STENCH

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There was more moisture in the air than air,
That was during the rains, though.

Now,
The prices are heavier than the goods they buy,
More people walking the streets, not all humans,
Nastiness, hooliganism, and bombast are what go for politics,
Bigger cars take up streets needing more of the streets,
More sewage than the diameter of sewage pipes,
Rivers full of waste, more waste than river,
Banks looted with impunity, beautiful homes bought far far away,
People work and work more than the twenty-four hours in a day!

There is more stench in the air than air.

Dhaka
9th November 2017

© S M Shahrukh and Traces of Orange, 2017

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OF ATTICS AND BASEMENTS

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The mind drifts…
drifts away from here,
it wants to be anywhere but here.

The childhood of fun
is all in little boxes in the attic
of my mind, some in real boxes, too.
The secrets are all in the dungeon like basement of my mind-
the letters and the photos
and the knickknacks,
they have all become ashes or
have been littered with the common garbage of days gone by.
I have no real basement, though.

Loves, friendships, words of times past
are floating about in the ‘cloud’ of memory,
sometimes a ray of sunshine creates cracks in them,
reveals sweeter times;
nostalgia is biased that way,
remembers only the good,
suppressing all the unfulfillments.

Dreams are all that remain.
Dreams of happiness, of sweet sorrows,
of the ferocious summer days,
of when love was young.
Dreams that fill my world
with the feeling that life is beautiful.
But one awakes inevitably to face reality,
a harsh reality,
a reality that disappoints more than it fulfils,
a reality that has always failed to solve
the enigma of the dreams.
Dreams that vanish in the morning light
like dew drops that sparkled on the blades of grass
not too long before.

A new day begins with promise,
with the detritus of the immediate past,
always with the hope of beautiful blue mountains,
the frothing seas,
the calm of an endlessly flowing river,
the daytime darkness of a deep forest.
The mind runs away to such beautiful visions,
visions of love that come with no quotidian struggles.
But alas! one ends up resorting to dreams at the end of the day,
a day that didn’t keep its promises like a deceitful lover.

Dhaka
14th August 2017

© S M Shahrukh and Traces of Orange, 2017

Sadness

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Sadness is universal; the same cannot be said of happiness, though. Some people go through life with so much sadness that the little moments of happiness are lost in the hazy visions of teary eyes. Don’t speak of your sadness all the time, or relate the sad events of your life relentlessly as is the wont of some people. The people who keep babbling of their sadness, real or imaginary, fail often to appreciate the ‘blues’ of others. However much you speak of your sorrow, you will never be able to make someone belittle his/her own sadness and expect him/her to think that you have suffered more. It is better to keep some of your sorrows bottled up, however much it kills you inside, lest your sadness be deemed to be the tears seeking sympathy only. In a world where more people are sad than happy, sympathy is in short supply and people are, first and foremost, selfish.

14.8.2015

© S M Shahrukh and Traces of Orange, 2014.

(The photo was taken at Kakoli crossing at Banani, Dhaka, early in the morning. The sleeping people in and around the sculpture are addicts)

STAR CROSSED LOVERS

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The phone rang in the early morn
It was you like many other days
But this morning was different,
Your voice was not the voice
Your hello sounded like a goodbye today.

Why do sounds change color?
Why do visions sound different?
Why do lovers stop feeling the hearts’ beats?
Why does love sound, look and feel like
anything but love one fine morning?
Why do hellos mean goodbyes some days?

