Two Mothers



Mother’s Day: An ode to Parvathy and Kamala. My mother, my grandmother.

Two Mothers

Once upon a time
There lived two mothers
Gentle and petite like a flower
Robust and dense like an oak
Who never feared the winds
Nor any violent storms

Like mother earth
Their still beauty was
A soothing balm
For our minds disturbed
A lullaby song that
Let us rest undisturbed

Bathed in their golden light
Young lives prospered
Like pastures blooming
In the warmth of sunlight
Like birds chirping
On those fruity shady trees

The wonder women
Needed no costumes
Nor any drama
To slay those evil doers
Or rescue the perishing

The sea of life
was their playground
Tucking up their sarees
Bare fisted and clenched teeth
They indulged in a duel
With crashing waves

The two mothers
Now lie in peace
Deep in the brook
Making Merry
In the confluence
Of Tunga Bhadra & Kavery

© Anita Desai, 13.5.2018


‘क’ से कविता !


“अकेले बैठ कर कविताएँ पढने और साथियों के साथ पढने में अंतर तो है, और दोनों के अपने सुख भी हैं |’ क से कविता’ एक मौका है साथ पढने-सुनाने का. ‘क’ से कविता के बृहत् परिवार का ज़िक्र केवल शब्दों तक नहीं सिमटा है|इसमें रंग भी बिखरे हैं | यूँ कहें कि रंग केवल बिखरे नहीं, बल्कि समेटे गए हैं शब्दों की परिधि में|” – ‘क’ से कविता-हैदराबाद.

I first participated in the fourth gathering of ‘क’ से कविता held at IIIT Hyderabad in November 2016. It was an evening of reading ghazals and nazms of the famous shayar Makhdoom Mohiuddin, a name I had heard as a teenager, and whose ghazal was one of my favorites from the film ‘Bazar’. My envy, heart warmingly so, knew no bounds when I heard a soulful rendition of the same song, ‘Phir Chidi Raat Baat Phoolon Ki’ from one of the talented participants, Gursharan.

Minakshi Chaudhary, Praveen Pranav and Sudarshan Vig, the trio that came together through mutual love of poetry, first laid the foundation of  ‘क’ से कविता-Hyderabad, dedicated to reading poetry from old classics. That Hindi and Urdu are dying languages is a topic of much debate. This noble initiative revives not just some old poet, poem or ghazal, but nourishes and re-introduces the beauty of these Indian languages to the contemporary generation too. I have enjoyed reciting some poems purely for the joy of pronouncing fine vocabulary from the days of yore 🙂 .

‘क’ से कविता is not just a boring session of reading poems. Each session is meticulously planned by first choosing a poet of the month, followed by extensive research on the life of the Hindi poet or Urdu shayar. Participants then select a composition of their choice from the writers’ collection and recite on the day of the baithak. There is an occasional tussle when we end up choosing the same poem 🙂 . Well, the early bird gets the worm. I recall, Sanyog Thakur once mentioned he was keen to read a poem on ‘farmers’ and I had stolen the golden chance from him 🙂 Sorry Sanyog ji 🙂 , I hope you beat me sometime soon to a lyrical piece.

The highlight of the evening is when the host regales us with interesting anecdotes from the life of the poet. Driven by passion, it is not surprising that they are able to dig out minute details on the life and times of long forgotten writers. In one of the recent sessions, I was enamored by Pakistani Shayara, Parveen Shakir’s life and her enchanting compositions.

‘क’ से कविता-हैदराबाद celebrated its first year anniversary in August 2017 with much pomp and fervor. The idea was strictly to not make it lavish, but spectacular nevertheless. ‘क’ से कविता founding members from Dehradoon and other cities came down for the day long festivities of poetry recital, discussions, song and dance events. Praveen Pranav’s presentation of Sahir Ludhianvi’s ghazal, ‘Rang Aur Noor Ki Baarat Kisey Pesh Karun’ was a colorful festoon of melody that day. His singing was unpretentious and stirring.

