By Kalpana Sinha
Immanence, Stoicism, Pantheism.
Words I don’t really understand.
Grief. A talking photo of Bhutan;
The monks, the spirituality, the simplicity.
The clear streams and rivers, the mountains, the valleys,
The beauty of cliff-hugging monasteries.
The memories play over and over in my head.
Pain. My Ma holding my hand to transfer the pain;
My Baba walking with me at dawn;
Their eyes wide open with concern and fear.
The sun bursting through a misty morning
On a beautiful beach in Penang.
Anxiety. That devil
Sits on my shoulder all day long;
Like a mischievous monkey.
Get Off! Get Off! It clutches even tighter.
I am my own devil.
I long for transcendence.
Kuala Lumpur Café
A monk in the sweltering heat,
Swathed in red-orange, brown beads on his neck,
Explaining life and spirituality to a young Chinese man.
The café bustles with people and colours, shoving, jostling to get a table.
Everyone seems hot, harassed, longing for drinks and snacks;
The tired ceiling fans whirl futile twirls against the heat.
An array of food on display to feed voracious appetites –
Dosas, chappatis, curry-puffs, rice, curry, local sweets.
Drinks – fruit juices, tea, coffee, Milo, iced and hot Nescafe;
The wannabe “barrista” adept at their concoction.
A fashionable woman, with auburn streaks in her hair,
In blue jeans, Kate Spade bag and everything designer
Swings in with a clutch of chattering friends:
“OMG can you believe the heat?”
A man in a Rastafarian hair-do
With a plate full of rice, fried chicken, curry and vegetables
Talking to a demure Indian girl,
Spewing food every which way.
The food is Indian, South Indian;
The clientele Malaysian;
This is Devi’s Corner, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur,
A part of my Malaysia.
[Photo-credit: Brett Cole, India]
Kalpana Sinha is a voracious reader, an obsession triggered by her first degree in English literature. She is an academic with a PhD in Linguistics and Language, which she taught for more than 30 years at a Malaysian University. She is a member of The Paperback Book Club in Kuala Lumpur and has been a speaker at several literature forums; she has presented papers at national and international conferences. She is based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia but has travelled far and wide and frequently, as travel and great books are her passion.
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