seek…

Here is a thoughtful interaction between myself and @DeDarkPassenger on Twitter. It is all about seeking, and I for one learnt a lot from it.

He who seeks, finds…

He who seeks
Shall be found

Found by whom?

Himself….
?

Either it is too deep or it is quite complicated.

(I think the answers lie within ourselves)
and we searched
and we prayed
… but it was ourselves we found

Agreed!

Glad you understood what I was trying to say 😊

You are good at explaining complex philosophies.

I have good teachers 🙏

That’s it.

***

Yep, that’s it. Thanks so much @DeDarkPassenger for this interaction and for allowing me to share it here.

seek

seek…
…and you shall be found

 

Image Credit

The Padre’s Shroud

This is a follow up to my mythical figure assignment The Mystic of Mackinnon Road and here I had to be an object in the myth.

The Padre’s Shroud

beside my bold silk of silver finery
they kneel, murmur, plead, chant

bargaining with elaborate promises
hope drenched whispers, ituri
filters through to your kaburi

do you hear their prayer, i wonder
at the blush of dawn, life so still
i feel, a stirring beneath me

awaken my pir, my padre
upon tracks
devoured by rust
seasoned with dust
the early train nears. decelerates.

***

ituri – perfume
kaburi – grave
pir – holy man

Mackinnon road

***

Previous poetry workshop assignments are:
Do You Remember?
A Land, Broken
Rearranged
The Importance of Being an Object
Red Stilettos, and a Pair of Shoes
Wallowing

The Mystic of Mackinnon Road

Mackinnon Road train station lies along the Mombasa-Nairobi highway near Mariakani town. The most outstanding landmark here is the Mackinnon Road Mosque that was built as a result of the tomb of Seyyid Baghali, who was a foreman at the time of building the railway fabled for his tremendous strength and according to many, charmed lifestyle.

Travellers, regardless of religion or colour have been making stop overs at the shrine long before independence and are pulling up at the sight to this day.

Legend has it that Baghali was a saint whose family tree traced back to the Holy Prophet, a fact that he tried to conceal from the public to no avail. For when he got tired of carrying stones, his ‘laden karai’ (vessel) would float above his head to the consternation of many.

By 1940s, when the grave was still covered in bushes, travellers would stop there and ask for boons and generally attribute their safety during their journey to the holy man buried at the tomb. The news spread, a legend started and a reputation of the place grew.

People later claimed that Baghali would communicate with man-eaters (lions) who were terrorising the Indian workers and order them to relocate saving the lives of his colleagues.

Read more at: The Mosque that Serves all

 

The Mystic of Mackinnon Road

veiled by bougainvillea within sacred alabastrine walls
travellers pause, seek fragrant blessings for onward journeys

the iron snake tracks through unforgiving terrains
yet you walk as though treading on rose petals
stone laden karai floats over you in reverence, a halo?
the python consents to your prayers
even the man-eaters daren’t cross perimeters

forgive my impertinence
my persistence, my obstinance
O Mystic of Mackinnon Road, I discovered

a secret divine within the Lunatic Line’s shrine…
those who dare transcend the limits of possibility
remain indifferent to accusations of insanity

***

This was a very difficult poem to write. Would have never considered writing it, except that it was an assignment which was due for our workshop of creating poetry with local content. In researching, I came across interesting new stories and people.

I remember stopping at Mackinnon rd mosque whenever we travelled to Mombasa by road, even the public buses and train would hoot or whistle and slow down to pay their respects and be assured of a safe journey.

Syed Baghali was known to understand and speak the language of animals. On one occasion, when the working party was around the area of Mackinnon,  a huge python appeared. It was ready to strike at anyone who dared to approach it. Some of the labourers and one of the Englishmen got ready with their lathis (sticks) and gun to shoot it.

Pir Baghali begged them not to harm the python. He faced the snake and pleaded with it to leave. The snake stood for a while, poised to attack, but shortly after, it gradually backed down and slithered away.

It is said he also kept the lions away and the labourers in his camp remained safe.

~Excerpt from the book Oral Literature of the Asians in East Africa by Mubina Hassanali Kirmani and Sanaullah Kirmani

Read also about The strange history of the man-eating lions of Tsavo

You will enjoy this wonderful Photo Essay on the Lunatic Express

When I remember Kenya, I will think of trains. Not because I saw so many of them and not because I travelled in one. But the Kenya the world knows today would not exist except for a rail line that, during its design and construction, was considered such a bad idea it was dubbed the Lunatic Line.

Maybe it was crazy and maybe it was not.

~ A Train Called the Lunatic Express

I just wanted to say a little more about the final couplet in my poem

those who dare transcend the limits of possibility
remain indifferent to accusations of insanity

To break through the self-imposed limits of possibility, to create new possibilities we must step away from our inhibitions and embrace a touch of madness, for

only the insane are truly liberated

And to sign off, here is a delightful song by the very talented and versatile Rahi Bains. I had the pleasure to come across Rahi ji and his music during my research. You will get to see the quaint Mackinnon road mosque in this video, enjoy the song.

 

( Continuation The Padre’s Shroud )

i do not write

i do not write
i imagine on paper
i do not think
my mind relates tales
i do not dream
my existence is maya
i do not share
i speak to myself
you happen to overhear

i do not write
you do not read
you see…
you see only what you want to see

i do not write
i only pray
i only pray to soothe like balm
an antidote to reality’s bite

i am not a writer
i do not write…

***

maya – illusion

About this poem:

I came across an email about Self-Doubt as a Writer and this poem was my spontaneous response….it took about 5 minutes, and those 5 minutes made me feel like I was floating.

