Longing of a Flower An Anthology of poems by Hetvi Shah
Longing of a Flower An Anthology of poems by Hetvi Shah
For you, who has believed in the power of love. For you, who has never forgotten the beauty of magic. For you, who will choose kindness over anything. Thankyou for listening to your heart.
Copyright text and photographs- Hetvi Shah 2020
you belong to a tribe where tender and love is showered upon you when you are born. it's induced into your veins, and as if you are a blossom lushing out in the garden of an ancient civilization, as delicate and tender you could be. seasons change, and the faces of the loved one withers, but you stay still and untouched. because over the years you have trained yourself to appreciate and the embrace the small joys of nature. even the human.
times change, but your inner virtues and qualities doesn't fade away. and, it doesn't vanish when you step up front in the real world. they say you learn to adapt the surroundings and the people around you and change because survival of the ďŹ ttest. but can you atleast delve deeper into yourself to see tenderness is neither a weakness, nor a sign of vulnerability. you are a blossom and you have bloomed beneath the sky of the shining stars. and you are in the prime of your life with your petals still fresh and tender. hey, don't you remember?
Sartre once said 'If you are lonely when you are alone, then you are in bad company.' and I like to think about it, Human's patterns to cope with diďŹ€erent situations has always seemed intriguing to me. Our behavioral instincts are deďŹ ned by black and white moments, like on a chessboard. And, it seems like we are in constant war with the competitor, running along charades. Measuring every step and the aim is to save the superior. We are in debate the whole journey only to realise that the competitor is none other than you. You, with the older version. yearning to be better than yesterday. and hoping to be a better cause to humanity.
You told me to glance at the clouds and asked me what color were they, I blinked and whispered white I stared at thy clouds for a longer time And, there I see, Yellow, Blue and Grey! Tell me, when was the last time you 'felt' the clouds. I peeked at the other portraits you painted. I just saw what was needed. the point of brightness, which had used to catch the eye. You introduced me to the treasure of yours-the colors. Wine skin, malachite, Ruby Shellac Gum Arabic and Bone black I am a maid. I never show up my hair. But when you asked me to grab the turban cloth from the attic, I saw your eyes lushing over my golden brown hair. Towards the ebony of the dreary nights, you reached over me, and gently touched my earlobe. I gasped and bit my lower lip. And, when you inserted the earring wire in the hole, the pain jotted And, it occured to me this is the closest we will ever be able to be with one another.
wanting isn't enough/ i left because i felt alone while we were together. and i know you had nothing to lose. merely, it was ﬁne by me of living on my own with no fear of being alone. the sky looks like freedom to me. inﬁnite endless amount of possibilities of love and creating artmy head is always ﬁlled with ﬂowers, but don't come near me i am afraid you might get pricked by thorns. when you've outgrown a lover the whole world knows but you. so come back to me, when you know the difference between 'want and need’
that day, i was amused when you ask mehow can i end up in your poems? and i laugh, why would you think like that? it consists of my dribble thoughts penned with curiosity the ugly closure, of incomplete conversation and broken stories. /of overrated people, underrated songs and art period movements it is my lifestyle I wouldn't like to changestrange longingness of places and emotions I couldn't describe, hence, i wish you never turnout in my poem.
Do you breathe the name of your saviour in your hour of need? You see, I have been told that I have this habit of questioning everything. Tell me again, Ain't man a mere tool of greed? Do you really believe in dreams? 'Cause if you do, we can be bonkers, together. And we'll paint our souls lilac. Maybe, we could stargaze all night Or let's ride with rollercoaster screams? So, I write you a letter 7Â˝ pages long Describing my thoughts on political matters And, how I think I have a soft corner for sufferers - for they can feel. pressed dryďŹ‚owers and underlined lyrics of my favorite song. I laugh as you say you can always leave the person behind, always. Memories, you cannot. And, suddenly, I see you walking and drifting away. Every moment, it's a part of new learning. hey, don't walk away, when the world is burning. don't walk away when the heart is yearning
When she stopped conforming to the conventional picture of femininity she ﬁnally began to enjoy being a woman : Betty Friedan -creating your perfect drink is as unique as your personality- you see most mocktails, and cocktails rely on a certain prin(ciple) of balance. -You want to both complement it's taste with a balance of sweet and the bold ﬂavors -ofcourse you have to think about your sugar, vermouth, acidic citrus, bitters, herbal liqueurs but the main fun part is experimenting with making your own drinks and don't forget to select an appropriate glassware/ - Quirk Punch Recipe in a Hurricane Glass • muddle 4 mint leaves & 1 sugar cube (for the doze of sarcasm with a smile) • 2 oz rye whiskey (for consistency and intense behavior) • mint garnish (for a lingering cool effect) • stir things up (because it's high time you do) • serve with - over crushed ice (trust me on this) Advice: tiki drinks can be kitschy. But it is a retreat into a joyous celebration.
