Today's Beautiful Gem: "fifty years" by Mohana Udayakala

fifty years is a long time
friends for fifty years in delhi and calcutta
relatives for fifty years in amritsar and ahmedabad
wherever i go, they offer me sweets
sweets to celebrate fifty years
fifty years is a long time
fifty years ago, i was a teen-ager
o what care-free days, o what frightful days

i still think of our old house
(i always wonder who lives there now)
the giant tree in the front yard
the shaded windows and curtained doors
a ghazal floating down the alley
a sitar's lilting notes from the neighbour's compound
mouth-watering cooking smells from inside the kitchen
a voice calling the faithful from the distant mosque

everything shattered in one surreal event
everyone displaced and everyone in one constant motion
we moving toward the east
they moving toward the west
when east and west met
swords were drawn and guns were aimed
overturned carts, running bulls
rotting bodies, wailing children
dust, stench, noise
anger, hunger, sorrow

fifty years is a long time
even after fifty years
when everybody else is sleeping
i wake up in sweat and tears
even after fifty years the doctrines are mad
we aim at lahore and karachi
(my lahore and karachi of the past)
they aim at delhi and bombay
(my delhi and bombay of the present)
what celebration? what a celebration!

fifty years ago, on our eastern pilgrimage,
my mother died heart-broken, my uncle's heart was broken
my father survived with a gash on his face
and i survived with a gash in my heart
my uncle was a poet and here are his favourite lines:
follow the footsteps of the camels
they lead to the watering hole near the water hole
drink and dance and you'll be one with Him
fifty years ago, the favourite drink was blood
the favourite dance was the dance of death
my uncle was united with Him and so was my mother
and after fifty years, i still think of him and of her

Om shantiH Peace! - J. K. Mohana Rao