Ablaze

I switched off the television set, the one which had been blasting off updates of blood the brainless mobs were sucking out of the city. The city set ablaze. A city so close to home, where friends of mine are breathing. Put my phone on charger, the one which had been receiving endless but real pictures of the mob creating havoc outside my friends’ homes.

My grandmother told me she’s going to the Gurudwara. I had to stop her, and it was tougher than usual. You see it’s my grandfather’s death anniversary today. She really wanted to go, pay her respects to the husband she lost twenty years ago. I was about to turn two years old when we lost my grandfather and I have lived on stories people tell me about him. Family, neighbors and his friends have always shared tales of him and I have always tried to listen to every word, imagine every situation, building memories out of photo albums and stories. Memories I never really had.

Apart from the stories where I am the protagonist and my grandfather revolved and ran around me, feeding me and playing with me, the one story I take pride listening to is this one. This was a really long while ago when the city was not in good shape and people were requested not to step out of home. Moreover, it was raining heavily and we didn’t have a car back then. My grandfather apparently took off on his scooter and without informing anyone at home visited a friend who needed help with his new house. My grandma tells this story with anger wrapped in pride. ‘He fell sick when he came back, such a stubborn fellow he was’, followed by a slight smirk comes the comment, ‘Always ready to help everyone.’

To prove to her how unsafe it was to get out of home, I took her outside our main door and showed her how there was no one in the streets. All homes were locked, vehicles were stacked close to each other and everything was stationary.

While she went inside, upset, I walked towards my garden.

Everything seemed grim and the sunset didn’t look even a tad bit beautiful. I took off my slippers and set foot onto the slightly wet grass in the garden. I walked for a while and tried experiencing, fully, the grass beneath my feet. I went close to the curry leaves tree and tried sniffing the beautiful aroma. I wouldn’t lie, the thought of these being my last beautiful experiences did occur to me.

And then I finally heard the voice of tyres, not the usual scratching on the road, but a soft swirling, a vocal memory of childhood, even though the one memory I always wanted to possess was the voice of my grandfather. As I turned around, I saw a little boy, pedaling his tiny bicycle on the empty, isolated street. He was the laundry man’s smallest son, carrying a potli of ironed clothes. He was out on a business delivery, on a day where we hadn’t stepped out of home. We- strong and sturdy adults, capable of taking care of ourselves. He carried that potli with utmost care with eyes full of expectation of receiving a payment. The payment which would help his father stock his home with food his family can survive on till the time the city is restored to peace, if that phenomenon exists that is.

 

 

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Letter to my 10 year old self

Letter to my 12 year old self

-Avleen Kaur Lamba

Amma always made you believe you were invincible

After living in 2 countries, 4 cities and 6 schools

You’ve begun to feel that home is a feeling that goes away

As soon as you begin to feel comfortable

photographing-children-2e

In foreign land, where you were not judged for your accent

Where American kids came to your birthday

You were suddenly being stared at

People started questioning your father’s turban

And with a seven month old baby in your mother’s tummy

You all returned back home three weeks after September 11

 

Back home you were hailed for your new accent

You don’t recognize your country

Your language

Your people- still colonized.

 

And now you’re 12

You come back to your very roots

The place you were born in

Not a metro city (McDonalds opened a few days ago here)

Nobody likes to sit with you

Nobody picks you in any sports team

They say you’re too fat, too different, too weird

You make a friend, you don’t know what a bully means

The sun sets with you writing apology letters

And folding your hands in sorries for not being able to keep the bully happy

Life doesn’t make sense to you

Existentialism hit you quite early in life

 

But this letter is from a prophet from 2017

And you’re not meant to know how life goes on for you

But here’s a heads up.

  1. You’ll never let one part of yourself be accommodated into conformity, your LOUD laugh!
  2. You’ll befriend two boys. One who stammers, and one who’s gay. The three of you together will create comic books and stories and one day, will save the world.
  3. You’ll always be the librarian’s favorite kid.
  4. The security guard uncle will be your only constant friend.
  5. You’ll meet this handsome boy who will tell you to be yourself. And you’ll be so unapologetically you that the strongest of winds wouldn’t be able to shake your identity.
  6. You’ll befriend the entire school and while some ask you to have less friends, you’ll be busy hugging out the misery from everyone you see.
  7. You’ll choose one subject, score in another and finally fall for another.
  8. You’ll make yourself a home wherever you go, one made out of ideas and orchids.
  9. You’ll become a poet.                                                                                                                       And writing this letter to yourself,                                                                                             You’ll be invincible, again.

