Okay, so there's a brothers and sisters festival coming up soon. It is observed mostly in the eastern part of India and is known by two or three different names. I had written the poem below not exactly addressing this sentimental occasion, but generally as a musing about my brother and me when we were kids, and above all, brats. The poem is an exercise in some kiddish recollections... but for a change I like it. Sometimes, a brief vacation from the adult world refreshes me. Hence this me-created nursery rhyme, edited a bit from the existing version on Sulekha.com...
A Few Things of Remembrance
He would always do
such nasty things,
My brother. He'd always upset me.
Once he had snuck open my sketchbook
And doodled a darn bird
That mocked my unruffled
sunrises and gregarious waterfalls
With that cock-a-doodle-doo trick.
Defiant, brash, energetic,
It showed me the lack of sound and movement in my art.
He had secretly scribed it in there with no one watching, not me.
A darn springy little chick.
I got hold of his toy train tracks,
vendetta of course!
And hammered it altogether
Just to make the point that I
did not need a plucky rooster
To animate the heart of my art
However immobile or inert.
I made sure his toy engine would
not puff and rush along like before
My hammer made sure it flattened them all,
a neat rejoinder
Against a scrappy bird mocking my part.
My brother stole my watercolor
tablets the next time
And soaked them well
In a plastic bucket; especially
his favorite ones – red and blue
So he could paint his tiny face
Usually cherubic and chaste.
He chose a droopy holiday
afternoon for the venture
Finding me tired doing those clock-time math
homework and sleepy,
He let the colors run without trace.
I coaxed him into acting in
my dance drama – a ploy –
He was made up as a girl.
Wearing pink frock and frills,
blue liners and painted ruby lips –
A fairy child framed on the walls
Of my Roman Catholic school.
Little did he know how I laughed with
my mischievous friends, called him names,
Punishing him for spoiling my watercolors,
have him dance and jig
Like a girly girl!
My incorrigible sibling stole my
new dolls, actually kidnapped them.
They were barely acquired.
Even before I opened the packing,
examined their tubby face and lace,
Georgette gown and pageboy hair,
Brother and sister –– an adorable pair,
He fed them gumdrops in captivity and
suddenly became a brother to them.
Then realizing something he surrendered to me
Entire cache! How rare!
I would always do this to make
you understand, he mewed:
I thrive in your playthings.
So I took your dolls, rainbow
paintboxes, sketchbook and games
Tiny balls of clay dough clinging
Candy-coloured blocks for building
Our pools of friendship where I’d swim
like a busy fish, with you
In the waters of life that perhaps would
recede steadily everyday
Until our parting.
My brother and I indeed left our
home of tales and so it feels now
I can let him have it all,
Visit it at will with his perky doodles,
funny designs and secret doors
Through where we now travel
To a childhood untroubled,
Every now and then together following
trails that he or I uncannily left
After all fights and quarrels were done and
stolen moments came home
never to double.
Looking at the broken engine, one-legged
carts, dollhouses, cracked fishbowls,
I want to tell him how our silly kiddish
capers now make me smile,
Coming back like dreams
All of it really seems
Coloured leaves we gather as we go on
into a prolonged autumnal spell.
About FOOTPRINTS IN THE BAJRA (Cedar Books, New Delhi); By Nabina Das
"Fittingly for a poet, Nabina’s novel also has a strong lyrical core. 'Footprints in the Bajra' takes the homely image of the millet field as its central metaphor. ... But the novel is less a thriller about guerrilla action than a subtly colored character study of a fascinating group of individuals who intersect at various points in their lives ..." -- DEBRA CASTILLO, author, editor and distinguished professor (Cornell University, April 17, 2010).