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Featured Writer,  Abha Iyengar

She writes in all genres, but creative nonfiction and poetry are special to her. She's provided a story and poem to illustrate her point.

 
This article sponsored by:

A Poetry Handbook This slender guide by Mary Oliver deserves a place on the shelves of any budding poet. In clear, accessible prose, Oliver (winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for poetry) arms the reader with an understanding of the technical aspects of poetry writing. Her lessons on sound, line (length, meter, breaks), poetic forms, tone, imagery, and revision are illustrated by a handful of wonderful poems. What could have been a dry account is infused throughout with Oliver's passion for her subject, which she describes as "a kind of possible love affair between something like the heart (that courageous but also shy factory of emotion) and the learned skills of the conscious mind." One comes away from this volume feeling both empowered and daunted. Writing poetry is good, hard work.
 
 

Abha Iyengar is an Indian woman writer who has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, a double diploma in Business Management, a diploma in Interior Design, and one in Multi-media. Somewhere in between she got married to her college sweetheart and raised her kids, which she is still doing. Language, relationships, the working of the human mind fascinates her.

She has recently awoken to her true calling, and begun writing in earnest. She has written throughout her life, but just got organized. She writes in all genres, but creative nonfiction and poetry are special to her. She is now contributing to several magazines and books, and hopes to publish her own motivational book one creative non-fiction and poetry are day.

Previous publications:
1) An article on “Population” in a book called “Science, Technology and Development” published by Wiley Eastern in 1991. (Non-fiction, research)

2) Poems in “Femina” (a magazine for women), in 1996 and 1997.

3) Prize-winning Haiku poems in “Life Positive” (a magazine on holistic and spiritual issues), in 1997. You are welcome to contact her at abha_iyengar@hotmail.com , abhaiyengar@rediffmail.com .

*****

THE GURU

People continued to file into the yard, but the man sitting cross- legged under the ‘peepul’ tree (a big tree with broad, dark leaves, considered holy in India) in the centre, did not open his eyes to acknowledge their growing presence. He was an ordinary looking man, wearing ordinary clothes, who had decided to sit under the shade of the ‘peepul’ tree to say his prayers instead of doing so within his house. This recitation of prayers after his morning bath was a daily ritual with him.

However, as he sat with closed eyes, his rosary beads in his hands, and mouthed the Sanskrit ‘shlokas’ (holy verses), the steady drone of his voice began to attract passers-by. Word began to spread that this was a holy man who had done great penance, and anyone who touched his feet would be doubly blessed. No one bothered to verify this, and soon the yard was filled to capacity, with people vying with each other to be the first to receive ‘guruji’s (the teacher’s) blessings.

The ‘guru’ remained undisturbed despite the commotion around him. The first man who managed to touch his feet was not happy doing just that. He put his head on the feet of the ‘holy’ man, and began sobbing piteously.

”My son is in the clutches of a witch. He wants to marry her. She has no family or background, but he finds her both brilliant and beautiful. Please help me!”

At this, the ‘guru’ had no choice but to open his eyes. If he was perturbed by the gathering or the commotion around him, he failed to show it. He had sensed what was happening, and had decided to play along.

“So what do you want, son? He addressed the tormented fellow at his feet.

“I want that the boy comes to his senses and leaves the girl.”

“Show me your hand,” the ’guru’ said.

The man quickly wiped his right hand on his pants and placed it under the ‘guru’s’ nose. The ‘holy’ man perused the lines on the palm diligently. He then took a flower from the offerings placed in front of him by the milling crowd. This he placed in the man’s palm and slowly closed the man’s fingers over it. ”GO!” he commanded. “Take this flower at put it at the feet of the girl. She is the goddess who has to enter your house. If you refuse her, there will be ruin. Accept her as your daughter-in-law.” The man slowly got to his feet and hailed the ‘guru’s’ words, saying that he had now seen the light. The crowd around started shouting,” Hail, the Guru of the Peepul Tree! Long live the Guru of the Peepul Tree!”

Thus, by accident or happenstance, was born The Guru of the Peepul Tree! People came and sought his advice and blessings on all issues. A lonely, nondescript man became the darling of the masses. His words provided the opium for many a lost soul. Last heard, he was being consulted by a top politician on how the country should be run.

*****

CONSUME

On every sleek cover you find
. A glamour-puss for you
Each pouting mouth, each provocative stance
Holds you in enraptured trance.
Untold wealth
For unfulfilled desires,
Each smouldering look,
Increases your fires.
Passion on every page
Stares at you
Unabashedly.
Marketed for you
And consumed by you
Unabashedly.
Hungrily,
You devour every look
Unable to
Put down the book.
Unsatiated, unfulfilled still,
This was just to make
You pay the bill.
Aroused,
You reach for the next issue,
It gets thrown
Along with the tissues.
Jaded, you lie still,
Ready to pay
The next bill.
*****
 

Poemcrazy is the poetic analog to Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird or Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones, two classic works on how to forget that you "can't write" and just start the pen moving. Susan Wooldridge is a swimming instructor in the wide ocean of language, encouraging us to move ever farther from the shore, dive deep, and dance on the waves.