Dhaka
20th June 2017

© S M Shahrukh and Traces of Orange, 2017

LATE AT NIGHT

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The eerie silence continued but from afar came a slight tapping sound after a while. I waited like a drunk waiting for the barkeep to give me another shot, the tapping became louder, not loud enough though to disturb the ‘serenity’ of the night. As I waited for whatever was making the sound to come nearer, I looked at other buildings within my view. I saw a number of lights still lit but emanating only from small square windows; some people kept their bathroom lights turned on all night. There was one regular window with a muted light; another person struggling to sleep or maybe staying up deliberately. The tapping sound went past the street in front of my view. A very old man, bent as if a great burden on his shoulders, like the history of a thousand years, gently tapping and almost collapsing but moving on. He vanished after a few minutes and silence resumed as if he was walking to his own grave to lay himself down. Does life have to come to a state where from the bouncy youthful days one becomes a victim of decrepitude, dependent on a stick to avoid becoming one with the ground beneath one’s feet? A visit to the window of suicide is alluring, even more, the itch to jump out of it but only a visit makes one love life even more, not all, though.

 
Dhaka
2nd April 2017

© S M Shahrukh and Traces of Orange, 2017

THESE ARID DAYS

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The nights are wintry still but spring is here. The long nights are shortening and, in a month, the days’ hours will outnumber those of nights. Even if one can feel the beautifully soothing breeze of early spring, nature remains parched. The city losing its greenery, what’s left of it, every day, the top soil has come loose and when one breathes, one takes in part of that erstwhile top soil as dust, a desert-like carpet on the already suffering collective lungs of the people. Add to that the incessant road works, construction clash-bang-clamour, the exhaust fumes from running engines that are going nowhere in a hurry. A ‘dustbowl’ is the sprawling metropolis where quick locomotion is a distant mirage and the eventual slow progress is hard-fought and only gained after long and sapping battles, every goddamned day.

My eyes look up at the sky, searching and searching for a harbinger of the first rain of spring. The daytime sky is too blue with some hints of wispy whites to give any hope of relief to the thirsting heart and there are too many stars on display at night for there to be hope of a blackened sky, rumbling clouds, a nor’wester, maybe, in the coming day. A downpour at the culmination of a severe wind dance? Rain washing away the dirt? Too much to expect? At least a measly shower then.

If it rains tomorrow or in a few days’ time, it’ll be the first rain of spring. The streets will be wet, albeit a brown muddy film but still a watery grave for all the dust floating about. Even if for a few hours, the dusty terrain that seemed eternal till the last rays of the sun before the clouds gathered, will get respite from the choking aridity, the all-consuming dust, the trees that still remain, will breathe and sigh in relief, not knowing the ephemeral nature of rain during springtime. Nature will be shivering in her watery cloak like a woman clad in a wet sari after a dip in the pond.

When it finally rains, nature will have ‘a touch of grey’, it’ll be a time to pause and look at things that were invisible in the sun.

People will have to go to work still; they will, and with the initial euphoria over, with a look of melancholy. Like me, they would wish they were someplace else.

Dhaka
16th February 2017

© S M Shahrukh and Traces of Orange, 2017

FUMES

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Fascism is capitalism in decay said Vladimir Ilyich.

People thought of him as

The second coming of Christ;

He was not: no miracles, no walking on water.

Fascism does not come deliberately, always,

It materializes, not always with intent but from compulsion.

It comes when the power holders get nervous

Even when all opposition is removed,

The fear of the unknown grips them.

When the monsters all want the loot

Internecine battles become commonplace

Battles that exact a heavy toll from the common people

Their lives are often thrown into total disarray.

Democracy turns to fascism when

People are disenfranchised,

History is warped, political correctness emphasized,

It has no grace, treats people like infants,

Telling them what and how to think,

The Orwellian idea of ‘thought police’ comes into being

Everyone is forced to toe the designated line,

It’s a natural progression of events.

And the hopes and dreams of the powerless are dashed,

They are burned to cinders and they fly away with the fumes.

But cinders still have some fire left in them,

The golden glow of freedom breaks through,

And one day, maybe not too far in the future,

The glow becomes a wildfire and

A small group is born with that fire in the belly

And lead the rest to renounce the rule of the few.

And the cycle begins again.

 

Dhaka

4th February 2017

 

© S M Shahrukh and Traces of Orange, 2017