LOST 

Lost in hopelessness before we met,

Lost we found each other on the net,
Lost we were in blank togetherness,
Lost in nothingness,
Lost you wander away,
Lost you betray,
Lost I let go of you in sadness,
Lost I snub to take you back in forgiveness;
Lost without each other,
Lost we are forever.

Anita Bacha
Illustration/photography/Anita Bacha 

http://poetryofanitabacha.com/

 
 
 

The Forbidden Fruit

I spent a great deal of my childhood days, at the place of my grandmother and in the company of my elder sister, Romila. My sister was a plump, docile and very girlish child. She was my buddy when my best chum, my brother, Jan, was not around.

My grandmother, Nani, was a rich widow. She lived in a big wooden and shingle roofed house in the City of Curepipe. Nani’s house was nestled in the heart of a large property covered with exotic fruit trees.

A tomboy, a relentless adventurer and explorer, I loved to climb trees and hide in their leaves, playing at imaginative games. I was simply and purely fascinated by trees.

I was particularly impressed by a majestic Bell Fruit tree (also called Jamalac or Jeanbosse tree in Mauritius or Jamrul tree in India) that stood in the midst of the vast terrain. It was always laden with big, juicy and tantalizing Jamalacs. The fruits were milky white in colour whereas other fruits of the same family were comparatively smaller and either pink or red. Unfortunately, we, children were not allowed to go near this tree and were strictly forbidden from eating the milky white fruits.

‘It is possessed by a spirit’ Nani told us.

‘Leave this tree and its fruits alone!’ She severely cautioned us.

However, one fateful day when Nani was absent from home, I made up my mind to climb the Bell fruit tree and to taste the forbidden fruit. Romila was playing quietly with her dolls, in a corner of the room which we shared with our grandmother. I summoned her and asked her to join me. At first she refused and reminded me of the spirit. I insisted with dominant persuasion. She finally gave in and meekly followed me. She revered me as a leader in audacious games and dreadful adventures.

We slipped out of the house noiselessly and headed for the coveted tree. Once in close proximity, I could not help feeling an eerie atmosphere around the tree. It made my heart pound with excitement, mischievous delight and awe. Ripe, luscious jamalacs were hanging from the over laded branches. Even more so, the fruits were practically sweeping the ground that was covered with dry leaves. I looked up and my eyes caught sight of a beautiful, shiny jamalac at the top of the tree.

In no time, I frayed my way through the tangled branches and started to climb the tree with astounding agility, like a monkey. Romila yelled out at me to stop and to come back. I did not pay heed to her. My mind was set on reaching for the forbidden fruit.

I arrived at the top in a flash and, I hurriedly reached out for the fruit. All of a sudden, a branch of the tree hit me violently like a big slap in the face. I shut my eyes. Behind my closed eye lids, I saw the sun and the blue sky in an aperture between the rich green leaves.

The next thing, I knew, was that I was lying in bed, surrounded by my parents and other family members. My mother was sobbing.

To cut a long story short, Romila ran for rescue when I fell from the tree, like a bag of potatoes. I was carried unconscious to Nani’s house. When later she arrived, she phoned my mom and dad. Most importantly, she called for a local healer cum psychic, a ‘hoja’. He brought me out of what he ably qualified as a ‘trance’. I had fallen from a height of 15 feet unscathed. I had no bruise, no injury and no broken bone.

One of the worst rabble-rousers in the family, I had become a ‘miracle child’ thanks to the forbidden fruit!

Anita Bacha

In the illustration picture is my granddaughter. She has taken after me in tree- climbing.

