The Cauldron-6th

@!! Issues
Cauldron } 6th

Instances of sexual harassment in educational campuses require excoriation with precision. It is the responsibility of concerned authorities to take determined action in such situations— without prejudiced intentions to protect the exposed offenders, be they students or educators. Social media channels, where such cases are brought under the observation of a conscientious public, must act with cerebral objectivity and never with mechanized inertness that removes the genuine statements of survivors but retains the defenses of the perpetrators and their cohorts — a consequence of the debasement of the “mass report” modus operandi.

The Cauldron advocates justice. 


Sharmila Ray


Why do ruins attract me so much? It could be a photograph, a painting or maybe I am face to face with it. Deep among the displaced structures, I feel warm. I rediscover myself.I believe ruins are inhabited by gods. Beyond destruction, they have mastered the art of unruffled tranquility. There infront of me is the Dhamek Stupa of Sarnath. Here the perishable becomes alive by embracing silence. What strikes me at this moment is that this stupa, this symbol of enlightenment has inspired thousands of men over the centuries to revolt against desire and suffering and the vibrations like waves and echoes have travelled far and wide spreading the message of renunciation. I wonder what it was like when after receiving his enlightenment, Buddha gave his first discourse at the Deer Park, here at Sarnath, where he gathered his first five disciples. Perhaps, this is passion, hot and red spiraling out and hitting the soul at the speed of light.
I have spent whole mornings wandering among the ruins at Sarnath, absorbing the warmth from the heated bricks. I had followed the zig-zag path along the well-kept gardens to go back to forgotten times. Maybe, here in this north Indian afternoon heat when everything is silenced, when even the leaves are scared to rustle, Buddha may have sat under the very tree where I am standing now, taking a break. I try to understand what is that we are searching from day one? God and salvation or coercion and terror? I am lost. Why do we brutalize existence and kill people to endorse our particular brand of religion? We are living in a time which has acquired a peculiar mindset. From suicide bombers to body bombs, the latest as of now, to conceal bombs in internal organs so as to get over customs and baggage checks, are new methods of terrorist warfare. Poor Buddha! Could his faith in non-violence make a dent in this terror ridden world, I wonder?
So here we are at a juncture, between continuity and destruction. I watch mesmerized as dead bodies, land mines, cruise missiles and F-16 jets close in. Ecologically, nature is also in a poisonous mood.The long bridge over the river Son is a sad reminder of an once immense river. Now even the monsoons cannot make a difference to the almost dry river bed. As my eyes travel to the distant horizon, I feel ill-omened. The unnoticed minotaur is secreted in virtuous-sounding causes, in democracy, and of course in religion. Day by day, hour by hour, in each and every minute and moment, we are nearing to this minotaur.I ask myself what the hell are we doing? Whose war are we fighting? Are we puppets manipulated by an unseen hand? The amazing thing is that there are no answers. The world is melting with it illusion. No more shall we feel cool with the smell of camphor.The world of demons and kings under grandma-blanket have become redundant. Goodbyes, tears, love, compassion have become meaningless. Infact, we have lost our shadow, to be located in absence.
         Perhaps, herein lies the clue. Without agony and love, bliss and fear, life would be one long scorched plateau easy to survive but almost difficult to live and carry on. Living like this with teasing closeness to danger makes us aware and grateful and savor each moment. Each breath becomes meaningful. Each reaching out turns into a bridge. Humans were created to last a long time, I believe.
It is noon now and the day itself stands on Libra balance. The ruins at Sarnath dazzle in the shimmering heat.The borders are open. Let the gods come down. Let there be a white god, a yellow god, a brown and a black one. It is entirely upto us whether we want a nuclear frost or many-splendoured seasons. 


Nivedita Dey


The Sun speeds up his horses
From trot to gallop
Sunflowers go ping-pong heads
In the green lawn of life
As I watch and sit
Slicing the watermelon sundial
Piecing Time piecing pieces
Putting together piece by piece
Bit of my life afresh
Not remembering to coo
Like brooding legion of homeless pigeons
Hidden behind the Eye
Moments fly ---


Mind hisses
Of missing train
Trained eye smiles
I am the iron coach
The sturdy window to sights
Flying past - I am
All that was - I am
Seat fixed inside the momentum
Open arms
Open eyed
I am
I was what is to come


I lie on
Paper thin peace
Glass box of myself
Chord discord all done away
With no regret
I lie in
Me - lying in myself
Perforated peace
These eyes piercingthis skin
Still hold a glass
To water my soul search

I lie over
Blue jibing with red
In the idiot box -
White on my walls -
Names, names, everywhere -

I fold up my leaves.
Touch me not!

