By Lakshman Bulusu
I am specially challenged—
The experts call it OCD, BPD, depression—
The words ‘mental illness’ resonate in my mind,
my life shattered like a well-crafted antique,
splintered to pieces.
Moment by moment, this thought eclipses me.
Until one day, I realize I have to come out of this darkness.
Even the night has the moon and the stars
and the day has its light.
I thrill in gardening:
plant seeds of marigold and sunflowers,
till the soil in furrows with a cultivator or a garden hoe,
water daily using a green watering can
with patience as far as my passion can hold.
Behold each blossom, a newborn seasonal beauty.
I take to painting, try to imitate Jean-Michel,
create faces with expressions of
joy, gloom, anger, despair—
in ages of a child, aged, blonde, and old-aged—
in ranges of white, black, brown, and
the versatility of light.
I resort to basketball. In a court set up in my backyard
practice shooting the ball into the hoop.
Sometimes I play alone yet overcome the solitude
by living in the next throw, this time to make it a better one.
The music of the Beatles’ Come Together and Michael Jackson’s Thriller—
the song and beat rocking through the speakers
overwhelm me as I drive through the countryside flanked by green fields.
I recite hymns of Lord Ram at an ancient temple,
sometimes so immersed it becomes a soliloquy.
Every chant of it chases the blues away that kept chasing me.
I engage in literature, sonnet to free verse,
a monologue or a dialogue, as an inspiration
to those sharing my space.
I write poems to characterize myself in a comic vein.
I venture out in the open, take a sojourn at the beach.
I find solace in that I can challenge my challenge.
A signal of mental wellness:
At the end of the evening, relaxing in a chair,
sipping tea, and acknowledging passers by.