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Imagining India

In honor of my dear friend Ratna Ghosh

Drawings of lights and shadows
   clinging to life in every corner.
Land of contrasts and contradictions.
Cornucopia of bright shining colors
                  smells and flavors,
         exciting senses beyond understanding and tantric pleasure
         sounds reimagining an ancestral India
         embraced by multiple layers of modernity yet to be accomplished.
                           They will forever live in me.
India is to be celebrated and loved.
You know this better than me.
         And yet India is a demanding lover
                  making us seeking ecstasies in her beauty and seductiveness
                  not knowing how to give pleasure to her impenetrable wonders.
Freedom lives next to slavery,
   abundance next to abject poverty
        globalities penetrate localities
                   and life goes on in the streets
as if nothing has ever happened.
Was freedom won in the struggle?
    Shedding the skin of the colonized
        letting India find her own voice.
Amid multiple voices,
                                                            legacies of all sorts
All simmering
         in a life of never ending
Inside India
         the iron cage imprints its daily life,
         a daily batik of corrupted modernity and yet
         there is its rich and subtle past living in tombs,
                                             oral mythical legends
                                                      scholarly wisdom
                                                                holy men walking naked
                                                                                      in the streets.
Spiritual pathways left footprints everywhere.
         They cannot be fully followed
                                          only imagined.
India, still seeking her global self
                  can ill afford to deny her millenary past
                                    while embracing her future of multitudes.
                        are only one answer among the many wisdoms
                                         still to be acquired.
Education is only one,
                  and yet single powerful voice of liberation
                           that needs to be heard.
Today struggling
                  with sense and sensibilities beyond orderly reason,
       we celebrate lifting veils of
                     mysterious and sacred love
                           joining many more that preceded us
         in the quest for knowledge and understanding,
           in the quest for freedom and thrust
             in the quest for equity, dignity and celebration of life
                 in the quest of identities and learning plenum.
I wonder if India
         is not only mighty powerful
                  but loving desire for a freedom future still to be conquered.
                  Perhaps India is in all of us.

Written while traveling in Delhi, Jaipur, Udaipur, Khajuraho, Varanasi, and Calcutta, India, December 2013.

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