The Hollow

Browning leaves lay strewn on the forest floor in a fair imitation of a kaleidoscope. The barren trees with spindly trunks were mourning their loss. Their silence was deafening; occasionally broken by flocks of birds chirping through the dawn, a cacophony of insects serenading through the night and the gently flowing waters of the creek.

I remember this day like yesterday. She must have been thirty-five when I clicked this picture. We were on the outskirts of the forest a few blocks away from our house. It was the first picture I deemed acceptable for entering into a photography contest. She had insisted on calling it “The Hollow”. At that time, I never understood why.

Since yesterday, I’ve been going through a lifetime of memories she left me with in her scabby old trunk. Of all the pictures in it, my eyes can’t seem to part with this one. It looks hazy now, and feels wet. I wipe it with shaky hands. It hurts; it shouldn’t, but it does. It is not so much that she is dead but the fact that she died without recalling me. It’s been five years since she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

– Akanksha Gupta

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The Tissue Chronicles

There is something to be said for the transience of tissues,

From Kleenex to Gossamer;

Of Kleenex

I wish all paper

Could wither away

Like this one;

Burdened with thoughts,

Unburdening another,

And the thoughts going no further.

Of Gossamer

Some times I wonder

The others I wander

About different people

About different places

Knowing, all that there is to glean

Lies in wait in between.

– Akanksha Gupta

Schizophrenia

Says the spider to the fly,
“Always, always I snugly lie
In my web of truths
And now I’ve caught you too”

The fly, in kind, replies,
“I’ll find an escape route”

But on the sly, the spider laughs
“Oh you’re well and truly caught
No reason to deny
None of your elaborate plots
That run afoot
Can help you seek the way to lie”

The fly, however, self-assured
Wills the spider to watch
As it tells the truths from lies

Neither of them aware that
The spider is the fly

– Akanksha Gupta

Encapsulation

The ink of prose,

Sophisticated and staid,

Prosily stains the sheets;

Spilling words upon words

With reckless abandon –

In expectation

Of a lengthy greatness

And in want

Of unnerving honesty; 

The sort that can be

Effortlessly eclipsed

In the guise

Of poetry

– Akanksha Gupta

The Existential Crisis @ HKUST IDOL

Pakistan. May 2, 2011. Militant Islamist Osama bin Laden was killed by the U.S. forces, ending his reign of terror:

A drizzle of blood

From the skies burst

Touched his lips

And quenched his thirst

 

And as innocent blood

Wet his throat

He inspired men

With hate and loath

 

His bombs, missiles and gun barrels

Vanished cities with a blast

And the eyes of each city shone

With the ghosts of its past

 

Each man, each woman,

Each child of every faith

Vowed to strike back

And avenge their death

 

And at last as though heavens raged

In silence with interminable zest

In secrecy they sent him where

No man in peace does ever rest

 

Is this the emotion that oozes?

When you hear his name

Forgetting latent virtues

In sheer disdain

 

How many of you agree to that

Upon which the poem insists

I may, I may not, but

Isn’t there a heart in every terrorist?

 

They say probably not

 

Bin Laden’s death was a landmark; a symbolic slap on the face of terror that boosted the morale of people. It was supposed to be a harbinger of hope.

But the power vacuum

Lead the Middle East

Into a state of

War and Insurgency

 

The chasm between

The two factions of Islam

Fueled by jihadists

Gave rise to a political bedlam

 

The ISIS then emerged

In Iraq and Syria

Wishing to establish

A governance by Sharia

 

The resulting civil war

Scarred the Syrian nation

Destabilized Middle East

And invaded global regions

 

Now as the US and its allies

Launched airstrikes at ISIS

Syria became inhospitable

Resulting in a migrant crisis

 

It is the year 2016 now. This is the story of a how, a Syrian refugee who lost his family while migrating to Europe, meets another refugee settled in Germany in a similar situation

