Author Archives: amitapaul

Nistara’s Nightmare

It was a quiet Sunday night ,
When everyone was sleeping tight
After a hearty filling meal
That Nistara awoke
A dream caused her fright
As demons did fight
The grandfather clock did peal
Just one stroke
It felt to her as if strangely
Someone an elbow did poke
No , it wasn’t a joke

Nistara got up warily
And looked around quite charily
Wrapped around herself she did
Her light warm cloak
A night owl hooted scarily
She said to herself airily
It was only a housecat that slid
Down the old sturdy oak
Was it ghosts conferring
Or did merely frogs croak?
No , it wasn’t a joke

Something surely was amiss
If not that then surely this
If not then surely that
Sweat her brow did soak
Did she hear a cobra hiss ?
Did she then a heartbeat miss ?
Was that a witch’s cat ?
Was it thunder that broke ?
She listened with all her ears
And nothing really spoke
But No , it wasn’t a joke

She picked up a torch
Walked out to the porch
And flashed it all around
Till it decided to choke
A match might well scorch
So she came down a notch
And at Papa’s door did pound
And he got up , decent bloke
Mamma got up too
The whole household woke
No , it wasn’t a joke

They asked what was up
Mamma brought a cup
Of cocoa for little Nistara
And gave her a little poke
Then they all did sup
And there was gupshup
And Nistara put on her tiara
To frighten the goblin folk
Then everyone went back to sleep
Under Morpheus’ yoke
It was after all a joke

( ASA )


Mother and ( Grown- up ) Son

That is not I in your book , my Son .

If you say so . No , of course it’s not .
As time goes by , how precious you grow
How fragile , how beautiful
How ineffably tender , Mother !

Are we friends now ? I still worry about you , though
And I know you worry about me .

Not I . For me you are invincible
Indestructible , omnipotent
Immortal .

Hey , I’m still alive . And I do have other children
If you remember .

And Father , who is the oldest of them .

You will not be disrespectful to your father .

I wouldn’t dare . But oh yes , my siblings .
I often think you love my sister best .

They say it’s you . But I refuse to play this game . It’s so irrelevant and the question itself is wrong .

Now you are a little girl.
Now you have a little plait
That you roll into the littlest bun.
Now you have the tiniest bindi
Black with a line under it
Like the Panditji taught you to wear
For my sake when I was born , isn’t it , Mother ?

Get away with you . I have work to do .

I’ll help you shell those peas mother
I’ll help you peel potatoes
Your eldest is an idler but of a helpful sort
Am I not , Mother ?

Good that you are doing something useful with your hands . But your work is waiting , Son . I can manage the cooking .

Mother , your sari is so soft .
Mother , I miss you so when I go away .
Mother , teach me another old song
A song that you love .

My Son , you break my heart .
My Son , you are too gentle for this world .
Don’t get hurt , my Son .

No , Mother , I won’t
At least , not more than most
Not more than is absolutely essential .
You have brought me up well , Mother .

Now go have a bath . Lunch will be ready by the time you come back .

Yes , Mother .

( He just refuses to grow up .
What will he do when I am gone ? )

( ASA )


Night’s Life

Feather by feather
Night falls
From Raven Wings of Space

Scratch by scratch
Night advances
Like Mice in the Wainscoting

Flake by flake
Night floats down
Like Soot from a Cooling Chimney

Dream by dream
Night enchants
Like a Magus weaving Spells

Hour by hour
Night glides
Like Unstopping Time

Minute by minute
Night passes
Like Sands through the Waist of an Hourglass

Stroke by stroke
Night paints
Like Rembrandt the Night Watch

Word by word
Night writes
Like a Sleepless Poet

Breath by breath
Night dies
Like a Candle at Dawn

( Amita Sarjit Ahluwalia )

