Some Coffee? 

If we were having coffee… I would exclaim at your changed appearance. I would notice that now you wear your hair longer and your dresses shorter. Your pudgy hands would be clammy still and you would rock back and forth in your chair in intense concentration, losing yourself in the conversation we should have had so many times in these years but somehow never got around to having. 

I would smile secretly at your tinkling laughter, reminding me of the little temple bells that ring every evening all over ‘your’ town. It is a town that you refused to acknowledge, drowning in the imagined shame of being a small town girl. Yet it has been something that defined you even in your refusal and casting away of your essential identity. 

If we were having coffee… I would listen to your stories in your low throaty voice that I have always adored. I would not want to interrupt you while filling your coffee cup unobstrusively, taking care of the milk and the sugar. I would know exactly how you like your coffee for we have shared a cup many times before. 

I would remind you of the cold mornings when we huddled together, bleary eyed over our lukewarm coffee, trying to clear our minds and gear up for the recommended reading for the week. 

You would wonder however how my coffee was now much stronger than I used to like . 

If we were having coffee… You would tell me all about your family. You would tell me of the holi celebrations back at your brother’s place where you go wild playing with colour. You would tell me of your midnight snacks of bread and crunchy bhujia as you watched mindless tv. 

I would remind you of the impromptu parties we would have back when we were living in that ship shaped building, our rooms separated by a narrow corridor that was the scene of so many whispered conversations. 

If we were having coffee… I would tell you how little I have been shopping for myself these days. You would not be very surprised for I have always struggled with it. You would remind me of the all black outfit that I bought for the party. We would talk of the time we went traipising though the narrow by lanes of the old city to the impossibly compact clothed shop, hunting for something that was eye catching. You would laugh at the way I was always wearing black and ask me why I had started leaning towards pastels in my wardrobe. 

If we were having coffee… I would ask you hesitantly if you wanted something to eat. I would listen to you carefully just to gauge if it were the right time to unburden myself. 

I would apologize to you for not replying to your letter to me that you had sent right after I moved away. I would tell you of the blue inland letter envelope that I still had tucked in the pages of my book. I would tell you that I do not read that book now, do not flip through its pages incessantly and absentmindedly. I do not turn to it for comfort. Yet, I would tell you that the book is part of the memory of a great phase of my life. 

I would tell you, in little words and through contrite pauses, of the anger I had held onto for so long. I would hint at the perceived wrongs and my furious response . I would tell you that how I had never intended to reply to the letter. I would also tell you that with time our perceptions change and some introspection is all that is needed to bring purity back to our hearts. 

You would wonder at how long I had held on to the hurt. You would then hold my hand and murmur that it does not matter really, in the long run. 

If we were having coffee… You would smile kindly at me and take out the brightly coloured hand made paper folder from your bag and hand it to me. I would gf out my hand happily for this would match the papier mache boxes you had bought for me many years ago. 

You would be delighted when I tell you that they have graced my cabinet for all these years reminding me of her and the future that was yet to be. 

If we were having coffee… We would promise to meet up once in a while for coffee, a lot more frequently. 

Let Me Count the Ways 

There are two kinds of people : the ones who make lists for everything and the ones who abhor list making. I firmly belong to category one. 

I feel that lists are made not just by type As but by perfectly normal procrastinators as well. List making is in fact an art form. 

    There is plenty of poetry in making lists. Lists and poetry put together remind me of the iconic sonnet by Elizabeth Barrett Browning… How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. 
    How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
    I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
    My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
    For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
    I love thee to the level of everyday’s
    Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
    I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
    I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
    I love thee with the passion put to use
    In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
    I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
    With my lost saints – I love thee with the breath,
    Smiles, tears, of all my life! – and, if God choose,
    I shall but love thee better after death. 

    Elizabeth Barrett Browning 

    Let me count the ways in which I love this sonnet. 

    • Before I was introduced to ‘Sonnets from the Portuguese ‘ the 44 sonnet sequence from which this 43rd sonnet has been taken, I read Pearl S. Buck’s short story of a plain, nondescript school teacher, leading a staid life, governed by routine. She gets a chance to play the poet Elizabeth, in a drama based on her life. Buck’s story is essentially about how a seemingly plain woman finds the wild passionate side of hers through playing that role. I loved the unpredictability of the tale as well as the astounding metamorphosis of a person. It created an aura of the great poet herself. I was intrigued by the life of the legendary poet who was widely read in her times (the sonnet was written between 1845-46 and published in 1850) and whose poetry transcends time. 
    • I am always impressed by the fact that Elizabeth wrote poetry that was deemed good by the male dominated literary society of the time. She was more popular than her husband Robert Browning, another notable poet. She conquered the male bastion of poetry, turning a very masculine poetic form to convey the feminine viewpoint. 
    • The Sonnet 43 from the Portuguese is about love, the quality of love, the sublime heights and the unfathomable depths of feeling. It is about the beloved and yet it transcends a person. 
    • There is so much maturity here. This is not merely a first crush or the fantastical musings of a love lorn person. There is romantic love which is grounded in the reality of an ‘everyday need ‘. 
    • I am always amazed by the spectrum of love presented in the sonnet. In just fourteen lines, the poet counts eleven ways in which she loves her beloved. From the poet’s ‘childhood faith’, it moves on to love beyond death. 
    • I love the idea that here is a woman expressing her love in a deeply powerful way. It is straightforward. It is philosophical. It is unapologetic. It is intellectual. The intense emotion is the most inescapable thing in her life, as is her breath. 
    • It is very comforting to read of a mature love that knows itself for what it is and knows its own power.

          Which is your favourite poem? I would love to hear from you. 

          Small Stones (6)- Sofa

          red plush

          a rip in the fabric 

          of the seat 

          the white foam

          a sharp contrast 

          like a tear stained visage
          What are small stones?

          A small stone is a short piece of writing (any style) that precisely captures a fully-engaged moment for you. The process of discovering small stones is as significant as the finished creation. Searching for small stones encourages you to keep your senses on the “alive and alert” status. Involve yourself with a new set of eyes, ears, nose, mouth, fingers, feelings and mind. This is Mindful Writing at its best. 

          Small Stones (5)- Memories

          The whiff of cool winter mornings

          the rasp of a scratchy scarf

          sunlight dancing on the leaves

          delighted squeals

          bittersweet beginnings

          explode in memories

          when I look at the frame on the wall 
          What are small stones?

          A small stone is a short piece of writing (any style) that precisely captures a fully-engaged moment for you. The process of discovering small stones is as significant as the finished creation. Searching for small stones encourages you to keep your senses on the “alive and alert” status. Involve yourself with a new set of eyes, ears, nose, mouth, fingers, feelings and mind. This is Mindful Writing at its best.