Surprise is an element that keeps relations alive and fresh. Here too, we are pampered with a pleasant surprise or two, off and on 🙂 ; “Kuch alag karte hain” (Let’s do something different this time), as Minakshi puts it enthusiastically. At one of our meetings, we were each given a red rose with a small note that contained a poem from the chosen poet of the months’ collections, that we could recite apart from what we chose to share. The upcoming session on 7th Oct looks just as inviting. The plan is to read poet Shri Ramdhari Singh Dinkar’s poetry-drama ‘Urvashi’, that explores an ancient narrative between Urvashi, Pururava and other celestial characters. It promises to be an interesting session as each participant gets to choose a character and read specific verses. I’m sure looking forward to it.

The rules of the group are straight forward. The founding idea is to promote literary legacy in Hindi and Urdu of Indian writers. We do not read our own poetry nor promote personal writing in any way.  There’s a strict taboo on all/any discussions on politics, religion or cast. Love for poetry is enough to participate, you don’t have to be a poet or writer. No age barrier, anyone can participate. What strikes me the most is that the event is Free Entry for all, and so it should be. Why or how can one make any kind of profit on reading from other people’s literary work? On the other hand, organised events do require funding. Debatable, huh!

As a high school student, I never really enjoyed Hindi/English poetry classes much. It wasn’t so much the poems that irked me, but the questions that came at the end of the lessons. “What is the poet trying to convey through the poem?” Now, eons ago some dreamer serenaded his or her love on a moonlit night and I had to decipher its meaning and language. Life could not have been more unfair back then.

On the contrary, life is now beautiful and lyrical with my friends of ‘क’ से कविता.  The tweety bird is chirping. Come, let us join the chorus 🙂 .



आसमां धूसर
मेघों का गर्जन रूदन
बादलों की कोख़ फाड़ कर
ये जल है बरसा, या छलके
स्वर्गवासियों के आँसूं !

भूख प्यास से
मार काट से
अनदेखे अनजाने
ईश्वरों के वर्चस्व की लड़ाई से
सराबोर यह धरती !

काश, धूल जाएँ आज
इन बरसातों की बाढ़ में
अलग अलग वो लाल रंग के
ख़ूनों के छींटें धब्बे, और
नफरतों के एक से सिलसिले !

(c) Anita Desai September 2017



सुनहरी सांझ !

Pic.source Santosh Bakaya/Hooghly River -Vidyasagar Setu.

सांझ की सुनहरी बेला में
नभ का आँचल छुड़ा के ज्यों ही
सूरज भागा
आकाशों ने झपट कर जकड़ा
कुछ अठखेलियां कुछ चपलता
और बिखरे शीतल जल पर
रवि के चमकीले छींटे
सिमटती जगमगाती ऐसे हूगली
सपनों की सेज सजाये
दुल्हन कोई जैसे लज्जाये !

विद्यासागर ने बांधे
जुदा जुदा थे जो दो घाट
राह दिखाता
इस पार लाता
उस पार ले जाता
सेतु काश इक ऐसा भी होता
हृदयों के तार जो मिलाता
मिटाता अराजकता
लांघता ऐसे ही दूरियां !

क्षितिज पर छाया
स्वर्णिम कोहराम है
या रंगों ने रचा स्वयंवर
चकाचौंध हैं या
आकर्षित हैं वे
मोहित भी हैं सुनकर
मल्लाहों के मधुर गीत
और झिलमिलाती
रेशमी तरंगों पर वो
नावों का मानो, वीणा वादन !

(C) Anita Desai Sept 2017

















c) Anita Desai, August 2017

स्वतंत्रता की नित नई वर्षगाँठ
फिर गूँजतें हार्दिक बधाई
और सुमंगल गौरव गान
प्राचीरों से लहराता तिरंगा
तिरंगी पोशाकें और पकवान !

