Autumn Resilience

Those were the Autumn days, about two decades back,
Was out and about with family, had festivities to make.

Was on my way back home, when the warning was issued,
The Cyclone was approaching, we tried to rush all we could.

Efforts were not enough, and we got stuck in a bad traffic jam,
With huge trucks around us, ours was a tiny car in the open.

The hours passed, a veil of darkness descended upon us,
We heard big roars, as if the devil’s lung was about to burst.

The Cyclone went about its business for the whole night long,
Destroying vehicles, houses, as if licked with its thorny tongue.

Twisted trees and power poles alike with all its might,
Wiping out years of mankind and civility in just one night.

We stayed in that car for the whole time, huddled and scared,
The winds tried to toss us, and we thought we won’t be spared.

That was one scary Autumn night, like none I had seen before,
With everything else destroyed, as if we were left to tell the lore.

It was long before, when cyclones were without any names,
Less powerful, and may be a slightly less in fearsomeness.

Rising temperatures have made them more common than ever,
Autumn is synonymous with cyclones now, and will be in future.

When the world prepares for festivities at the arrival of Autumn.
My tribe is either preparing for a cyclone or is recovering from one.

As mankind “progresses” towards a better “future” elsewhere,
There will be people here who pay more than their fair share.

Not paying for the “progresses” they haven’t made, not a choice,
Autumn and its cyclones are now a story of my tribe’s resilience.

Having stood steadfast in the face of the cyclone of this year,
They pick up pieces, preparing for the next without any fear.

Autumn Resilience
An old man looks at the restless sea under black clouds as he prays using prayer beads, at Puri in Odisha, India.

My first encounter with a cyclone was way back in 1999, when me and my family were caught unawares while coming back from a roadtrip during Dussehra. We spent a night inside the car, stuck in a traffic jam on the then infamous Andhra-Odisha border. The storm raged on outside, and tried hard to toss and turn our car as the eye of the storm passed right over us. When the storm passed and dawn broke, almost everything around us was destroyed. The super cyclone of 1999 followed it, and became one of the worst natural disasters of the Indian subcontinent.

Over the years we moved to naming cyclones in the Indian ocean region, but the cyclones didn’t relent. On the east coast, Odisha became their primary target, and they came back every year during Autumn, the festive season in India. As global temperatures have risen, Odisha has been gearing up for cyclones, every year since, that is, after facing its annual bout of floods.

And for the people of coastal Odisha and the adjoining hills inland, they don’t understand what on Earth is worth the price they pay for every Autumn, year after year. The industrialisation that doesn’t exist in their backyard, the infrastructure that is just beginning to show up, the vehicles that don’t ply on their roads, or the over-consumption of resources that they are not party to? Or is it that they pay the price for someone else’s luxury?

VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Yes, you can share this work with proper attribution. But, please seek permission before using this work (not including the photo), partially or fully. YOU CAN NOT USE THE PHOTO. Believe me, asking is better than ending up in court or facing public shaming on social media. Thanks for understanding.

© Amrit Panigrahy. All rights reserved.

वो खुद थी

दरवाज़े, जिनकी चाबी उसी के पास ही थी,
कुछ एक मेरे लफ्ज़, जो वो ही थी समझती,
समझ जाती थी ज़ुबान खामोशियों की भी,
सांसे उसके लिए जैसे सरगम किसी गाने की।

एक दिन ऐसा आया, वो बोली में चली जाउंगी,
तुम्हारी कुछ आदते हैं जो मैं कभी सह ना पाउंगी,
क्या पता उसको के सबसे बड़ी आदत वो खुद थी,
मेरे दरवाज़े की चाबी,
मेरे अनसुलझे लफ्ज़,
मेरी सांसे,
और मैं….

वो खुद थी…….

Yes, she was
हां, वो उसकी आदत थी ।। Yes, she was his habit

A Hindi poem, this one talks about the closeness and the “used to” kind of bond the lovers share, so much so that when the lady decides to leave citing few of the man’s habits that she can’t tolerate anymore, it turns out that the man considers her his biggest habit, as his key to happiness, as his unspoken words, even as his breath and he himself.

