I loved finding my slides of India in the 80’s a few weeks ago. I guess the place has stayed in my unconscious mind ever since, partly because even without the slides I found myself writing a couple of poems about the trip and including them in my first poetry collection ‘Don’t Throw Away the Daisies’ five years ago..
I went with a colleague and her two children in the height of their summer, not really the best time to go, but the only time available to us. The place is, of course, full of contrasts, beauty and colour but this is what it felt like on arrival.
Arriving in India
The heat sucked the life out of her body
Her skin felt strangely numb
lungs full of heavy heat
a desperate need to keep focused
as her whole body succumbed to fatigue
so this is India
can death be this simple?
* * *
The sky is dark, lit by a million stars.
We cease to care if anyone finds us.
* * *
On the Ganges
boats made of banana leaves
with tiny tea lights
bounce on the waves
taking the souls of loved ones
to a secret destination.
* * *
The first picture is of Sunita Rai and her family. Sunita’s husband joined us later on the trip. The second picture is of a woman selling flowers, the third is of some of the flowers of India and the fourth a pilgrimage the last one a leaf boat. These are traditionally decorated with flowers in memory of a loved one.
Flowers are used for garlands to welcome visitors, women put them in their hair to greet their husbands from work. Flowers are placed in and outside shrines and their smell intoxicating.
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