Haiku Again…..From Story To Haiku Part III

Those who wish to read the earlier Posts I & II can read here and here

Ryokan was a very poor Japanese monk. It is said that he was so poor that even the robe that he wore was all tattered and torn. One fine evening, when he returned to his tiny hut he had a feeling that someone was there before. He opened the door to find that a thief had visited his hut and taken away whatever little he had.

Ryokan was sad…. very sad. He entered the hut and opened the window to find a large, round moon smiling down at him from the sky. As the moonshine spread on the floor of his mud hut his heart was filled with happiness and the sadness of being robbed was replaced by immense joy. It is said that he was so happy that he said, “If the thief had come to the hut to steal when I was here, I would have even given away the robe to him that I wear.”

But why was Ryokan so happy to see the moon? He was happy because the thief, who stole everything from his hut, could not steal the moon from the window. And why could the thief not steal the moon from the window? Because it is a gift from God and whatever God gifts us – the sun, the moon, the stars – can anyone steal these from us?

So Ryokan, happy that he was, wrote a haiku


the thief left it behind

                      the moon

             at the window


This is a true story, needless to say, a beautiful one….

But what was more interesting were the questions that I had to face after I finished with my story.

“Who would rob a moon, now?”

True! Who would rob a moon when there is no price tag attached to it!

“Why would it be left at the window?”

Again! Moon is a moon is a moon. It is always there shining up in the sky. Taken for granted. How can it be left at the window?

Children ask funny questions. And the adults are funnier who cannot make them understand what’s so precious about the moon being left at the window…


Haiku Again…From Story To Haiku Part II

As I have said in my earlier post, I learnt much more from the children than they possibly did from me. The one thing that struck me most was the level of exposure they had at such young age – pizza party at home, You Tube watch with friends, visits abroad, taking part in short films were some of the fun experiences which were recounted by the children in the last segment of the session. Gone were the days of garden picnics and vacation at the nearest hill station. I, who was stuck up in my Enid Blyton days when it came to memories of childhood, was once again reminded of the yawning gap between gen now and then.

I wonder how much could they ‘feel’ the story that I weaved around the next haiku:


This is the fifth time,” Maa scolded, “That you’ve lost your umbrella.” I kept mum because I knew it was the truth.  Funny! It always happened in the school bus.  I would have a regular fight with one of the bus mates for a window seat. Why would Hari or Anu require a seat by the window? They were always chattering and making noise in the bus. What did they care about the blue of the sky? Or the snowy white clouds that flew by from one land to the other? The birds flapping their wings and soaring with the clouds or the sun rays dancing over the leaves of a tree. These never meant a thing to them. I knew. So, I would shove their bags aside and make myself comfortable by the window, the cool breeze blowing across my face.

And then the fairies would descend from their abode of cottony clouds and open their delicate wings of pure white feather to flitter around with the butterflies. They would touch the budding roses. kiss the laughing marigolds and poke the shy lilies bursting into a shower of giggles like little girls. The bees would then hum a song strumming the green leaves.  Huffing and puffing would then join Timmy, the dog, who lived down the lane. After him would follow Ben and Brown wagging their tails. Party time! They would chorus in unison. Ben would be the DJ while Brown would serve the drinks. The fairies would spread laughter and the bees would croon the latest hits. 

And when the party would be at its peak, would then sail in a bank of dark, foreboding clouds sucking away all sun shine and along with the demonic clouds would saunter in Mr. Singh, the bus coordinator. “Rajan!” His booming voice just next to my ears would sound like drum rolls and then a good shake of my shoulder would be the ultimate spoiler, “You’ve again fallen asleep Rajan and missed your stop.” I would look up with groggy eyes trying to recall where I was.

Yes, it’s two lanes away from my house that the bus would stop and I would hop out in a hurry with my bursting school bag completely forgetting the umbrella which would as usual be left behind not to be found ever again.

But tell me, how did Kizie, my haiku mate, knew about all these things when she wrote


overcast sky…

I watch the bus leave

with my umbrella

                                                             – Kizie Basu

Haiku Again ……From Story To Haiku Part I

Recently, I was invited by Vaishali Chakravarty of Actor Factor fame to interact with her students (age group : 9 to 12 years) and introduce haiku to them in terms of editing thoughts. Interesting! Though I had never thought of haiku in that perspective, yet, it made sense. This was my first interactive session with children of that age group and that too on haiku. And to be honest, I learnt much more than they might possibly have from me.