I have to admit that owing to time constraints and many ongoing projects, I am unable to give time to creative writing as much as I should. So, after a long time, here it is.

VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Yes, you can share this work with proper attribution. But, please seek permission before using this work (not including the photo), partially or fully. YOU CAN NOT USE THE PHOTO. Believe me, asking is better than ending up in court or facing public shaming on social media. Thanks for understanding.

© Amrit Panigrahy. All rights reserved.

धरोहर

कहानियां बीते सदियों की जब हालात कुछ और हुआ करते,
इनसानों के बीच फुट कम, और पुल बहुत सारे थे जुड़ते।

सदी, जब ना था किसीका कोई भगवान, और ना कोई धर्म,
गोरा या काला, इनसान का रंग ना पैदा करता था कोई भ्रम।

जब मानसिकता नहीं थी भ्रष्ट, और ना था सोच में कोई पक्षपात,
सृष्टि का भला होता था एकमात्र धर्म, बस एक ही थी इनसानियत।

वैसी एक धरोहर हमरा हक था,
विरासत में मिला केवल विवाद,
फुट इतनी गहरी, और घाव इतने,
के पूरा समाज होने चला है बर्बाद।

क्या ऐसी एक धरोहर पर हक है हमारे बाद कि पीढ़ियों का?
क्या ये हमारा फ़र्ज़ नहीं के हम उनके लिए छोड़ जाएं कुछ अच्छा?

The stories of a different time altogether, when bridges between men outnumbered the differences.

A time when there was no God and no religion, and color of the skin did not create any confusions.

A time when the mentality was not corrupt and thoughts were not prejudiced, and everyone’s well-being was the only religion, and was the only humanity.

We deserved such a heritage. Instead, we inherited only differences, the fault-lines so deep and wounds so many, that the society is headed for destruction.

Do generations yet to come deserve such a heritage, a legacy of differences? Isn’t it our duty to leave something better for them?


Assembly Hall
The Assembly Hall, as this cave in the Bhimbetka rock shelters is called. It is open on both sides and held a very important place among the inhabitants. This cave was used for community meetings, with the boulder at the center believed to be the seat of the Chief.

Rock shelters of Bhimbetka were continuously inhabited from at least a hundred thousand years ago to as recently as the medieval period. These rock shelters look over the alluvial plains of the Betwa river (a tributary of Yamuna to the north), the plains which extend right up to the foothills of the mighty Himalayas.

Bhimbetka gets its name from Bhim Baithak (sitting place of Bhim of Mahabharat). The rock shelters find themselves mouth of the Deccan traps, along the Dakshinapath, the ancient important trade route that connected the southern India, which lied beyond the Satpura-Vindhya range, with northern India. The location makes the then inhabitants of these rock shelters prime witnesses to India’s unfolding history – Lord Ram’s exile and subsequent southern campaigns, the exile of the Pandavs, civilizational shift from Indus plains to Gangetic plains, Emperor Ashoka’s ascend, rise of the Satavahans and Islamic invasion of southern India. It was as if destiny had reserved the best seats of an epic called “India”, for the “primitive” inhabitants of these rock shelters.

They first find mention in modern times in 1888, by British India officer W. Kincaid in his scholarly paper, the rock shelters were physically discovered only in 1957 by V. S. Wakankar. Though thought to have been lost, their proximity to Bhojpur, the ancient capital of Raja Bhoj, and to the Dakshinapath means there have been exchanges between the inhabitants of Bhimbetka and other human encampments/civilizations.

What make these rock shelters special and earn them the badge of a “World Heritage Site”, are the paintings on the rock faces, created by the inhabitants. The oldest painting here is believed to be at lease 30,000 years old (oldest existing painting in the world is at least 40,800 years old and is in El Castillo, northern Spain). And then there are the cup marks on few rocks, believed to be as old as the habitation itself in Bhimbetka, and would be earliest evidene of human creativity, and so make Bhimbetka one of the earliest cradles of cognitive human evolution in the entire world.

