why

in the stillness of the night

in the sonance of the day

in the thrum of rains

why do you tiptoe

and drift placidly

into my thoughts

in murmuring waves

that erupt in trillions

of moments

evolving into

tantalising images

of allure and dreams

wafting around my

being, my soul and

surging through my mind

ceaseless, melodious

in a rhythm that i cannot

fathom but discern

a bond that grows

seeking no acceptance

want that i cannot grasp

keeping me addled

through endless hours

of pulsating beats

confined where

i neither can

touch nor hark

or elude

from these magical spells

of upheaval

when there is no reboot

why

in unison

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my soul

vibrates with

another

unknown yet so known

timeless, ageless

with my every heartbeat

beats one more

in unison with mine

thoughts travel

in unison

in and out

from one mind

to the other

every pain that reflects

in that body

reflects in mine

where is this heart

that i can’t touch

but feel in mine

unseen, so near

yet so far

my soul

entwined with another

loving beyond despair

unexplained, impossible

every sinew aware

of my soulmate

fear of loss

stalks me

breaking in sweat and tears

fear of time

makes my heart pound

will we never meet

why can’t i be a friend

time stops me

cross that i bear

fear swirls around

engulfing my being

unfathomed quiet

presence that pulsates

blanking my thoughts

unbearable throbbing

my vision clouds

i realise

i cease to live

as life

lifts my soulmate

into another world

that i can’t fathom

leaving me

powerless, blinded

motionless

leaving me

crying in the shadows

incomplete forever

as i cease to live

Featured

Bengali adda

The Indian State of West Bengal is rich in culture, traditions and, therefore, history. Bengalis are intelligent, creative, passionate and mostly well read people. I give a glimpse of the Bengali culture here, called ‘adda’ which I grew up on and which is so familiar to me. Oxford dictionary defines adda as an ‘informal conversation among a group of people.’ Actually, it sounds so diluted an explanation!

The high point of the Bengali adda is a large congregation of family members on any and every occasion, where all kinds of activities happen over humongous degree of chit chatting. The subjects range from politics to restaurants, food to books, authors, education and theatre.

Adda is incomplete without cultural activities such as singing, playing instruments, reciting poems, book reading, playing board games like ludo, carrom, cards, etc. The quality of the participation is normally above average. And one can gain a lot from these vocal display of art and culture.

Loud chatter by adults, laughter, arguments and ruckus created by children are the hall marks of these sessions. And they go on till cows come home. Yes, adda is addictive indeed.

The noise levels on these occasions are incomparable. Sometimes, on a Sunday afternoon, the adda chatters permeate from many houses, disturbing the peace of some who like their siesta. A disruption of adda ensues, of another vocal kind, with many curious eyes, big and small, watching from different windows. The disruptor stands on the by-lane with dishevelled hair, crumpled kurta (top) and pyjamas, flailing his arms as his anger erupts, voice resonating through the nondescript lane, while the embarrassed or irritated peace makers stand on the verandah or balcony, as the case maybe, trying to quieten down the agitated neighbour from a safe distance.

It is just not the sound, but the palate is also an equal partner. It is given that an adda needs to be accompanied by a steady stream of deep fried Indian snacks like pakora (vegetable fritter), shingara (deep fried pastry with savoury filling), luchi (deep fried flat bread made of flour) with typically bengali style potato curry, bengali sweets and endless cups of tea. Those women, who are the hostesses, definitely are at the receiving end. Even if they do mind the labour, I haven’t seen them expressing it.

Now the group needs to be large enough for an adda to really take off. Bengalis by and large are well networked within the family. The family usually consists of the extended family as well. Uncles, aunts, cousins, siblings, children and the elderly, all participate with great gusto. So the numbers may add up to 10 and may go up to 20 or 25.

I have primarily been a part of these adda sessions with the family in Kolkata during my summer holidays from school and with friends in Delhi at planned and unplanned adda sessions.

Adda has various hues. Other than the impromptu occasions such as some relative on a vacation staying over, or comes visiting, or is passing by, they must happen at some function like a wedding, a birthday and in the midst of or after festivals.

During my visits to Kolkata, adda was a common feature. Every other day, the entire extended family would sit together after lunch or dinner and get on with the adda. It was kicked off with playing ludo which soon got out of hand, with one team accusing the other of cheating. Then it went on to singing and discussing politics over cups of tea. Many woke up with acidity in the morning, because Bengalis are known to have weak stomachs, but it never was a deterrent.