Coming back on track, it seemed a daunting task in the beginning. Making children understand the brevity and simplicity intrinsic to haiku was no small deed. The technique I adopted was focused on the story element so unintentionally presented by haiku. Yet, it was only a minuscule aspect of the genre.  I selected ten most relatable haiku which would appeal to children of that age group and weaved a story around five of them which were rather extensions of the main theme of the haiku and five I left to them to react upon – my idea was to let them figure out the story in these, however, Vaishali suggested that they picture the story rather than write. So they drew the haiku which was perfectly in order and reinforced the visual vibrancy of the minimalist verses. Needless to say, it worked and how!

With Vaishali and the Children at Ambience School, Hauz Khas

Thanks to my very talented haiku mates of InHaiku Group, NCR Chapter, who lovingly allowed me to borrow their haiku for the session. I would be sharing post by post (five/six in series) the stories that I weaved around these haiku to convey to the pupils the art of tapering down thoughts to the bare essentials disregarding or discarding the unnecessary. Point to note : these stories should not be confused with or construed to be haibun. Haibuns are paras or stories embedded with haiku with strong element of the ingrained shift and link. Rather these stories, as I mentioned earlier, are kind of extension or elaboration of the haiku itself concentrating on the suggestive narrative of the ku (verse) .

So to begin with….

Grandma’s house has always been mysterious. An old, rambling building with lots of rooms, a huge courtyard and a winding verandah running parallel to the rooms. The ventilation of the house was poor as a result the rooms would remain dark even during day time. After nightfall, it would be dimly lit throwing shadows across the walls which loomed large.

While wandering around the premises I would find many rooms locked from outside. Heavy padlocks tied in thick chains rested on the doors like formidable sentries guarding hidden treasures. I was so curious about these rooms. “Why do these remain bolted day and night ?” I would often ask Ramu Kaka, who was as ancient as the house itself.  He would remain silent most of the times or try to tell me some other story about the lame mongrel who had given six puppies in the backyard or Mimi, the kitten, who was grandma’s pet.

But it was Govind, Ramu Kaka’s son, who spilled the beans. “Those rooms are meant for the ones who cannot be seen,” he told me in hushed tones which sent a chill down my spine.

When it rained in the dead of the night, I would hear the croaking of the frog near the well in the courtyard or a jackal howling in the jungle a little away from the house. A door would suddenly open and then close. Shaded lights would be shown to strangers who entered the house quietly and left as quietly after. Govind said they carried pistols and guns, pamphlets and bombs. But they were not bandits. They fought for a cause. “What cause?” I asked. Govind would look down at me from his imposing height of four and a half feet and put his finger on his lips, “Shhhh!! They are fighting against the kings. They are rebels. They say it is we the people who should rule the country and not those who do not belong here,”

At this point, I would rack my brain hard to understand what Govind said. Confused, I would loiter in the untended garden at the back of the house. And during nights, when the clouds placed a blanket  over the stars, I would eagerly wait for those nightly sounds – the frog croaking, the jackal howling, a door closing and shutting, unknown footfalls in the courtyard and sometimes a gunshot afar and then a heartrending cry tearing the sky and thereafter silence….a familiar sound which I had listened to earlier when mother was whisked away covered in a white sheet on a charpoy shouldered by four men in front of my father’s bleary eyes and once again when father had fallen into deep sleep six months later in the hospital. 

Those nightly sounds of my childhood days came back to me when my friend wrote


a jackal howls…

ghost stories spook

my grandmother’s home

                                                                                                  —Nandita Jain Mahajan


A Chance Encounter

At the airport…

The old man with a Dumbledor-ish beard asked me:

“What are you ?”

“A Philosopher?”

“A Thinker?”

“A Seeker?”

I replied,” No! None ! I am just on a journey trying to find myself out…”

His glassy blue eyes twinkled at that.

He looked at me piercingly and said, “I have got my answer…!”