Rockshelters of Bhimbetka, is entire mankind’s heritage indeed!

Note: As I keep digging my storage device for photos from Bhimbetka, I will update this blog post.

VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Yes, you can share this work with proper attribution. But, please seek permission before using this work (not including the photo), partially or fully. YOU CAN NOT USE THE PHOTO. Believe me, asking is better than ending up in court or facing public shaming on social media. Thanks for understanding.

© Amrit Panigrahy. All rights reserved.

Bhakta Salabega

“ଆହେ ନୀଳ ଶୈଳ ପ୍ରବଳ ମତ୍ତ ବାରଣ,
ମୋ ଆରତ ନଳିନୀ ବନକୁ କର ଦଳନ।”
– ଭକ୍ତ ସାଲବେଗ

Dear Lord of the blue mountain, trample and subjugate my restless mind, like a mighty elephant destroys a lotus pond. Thus save me!
– Bhakta Salabega


Salabega (pronounced Saa-law-be-gaw), one of the greatest devotee of Lord Jagannath was a Muslim by birth. He wrote very beautiful devotional songs dedicated to the Lord. Bhakta Salbeg’s era dates back to about half a century after Kalapahad (yes, I will tell his story too, but that’s for a different time!) had wreaked havoc on Odias, in the early 1600s. Odisha was reeling under Mughal rule. Lalbeg was the Mughal subedar of the Odisha province at that time.

While returning from a conquest, Lalbeg fell for the beauty of a bathing Brahmin widow near a place called Dandamukundapur (which is near present day Sakhigopal between Bhubaneshwar and Puri). Lalbeg forcefully took away the Brahmin widow to his harem and married her. Bhakta Salabega born in 1607/08 AD was their only child. After growing up, Salabega accompanied his father to many military conquests. In one such battles Salabega was grievously injured.

On his death bed, Salabega listened to his mother who was still a Jagannath devotee and started praying to the Lord. By the grace of the Lord and under his mother’s care Salabega had a miraculous recovery and became Lord’s devotee for life. After recovery from his injuries Salabega went to Puri for Lord’s darshan but was turned away from the temple for his religion of birth. Heartbroken Salabega left for Vrindavan hoping that he would have the Lord’s darshan around a year later during Rathyatra.

When Salabega was returning to Puri during Rathyatra a year later, he fell ill midway. He was very disappointed, as now he would have to wait for another year to be able to see Lord Jagannath. So he started praying, and Lord Jagannath being how He is, obliged and His chariot Nandighosh didn’t move even an inch from where it was, till Salabega didn’t reach Puri, and was able to see Him in his own eyes.

After his death, Salabega was cremated at the same spot on Puri Badadand (grand road) where Nandighosh had stopped. His samadhi still stands there, and it is customary for Nandighosh, Lord’s chariot to stop in front of Salabega’s samadhi during Rathayatra.

Bhakta Salabega wrote many beautiful devotional songs dedicated to Lord Jagannath, each of those equally expressive of a devotee’s devotion and His greatness. “Ahe nila shaila”, pronounced “Aa-he nee-law shai-law” (the same one from where the opening lines of this post are taken) is the most well known. You can watch a much shorter and slightly modernised version of the original here.

For those of you interested in the original lyrics of “Ahe nila shaila”, below are the stanzas in Odia and their English translation.


Devotion
A Russian devotee of Lord Jagannath singing His praise right outside the Singhadwar (Lion gate) of the temple in Puri, Odisha.

“ଆହେ ନୀଳ ଶୈଳ”

ଆହେ ନୀଳ ଶୈଳ ପ୍ରବଳ ମତ୍ତ ବାରଣ,
ମୋ ଆରତ ନଳିନୀ ବନକୁ କର ଦଳନ।
“Dear Lord of the blue mountain, trample and subjugate my restless mind, like a mighty elephant destroys a lotus pond. Thus save me!”

ଗଜରାଜ ଡାକ ଦେଲା ଥାଇ ଘୋର ଜଳେଣ,
ଚକ୍ର ପେଶି ନକ୍ର ନାଶି କୃପା କଲ ଆପଣ।
“When the King of elephants cried out your name in pain when his foot was caught by a crocodile, you sent your disc to kill the crocodile and rescue the elephant. Thus save me!”

