The Cherry Blossoms

June 20, 2008
The faint musty smells of monsoon rain drift upwards
Intoxicating me, and I look around in the field,
Surprised at the unfamiliar terrain
I sit down against the cherry tree and slither back
Into my world
The popinjay twitters as it sees through me
With its beaded black eyes

In that other place, the rain
Falls harder and harder, soaking me through with wild delight as
The storm passes, but only on the outer surface
I dream zealously of this place
With a pallet of colors non existing
And fly through its depths
Amidst a blurry of multifarious emotions
As I walk past the vendors,

I taste and savor slices of mango
In forbidden glee, huddled under the Bunyan tree with my little cousin;
They wash my insides
With a wave of fragrant ecstasy
And sour chatt (Indian dish) appeases my taste buds

We lose countless amounts of time as we gossip of old times
Our years spent together growing up playing hide and seek,
Admiring our mothers’ gold jewelry and salwar kameeze
Our attempts at trying on shimmering bindis that would suit our small foreheads
We giggle about past likes and dislikes
Teasing each other incessantly
Things turn darker as talks move to grandfather’s death
Here we both seem years older, and the playfulness is gone. We hesitate
And talk of the coming future

At this subject a bundle of possibilities loom over us,
And I turn back to the shop vendors asking them about their trinkets and
The crowd thickens and again I am lost all alone in that
Glimmer and shimmer of saris that breeze past my face
The multitude of colors startles me and the
Tinkling of the bangles and payals
Is pleasant music to my ears
I touch the soft fabric of Indian dance dresses and breathe in their papery scent
Women twirl around and dance to traditional steps
I watch them twirl faster and faster
Until it leaves me lightheaded with my heart pounding swiftly
As if I were that endowed dancer

At school I feel that air of competition
That presses me to do my best
And gain accomplishments that give me a certain sense of pride
Causing surprise to submerge me
Under waves of elation

Soon the steady hum of the train engine lulls me to sleep
As we cross the Ganges and draw near my grandfather’s farm
I play with the small calves and feed them sweet
Green grass and the aromas of nature fill me
As I play in stacks of hay that cling to me
Unwilling to let go

Then in a flash I am at singing lessons with other music hungry girls
Where the classical sitar music fills my ears with
An overbearing sense of peace
Afterwards the teacher sings some classic Hindi love songs
That we accompany in a festive manner
We leave in high spirits letting the cold wind
Brush past our faces with its vigor and sorrow
Walking home is such a task afterwards, that
We inevitably stop by a stall for a glass of sugar cane juice
Sipping away at it till we reach
The verandas of our homes
My grandmother sits on the porch
And reaches her arms out towards me in acceptance
I fall into them letting go of all my troubles
Sorrows and worries
Going inside I smell freshly cooked curry and basmati rice
And see my aunts and uncle gathered around the kitchen, eating

Once more I open my eyes to see cherry blossoms,
Instead of hibiscus flowers drifting into my face
The bare soil clings to my hands as I breathe in its earthy scent heavily
Trying to find some acquaintance with it
It is so different from the soil in Goa
Where I see sightseers that are in awe of wonders
I have seen time after time
The snow in Kashmir so different from abroad
It falls with an eloquence that enraptures me
Entwining me in its cold arms
That somehow radiate warmth
Like the welcoming arms of my relatives
As they engulf me

Reality strikes me callously as I open my eyes
And gaze at the last stream of sunlight
That scintillates through the leaves of the cherry tree
Oddly I hear thunder in the distance, foretelling rain
The popinjay is quiet now since dusk is approaching
I feel somewhat sad and lost
As if the main character of a novel has died
For whom I feel miserable, but know
that death had been his destiny…
I turn to the popinjay for an answer,
And it cocks its head at me as if to say
“You ought to know…”

Plop plop plop the rain goes as
It falls on my hair dripping downward
Mingling with some tears that I refuse to acknowledge
I grasp a cluster of blossoms and fling them in the air
And watch the wind blow them compellingly away,
and along with them a part of me
The potency of the wind reminds of it

It looms ahead tangling itself gratuitously
With bygones and cherished memories

Thoughts pass though my mind in a whirlpool of emotion
Something feels gone astray
And I grope for it in what seems to be darkness
Then I feel as if a ray of light is pulling me reluctantly
Away yet drawing me at the same time,
Resembling a light at the end of a tunnel

And now I look through
The field, beyond the cherry trees
I encompass everything
In that certain slant of light

The wind carries a cherry blossom out of my
Hair and into my hands
I examine, turning it over and over, looking at every

Angle, chatting to in that secret tongue of nature
That I have been blessed enough to perceive
I tuck it into my pocket with a slight flicker of hesitation
And walk down the dirt path I’ve chosen with conviction of heart,

Without turning back for a last glance;
After all…one ought to last for eternity

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