What is happiness?

Standard

A prose poem by Rohini Sunderam

The following piece was written for a collection of inspirational stories, articles, and poetry produced and edited by Robin Barratt called Happy. If you want to read it or indeed buy it, do visit his website where you will also learn more about this wonderful man who is totally committed to writing and promoting writers, and whom I am pleased to call a friend. http://www.collectionsofpoetryandprose.com/happy/

“What is happiness?”

The infant gurgled in the old man’s arms.

“You are happiness,” The old man replied. “Your innocent enjoyment of every breeze. Your laughter at the sight of your mother’s smile. That’s pure happiness.”

“But, how do you know if you’re happy?” the child asked the old man.

“You don’t,” the old man replied, “But your pleasure in every morsel of food, the fact that your tongue can taste all the nuances of each mouthful, discern all its textures, its layered flavours, top notes that tell of meat that’s been braised, its delicate juices released as you bite into it. The sweet-sour melting tones of a fruit, some with the sweet blossoming just as it slides down your throat. Your ability to catch all the subtle nuances of a single grape as it’s crushed on the tongue. That’s happiness.”

“I don’t know what you mean,” the young boy said, “How do I taste things so differently than you do?”

“Your palate is young and hasn’t been tested by the acrid tastes of disappointment, nor yet savoured the bitterness of sorrow. Your lively taste buds are still easily aroused by hundreds of smells and sights. Your eyes are still bright with the hope of youth.”

“I still don’t understand you,” the young lad said. “Surely I see as you do. The sun as it rises and sets. The leaves on the trees, the fine delicacy of a bud on a twig. Granted my vision is sharper, but yours is softened by wisdom.”

“Ah!” the old man sighed, “Wisdom. That is just youth’s way of taking the edge off the blows of old age. Our faces are weathered by the winds of sorrow. Toughened to leather by the salt of our tears. Our once young, soft hands are calloused with care and our shoulders hunched by the weight of our regrets. Your youth gives you strength to handle the onslaught of life.”

“I think I now get what you’ve been saying to me,” the young man said taking a deep breath. “I now have concerns and worries, like you. Responsibilities too. I have a family and their needs overtake my own.”

The old man smiled, his eyes lit up, bright as the sun as it sinks in the west. His weathered face glowed a mellow red and the whites of his eyes had a hint of blue. “Thank you for making me happy,” he said.

Advertisements

Drinker of the Wind

Standard

Untitled design

Some time ago when I was at the ad agency in Bahrain, I worked with some very talented artists and illustrators. One was Linda Strydom – who created the illustrations for Corpoetry and among so many others there was Francis Tiongsen, his brother David Tiongsen who is nothing short of amazing and many others who do so much more than computer graphics. If you check out their portfolios in the links provided you’ll know what I mean.

All that is by the by. Just thought I’d give some friends a plug!

This poem came about because Francis loved horses and at the same time we were doing a brochure for a real estate project created around the theme of horses, in particular the Arab. He’d created some captivating illustrations which then prompted this poem based on an old Bedouin legend.

 

 

 

 

DRINKER OF THE WIND (sharaab alrreh)

He was Erebeh, he was mystery,
The Arab steed that flew
Across the desert sands
Chasing the storm
His hooves thundering a warning
To those who had sinned
He was the first Drinker of the Wind.
His mane was midnight,
His eyes were the stars
The light from his hooves,
Four galaxies that shone from afar.
One look from him, one shake of his head
The other steeds followed wherever he led
He ruled the old dunes,
He ran wild and free
And his sinews were limned
With good honest sweat:
The Drinker of the Wind.
Long was he hunted,
Hard was he sought
And the Bedouin tribes
Over him once had fought
His was a spirit born to be free
A being not to broken, nor ridden was he.
But legends tell us,
One wild winter night
A lone Beddu approached him,
So humble, polite
And our Arab stallion
He pawed the hard dunes
And took unto him a mare
Pale as the moon
Then he left as he came
That dark winter night
Like a vision, a dream,
A mere flicker of light
Never again seen by mere men
For he truly was 
The first Drinker of the Wind.
Some say they saw him
Against the dawn sky
Some say they hear him,
When the wind rumbles by
But the Bedouin know
And their legends declare
The Drinker of the Wind
Can’t be seen anywhere

For he left as he came
On that wild winter night
When the sky was a mantle
As dark as could be
And the wind moved the dune tides
Like waves on the sea.
No moon, not a star
Shone that magical night
When the Drinker of the Wind
Disappeared from all sight
He flew up to the heavens
The night sky took him home
Where, as he was meant to
He still freely roams
The first Drinker of the Wind.