i have been told that my palm lines are difﬁcult to read just like my personality. so i color my palm to saturate it and do everything to hide the intricacy of the mere palm lines so I wouldn't get judged or opinionated. so I push you away - not because you didn't know how to respect my straightforwardness. but, just because I expect to learn to embrace my ﬂaws and give enough respect to myself before anyone else. unlearning has been a biggest learning lesson ever. unlearning people. unlearning situations. unlearning memories. so, today, I pick up my paint brush again and try to sharpen my palm lines. because, i like the word 'difﬁcult’ and this time i am unlearning myself to learn more about myself.
i/ and then, there were people who never sleepwith the moon quite high in the sky, reminiscing about something, everything was warm : we didn't feel hot or cold, all night long, you listen to me talking about my daysupper by candlelight our hearts running and breeze racing us/ ii/ i sleep without caring a damn thing on my mind they say artists have a messy routine, you should have a look in my mind - it's messier. we felt apartour silence ripped us apartyou could never understand why i love moon so much I have a feeling that moon and stars are with me, forever, no matter what and wherever I go
Scene 1 : Middle of the City
Scene 2 : Countryside
Amidst the chaos of busy lives, I work as a luxury ﬂorist. it's part of my life since a long time now ﬂowers don't attract me anymore they are a part of my business. i know almost every species of ﬂora and fauna. I see every other daythem lovers picking up the perfect vases and bouquets thinking that it would be special for their other halves. meh, it's all the same darling. all the same. but yesterday, when you came asking to come along with you for your research about the irresistible ﬂowers grown in the countrysideI almost laughed but take the deal. I needed a trip anyway and it was a good deal. You for you. Me for me.
I see ﬂower pickers in the early dawn as we drive our way through the mountains and small stream of waterplucking each and every petal in their baskets with dew drops on them. in my entire career of working with ﬂowers, I hadn't seen such a view along with sunrise. what a blasphemy! I wondered to myselfhow could this yellow ﬂower produce such a bright red and you tell me a tale believed by locals in those times, ﬂower picker girls' hands would get pricked by thorns and it was their blood that made red so deep. the sun shone and rays on the ﬂowers looked like gold. this mesmerizing view melted my eyes right awayi cannot wait this trip to bring wonders and hey, i look at you and whisper Me for You You for Me.
Y'know, It doesn't even matter At the end, we are in this together Together, yet alone?
poetry is water to me, I say. while taking a sip from the glass. you blink your eyes twice indicating that i should continue it further. but, silence is what I chose. not because I didn't know how to put in words about something which is too dear to me. but merely because i had many things to say and silence between us was very comforting. I mumbled, you know 'The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is.' you whispered in my ears 'Jim Carrey'. i nodded my head and fold my legs and try to recognize the constellations again. you see, I have watched comet and eternal sunshine of the spotless mind more than you can guess. something about the movie wants me to come back to it and hold on.
on my birthday i danced to 'city of starsâ€™ my feet didn't know the moves. but my heart, surely did. when you asked, what mattered to me the most, i whispered - stories and conversation with people. you knew my answer. didn't you? and began to scribble on the last page of my notebook. occasionally, i doodled too. maybe we shall fade away, eventually. maybe things we do, shall too. these songs we listen to sleep ourselves to bed every night. the letters which are blank now safely kept in the letter box. the faces we dearly embrace. the numbers and the names of theirs, which we have remembered. accidentally, i spill my glass of water. as i panicked and stood up, you hold my hand and say, you haven't spilled water. poetry is what you have spilled. And, maybe we shall fade away, eventually. but the memories shall not
you ask me which art movement if I am fond of romanticism, I say frantically. it was not a movement, rather an era in itself. and how strange would you ďŹ nd if i tell you that it isn't about love stories or the idea of love, but merely the liberty of a human nature and celebration of individuality. an emotion of feelings which embodied strongly in music, arts and literature and used symbolism of rain and clouds in the paintings Beethoven and Edgar Allen Poe are from this art period i exclaim, excitedly. and for an hour i keep on fantasizing my love for romanticism, rain and drama. you cry, oh man! i can never understand you sometimes. and i smirk sheepishly-
Insatiable longings across heart, a ray of insecurities, confusion and unmuttered feelings are you searching emotions? aesthetic ﬂatlays and morning breakfast. Vacation trips and self awareness journeys, are you searching validation? drafts of write-up poems, unposted letters in the tech world, collecting stories across the way, are you searching conﬁdence? aroma of ﬂowers in the summer breeze naked feet across the tender grass. old school music and long conversations. are you searching love?
