CONCEALED TALISMANS

 

Round world, like the wistful pendant on her high society neck
With gods and goddesses, and amulets of the earth
Morning newspapers securing their own with our fortunes,
Tarots, alphabets, integers and all that you can speck;
Sometime in the chill of a night by the temperate hearth
We drank parleys of hill tales and legends, thick in the green, green dunes
I ascertained some patented beliefs and talismans
Not those conspicuous sparkling city blends
But concealed within as locked cartridges of guns
Never tentative but decisive of the timely hour
When all that in sight is, what you closed an eye for.

The might of human faith, fragile though by a black cat’s notion
Or insuperable the feeling of waking up to a good sleep’s dream
The sun, moon, stars or the flash of an ephemeral starlit beam
Pilgrims to their creed’s holy soil, to wash their sins and plan salvation
They tie some knots of coloured threads, or dangle jewelled crosses of the crucified Lord
Five times on a rug, three times in a lion’s lair, retold to strike a heavenly chord
The endless flock of worshippers, from sea to shore
When all that overwhelms thought is, what you bowed your head for.

A frisky wild squirrel crossed our campaign route; they rejoiced a win in the elections
A lost deer oddly jaunts in front of our convoy; danger ahead in ambush as hunched,
A wild rooster unusually atop the Church bell, evoking the overnight dead pastor’s imposing sermons
The dog wailed on top of their thatched roof, its loyal reminder to fellow mortals,
Perpetual clash of customary beliefs with meekness of docile apostles
Established justice by the bite of mother tiger’s lost tooth, or by water baptism
The cattle raider consequent by guilt of the bite, not a mere bit random
The gun thief spat out by the just water in a trice, while honesty breathed absolute calm.
Treasured instincts of natives ingrained as lines on their palm.
When delayed is justice denied, ethnic integrity helps the languishing Indian courts swarm.

And in us all hang concealed talismans, hopeful like a prayer before their hunt
Rabbit’s -foot- touch-wood or the crossed fingers for those in want
False notions hover still around as butterflies on a wild cat’s banal dung,
To each their faith, and in each faith gallop horse-shoes from old to us young:
On the hearthrug, I slept by the crow of dawn almost four
Around a hundred stories yawned; need I mystify the self more?
Discerningly validated by us all, when all that of faith remains is, just what you are desirous for.

****

-Rangam Thoitak Chiru

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