Of Attachment and Detachment

silence

Attachment may happen in the blink of an eye
Detachment may take a lifetime, or several

Aren’t they exact opposites?
Why then is the effort not the same?

I don’t have a forever to my name
Alone I arrived, alone allow me to depart

I protest against the burden of you
And if need be, I shall sacrifice all my words
As compensation for my freedom

And you shall bear the title of
The One who Silenced the Poet

Image Credit

A Letter from God

Dear Traveler,

Do you wonder where you are headed, where you will end up? I sense you are afraid that you don’t know your purpose and worse, that you feel you may not even have any. Why your destination does not seem obvious when those around you seem to have it all figured out? Or have they?

You are worried that what you do not know far exceeds what you do know? That is only the first step to be a seeker. But wait, you have no need to be a seeker. Simply allow yourself to be found. “How?” I hear you ask. Come rest awhile, sit beside me. Advice is always free, mistakes may be costly, but only if they don’t teach you anything.

See the road before you? Keep your eye on the path and there is no need to focus on any destination. Destinations keep changing, indeed some journeys have no end. All you got to do is keep walking on and look around you appreciatively. Be not in a hurry, never ever hurt or distress others. This is, in fact, the easy part. The more difficult task is not to distress or hurt your own self. Remember you are your harshest critic.

What you gather along the way, be mindful of the fact that it is not you. Never confuse your experiences, thoughts and memories for yourself. As you walk all will be shed in good time, no reason to mourn for nothing is truly lost. How will you be found if you are well underneath all these layers?

And sometimes you should stop and dance like Shiva, the Lord of Dance. Let the entire creation shake in your own rhythm. When you sing let it be a meaningful and uninhibited Hallelujah. A time will come when you will need to resist. Then do so with the courage and intention of Hussain*. Fight reluctantly, only after all other means have failed but without fear, stand up for justice and against oppression. Though you are merely a grain in the bigger picture, you are a unique grain with an ability to transform the entire scene.

Moving every step forward, let my fragrance infuse into your very being but take care not to allow religion to taint you or instill fear. Blemished beliefs are the birthplace of bias and bigotry. Devotion could lie in serving others, words of prayer may be recited instinctively rather than habitually. Don’t merely pray, you have to become your prayer.

Take the help of your ego to propel you further. Yes you heard right, it’s not such a bad thing, use your ego. It is helpful in boosting your confidence especially with the doubters and the envious all around you. But then, you should also know when to discard it. Don’t permit the ego to feed upon you, replace it at once with dignity. Believe in yourself and bow before no one.

We still got a way to go, never look back except to check if you have left your footprints behind. Indelible and eternal they will become if you have been able to create something on your journey. Creativity equates you with me like nothing else, after all I am the ultimate Creator am I not?

It’s not a bad idea if you peek towards the future, don’t worry if you see nothing. Carry a dream, or even two, there is no baggage allowance limit on our journey 🙂 Though they may be fragile, dreams are easy to rebuild. All it requires is imagination… and a touch of hope, such a great companion to travel with.

And so I must ask you a question. Did you notice that though your intention was that you should be found, you never actually let it guide your way? Here’s the thing…the more you intend, the less likely it is to happen. Sometimes I love to have a laugh at your expense. So keep your plans a secret from me and we will get along just fine!

I have finally found you, my dear companion. This “God” gets lonely sometimes with everyone constantly seeking and fighting and humbling themselves (and too right, I see through their pretentiousness). All I ever wanted was for you to allow me to find you, bare and unlayered.

With much love,

You

***

*Imam Hussain – Prophet Muhammad’s grandson who sacrificed his life fighting injustice and oppression.

Re-posting this letter in full. It was originally written for the Walking with Intention series where I was encouraged by Sreejit to step out of my comfort zone of poetry and write in essay form.

Clouds, a Collision

Inner Engineering

During the first week of November 2016, I received as a gift* an opportunity to attend the Inner Engineering program by the Isha Foundation. Though I was (and am) an avid listener of Sadhguru’s talks (many of you will be familiar with my poems inspired by Sadhguru), admittedly I went not expecting much. Curiosity and a chance to accompany a dear friend made me consider going to the program.

6 months later, I have been regular with the daily Shambhavi Mahamudra practise which in itself is a great achievement. Many people ask me what changes I have noticed. I will just say two things:
– Read this poem
– Just do the practise regularly,  don’t focus on any result

I am going to share a little something here… Normally I meditate on my tiny balcony where I have bird houses to feed the passing birds. These birds don’t seem afraid to come near me in fact, during one session a bird ruffled my hair with its wings. And another time also during my Shambhavi a little bird sat on my shoulder! Though I was absolutely still, hardly daring to breathe, inside I was trembling. I will never forget those few seconds when I felt the tiny claws and its wings so close to my ear.

Going back to the Inner Engineering program, on the final day I had such a tremendous experience but when our teacher asked for my comments, I could not find the words to describe what I felt. That night around 3:30 a.m. I woke up and without effort, a poem came to my mind. This best describes what I experienced in the course.

Clouds, a Collision

When millions of dewdrops gather
To form gentle clouds seemingly innocent, impotent
Until they collide
And though the thunderous clap proclaims its power
An unseen hand extracts the flash of light
To fuse it into my being
So that I could see
If only for a moment
That nothing is real
That…
Only nothing is real

***

I was not expecting anything, but I received more
I received nothing

The Inner Engineering program is a science and technology for inner well-being, I highly recommend it. Here is a short intro about What is Inner Engineering.

***

* P.S. Thank you for this beautiful gift (you know who you are)

Photo Credit
Photo Credit