Poetry in Auroville: Abha Prakash
Abha grew up in Delhi and graduated in Canada. She joined Auroville in 2002, and lives in Utilite, with her husband and their two children. She is a IGSCE/GCE teacher of English at Future School since 2003. Abha views her poetic pieces as extensions of her inner and social self, rooted in her personal space and time. Apart from poetry, she also likes to write memoir.
This land that was
Bob the Builders roar in the greenbelt
Tear out trees, bushes, even the nettles
That goats love to eat.
forest dwindles, bird nests fall to the ground.
The red paths widen, the sun reddens open wounds.
Where have all the trees gone? Look, the canyons are disappearing.
yellow bulldozers no longer entice my three year old.
He watches them heave great mouthfuls of red earth and spew them out in ugly bunds
The leveling is terrible; the undulating beauty of Auroville is gone.
now through rectangular fields, locked in their grid, right-angled by
destruction. The old winding paths and creaking palmyra no longer
The old map of Auroville is redrawn.
the destruction of the Utility canyon, April 2007)
Birdsounds glide into his mind
And then escape, leaving little notes behind.
He chants an alphabet,
A baby babble, a bird song
That stirs the whiskers of the sleeping cat.
Along the dusty path, he picks up old goat droppings,
black beads too conspicuous to ignore.
Feels their oval plumpness
caress his little fingers.
He smiles. His way of mapping
this world is not mine.
Devotees, scores of them,
circle the flowered mound, smooth the marble
edges of their soul, then settle like silent Buddhas,
along the verandah, under the tree on the rough brick floor.
Glances float up to your window,
Then glide down.
Leaves fall like so many prayers
fretful in the shade.
Men and women in white move,
or stand still like fragile gateposts.
Order beckons here with just a simple look,
a wave of the hand.
A measure of calm comes,
Can the flowers bear the touch?
Do your eyes still wander through the green?
(Pondicherry , 1998)
High time I quit
sabbatical is what I need.
Catty looks, arching eyebrows, feigned inattentiveness, mind games, ego hassle—
It’s time to retreat from the teenage mutants — from the Monday morning wrecks,
Thursday afternoon zombies, Friday party planners —
I wish for a normal workplace, humans with normal hormones.
How about sweeping off those anarchic assignments piled up high, and making space for my dwindling weekends?
I have to stop entertaining myself with lexical jokes — faulty agreements, the lose-loose connections, quite-quiet mischoices — that colour the high school world.
For all their I-can-do-Dubliners-in-2-weeks, the essays hover far from insight and legibility.
But I cannot abandon them, of course.
The long faces, droopy eyes, make me slave under mistaken notions.
I lead them to the exams, correct the mocks for the tenth time.
They graduate. A virtual hello comes now and then to revive my fainting resolve.
I begin again, yet again. I smile, not too widely, and welcome the fresh faces, their youthful joy, and eagerness to be in the A-level English class.
Surely this new group can be motivated to indulge in speech analysis and explore the Joycean voice.
I alternate leniency with law and order. They accept the new rules for a month or two, sit relatively straight, open their mouths meaningfully.
And then the sluggish August afternoons, the lone plaintive calls of the peacocks take over. Eyes glaze; there is time for reveries, doodling, mocking
the sincere ones who labour diligently . . until the finishing line.