କୁରୁସଭା ସ୍ଥଳେ ଶୁଣି ଦ୍ରୌପଦୀର ଜଣାଣ,
କୋଟି ବସ୍ତ୍ର ଦେଇ ହେଳେ ଲଜ୍ଜା କଲ ବାରଣ।
“After hearing Draupadi’s cries for help from the Kuru court, you saved her from being ashamed in front of the court full of men by providing her with a million yards of clothes. Thus save me!”

ଘୋର ବନେ ମୃଗୁଣିକୁ ପଡିଥିଲା କଷଣ,
କେତେ ବଡ଼ ବିପତ୍ତିରୁ କରି ଅଛ ତାରଣ।
“When the deer was in excruciating pain in the dense forest, you saved her from a grave danger. Thus save me!”

ରାବଣର ଭାଇ ବିଭୀଷଣ ଗଲା ଶରଣ,
ଶରଣ ସମ୍ଭାଳି ତାଙ୍କୁ ଲଙ୍କେ କଲ ରାଜନ।
“When the Raavan’s younger brother Vibhishan came to take refuge under you, you gave him refuge and made him the King of Lanka. Thus save me!”

ଅଜାମିଳ ଡାକ ଦେଲା ଜୀବ ଯିବା ବେଳେଣ,
ତେଡ଼େ ବଡ଼ ପାପୀ ଗଲା ବଇକୁଣ୍ଠ ଭୁବନ।
“When a grave sinner like Brahmin Ajamik called out your name while dying, you liberated him. Thus save me!”

ପ୍ରହଲ୍ଲାଦ ପିତା ସେ ଯେ ବଡ଼ ଦୁଷ୍ଟ ଦାରୁଣ,
ସ୍ତମ୍ଭରୁ ବାହାରି ତାକୁ ବିଦାରିଲ ତକ୍ଷଣ।
“Prahalad’s father (a demon named Hiranyakashipu) was terrible and atrocious, and you came out of the pillar to tear him apart. Thus save me!”

ନୀଳାଚଳେ ବିଜେ କରି ବୌଦ୍ଧ ଅଵତାରେଣ,
ବେନି ଭୁଜ ଟେକି ପ୍ରଭୁ ଯାଚୁଅଛ ଶରଣ।
“You have chosen Neelachal (another name of Puri) as your abode, residing there as the Buddha incarnation of Lord Vishnu, and are offering shelter to everyone by lifting your hands.”

କହେ ସାଲବେଗ ହୀନ ଜାତିରେ ମୁଁ ଯବନ,
ଶ୍ରୀରଙ୍ଗା ଚରଣ ତଳେ କରୁଛି ମୁଁ ଜଣାଣ।
“Thus speaks the insignificant Salabega, who is a Muslim by birth, and I am appealing under your lotus feet, please save me!”


In frame: A Russian devotee of Lord Jagannath singing His praise right outside the Singhadwar (Lion gate) of the temple in Puri, Odisha. As was for Bhakta Salbeg, it is forbidden for this devotee also to enter the temple, because of his religion of birth and foreign origin.

VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Yes, you can share this work with proper attribution. But, please seek permission before using this work (not including the photo), partially or fully. YOU CAN NOT USE THE PHOTO. Believe me, asking is better than ending up in court or facing public shaming on social media. Thanks for understanding.

© Amrit Panigrahy. All rights reserved.

The Day I Died

The roar of the river, and so close,
Drowned everything including sound,
Couldn’t even hear my mind’s prose,
Beneath, the slippery shaky ground.

The whirlpool right in front of me,
Couldn’t fathom how deep it could go,
To be locked in it, and lose the key,
Forever, with no more despair to grow.

My mind’s whirlpool was getting bigger,
Consuming everything, from inside out,
Event that led to this, and the rigour,
Everything that I thought I knew about.

Stood there thinking, on the bank of the river,
Cold wind touched my skin and I began to shiver.