Another instance is Bijoya Dashami, which follows immediately after the Durga Pujo.

In Bengali traditions, Durga pujo is believed to commemorate Goddess Durga’s visit to her natal home with her children. The festival is preceded by Mahalaya, which is believed to mark the start of Durga’s journey to her natal home. On the tenth day, which is Dashami, the Durga idols are immersed in the rivers, with proper rituals being observed. With the departure of Durga, the celebration of Bijoya Dashami begins right after the bisorjon (immersion of the idol), with people hugging each other and distributing sweets.

There is a whole lot of camaraderie which follows, where social visits are paid to all near and far ones, family et al. The social visit turns into an adda at some house or the other, when many families visit the same house at the same time. The hosts lay down a sumptuous spread of food and sweets, amidst chatter and laughter. Every family is visited upon and thus, at times we are the visitors and at times we are the hosts.

By the time the social rounds are done, an adult ends up adding at least two kilos in weight and with an upset stomach. But it’s a never ending treat for children and we were no exception. I used to look forward to these occasions as a child and never missed any of them, fighting sleep as well as exhaustion.

As I grew up, these sessions lessened due to paucity of time all around. When I moved out of my city, it dwindled even further and all of a sudden I lost touch with adda.

As I grow older, I miss those days of carefree banter, meaningless laughter, tight hugs, surrounded by affection, love and warmth of those who really cared for you. Simple, carefree days of bountiful of affection. No one, anymore, asks for an update sincerely, no one gives me unsolicited advise and no one feeds me till I am ready to burst. I miss those times.

Time, they say, waits for none. It certainly took a toll on my adda sessions and I remember them with every occasion that comes by. Whether it is Holi, Durga Pujo or a chance visit of some relative or friend passing through.

I also realise that the adda made me feel secure amidst those who were part of my growing up years. If I could, I would revisit those days all over again.

rendezvous

Dream, sparkle and shine

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Go my friend

into your world again

where happiness greets you

there is laughter and solace

waiting for you, again

away from pain and doubt

unshackled, unfettered

meet with your destiny

in gay abandon

as providence has designed for you;

true it is indeed

a world of promises

and there is

your life in waiting

where you are meant to be

go my friend, go

a few strands

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sun reflects

shines like a mirror

unfurls the sky

clouds float past

breeze runs

through few strands

flailing helplessly

on the top;

here come the rains

pitter patter

sounds stay

water drops land,

jumping off

flowing down in gay abandon

messing around

few strands all wet and drooping

on glistening brown;

it’s cold and frosty

iced it is

freezing all of it

shimmering white

strands flattened

beyond vision;

hurts beyond measure

open to vagaries of weather

leaving no option but

to reach for the cap

to save the few strands

on the bald pate

only in my being

“Our souls already know each other, don’t they?”
Karen Ross

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vortex of emotions

rise and fragment my being

into a million parts

splintering my thoughts

as they prance

around me in happiness,

in pain, in sorrow…

in tandem

with my body and my soul

two different entities now

away from each other drawn

as i cry in pain, torn,

in a bind to hold on

to breathe

and to let go;

eternal turmoil of mind,

faith, trust and heart…

heart wins over all;

time steps in

void in me it creates

rests on my shoulders

motionless, heavy

spiral of fear rising i feel

through my gut;

my heart turns away

pulsating, incomplete

dissolving hope;

defeat i concede

step back to encase

my soulmate

in my memory folds;

i turn as i feel

him as a part of

my being, entwined,

in my mind shackled,

in my thoughts enchained,

in my moments, in my soul,

my aura – my alter ego

in an eternal space

of the Giver;

but time is motionless

my body listless

mind in struggle

in a vortex of emotions

i concede defeat

only in my being

for time can’t shackle

my soul

sands of time

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i stand by the river

as the tide makes me wait

i want to cross over

before it’s too late;

i see you my soulmate

it seems i’ll never reach

time’s really with the tide

and that i can never breach;

sands of time are ever so rough

there’s no let up for love or pain

searing winds make it really tough

for me to cross and see you again;

i stand by the river

knowing that i just can’t turn the tide

and i pray to the Giver

to always be on your side;

even if i‘m not with you

there’s no reason for you to frown

now that you’re getting your due

just go ahead and seek your crown;

watching you my soulmate

am just happy to see your flight

for sands of time have got me late

to reach you, yearn as i might.