Liturgy of Obscene Ancestry 

My mother
My mother must have been
A prime queen
Of whores akin
Upon my father’s King size bed
Or else how am I here today?

Grandma dear
My grandma must have seen
Before her stoic prayer beads
Passion beads
And foreplay leads
With fingers upon grandpa’s .. eh..
Or else how am I here today?

Wreathed black and white I had seen
Hung from wall like Christ’s face
In her days
Must have raced
Great-granddad’s pulses in every way
Or else how am I here today?

What is so holy about it all?
What is unholy after all?
The birth, the brew of Life

The swelling of unformed breasts
The staining between the legs
The hardening of nipples
The forbidden ripples
The yoking the mating
The hardened intake
And then the next lifeform on earth
The next much celebrated birth
And in between all this
Stamps of sacred and profane
They stamped upon our vein
And proclaimed
"This is holy! That is unholy!"

Unwed love, marital rape,
Which enslavement more sacred?
Whose passion a folly??
Well.. let’s just say -
If prayer beads and not grandma’s lips
Had girdled grandpa’s throbbing balls
Holiest godmen worshipped arduously today,
Wouldn’t have been here after all!

Anna M Ayyad

The chained dream of wings,
And I of refuge,
From my never-ending thoughts
Of you and time and life.

Give me wings and I will soar
Over the white capped mountains,
Spanning to eternity,
Seeking solace in invisible arms.

Maiden On The Hill

On a hill top she awaits him
Where he promised his return.
Holding ribbons and dry flowers
By the castle's great white towers.

There she sings a song he wrote her
On a lush green field of May.
And her tears may rear a garden,
Yet each day, his absence pardon.

Dear knight where have you fallen?
Slaying dragons, warring kings?
Please send word to she who waits
By the lonesome castle gates.

For once she was a maiden fair
The dew of morning on her hair.
So full of life and hope and art
Before the waiting broke her heart.

Long past death, she lingers there
Without a thought to time or sense.
Holding fast to love's great will
She waits; the maiden on the hill.

Tonight I walk in shadow
Enrobe me in attire of the dead
Criss crossing the worlds
Awaiting the forgetting
Erase my life like chalk on board
My blood has become obsidian dust
And I lose you to crystal clouds
Myself, unmade, unknown
Wading through voices
Of crying, of tangible pain
Red and purple and steely grey
Then the silence of milky air
And a white sky without blemish
But for the place I am no more.

Nina Roy

In the Significance of the Insignificant Aftermath

I wish to discuss
with you.

I am
the penumbra of
my existential eclipse.

You are
still taking place
in the past continuous
of my plural tense.
I am meeting and un-meeting you,
conversing and un-conversing with you,
making and unmaking love to you.

The immaculate
variables of my self
and the multiple you(s)
in almost all of the poems
that I compose.

The shut eyelids
of an eye opener
the mid-afternoon
and nocturnal
of diurnal respite
from multiple trains of sleep
running in slow motion
on interplanetary tracks.

The humdrum
of my subconscious
in the foyer
of our shared time
of telephonic conversations
on replay.

In the space time fabric,
our telephonic debates are
in an
(like hieroglyphical calligraphy in the hand of children).

is no more than
an acquainted alien.


Tripti Saun

All I Want is You..

26th June, 2014  Mumbai  18:30 hours

"Feeling numb." 

"As I pen this down, I'm sitting closer to the entrance, staring outside my tent so that the wetness hits me. I'm not enjoying it, but it does give me a sense of comfort. Comfort from what?! I don't know. Maybe I am waiting for this numbness to be washed away. I do want to get up from my place and do something. Anything! But all I do is stare! Stare at those tearful eyes that stare right back at me, talking to me in a wordless language. Yes! We do share a special bond that way. After all, we share a similar story. I want to go and comfort her too but I don't know why I can't. I guess my old bones have no strength left anymore and nor has my old heart, which has given in to the stormy wreckages of time. Thankfully, I can muster up enough to fight my numbness and write. And write I will! Who knows it might garner some attention one fine day amongst many an unsung love stories that deserve otherwise."

