Poem-21 (5.2)

 Teesta Review: A Journal of Poetry, Volume 5, Number 2. November 2022. ISSN: 2581-7094

Encounters with Teesta River

--- Susheel Sharma



Way back in 1983 when a young

Green horn of 21 was looking for

A job, he had his first encounter

With Teesta. He met her at Siliguri

While riding a bus from Jalpaiguri.

The bus had to go up the hill to the

Hidden monasteries in the sylvan

Dreams. Teesta was guiding the

Bus driver to take different turns,

To cross the bridge from right

Or from the left on every culvert.

The bus stopped at Kalimpong

Against the liquor shops selling

Wine in variegated colours and

Flavours, Rhododendron, Rose,

Orange, Apple, Grape Wine with

Tinge of ginger and cardamom

In differently shaped bottles.

Silver white water flowing with

Ease creating a soothing music

Was the backdrop. The boys in

Their twenties were sitting with

Fishing rods to hook a fish here

And there. Sweet water fresh fish

Was being roasted in smoke to

Give a special flavour. A dog was

Sitting silently, near the stall, with

His tongue out, panting for breath,

Waiting for something; looking

Here and there, suddenly, he

Stood up and started slowly

Crossing and sniffing the road

That had been shining after a

Wash given by the god Indra.

The man near him, apparently his

Master, shouted, “What are you up

To? What are you looking for man?

There is nothing there. There is

Nothing for you. There is nothing

In life. Don’t look for anything.

It is all useless, all meaningless.”




The bus driver was honking

To alert the vehicles around

The corner on the hilly track.

Some nearby radio was playing

The popular Hindi number

Ai bhai, zara dekh ke chalo

(Hey brother, be a little watchful while moving on).

The Rangpo river looks the other

Way, they just take a right turn.

He was watching the saal trees

On one side and Teesta river

On the other; some green

Fields were visible and some

Cows were grazing, balancing

Themselves somehow. This

Was his first journey into the

Himalayas and perhaps the

Last one too. Various road-signs

Made me curious. “Make way

For the vehicles going up.” The

Lama on foot was counting the

Wood beads in his Japamala.

He’ll follow his foot-steps. The

Kundalini has to go up. There

Is no point in coming down now.




It was his tenth day on the

Bank of Teesta. Sometimes

He was looking at the sky which

Was full of clouds and sometimes

At the water below which

Sometimes reflected the clouds

And sometimes the twinkling stars.

He was contemplating with winds

And waves on the life and the

Death that the job will bring along.

The water is sounding: move on,

Move on; don’t stand and stare.

He is fixed and so is his shadow.

The frosty winds freeze his words;

The Lama passes by without

Noticing him. He remains unblessed.

He has to wait for the sunshine.




I am playing with my top

Black button in the shirt

And pretend to be busy.

There is no way I can protect

Myself from the chilly-winds

That are piercing into my shirt.

It is not restrained by any walls,

Boundaries, doors or windows.

It does not require to knock. It

Comes straight to my heart

Without asking for any address

It pierces the sorrowful walls of

My soul without realizing that

It does not have a cover to hide

The pain. How will I entertain

You, O friend? Better look for

Some other house. Leave me

To my fate. The Lama appears

There, moving slowly, as if

Counting his steps. He speaks

As if addressing the air and

The sky: “Life will smile on you,

Why do you worry here?

Come, look at the star there who

Is praying for you.” The lamp has to

Struggle against even the slight

Wind to give light by burning itself.

The flicker challenges the raging

Storm to sit across and have a bet.

Nobody finds the moving wind.

Its intensity is lost once it pierces

The heart. The Lama disappears

Chanting, “It is not late; it is not

Yet late; have tea; be cool; visions

Will be reality; have enough hues.

Enjoy the multiple tinges in plenty.”




My mind is buzzing with

Noise of the flying moths

And the cricket’s singing.

In the sylvan surroundings

The statue of Buddha on the

Top of the Monastery is shining

Like the full moon in the dark

Night of Ashadh full of clouds.

In the Chaitya hall young

Mendicants are meditating,

Watching the moist and cold

Air breath that the nostrils

Inhale and the hot breath

They exhale; some curious

Visitors watch them, some

Even try to emulate them.

Everyone is waiting for the

Darshan of the great Lama,

The Guru as the disciples of

Lord the Buddha waited in

All silence and calmness.

Have no thoughts; have no

Pride; get rid of prejudices

And jealousies; leave them

Outside with your shoes.

How can a thinking animal

Survive without thoughts?

How can a spending beau

Survive without earnings?

What is right reasoning,

What is right thinking?

The juvenile hornet is trapped

In the blue side-saddle flower.




He the mature and I the juvenile

Are entangled in the vicious circle

Of Death in Life and Life in Death.

The highest Lama says, “It will end

With the death of thoughts. The

Collapse of mine and thine, loss

And gain, rich and poor, freedom

And control, Whig and Tory, Black

And White, victory and defeat, hell

And heaven will make the full moon

Shine on our souls that with clapping

Hands will sing the glory of

The Lord from whose feet

Oozes the sparkling water

Of the meandering Teesta.

Remember the Mantra to

Shed your thoughts.” 


Interliminal Encounters: Indian and Australian writers in po(i)etic dialogue, eds Amelia Walker and Aden Burg