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Haibun

WHR March 2018


 HAIBUN

 



Then and Now


 Anna Cates



 

As a child, I harbored an escapist’s fantasy of running away into the woods.  Today, I wonder, was I really that misled?

 

 

how luscious to lose

oneself in the wilds

—yellow warbler

 

 


 

 

 

Sweet Sorrow

 

Gautam Nadkarni

 

Many moons ago when I was seven and still wondering where babies came from, I fell in love. With a buck-toothed girl. As an adult I rationalized the whole thing as a crush, but everyone’s wiser in hindsight.

I loved her pigtails, her plump torso and the delightful way in which she crossed her eyes. I thought of her as a dream rabbit though the resemblance didn’t go beyond the twin incisors. Then one day it happened. I should have foreseen the inevitable.

It was her birthday and she was distributing sweets – the boiled variety in wonderful colours – to the students in the classroom. After finishing my quota I turned on a charming smile and stuck out a palm for more. To my horror she made a face and shook her head vigorously. I think it was at that precise moment that I saw her for the greedy little kid she really was and...and well, I fell out of love.


            Valentine’s Day...
            he agrees to hold her hand
            for a candy bar

 


 

In Tune With The Times

 

Gautam Nadkarni



Every hawker has his own way of hollering out his wares.

In the early hours of Sunday morning when you are fool enough to imagine yourself far from the madding crowd, one particular vegetable vendor considered it his God given duty to enumerate his tomatoes, onions and assorted legumes in the juiciest of voices. It would have made even Grandmother, peace loving soul though she was, hop out of bed and hurl bricks at the man. It certainly set my teeth on edge. And this was when I was not wearing my dentures.

There was another hawker who used to shout out something quite musical but unintelligible. I just could not figure out what he was intoning. The whole thing was a cunning trap. Everybody rushed to their verandas to investigate. Well, the man turned out to be a bangarwala – the fellow who relieves you off your junk and actually pays you for it. As some famous bloke once said, God moves in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. And so do street hawkers may I add.

 

            complaints---
            Mom wears her hearing aid
            after my speech

 

 

Inverse Ratio

 

Gautam Nadkarni



When I was just ten years old and itching to try out my new box of crayons, Mother warned me to lay off the living room walls. So I opted for the next best thing. Dad’s business letters which he had neatly filed and stored in a cabinet in his room. I really don’t understand fathers. What could possibly be wrong with drawing sunsets and birds on an important document. Some people juyst do not appreciate the finer things of life. Luckily for the old man the Society we live in had organized an art competition for kids.  And of course I was the delegate for our household. 

On the big day, trying to look like Salvador Dali without the goatee, I joined a crowd of children who sat under a makeshift roof and created a ruckus along with their pictures. My parents were so proud when I was declared the winner. The judge was an old fogey with bifocals who was once an artist and now drew only a pension which he perpetually complained was chickenfeed. At the ceremony he praised me and my entry in glowing terms. When he finally held it up for all to see, he was holding it upside down.

 

            art exhibition
            the teacher threatens to make us
            write an essay

 


 

In the Quiet Lap of Nature


 

Aju Mukhopadhyay

 

 

There are some breathe taking wildlife sanctuaries in M.P. like Bandhavgarh and Panna besides the famous artistic heritage temple with attractive surroundings, called Khajuraha. Travel to those areas requires more preparation than casually arriving for a day or two. To avoid disappointment I quenched my thirst with Nature’s bounty at hand.At Dumna Nature Reserve, 13 km away from Jabalpur. Bamboo groves abound with shrubs and grass lands. Acacia and other shed giving trees check Sun and filter the moon. Some peace loving animals; antelope and spotted deer roam in the open. There is a huge water body about it with flowing clean water connected somewhere to the main river of the area, Narmada.  


an egret

searches for something

a heron stands on one leg


A single boat is tied to a pole near the bank. Something like a dolphin sometimes jumps over the surface. Something thrashes the water and vanishes. Suddenly there was sound of chase behind me. I looked back to find nothing but two dogs running. As before, I turned towards the water and found a croc lazing on the other bank of the lake. Another was passing by through the water very slowly looking at the shore. There were scanty objects to view except the solitary call of a bird from a distance making the surrounding calmer than before. Nothing much to observe other than something invisible. Nothing was left out. This quiet nature still throbs at my heart. 

    

 roar of a tiger

from a distant field

followed by distance  

 

                                                             


 

Treasure Islands

 

Aju Mukhopadhyay

 

 

Towards the evening while sailing in a ship in the deep ocean some strange sights attracted us. Suddenly some bird like animals started flying above the surface water emerging from below and after flying some distance they again fell on the water to be sunk in it. Flying fishes dazzling like silver sheets in the dying rays of the sun increased our attention and curiosity. A fun; it became really enjoyable when we learnt that they were the Butterfly fishes (Chaetodon Trifasciatus).  


midnight dark

engulfed us-

starlit dream 


After a short nap reaching the island we gathered at the beach and beheld what we could not view perfectly while coming as we were quite tired and hungry then; the colours of the sea. It is perhaps at Lakshadweep and such rare areas on earth like Maldives and Seychelles islands that offer the greatest occasions for feasting the eyes on the colours of the sea. Here it is turquoise there aquamarine, still further sapphire and amethyst, almost touching the blue of the sky. The water soon becomes greenish yellow and yonder it is blue-black again.


they help break

the monotony of the sea-

ingredients aplenty


The sand below our feet, actually the pounded coral reef, is softer than usual sand; very soothing. The water of the sea, somewhere transparent somewhere opaque, according to the depth, invited us for kayaking. One of the colourful fiberglass boats with oars and life jackets, available aplenty on the shore, was taken for a ride by two of us for kayaking around the jetty and sometimes beyond. It was a fun and pleasure to kayak, to splash water on each other while passing alongside the swimming big-bodied hawksbill turtles as our companions.


