Zeitgeistlyrik: Summer 2005 (Satis Shroff)


Summer 2005 (Satis Shroff)
I sat in the garden
With Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure on my lap,
And watched a small butterfly
With dark spots on its frail wings,
Violet patterns on its tail.
It was Aglais utricae
Flattering lightly
Between the marigolds
And chrysanthemums.

The Potentilla nepalensis
Was growing well
Under the shade of the rhododendrons.
The great pumpkin was spreading
Its leafy tentacles everywhere.
The tomatoes were fighting for light
Hiding beneath the pumkin’s gigantic green leaves.

A Papilio machaon with its swallow-tail
Came from no where.
The laughter of the children,
As they swung in the garden’s two swings
Were a delight to one’s soul.

Little Florentin’s fear of bees,
Natasha’s morbid fear of spiders,
Elena’s garden gymnastics
And Julian’s delight in discovering
New insects, snails and snakes.

Holding hands we strolled in our garden.
You watered the flowers and trees,
I removed long, brown snails,
A hobby-gardener of Nepalese descent,
In a lovely house with character in Zähringen,
An Allemanic stronghold.
Once the subject of dispute
Between Austria and France,
Now a sleepy residential area of Freiburg.

Drinking Darjeeling Tea in England (Satis Shroff)

Beware the Ides of September
Manchester will be a milestone
In Gordon Brown’s polit-life.
Your economic ‘competence’
Has become an Achilles heel,
Your weak point.

The people’s party of New Labour
Wants to get rid of you.
These are the rumours,
Heard in the trendy streets of London.

Twelve months ago Gordon Brown
Was the Messiah of Brit politics,
After Blair’s disastrous role in the Labour,
Unpopular, depressed,
His energy absorbed by Iraq.
Alas, even the new Messiah
Has lost his face,
Within a short time.
His weakness: decision making.

England is nervous, fidgety,
For Labour fears a possible loss,
Of its 353 Under House seats.
Above the English cabinet,
Looms a Damocles sword.

Will Labour watch
And drink Darjeeling tea,
Till a debacle develops?
Labour is in a dilemma.
Hush, help is near.
David Miliband is going vitriolic.
A silly season indeed,
Drinking Darjeeling tea in England.

The Gurkhas Are With You (Satis Shroff)

Ayo Gurkhali!
The Gurkhas are upon you!
This was the battle-cry
That filled the British heart,
With pride and admiration,
And put the foe in fear.

Now the Gurkhas are not upon you.
They are with you,
Among you,
In London,
Guarding the Queen at the Palace,
Doing security checks
For VIPs
And for Claudia Schiffer,
The Sultan of Brunei.
Johnny Gurkhas
Or as the Brits prefer:
Johnny Gurks.

Sir Ralph Turner,
An adjutant of the Gurkhas
In World War I said:
‘Uncomplaining you endure
Hunger, thirst and wounds;
And at the last,
Your unwavering lines
Disappear into smoke
And wrath of battle.’

Another General Sir Francis Tuker
Spoke of the Gurkhas:
‘Selfless devotion to the British cause,
Which can be hardly matched
By any race to another
In the whole history of the world..
Why they should have
Thus treated us,
Is something of a mystery.’

9000 Gurkhas died
For the Glory of England,
23,655 were severely wounded
Or injured.
Military glory for the Gurkhas:
2734 decorations,
Mentions in despatches,
Gallantry certificates.

Nepal’s mothers paid dearly
For England’s glory.
And what do I hear?
The vast silence of the Gurkhas.
England has failed miserably
To match the Gurkha’s loyalty and affection
For the British.

Faith binds humans
The Brits have faith
In the bravery and loyalty,
Honesty, sturdiness, steadfastness
Of the Gurkhas.
Do the souls of the perished Gurkhas
Have faith in the British?
Souls of Gurkhas dead and gone
Still linger seeking injustice
At the hands of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II,
Warlords, or was it warladies, they died for.
How has the loyalty and special relations
Been rewarded in England
Since the Treaty of Segauli
On March 4, 1816 ?
A treaty that gave the British
The right to recruit Nepalese.

