Zeitgeistlyrik: The Heart of The World (Satis Shroff)

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Manjushri and the Heart of the World (Satis Shroff)

The green fields in the Vale of Catmandu

Shuddered as the heavens parted,

Revealing the secrets of the Himalayas.

Manjushri appeared with his mighty sword,

At this very place where you now stand,

For here was once a lake,

With turquoise waters.

The people hid behind their house-walls

And ornate windows.

They peered with awe 

At what unfurled before them.

The Sanskrit and Nepalbhasa they spoke,

Left them wordless,

For Manjushri was there

To release their hearts,

To create a fertile land,

Below the barren hills. 

The warrior from the East,

Raised his sword

And cut a gorge,

Where now the Chovar stands,

With its century old sediments.

Lo and behold!

The turquoise water became

A foamy, swirling, spiralling,

Circling mass with music 

Rising to a crescendo.

It left Catmandu Valley

With incessant roars.

What remained was a fertile valley,

Rich in alluvium.

From the centre bloomed a lotus

And became

The heart of the world.

* * * 

A White Page (Satis Shroff)

On a white page,

I’m searching for you.

I cannot bear to lose you.

Where have you been,

My lovely?

I remember the day

You entered my life.

Your soft gaze 

With deep blue eyes.

We drank white wine at the bar,

Went home laughing,

Tipsy and joyful.

I thought it would last forever

And a day.

We were intoxicated

 With love,

I thought.

Skins that sweat 

And whispered

From the pores.

A never-ending longing

For you.

I heard the screeching of an owl,

Ach, where tenderness was uncovered,

When the clouds slithered past the moon.

I humoured you,

I reeled under the silence 

Of the years.

There were distant cries,

But I heard only you.

I had to bear with you,

But you remained

A white page

In my life.


* * *

Souvenirs (Satis Shroff)

They come from lands afar

In search of impressions,

Kitsch or treasures,

For their designer cupboards,

Back home in western countries.

Busloads of them stream out,

Digital cameras, camcorders

Mobiles with cameras

And take shots of the village people,

Dilapidated huts,

Ornate windows, tattered clothes.

Guerrillas with guns,

Children with running noses,

For Mom is down in the vale,

Chopping wood for the hearth.

They click and store the temples,

Shrines, pagodas, palaces,

Gigabytes of global images

For family albums,

Power-point presentations. 

Slide-shows for all and sundry,

The intimate images 

Of a foreign country.

Will the tourists tell,

When they reveal 

What they’ve stored,

Of how hard it is to survive,

In the foothills of the Himalayas?

Where the sun shines at day

And Himalayan winds and wolves 

Howl at night.

Where the monsoon brings 

Torrential rain and death

From June to September,

And where the earth is dry, 

Barren in winter.

Where the waters of the lake Phewa

Mirror the snows of Annapurna

And the fish-tailed one,

Like in a pretty post-card.

* * *

Seduction (Satis Shroff)

Why do you run after me?

You are seduced by my voice,

My style and verse.

Follow your heart,

Your own words.

Till then,

We go different ways.

We follow different paths,

Though we hear the same rhythm.

And in doing so,

We meet again.



* * * 

The Whiteness in the Zone of Death (Satis Shroff)

The best view of the world

Is from the top of the highest mountain,

The Abode of the Gods.

‘The best way to climb a peak

Is not to give it

A single thought.

Think of a thousand other things,’

Said the climber from abroad,

To the sherpa.

Suddenly it became stormy,

The dreaded whiteout came

With howling, biting winds,

Tons of snow everywhere. 

The sahib had only a single thought.

‘Hilf mir, O Gott!’

And cried like a new born baby,

Scared of the wilderness,

Scared of the whiteness

That surrounded him.

He found the sherpa,

Who said:

‘ Here, where you stand,

Is almost the summit, Sir.

Welcome to the Abode of the Gods.’ 

‘The abode of what?’

‘The Gods,’ said the sherpa.

The climber turned around:

Whiteness in the death zone,

As far as he could imagine.

A step to the right,

A step behind,

And a blood-curdling scream:

Swallowed by a treacherous crevice.

The half-frozen sherpa mumbled,

‘Om mane peme hum,

Vajra guru

Peme siddhay hum!’

Till sunrise.

He opened his eyes,

Thanked the Gods of the Himalayas

For saving his life,

Felt sorry for the sahib,

And descended 

With a heavy heart.

* * * 

The Music of the Breakers (Satis Shroff)

I remember the beautiful music 

From the streets of Bombay,

Munjo Mumbai,

Where I spent the winters 

During my school-days.

Or was it musical noise?


 Panic and flight for some,

It was the music of life for me 

In that tumultuous,

Exciting city.

When the sea of humanity was too much for me,

I could escape by train to the Marine Drive,

And see and hear 

The music of the breakers.

The waves of the Arabian Sea 

Splashing and thrashing

Along the coast of Mumbai.

Your muscles flex,

 The nerves flatter,

The heart gallops,

As you feel how puny you are,

Among all those incessant

 And powerful waves.


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