 

 

Misery

Misery sits hidden from us at blind spots on traffic lights

It twirls itself in neurons and muscles and cysts and clots

And covers itself under smiling skin and merry songs

And in the house of time, unwelcome, it arrives unannounced picture

It drives us hurriedly to these massive buildings where people pray to human gods

They wear white and blue and their shrine always spots a cross

Where some are hanged and some redeemed

Hospitals are a miserable sight

The siren of the chariot, the ambulance it’s called, is never pleasant.

It declares arrival of mortals to a place where their intellect and power

Plans and stories, all suffer a time lapse

Rewinding their lives, struggling with pain

They sit in corridors where stretchers never lay bare

The reek of medicines, antiseptics, syringes and blood

Floors are always white and you hardly spot any clocks

On walls which drip not with old paint but cement which cries in agony

Hospitals don’t believe in time, they stick a tongue in your face

Saliva results cure or mockery

Photograph by Amitoj Singh

 

 

Morsels of Dreams?

Fragmented sentences brutally, beautifully, boldly true

Meanings don’t always require tape, adhesive, glue

Hail Woolf, Joyce, prophets few

Freud. Slips of tongue. Dreams. Shoofragmented-dreams

Shoo them away,

You, shoo them away.

Yet mirrors passé, Dreams life’s actual hue

Carefully crafted. Bending phrases. Poetry.

Sue. Sue all poets. Imprison these enchanters.

Sonnets flowing through iron bars.

Cold cemented floors demand inquiring existence

Blooded charcoal answers on stenchy, filthy walls

Hazy manifestations or mildly true?

 

 

Tinging a Tear

Have you ever tried to mix the ink of your pen

tear

into the tear fallen fresh

on your book?

Tinging a tear,

how surreal it sounds,

but try it comrade,

and you will love to see what happens.

How you can modify a bio-chemical reaction

of someone’s action outside your body

How the transparent salty product of your eyes

turns into teal, fuchsia or pitch black

How I wish I could colorize

my thoughts|actions|feelings in the same way

How if I could find a pen,

Whose ink could possess the power to affect me and

transform the work of a mortal.

Ode to my Morrie, Ms. Bindu Sharma

Ode to my Morrie, Ms. Bindu Sharma

-Avleen Kaur Lamba

maam

I’d name this an ode

As it’s a tribute and

Not for its metre and rhyme

Because a radical inhabits in me

And the theme sublime

And the person in mind so divine.

 

My mother dear pursued literature

and so did her mother in her times

After following dad’s software steps,

Accounts and Economics were also given a try

Thus, with apprehensions, I chose literature.

 

But with a glowing lantern in the starry night,

She wiped clean my blurred glasses’ sight

And boy, I fell in love.

 

People say love involves people,

She was there,

But I fell for prose

and I fell for verse.

 

While students cried and mumbled why

It had been three days she hadn’t commenced the syllabi

But couldn’t they feel, couldn’t they yearn,

Life is what we came to learn!

 

She started with music, lyrics and odes,

And then strolled in essays and plays,

Which needless to say,

Clearly swept us away.

 

Donne, Coleridge, Sydney and Bacon,

Are all what they mean to us because of her.

Her words

and her stories.

 

Sitting on the teacher’s table in her crisp saris

This maverick hypnotized us

And we reached a heaven full of

Greek Gods and English Romantics.

 

Tears cover my eyeballs

as I sit to write about a Goddess

remembering times when my hands

won’t stop scribbling every word she uttered

And then times I would just sit awestruck

Now I lie down on the winter grass,

Wondering how God could bestow me with so much luck!

 

Her words and life lessons

Are a part of me now

And they shall remain within

wherever I go.

 

For how love always wins,

For the phoenix riddle,

For death ending life, not a relationship,

For Tess and for Sorrow,

For Wuthering Heights and their terrible morrow,

For all of that and so much more,

How you’ll glow within me,

Forever and some more.

Travel- An Illusion

Travel- An Illusion

-Avleen Kaur Lamba

travel.jpg

What if I tell you train is an illusion?

All these funny pieces of transport of yours.

Running on wheels- hundred, four, three or two.

Or that huge looking product of attached wings or the one with motors or a pair of oars?

All, an illusion.

Engineers build these out of pure narcissism,

dozens of a million population earn to travel, to reach a place they’ve heard of.

While artists laugh inside. They’re the only ones who know the secret behind this law bound game.

Let me spill the secret today, for I can’t hold any more the hidden beauty and power of us mortals.

So while some build and some charge you for this journey,

You should know it’s all in your mind.

Those machines don’t need electricity or energy to run. They need you.

For it’s you who travels. Roams around.

It’s your cornea which looks at all those sand dunes. Those huge mountains which look tiny, not even deceiving your perception.

It’s you.

It’s the power vested in us to travel through long neurons.

So for those waiting for teleporting to be discovered,

You know where to look…