Note: The Arabian Horse – 

And God took a handful of South wind and from it formed a horse, saying: “I create thee, Oh Arabian. To thy forelock, I bind Victory in battle. On thy back, I set a rich spoil And a Treasure in thy loins. I establish thee as one of the Glories of the Earth… I give thee flight without wings.”

— Bedouin Legend

(Byford, et al. Origins of the Arabian Breed)

 

Lament of the Lotus Eaters

Standard

Lotophagi (pronounced lo’ toff-a-ji) is a collection of poems that came together when I was in Bahrain between 1982 and 1993. It never went anywhere. I had/ have around fifty poems that deal with a variety of people and situations that I encountered during that time. The first twenty five poems deal with people, like us, who were rather smitten by Bahrain and these are somewhat longer poems, the second twenty-five are short haiku-length inspired poems that deal with people who came here, couldn’t stand Bahrain and left very quickly, in one case within two weeks!

As with Corpoetry, I just had fun with it and even created some rather bizarre illustrations on the old software called I think, Paintbox, that came with the word-processing software.

Here’s one, and I may post a few more if the feedback is interesting. Some of the poems have already appeared in My Beautiful Bahrain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lament of the Lotus Eaters

A deep slumber

A dream remembered

Once upon a time, we lived

Between birth and death

Suspended like a dewdrop

In the dawn.

And all life

Was a desperate clinging to the leaf.

From each breath

Each ray of sunlight

Each wisp of mist

We extracted every molecule of joy.

And now, we wonder why

Struldbrugs

We just wait to die.

Growing old in Shangri-la

Having lost our precious ‘wa’

And yet not lost our equilibrium

We wait

Suspended, lives askew

Between don’ts, won’ts, can’ts, I could, I should

And I do.

Twig & Leaf

Standard

All I need is a compliment… I posted a fragment from this piece on Facebook and one person’s reaction prompted me to reproduce this dramatic little dialogue that I wrote many moons ago when there were fewer high rise buildings in Bahrain, when our apartment in Muharraq looked out to the sea where dhows lounged on the beach and the causeway to the Diplomatic area was a quiet passageway and the country was asleep by ten at night.

A TWIG AND A LEAF

A bird introduced the story. It twittered: “This is the story of leaf and twig. Of self and self. Which destiny is yours dear listener? Which road to dusty death would you take?”

Twig:   “The wind blows and I move.”

Leaf:   “The breeze breathes and I dance. I quiver with its tiniest breath. Silver. Golden green. The sunlight warms me and I glory in its warmth. The moonlight shimmers on me and I play a dainty game with moonbeams. But you, you are stiff and angular. Your movements are scratchy. Scritching. And scratching. And squeaky.”

Twig:   “Just because I am more firmly set it doesn’t mean that I don’t feel the wind or the sun. Or that the silver moonlight does not make dramatic patterns with me. I am strong. And you are weak. Too emotional. Too full of movement. Too light. You dance today. But all too soon that loving sun will make you wilt and you will fall and be crushed.”

Leaf:     “Drop I shall some day. But not before the sun and the wind have caressed me into the most exciting hues of green and yellow and russet, a russet that would rival a sunset. Colours that have made poets sing. What poets have sung of you, Twig?”

Twig:     “No. That is true. No poets sing of me. I am the coarse, unlovely of the world. The bark grows hard around me. It shelters me from the sun and the wind of life. But it constrains me too. Confines the sap that flows within. Warm sap that longs to leaf sometimes. That aches to dance.

And, yet I know that if I were a leaf, I would dread the day when I should fall. Having metamor­phosed from glorious green and yellow on to russet and hectic red. Fall and be crushed. Stamped out. And forgotten. No. I would rather be a twig. And never live or love so much, so close to life that some day I shall, I must be turned to dust, ignominiously…under the foot of some uncaring, unthinking, unloving passerby.”

Leaf: “Perhaps. But twig, dear twig, to love is all. Why should it matter how you leave this world? We must all be crushed and torn some day. So live. Live and love and laugh and dance today!”

Twig:   “No. No. I cannot… And yet, should I? No. I must not. For I support the leaves.”

