on light
borrowed from moonbeams
mushrooms ripen as animus.

But to onlookers
dainty mushrooms
make a merry sight.

A gopi fills her clay pot
with their sprightliness.
Poison serves purpose in uncertain times.

 

III

Baoli’s face is,
pot-marked with sorrows,
and back bent with decades of disuse;
her soul is enlivened though–
with secrets.
Some reside in the nooks and crannies
and like three-eyed cicadas
they sip the sap of inky pain,
oozing from baoli’s forehead
once smeared with sandal paste.

 

IV

Crystal waters of hill springs–
sweet and gentle.
Baoli shed tears into it.
Ravens are afraid to fly over the salt lake.

Baoli alone
never forlorn though:
that is the call of destiny.

If she forms friendships:
alluring, all-consuming
like chinar’s flaming autumn leaves,
who’ll murmur sorrows of tree rags
that sparkle as rainbow colors–
green, blue, red, yellow?

Baoli stay alone:
congealing darkness
suppressing sighs
to fly wingless wings
with ragged anguish.

 

Notes

[1] A step well, or, in this case, a  structure built over a spring, gushing out of hills, to facilitate filling of water in utensils.

[2] A Sanskrit peace mantra, usually chanted at the end of prayers.

[3] Power and energy born out of resonance and reverberation of mantra chants.

[4] Milkmaids, who danced around Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu.

[5] An Urdu short story writer, whose works dealt with violence and displacement , brought on by partition of India and Pakistan.

[6] An Oriental Plane tree

 

Sameera Rashid

Sameera Rashid

Sameera Rashid is civil servant from Pakistan. She likes to visit shrines, temples, tombs and ruins.

Comments

comments