Abhay K. is an Indian poet-diplomat and the author of 8 poetry collections and the editor of The Bloomsbury Anthology of Great Indian Poems. He has translated Kalidasa’s Meghaduta into English. His forthcoming poetry collection is The Alphabets of Latin America. His Earth Anthem has been translated into over 50 languages.
After Natasha Trethewey
Mourn the Monday morning, early hours
at the office, papers marked for necessary action,
e-mails piled over the weekend, flurry of phone calls. Drink
cups of strong coffee, read the e-mails, answer the phone calls.
Do all you can, gathering energy, motivation
to go on, filing scattered loose papers, arrange visiting cards
in the folder. Delete spam, drink more coffee,
check facebook stealthily like thieves, watch videos
on you tube. Break for lunch for an hour. Wish it was longer.
In the afternoon, drink more coffee, walk
to other colleagues to share a light moment, back
to the seat, kill the mosquitoes, regulate
the speed of the fan of the air-conditioner, watch
news. Boss calls for a meeting. Rush
to her chamber leaving everything behind. ‘Have you done
this, have you done that?’ There seems to be no end
to work. All day long wait for the clock to strike
five, the hour that turns you into a free man. Take off
The house is filled with the smell of basmati
slowly cooking in milk and cardamom seeds
wearing blood red sari
green and golden blouse
and matching necklace, slippers
women sing songs of joy and despair
an aging father climbs the mountains
to fetch his married daughter back home
her mother waits for her princess
her brother is overjoyed
she will be the queen of her parent’s house
she will wear new clothes—elegant red
she will sing and dance with her sakhi-sahelis
and share with them her joy and sorrows
she will listen to the stories of their mothers-in-law
and tell them the adventures of her husband
she will eat sweet dar before the dawn
and ready herself for the fast– the whole day-long.
Dar fragrant basmati rice cooked with milk and sugar.
Pashupatinath: The Lord of Beasts
Taking the form of golden deer
I and my consort Parvati
on the banks of Bagmati
when Kathmandu valley got crowded
with pilgrims and poachers
we retreated to Mount Kailash
I told them they can have my lingam
they kept it behind silver doors
inside a tiered pagoda
made of wood and copper
topped with gold gajur
and revered and worshipped it
as the lord of beasts and gods
as the great gratifier of wishes
as the saviour of the sacred land
we had to desert Mount Kailash
after atheists took over Tibet
and they did not want to keep my lingam
so I turned the whole mountain into one.
An island of pleasure
a sea of adrenaline
grass, girls, gods, whatever you need
just a dip away in my holy well
love blooms in my streets
as exotic roses in the garden of dreams
bronze goddesses metamorphose into apsaras
wine flows in my alleys
my boutiques laden with cashmere
bronze, silver, gold, precious stones and silk
tourists, merchants, sadhus and prostitutes
rub shoulders with each other in my streets
every dusk a new world comes alive in me
every dawn a world ends in mahapralaya.
Apsaras are cosmic dancers.
Mahapralaya means great dissolution.
A forlorn land filled with mud and dust. Streets untouched since Lord
Ram walked here to marry Sita—king Janak’s daughter after breaking
Shiva’s arrow. Parshuram’s wrath still simmers as a thorn in my flesh.
Legend has it that when Ram broke Shiva’s arrow, Parshuram became very angry
as Shiva was his Guru.