Yesterday I Saw Labour

Claus took me on his bike to Harry’s Farm

here in Kumily

and we climbed up the steep hill road

till he dropped me at the end

and continued to market

Stefan was making manure out of cowdung

and dirty and sweating

we greeted each other and he said

he has an hour’s work to go

sure I’ll watch I said

while he continued to work

he was mashing the dung together

under the hot noon sun

then someone from a house nearby

offered me tea

while Stefan spoke with another guy

and then we all chatted awhile

and they decided we should all proceed

to Harry’s Farm and they would work there

so then three of us Stefan Jomon and I

trekked along the mountainside to Harry’s Farm

how beautiful the green valleys full of vegetation were

vast and deep with tall pine trees

and soon we are at another house near Harry’s Farm

and someone offers me coffee now

while Stefan and Jomon continue to work

on a dung pile here

Stefan first mixes it up with a spade

then fills the dung into a big steel tub

then lifts the tub full of dung

and pours it into the sack Jomon holds

they work like that while I watch

and we chat from time to time

about my earlier visits

while they fill 16 sacks of dung

over an hour

and now from here they will

carry it to Harry’s Farm where we now proceed

finally I sit down on a chair

and relax

and Stefan chops up a jackfruit for me

it is so sweet and delicious

I thank him for it

while he and Jomon now continue

to bring those 16 sacks of dung

on their shoulders uphill

all this is manure for the pepper

and the coffee that grows here

I marvel at their capacity

for this backbreaking work

while they chat and laugh

about this and that

and I eat that sweet jackfruit

and enjoy the lush green landscape

they talk about deer hunters and

the gunshots they’ve heard

as they climb up the hill

they talk about predatory animals

forest officers and guns

while I listen and eat

I had first met Stefan years ago

while he was a boy in school

he loves this work

he says good health is what you get

he dropped out of school and chose

to be a farmer like his father

and now they come climbing up the hill

with sacks  of dung on their back

and when it’s finally over

we all sit and chat again

while Stefan strips to his black shorts

and jumps into his natural rock pool

for a swim and bath

soon he offers us homemade chapattis

and peanut butter and honey

all from the property

it is so tasty and again we have tea

and chat

Jomon says he’s 29

and if he doesn’t work hard and earn well

he won’t get a girl

he too is a school dropout

he’s also a wedding decorator a rickshaw driver

a dairy farmer and odd job man around

Stefan talks about his family

while I talk about my life in Bombay

and then rainclouds appear in the sky

and Jomon offers to take me

back to my homestay in his rickshaw

I thank him and Stefan then

and Jomon and I make our way

back across the mountain path

he points out a baby snake to me

and again at Jomon’s house I’m offered tea

while his nephew and niece work

both children between 12-14 years

they work on their dung heap

while I chat with an old man there

and chickens run in and out of the house

soon Jomon also joins us freshly bathed

and in new clothes and I thank everyone around

while Jomon now starts his rickshaw

and we go down the mountain road again

into town

when we reach my homestay

Jomon won’t tell me the fare

pay me what you want he says

I give him a 100 rupee note

while he thanks me and I think

how sweet life is

as a fresh breeze blows

and it slowly begins to rain.

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How The Heart Cries

for human suffering

it is so bad

the misfortunes

I feel eyes

watching me

all the time

my mind

is disturbed

but there is

only myself and my pain

and the suffering

is such I feel

I wish I could be a bird

but the horrors

become a mountain

they flay me

as I stand fighting

I will die

when I will

I shout

and then

I hear the birds tweet wildly

and Bombay explodes in rain

the dark city dances like a ghost

I go quiet and watch

the unhappiness begin to wash away

until my body and mind are silent as a tomb

and I feel the cosy comfort of the womb

O cradle of civilization rock me now rock me now in this rain

and thank you thank you so much for stealing away my pain.

First Rain

of 2014

June 4

I have cleaned

my house

and sit on my bed

that has freshly changed

bedsheet

and myself

bathed

in my T-shirt

looking at the world outside

in the rain

how the light has changed

so early in the morning

to something so different

I sit here searching

what is it

I wonder in my heart

and it is so beautiful

this deep valley opens up

that goes on and on

and a cock crows

and I listen to the ensuing silence

I look at the houses

yellow green blue white

but it’s mostly the smell

and the coolness

and again the cock crows

and there I go

through the streets

through the swishing vehicles

their lights blazing

reds oranges golds

and all those fluorescent streetlights

like dreams

passing by the buildings

the gardens

of forgotten days

when I would walk in my windcheater

amidst the fallen branches

on the footpath

the crushed yellow laburnum floating

in puddles

I would look up as always

at the balconies

and sometimes find someone

picking clothes from a line

how sweet that used to be

but often it was the trees

and the dripping raindrops

dazed in green

that quickly carried me away

to those spots of skylight

where I wandered on

and walked till I reached the moon.

 

The above poem is from my third book The Branches (2015).

The World Is A Picture

torn

the internal pipe in my bathroom burst

and water poured out of the walls

it cost me 5000

then my washing machine went

and I let it go

I said I will live in this broken world

amidst these walls

these buildings these people

these skies all over

these railway tracks

these houses these trains

these millions shuttling past

the mental energy

the noise and the silence

and soon the stars come alive here over my building

and start to sing

and then the moon sails in

like a dream and I am entranced

at the sheer scale of the light shining

dazzling my mind a mountain of song

and this is her voice the world’s

her millions singing choruses of wild harmony

and all those roads those planes in the sky

I think

the weapons the wars

what about all that

did they all just disappear

I ask myself

the boredom the madness

the complete loss of comprehension

what about becoming the wall

becoming stone concrete brick

or just nothing at all

emptiness in the sun

and then finding no answer

soon through the nights of my childhood

I set sail once again rowing through memories

through trees of flailing rain

pouring now once again so loud

so deafening falling from this same sky

these strips of shining water

rushing down all over

these castles these lakes these forests these roads

these motorcycles these horses these bandits

these guns these soldiers these wars

see there is no more place to go no peace

I tell myself

all is here all the sheer sad songs of mother moon

the unborn the living

the billion voices the dead the dying

the crying

I tell myself

you’re stuck here

you’re lost

you’re crazy

and when people ask you

how you’re doing

you say cool

like a fool.

 

The above poem is from my third collection The Branches (2015). You can download The Branches for free here: http://www.lulu.com/shop/dominic-alapat/the-branches/ebook/product-22413518.html