Poetry ~ VK Shashikumar
1. A New Journey
It happens to all of us.
New journeys on felled pathways.
We move our hearts and bodies
As maps – old and new – crawl up
Its topography casually spreads over our minds
Soon, we hear voices
“Let’s hit the road”
“800 metres at the roundabout take the second exit”
I always find my walking icon on some street in the maps
Drooling over names, places and things
Arrows pointing at directions
Hasta la Vista sweetheart!
But where was I going?
Fatigue sets in the soul
Multiple incarnations of new journeys,
Apparitions of those traversed recently.
Then, in a serendipitous moment
I find your embrace
Unmarked, unseen on my maps
I tuck love’s location pin
Into a warm place inside me
No more arrows to take me on unending searches
Forgive me if it appears as if it is too soon
Trust me when my inner voice says
Even another lifetime’s journey may not bring me to anyone like you
Now intoxicated by the fragrance of your companionship,
How beautiful it would be to leave behind all dead-ends
To get on a trail together where old maps can’t find us.
I hugged a tree
Its silent, firm bark
Serrated and lined with experience
Of watching the Universe
And taking it all in –
The elements, the connectedness, love and the nastiness
It felt odd at first
The wood settling against my body
Head resting on hardness
As I gave in to the friendly embrace
Wind rustling the leaves
Flowing through me, through the tree
Standing tall, allowing me to rise
It took me in
It spoke to me in your voice
I felt one with it
The red ants scurrying in a file
Didn’t find me an irritating obstacle
They just climbed around my arms
Carrying on with their upward and downward journeys
Perhaps, this was the longest bear hug I gave to anyone
At some point your sweet voice wafted into my mind
“Free yourself, I will absorb”
A deep anguish arose from my gut
Dark with years of heaviness
It crossed my heart, gathering all the toxicity embedded within
A ferocious, whirling typhoon rushed out from my throat
Primal screams, louder and louder
Till I slowly sank to the ground
My arms still around the tree
Spent, light and strong
Then I heard you again
The tree speaking in your voice
Now, go, Surrender to the Universe
With morning light comes the thought of October
Will we meet on October first or the next day?
Or the third day of the month?
Will we see each other, face to face, over coffee? A juice? Lemonade, perhaps?
Will we meet as lovers?
Or as strangers?
Does falling in love always need a real world?
If so, why am I so familiar with your fragrance?
Soft floral with a touch of lavender
I haven’t locked my eyes with your eyes
Yet, I know when your eyes talk
When its wide twinkle mirrors the Universe
When those kohl lined beauties match the excitement in your voice
And I know what’s going on in your mind when your eyes get shaded
That’s something I would never want to see
All I want is your heart to soar, your mind at peace
Your happiness lifting us up
I know your touch
I feel it everyday
Those long electric fingers
Attaching my soul to yours
Your beautiful palm snugly fitting into mine
What about the Soprano lilt that tells me your mood?
Pensive or expectant, joyful or reflective, testing or tired
I see you everyday
Your presence is around me every moment
Just the thought of you brings your lips to mine
Our breaths becoming the air around us
I know we haven’t met as the dictionary would expect
But when has love ever followed definitions or any rule?
My heart has already met you, so have my senses, my being
I know when we meet
I will meet you as your lover
To be reunited
From a Universe where we once lost each other
VK Shashikumar is executive trustee, Bridge Institute, an international special purpose organisation focused on bringing together leaders from Government, Business and Society to build partnerships and collaborations to progress Sustainable Development Goals. He was Co-CEO of Amnesty International India and Vice-President, Framework Change at Ashoka. He has more than two decades of award winning and impactful experience as an investigative journalist and roving war correspondent.