On 19 Oct 2020

God’s Wounds

Someone was taking brass rubbings .
I sat silently listening to the hour ringing on the bells
The knitted corn- dollies , the pumpkins and gourds
The blowsy autumn flowers , orange , rust and yellow
Huge tall sunflowers, fat dahlias and cheerful marigolds
Some red gold autumn foliage and crimson berries
Apples of all sorts , luscious and juicy , in wooden pails and wicker baskets
Plump pears and juicy nectarines heaped in a brass bowl
The smell of plain white beeswax candles
The gleam of the organ bars
The holy images , their old gold haloes mellowed with time
Their garments coloured like old thick honey
The slanting last sunrays like viscous maple syrup
Poured on the pinewood pews
Thanks would be given tomorrow
Tonight the cherubs and seraphs on the painted ceiling
And the angels carved in corners
Would feast their eyes on the bounty
Provided by nature , arranged by human hands
The Harvest is Home : Festivities Feasting and Thanks are due
This plentifulness that makes engorged bees forget
The stark perpetual winter of the poor
Looted , looted , looted
Down the centuries
The pain refuses to go away
Those deprived are too far away
For the privileged to begin to share with
O God of an unjust world !
The wound in your side is mine
The nail through your heart is mine

( ASA )



Way Too Many In Blackacre

( Launching off from Michel Youn )

( BLACKACRE : A fictitious designation that legal writers use to describe a piece of land. The term Blackacre is often used in comparison with Whiteacre in order to distinguish one parcel of land from another. )

Don’t you think too many apples are falling off the old tree this Autumn ?
Why , what else do apples do if nobody picks them ?
It is in the nature of apples to ripen , and fall
Not too far from the tree , usually
You should pick them up and use them
For whatever it is that people use them for
Do you think it could be the disease …. ?
Disease ? Oh please !

Don’t you think too many people are dying these days ?
Old people ? Middle aged people ? Young people ?
People are always dying , you know . You notice deaths
You do not remark upon the accepted fact of life
Yes , but wars , and murders , and suicides
And accidents and disease and old age
Have always been around . Think of now …
Death is very common among living beings , you know
That’s how we all end . That is the nature of human life .
I still think too many people …..
Excuse me , Yes , I’ll be there in ten
Sorry , must rush
Stop thinking morbid thoughts . Cheer up. Bye .

I still think too many apples ….
I still think too many people …..
Way too many

I no longer believe in statistics
But one day , truth will out

Way , way too many

Is anybody listening ?
Is it already too late ?
Is there time to say goodbye ?

Has the World “ already

launched itself into the gray sky like an escape

capsule accidentally empty sent spiraling into the

unpeopled galaxies of my trackless gray body “
and my pitch dark soul ?

Blackacre .

(“peas and beans are black, corn and potatoes are white, hay is green” )

Black Rents shall be payable in produce ,
and White Rents in silver.

Annihilation is no excuse
No excuse at all .

( ASA )


The Psalm of the Scarlet Gourd

A red overripe coccinia grandis
Stunningly beautiful amid its trellised tracery of ivy- like leaves
And two delicate white starry flowers
Is what I inevitably think of when your name is mentioned
Not a Rose

A little house build in one long line
Almost hidden among old mango trees
And shrubs of scarlet ixora
Which smelt temptingly of your nutritious concoctions
If the door opened at around mealtime

The grand days of your prime
Still spent doing things useful
The intellect polished and used
To verbalise the thoughts that lay in jumbled discussions
In ways that made them orderly
And then to turn your hand to sewing pristine habits
And old fashioned wimples

Your wise old eyes crinkling
As age began to overtake you
At the wry humorousness of it all-
Though no one was more sincere
Nor kept the light of faith
Shining stronger

Careful words
Careful thoughts
Careful deeds
And that sudden twinkle
When a succulent mango appeared
Or a luscious pie
Redolent of cloves and cinnamon
Nutmeg and mace

How sweet has been your passing
Through this world and out of it
You did let us know well in time
And gave us space to get over it
Too considerate to give us shocks
You moved further and further away
Gracefully and gratefully
While letting us hold your hands

His ring you wore upon your finger
His love lay safe within your deepest heart
He asked you to come and you went
At homecoming , one does not depart

Nothing more wonderful than the present moment
When one of your teachers who knew you not
Decides to step down and follow the well trodden path
The day after you make your way through it
Is it a mere coincidence ? It may be
Or it may be synchronicity at work
The heart loves magical mysteries .