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The Sandal of Rosemay

Writer’s note

My prose is mostly autobiographical. They are the memories of my childhood that I cherish the most, of real – life events, people and places. I was born in Mauritius before the country won its independence from the British Rule in 1968. I was fortunate to be born in a wealthy Hindu family. My Papa was a big sugar magnet in the North of the island, having inherited from his father, 200 ‘arpents’( units of land area as measured by the French when they occupied Mauritius before the British).
Mauritius was an underdeveloped country. The huge disparity between the social classes was horrendous. The rich were very rich and the poor, very poor. Hence, promiscuity was rampant in the country.
THE STORY
Radhika married a very prosperous landowner. She was merely sixteen and she had no choice but to succumb to the will of her father. She fell in love with her husband, Seelall, on their wedding night. He was six years her senior and as handsome as a god. She bore her husband many beautiful and healthy children. She was proud to belong to the class of high society women. She learnt how to drive the luxurious imported cars from Britain, to perm her hair, to wear expensive silk saris and elite handmade sandals brought from India by Punjabi merchants. Her mansion was run by maid and man servants as labour was very, very cheap.
Behind the house, there was a large open space where the washing of dirty linen was done by hand, with foreign soap and tap water, on big slabs of stone. Then hang out, on strings of bamboo, to dry in the sun. Collected in huge raffia baskets when dry, the linen was brought in a special room, adjacent to the house, for ironing. This was a routine process involving the task of many washerwomen, locally and commonly called ‘dhobis’.
A washerwoman could be a woman of any community yet, there was, prominent in those days of illiteracy and ignorance, the existence of the caste system. The dhobis belonged to their own caste. The Hindus were very conscious and very wary about the caste system, brought over from India. So was Radhika.
The ‘dhobis’ were not allowed in her kitchen or to touch the food.
Other people and those who could not afford tap water at home sent their washing to the local dhobis.
There was one reputed dhobi, by the name of Salsa. She was a widow and she raised two young daughters, Rosemay and Mimine, by her own sweat because widows were not allowed to remarry. Often they were found on the streets, pushing a wooden cart, packed with big bundles of customers’ clothes which they washed at a neighbouring river; then brought home for ironing with the heavy steel irons fuelled with burning charcoals.
Rosemay, the eldest daughter of Salsa, was a fine-looking young woman. She had long, black, crimped thick hair, a flawless complexion colour olive, captivating, bewitching black eyes and a mouth of extraordinary beauty. She never wore make-up, except for ‘Kaajol’, eyeliner which was made at home by placing a spoon in front of a lighted oil lamp. To add to her blessings, she had two gorgeous breasts, rounded and firm like two green apples. She never wore a brassiere under her blouse. Brassieres were a luxury for the rich.
One critical day, Radhika received a phone call from an anonymous informer. Her head reeled at hearing that her loving husband was keeping Rosemay as his mistress. She nearly collapsed but insisted on getting a proof of this devastating rumour. She was promised a proof by the informer, who added that he only wanted to see her happy.
Two days after, she lifted her phone. The informer was calling again. He told her to go immediately to such and such address. Her husband was there with Rosemay. She asked, Jalil , the chauffeur, to bring out her Rover; she was trembling all over; she asked two of her children to climb in the car, on the rear seat, beside her. Jalil drove her to a remote village which was bouncing with joy and music. The car of her husband was stationary on a side road which led to a cluster of ragged huts made of corrugated iron sheets. She alighted and went straight to a one room hut, pushed the door open and entered.
Followed screams, howls, cries…then Radhika returned to the Rover and Jalil drove silently home.
Later in the evening, and after a refreshing tub bath, Radhika found an ugly surprise awaiting her, by the side of her bed. An odd sandal was staring mockingly at her. She realized her blunder. During the scuffle at the place of her rival, she had lost the left sandal of the ‘Kalighata’ exclusive footwear which her husband had offered to her on her birthday. Moreover, in trying to bring her husband home, she had slipped, in her anger, disappointment and confusion, her left foot in the left ‘Kalighata’ sandal of Rosemay and brought it home with her.
Radhika howled with pain. Maid servants and her children all rushed to her room. She pointed to the sandal of Rosemay with a shaking finger, speechless. Her complexion had become completely white. In her eyes, there was a spark of madness. One of her daughters, a pony tailed girl of eight years, had the insight to lift the sandal of Rosemay from the bedroom floor and to throw it out of the balcony, very far in the wilderness. Somehow she knew that it was not her mother’s sandal. It was the sandal of Rosemay.
Anita Bacha