When it came to her own kind,
Her Majesty the Queen
Was generous.
She lavishly bestowed lands,
Lordships and knighthoods
To those who served the crown well,
And added more feathers to England’s fame.
A Bombay-born Salman Rushdie
Gets a knighthood from the Queen,
For his Satanic and other verses.
So do Brits who play classic and pop.

When it comes to the non-British,
Alas, Her majesty feigns myopia.
She sees not the 200 years
Of blood-sacrifice
On the part of the Gurkhas:
In the trenches of Europe,
The jungles of Borneo,
In far away Falklands,
Crisis-ridden Croatia
And war-torn Iraq.

Blood, sweat and tears,
Eking out a meagre existence
In the craggy hills of Nepal
And Darjeeling.
The price of glory was high,
Fighting in the killing-fields
Of Delhi, the Black Mountains,
Khyber Pass, Gilgit, Ali Masjid.
Warring against Wazirs, Masuds,
Yusafzais and Orakzais
In the North-West Frontier.
And against the Abors,
Nagas and Lushais
In the North-East Frontier.
Neuve Chapelle in France,
A hill named Q in Gallipoli.
Suez and Mesopotamia.
In the Second Word War
Battling for Britain
In North Africa, South-East Asia,
Italy and the Retreat from Burma.

The Queen graciously passes the ball
And proclaims from Buckingham Palace:
‘The Gurkha issue
Is a matter for the ruling government.’
Thus prime ministers come and go,
Akin to the fickle English weather.
The resolute Queen remains,
Like Chomolungma,
The Goddess Mother of the Earth,
Above the clouds in her pristine glory,
But the Gurkha issue prevails.

‘Draw up a date
To give the Gurkhas their due,’
Is the order from 10 Downing Street.
‘OMG ,
We can’t pay for the 200 years.
We’ll be ruined as a ruling party,
When we do that.’

A sentence like a guillotine.
Is the injustice done to the Gurkhas
Of service to the British public?
It’s like adding insult
To injury.
Thus Tory and Labour governments have come
And gone,
The Gurkha injustice has remained
To this day.
All Englishmen cannot be gentlemen,
Especially politicians,
But in this case even fellow officers.
Colonel Ellis and General Sir Francis Tuker,
The former a downright bureaucrat,
The latter with a big heart.
England got everything
Out of the Gurkha.
Squeezed him like a lemon,
Discarded and banned
From entering London
And its frontiers,
When he developed gerontological problems.
‘Go home with your pension
But don’t come back.
We hire young Gurkhas
Our NHS doesn’t support pensioned invalids.’
Johnny Gurkha wonders aloud:
‘Why they should have thus
Treated us,
And are still treating us,
Is a mystery.’

Meanwhile, life in the terraced hills of Nepal,
Where fathers toil on the stubborn soil,
And children work in the steep fields
A broken, wrinkled old mother waits,
For a meagre pension
From Her majesty’s far off Government,
Across the Kala Pani,
The Black Waters.

Faith builds a bridge
Between Johnny Gurkhas
And British Tommies,
Between Nepal and Britain.
The sturdy, betrayed Gurkha puts on
A cheerful countenance,
And sings:
‘Resam piriri ,’
An old trail song
Heard in the Himalayas.

About the Author: Satis Shroff is the published author of three books on www.Lulu.com: Im Schatten des Himalaya (book of poems in German), Through Nepalese Eyes (travelgue), Katmandu, Katmandu (poetry and prose anthology by Nepalese authors, edited by Satis Shroff). His lyrical works have been published in literary poetry sites: Slow Trains, International Zeitschrift, World Poetry Society (WPS), New Writing North, Muses Review, The Megaphone, The Megaphone, Pen Himalaya, Interpoetry.
Satis Shroff is a member of “Writers of Peace,” poets, essayists, novelists (PEN), World Poetry Society (WPS) and The Asian Writer. He is a regular contributor on The American Chronicle and its 21 affiliated newspapers in the USA, in addition to Gather.com etc.

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