Lot of rejections, a failed life I thought,
People who once “adored” had started to hate,
This agony and pain, on myself I had brought,
There won’t be any if they left at this rate.

The image of a life I had in my mind,
Things that I had started to believe,
In last few days all of it came unwind,
It started to question my love to live.

It was the river I had followed,
All the way up, and on way back,
And saw everything it had mowed,
The mountains it made to crack.

I walked a few steps on the bank, and now closer,
Thought it was okay if the world called me a loser.

Everything started to become hazy,
Was getting ready to make the jump,
Thoughts in my head were going crazy,
Clearly heard my heart’s frantic pump.

Everything fell silent all around, including the river’s roar.
I clearly heard but turned to find no one, and it shook my core.

I had clearly heard my Mom’s calling,
But I couldn’t see her anywhere near,
Didn’t know what kept me from falling,
And the whole event too much to bear.

More than a year later, when I think of it,
Perilously close I actually was to commit.

Cannot thank enough the divine intervention,
A blunder it would have been, for any reason.

All these days, this past in me had dormantly lied,
Nothing remained same, that was the day “I” died.

The “I” that was meek, and fragile..
The “I” that was weak and easily broke….


Lot of things were unfolding in my life during that time, and the mountains had turned my life upside down. People had changed, definitions had changed, and outlook had changed, or so I thought. I was finding it really hard to cope with all of it at once. And it is that moment of weakness I have portrayed in my poem above. Depression is a killer. You might not be as lucky as I am to have a divine intervention. So, please talk it out.

Remember, suicide is a crime against your loved ones!

Ganga
River Ganga flowing through a valley, under an overcast sky, downhill from Devprayag, in Uttarakhand, India.

In frame: River Ganga flowing through a valley, under an overcast sky, downhill from Devprayag, in Uttarakhand, India. It was here we had stopped for lunch on our last day in the mountains more than a year ago.

VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Yes, you can share this work with proper attribution. But, please seek permission before using this work (not including the photo), partially or fully. YOU CAN NOT USE THE PHOTO. Believe me, asking is better than ending up in court or facing public shaming on social media. Thanks for understanding.

© Amrit Panigrahy. All rights reserved.

रूही

हर एक आशियाने पे जैसे वो चला देती थी अपनी जादू की छड़ी,
सुला के सबको, सपनों की रखवाली करती हुई रात भर रहती थी खड़ी |

सुबह की पहली रोशनी के साये में जैसे वो लड़खड़ाती हुई चल रही थी,
सपनों से भरी रात के नशे से लगभग बेहोश, अपने कदमों को संभालती।

उसकी अपनी कदमों की आहट जैसे उसी के जादू को थी तोड़ रही,
मुस्कुराती, और एक रूहानी रात का वादा करके चली गयी, रूही।

Daybreak
The setting moon over Hyderabad’s skyline, as seen from Moula Ali, in Hyderabad, India.

As if she ran her magic wand over all the dwellings during the night, and after having made everyone fall asleep,  she stood guard to their dreams. Under the shade of the first light of the morning (poetic expression), she unsteadily walked, still drunk on the dreams from the night, she tried keep herself steady. It was as if her own footsteps were undoing her magic spell, and with a smile on her face, Ruhi walked away promising another intriguing night.


 

It was magical indeed, my first ever photowalk, and first ever trip to Moula Ali, on the other side of Hyderabad. The moon was setting over the sleepy Hyderabadi skyline, and the dawn was breaking in the opposite direction.

These were my very early days in photography, when I was using a Sony HX100V (with a sensor that was 1/4th of what my current DSLR has). And I didn’t know RAW even existed (yes, perils of being self taught!), so bear with me for the resolution of the image.

In frame: The setting moon over Hyderabad’s skyline, as seen from Moula Ali, in Hyderabad, India. It was magical indeed, just being there at that moment, with the moon setting in front of me, and behind me, the dawn breaking.

VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Yes, you can share this work with proper attribution. But, please seek permission before using this work (not including the photo), partially or fully. YOU CAN NOT USE THE PHOTO. Believe me, asking is better than ending up in court or facing public shaming on social media. Thanks for understanding.

