Sunday, 8 November 2009

Rana Pratap was a Jolly Old Chap

Rana Pratap
Was a jolly old chap
A mighty king of yore
He solemly swore
He would sleep on straw
Till the Mughals got out of Chittor.

-RH Lesser, Worsery Rhymes.

-Brian Mendonça

The sound of hooves
Hastens the end,
Horse meets elephant
In mortal combat.
For the pride of Mewar
A soldier must fall,
As flames leap
To devour her chaste.

(Haldighati, Udaipur
7 Nov 2009)

Note: Rana Pratap met Akbar's Mughal army in the battle of Haldighat in 1576. The narrow defile of about a kilometre is known as 'haldi-ghat' because its soft yellow soil looks like haldi (turmeric).

Lake City
-Brian Mendonça

On a sheepish Mewar
I arrived in Venice
In a grim city
Reeling from drought.
The lights of the Lake Palace
Don’t wipe the worry
of the safa-headed mahout--
His caprisoned camel
Not having much to do.
Haldighat, Nathdwara
Eklinji, Saheli-ki-bag
Travellers pause
for a slice of the medieval.
Tales in a time warp
Robed in the Aravallis
The sun God is regent here
In the crisp autumn morn.

5-8 Nov 2009)

Note: On 21 October 2009 the 2779 Goa Express rammed into the stationary 2964 Mewar Express (here 'Mewar')in a train accident near Mathura; safa: turban

-brian mendonça

The nattli hears
Her baby cry
Misses her step
Losing the wager of a king.
Sunday morning stories
In Chitrakoot park
In the distance on the hill
A temple looks Eastward.
Surya Pol, Chand Pol
House-dwellers live
In rhythm with the cosmos.
The Birla hall welcomes all-
its ornate facade
recalling Amber.
Jaipur razais
(1 kilo kapus)
Sit ‘neath my seats
On the Ajmer Shatabdi.

8 Nov 2009)

Notes nattli: a woman ropewalker - from short story by Rajasthani writer Vijay Dan Dheta narrated by Hema Yadav in Jaipur; razais: cotton-filled lightweight blankets made in Jaipur and famous across India. Suitable for early winter; Amber: Amber fort near Jaipur built in the 16th century by Raja Man Singh; 2015 Ajmer Shatabdi: superfast AC chair-car express train leaves Jaipur at 1750 hrs reaching New Delhi at 2230 the same day.

Empty Rooms
-brian mendonca

Empty rooms
Put-away chairs
A lock on the bedroom door,
Darkness in the kitchen
A hush over the house,
A daughter-in-law serves parathas
The pain in her eyes, palpable.
The stairs creak
With a heavy tread,
In the front room
Sandalwood garlands
a beaming visage.
Out on the porch
The shadows lengthen
The jasmine refuses to flower
Waiting for a loving hand.
Neighbours glance nervously
At visitors to the house,
While a pack of urchins
Romp down the street,
Their carefree banter
Ringing between the courtyards.
Why does a heaviness
Descend on life.
Lalita, was it fair
For you to leave like this
After making the morning tea
And reading the day’s newspapers?

8 Nov 2009)

All poems published in English Studies in India, A Refereed Journal of Language and Literature, Vol. 18 (January 2010), Department of English, University of Kashmir, Srinagar: pp.167-170; Picture courtesy:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wonderful! I almost got the entire picture, thanks to your diction! I am intrigued at the lines "Pushpa, was it fair/For you to leave like this/After making the morning tea/And reading the day's newspapers?" Care explain?