I close my eyes to whooosh, and there goes by the breeze. How long it has been been? I think to myself. I have lost track of time by now. Tick Tock Tick Tick. I try to concentrate on my reading again. I open my window screeeak and peep through it. It's almost sunrise and I pour some water for the squirrels- bloop they always came in pair of twohopping through splashed water at each other and gulped down. I fold my legs and sit on the ďŹ‚oor observing them. it has been a really long time since I have seen them playing like this. I ask her Maa, don't you think this social distancing have brought the birds and squirrels to our yard? She replies, putting oil in my hairBeta, they come here at this time everyday. It's just that y'all had been so busy in your daily lives that you forget to enjoy the small joys of mother nature. I smile at her. thinking where's the lie?
color of human? my mood swings are like clementine and her hair colors soothing green feisty red - muddy orange and blue ruins i always had a thing for ruins. for it reminds me to never take things for granted. what once is beautiful, can tomorrow be ruined. i name it - rustic ruins. you ask me why do i have to attach emotion to a mere color. And, I ask you.. what do you want your last words to be? you weren't expecting this? were you? you mumbled i just want to believe we weren't miserable at the end. I smiled. beautiful ruins, as I like to say.
i have looked through windows for a long time nowand it opens to a city of nostalgia the small things which makes my mornings beautiful little sparrows ďŹ‚ying and returning again to my bird feeder and chirping their sorrows away there stood a crooked banyan tree and the mere streets devoid of humanity dogs wandering and chasing behind their own tails in circles breeze touching the warm cheeks and the trees romancing with the clouds above and sun playing hide and seek with the rainbow. i have looked through windows for a long time nowand words are only that i know- and only that I have and poetry is my window to the world of expression.
/Excerpt: Frida Kahlo's Life- Narrative Poetry Only one mountain can know the core of another mountain. I’d arrange ﬂowers, all day long and I’d paint pain, love and tenderness, I would laugh as much as I feel like at the stupidity of others, and they would all say: “Poor thing, she’s crazy!" Too sad you're not. You see, Men like to compliment me on my paintings and that it's a personal strong touch to individualism. I don't drink compliments because all I want is their honest opinions. But, I drink to drown my sorrows, but the damned things learned how to swim. I never liked to showcase my paintings because they thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn't. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality. The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration. It's been a hell of a journey. And, I hope the exit is joyful and i hope never to return.
I've always been intrigued by the ghats They show you the surreal culture of the city. on a certain late night, i took a walk to the ghats, put my hands into pockets and whistling to the clouds. There, I saw a blind man playing ﬂute and a little girl hopped and playfully mocked him and asked, "Dadu, आपको कैसे पता चलता है की रात है या सुबह? I sat on the stairs with my legs fold. He smiled, and asked her to close her eyes. I did too. I wanted to understand what the old man has to say. Now, As she closes her eyes, he continues.. the city never sleeps. People in their homes do. Dogs in the streets do. Fish in the water of the ghats do. but the city never does. That got me into thinking. Breeze tickling the ears and I could hear the sound of the glass bangles of the little kid. He asks her to smell the रातरानी ﬂowers and I could also smell the cigarettes smoked up by the gang of men nearby.
