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forewordMarch

Photographic words. The everyday with the not-so-routinely stuff that makes life – LIFE

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Poems

You need help!

You need help,
As do I.
In the creaking world buzzing silently all around,
We need to find our voice, that is silenced by the silence abound.

We need to hear, the soundless words,
Calling for help and seeking shelter.
The words beckon without alacrity.
“Are you there? Would you come?” they ask, with alarming serenity.

I need help,
I need to see and hear, what my eyes can’t and ears refuse.
I need to see beyond the grotesque prettiness of the world,
At the plain humanity dying a shallow death.
I need to hear the cries of the lost souls,
Who were sacrificed as if they were already “no more”.

We need to fight back,
To bring the peace back.
To make sense in this senseless world,
Which has shamed me over and over.

© Shivani | forewordMarch

Ring of King

Who are you? Do you believe in your own capability or do you think that your life has been a product of good and bad luck? What governs your actions? Do you, believe in yourself?

There he was, the king
Pacing a corridor up and down, for he had lost his precious ring.
You may ask, what is a mere ring to a king,
But that ring was the reason for his lost zing.
The ring caused him to be think and act.
It was the reason for his tact.
Without his ring, he was nothing.
He felt his reign depended on one thing- the ring.
The king didn’t sleep for nights.
He had lost sleep and also his might.
His fear got the better of him,
He felt he could never regain his unfulfilled dream.
The queen witnessed it all.
She did not want to witness his fall.
But the way he behaved it wouldn’t be too far;
When they lose the kingdom and see it from afar.
She regained composure and decided,
Action is a must and his behavior needs to be thwarted.
The queen met the royal jeweler.
She took him in confidence and acted like a ruler.
She drew for him the design,
Of the lost ring that was benign.
She asked him to make the ring,
And not to tell a soul, else he would need a sling.
The jeweler got scared and agreed.
He had heard the rumours and wanted to help without greed.
Queen relieved and asked him to begin immediately.
Delay would only be too deadly.
The jeweler made a new ring,
But it was not the same and was not shining.
The queen was not happy and asked him to remake,
The jeweler went back, melted it and worked without a break.
After a week, the ring was presented.
The king was surprised and there was nothing that he suspected.
He wore the ring as it was his size.
He got back his lost zing and gave the queen a prize.
Everything was restored back to normal.
The King got back his mind and manner.
After a month passed, the queen spoke to the king.
She told him everything about the ring.
She said “It was not the lost ring but you who had the power.
Believe in yourself, for you need no magic. You still stand tall, like a tower.”
The king got angry at hearing that and glowered.
He went away, as he had turned sour.
King threw away his ring,
He felt cheated and did not want to see a thing.
The queen grew sad and upset,
But she could only wait; she did not have any regret.
She wanted the king to realize and trust his own capability,
And not give credit to a ring and see its futility.
Months passed and the king continued to look sore,
But his reign wasn’t affected and he still worked like before.
He still didn’t see, what others saw;
He still didn’t trust himself and thought the kingdom worked well because of good laws.
The king of the neighbouring kingdom heard the news.
He thought it was a good time and he must use this ruse.
He declared war on the good king, with a hope to get his kingship.
The good king, forgot all about the ring and discussed with his ministers to outstrip.
The war was fought and got over in a matter of days.
The good king’s strategy fared well and even the other army was amazed.
Everywhere he went, he was praised.
His reign shined bright, like a good blaze.
It dawned upon him, that his reign was because of him,
No ring could do all that, and he must get over this whim.
He went to the Queen and apologized,
He thanked her much and she mollified.
The king’s rule lasted long.
He did not care for any ring and he knew the right from wrong.
His tale became a folk-song,
For generations to hear and for some, a work-song.

Black or White

We have all faced or seen some sort of racism and examples of inferiority complex emanating from being different. You might have yourself felt that you are less or lower than others because you aren’t as fair or because you look different? Why do we humans give so much importance to looks instead of integrity and credibility of a fellow human? We all know better than that and yet instances of racism prop up every now and then. The possible solution to eradicate this sickness would be to start early, that is, to educate our young.

