OH, KIRTIPUR (Satis Shroff)
Archana came from Kirtipur,
The hill of the noseless and earless.
She was a Vajracharya woman
Of the priest caste.
She spoke a language
Full of sweet monosyllables.
A young woman with fine features,
She could stare at one
And see through to the depths of one’s heart.
Raj was a Chettri from the Eastern hills
With a sacred thread on his neck
From the warrior and noble caste.
They loved each other in the Nepalese way,
Talking with their eyes and hearts.
Never in physical ecstasy,
Always platonic and united in dreams.
No rumbas, no slow fox.
Just the sweet odour of her hair and neck
In moments of stolen darkness
In a movie hall,
With two hundred curious eyes,
Focused on the Bollywood silver screen.
Or was it on their necks?
Both were through with their colleges.
She chose to study at Tribhuvan university.
He was awarded a scholarship to Germany.
Archana said, ‘But no one is forcing you
To study abroad. I fear that it’ll take years.
Perhaps you won’t come to Nepal.’
Later, Raj sang, twanging on his guitar,
Squatting below the temple:
‘Oh, Kirtipur, hill of the dead,
The peak of my desire.’
Humans who lay in grotesque positions
Contorted bodies piled on top of each other.
Hands stretching out
Or clutching their amputated
Ears and noses,
As though to stop the pain
And help their blood to clot
On their wounds.
The shame of the Gurkhas
From the fort of Gorkha.
On the day of his departure
Archana appeared alone at the Tribhuvan airport,
With a ritual silver copper plate:
Scarlet yoghurt tika, beetle nuts, spices,
A garland of lotus flowers and sweet meat.
A traditional Nepalese farewell.
A letter came from Nepal.
A physician friend wrote:
Archana of Kirtipur has married
A Brahmin businessman from Pokhara.
Sorry to bring you this sad news.
‘I’m sad today said Raj,
As he buried his face
In his blonde fiancee’s lap.
‘How strange and ecstatic it was’ said Yvonne later.
Summer 2005 (Satis Shroff)
I sat in the garden
With Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure on my lap,
And watched a small butterfly
With dark spots on its frail wings,
Violet patterns on its tail.
It was Aglais utricae
Between the marigolds
The Potentilla nepalensis
Was growing well
Under the shade of the rhododendrons.
The great pumpkin was spreading
Its leafy tentacles everywhere.
The tomatoes were fighting for light
Hiding beneath the pumkin’s gigantic green leaves.
A Papilio machaon with its swallow-tail
Came from no where.
The laughter of the children,
As they swung in the garden’s two swings
Were a delight to one’s soul.
Little Florentin’s fear of bees,
Natasha’s morbid fear of spiders,
Elena’s garden gymnastics
And Julian’s delight in discovering
New insects, snails and snakes.
Holding hands we strolled in our garden.
You watered the flowers and trees,
I removed long, brown snails,
A hobby-gardener of Nepalese descent,
In a lovely house with character in Zähringen,
An Allemanic stronghold.
Once the subject of dispute
Between Austria and France,
Now a sleepy residential area of Freiburg.
Grow With Love (Satis Shroff)
For self-love and self-respect
Are the basis of joy, emotion
And spiritual well being.
Watch your feelings,
Study your thoughts
And your beliefs,
For your existence
Is unique and beautiful.
You came to the world alone
And you go back alone.
But while you breathe
You are near
To your fellow human beings,
Families, friends and strangers
As long as you are receptive.
Open yourself to lust and joy,
To the wonders of daily life and Nature.
Don’t close your door to love.
If you remain superficial,
You’ll never reach its depth.
Love is more than a feeling.
Love is also passion and devotion.
Grow with love and tenderness.