Travelling in the clear lagoon water in an open glass-boat we found an wondrous world of marine wealth opened before us; coral reefs, polyps, multicoloured fishes with colourful fins and gills, slippery lichens, anemones, sea cucumbers, green and hawksbill turtles, eels, squids, star fishes, butterfly fishes, different angel fishes including the beauteous emperor angel fishes with white circles on semi round black bodies and innumerable insects and other living and non-living things. I couldn’t list all the colourful denizens of the Lakshadweep lagoon, hiding and playing with protruding eyes but sure that it was a complete biodiversity, a compact living world with vegetarians and non-vegetarians beyond our day to day earthly experience. One of them, the big hawksbill turtle swam alongside the shore.  It is a native of Lakshadweep, a huge animal like the Green turtle.


some are

afraid of humans

some are friends


Travelling in the clear lagoon water in an open glass-boat we found an wondrous world of marine wealth opened before us; coral reefs, polyps, multicoloured fishes with colourful fins and gills, slippery lichens, anemones, sea cucumbers, green and hawksbill turtles, eels, squids, star fishes, butterfly fishes, different angel fishes including the beauteous emperor angel fishes with white circles on semi round black bodies and innumerable insects and other living and non-living things. I couldn’t list all the colourful denizens of the Lakshadweep lagoon, hiding and playing with protruding eyes but sure that it was a complete biodiversity, a compact living world with vegetarians and non-vegetarians beyond our day to day earthly experience. One of them, the big hawksbill turtle swam again alongside the shore. It is a native of Lakshadweep, a huge animal like the Green turtle.


more you go

more the wonder invites-

a living world


 


 


 

Afternoon Drive


 

Adelaide B. Shaw


 

Clouding over.  The sun disappears.  Cold.  Colder.  The first flakes.  Increasing rapidly.  On a secondary road, miles from a village, level ground gives way to a slow ascent.  The road narrowing as the snow becomes heavier. The light is dim. No cars in front or behind.  No room to turn around. Visions of getting stuck, freezing to death.  With the car in reverse we back down several miles to level ground and a wider road where we can turn the car.

 

 

            smoky café

            with the chill gone

            the shaking begins

 

 

 

In the Eye of the Beholder

 


Adelaide B. Shaw

 

 

Bath time for my two year old daughter. Soapy and slippery. Giggling, she splashes water on me. I’m in an old robe, no makeup, my hair in curlers.  As I towel her dry, she puts her arms around me and says, “Mommy, you’re beautiful.”


            weeds and more weeds–

            aging in a crock

            dandelion wine


Ice  Storm


 

Adelaide B. Shaw

 

 

In April, a sudden detour in spring’s arrival. During the night, a freak ice storm. Weighted limbs bend nearly to the ground. Trees crack and crash. In the morning, broken and scarred trees everywhere.

 

 

            dragging home

            magnolia branches–

            one last bloom




 

 

A Crowded Place


Antonietta Losito


I understood immediately if my mother was missing something in the house, because she threw out restless glances. My father used to get angry very easily, and she knew what he could be like when he was hungry. Too bad, it was up to me to do "a jump in the shop around the corner", even if it was a little bit away from home, "it will take less than a minute”.

This always happened in winter when it was very cold outside, and the evening mist was thickening. The shop was open every day except Sunday, selling all kinds of things for the people in the neighborhood: rings, candles, brooms, detergents, toys, colorful and shiny trinkets, and even stationery stocked its shelves. On the floor, there were jute bags of vegetables, rice, flour and biscuits. There was also the charcuterie illuminated by less light than it would have been necessary.

The owner was a plump man who did good business. A hard taskmaster, he had one notebook in which he recorded the proceeds and another notebook in which he marked the debts of the regular costumer, making sure that no one could cheat him. He didn’t miss anything. His wife had fair skin and long white hair gathered behind her head in a tight bun. They lived in a smaller room behind the shop. A blue-flowered curtain separated the bedroom from the small kitchen where a bare light bulb hung from the ceiling casting a dim light on the walls. At eight o'clock in the evening they closed the shop. However, a knock on the iron back door secured purchases for late customers after closing.

This suddenly brings to mind the day when I stood in front of the closed shutter. The clouds covered the city. They didn't let the sunlight filter through. I felt my stomach tighten up: the smell of jute bags, the taste of colored sugar candy bracelets, the brilliance of glass marbles, the memory of the cravings and haggling of the customers. I stayed there for a while before realizing the harsh cold, icy hands and tears in my eyes.


            Short day -
            one ... two teeth chatter
            in the mouth



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