Read the short children’s story, written with an aim to educate children (and adults) and prevent them from categorizing others on the basis of their “color”; to encourage them to be happy for who they are and to not feel inferior for being different.

The zebra looked at itself and then at others;
Then at itself and it shuddered.
It saw the bold solid colors of others,
And he saw himself as just a drunk stripes of black and white.
Even the tiger, which was striped like him, was a brilliant yellow and black.
The giraffe had a unique pattern; he too looked good in yellow and black.
He looked at himself and saw the same old boring pattern,
No graceful neck or mane either.
It walked for days that turned into weeks,
Looking low and feeling weak.
He met nobody and saw nobody.
His friends soon stopped asking for him,
For he did not return their howls in time.

He went one day to the local watering hole,
To drink a little and howl with his soul.
He met the old rabbit, which served the drinks,
And asked him how it feels to be so white, without kinks.
The old rabbit, which was very astute
Looked at him for long, with a glance that wasn’t rude.
He asked Zebra “What is troubling you? This isn’t your habit.”
The zebra looked at himself and told the rabbit,
That he is ashamed of his skin, which is just black and white!
The rabbit smiled and said,
“O Zebra, look up.
Why are you looking down? Buck up!
Why can’t you see, what we see in you?
The unique pattern of stripes, that becomes of you!
No one in your species looks alike;
They all have unique pattern, unlike us who are just white.
Be proud and own this.
Why do you feel sorry for yourself? You are distinct. Can’t you see?”

The zebra then realized,
What he had until now he had not recognized,
That he was unique, and it was true;
He wasn’t like others even if they had colors of different hues.
The zebra then rose to his full height,
And never did he look down upon himself and walked tall, with giant strides.


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The mouse that saved a Village

The village with its four hills and a lake
The village with its four hills and a lake

There was a village surrounded by hills.
With houses like polka dots and small mills.
The mills had rich grains,
That were famous everywhere!
So fragrant and tasty were they,
That it attracted mice, that came sniffing all the way.

Mice became such a menace,
That villagers grew weary and wanted to drive them away.
They tried every trick in the book,
The mice scrammed away without a second look.

Meesa and his mill
Meesa and his mill

But one mouse ‘Meesa’ kept himself safe.
He loved the village and didn’t want to leave it in this rat-race.
He loved the food the villagers made,
And the mills offered an all day buffet.
He hid all day in a small hole in a mill,
And went out in the night to have his fill.
Meesa loved the village and helped people whichever way he could.
People thought it was some secret angel,
Who came in the night and corrected everything mangled.

One day Meesa noticed the water level had risen in the village stream.
The village hadn’t noticed and life went on, like a dream.
How would he inform the villagers, he thought?
They would drive him away, without a second thought.
Before he could do anything, it happened.
An outburst of rain and the village half-submerged.
Few people climbed the higher areas, but it was not easy.
The children and elderly were left behind, as they were rather measly.
The water level kept rising and there was nothing to do;
Everything seemed dark, everything seemed blue.
The hills that were the village’s protective walls,
Now proved to be the cause of its fall.
The hills kept the water in,
Like a cup it held the water up to its brim.

Water level rose in the lake and Meesa turned up for help.
Water level rose in the lake and Meesa turned up for help.

Meesa took courage and faced them all.
He offered to help, but it was their call.
He told them that years of special diet had sharpened his teeth.
His teeth were very strong and can gnaw through the hill.
Some said ‘shoo him away’,
And some just looked dismayed.
But they were helpless, so they agreed to try his way.
Meesa hurried to the south hill,
As it was the lowest hill.
He started nibbling his way through, like an electric drill.
Seeing him, few people came to watch and sat very still.
Soon Meesa gnawed his way through the small southern hill.
The water that had collected, now drained downhill.

The villagers were surprised and few clapped.
They all approved of Meesa and sat as if rapt.
They realized that not all mice were menace,
and Meesa in particular, was an ace!

Meesa worked for days and nights till he gnawed through the southern hill. Water level restored.
Meesa worked for days and nights till he gnawed through the southern hill. Water level restored.

Slither and Fishy

Originally called ‘The snake and the fish’, this story is a brainchild of my 6 year old nephew Keshav, who has also done the illustration for it. I took the liberty of writing it down in a poetic form with slight changes to the original story and tacit permission of the artist.