THE SOCKS

In coils, like two cotton balls,
Coated with dust,
From under my bed
A brush stroke brought out the socks;

Forgotten,
Abandoned,
Consciously or unconsciously,
The socks you left behind;

Sad, blue,
Filled with bitterness,
The stare blank,
The socks,
I caught in my trembling hands,
Gave me a lump in my throat;

The socks recalled your being there,
Curled against me in my bed;
It was not a dream!

The socks made me a little scared,
Fear the idea that you will never come back,
To warm my bed,
To cover me with delicious cuddles;

The socks made me chuckle too,
Giggle at the idea that I had never seen such large feet,
Such big toes, teasingly tickling my feet;

The socks revived in me the great happiness,
These senseless moments,
When we both laughed like kids,
Happy to be together,
Pleased that we had met,
Pleased that we were in love!

– Anita Bacha –

Processed with MOLDIV

ON THE QUAY OF FAREWELL

On the quay of farewell,

In a covetous embrace

You gave me your heart;

On the quay of farewell,

You wiped my tears with your lips,

You offered me your eyes;

On the quay of farewell,

You spoke to me about your suffering,

You wanted my mouth to feel your fading breath;

On the quay of farewell,

You wanted me to remember your desires,

Your thirst and your hunger in-satiate;

On the quay of farewell,

You fumbled for the tenderness and sweetness that are in me,

That you will never find in another;

On the quay of farewell,

You hugged me tight in your arms,

You wanted to keep me forever;

On the quay of farewell,

Heavy as a winter coat,

The separation bent you into two

And,

You shouted my name ‘Ani!’

Anita Bacha

http://poetryofanitabacha.com/

 

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ROASTED CHESTNUTS

The woody scent of roasting chestnuts fills my whole being again, after decades and so far away from Europe; I am at One Utama shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur; memories of my student days flashed in front of my open eyes like a collage of eventful occurrences.

It was my first winter in London.

In those times,the days were extremely short and dark.Snow piled up in heaps on both sides of the roads as my friend,Baba, and I struggled to pave our way to Holborn tube station.
Curbed into two,shivering under my winter coat, a whiff of browning nuts made me jerk. I turned to my friend and asked –
” What’s the scent?’
“Roasting chestnuts” he replied, as he gestured with his chin at a black silhouette in the corner of the street.
I could vaguely make out,in the distance,a man or a woman, shabbily dressed, occupied in front of a stove of burning charcoals.A light smoke raised as a cloudy mist around the stove, danced playfully in the icy air.
We crossed the road.
The alluring scent of roasted chestnuts swelled my nostrils.
Baba bought a small paper bag of piping hot chestnuts and ceremoniously offered it to me.
I tasted the first roasted chestnut of my life and I spontaneously became fond of this soft and delightful delicacy.

Baba took up a job at Knightsbridge for end of term and Christmas vacation.
Among other lovely Christmas gifts, which he offered to me,I found a luxuriously wrapped box of ‘marrons glacés’ from Harrods.

After our law studies, we parted. We did not keep in touch but I still love chestnuts,roasted,candied or steamed.

It’s amazing how the sound of music or the whiff of a scent can bring to our mind souvenirs of cherished instances that we carry inside us and which,possibly none of us actually knows is there.

Anita Bacha

A KISS

A KISS IS THE MOST WONDERFUL GIFT WE CAN GIVE TO A LOVED ONE

TOO MANY RELATIONSHIPS END UP IN SEPARATION,

YET COUPLES NEVER FORGET THEIR FIRST KISS,

IT REMAINS FRESH AND SWEET IN THEIR MEMORY FOR ETERNITY.

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Illustration/Photography/Anita Bacha

Someone told me once ‘The kiss is the sweetest in the love’.

I totally agree!