- The Galleria
Poems by R Y Deshpande
Lakshmi went for her weekly purchases
To the village bazaar of Wednesday
Afternoon, to buy spinach and radish
And onions. The green mangoes sour-true
Were good for pickle; also for the drink;
They just started arriving from the grove
Owned by the village chief, genuine-hearted
Though stern at times in his duties. Strangely
There were honey-vendors too. Exquisite
Was the harmony of that little world
Given to fewer wants, proclaiming
“Simplicity is the soul of sweetness.”
The small afternoon stream carried the joy
Of the beast and the bird and the lush field
And the lyrical god. Nothing mattered
And the spirit of beauty lived in each house,
In the cowshed, in the nest, moon and stars.
The bazaar was abuzz in the main street
And the children in the merry-go-round seemed
To touch heaven. Surely, there were cartloads
That had come from the immortal mountain
In possibilities of virgin life.
But then these were tied with thick ropes of grief
And foreboding were experiences
At times, uncertainties vague like shadows
Flitting through the mist; here since long ago
Shadow-figures as in a shadow-box
Cast their spell on raw imagination
And Lakshmi took everything in her stride.
Her money pouch had some coins for the day
And her one concern was, like dreams worshipped
In the silence of the night, robust fate
Of the three boys she bore in swift passion,
Hoping in the breathful heart shall awake
Wisdom of native gods who indeed shape
The spirit in life’s calm nobility.
It was long ago I had decided
To go far, quite far from my griefless home
And disappear into the non-self
As if to live another life, take part
In an experiment of negation
Formulated in possibilities
Of the fearless spirit. I reached the end
Even as the day sank behind the hill.
Freedom I enjoyed, freedom not to be,
And farther and farther as I drifted
The voice of the firmament grew feebler
And then suddenly all ceased. No more hope
Breathed in the emptiness, the gulf swallowed
The gulf and vacant eyed through the city
Clamorous children followed me. The worst
Yet was in the country of ignorance
Where truth easily succumbed to falsehood.
Each grain of the farm’s yield was living death
Of time annulling the creation’s cause,
Laughing at God’s smile. Here the stars became
The worshippers of darkness and the wind
Blew southward carrying the malodour
Of putrefied flesh and mortality
Walked through the sinful twelfth aeon.
Into the long inauspicious night
Vanishes the wonder of silver moon,
And the soul turns into a dream-fiction,—
The omnipotent is its accomplice!
Is it that I have plunged into a sea
Of vast peace, like the joy that sinks deeper
And deeper to find its sorrowless source,
To fathom underneath the mystery
In creation’s silent will? Have drunk
The wild honey-flame to taste the anguish
Of a profounder delight? After all
There’s the presence of Vishnu everywhere.