Wednesday 14 April 2021

Five Poems by Dr Santosh Bakaya


This Happened Last Night

Yes, she was still there,
wearing anklets.
I could hear them singing- chiming,
miming the sound of raindrops.

No, my ears were not ringing. 
The wind hissed sharply.
Sleep sitting on the edge of my eyelids
yanked itself awake,
and looked around- wide–eyed.
Could it hear the anklets too?
Hoo-----hoo----hooted the owl.
Hoo is singing?  Hoo hoo hoo-
tell me tell me … Hoo?

It continued sitting,
glued to the edge of my eyelids – sleep, I mean,
looking around keenly. It leaned a bit towards the window.
Yes – yes- yes. 
The woman in the clouds was still there.
Sleep perked up, jumped out of the window, and was gone.
a tinkle- a jangle – a jangle- Hush!
There was rain.
Pitter –
the window pane.   

Hoo-----hoo----hooted the owl.
Hoo is singing?  Hoo hoo hoo-
tell me tell me … Hoo?

Now she was singing with a full-throated ease,
so pleasing

Hoo-----hoo----hooted the owl.
Hoo is singing?  Hoo hoo hoo-
tell me tell me … Hoo?

A Tipsy Gypsy

Ah, I am a tipsy gypsy,
tumbling on life’s uneven terrain,
oft losing hope, unable to cope.
How does one avoid this void-
this crying, yelling, screaming void?
Long lost voices chase me;
silhouettes stare at me goggle-eyed.
The gypsy clouds stop in their tracks,
looking at me sadly.  
The golden oriole and hummingbird
open their glistening eyes,
prick their ears to listen to the beating
of my madly palpitating heart.
Then they perk up as a bird hidden
in the foliage sings unbidden. 
Rapt, the twosome listens to the song of hope
that the ambient breeze picks up and makes its own.

Ah, this gentle breeze now touches my brow,
eases the worry lines – and how! 
Did anyone see me falling flat upon my face?
A disgrace, did you say?
Oh darn! Stop spinning yarns!
I was only bending down to tie my shoelaces,
getting ready for one more fight- definitely not my last.



The rain plopped, the squirrel hopped.
The rain again plip-plopped, the clouds hip- hopped.
What should we revel in?
The feisty rain falling on the tin-shed?
Plants blossoming untethered in the wasteland vast?
Or the sun impishly peeping from behind
the ceaselessly hugging clouds,
cocking a snook at the plip-plopping rain?

Somewhere a blackbird coos
as the beggar near the garbage bin
studiously ignores the traffic din and listens,
to the music of the loose change in his begging bowl.
He hugs the bowl tight, eyes glistening bright.
The raindrops keep falling on his head-
pitter-patter-pitter- patter …  

The leaves hug each other and laugh and laugh.
Not for them to keep tactility at bay.
Social distancing! Ah, perish the thought!

A ripple of their laughter touches me too –
and I smile- yes I smile,
hugging a handful of happy memories,
as the raindrops fell pitter-patter,
splattering me with some platitudes, so banal now, 
 but so precious in the past.
Yes, as precious as the music of the coins in the beggar's bowl,

and the glint in his gooey eyes.

Alarm Bells

 Yeah, the days had grown hotter,
and the doctor had told me
that I had symptoms of dehydration.
So it was water that I needed.
Hydrate – hydrate – hydrate
he had repeated in serious tones –or else….

The bells started ringing.
Alarm bells.
The nocturnal demons would not let me sleep.
They were creeping all over me.
Their serrated teeth cutting the expansive night
into chunks of intimidating silence.
A chunk here, a chunk there ….hydrate – hydrate
the doctor’s words grated on my senses.
Hydrate- hydrate- hydrate
 Was someone at the gate?
I could hear drums and electric guitars. How bizarre!
A twosome stealthily crept into the kitchen,
jumped onto the kitchen slab. Everything was still.
Did they see me coming into the kitchen for a glass of water?
Did they also crave water?
Yeah, the days had grown hotter.

The silence then perked up and started humming -
or was it the twosome perched on the kitchen slab strumming?
Soft was the tone – soothing and soft.

“Fools”, said I, you do not know.
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you.*

I looked at the walls, I searched in the halls,
trying to read meaning in those sounds –
those sounds of silence.
How can one take your arms, silly,
in these abnormal times of social- distancing?
The graffiti on the wall outside gleamed in the moonlight,
Hullo darkness, my friend.*

Then in slow motion, the twosome walked away,
shoulders stooped, lackadaisically finger-waving.
An owl hooted, cicadas chirped,
the trees added a rustle or two.
A hymn was born.
The night was happy that it would now turn in.
Yawn – another morn had dawned.
Yes, yet another dawn had fallen victim to a cliché.
Disheartened, dazed, indifferent, and half-crazed.
The wake-up call had gone unheeded.
Was there no way humanity could be redeemed?

*The 1960’s hit by Simon and Garfunkel.

I can hear you, Vincent

[A Tribute to Vincent Van Gogh on his birthday – 30 March]

The golden hues of your Sunflowers drenched me
as I sat mulling over things to do.

 I am all ears, Vincent,
listening to the colours lisping, as you splashed
them over the canvas, long, long years back,
in the silence all -pervasive, as we fight on, in these despairing times.

I now hear the heartbeat of the peasant woman as she looks at the man
on her right, in your iconic oil painting, The Potato Eaters.

Is he her husband? Maybe just a neighbor?

What is the emotion floating in her loquacious eyes?
I can hear the

as one peasant woman pours coffee into cups and they

and partake of the rich yield of potatoes from their fields.

Yes, I can hear you Vincent.
I can hear the gnarled fingers,
creating a symphony as the poor folk
prick the potatoes with cheap forks,
and I almost choke as the claustrophobic silence grips me,
suffocating me.

Socially distanced, I feel close, very close to these potato eaters,
surviving yet another day on their meager meal,
and I feel one with them.
 Yes, I can hear you, Vincent.

Dr Santosh Bakaya Winner of Reuel International Award [2014] for Oh Hark![ a long, narrative poem], Setu Award for excellence [2018] for her ‘stellar contribution to world literature,

[Setu, bilingual Journal Pittsburgh, USA], the First Keshav Malik Award [2019] for her ‘entire staggeringly prolific and quality conscious oeuvre’,
essayist, poet, novelist, editor, TEDx Speaker, [Her TEDx talk on The Myth of Writers’ Block is very popular in creative writing workshops.]
Dr. Santosh Bakaya has been internationally acclaimed for her poetic biography of Bapu, Ballad of Bapu [Vitasta, Delhi, 2015].

Some of her books are:

Flights from my Terrace, [Essays, Authorspress, India, 2017]
Under the Apple Boughs, [2017 Poems, Authorspress, India, 2017]
Where are the lilacs? [2016, Poems, Authorspresss, India]
Bring out the tall Tales [Short stories, coauthored with Avijit Sarkar, Authorspress, India, 2019]
A Skyful of Balloons [novella, Authorspress]
Only in Darkness can you see the Stars [A Biography of Martin Luther King Jr., Vitasta, 2019] Songs of Belligerence [Poetry, Authorspress, 2020]
Morning Meanderings [ E-book, Blue Pencil, 2020]
Vodka by the Volga [poetic collaboration with Dr. Koshy, Blue Pencil, 2020].


  1. All beautiful poems flowing like a river, reflecting life and nature from someone deeply in love with life and the living.❤❤

  2. Santosh di, loved reading them all. You are just brilliant.

    1. Thanks so much Vidya Shankar


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