Sherry: Vandana, we last spoke with you way back in 2014. We must catch up! Your daughter was then three and a half. Are you still a medical researcher? How is your extended family doing?
Vandana: Thank you so much for the “Blog of the week” feature. Yes, my daughter is now seven years old and has started making up rhyming poems, only a few though and a bit kiddish too, which is obvious.
I am still in the same hospital and also pursuing my PhD. My husband has shifted to New York, USA for a short term project because of his professional commitments. I could not go, as I have to complete my PhD.
Sherry: You must miss each other. I am glad it is a short-term situation.
My mother-in-law and daughter
Vandana: A tragedy has struck our family. Last year my mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer. We got her treated for it; unfortunately it has relapsed and has spread to other body parts, we are getting her treated for it. But life is not the same, and all of us are very sad.
Sherry: Oh, Vandana, I am so sorry to hear this. How very hard for everyone. We send all of you our very best wishes as you move through this difficult time. Your mother-in-law looks very brave.
AIIMS Institute day celebration
I know you love your busy city life in New Delhi. And that you also make visits to rural areas for family visits. Would you like to tell us what you love about each of the contrasting locations?
Vandana: Both lives have their pros and cons. In the city one will never find peace, while in the rural area there is peace in abundance. In the city one has all sorts of facilities, especially super speciality medical facilities, which are not available in the rural area.
Indian grey hornbill
at the Delhi Zoo
Sherry: It is nice that you can experience both. You have been writing since you were fourteen and have been published in magazines and anthologies in India. (This is a feather in your cap, as the competition must be fierce!) And you attempt all manner of forms; you are fearless!
What do you love about poetry? What do you strive for in your work? Are you happy with how your writing has been developing through the years?
Vandana: Thank you for your appreciation. I started writing poetry to be free of stress and it is still the same reason. But, over the years I have tried to refine my poetry and not let it merely be a cauldron of emotions or words. I think I am happy the way it is turning out.
National bird of India
at the Delhi Zoo
Sherry: Do you still also write prose and short stories? Which is your first love, poetry or prose?
Vandana: Poetry is my first love and at times I do write short stories and prose.
Sherry: Would you like to choose three of your poems, and tell us a little about each one?
Vandana: The poems that I am choosing are very simple. The first poem I would like to share is the one I wrote for my mother-in-law. She has always supported and encouraged me, she loves me like her own daughter .
For My Mother – In – Law
Your heart, pure gold,
an ocean of love it holds.
Your eyes brightly aglow
with compassion they flow.
Your motherly care,
a soft warm air.
Your affectionate embrace,
wipes out my painful trace.
Your heartfelt blessings,
envelope me in protective wings.
Your soul pious of all,
quenching my thirst like waterfall.
Sherry: Vanada, that is so beautiful. What a sweet relationship you have with your mother-in-law. This poem touches my heart.
Vandana: The second poem would be “The old man and the sea”. We should always respect and take care of our elders. Although in our culture we are told to do so, but now-a-days youngsters do not care much. These youngsters should remember that one day they too will be old.
The Old Man and the Sea
The old man and the sea,
gaze at each other deeply.
His wrinkles, his waves,
hide stories of pain,
of laughter lost or gained.
His withered ears,
his freely flowing winds,
want something to hear,
may be a song,
that can mingle with winds along.
His weary eyes, his shiny gems,
search for someone,
to treasure them.
The old man and the sea,
ponder what’s gone.
But with each other,
they are no longer alone.
Sherry: I really resonate with this poem. We oldsters each have a story that involves much pain. I share his sustaining relationship with the sea.
Vandana: The third poem I would like to share is “Om Namah Shivaye”. “Om Namah Shivaye” is a mantra, which we chant for lord Shiva. God is always there with us and we need to feel his presence in everything we do.
Om Namah Shivaye
Mighty mystic Himalayas,
a great revered Shivalaya.
Lord Shiva’s holy grace,
flows as rivers all over the space.
Rhythm of Lord Shiva’s drum,
every valley sweetly hums.
Lord’s name engraved as “OM”,
sanctifies agni, jal, vayu and vyom.
Tandav ,when Nataraj performs,
whole universe reforms.
You control the tides - high or low,
Oh! Lord Shiva to thee I bow.
"Om Namah Shivayae" – The holy mantra of Lord Shiva.
“Shivalaya”– Temple of Lord Shiva .
“Agni” – Fire, “Jal” – Water, “Vayu” – Air, “Vyom” – Space/ Sky.
“Tandav”- Mythical dance performed by Lord Shiva that can destroy the universe.
“Nataraj” – Another name of Lord Shiva, when he performs Tandav.
Sherry: So beautiful , Vandana, and full of reverence. The mystique of the Himalayas has always called to me.
Tell us, if you will, how do you think blogging has impacted your writing?
Vandana: Greatly! I admire and love the poems of many fellow blogger poets. There is always something to learn from everyone.
Sherry: Yes, there is, isn't there? When you are not working, or writing, what favourite activities might we find you enjoying?
White tiger at the Delhi Zoo
Vandana: These day all I am doing is writing (thesis), apart from being with my mother –in-law. I have to submit my thesis in January.
Sherry: We wish you great success with it, Vandana. I am certain you will do well. How I love that beautiful white tiger!
Is there anything you would like to say to Poets United?
Vandana: The Poets United community is one big family. We may never be able to see each other face to face, but we touch each other through our poems, and I am so happy to be a part of it.
Sherry: And we are happy you are here! Thank you so much, Vandana – especially for your loyalty to Poets United. We appreciate you very much.
A lovely and bittersweet visit to our young poet friend, whose family is going through sad times. We wish them well. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you! (Hint: it is a very popular and talented poet. This month we will also feature interviews with two of our newer men poets. Don't miss them!