‘Pre-life’ and other poems by Neera Kashyap
By Neera Kashyap
Discrimination may be about colour caste race gender.
Discrimination may also be about perceiving right from wrong;
friend from foe; good from bad; law from justice….
Sometimes a person feels like a friend because she has arrived;
a rash of hurts and I see her main concern: to stay arrived.
So discrimination is discernment about what appears to be but isn’t.
The virus rose from the ocean as a pre-life form;
We rose from it, yet it appears to rise from us…
toppling time, assailing us –
fragile yachts on a sea of grabbing waves
that arrive and leave, yet we contrive to stay arrived….
If we befriend ourselves
we befriend others on this forgiving Earth.
For She waits and waits alone to heal herself.
Lockdown of an Elephant King*
He, an elephant cavorted in the waters with his queens, waves echoing their cries:
King, King Gajendra!
Like lightning, a piercing pain gripped his leathery leg and he knew the crocodile like
a memory, a curse, a stabbing insight that this would be no ordinary battle but…
He trumpeted his trauma as declamation; his queens left the water,
It clawed at his flesh, mind and soul; declamations beaten by time, then stilled;
his head bowed for a thousand years…
He dreamt a sage visited a virtuous king – human, devout and loved by his subjects –
who did not rise in greeting.
Ego was a turgid lake and the crocodile…. saviour…
He knew sorrow and scourge; despair and desolation.
Death in his breath, he prayed for the first time,
struggled to lift a lotus to the skies.
That instant –
a blazing light, a hurtling disk – the pain left.
The crocodile’s severed head floated on slime.
Jaws clenched, it had felt the same pain;
voiceless, it had spoken through him,
through his body, mind and soul…till the light came and
freed him first…
*Based on the legend, Gajendra moksha from the Bhagavata Purana,
Dark clouds chase the moon
Sun burns through cloudless skies
they walk through suns and moons
Neera Kashyap has worked on health, social and environmental communications. As an author, she has published a book of stories for young adults titled, ‘Daring to dream’ and contributed to five prize-winning anthologies for children. As a literary writer of short fiction, poetry, essays and book reviews, her work has appeared in international journals (Setumag & Virtual Verse from USA; Clarendon Publishing House and The Poet from U.K.); in South Asian journals (Kitaab, Mad in Asia Pacific & Papercuts); and in several Indian journals including Usawa, Out of Print, Narrow Road, Erothanatos and in an anthology, ‘Hibiscus’ on poems that heal and empower. She lives in Delhi.