At the Malalakshmi temple in Bombay


Tava Chintana Mama Hridaye Sada
(or Navaratri 2001)

Rushing to pack my socks and toothbrush,
suppressing the rush of nausea in the van,
catching my first glimpse of a copper sulphate lake,
walking with friends in the cold night air,
tava chintana mama hridaye sada..

Today is the first day of Navaratri.

The rustle of my saree's silk folds and falling pages,
the drone of words upon words, the loud breath of concentration
or sleep… the rush of ideas and arguments,
the pain of fear and the voice of reason and wit,
tava chintana mama hridaye sada..

Today is the second day of Navaratri.

The welcoming embrace of old friends,
and the tentative conversations with new ones,
enveloped by the fragrance of printed pages,
soaking in people and thoughts, both familiar and unfamiliar,
tava chintana mama hridaye sada..

Today is the third day of Navaratri.

Early morning walks while the sun sleeps
resisting with difficulty the seduction of baking sugar and cinnamon
and returning to a renewed struggle with words and ideas
and the promise of new beginnings, new lives,
tava chintana mama hridaye sada..

Today is the fourth day of Navaratri.

Life's journey begins at dawn and continues,
happily without pause, into the heat of the afternoon sun.
My bags are already heavy and my heart bemused and benumbed,
by the unexpected anti-climax of homecoming and arrival,
tava chintana mama hridaye sada..

Today is the fifth day of Navaratri.

One wears a new face for every new day
and carries it through as far as one can go.
Small tasks, small lists, small successes,
odd moments of utter abandon, a heart full of hope,
tava chintana mama hridaye sada..

Today is the sixth day of Navaratri.

What do I know that I presume to teach?
The lines between me and you, feeling and science,
are so blurred, so faint, so hard to follow,
but still I persist in this grand pretence, and as I do,
tava chintana mama hridaye sada, mata..

Today is the seventh day of Navaratri.

Not tireless, not energetic, we move
like atoms in a perpetual motion machine
trying to achieve something within, something without
with words and deeds we barely understand,
and tava chintana mama hridaye, sada, sada..

Today is the eighth day of Navaratri.

People strewn like the remains of an autumn day
through one's day, one's life, bring the seeds
of another spring. I gather them in my heart
and ponder their many significances for my presence,
resting all the tools of my trade as I do,
except tava chintana which remains mama hridaye.. sada..

Today is the ninth day of Navaratri.

And lakes, friends, words, ideas, feelings
move my fingers over this keyboard,
recording the Navaratri I have not been able to celebrate
with shundal, payasam, flowers and incense
notwithstanding tava chintana mama hridaye sada, sada..

Today is the tenth day of Navaratri.

Let tava chintana remain mama hridaye sada, sada..



Vijayadashami 10-26-01
New Haven

(Tava chintana mama hridaye sada: The thought of you is always in my heart.)