Tuesday, March 1, 2022







It was in Jan,

I first heard her name –

Alaknanda –

a hypothesis – Alak plus Nanda.

How enchanting – my Pierian Spring!  


A phenomenon of refraction,

blue-green wavy streams of charm. 

Flawless. Faultless. Ceaseless. Seamless.

Her intention as divine as the azure skies –

meeting her siblings – Nandakini, Pindar, Mandakini and Bhagirathi,

prior to plunging deep in her mortal duties as Ganga.

It was then that I imprisoned her crystal form – 

in a wee plastic bottle. 


By Feb she was all messed up –

turning grey and then muddy.

It was tricky to sieve sand or pick rocks from her bosom.

I was concerned only about my rhyme,

which would turn turbid,

if she didn’t stop being wild,

didn’t cease to gather loose gravel.


A fledgling insolent was I – 

didn’t perceive her silvery ache,

when shoals of fish lined the fringes of her womb.

Natives scooped them in dozens,

in baskets, pots and pans.

My prosody lay stranded on a torn net.

I couldn’t decipher the anomaly –

carps and trouts singing an elegy,

in bizarre tones and tunes.


She’s frangible.

My cacophonous judgments,

ruined her sensors,

sending her into a shock.

My shallow wish waters buried in her frozen lakes.


Why blame her – she was/is primitive,

descending pristinely from heaven,

a perennial source of love. 

It was I who penned an antithesis.




Shoulders back, stomach in, heels down…

Smiling with deference, I imagined I was bolder than him.

My first pony ride,

my expectations were a darker brown.

Clueless about the perils ahead,

I haughtily demanded a pony with a lighter skin shade. 


It’s a challenging trek with rude steeps and turns…

Now, he was acting differential.

My poems were crammed with mockery.

The alluring surroundings: wild flowers,

untamed streams and unrehearsed bird songs,

kneaded my ego.

Blends of colors and tunes filled my eyes and ears.

He was leading the pony – 

up and up we went,

the hot spring was my destiny.


To fill gaps of silence,

I read aloud from my pot of poetry.

His rustic smile made me a silly goose.

I rewrote my lines - you do this every day?

He rephrased: even when water falls,

as precipitation from the iced skies,

I live here.


I was experiencing a poet’s block:

my visions of mountains wrapped in blizzard,

not a soul around,

except for me, him and the pony.

I looked up at him for survival strategies,

what you eat, I asked?

His frame was simpler than my tactics –

potatoes and rice.

From where?

I store them in sacks.

What about the pony?

He’s my yaara…he trailed off to another planet. 


My heroism was insignificant, when he asked,

how can I leave?

She’s my Mother.

I was born in her bosom,

I played in her palms,

I learnt to talk with her, 

walked on her toes…


What bonding?

Mothers down the plains are not as fortunate as her.

Love is non-perishable,

can’t we store it in rucksacks for harsher seasons?

Mountains do have a heart like human mothers.

They protect their children.

His verses were unconditional,

only if we cared (he added).


I No Longer Write Poems


I no longer write poems,

those subtle lines are embedded within me.

Like the petrichor in mud,

some in the heart, some in the head,

a few hovering around me.

Some tease me by slithering down my hands.

One or two threaten me, trying to slip into the ink.


I look unperturbed,

they are fragile; they know they belong to me.

Yet I want them to manifest and proclaim

but they refuse and withdraw.


They come back perching on my shoulders,

like the gun pointing to the old man,

his dirty hands playing truant with the five year old.

Like an unending river trying to wash away the sins

of mankind, when the mother wept ceaselessly

at the loss of her young son.

Like the wild Myrtle, smiles and cheers of a teenager

who know not how the world operates.


In a lilting lilac tone,

each night several stories unfold –

of the sun rotating around the earth

and the earth around the moon.

What if I lived on Pluto...

I am deluged with all these lines

I feel full and unconditional,

after all I am a poet from inside-out.


The Missing Link 


I was sure of my itinerary,

I was inclined to visit her.

It’s a long-long drive in rough terrain, they warned.

I ranted I was stronger than iron.


I began my journey at Brahma muhurtha –

at the divine hour to see divinity,

wearing my pride on my sleeves.


I heard tales of her –

her magnificence, her holiness and

unspoiled nature.

I was excited.

She’s gifted and shrewd –

will test me, they said. 


The drive was physically daunting,

the roads wound around my intestines, I puked all the way.

Stopping by lucid streams, crossing my path,

for a cool sip. 


We were six in a car,

from a 70-year old to a 5-year old,

twisting and turning in the lap of the mountains.

Their enormity was menacing.

What if they collapsed on us?

I sat upright while others slept, 

watching the car as tiny as an ant moving with speed,

mountains on one side,

and a valley of void on the other.


We came across villages with a handful of houses,

lasses filling their pots with water from brooks, 

quadrilateral patches of rice fields –

scenes that can’t be replicated elsewhere.


We reached her point of origin,

only to be told she’s a dupe.

The real one is hidden high up in the mountains,

in unfriendly terrain,

where mortals can’t venture.


She’s black, 

and could cook pots of rice in her hot bosom,

where she emerged from the navel of her mother. 

She slid down the hills in icy waves.

My hands numbed at her frozenness.

It was a sin to capture her,

in my bottle of ink.


The journey back home was dark.

We were informed of the unexpected landslides,

in her untamed territory.

We were but humans,

our intentions machine-like,

we paid no heed to the locals.


It was nearing midnight

The car snaking in the mountains was frightful,

I sat upright again – watching –

towering mountains on one side,

and a yawning valley on the other.

To add to the fright was her resonance,

she was flowing alongside us,

her guttural omnipresence. 

The only solace was the moon: shining brightly,

while we lay in sheer darkness.


Her test did not end there –

the boulders did fall –

a few yards away from the vehicle.

Was it a miraculous escape?

Couldn’t go back to the nearby village for the night,

because rocks were strewn behind our backs too.

Trapped were we between two landslides.


What if there was another slip –  

a volley of pebbles on our vehicle.

What a deadly thought?

Should have listened to the natives,

who knew her better than us.


Counting numbers was the game we played to escape human congestion. 

At times we stood at the edge, staring at the unending gorge,

and listening to her inimitable echoes.

She’s powerful – she can shift lands. 

What if she roars and swallows us up,

I had goosebumps all over my hands.

I was at her behest –

helpless and hopeful.


In the end she relented.

A JCB arrived – a miracle at midnight –

To clear the debris and make way for us.


We drove faster and faster.

Farther away from her,

into the human fold,

forgetting she was close behind…

Rumi was accurate –

Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.

They are in each other all along.




ANNAPURNA SHARMA is a nutritionist by profession, but a writer at heart, her maiden book of poems, Melodic Melange was awarded for excellence, 2019 (Pulitzer Books). Her poem was shortlisted for All India Poetry Competition, 2017 conducted by The Poetry Society of India. She is Deputy Chief Editor of Muse India (www.museindia.com) and writes the column Life & Literature. She curated a mega Feature ‘Love in the Pandemic’, exploring life in the Pandemic through articles, conversations, real life stories, poems, fictional stories and book reviews, with more than 50 writers and psychologists from different parts of India and the world, for the Dec 2020 issue of Muse India. Her works are forthcoming, or have appeared, in Westward Quarterly, The Punch Magazine, Mad Swirl, Spark, Destine Literare, Reader’s Digest, Women’s Era, Assam Tribune, Active Muse among others. Her creativity is a mix of sweet of Bengal and spice of Andhra, places where she was brought up and presently lives.


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