The moths swirling around the ear and the buzz which lasted for seconds. I heard a young couple giggling over the ghats making promises to each other I smiled. never thought i would observe with my eyes closed. i could hear the leaves rustling of the tree which stood there devoid of human the smell of the wet rain. I almost forgot what season was it. the breeze gently passed through the left lobe of my ear and my hoop moves to and fro. I opened my eyes only to see the little girl snoring lightly on her grandfather's lap. And he was playing his ﬂute, again. i never knew what the answer was. maybe, I lost track of time. maybe, the girl understood the answer. maybe, he never wanted her to know. I never knew what happened. I decided to leave and visit again soon. But, have I really left the place which made me awestruck?
ﬂowers are the best form of nature/ when they are not plucked/ teaches about how blossoming and withering is a part of life/ they say they have a ﬂower each for everyone/ lovers/ ex-lovers/ friends/strangers/ enemies/ roommates/ roses/ daffodils/ lillies/ peonies/ jasmine/ sunﬂowers/ paulo coelho said there are two types of people in the world - builders and gardeners/ builders build from concrete and complete the construction/ and stop growing/ gardeners cultivate the environment for plants-ﬂowers and grow with them/ and the emotion cycle never stops.
Which is the one place you keep on returning? Heart. Your heart beats in misery and ecstasy. A place where it all began. -where the stories start and maybe, the only place where they dared to go regardless of pain and curiosity. sometimes I like to visit it to surprise myself and often thinkthe one who created it must have been really disappointed in love. they say broken recognizes broken. and yet, every now and then, I keep returning to it. the light shines on the glassand everytime I sense you around me, my heart skips a beat.
Haiku/ Love is madness, you see. It brings people closer, but is itenough to make them stay?
When January gave me chills in winter, I hug my poop pillow tightly which you stitched from scratch and I couldn't believe your lazy ass can do that.
And, then the ﬁrst prom night arrived in JulyI was nervous and indecisive so I put on my best sneakers and little black dress along with the ceramic bow ties you made.
My love for capsicum, is never ending, so in February I reminisce about how you gifted me kilos of capsicum and made me cry.
My ﬁrst mini camera and polaroid reminded me of our ﬁrst date, balloons, long drives, August light rain showers and how we danced in the middle of the streets.
March we are away from each other So, I opened the Paulo Coelho book you left for meand found a handwritten letter inside. I started writing again after a long time so we ﬁx my vintage typewriter at 3 A.M reﬁll the ink and talked about how April was unpredictable for us. I found some antique pens while cleaning my grandfather's closet along with his last letter. Dear May, I keep him closer and his memories, even closer. June - I got a box delivered to my doorstep. Little black dress, perfume and a comic strip saying "Bro come on, Stop procrastinating and Take a Bath."
September is my birthday month, And after a long tiring day, I came home to see the postcards and surprise dinner you prepared for me Lasagna and Red Velvet Cake. I don't like October, for it reminds me how you break it off with me - left me with the vintage owl lock and yellow bow tie with dog print on it. My girls were with me, when i needed them the most. And, our november nightouts included crying, hugging, kisses, cuddling and being stupid together. And December arrived with Secret Santa gifts on the door, and handwoven anklets, and "I'll be there for you" mini cards.
If we could have heard each other's voices, would it be any different? would you then, able to listen to my insecurities and fear? and that, the fear of losing you breaks my heart? would I be ďŹ nally able to listen what breaks youand what makes you so vulnerable? I get asked a lot why do you talk so much? i pause and sighwe live in a world in which judgement is more important than getting to know that personand talking is the only way i know to understand you more you always said constant talking isn't necessary communication. and I'd like- if you make the effort of talking sometimes So, tell meIf we could have heard each other's voices, would it be not the same?
Slyvia Plath pennedTo the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is a bad dream. And, I often think to myselfFor, A man without purpose is merely a bird without feathers. oh, and how I'd like to ďŹ‚y. To, The ones who never bother to dream did they ever teach you how to dream about having dreams?
Looking back, chasing to watch the sunrise on the ghats While my feet dipped in and the young boys diving into the water. Overwhelming would be a word used to moderate my rather exciting feelings. On several mornings, a certain couple would sit across the ghat with uncertainty on their mind and holding hands. And, that moment is miraculously captured by strokes on a blank canvas. I stand there, I stand there, with a notebook in my hand. But the paper, still blank. Returning the long route back, I pull out the stamps and the post cards from my jhola that belonged to a certain era where many stories went unheard.
