River Ghataprabha…

That’s our village– sitting, with its legs dangling in her water,
on the river bank since the timeless beginning:..

How limpid was our river, then!
We have seen many a nameless god
sporting in waters near the banks!
Purple berries on the ledge
a thousand eyes in the clear water beneath!
The even flow that smiles and mocks as it strips the mask of the sun
and the clouds that peep from above at their own reflection
and the garland of jasmines in the blueness of waters
as rows of twinkling cranes fly by!
What about the nights? If the moon gets down from his yard
and sports in the water along with his star-attendants–
oh, oh, are they stars? The shimmering eyes of the dark night!
There, that star dips, here, this one rises up,
scattering dazzling smiles all around–
it is the very dance of Bliss!

There were no lotus flowers of poetic conventions or floating swans,
just me and my teenage buddies swimming.
One or two of our company
did get a golden hair of a far away princess,
and one amongst us did become a prisoner
in the embrace of naginis of the nether worlds.
You know
on a moonlit night seven virgins from heaven
came here sporting, and
the youngest son of our village Gowda
stole her dress
as the others escaped
the virgin remained here
married him
and they made a little house in his orchard,
that house is still there, even today.
Believing that Moon God comes to this river
for a swim on fullmoon days
the fisherman’s boy
went to capture him
and did not return
but his broken oar and tattered net
came back floating–
in this same river.

Why do you ask for the untold stories that happened in
the meanwhile?
There is so much to tell
but this much is enough:
the youth of our river is wasted
the waters have become vapid
the clouds appear like deeply trenched lines on the face of a widow
swell and surge of young river’s waves
have become frail and impotent lines.
Rocks and boulders at the bottom of the river
appear like protruding bones of an old face.
River Ghataprabha of twelve fathoms–
now she flows with stealthily steps
like a seeping drainage
with watchful steps of a hunted deer.

Our faces no more appear
in her mirrors-of-feeling.
Bright smiles no longer appear
on the old face.
No more

the enthusiasm that was,
no more the force that was.
Occasionally the waters do rush.
But is it the floods? Or tears?
I cannot tell.