Hope you enjoy this sweet little story on friendship between two who are unlikely to be called friends.
Happy Friendship’s Day!!!

© Shivani K | forewordMarch
Slither slithering to the pond where Fishy resides.

There was once a snake called Slither,
Because he slithered, slithered and slithered.
He sawed (saw) something blue and cool,
He slithered to it but he was fooled.
For it was a cloud,
Reflected in a big water pond.
He was upset and was trying to slither back,
But just then he saw something slippery.
It was in fact a fish shining shimmery.
He called out to the fish,
whose name was Fishy,
He asked her it’s name
And privately wondered if his own body was a bane,
For he could swim merely.
The fish, a little haughty, responded coolly.
She boasted that she could swim in the water, rather boldly.
She was happy in her pond,
And said that a being who couldn’t swim didn’t matter at all.
Slither marveled at this and requested,
“Could I see your house? Could I look after I have rested?”
The fish let out a big ‘hmmmpphhh’
She refused outrightly with a big gruff.
Slither slithered back to his own place,
A little sad as he was disgraced.
A few days passed by and he saw Fishy again,
She was swimming proudly in a little stream that ran past his lane.
Fishy saw Slither and asked him if the big round hole was his home.
He replied with a cool nod as she looked at the dome.
She asked if she could visit what looked like a pantry.
Slither remembered how he was disgraced and refused an entry.
He recounted to Fishy the day he had come to her,
And told her what had incurred.
Fishy felt ashamed; she apologized and said, “Sorry Sir.”
“This wouldn’t happen again, believe me. Let it blur. ”
She told him that he can come anytime now as her behavior had improved.
She was earlier proud and haughty and implored him to forgive her.
They became best friends thereafter.
Each visited the other’s home, had lots of fun and shared laughter.

What If?

What if we weren’t born as an Indian or an American,
But only as human?
What if we had no concept of black and white,
But only talked about each other’s right?
What if only love, anger, jealousy, and sadness were given color;
Not to people to make them feel smaller?
What if instead of seeing skin color, hair color, and nose shape,
We only saw the expressions in the eyes, the smile on the lips and not bother where they belonged to on a map?

What if there were no nations and no monarchy,
But only endless land that belonged to us all for free?
What if there were no power, no rank,
no dollar and no franc?
What if the history had only love stories and stories of humanity;
not of war, bloodshed, epidemics and scarcity?
What if we were ashamed of the wars,
instead of being taught to be proud of our nation’s corps?

What if women were loved and not treated as objects to rape?
What if children were treated as flowers and their schools weren’t gunned down by religious hate?
What if we all lived like a big community family,
Danced in the weddings together and took care of the elderly?
What if our life wasn’t compartmentalized and we weren’t expected to reach milestones based on our age?
What if we all spoke same language, and there was no concept of race?
What if we raised our young to spread love and be humane,
Instead of working on them like a campaign?
What if we didn’t have to teach our kids to be careful of strangers;
Instead, we taught them to trust, for people pose no danger?

What if children weren’t brought up as girl or boy, but only as a child?
What if we didn’t care about what marks he/she got, but only cared if he/she smiled?
What if growing or not growing hair wasn’t based on child’s sex,
But on their personal interest?
What if the world was safe for a child to go out to play in a park without supervision?
Is this too hard to envision?

What if we believed that earth belonged to animals and trees,
As it belonged to thee?
What if we still lived off the trees,
And spent the day gathering berries?
What if we gave back to the nature as much as we took from it?
What if we killed another person and then wore his skin? Sounds horrible?
Then why do we still wear fur and leather?

What if there were no gadgets, we worked with our hands,
And allowed children to play outside in the sand?
What if the fission and fusion never came to be known,
And bombs never made and never grown?
What if we ate our food hot and streaming,
Instead of clicking it and twittering?
What if people displayed love by gazing in to each other’s eyes,
Instead of showing by liking their Facebook profiles?
What if instead of watching baby videos on YouTube,
we saw them perform live within your drawing room?
What if couples actually talked to each other instead of watching TV?
What if the world moved slower so we could together enjoy a cup of morning tea?

