Spring

I wrote this at the beginning of spring. It’s a pleasure revisiting this in the middle of fall when the leaves have said their good-byes and the birds are busy migrating to warmer skies.

Who said things have come to a standstill?

The daffodils opened a few weeks ago

‘Fluttering and dancing in the breeze’, 

They whisper tales of hope

When I went out for a walk in the woods,

I spotted a yellow and white bedecked carpet

And felt my heart leap

As the wildflowers hummed cheerful tunes from forest beds

The birds have laid eggs

In the exhaust vent from my kitchen hood

Their constant chirrups punctuate the quiet of my kitchen

As dishes sauté and simmer on my warm stove

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Bird nest in my kitchen vent -drawing by Mariann Joseph

Last evening, I spotted a little bunny

Camouflaged by sage stubble

Nibbling tender grass in my backyard,

The kit hopped around with measured caution

A tiny squirrel appeared on the fence

Watching and thinking-

‘This little fella on the ground looks like me,

He may have bigger ears, but for sure my tail’s bushier’

Squirrel_MJ
Little Squirrel – drawing by Mariann Joseph

Thinking such thoughts, it lingered for a minute

And, jumped onto the pine tree

Thinking more thoughts –

‘More things to do, more cones to nibble…’

Who said things have come to a standstill?

The grandchild in me

I was walking back home, after more than an hour of being in the woods. It was October, and the day was warm for fall standards.

For me, the woods are always dark and deep. Quiet and still, except for the birds that chirp and dart from one tree to another. Sometimes, they just choose to perch on a branch and stay comfortably there for what feels like ever.

Sugar Maple Park

As I came out of the woods and entered a paved road, I noticed a little battalion walking towards the woods. A grandpa with a bunch of grandchildren, it looked like. The boys were jumping around, two of them holding grandpa’s hands. I couldn’t take my eyes off this group. I could feel the love and warmth they exuded. I continued to do what I do when I encounter such scenes. Keep looking and fill up my heart with their happy emotions.

The grandpa looked content. One of the boys sported a mischievous grin. So mischievous that I couldn’t but pay him more attention than the others. As soon as he understood that I was paying attention, his grin turned to a near laugh though I couldn’t hear the sound of it. ‘Maybe he chuckled’, I thought.

Sixteen Mile Creek, Oakville

I told my husband, who was walking alongside, that the little one was up to something. “The grandpa probably knew it, but he was playing along”, I suggested.

That’s when I noticed the boy with the mischievous grin stick something behind the grandpa’s t-shirt. Within seconds, we passed them and I turned to see what it was. Dried thistle flowers or Burdock burrs, as they are called, not just one or two, but a handful of them neatly stuck behind grandpa’s t-shirt!

I stole a glance at the grandpa who greeted us as we passed them. His smile was beautiful and he seemed blissful in the company of the little ones. I turned to look at them disappear into the woods and caught the little boy turn and look at me. More grinning and more mischief in his eyes!

The moment and the discovery brought alive the granddaughter in me. I suddenly thought about my grandpa who left us two years ago. I am almost 43 and I had my grandpa till I was 41. He was 100 when he left for the light. I have 41 years of memories with him, or a few years less, considering I don’t remember the first few years. Does one feel enough about the love of grandparents? I surely don’t.

I am grateful for all the beautiful times I have had with my grandparents, but I wonder what it would be to have them for a few more years. Would it make me feel younger?

My maternal grandpa was the last of my grandparents to leave. When he left, I felt the grandchild in me become less important. I felt that the grandchild in me started fading away, slowly.

One of the happiest moments that I would recall is a particular situation in which my grandpa had to introduce me to a third person. A neighbor, or someone visiting. He would proudly introduce me by saying, “She is my granddaughter.” After I became a mother, and after the responsibilities of being a parent weighed me down, ‘she is my granddaughter’ made me feel lighter and younger.

Now, years after he left me, it’s moments like the one in the woods, unexpected encounters with other grandfathers that would bring back memories of time spent with my own.

