Wednesday, 28 August 2013


Behind cloud cover
The Hunter is standing guard.
I am not alone.

Sunday, 18 August 2013


The moon is like a woman this evening, beautifully incomplete. 
She is just a smudge of white in a sky of blue and grey and
eucalyptus treetops.  Below her, predators soar and swoop, and I,
I who am in love with these bad boys of the sky, I walk, and I sing
love songs to the kites as they fly.  I sing and I think they hear me,
four of them, because they come to where I am and fly only above me,
lower and lower, leaving the rest of the sky to the rest of their family,
other kites, and to more distant relatives:  bright green parakeets
on double dates, shrieking in delight as they hurry towards
the setting sun, crows crossing over, pigeons going nowhere.

I sing the higher harmony of Beatles’ songs, although I am an alto
and a smoker, because I think that the kites may hear better
a higher pitch that is closer to their own tremulous whistle.
I can see their claws, and the rips in their feathered profiles,
 leftovers from their victories and defeats.  I lose myself
in them, in their dark silhouettes, in every turn of their heads
and subtle shift of their tail feathers.  I cannot believe that
they are only scouting for food to snatch from my hands,
because I am here every evening, holding a lighter, a phone,
a pencil or a notebook, sometimes lifting a cigarette or
a bottle of water to my lips, and they have never swooped down
for these.  I know they can’t understand the words I sing, but
 I like to think that they can sense the feelings:  awe, wonder,
infatuation, envy.

Above us, she shines, but dimly.  It is not her time yet.  She peeps
out from behind grey muslin cloud every now and then, flashing
for a few moments the brilliant beauty she is not yet ready to share.
Across the sky, the sun is sinking.  Some days he goes down
with a roar, setting fire to the clouds around him, turning
green treetops to glowing embers.  Today though, he settles down
so quietly I do not notice he is going until I hear the call
 to maghrib* prayer.  I think he has understood her need to sing
this evening, and he knows that she will not sing as long as
he stands before her, she cannot reveal her song to a sky
that is not yet quite hers, and so he exits silently and with grace.

The kites have flown away, back to their rain trees, all but one,
who sits on top of a fir tree like a dark Christmas angel.  I gaze
up at him, forgetting to sing my own songs, hoping that
he sees me and feels me, but he never once turns his head
in my direction.  It is not me or my song that he waits for,
I realise.  He too has been waiting for her.  

I sigh and tear my eyes away from him to lift them even higher,
up to her.  The sun has gone and a wind breathes gently
close to her so that the clouds drift away from her face,
and it is such a beautiful face to see it makes my heart ache.
I look back at the kite, and I know he sees her too.  And in
that moment I think that he knows I know, because the next second
he is gone, like every bad boy after a sharing too unexpectedly intimate.  

A tiny bat scuttles across the twilight, and above her, the moon
takes a deep breath.  I feel that she does not need my audience tonight,
so I turn and head downstairs.  Tomorrow will do.  I will be back,
and so will she, and so will my dark angel.

* maghrib - at sunset, the fourth of five daily prayers asked of Muslims by God

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Happy Independence Day!

I love this drawing I found in my friend's daughter's Hindi language
notebook. I'm not sure which daughter (she has several,
and most of the time I can't tell them apart! They're triplets.)

I love the fact that in Hindi class, you are actually encouraged
to draw in your notebooks. I love the way she tries out different
stars and finally settles on the Star of David. And I love
her interpretation of Gandhiji in his dhoti.

At first, I thought she had drawn him larger than life, towering
over the trees, until I took a closer look while she explained that
those were hands waving up at him. So I was only half wrong,
about the trees, not about the "larger than life". She turned him
into a rock star, with his fans reaching up to him. I can easily
imagine little disposable lighters in those hands! And she's
absolutely right:  Gandhiji rocks.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Tentative toes.

I sketched this gentleman's feet one long morning in
the opthalmologist's waiting room. He was, I think,
aware that I was doing this, but as he said nothing,
I continued. I think he was embarrassed and unsure
about what he could do in this situation, because
I feel I've captured that awkward uncertainty
that went all the way down to his toes!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Why I walk the roof.

I could barely manage to describe what I saw yesterday, with
the kites. How can I begin to describe the sky? It doesn't matter
 if it's not over a beautiful lake or an ocean, mountain or forest.
It is just as beautiful when it blankets a city infested with
humanity's ugliness. Clumsy buildings, piles of garbage,
cell network towers and black cables zigzagging all over
can't  touch it. Even photography won't do it justice (and mine
is off my phone camera)! But even a simple phone cam
can't hide how amazing it is.

Clouds spread out to dry after a rain?

Big heavy rain clouds that sometimes get blown away

A distant golden pyramid, or a snowtipped mountain? Cloud catching the sunset, and my imagination.

And as I walk, the sky keeps changing

The colours deepen or melt

The clouds shift and evolve in the wind's hands

 I'm supposed to be up there burning calories but it is more than
my exercise hour, it's a time of worship.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Almost indescribable.

The sky does things to me. Today it almost made me weep, it was
so magical and awesome (in the true sense of that word, not the one
that's accompanied by "dude").

I was up on the roof for my evening walk (down 2 kg, people!)
and suddenly the sky over the nearby graveyard was filled with kites.
The kites I saw today were all pariah kites - their feathers more grey
than brown, not the woody rust wingspan and white head of the Brahmani kite. 

The graveyard is an old British one, with enormous rain trees
and mahogany trees. The kites live in the rain trees. They were all
up in the air, soaring, gliding, sometimes even seeming to defy
gravity:  struggling to stay still against some invisible air current.
It was magnificent. I couldn't keep walking, I just had to lift my
head and watch them. My neck ached but I could not stop, it was
as though I had connected with them.

Suddenly they were swooping one by one right above me,
just about 25 feet over my head. I could see their feathers
ruffling in the wind, could see their heads pivot this way
and that. It was as if they knew I was there, that I envied them
their flight, and they shared the experience with me as best
as they knew how. They saw that I saw them, really saw them,
and so they came to see me. I felt so honoured, and humbled.
And so, so blessed.

As I watched, the call to prayer rose from nearby mosques,
and it struck me that just like the men bowing their heads
to the floor, perhaps these kites were offering up their
evening prayer too, their flight some outpouring of unbearable
joy - for the beauty of the sky around them,
for the oranges and purples and peaches of the sinking sunlight,
for the crisp wind, for the ability to fly, for life!

Watching them, and the majesty of the sky, I suddenly felt
as though the pariah here was me.