Spring into summer

Standard

Written some years ago in Vancouver

Mists, grey as monsoon clouds,
Shroud the still snow covered caps
Of mountains in the distance
The park is as green as a henna bush
Displaying a myriad verdant shades
While tulips and rhododendrons run rampant
On its edges
Dancing in sunshine yellow, lipstick red
And muted hues of purple, pink, papaya orange.
I wonder why in all this splendid array
Of a western spring and early summer
My imagery still wanders back
All the way,
From Canada to India.

 

Mozzie

Standard

My kind of fun poem! Reminds me of my 🦑 squid!

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Image result for mosquito cartoon

I am a small mosquito
And my task is not the best…
To be a nuisance all my life
And be a perfect pest.

It isn’t really all my fault
When deep within the night
You wake to find I had a snack
And left a nasty bite.

I need the stuff that’s in your blood
I have none of my own…
That’s just the way that I was made
And so the seed was sown.

I am the perfect predator
No tiger bite can beat
The stealth attack that gets to feed
Yet leaves you on your feet.

I’m made by Mother Nature,
Working to her own design…
So when you try to squash me flat,
Recall…the fault’s not mine.

I can’t turn vegetarian,
That’s not the way I’m made,
A mozzie needs her sustenance,
The Piper must be paid.

We may surpass our natures,
But we can’t be…

View original post 36 more words

Squid

Standard

A poem presented at Colours of Life 2017 – the annual poetry festival of the Bahrain Writers’ Circle.

Now I’m not vegetarian

Nor yet pescetarian

Not even a pure carnivore

I’m an eat-everything-atarian

There’s not much that I don’t adore

When it comes to the fishes

I can devour most dishes

But there is one thing I abhor

 

It’s that strange little creature

With a tentacular feature

It’s name down my throat wouldn’t slid

Although my ol’ teacher

Demanded that I just say ‘squid’

I shuddered, I quaked, I all but flaked

I felt my life, on it was staked

“Oh, please don’t make me!” I pled

 

“Why not squid, you’re so silly,” she said              

“Er…Ummm,” I so wished I were dead

“It’s so slimy, so squiggly, so terribly wriggly.”

“Oh child, it’s just all in your head.”

“No, ‘taint.” I retorted, albeit feebly

And blanched at the thought of the squid

My face on my desk I then hid

While my breath went all wheezy’n’queasy

 

Many years soon sped by

So I thought I should try

To dine on this marine delectation

So….“I’ll have calamari,” said I

With a measure of great trepidation

Along came this dish

Of the offending fish

All battered and fried to damnation

 

But…In spite of the batter

In spite of the crunch

In spite of the fact that I’d have it for lunch

The rubbery squid, it all but did

Me in… as it stuck in my throat

I gasped, I choked, I nearly croaked

And swore once more as I had before

That I’d never again eat squid!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To view the live presentation please click here.

Five Lives #BookReview

Standard
Five Lives #BookReview

So pleased with this review. It’s honest and insightful.

D.M. Miller

Five LivesFive Lives – One Day in Bahrain is a novella I read not long ago. Written by Rohini Sunderam, Five Lives is an enjoyable book with characters from various walks of life all living in Bahrain. The story was put together in a unique way, portraying five lives with events occurring in between the five prayer times. It really gives a sense of what life is like in Bahrain within the context of these characters, along with supporting characters for each.

My only complaint is that I wish it were a full-length novel because it felt like it stopped short and there was too much packed into too few pages. If the author turns it into a series, I would certainly be interested to read on as she is a talented writer. I say that because this is the second work of hers I’ve read. The first is a short…

View original post 204 more words

Stalker by P. J. Lazos

Standard

Fantastic! Heart thumping thriller.

Mystery Thriller Week

It is not as you believe, my Angel. I am not a bad man.  You may think it odd that we have never spoken.  I stand within ten feet of you, my Love, and the words falter, trapped in my throat.  I wait for you on the platform this morning and when I don’t see you I begin my search.  I spy you in the last car, walking to your seat.  You prefer the solitude of the quiet car.  I get that.

I juggle my briefcase and my coffee, taking up more than my allotted half of the aisle, but I see that you are nimble, my Love Light.  I stop, and wait, and hope, but you have contorted yourself into a time-space continuum where anything is possible.  You glide past me without so much as our arm hairs touching.

Now the interminable ticking of my watch is all…

View original post 969 more words