© Amrit Panigrahy. All rights reserved.

ଘରବାହୁଡା

ସବୁ ସନ୍ଧ୍ୟାରେ ସଜବାଜ ହୁଏ ଗତକାଲିର ନିରାଶାକୁ ଭୁଲି,

ବାର ବର୍ଷ କାଳ ଅପେକ୍ଷାରେ ତୋର ହେଇଟି ଆସିବୁ ବୋଲି।

ମାଆ ମୋର କୁହେ, “ଝିଅ ଲୋ, ସେ ଆସିବନି ଆଉ ଫେରି”,

ହେଲେ ମୁଁ ଆସି ଠିଆ ହୁଏ ଦୁଆରେ ହେଲେ ଯେତେ ବି ଡେରି।

ଗାଁକୁ ଫେରନ୍ତି ସାଙ୍ଗ ସାଥି ହେଲେ ତୋର ସେତେ ସମୟ କାହିଁ,

ମନ୍ଦିର ତୋଳାରେ ବ୍ୟସ୍ତ ଅଛୁ ତୁ, ଆଉ କୋଉଠି ତୋ ଧ୍ୟାନ ନାହିଁ।

ତୋ ମୁକୁତା ହାର ଗଳାରେ ମୋର, ସିଏ ବି ଗଲାଣି ଥକି,

ସତେ ଯେମିତି ପଚାରେ ମୋତେ, “ସେ ଆଉ ଆସିବନି କି?”

ସବୁ ସନ୍ଧ୍ୟାରେ ଠିଆ ହୁଏ ବୋଲି ଗାଁ ଲୋକ କହିଲେଣି କେତେ କଥା,

କେହି ଡାକିଲାଣି ମୋତେ ଅଳସକନ୍ୟା ତ ଆଉ କିଏ ଡାକେ ଅଭିସାରିକା।

ବାର ବର୍ଷ ତଳେ ଯାଇଥିଲୁ ତୁ, କହିଲୁ ଫେରିବି କିଛି ଦିନରେ,
ମନ୍ଦିର ତୋଳା ତୋର ସରିନି ଆହୁରି, ଘରକୁ ଜଲଦି ଫେରେ।

Abhisarika
A sculpture of a lady waiting with half the door open, with a smile on her face. You can see this on the south side of Konark temple, in Odisha, India.

The Odia poem I wrote above is called “ଘରବାହୁଡା”, (pronounced as ghaw-raw-baa(as in baba)-hu(as in who)-da(as in dark), which means homecoming. A fiction based poem, the central character is a woman, who has been separated from his male consort or husband for twelve long years, because he is a sculptor by profession, and has been summoned by the King of the land, for construction of the Sun temple at Konark. She narrates how she dresses up every evening and stands near the door smiling, hoping against hope that he would come back, even though she had returned inside disappointed the previous evening. It has been twelve years and even her mom has now lost hope that he would ever return, but she stands and waits every evening, no matter how late. Even the pearl necklace that he had gifted her has become pale, as if tired of waiting for him and asking her whether he would ever return. Looking at her standing at the door every evening, people around her have starting thinking of her a dance girl, or a whore, in search of patrons. Then she goes on to urge him to come back home as soon as possible, regardless of the temple completion.

This sculpture, might be a figment of imagination of the sculptor, shows how his consort or wife might be waiting for him to return. By the time he must have finished this sculpture, he must have been away from home for twelve long years, or slightly more. Did you notice the smile on the figurine’s face? This was how the sculptor must have imagined to see her upon his return home, with a smile on her face.

1200 architects and sculptors took twelve years to build the Sun temple at Konark and it was finished in 1256 AD. King Narasimha Deva III spent 40cr gold coins to build this architectural marvel, the cost also included that of land reclamation from the sea (you heard that right!), as it is believed that the temple was built in the sea. There are many legends and stories associated with Konark, which I am saving for some other time, with your permission of course!

