Life bobs by, like the little, lit terracotta lamp on the Ganges,
The waves rise and fall, with it the valiant little light,
The flame flickers, gazes at the Ghats of Benares,
Wondering at the continuing discontinuity –
As flames rise from the holy fires and funeral pyres –
Is there a difference in our lights…?
The crashing cymbals, the joyous colours –
Vermillion and Turmeric, Saffron and Gold;
Flowers galore, Jasmine and Marigold –
Both Deities and dead bodies adorn,
Is there a difference in our colours…?
How shall we live, how then shall we die?
Like the little lamp, the colourful flower,
And the sacrificial fire,
As the burnt sandalwood smoke –
Fragrant even as the cinders crackle,
Therein the difference – the truly alive
And the living dead.