Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Home No More - Malsawmi Jacob

little cottage on the hill
lime washed walls, timber frame
holds a million memories
only memories.

father’s gone to sleep
beside mother under stars.
children have flown away.

the pine tree is cut down
the poinsettia too,
red geraniums, gladioli and dahlias
all died, one by one.

and though it’s Christmas time
we’re not going home
for home is home no more.

when summer comes
wild daisies may bloom again
but we won’t be going home
home is home no more.

Malsawmi Jacob was  brought up in Shillong and now lives in Bangalore with her family.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Morning Pools of the Sky People: a Modern Day Fairy Tale - Zualteii Poonte

It happens late in the year every year, around the time when the rains taper off and the harvests in the rice fields begin to ripen and glow golden in the sun. From the wee hours past midnight when earth people are in bed in blissful slumber, the fabled van mi or sky people leave their homes in the sky to stealthily descend to earth for a few joyous hours of bathing and swimming. Under the pale light of the moon, between mountains and high hills, they create huge pools of spray and water that is so pure and white it looks like soft, downy cotton wool. The pools cover entire valleys, stretching from one far distance to another, running up the sides of mountains and creating occasional happy little islands in the middle. Some pools sweep across vast expanses like tumultuous, turgid  seas while others are sandwiched between mountains and towns like hungry rivers. In the bewitched pools, the sky people play, float, glide, skim, sail, romp, wade, gambol and frolic around to their heart's content. Sometimes they take gravity-defying dives off cliffs or jump from trees into the surging white waters. 

Then as the sun awakens and unhurriedly rises, lazily stretching out its brilliant rays over the mountain tops, the sky people sigh and begin to gather their things to go back to their homes in the sky. A few dawdlers, reluctant to leave the water, linger on but as the sun gets stronger and the world gets warmer, the waters in the enchanted pools dissipate slowly till there is nothing left but empty air and mist. One by one, the lingerers too return to their homes. The pools remain amidst the mountains and rills for a while as earth people wake up and rub their eyes in marvel at the sight outside. By the time the clocks on the earth people's walls point to eight, the pools have mostly all disappeared. Late risers who are excitedly told about the magical pools thrust their necks out of windows but see nothing but green valleys and hills. 

Zualteii (A. Hmangaihzuali) Poonte is the owner of this blog.  She teaches English literature at Aizawl College and is also a keen amateur photographer. The featured photo, which partly inspired this piece, was taken by her in November 2012.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Dead Butterfly - Dawngi Chawngthu

throw away my memory
throw them into
unknown areas of your mind

grey… areas

your haloed moments
your sane and conscious moments
will never find you here

your back is turned
your mind is closed
your love is gone

but someday
a quiet and lonely evening
may catch you off guard

taking a stroll
through the wastelands
of your mind

you will find me
sitting in a darkened corner
a dead butterfly in my hand.

Dawngi Chawngthu  recently added a new feather in her cap with several of her poems included in the anthology A Stream of Poetry published by Brian Wrixon Books in Ontario, Canada.

Monday, July 15, 2013

hawi lo par/ in the library - Baruk Feddabonn

there is a darkness in these shelves
rising from the stardust and skin
of other peoples’ memories

our memories are buried
with the ancient dead
and grow as the

flowers of forgetting
or remembering

i don’t recall

*On the way to mithi khua (land of the dead), the Mizo dead went through fields of ‘hawi lo par’ (flowers of not turning back), and drank ‘lung lo tui’ (water of no heartache). They could then pass happily into the afterlife, and no longer pine for those they left behind.

Baruk has a Mizo mother and poetry runs in the family veins like blood does in the rest of us lesser mortals.. He is a part-time librarian, wannabe crafter, drum beater, house-husband and Wing Tsun student. Born in Mizoram and and brought up in Shillong, he now lives in Auckland, New Zealand, and uses as a creative dumping ground.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Chhinlung - Malsawmi Jacob

That’s where I came from: a cave of stone with
jagged edges, its belly dark and dank; joined to
earth’s boiling bowels.

One day, they say, out of this cave
our ancestors emerged; out they marched
in groups, tribe by tribe.

First came the Sailo tribe, with bearing proud
their faces grim, set with intent to reign,
that will no resistance brook.

The Luseis came in sight, their lordly stride
and genial mien a courtly role portend.
Their dialect rules the roost, unites the state.

The Lais appeared a humble lot at first
yet eyes belie a fearless warlike race
who fight to the death and know no flight.

The Hmars have magic in their blood;
to rule or conquer not their aim,
shaman they were to play a priestly part.

At last surfaced the Ralte tribe
with cheery chatter, merry clatter
they filled the cave with jolly din.

The first-come tribe, who claimed superiority,
curled their noses at such frivolity,
decided it must end.

They commanded all the tribes
to shut the cave-mouth and at once!
before more noisy crowds advance.

And so they took a boulder huge
they closed the cave – a heinous deed!
shut their brothers in, denied them daylight.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Last night I heard the wind outside - Zualteii Poonte

Last night I heard the wind outside
struggling to break
free from the trees.
It stretched and pulled at
branches and leaves that
wouldn't let go,
and snarled and howled
for freedom.
This morning, all around me I see
scattered debris
of its profitless fury
vented on twigs and
new-born Mayflowers
trampled and crushed in the rain.

The trees today stand
unmoving and silent
and the wind, like a
beaten adversary,
subdued and stilled
within them.
Perhaps it's at rest
in the roots
of the trees
like the spirits my ancestors
once worshipped.

Zualteii Poonte  is the owner of this blog. She teaches English literature at Aizawl College and is a keen amateur photographer.

Photo: Col. Chris Rego, Dampa Tiger Reserve, Mizoram.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Lianchhiari - Lalnunsanga

'Should the wind carry this voice.'

Reaching the edge of the rock
she beckons me
Saying ''Come sit with me and sing''
Would they hear I ask
''I don't know'' she says
To what purpose then I ask
''I don't know'' she replies
''But come sit. We'll drown out this emptiness
and pretend that echoes are answers''

So in the still of the night
There by the side
of a mountain,
There we sat
Singing songs of lovers
In a strange land.

She lifts her voice
to the lilt of a soft breeze
The cliffs sway to the nuances
Of notes that rise and fall
in a dirge of bitter reverie
Every word she punctuates with the deepest longing
Every strain she thrusts with the urgency of living
(or is it death?)
Calling him home
Come back to where you belong

Till her voice starts to tire,
She turns to me
With eyes pleading through a film of water
Begging not to let the silence take over
The killing silence that surrounds threateningly.

So I raise a stammering voice
To the odour of pollinating flowers
Of cherry blossoms blooming
from a melancholic cherry tree.

Dispersed into the unsure wind she smiles
''Let it fall all over, all apart, near and far
Let it reach them anywhere,
anywhere they are''

Closer and closer to the edge
She dances wildly
But before she falls over
Dawn breaks and I ask her
Would they hear
''I don't know'' she says
''But it's better than the emptiness
and we'll pretend that echoes are answers''

So in the still of the night
There by the side
of a mountain
There we sit
Singing songs of lovers
In a strange land.

Lalnunsanga currently lives in Shillong and is pursuing his doctorate in English literature at NEHU.

The story of Lianchhiari, daughter of a powerful chieftain, and her commoner lover Chawngfianga, has been immortalised in Mizo folklore in a single image: that of the forlorn maiden sitting atop a perilously rocky ledge on a cliff overlooking the distant village where her beloved had quietly moved away following disastrous negotiations for her hand in marriage.