Kindness is Gulab Jamun


An awakening late in life, words and colours rise.
To a distant horizon, I long to tread. Time wears along.

Kindness in shades of green and pleasantness at Botanic Gardens.
I venture deeper and place the easel under the baobab canopy.
A red junglefowl strays among the fronds. Families picnic
by the lake. The Joy sculpture captures childhood emotions.

Sunlight is kind to grace the inner garden. The flowers are impartial
in their bloom. A sunbird descends on the canvas. It tweets merrily.
I smile after ages — the stream behind gurgles.

I see Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in the Sundial Garden. Inscribed
on the Sundial pedestal, ‘What thou seekest is but a shadow’.

I look at my art; simple and novice brushstrokes.
Not a soul would lay one’s eyes. It takes on my
character. Insecurity devours the joy of creation.
Appreciation, why do humans covet?
I am not Vanda Miss Joaquim Agnes.

A monitor lizard slews worms and pauses. The Flight of Swans
takes to the air while a pair preen their feathers.
Ignorant of my flight, I continue to dabble in the swan colours.

The exit gate of the garden too narrow for all to pass.
I board the bus near Dempsey hill and manoeuvre the canvas
through the aisle. The driver waits for me to settle — kindness.
Passenger’s eyes glued to my incomplete swan pair.

Art, a kindness of the divine light.


I enter my home. My husband says, ‘Surprise lah’
The swans on the canvas can never equate to his.

‘I need to shower,’ a post-pandemic caution I keep.
I bathe; a saree or Tiffany swim in my soul.

He leads me to the rasoi blindfold: a transitional stupor,
a withdrawal of senses. His hands slowly reveal a bowl of
imperfect spheres dunked in chasni. Strands of kesar afloat.

‘Gluten-free gulab jamuns prepared from scratch.’ He coolly says.
My delight greater than the kites that soar at the Marina Barrage
I fill four in a bowl and gobble one after the other. Jannat in every bite.
Palate and jamun reunite after enduring 13 years of celiac separation.

Oblivious to my satiated heart, he attends a Zoom call.
Tacit realisations. I preen the black feather settled in my soul.

A happy experiment in my Shah Jahan’s kitchen entombs
a sweet kindness on my lips and swan kindness in my soul.

Kindness is Gulab Jamun.


Joy: a sculpture in the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Vanda Miss Joaquim: Singapore’s National Flower, an orchid, Flight of Swans: sculpture by artist Eng Siak Loy in the Swan Lake, lah: Singlish word commonly used by Singaporeans for emphasis at the end of a sentence, rasoi: kitchen, chasni: sugar syrup, kesar: saffron, jannat: heaven.

Alka Balain is exploring her creative side at a late stage in life — a late bloom is also a bloom.

Featured image: Mushtaq Hussain/ Pexels