Burrs – image from ardentfootsteps.com

From a hammock in the forest

From a hammock in the forest
 
My tired body sunk into a hammock
High on a mountain where trees grow
Where grass feels free to scale high
Where fallen leaves roam at ease
 
Sunlight came in selective bursts
The branches wouldn’t let them all pass
I received what I needed though
Enough to show me the long lines
 
In the stillness, silence came by
No holds barred, she motioned,
No strings attached, she hushed,
Take it all, you need it, she nudged
 
I soaked in the moment’s beauty
When wind turned the pages,
And the trees shed a tear or two
Of yellowed leaves falling gently
 
The green rustled and ruffled,
Like youth crying for attention
The browned ones danced about
While the wind held their hands
 
I wished that moment wouldn’t arrive,
But go on forever and ever rather
The joy of life is to go on traveling
Waiting for the best moment to arrive

Continue reading

How a gum ball bulldozed my writer’s block

So, there I was, at the Laundry, in the pretext of helping my very sweet husband, who ends up doing laundry all the time, week after week, month after month, simply because his wife, who was driving like a maniac back home in India, refused to take her license as she wanted to complete writing her Novel. Well, now that she has completed it, at least the draft, she has cleared the knowledge test, and is now waiting for her road test day. Some progress that is.

I decided to accompany my husband due to two reasons. One, I was depressed; to use the right word. Mighty sad that I wasn’t writing anything as such, let alone, finish editing my Novel draft. I have been reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, and been daydreaming about her in my editor’s shoes. I have high hopes about my Novel, I believe there is a beautiful story out there, but I know with a certain amount of certainty that it’s not yet there, and I cannot start sending it out to agents and prospects. But, how do I make the next step? I open my manuscript, and end up reading the best chapters, ignoring the ones that need more digging, more pruning. I don’t know how to move forward. That’s when I thought stepping out, living like an ordinary being, getting busy with daily errands like washing clothes could help put my life back in order.

The second reason was more compelling; the need to have my house in order, to see it spic and span and to feel elated seeing the empty laundry basket. My mind refuses to work in a cluttered environment. Somehow, I am wired that way; that’s what I tell my husband when he expresses his alarm over my sense of cleanliness and orderliness. When I launch an attack on him for putting his shoes right in front of the shoe rack, and never on one of it’s racks, and when he retaliates every time, that’s what  I give as an answer. That my mind doesn’t work, buddy, I am wired that way, sorry, can’t help it. I ‘m wired this way too, so, what do I do, buddy? He asks me. I have my answer, but then I am too busy with my thoughts, I give up. So, when I see the laundry basket begin to get filled up, I start dreaming about a clean basket, the clothes washed, dried and well stacked up in their respective columns in the rear end of the dark closet in the master bedroom.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was writing passionately, poems, one after the other, when Spring was just in the air, and when buds had just started to appear. That was the time when I thought I could write on and on, and wondered how I would even take a break from writing, if it came to it. The previous day of my knowledge test for license, I remember getting lost watching streams of bright sunlight come into the room, through the partially opened windows. I opened the blinds completely and took a few moments to take in the beauty. Completely captivated and swept off my feet, I started writing a poem about what I saw, about what I felt at that moment. Just then, my husband walked into the room, and I had to stop in between, and revisit it later, when none was noticing. I had my test the next day, well and good; I was inching closer to finishing my preparation, true, but what could I do, when inspiration struck with such intensity? What happened in the next couple of days has been saddening. I stopped my poem midway, but passed my knowledge test and now I am driving quite well, but, that’s not what I am coming to.

I am trying to explain about my writing block. And see, how I keep going round in circles. Does that say anything about my problem? I think it does. That’s what a writer’s block is for me. I started writing at a steady pace roughly two years ago, and since then, I have been writing pretty well for my own standards, getting better at it, with every new paragraph written. But for the past few weeks, I am wallowing in self pity, blaming my circumstances for my inability to write. I open my manuscript, and end up going round in circles, reading from the last page to the second last, from the third chapter to the fifth, and then basking in the beauty of my own writing. In between, I open a new document, and start working on a new topic, just to ease my anxiety. For some reason, I have not even been able to complete a poem; one about an evening walk that I started the day before. And, then, there are a couple of articles; travelogues that are far from complete or satisfactory. I begin uninspired, and I end up totally shattered. The realization that if I don’t write, I perish begin to haunt me increasingly, and then, I start thinking about the brevity of life, and about my dreams unfulfilled. Well, that only worsens my problem. I end up going round in circles.

