Neera Kashyap( India) has authored a book for young adults, ‘Daring to Dream’ and contributed to several prize-winning anthologies for children. As a writer of short fiction, poetry, book reviews and essays, her work has appeared in several international literary journals and poetry anthologies. The poetry journals include Verse Virtual, Life & Legends, Failed Haiku and Setu Magazine (USA); RIC Journal (Indo-French); Kitaab (Singapore); The Punch Magazine, Teesta Review and The Wise Owl (India). The publishers of the anthologies include Indie Blu, Transcendent Press, Setu Mag (USA) Clarendon Press (UK) and Hawakal, Write Order, Author's Press, Exceller & Brown Critique (India). She lives in Delhi.
I am in our hill home and taking my evening walk. I look up at a local woman's balcony whose
garden I have always admired for its colourful slopes of seasonal flowers. On seeing me, she
comes down the steep steps, limping. Unlike earlier occasions, her body stoops, her smile is wan. I have known
her to be among the hardest working women in our hill town - tending fields, cutting grass, feeding cattle,
watering plants. She flops down on a step before she can reach me. She tells me she had been badly injured by
monkeys - not local monkeys, but large ferocious creatures translocated from some urban centre,
left here to relieve urbanites of their menace. She had gone to gather the garlic pods and
peaches she had harvested. A big monkey had landed on a pile. She had thrown her stick at it,
injuring it. From nowhere, a whole tribe collected, tore at her foot, her scalp, ripped off her shirt
and the skin on her back. They may have killed her if nearby labourers hadn’t heard her screams.
She would need daily injections for three months.
I look up to see her grandson water the potted geraniums on her balcony. She looks up too,
only to hide her tears.
wild grass -
rusts in a field
This year our summer break is a mango orchard resort. Cottages are partly hidden under
thick generous branches of trees laden with raw mangoes. Each tree stands in a pit flooded with
water. A gardener tells me that water helps the fruit ripen quicker. Water egrets walk elegantly
through these pits, their yellow beaks dipping into the water for food. The gardener adds these birds
are very sharp in picking out insects, even mosquitoes which could otherwise trouble tourists.
The day's quiet canopy of shady trees gives way to a night rife with the cacophony of frogs - a
discordant opera. I ask a service boy if this is a summer phenomenon. He says: 'The frogs are
migrants. They come for the water, sing to the mangoes to grow faster, sing to the tourists who
come to their verandahs to listen to their songs. The visitors even switch off their phones.'
an audible music -
chirps and croaks
HAIKU (untitled 1)
pink sea -
flocks of flamingos
reach their winter home