We did all this, but we called it the stone age or the backward stage of mankind? I don’t see how is it backward. I don’t see how what we all do is ‘advancement’. I can see humanity’s downfall every time there is a child molested, a woman raped, schools gunned, innocent towns and cities bombed. Is this really advancement? Ask yourself.

Don’t Have a Child

Don’t have a child,
If you can’t sacrifice your time.
Don’t have a child,
If your job needs you full time.
Don’t have a child,
If you like your house neat and clean.
Don’t have a child,
if you would rather stay lean.
Don’t have a child,
If you are emotionally unavailable.
Don’t have a child,
If your life is unstable.
Don’t have a child,
If you would prefer a nomadic life.
Don’t have a child,
If you and your partner have a constant strife.
Don’t have a child,
If you make sacrifice and later hold your child guilty.
Don’t have a child,
If you can’t carry a responsibility.
Don’t have a child,
Just because people asked you to.
Don’t have a child,
Because it’s what we women “ought” to.
Don’t have a child,
Simply because your friends have one.
Don’t have a child,
Because you will need him/her in the long run.
Don’t have a child,
Because you are getting old.
Don’t have a child,
If you are unsure.
Don’t have a child,
Because you like to boss around.
Don’t have a child,
If you can’t wake-up at your child’s sound.
Don’t have a child,
If you can’t think of anyone before yourself.
Don’t have a child,
If you are not ready to change yourself.
Don’t have a child,
If you can’t leave your drink behind.
Don’t have a child,
If you can’t let go of things in mind.

Do you feel the list is long,
That there are no “Do’s” and too many “Don’ts”?
There is just one DO and that is-
To have a child you don’t need to be a dove.
Have a child if you are capable of love.
Won’t you do all this for you?
A child is you too.
Plain and simple, love is enough.
Plain and simple love, is enough.

Everything in the list vapourizes if you have the capacity to love another human being, who will love you back for no other reason than you were you.

‘The dead rat’, a story

A simple, honest, innocent story with a good old moral. Written in a poetic expression for new readers and for those who have heard or read the story earlier.

A poor young man walked about,
He had no place to go and was in serious doubt.
No education meant no job,
He could see his future and it looked like a big fat blob.
But he was clever and hard working,
So he thought to earn some money by using one of his schemes.

He sat one day, doing nothing.
From around a corner came a lady,
with a dead rat in one hand while the other hand carried a baby.
He told her that he could help her get rid of the rat
But in return he would only need a rupee fat.
The lady happily handed over the mouse-trap,
Gave him money and went back in a snap.

He roamed a while to find a house with a cat.
He found one and offered them the dead rat.
In exchange, he asked for rupees two.
They gave it happily, as their cat let out a mew.

With his money he went straight to the big old shop,
Bought kararechane, but only ate few for his plan shouldn’t flop.
He walked miles to the old jungle,
Waited underneath a tree for the travellers who bungled.
He sold chana to those who forgot to bring their meal,
He charged them 5 Rs per pouch and that was the deal.
He collected 25 Rs that day
and went back to the shop, to buy more chana, and then to pray.

From that day on, he would keep chana and water for travelers.
They would pay as much as asked, for most of them were foreigners.
He saved most and bought more, and finally saved enough to set up a cart.
He added more items and that was a good start.
It came to be known as Teelu’s mart,
and people came from far to try his famous ‘chaat’.

This went on and his business bloomed.
It was the same old Teelu, who everyone thought was doomed.
He opened more such “marts”;
He became very rich but his health started falling apart.
He asked his children to take-over his business of marts,
But they bickered among themselves and the business fell like a deck of cards.

They didn’t understand the reason and went to ask their “Pa”.
He made them realize it was only hard-work that would take them far.
He worked hard all his life.
They should too and bury the strife.
He said, “The solution was easy,
Work hard although it might make you queasy.
But in the long run you shall succeed,
This is your father’s advice, shake hands now and do good deed.”
His sons followed his advice.
“Teelu’s mart” resurfaced and they turned wise.


* karare-chane: an Indian snack made of spiced dry roasted chick-peas.
# chaat : an Indian snack made from a dry roasted bengal gram mixed of masala, onions and tomatoes.

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