The Ghats of Varanasi by Sudeshna Sinha
Amidst the holy temples,
Those stony steps of history,
Amidst the mayhem of priests,
Conmen and those blinded of faith,
A chaste river gets ever betrayed!
Through my mirror of childhood,
I gaped with awe,
The Vishwanath temple
Bathed with tons of pure milk,
Laddoos at the Annapurna temple,
One thousand laddoos
To welcome the goddess,
While others waited forever,
Poverty and hunger possessed!
Fearful and greedy footfalls up the stony path
To the Sankat Mochan,
Thousands of lamps by the river side
To celebrate lights
That never could much set foot into the darkness of insides!
The masjids too steeped in History,
Great Mughal emperors celebrated,
Where Kabir was once born
And the Buddha gifted his first sermon,
My childhood memories,
Of laughter amidst the lost bylanes
Like the ancient river was conned!
Across the Ghats of Varanasi,
As my childhood cherished a few thousand kaleidoscopes,
Nostalgia mixed with dead bodies and flowers strewn by a river ,
Lamps, flowers and human ashes
Together in indifference they cascade!
A chaste river they betrayed,
A harlot river now flows on,
A few deep stabs down my childhood's forgotten Varanasi,
Like the ever burning Manikarnika,
Forever shall remain!