waiting all night
for a shooting star
— Shobhana Kumar
The phrase in the haiku, read by itself, spells out the hopelessness of the subject/protagonist who is “waiting all night/ for a shooting star” — and the despair when the shooting star fails to show up, which failure is implied.
However, when the phrase is read along with, and in the context of, the fragment: “remembrance day—“, it assumes a new and deeper significance and a more poignant meaning. ‘Remembrance day’ is a day when soldiers who have died in action are remembered.
Could the protagonist be the wife of a soldier who is missing in action? Could it be that she is looking in vain for a shooting star to wish upon, and to wish for her husband’s miraculous and safe return?
Possible of course, among several other possibilities, which shows the vast lateral space left in the haiku by the poet — a space which by virtue of saying nothing at all, by itself, serves to enrich the poem greatly and adds depth to it.
Certainly, this is a haiku, which no reader is likely to dismiss after one reading.
I often seem to forget, how a seemingly simple Haiku with a juxtaposition that works, really works, can be such a delight. And then when I cross paths with a work that embodies the true spirit of Haiku, it’s like coming across an old song unexpectedly on radio. Warm and soothing almost akin to coming home to a well worn blanket or the damp nose of your dog.
Shobhana’s remembrance day is a work that disarms the reader with its simple yet profoundly touching honesty of emotions. Of course the meaning of the Haiku is pretty clear from the first reading itself and yet somehow that only adds to the beauty of the verse. This directness, this steering clear from multiple layers of meanings and obscurity is what in my opinion works most.
The ache of a loss, the need to wish upon a star, the want to turn the wheels of time once again and the biggest question of all ‘Is war ever worth it?’ are all relevant to the state of being human and make for a deeply touching work of art.
What is it about poignancy that leaves such a deep impression on us? A soul connect with sorrow perhaps? Tragedy unites unlike any moment of happiness can.
Climbing man-made mountains wreathed in fog is a slippery slope Shobhana knows a thing or two about. She is associated with an NGO caring for destitutes, which is the setting for her Haibun ‘Stopper’. Whose ending ku this is.
To me, the title suggests a delectable irony on the concept of a show stopper. Shobhana’s character here IS the most beautiful spirit despite being sadly the most broken physically. The haijin describes the destitute ward she visits and the happiness her visits bring to this particular doughty inmate.
The ku uses the dual imagery of loss (Remembrance Day) and hope (futile?). Hope…awaiting the flash of what is in essence a speck of burning dust. Burning almost as soon as it appears but brilliant nonetheless. Or is the shooting star symbolic? An epiphany or sign the haijin herself is waiting for?
Hope, by lieu of its very existence, can never be futile. It gives strength and purpose. Waiting patiently on those dark dark nights, and cherishing a single moment forever is something truly worth living for.
Thank you, Shobhana, for a wonderful read.
Dr Brijesh Raj
Diwali, a time of oil lamps and fireworks, sweets and festivities. What better time for Cafe haiku to put together a Diwali post, with photos and haiku.
So, here we are, with the last big festival of the season.
a single diya
lights up the widow’s home-
Lakshmi puja –
the lure of ladoos
keeps the child awake
the street child’s face glows
more than the sparkler he holds-
drowned by the sound
of bursting crackers-
the pujari’s chants
even the winds celebrate
sweet bonanza –
one of the diyas
Diwali sweets –
she picks out
the brightest pink
the blind man’s face
the shadows dancing
on the walls
the young mother stifles
her son’s yawn
clay lamps …
one by one the stars
my son packs away
the gentle sway
of kandeel tails
pushing away her
the ashen face
of Marine Drive skies
the cyclist peddles
Raamesh Gowri Raghavan
Diwali cleaning …
grandmother throws away
her wedding saree
of a broken house
my dogs tail between his legs
below the bed
new moon night…
a stray breeze teases
the diwali lamps
outdo the diyas
the sugar-free counter
reads out of stock
so many shooting stars
to make a wish
And, finally, a haiku which does not deal with Diwali but with another festival from the other side of the globe.
a pumpkin’s grin
by candlelight… the sound
of children’s laughter
Goubou, Georgia, USA
For her birthday, Cafe haiku publishes the haiku of our own member, Mahrukh Bulsara.
At our last monthly session, the group wrote haiku prompted by this picture taken by Brijesh Raj.
Here are the haiku. You are welcome to add your own.
The members of INhaiku Mumbai chose their favorite haiku by Paresh Tiwari for his birthday. Here they are.
a tree’s foliage bursts
Chosen by Sandra Martyres
Choosing a single ku (albeit from Paresh’s truncated list of favorites) is like letting loose the inner child in a candy shop, filled with the vibrant hues and delicious hurt of one who continues to experience and capture life in 4D (poetry, painting, prose and photography). And telling it to just look around.
So I broke the rules and chose two. The first has lent its second line as title to our little anthology and is therefore that much more familiar and close to the heart. The second I loved because it lends itself to so many subtle shades. Is it the sailor in him ? The fact that he must endure long absences from his loved ones or something more enigmatic, perhaps foreboding, left to the reader’s imagination?
Happy birthday Paresh. Keep writing as well as you do and this teetotaler will keep getting high.
Chosen by Brijesh Raj
the sound of dusk
Several ideas were advanced for the cover – a splash of water, a seascape, a beach scene with an umbrella. The one we finally went with was the summer fishing boat.
This brave and beautiful fishing boat, flying colourful flags, is a common sight on the Mumbai coastline and seems appropriate to an anthology with such strong Mumbai connections.
These are the steps the cover went through, from the vague outline, to a little filling in, to the final picture.