I thought the New Year would bring in good tidings. It has not. On the contrary, it has ushered a fresh phase of confusion, dejection and irresoluteness. As it is said darkness leads to light, I wonder whether this chapter of indecision will end in unfazed determination and indomitable will to push on or continue to imbue my life with grim shades of desolation and despair.

There have been many such phases earlier wherein I have vacillated between hard hitting reality and die-hard optimism. However, with growing age, optimism has given way to something which borders on acceptance of the fact that things may not be the way I wish them to be mixed with a wee bit of cynicism. There is an odd kind of stupidity about life. It goes on the same way even if you do not fit into the scheme of things. Or does this idiocy a personal subscription? I do not know and I do not want to know.

I feel happy that things did not happen my way. It would have made me complacent. Learning the hard way has always been the flow for me. I am still following the same current. It is not that I do not wish to depart from the set trend. It is only that deviants do not always cause serendipity in life. Every being has been bestowed with a predestined matrix of evolution – emotional, intellectual and spiritual. We have to understand broadly  the design of the weave, however, indecipherable it may appear at times. Most of the times we give in to bafflement. On hindsight, we somewhat realize the pattern, may be fully not. Yet, there is a pattern which perhaps goes haywire at times because our own aspirations disrupt the larger plan and perspective of which we are just a minuscule part.

In this damnably confounding game of karmic existence is it possible to keep faith? Alas! That’s the only proverbial straw we have to hold on to. Otherwise, to acknowledge that your mere being is just another elusive act of the illusory magnum opus of  cosmic manifestation is too much to grasp cerebrally.

So, flow with the tide? What else?


This Post is written for the Daily Post Prompt : Educate

Wordless Wednesday – Nesting

I was so happy to  see this nest in my little garden. I was checking out the Christmas Tree when I spotted this. At that time the mother bird was around and actually peeping out of the nest. This morning I saw her feeding her chicks. It was such a beautiful site. I wanted to capture the moment. But as usual by the time I got my mobile phone to click the mother bird had flown away. I think its a magpie’s nest which is quite uncommon here.


Mapgie’s Nest


Transient – WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

 In Hindu Shastra, the world is nothing but maya which means illusive. Therefore, clinging to worldly matters shall always invoke pain and dejection as illusion by its very nature is transient. Einstein, very accurately, expressed the same philosophy through his theory of relativity. Everything is relative. The concept of the absolute is again misleading – a misnomer

Maya or illusion is like seeing an image in a mirror which looks real but is actually not and just a reflection of something which is changeable and ultimately perishable. The only imperishable and unchangeable thing is the human soul which is part of the Supreme Consciousness prevailing in the entire cosmos.

Watching a stack of papers through a glass filled with water on my work desk reminded me of this greater reality of unreality as perceptible to us through our five sensory organs, i.e., ears, eyes, nose, tongue and skin, the panch indriyas.

To put it very succinctly, everything that the whole cosmos is made up of is transient. It is transient because nothing is constant. The only thing that is constant is change. Thus, human perception itself is fallacious because it tries to establish consistence and permanence in the midst of chaos, continuity and change by relying on illusive vision – that what it seems is actually not!!!


IMG_20170621_111827 (1)

This post is for WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge Topic : Transient


Focus – A Glass Of Water Clicked from Atop


This post is for WordPress Weekly Phot Challenge Topic : Focus

Wordless Wednesday

At India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi

Hooked To Haiku – Part I

Nowadays I am walking, talking, eating, sleeping, living, breathing haiku.  And you will be flooded with posts after posts on this mesmeric genre of unique poetry. Why? I shall disclose the reason by and by. But before that I must pay my respect to all those well- wishers of mine who showed the right direction when I was bumbling over haiku. Well, that does not mean I have mastered the art of “haiku-ing”. No, not at all…I have not because I guess haiku writing is an art which you cannot learn overnight. You have to ‘grow’ with it. More of that later…

At the outset, let me dedicate this post to Shri Amit Aggarwal of Safarnama fame who has been instrumental in exposing me to the world of Hindi haiku. Though, very technically speaking, haiku in Hindi, or any other vernacular language, for that matter, bear certain intrinsic differences from haiku written in English, in terms of expression, style, word craft etc. Notwithstanding, Hindi haiku is as engaging as its English counterpart basically because the subtler nuances of this form of writing remain the same (read form the base) whichever language one may adopt to put to word one’s epiphany moments. More so, if these haiku flow out of Dr. Sudha Gupta’s pen, the result is spell binding to say the least.