I am a storyteller in disguise. I collect them because I know there is some story or memory attached to it. And memories fade, they never die. I would listen to the autowala who is blabbering about the shells he found on the shore and how he would surprise his chutki with it also, how he spared extra pennies to buy mogra gajra for her wife. So, if you are here to convince me that I belong somewhere else. I gotta tell you, I'll stay here. Listening to their stories, part of their memories, having dinner along with their families. With notebooks rather blank, but ďŹ sts full of experiences and stories. I'll stay here.
over the time, you've been taught to serve 'happiness' in a silver plate to the guests, garnished with delicious toppings of satisfaction in the glazed ceramic plates and bowls so intricately handcrafted. i've always wondered the importance of the ritual of how to master a dish so perfect. so one day I sneak into the kitchen,and listed down all the ingredients that were necessary. a day passed, a month passed, a year passed, i never did ďŹ nd the ingredients. ofcourse, they were hard to ďŹ nd. but i was born stubborn, you see. so I explored other cities, met numerous people, collected memories, visited places, connected with empathy and bargained when needed. everyday, i would try to make that dish, but it never got perfect.
dada would tell me, how he secretly used to impress dadi by helping her with the dish. on the day of his funeral, I found a copy of his recipe on my desk. meanwhile, I'd listen to sinatra till three in the morning. wondering if I could ever cook a dish good enough. growing up made me forget of this tiny dream of mine to perfect the dish. so now, while i am swinging on my vintage rocking chair with my reading glasses on, my daughter hops in and pulls my cheek. she mocks me as how my cheeks turned red like my bindi. she shows me a crumbled paper with my faded handwriting on it and asks innocently 'Ma, what is this?' I look at the paper and read the last word unticked. contentment. that night, my daughter exclaimed, 'Ma, this is the best dish I've ever eaten'. I smile and kiss her forehead. Well, what can you say? Der aaye, durust aaye!
પાિર ત (Gujarati) : Paarijaat - Indian night Jasmine few days before, i wrote a poem on love. and wildﬂowers. and I'd like to think if i was a ﬂower, I'd be sunﬂower 'maybe love knows no language maybe love has one if it was suppose to be beautiful, wildﬂowers would be shun imagine if we could just talk with eyes how many hearts could be one?' last night I found some old love poems in rustic envelopes papa wrote for ma, and I saw little pressed jasmine ﬂowers in their archived postcards and i ask her, Ma - if you were a ﬂower, what would you be? 'Paarijaat' she replies now I know why.
they say the ghats of banaras make people feel lost and alive at the same time. i weave my stories around this city like the silk banarasi work laying down with the ancient gold-silver brocade a city where our feet and eyes meet the horizon of ganga. the holiest river in the worldwho had now turned into a thick river without soul entwined into garbage. the cremation ďŹ re had burned down the bodies into ashes and salvation of rebirth turned into divinity. the ghat water reďŹ‚ect the faces of the dead and deeds of the mad. as they say, banaras accepts everything.
I. 902 letters. I mumbled under my breath. Nine zero two. What?My sister asked in rather confusion and turned around to me, i sipped my hot tea and rolled my eyes. she knew my obsession with letters. I rant to her how van gogh wrote letters for 18 years. And, mostly to his dear brother, Theon. he really loved him, you know. he felt the connection of the sibling or just to know the fact that someone out there actually cares about him which kept him going. My sister, she smirks. would you want me to send letters to you when you're away from me, Di? What? Now was the time, i asked in rather confusion. I am not going anywhere, you brat. I yelled at her. I'll then, have the bed and the room by myself, she whispered. and, that's how usually pillow ďŹ ghts start at 3 am in MY room.
ii. 50 years later, la tristesse durera toujours. i mumbled under my breath. What? My sister holds my shaking hand in the hospital bed. and asked in rather confusion. "the sadness will last forever" i translate to her van gogh's last words. she smiled, this time, she didn't speak anything. just nodded. maybe, she knew. It was time. she slipped out a postcard and a letter of her messy handwriting to me. and besides, there was a vase of sunďŹ‚owers and lillies. Brat! She always knew what I liked. I close my eyes, slowly. Because this time, i knew, It was time.
Thankyou for Reading. @kaaďŹ _quirk
A Collection of Poetry written during NaPoWriMo 2020. You can check more of my work on Instagram: @kaafi_quirk
Published on May 15, 2020
A Collection of Poetry written during NaPoWriMo 2020. You can check more of my work on Instagram: @kaafi_quirk