India !

Kala Ramesh

An Autumn Note

One Spring Day at twilight, I was walking down the hill path with an elderly gentleman, shall I call him . . . my poet friend, my springboard . . . He is an old acquaintance of mine, and we would wave or smile at each other on our usual evening walk, around the hill that we share with Pune university.
The day before yesterday, I saw him watering the trees on the hill -- Pune is really dry now and nearing summer it gets worse.

I offered to help water the young saplings that we had planted a year back, aiming for a green hill. As I was talking to him about what makes or breaks a haiku, he said, "Have you read Iqbal, the poet philosopher of Pakistan? I know him from the time when India and Pakistan were one"

With an impeccable Urdu pronunciation and a natural throw of his head, his hands and his voice, he recited the poem and even translated it for me.

Beauty asks of Almighty, why didn't you make me eternal? To which Almighty answers that life is a movie theatre, and it has to move on - the truth of evolution.
The moon hearing this, repeats it to the morning star, and the morning star tells it to the dewdrop, which in turn whispers it to a flower and the flower on hearing it, dies

raath ki raani . . . 
her fragrance rides
the breeze 

The Next Evening, on my entering the gate to the university hill I heard my poet-friend say that there would be no watering the saplings today, as there was no water in the tank . . . so walking up the hill he asked, "Do you know why a flower has petals?"
  He said, "Think, and think"

Then smilingly he said that he would recite Ghalib for me, a very delicate poem on why a flower has petals

The bulbul -- India's nightingale -- was wailing loudly for spring blossoms. Even the plants far away could hear it, for the bulbul's wail almost filled the cosmic space. The buds, feeling heart-broken, split into petals.

Wah! Is all I could muster . . .

Last evening, after half an hour of watering, we took a small break, and I recited a haiku of mine to my poet-friend

darting fish-like . . . 
seven months of life
in my womb

He spontaneously quoted Ghalib in chaste Urdu...his clear voice rising above the birdcalls.
He said, that the wind as you know is flirtatious, here and there, touching, feeling everything as it moves. One basant morning the wind sees a beautiful blossom and goes toward her, attracted by her beauty, he goes deeper into her solitude and as the wind whizzes past, the blossom elated, in full fragrance, proclaims to the world at large that she has lost her virginity to the wind

  My Poet-friend Continues with Ghalib . . .
My beloved promised that she would come, the news made me so joyous, given that moment I would have happily died, but deep within my heart, something told me that ultimately she won't come, and that is the reason why you see me alive today ...

howling wind --
an autumn note within
the bamboo flute

raath ki raani: (literally, queen of the night) night jasmine, which blooms at night then dies early in the morning
basant: spring
autumn note - in my view means a musical note, which is perfected in its musical quality and its emotional content