In frame: A sculpture of a lady waiting with half the door open, with a smile on her face. You can see this on the south side of Konark temple, in Odisha, India. Konark temple is full of sculptures which showcase every human emotion, and not only erotica as is popularly believed. In the words of Ravindranath Tagore, “Here the language of stone surpasses the language of human.”

VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Yes, you can share this work with proper attribution. But, please seek permission before using this work (not including the photo), partially or fully. YOU CAN NOT USE THE PHOTO. Believe me, asking is better than ending up in court or facing public shaming on social media. Thanks for understanding.

© Amrit Panigrahy. All rights reserved.

Crimson Love

I had fallen back, to witness the drama that was unfolding in the sky.

My guide called out my name from a distance….

It was only minutes ago that he was here,
Telling me stories from the yesteryear,
Tales of opulence, generosity, valor and love,
For an open heart it was like a treasure trove.

Of all the stories, one was of interest in particular,
A King, his Queen, and love that was spectacular,
A poetess and a singer, she could bring words to life,
Smitten by her, the King convinced her to be his wife.

They were living happily ever after, or so they thought,
A big army attacked the kingdom, and a battle fought,
The King was killed in battle, was what the messenger told,
The Queen drank poison, and her lifeless body went cold.

The medieval fort, a witness to her love story,
Her eternal love for him that took her to glory,
Walking on that pavilion even I felt as a part it,
Kind of gloomy that in the end they couldn’t unite.

I glanced beyond the ramparts, as I walked back…

Crimson sun set over the horizon,
Leaving behind a familiar emotion.

And as it went…

The hues that it painted and the winter sky it tore,
Colors of desire and pain, that touches one’s core.

More than a year has gone since…

Crimson, is the color that I remember of that evening,
Of longing, the want of belonging and a love undying.

Crimson Love, ‘t was!

Drama in the sky
Brilliant hues of the winter sky just after the sunset, as seen from Roopmati pavilion in Mandu

I had earlier written a Hindi poem on Roopmati and called it “Jauhar”. You can read it here.

Mandu, or Mandav was capital of erstwhile kingdom of Malwa. Mandu is dotted with love tales of Sultan Baz Bahadur of Malwa, and his queen consort Roopmati.

Kingdom of Malwa used to be a vassal of the Mughals, and had declared indepedence taking advantage of the instability that ensued just after Akbar had taken control.

Akbar then sent his foster brother Adham Khan and a large contingent of the Mughal army to subdue Malwa. Adham Khan, who had by then heard of Roopmati’s enchanting beauty, had resolved to defeat Malwa and take her as a prized possession of his harem.

Baz Bahadur faced Adham Khan and the Mughals in Sarangpur with a small contingent. Baz Bahadur’s contingent was no match for the mighty Mughals and he escaped after being defeated.

Adham Khan then marched on to Mandav. Thinking that Baz Bahadur was slained in the battle, Roopmati poisoned herself, as she could not have seen another man in her life. Such was her love.

In due time, Adham Khan was executed by Akbar. Baz Bahadur surrendered to Akbar and was in return made the mansabdar of Malwa.

And for Roopmati, her love and loyalty for Baz Bahadur still fascinates imagination of the new generation of tourists to Mandu.

In frame: Brilliant hues of the winter sky just after the sunset, as seen from Roopmati pavilion in Mandu, Madhya Pradesh, India. Roopmati pavilion was built by Sultan Baz Bahadur for Roopmati, so that she could Narmada darshan everyday (one of her pre-conditions to her marriage with him). Narmada flows at a distance, in the plains.

VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Yes, you can share this work with proper attribution. But, please seek permission before using this work (not including the photo), partially or fully. YOU CAN NOT USE THE PHOTO. Believe me, asking is better than ending up in court or facing public shaming on social media. Thanks for understanding.

© Amrit Panigrahy. All rights reserved.

The year song

 

Riding the waves
A young man running back to the shore from the sea

A song for the year, I had promised to write,
Taking time out in the middle of the night,
Thoughts rusty, and not organised so well,
But an year it was and many tales to tell.

So, here it is!