"My memory is friendly today. I am reminded of numerous things - a story on a peacock and its mistress related by Mahadevi Verma , that I read as a child; my favourite U2 song that I have always hummed since Leena succumbed to cancer (Oh Leena, my dear! How I miss you!) and one of the quotes that I happened to read somewhere on one of my tours - 'And what's romance? Usually, a nice little tale where you have everything as you like it, where rain never wets your jacket...'  Rain! Ah! This messenger of love and all. D. H. Lawrence's quote was certainly meant for this day. And what love can I talk of other than this?!"

"It wasn't long before everyone took notice of the platonic bond between them and went all mushy eyed. Raja and Rani! That's how we preferred to call them. Given their pure attachment towards each other, I felt they were perfectly deserving of the title. Their love ruled the hearts of one and all, serving as an epitome of pure devotion and was the talk of the circus."

"I remember being awed as I first witnessed the arrival of the two wide eyed pachyderms. I was at my tent then, practicing juggling balls. And yes! Even was raining heavily. Their skin glistened against the cage rods as the naughty raindrops hit them. Raja stood in attention, absorbing the novel surroundings. Rani trembled a little and a bout of pity struck my gut as I considered the strenuous training that lay ahead for them. It traversed like magic. They were fast learners, thankfully. I was assigned the major task of tending to them and teaching them along with another worker."

"I very well remember how I was initially greeted with aggressive yet scared looks but they gradually happened to realize that I was on the friendlier side and warmed up towards me. They would eagerly await my arrival every day for training and the edible surprises I would bring for them. Overtime, our bond grew stronger but it was never as strong as it was between the two. They were tied by the bond of love. Obviously, I would always be an outsider for them."

"Rani was the hostile one between the two, yet her obstinacy only amused us and never failed to bring a smile to our faces every once in a while. Raja, on the contrary, was a docile angel, giving in meekly to the mere sight of a stick. However, he served to inspire Rani to perform better, every time he won a banana for a trick he learnt. Days passed and consequences developed. They performed tricks with aplomb. But what was more noticeable, was the endearing love culminating so beautifully between them. I specifically noticed how they would always eat together and help each other in chores. It was a sight to observe such humane emotions exist in animals too. Just when they had been newcomers, everyone was apprehensive to put them together because of their strikingly different temperaments. We just took a chance and God knows when this chance consummated into them becoming lovers."

"Actually, 'Lovers' is not enough to describe them. I realized their intensity of love when I saw them cuddle up to each other on one cold rainy night against the dark clouds illuminated by moonlight. 'They're soul-mates!', I thought aloud. On another instance, one hot summer day, I happened to pass by the pond and was invited by a happy sight when I saw them trunk water on each other in gleeful mirth. I forgot all my woes and that was all that mattered to me then."                    

"Sigh! As they say, ‘Nothing lasts forever'. How time flies at the blink of an eye! At this moment, that seems to have happened aeons ago. Today, it is completely different as I stare at her. The media is in a frenzy. Everyone wants to catch a glimpse of the pale and unique elephant who has become immobile since her partner died due to brain fever. I see the skeletal figure of my poor Rani lying besides the corpse of her husband, protecting it against the outsiders - attacking anyone who's trying to get closer. I know....I very well know that she's silently waiting in desperate hope that her Raja might start moving again. My heart cries as I look at her. Our eyes meet. We stare momentarily. She shuts them. My heart skips a beat. I can hear them. They're thinking of tranquilizers. I've worked as a clown all my life entertaining them. Today, I find that there's a role reversal. I want to laugh at their faces."

"The society! They have a wife and a husband, a boyfriend and a girlfriend, a Romeo and a Juliet, a Heer and a Ranjha. I only have a Raja and Rani."

"Wilde once said that, ‘They spoil every romance by trying to make it last forever'. But platonic and unconditional love has no beginning, forever and no end. It cannot be imprisoned by units and measurement. It just exists. I strongly believe that Raja's departure is certainly not an end, just like Leena's death wasn't. It will continue. It will exist. As I am writing this, I can feel my tears mingle with the rain drops on my face, to my relief. It has started pouring cats and dogs again- just like the day that marked their entry into the circus. The pitter patter make the cage rods glisten and Rani slightly trembles again. Only the reason is different this time. 'Panch din se khayi nahi.', I hear someone say. Now, I have slowly begun to hum my favourite lines-

"All the promises we break,

From the cradle to the grave

When all I want is you."

|Visual Art|

Steven Stone