चल पड़े भारत माँ के नौ निहाल
बन सभी नट सम्राट
लिए खोखले स्वर और भाव
कोई है गाँधी कोई सरदार
कहीं झांसी की रानी, और
सरोजिनी भिकाईजी कामा !

पावन नदियां सींचती जिसका मरुस्थल
ज्ञान की धाराएं बहती जहाँ कल कल
गुरु ही धंस गए वहां गहन पाताल समतल
कहें जो वन्दे मातरम और वंदना
रौंदें बंकिम टैगोर की अर्चना
भड़के हिंसा, मचे कोलाहल की स्पंदना !

बनो वज्र प्राचीर राष्ट्र की, वीर युवकगण
हम विचरेंगे देश-देश के बीच मिलन का सेतु
हम ऐसे आज़ाद हमारा झंडा है बादल
जहाँ शीश नवा गए पंत दिनकर और हरिवंश
“भारत तेरे टुकड़े होंगे”
अपशब्दों से वही धरा हलाहल !

विकसित देश की भीड़ को चीरते
यहाँ बालक दिन रात हैं जूझते
मुरझाई आस भूखे प्यासे
निर्मम धुप में जलते भुनते
गली कूचों में बेचते फिरते
वही हमारा तिरंगा प्यारा !

घृणा की बाढ़ में डूबी वसुंधरा
वीरगति को प्राप्त रण में
पिता पौत्र या वीर हमारा
उजड़े चमन में सोने की चिड़िया
खड़ी नवयुग के प्रांगण में निर्वस्त्र
सीता द्रौपदी और निर्भया !

क्यों ना फिर हो जाएँ स्वतंत्र
कोई बालक ना रहे छोटू
ना ही बालिका कोई हो आया
हर नारी पूज्य रहे
मानवता और सभ्यता का परचम
सदा रहे लहराया !

क्यों ना फिर हो जाएँ परतंत्र
लांघे ख़ैबर करे चढ़ाई
कोई ईरानी अफ़ग़ानी या अंग्रेज़
और कहीं हो जाएँ हृदयस्थ
सुर से सुर मिलाए अनायास
भगत बिस्मिल और अशफ़ाक़ !

क्या दूँ आशीष तुझे ऐ भारत माता
ला रंग दूँ तेरा बसंती फिर चोला
इक माँ से जन्में हम सारे
मैं भगवा तू चंद्र और तारा
लाठी से ना टूटे ना बिछड़े पानी
बांधे हमें उसी तिरंगे की धारा !

c) Anita Desai, August 2017


(A short poem dedicated to Mr. Anshu Gupta of GOONJ. The Poem ‘Echo’ was awarded first place at the World Union of Poets – Telangana on 15th August 2016)


In the lull of the bewitching hour

a shadow veiled

like a Santa coeval

moves swift and spry

bearing salve of humanity.

The Samaritan apperceives

wealth & treasures a trivia

rallies & hollow speech a farce

for all a pauperized seeks

is a garb, a gulp & a morsel.

As the waters retreat

earth fall perch & fires ebb

the Knight comes a galloping

wagons of provender in tow

& resonating hooves of hope.

Seraph of the maidens

shielding their honor

for it is not just a piece of cloth

banishing the obsolete

his bugle of war echoes.

(c) Anita Desai August 2016



Clouds thunder & showers

Dot my sky

Rains drizzle

Then halt, and ponder

Glabrous terra, Lakes athirst

Ebbing brooks

Yet the soil moist

Who concours its deluge

They wonder


A solitary mortal

Whose tears flood the plains

Praying hands

Beseeching eyes

Cries of atonement

Rent the air

For it is him, and

His like that pillaged

The terrene

Clouds thunder & showers

Dot my sky

& mull, To absolve bless or

Let it suffer in dearth

Razed cliffs, Beheaded stumps

A lull in buzz n chirps

Bleak contours of the sphere

Harden their will to abjure

Its thunder

No more a promise of lush, but

A cry of bereavement.

(c) Anita Desai May 2016.