Discovery of a new poet

I philosophised that living at other peoples’ quarrels was not worthwhile. When I was driven out of Lahore and returned to Delhi, I gifted away my law books, black gown and lawyer’s collar tabs.

However, I lost many Muslim friends who had no problem in my staying on. I also met one man who looked down on me and never lost an opportunity to belittle me. This was Veer Sawhney. Like me, he also failed to make a living as a lawyer and lived on his patrimony. This included a spacious bungalow with a garden not far from the high court.
From the first day we met he decided to dislike me. I returned the compliment. So it went on day after day. He was a shameless name-dropper and claimed to be close to VIPs, including the Prime Minister of Punjab, Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan.
When Hayat Khan died, Veer was there for the funeral embracing other mourners and wailing loudly. He entertained in Nawabi style — all males except the latest entrant in Heera Mandi (Lahore’s red-light district).

His wife returned to her parents. He stood for elections for the Secretary to the High Court Bar Association. I put my name up for the only reason of giving him a drubbing. And I did.

Our fortunes changed on Partition. I returned to the comforts of my father’s home. He had no where to go to. The last I met him was when he was wandering around Connaught Circus.
It was cuite a surprise when after 70 years I had three collections of poems with a letter from his son Ashok Sawhney were delivered at my doorstep. The letter claimed that the books were published in London and India. I am pretty certain they were vanity publications, paid for by himself because there are very few takers for poetry. I refused to meet him.

A few days later another letter with two poems in English and couplets in Urdu came by post. I was in for a surprise. It was good stuff in both languages. By way of apology and appreciation I publish one of the poems.

I Dream
I dream of ancient times I do,
Of Greeks, Romans and Xanadu,
Of Kubla Khan and his
pleasure dome,
Of coins in the fountain,
In the heart of Rome,
I dream, I do.
Vision I see of eons gone by,
Arjuna’s plea and his fervent prayer
To the Master of the Universe,
And Krishna’s response in
warrior’s verse,
I do.
Of the Prophet I dream and the holy tablet
Of Allah and his eternal
I dream of things of long ago,
Was I there, did I know?
I dream, I do.
Of the masters of the written word,
Of Shakespeare, Shelley and others I’ve heard,
I dream of Ghalib with relative case,
I dream of philosophy and Socrates,
I dream.
I dream of evolution and
modern man,
Of Darwin and how his theory ran,
Of what I was to be an ape,
Because I live, I gape,
I dream, I do.
Gautam Buddha and
Gabriel and Annunciation,
Myriad are the dreams I dream,
Divinity and sea bream,
I dream.
I dream of Christ on the Cross,
Pilloried and at total loss
To understand the likes of me,
Was that his natural destiny?
I wonder, I do.

My friend Amir C Tuteja often sends me some interesting pieces from Washington to entertain my readers. Here are some entries to a ‘Washington Post’ competition asking for a two-line rhyme with the most romantic first line, and the least romantic second line:
Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, and so are you. But the roses are wilting, the violets are dead, the sugar bowl’s empty and so is your head.
I want to feel your sweet embrace; But don’t take that paper bag off your face.
I love your smile, your face, and your eyes
Damn, I’m good at telling lies!
My love, you take my breath away.
What have you stepped in to smell this way?
My feelings for you no words can tell,
Except for maybe’ Go to hell.’
What inspired this amorous rhyme?
Two parts vodka, one part lime

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