Following the Nepal earthquake in April of this year, i was asked to contribute a poem to a fundraiser. I used to live in Nepal. My (now ex-) husband is Nepalese. I spent a year living in Kathmandu 10 years ago and, for health reasons, have not been able to go back since. I had a beautiful house, and a job I had spent an entire career trying to achieve. It is hard for me to imagine a place I loved devastated now by an earthquake and all those ancient monuments flattened, and lives lost. This is the poem I wrote especially for the fundraiser. It is also my first ever attempt at a South Asian formal poetic structure: the ghazal.
Kathmandu my love: A ghazal
Butterflies as big as hands flit through the Kathmandu I love.
Power stagnates by changing hands, in the Kathmandu I love.
Voices that rise above the rains are the songs of lovesick frogs;
Songs of protest on the streets rouse up the Kathmandu I love.
Gloriously coloured gladioli, 10 rupees a stem;
Youth’s flower cut down in conflict round the Kathmandu I love.
Mountain air that dazzles pure on Himalayan snow-capped peaks.
Traffic clogs the dusty streets, choking the Kathmandu I love
Garuda watches over earthquake-flattened Patan temples –
Kaal Bhairab still stands proud and fierce, in the Kathmandu I love.
Walls torn, bricks crushed to ashes, tin-roofs twisted, roads split open,
Streets I walked now fractured graveyards of the Kathmandu I loved.
Shoes lost, belongings scattered, supermarket shelves collapsed,Mothers, heroes, children, brothers died in Kathmandu, are loved.
My eyes drown; the country weeps. My sweetheart’s eyes are still as brown:
He may be far and faithless, but he’s from Kathmandu, my love.
Sometimes things must be shattered to remake them piece by piece. Will
Parties, people, politics bring peace to Kathmandu, and love?
However broken, how much lost, we will rebuild our city,
We will rebuild and resurrect this sweet, great Kathmandu, our love.
(19 June 2015)