Coming back to the Laundry; we chose two washers at the very entrance; the ones near the gum balls. How colourful! We spoke about our son, the almost-nine year old, who pleads for gum balls every time we go for laundry and how both of us valiantly retort, and explain to him the perils of eating such junk, such toxic trash. I recollected the way his face would end up in a twisted fashion, all the happiness wiped off suddenly. But then, there I was; right in front of the gum balls, depressed every bit about my unfulfilled life, looking for a little bit of sunshine in my life, one that could eradicate all the darkness, all the brooding over.

I took pleasure in asking my husband for permission and for a quarter dollar. I decided to take a break from swathing in self-pity, from my depressing thoughts, to enjoy that burst of sugar and sweetness. I decided to have a gum ball. The truth of the matter is, whenever I spot gum balls, I get an urge to have one, but I resist, as I must show a good example to my children. I did it a couple of times; I mean, I resisted the urge to ask for gum balls, and then it became a habit. How I managed to kill the child in me, so mercilessly, so mechanically?

My children weren’t there with me then, so no fear of being the bad parent. “I want a gum ball,” I proclaimed. “What? Seriously? Gum ball? No way.” Well, how could he dictate what I wanted to eat? Ok, I didn’t want to let go in that tangent, so I quickly said, “what if it breaks my writer’s block? I am stuck big time, you know.” Well, silence followed, and then, in quick succession, the clatter and clamor of quarters finding their way to my husband’s opened palm from the coin dispenser.

What if it breaks my writer’s block? Something said at the lark of the moment, without much thinking did break my writer’s block. What followed next was truly enlightening. I lived in the moment. I got a bright yellow gum ball and as it’s juices began filling up my mouth, I closed my eyes in bliss, in sheer abandon, I lost myself in there, in the syrupy yellow liquid that took me on a near high, for a moment, I forgot my worries and really enjoyed that moment. I lived up to it. Something about that yellow gum ball changed me. It charged me up. It ended up being my bit of sunshine.

I decided to write about it. But even when that thought flashed my mind, I didn’t really mean it. But here am I, writing about it seamlessly, without feeling that a block did exist; once upon a time.

Dust’s ode

Fear of rejection inspired me to write this poem. But, I didn’t have the courage to talk about my fear openly until I read Kellie Elmore’s post Rejection Blah. If you happen to come by this post, please let me know what you think. Reading various comments to Rejection Blah, I understand the strength of this community of writers.

Whims and fancies

From where we stay, there is a long view,

Out through the long corridor, darkened

At the very end, there is light, streaming

Through a million of our brethren, dancing

 

The lonely man walks in and out,

Mutters a word to himself, in agony,

He stops at the corridor, taking in silence,

Turns to look at us, a fine battalion

 

We give him attention, day and night,

We have stayed through thick and thin,

As if in gratitude, he doesn’t wipe us off

But only stares at us as we build more muscle

 

We have stayed long enough to understand,

The workings of his solitary mind,

His brush strokes that evoke emotions,

His genius; but stacks of framed pictures

 

Once in a while, he walks in a melancholic trance

Sheds a tear or two as he peers at his creations,

One by one, through our empathetic…

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Dust’s ode

From where we stay, there is a long view,

Out through the long corridor, darkened

At the very end, there is light, streaming

Through a million of our brethren, dancing

 

The lonely man walks in and out,

Mutters a word to himself, in agony,

He stops at the corridor, taking in silence,

Turns to look at us, a fine battalion

 

We give him attention, day and night,

We have stayed through thick and thin,

As if in gratitude, he doesn’t wipe us off

But only stares at us as we build more muscle

 

We have stayed long enough to understand,

The workings of his solitary mind,

His brush strokes that evoke emotions,

His genius; but stacks of framed pictures

 

Once in a while, he walks in a melancholic trance

Sheds a tear or two as he peers at his creations,

One by one, through our empathetic selves

But never did he mop us away, never

 

Gathering dust is what they call it,

The dying of a connoisseur unknown,

The losing of a life unfulfilled,

But only if dust they knew had life