Worms or fish
Earth or water
Fire and ashes
The Soul smiles
At what we mistake for the end

Let us not forget to dream
Of cobwebby white linen neatly sewn
Smelling of lavender
Or the way you wouldn’t waste even a scrap of orange peel
Rubbing it childlike on your face
And your soft wrinkled hands
That smelt of citrus and mildly scented Vaseline
You taught us comfort
Of many sorts in a harsh world
At no cost at all

  • or merely the cost
    Of a genuine smile
    A warm clasp of the hand
    A twinkle where a tear could have been

These dreams that the poorest can slip into
Perchance as sleep beckons
Whisper “ There’s no call
Ever , for goodbyes”
Parting is only for meeting again
And therefore both are sweet

Hush ! It’s the Butterfly Etude
Not the Flight of the Bumblebee
Brushing your eyelids with sleep
Honeyed . Heavenly .
A Psalm .
The Psalm of the Scarlet Gourd .

( ASA )



What cannot be borne is borne
What cannot be spoken is spoken
When we can no longer mourn
Then more than just hearts are broken

Despair is no longer despair
No fire no ice , all long gone
The chill of a vacant stare
The red of a cheerless dawn

How odd the desire to live !
How strange the compulsion to lie !
How absurd that nothing will give !
How obscene that there’s still a sky !

How true that we learn to forget !
How hard that we’re dead ere we die!
How many millenniums regret
The moment we forgot to cry !

( ASA )


So much of Life
Just passed me by
Yet I never missed it
Shall I tell you why ?

So , so , much was given
I never had room
Although I love sorrow
For that kind of gloom

“ The World is so full of
So many , many things
I’m sure we should all be
As happy as kings “

There is so much joy
There is so much pain
The trick is : Enjoy
Loss as much as gain

For all , all are gifts
From Love who made all
For Whom all are equal
The big and the small

By Whom all are loved
And no one is lost
So live love and give
And don’t count the cost

How can one be lost
With Him by one’s side ?
Of comfort then be
In hope then abide !

( Amita Sarjit Ahluwalia )

Public Relations

One cannot pretend that this pleases one
Still , what has to be done simply must be done

For England expects every man to do his duty
Women must think of England , that’s the beauty

One has to keep a stiff upper lip
One cannot let one’s standards slip

The media may accuse one of megalomania
If one feels like humming ‘ Rule Britannia ‘

One knows this line has often been used
But one must repeat , one is not amused

One’s had the most harrowing of lives
But one cannot talk of it like other wives

People have the oddest idea of fun
For some it’s an American , for others a Hun

One hasn’t been the luckiest of mothers
But one cannot crib like all the others

The very young ones can be a joy
Horse or dog , one has never lacked a toy

One looks very carefully at the old bean
To make sure he does sing “ God Save the Queen “

One has learnt the lesson , one never complains
And even more convenient one never explains

The public one never must miff
The back is no longer ramrod stiff

Pleasure meeting , see you again
And now it’s time for a little champagne

( Amita Sarjit Ahluwalia )

Brown Study

Soaked stones , grey , wet and cold
That make noon seem like evening
And lights and woodfires so inviting
Hot tea or coffee any hour of day
And something stronger as the sun goes west
The ruddy cheeks red noses and chapped hands
The rheumy eyes still light with glints of blue
The flavoured accents and the cryptic words
Where warmth is sought and food and company
Where work is hard and sleep is deep till morn
When roses bloom and grass is still dew wet
Tobacco flowers scent the air and stocks
Where leaves are linden green all summer through
Where walks through churchyards and tree shaded parks
Take you to work with taciturn colleagues
A heel of bread and hunk of cheese enough
An apple maybe or a spoon of pickle
A glass of beer or cider if you’re lucky
Some snuff or smoke to round it off at lunch
To hold you up till teatime
Then the walk
Up to the high street or down to the pub
Once more until the much craved savoury supper
Downed with some scotch if Lady Luck is kind
Some black eyed damsel with red lips and cheeks
Looks on you with some favour and offers a smile
Who knows ?
Who knows what’s good for us , tall castle walls ?
Who knows why , echoing palace halls ?
Who knows , thou shadowy vaults of history ?
Who knows end and beginning , mystery ?
The lot of some has fallen here while others
Across the globe are scattered , fathers , mothers
And children generation after more
None knows what lies for man across death’s shore
Grey day , grey stones , grey head , and reverie
The rain falls gentle all the while , hours flee
Sweet damsel , apple like , fresh and ruddy
Your poet falls into a brown study.

( Amita Sarjit Ahluwalia )