Before the year started, in hindsight it was like…

Retreating waves pulled me back to the sea,
Like vices in whose vice like grip I was in,
Vices I left behind on my way to the coast,
And to those no one would raise a toast.

With questions and no answers I started my year,
A start with much less joy and surely a lot of fear,
As if I stepped into the unknown blindfolded,
Fear of an uncertain future, and what lay ahead.

It was the best one ever. To sum it up…

I travelled ten thousand kilomeres on road,
To new places about which I had never heard,
Met people I would never see in my life again,
But memories of a lifetime, of joy and of pain.

I let go of the hands that I never thought I would,
Stopped missing people I never imagined I could,
Worked on myself and learned to be with me,
Had I felt bored with myself, I was in bad company.

Started to see every living being for what they were,
My lack of compassion, and it was totally unfair,
Biggest lesson was on empathy and to be able to relate,
Thank my stars I learned in time, and it wasn’t too late.

The universe has been very kind to me in return,
A lot of gifts and people with best intentions,
Gifts that will stay with me for my entire life,
People who will stay and will help me thrive.

When the waves pulled me, I came back riding them,
Stronger, wiser, calmer, compassionate and brave.

Now with 2017 behind me, here is my 2018 wish for you….

May you have my 2017, if not better than that,
I wish this for you from the bottom of my heart.

Call it a rhyme or a poem, this is my year song,
A song, I won’t mind humming whole life long.


2017 was a life changing year for me, with a lot a of changes for good. This is how good a year it was, in my own words, as a poem.

In frame: A young man running back to the shore from the sea, near Baruva, in Andhra Pradesh, India.

VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Yes, you can share this work with proper attribution. But, please seek permission before using this work (not including the photo), partially or fully. YOU CAN NOT USE THE PHOTO. Believe me, asking is better than ending up in court or facing public shaming on social media. Thanks for understanding.

© Amrit Panigrahy. All rights reserved.

Nine parts of One

Goddess Durga
Goddess Durga during Durga Puja of 2017 at Hyderabad Bengali Samiti, Hyderabad, Telangana

So big and black a void it was, you could lose everything,
Even the most significant, would seem like nothing.

Into the emptiness of the universe she was summoned,
To lay a strong foundation, we know today as the creation.

The universe that you know as it is today,
She created it in a past far far away.

She then resided in the sun and in the stars,
Emanating light that could wipe out scars.

To marry Shiva, She would be born to a mighty King,
As austerity, from the world She would be abstaining.

As the daughter of the mountain She would be born again,
She would be so fair, not just superficially as others feign.

Married to Shiva again, the half moon would adorn Her head,
Mother to a child, armies of the Gods who eventually led.

Summoned to defeat the dark forces when everything else would fail,
She came as the deadly dark night without leaving behind a trail.

One last demon was left before goodness prevailed,
The demon of disguise who She finally had killed.

She is the saviour, since the days of the time immemorial,
Even by Gods she has been invoked to help good to prevail.

Goddess Durga
Goddess Durga from another angle during Durga Puja of 2017 at Hyderabad Bengali Samiti, Hyderabad, Telangana

This poem is my tribute to the nine forms of Adi Parashakti or, as we know her today, Shakti, worshipped during the nine days of Navaratri. The nine forms of Shakti who are worshipped during Navaratri, are: 1. Shailaputri, 2. Brahmacharini, 3. Chandraghanta, 4. Kushmanda, 5. Skandamata, 6. Katyayani, 7. Kaalratri, 8. Mahagauri, 9. Siddhidatri. Together they are also called Navadurga. The image of Shakti worshipped during the Navaratri/Durga Puja is actually that of Katyayani. To read more about the Navadurga please here.

 

In frame: Goddess Durga during Durga Puja 2017 at Hyderabad Bengali Samiti, Hyderabad, Telangana.

VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Yes, you can share this work with proper attribution. But, please seek permission before using this work (not including the photo), partially or fully. YOU CAN NOT USE THE PHOTO. Believe me, asking is better than ending up in court or facing public shaming on social media. Thanks for understanding.

© Amrit Panigrahy. All rights reserved.