I am grateful to Amitji for generously gifting me a few of Dr. Gupta’s collection of haikus – “Lakdi Ka Sapna”, “Chulbuli Raat Ne” and a few more with the purpose to get me the “feel” of haiku in general, and Hindi haiku in particular.

Before I proceed further, let me once again confess that I am nobody to talk about, let alone evaluate, the works of a word mistress who surpassed herself with every haiku she created. Moreover, since Dr. Gupta writes in Hindi, it is more fitting to ‘speak’ about her anthologies in her mother tongue, i.e. Hindi, which I may try someday, seriously. But as of now, I just wish to ramble on ….because it is so difficult to contain oneself when one comes across precious and meaningful work of immense literary worth and not let the world know about it.  Just that and nothing else…

Yesterday night I slept over Dr. Gupta’s “Chulbuli Raat Ne”. Again, there are certain books which you cannot stop or finish reading. You keep coming back to them, gravitated by their magnetic pull, bringing you closer to the abstractions of existence with every read. That is why I have not yet shelved the book.

What is it with haiku that makes one wistful? It is that undercurrent of futility, pathos and emptiness that makes you realize how you are wasting every bit of your living moment chasing myriad things and you never know whether these are meant for you!

And that brings me to the oft-quoted shloka of Bhagwad Geeta whose relevance, I suppose, shall never depreciate with time:

Karmanye vaadhikaaraste maa faleshu kadachana

 Maa karmafalheturbhurmaa te sangostvakarmani”

 One must devote oneself to the joy of efforts detached from the results – the journey is much more significant than the destination! And why am I reminded of this invaluable verse? It is because haiku tells me to be aware of my awareness of every moment.. to be in the now… and shrug off the fear of tomorrow and remorse of yesterday!!! Therapeutic ??? Haiku does just that…

At the same time, it makes me stand and stare and assimilate the experiences of every fraction of time….and show the world how it is and not tell…Cathartic???

Now let’s not veer into generics. Coming back to “Chulbuli Raat Ne”, the elusiveness of haiku gets underscored as one page is turned into the other…I present a few gems below:

ghoomta raha

mausam ka pahiya

phir basant


whirls on

 wheel of seasons

once again spring

khola jo dwar

nakamiyaan khadi thi

munh chidhaati

 door unlatched

failures galore

grimace at me

yaadon ki loi

khutiin par tange-tange

keedey kutari

blanket of memories

hanging by the hook



aah! durdaiv!

bhumika likho tum

main pat katha

aah! disaster!

preface you script

I the screen play


beshumaar wey

ghaltiyaan tumhaari

maafi hamaari


beyond count

your follies

my forgiveness

Aah! I did it but with a trepid heart as translation or transliteration both rob the original of its beauty and I am too ‘small’ to mess with such beatific creations. Honestly, I chose those which I could ‘tweak’ idea being to outreach Dr. Gupta’s work to the non-Hindi speaking readers too. But there are numerous others which are too beautiful, too delicate, too esoteric and too prfound to meddle with… I present a few of those here as well:

kokil taan

anjaane chhu deti

dukhti rag

sab ke paas

thaila bhar kisse hain

sukh dukh ke


hai naseeb!

boond-bhar neend bhi

naseeb nahin


koi upaay?

ateet ko bulaaun?

laut aa jaaye?


bada bindaas

murdon se baazi lagaa

soya shahar


panchhi na rotey

mausam ke khilaaf

sab sahte


kabhi na toota

sheet-grishm-varsha ka

chakra anootha


gullak phod

chulbuli raat ne

bikhere sikke


main durba bhali

ujaad, khandahar,

kahin bhi pali


main to jugnu

saans bhar ujaala

phailata phirun


ham-safar !

mere gun na giney

khot hii dikhey

When it comes to such writings, you cannot put a full stop and say that’s it. You read, you muse over, you cannot get over it and then you come back to it once again…and then again…and then again and again…

So, see you in my next post…..