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PCK Prem (PC Katoch Of Garh-Malkher, Palampur, Himachal, A Former Academician, Civil Servant And Member Himachal Public Service Commission, Shimla), an author of more than fifty-five books, is a poet, novelist, short story writer, translator and a critic in English and Hindi. Associated with several social/ literary organizations, he has brought out eleven volumes of poetry besides six books on criticism, four books on ancient literature, two on folk tales, six novels and three collections of short fiction. In Hindi, he authored twenty novels, nine books on short fiction and a collection of poems besides critical articles, reviews and critiques published in various national and international journals and anthologies. PCK Prem - Echoing Time and Civilizations 2015 and The Spirit of Age and Ideas (in the Novels of PCK Prem) in 2016 and Kathasagar of PCK Prem are books on him.
1. The Unknown Master
A great architect he is, everyone believes.
He does not leave anything incomplete,
I was born of him
and he stands to teach a great lesson,
Guru told and I stood
with class fellows
and heard, I did not know
what he meant
and so I returned and asked.
Ma told guru was right, for the unknown
he is the spirit behind the creation,
man fails to understand,
and going back to fine old days uplifts
and you’re a flying kite.
I look at the vast fields, green and golden,
and the grey clouds,
a thunderbolt as tall thin sticks of maize,
grow and flutter with bushels
like crowns on top,
I stand amazed.
Ma told to enjoy soft voices and aroma
of life and nature
I wished to see a pattern in the manner
of paddy fields
and hear what they spoke
and how I smelt and felt the touch
as noisy water channels continued
to fill fields to enrich grains
while clouds awaited decree of lord Indra.
2. The Village Deity
Village deity is kind, keeps everyone calm
an aged tale I hear and everyone must learn,
in prayers in little smiles, hushed breathings
grey-haired woman tells.
I walk silently with home sewn satchel along
a narrow path,
fill burrows many with earth and pebbles
and naughtily irritate mice running about
and watch village women singing
an old folksong
as if musical tunes as humming continues
bend as if worship, and thin out lines
of paddy saplings
with pulled up trousers up to the knees white
and I feel thrilled,
a sensation arouses, for I knew the song
and loved its tale.
‘You sing, you laugh, you are sad and recall
and bear in mind intensity of man and woman
who jumped into the river and died’
she was pensive.
You are a good storyteller, a woman says,
Because it makes you live together
and feel for each other,
so live each moment, forget past and future,
it makes the world good, old mama told
and I hear and laugh
in songs and smiles men and women live
together and happy thereafter.
3. The Great Dhauladhar
I walk up a short distance,
mountain Dhauladhar* stands tall
I go close and it embraces
with love and warmth
never gets annoyed but blesses the valley.
It welcomes all and offers love
I remember old days walking along
the wide dusty path,
Deodars **whispered as cool breeze
Touched the bare skin,
it kicked and I wove dreams
of sky and beyond,
I stood in a queue and prayed to god
I did not understand,
boys in rows with wide-opened eyes whispered
and looked up,
a teacher counselled to look within and believe
someone within speaks a great truth
and conveys ideas of life and hope
in idyllic flow.
Walking in joy on a flat ridge it was
as small rivers flowed.
Moul and Bheral ***still flow after many years,
but one cannot see huge boulders
and large flat stones,
and flowing water nor hear its music
of decades back.
I see huge structures on its banks and garbage
of the town stuck up,
and telling how man behaves.
I do not find old deodars and pine trees,
I cannot listen to the music
of the flowing water
and cool breeze as cawing and cooing
many wires, towers, discs and howling
on wayside stalls,
tease and irritate but tell of growing time,
I walk along the black road and see growth,
but air does not speak, dhauladar range is silent
and looks at the valley with a sad face but blesses.
* Dhauladhar – one of the significant ranges of Himalaya
** Deodar – a name of a tree
*** Moul and Bheral – names of small rivers (khuds)
4.The Old Mother
I lit a cigarette and stand on an earth mount
it pleases as I look at women in the fields,
with goats, sheep, cows and buffaloes
scattered and grazing
and I hear a few forced laughs.
In quick succession
they come close, talk and go hurriedly
urgency drives everyone and I see nothing.
Twisting lips, grimacing faces
and hesitant steps,
scribble a few words of caution and homework
a burning chullaha, firewood, water pitchers
make life of a housewife dreary
and dull, painful and yet she laughs and laughs
and looks sadly at the trees and beyond the sky,
and silently prays for the men folk
to grow, rise and live
as she brooms, sweeps, cleans utensils, cooks food
and makes bed as she hums a joyous tune.
It makes life complete she was told years back
and I sit cross-legged beside ma
as she bakes chapattis
in a chullaha and fills chillum while father
like a lord,
sitting on bed waits for the ancestral hookah.
5. Home is a Heritage
Home is a philosophy of heritage
I still count each mud block,
in an age of red bricks
that boast of richness and inflate ego.
I do not know why I do it but it gives pleasure
I fail to explain.
Past is inscrutable and pleasant
but still I do not love,
it sends you to unsophisticated life
rural is a gentle thought of a tribal instinct,
only elites want to revivify,
to perpetuate love,
for nature, poor peasants and the dalits,
love that exists nowhere
and yet it fills documents of history,
and I sit, shuffle pages
and feel images rising high
and so home is a heritage,
I tell everyone.
Home is an experience, a feeling
and when you move in the hallways of past,
it resurrects and takes you back
to verdant fields,
grasslands and little valleys.
You look up, and mountain of the north beckon
it looks after river,
every stream, plant and tree as if.
I stand in the vast half-harvested fields
with a sickle,
a shovel and a bamboo basket,
a momentary thought
a past truth, a naughty smile with a lie,
a quick act and I see, I run down
to a water spring,
to play with village girls and boys
that was history of joy and innocence
PCK Prem. “Home and Hymns” (the poem is in five parts). Yayati Returns and Other Poems. Gurgaon: The Poetry Society of India, 2017: 73-78.
Dr Jaydeep Sarangi and Rob Harle, eds. Homeward Bound – Poems from Australia & India (anthology). Allahabad: Cyberwit.net Publication, 2015: 96-100.