It’s those some-times

When in the quintessential hush

You whisper

From a broken raspy throat

Crackling through the silence

As though parched and raked over

Burning coals, over

Scorching summer sands

And into those silences of the desert

Your agonizing cracked voice

That has been silenced

By fate perchance

For so long

It has so much to say

It longs to, but nay

The silence of the desert

Offers no solace, no oasis

Yet you whisper

It speaks of strength

That you’re so hardened

That only you know, it’s an illusion;

Where they see courage

I see the desperation

I see you’re broken

Because I’ve been there too

The ageless quietude

Of whispering

Of wetting the throat with emotions

Buried somewhere far but not forgotten

Of wetting chapped lips with blood

That you wished was not a figment

Of your imagination

You bleed within and wonder

Why it all never bleeds out

But like a rot on the inside

It gnaws at you, it clings on, it clots

And you scrape it out

With harsh rasping sounds

And guttural cries and howls

Your throat is hoarse

Because you have so much to say

But no one to tell

So you tell the silent air

The forbidden secrets you hope

It will share

You hope that one day

You’ll get there

I won’t lie and say it’ll be fine

But it will get better with time

Your lies, your self-deception

Your ability to hide the pain

To hide yourself

From not just the world

But from yourself

 

We wish to say something to those refugees. To tell them that there is hope. That they have people out there who wish to help them.

But at the end of the day,

We are spectators; indifferent

Sympathizers; still indifferent

Commoners; who aren’t directly affected by ISIS or the migrant crisis

And this realization

That our lives are affected by petty complaints

Transports us into an existential crisis

 

Just a Matter of Perspective

As an extension to Happy New Year, a friend of mine told me earlier this morning that he makes resolutions when needed, not when the calendar on the wall changes. That perfectly describes my sentiments. However, this New Year I received a greeting from another dear friend apologising for all her past actions and words that may have even inadvertently hurt me. That gave me a pause. It gave me the idea for my latest resolution, which coincidentally happens to coincide with the first of January.

Every individual reacts differently to a given stimulus. Communication in a common tongue aims to reduce the scope of misunderstandings within these reactions. However, our unique styles and perspectives on life disable this particular feature resulting in a wall that stops us from being able to adopt a foreign mindset that justifies a particular action or reaction.

evaluation3-copyIn this light, my resolution is to simply try and breach the wall by translating it through poetry. As an example here is a parody on the mental tyranny of social obligations:

 

 

LESS IS MORE

I suppose it may differ
Mine from yours
As do I from you
But nevertheless for me
It’s true
My dear –
Oh bother
I really must start appending
‘friend’
At the end
Of every ‘my dear’
For I fear
That such affectation
May be taken
Under undue consideration
By one
Who may or may not
Have been
Mocked
As the talk
Progressed into
The emphatic
But thence
Unto
The static

– Akanksha Gupta

Wacky Food Lyrics

I adore cooking. Mostly cooking up things. Sometimes it’s food. Palatable, usually. Here’s one of my many wacky dishes.

RICE ‘N’ CHIPS

Doritos crumbled into rice swathed in egg mayonnaise seasoned with a thousand islands and sprinkled with grated cheese and red chilli

dish 1

because there is poetry in food … and food for thought

You know you’re in University
When your taste buds have worn out
With the bland and the boring
And the numbingly unalluring
“Things” to eat

And you know when you’ve crunched
On supermarket candies and cookies
For days, mayhaps even weeks
Because winters have come
With blanket retreats

You know you’ve truly forgotten
How the good food melts like
On your tongue
For to walk a mile
(Or what seems like one during exams)
Is a real problem

But when your stomach starts wheezing
And your bread is hosting fungus
Oh your jam’s got it too
You walk that mile (despite a humongous workload)
But your options are too few

So you don’t even take the road
Less travelled by
But get off of the fork
You wade through the forest
And pick that what might just work

– Akanksha Gupta