Wrapping up the session with these extraordinarily gifted students, I, in my heart of heart, revised the basics of haiku which I had briefly touched upon in the beginning. These were :
- Haiku is a 400 years old Japanese form of writing very short poem
- Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) is known as the father of haiku
- Haiku is hai = humour + ku = verse
- Haiku tells a story without telling one
- But the story is told in very few words
- In so few words that haiku is called the wordless poem
- It is wordless because you do away with the unnecessary and retain as few words as required to make a whole picture
Picture they did …Now it was their turn. Vaishali gave them the following options to draw out the story embedded therein :
the way her laugh
colours the sky
searching for slippers
lost in the pile
a splash of purple
on my new white kurti
drip, drop, drip,
on the child’s cheeks
the clothes out of the bucket
get a new shade
(this one was mine)
And the children did well…pretty well. Haiku had made way into their hearts.
However, a story till remained to be recounted to initiate them into extracting the untold tales hidden in the haiku. And it went like this :
Rainy days are so difficult! Messy! You cannot walk on the roads without slipping or splashing on to a puddle of dirt water. And the roads are full of them – a puddle here and a puddle there! And in the puddle you will always find them resting – buffaloes, cows, goats, sheep and even dogs! After a never ending stretch of hot, humid days what else do you expect?
I am especially scared of the buffaloes. The way they look! Their curly horns! Their deep mooing…how they drool!!! You never know whether they are angry or pleased with you. But it is said that you have to face what you fear the most! And that is what happened with me.
It had rained heavily the night before. As usual the pot holes on the roads were filled with rain water. I was walking back home from school. Not exactly walking back but skipping and jumping over one puddle to the other. My shoe buckles were loose. I don’t know when that had happened. Must be during the recess when we were playing a round of kho-kho! I had just hopped over one puddle that I lost balance and slipped……………..dhadaaam!! There was a loud splash. I had landed in a puddle wherein till then was peacefully resting a huge black buffalo with crumpled horn with his eyes closed and head lolling slightly forward. I must have disturbed his tranquil leisure. He jerked his head up and gave me a look. A look that spoke volumes…
As I scrambled out of the puddle in a hurry I wondered whether he was angry or disgusted or merely hiding a gleeful chuckle behind a serious face… These humans!! They don’t even know how to wade through a cool pool of water after a soothing spell of rain. Huh!!
And to be honest that look is still etched in my mind and I still wonder what he must have felt as I slithered into his personal zone of watery pleasure. More so, when years later I wrote this haiku
the buffalo and I
exchange a look
And then there was no looking back…the children came up with their own stories from each one of the haiku given to them ….imagination running wild yet very much in tune with the haiku. The magic was on….
However, the exercise was incomplete without the involvement of the parents. So we had a little chat with them about why haiku and how it should resonate in our life style after the class. We urged them to join the next workshop with Kala Ramesh proposed to be held sometime by the end of this year. A few looked skeptical while there were many others who were interested and eager to know more. I suppose there would always be mixed responses to something which is out of the box and compels you to unlearn before you learn afresh.
On that positive note I said goodbye to Vaishali and her troupe of little men and women promising to meet again some other time and somewhere else.