–Rajesh K. Jha
1. Past and Present
Hundreds of Urns containing flowers- the crumbs of incinerated bones- wait on the banks of Ganga, Saryu, Jamuna, Kosi. The horizon sprouts the spiky balls in multiple colours. The road to heaven or hell or earth is littered with oxygen cylinders, ventilators, a mask with Madhubani painting here, a torn gamchha there.
Nirala weaves a melody of Sanskrit words watching his wife Manohara Devi walking on the waves with feet turned backwards. Centuries pass, Ganga carries the corpses nonchalantly caressing their hair with a gentle pat to lead to a distant land.
A big black crow from ancient times, I wonder if it is Kak-Bhushundi- the mythical crow, sits on my shoulder. It pecks at my eyes. I remember Kabir.
2. A Tale of Time
Time has wings. It has claws. But most interestingly, it has a tail, a long tail. The tail stretches on and on like that of Hanuman in Ravana’s darbar or Ashok Vatika, I forget.
Dipped in a bowl of nectar (or poison, I can’t say) it recoils around a walnut shaped piece of flesh. Sucking and seeking. Our lives are a vomit of time, the dark labyrinth of a catacomb which burns with the bitter-sweet scent of honey.
A larva sheds its skin to turn into a butterfly with magical whiskers sensing time at a distance of a star, only to be folded dry inside a book named desire.
3. Life and Death
Death is inevitable. So is life. Death is a cheater. Life is a fighter. The cosmic Yamraj stares with a thousand eyes. The tiny spark of life smiles inside a glistening dew drop, in the toothless smile of an old man, in blind chirping of a hatchling on the branches of a tree whose roots hold the sky.
4. To my friend
I put my ear on the belly of the earth,
and hear the rumble of death.
Deep inside the horizon
a hand beckons me,
its finger tight with the wedding ring of iron
palm inscribed with hieroglyphics of time,
that passed too fast, too soon.
A terrified bird with stolen wings
mumbles a feeble prayer,
in a temple whose gods have bolted long ago.
A flower folds into itself
petal by petal, breath by breath,
embracing its portrait of the lovely lady
in the lung ravaged by cruel nothingness
before dissolving into a digit of the number 3617 on 28 May.
A secret despair grows in my heart like flowers of cactus,
night cries with silent dew drops.