Max Babi is an Indian poet who was born in Cambay (Khambhat), a city in central Gujarat.
He was born into an ex-royal family of Junagarh and Radhanpur and grew up mainly at
Baroda (now Vadodara) under the loving care of missionary Jesuits at Rosary High School. His mother tongue is Urdu, but by age twelve he had
mastered English, being completely self-taught. Seven years of NCC-Air Wing, marching, camps and a court marshall could not remove his slouch,
nor his Gandhian values. He learnt flying but gave it up, since he found aero-engines more fascinating. He qualified as a metallurgist but
slipped into plasma technology, and so has been riding both careers for 37 years now. He has been writing in five languages since his
schooldays, and has been heavily published on the internet and in trade magazines. At present he is dabbling in journalism as well as writing
fiction and poetry. His particular writing focus is on the transcreation of Urdu and Gujarati poems. A book is half ready, and several of his
stories have been accepted by the Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul series. He also writes regularly for Pune Mirror, a part
of the Times of India.
After years of coffee table talk,
strangers milling around us
like soulless shadows —
I feel like a museum
No touching, tasting nor smelling.
I'd love you unpackaged,
but . . .
My mother and I had an uneasy truce.
I watched in silence her seemingly empty rituals,
she sniffed but ignored tobacco aromas emanating from my shirts.
Her eyes burned with curiosity and fear.
I held her accusing gaze
with a foolish bravado.
Her smirk often cut deep.
The Din of the Weeds
The vineyards after the harvest
sleep like comatose mothers.
The palm trees sway and dance
with their minds elsewhere.
Only the weeds due now for a
total genocide, celebrate life in
My Honor In Tatters
English transcreation of a poem written in Gujarati
My honor in tatters patched up with your smile
was neither in my favour nor to my benefit—
I, a mere boat and you the captain,
together we rambled roamed and swam,
how would it matter if we sank together now?
A Sort of Love Poem
Like a night's moist
secretions jelling into
sensual, preening dewdrops,
like an unnamable force
that lifts earth's lovejuice to
the topmost leaf
like a warm breeze
willingly lost in sand dunes
caressing joyously their nude charms,
like timeless secrets
sussurating through tall trees,
like a reluctant bolt of lightening
with jagged aims,
like tender stories
lying coiled inside me—
you will come,
just as spring comes tiptoeing
through ravaged gardens,
with a certain dogged intent.
Nature's overtures are subtle,
Incredible that your bear hug
like a slowed down bolt of lightening,
vacuum cleans my decades deep fatigue.
Incredible your nubile bonhomie has stretched
over the ugly slump of middle age.
Incredible your steel armor
viciously guards a glassy core.
Incredible that you allow me
an occasional peep.
Miraculous, I can read
between the lines,
for your lustrous words
enrich my buried, radioactive treasures.
Poetry matters like pure oxygen
like open wide spaces
like simple unadulterated food,
like eight hours of deep sleep.
Glaciers in the North Sea melted
unaware of the gruesome reality—
we have mutated like them
before extinction, before flowing
away into nooks of nowhere.
When utter insanity rules,
when current history is written in blood
when human rights are squashed like
cockroaches emerging from gutters
when children are sold into brothels
when paper currency dazzles and dazes us
how can poetry matter?
Ek Pauda Lagaya Tha...
English transcreation of a poem written in Urdu
I had planted a sapling, in the arid corner of my garden,
I had made it quaff life itself drop by drop
The hapless being kept living, dying, moaning, with one foot
in the mouth of death, and kept swaying to some
weird intoxication all its own,
and God alone knows whom he kept yearning for
with a scared intensity.
What unknown forces it possesses, what intrepidity and aura
it commands, this frozen cyclone,
soon as it sprouts two leaves, it blows springtime in to
my hapless life-story, and when it strips completely,
it runs a famine through even my dreamscapes.
I can't bear to look at it without a smile, or
without feeling all shaken up.
Circles and spheres we cannot deny
'though their existence we may decry
From an atom to a whole star cluster
Cross section 'circle' leaves us a-fluster
In life things seem so precisely cyclic
You could change phases, ahem, by click!
Don't we sleepwalk through an entire lifetime
'Inner' or 'outer' maya, which holds the lifeline?