In the Enthralling Buddhist Land
by Akshaya Pawaskar
I am a cat with nine lives, for three I play, for three
I stray, for last three I stay. In my previous life I
must have been a Buddhist as I sit here lost in
landlocked Himalayas staring at the Himalayas
half dazed and lulled by the incantations in
the thinning air of the monastery with
The ornate prayer wheels swirling
and my knowledge of sanskrit
limited to one mantra of
‘om mani padme hum’.
Twiddling the concept of Gross national happiness
in my fuzzy brain inhaling the fog I feel as
unmoving as the log. I see a fly and see
it fly without swatting, I must borrow
the sense of Dharma at least
for now, how could I not
in this mystical abode?
Its wall running along
the cliff, falling down
to nothing, a void.
Where the Buddhist master meditated for three years,
three months, three weeks three days and three
hours. And I have been here three minutes
inhaling the remnants of his breath to
purify my own. Then I think of him,
again while I am suspended over
a male river Pochu swaying on
the horizontal scaffolding
draped with prayer flags
blessing in red and green.
Stiffened with fright, clutching my phone with fear of
Returning cycle of samsara- Life, death, rebirth and
my karma flashing like pendulum along with
oscillations of the Punakha bridge. I think
again of how the revered Guru flew on
the back of a tigress and crossed
the ragged yet overwhelmingly
beautiful lands of Bhutan?
My vertigo builds slowly
But surely as I walk.
I feel the weight of the Ashtmangala lucky charm locket
around my neck and it reminds me of the strength and vitality of dragon portrayed in their symbol of ‘Druk’
and for reasons unknown even the phalluses painted
on their white washed houses and I cross over to
the other side where the spicy Ema datshi
with its chili peppers and cheese waits.
Sometimes it is all about starting
with conquering the small fears
before going for the big kill.
Akshaya Pawaskar is a doctor practicing in India and poetry is her passion. Her poems have been published in Tipton Poetry journal, Indian ruminations, The blue nib, North of oxford, Rock and sling, shards, Awake in the world anthology by Riverfeet press. She had been chosen as ‘Poet of the week’ on Poetry superhighway in 2019, featured writer in Wordweavers poetry contest and second place winner of Blue nib chapbook contest( 2018).