When I was researching for this poem, I searched for what transforms in 100 days. Turns out that sunflowers take about that amount of time to develop seeds. And so I use sunflowers as the metaphor, and draw on William Blake’s poem “Ah Sunflower”. Enjoy!
Story-poem written and read by me as part of Calm in Chaos meditation series. The theme for the week was Intentions (Purpose). As a background, using the train journey a young lady takes from New Delhi to Bodh Gaya where Siddartha Gautama attained enlightenment.
The stationmaster of curiosity asks, “My dear, where are you heading?”
“To Bodh Gaya”, I reply, hoping to impress
“Ah, the City of Enlightenment.”
“Yes sir, I go there to find wisdom.”
“But my young lady, enlightenment is a journey, not the destination.”
Inside the train, beside a small cracked window, I take my seat
A disheveled man jumps in as the train leaves. He sits across
“Let’s be friends,” he says, passing me a white daisy flower
“I escaped from prison.”
“Why do people run away?” I ask him
The train rumbles along
“People run away when they have desires,” he says,
And gets off at Lucknow.
A lady in black makes an entry and sits across
“Let’s be friends,” she says, passing me her silky shawl
“My husband died, and left me penniless.”
“Do you have desires?” I ask her
People around murmur in conversation
“Desires and regrets are illusions, they’re not real,” she says,
And gets off at Varanasi.
A soldier of one leg, hobbles in and sits across
“Let’s be friends,” he says, passing me his cross
“I lost my leg in the war.”
“Do you have regrets?” I ask him
Shadows of rolling hills pass us
“Regrets I have none, purpose is what I have,” he says,
And gets off at Sasaram.
A man with a straw hat enters and sits across
“Let’s be friends,” he says, passing me his last piece of bread
“I am a tourist.”
“What is your purpose?” I ask him
Amidst the din of the train clatter
“I want to live kindly,” he says
The train comes to a gentle halt
A quiet end to its noisy symphony
The conductor helps me with my bags: “Where do you wish to go from here, missy?”
“I am where I need to be now,” I reply
“Ah my young lady, are you here to get enlightened?”
“No sir, enlightenment is the journey, not a destination,” I say