Professor Sethuramiah’s haiku, Avani and Ishaan

Professor Sethuramiah’s haiku, Avani and Ishaan


Partha Desikan


Our friends will remember Susumu Takiguchi’s Keynote Address at the World Haiku Festival, Bangalore 2008, and my blog highlighting its focus on Tagore and haiku. The Address itself was available to me from the online literary journal Muse India, to which I had been introduced by my friend of 40 years and more, Professor Sethuramiah Abburi.. The good Professor is well versed in Japanese culture and ways, having stayed in Japan long enough to pursue his D.Sc. in an Engineering subject.

My friend Sethu is settled now in Bangalore and stays with his son, but this residence is close enough to his daughter’s too so that he gets time to play with his granddaughter Avani, not quite three years old, whenever she feels like it and telephones him, by taking a quick walk across to his daughter’s. He visits an Engineering college in Tamil Nadu some 3, 4 days every month to give some special lectures. More than 25 days of each month of his are available to Avani.


Among things Japanese that have stayed with Sethu is his love of haiku. He reads loads of them and also creates a few very leisurely and with love. I would like to share a few of them with our medhavi friends.


The weather features in these three haikus


1. summer noon –

the crow merges into

its shadow.

2. After the shower
cuckoo calls for
another spell

3. Poplar tree–
lone yellow leaf
signs autumn


The first of these was penned on Sept 3, 2008, after summer had become a memory. But Sethu’s mind had held back the crow and the shadow that was not separate from the bird. Perhaps it was raining then. On 5th September he hears the cuckoo when he has just stopped hearing the shower. Haiku number two comes out with the cuckoo.


A month passes. It is autumn still, but, not of the colourful kind Sethu had been used to in Japan. He remembers the first leaf that coloured in a poplar tree and the third haiku results.

Mainichi, Japan published the rain haiku. The autumn verse was published by Asahi Haikuist, Japan.


Smoke and fire form the theme in these two haikus


1. chimney smoke-
toy train spins
a fairy tale

2. Fireworks lift
new year hopes


The chimney and the train haiku was published in Muse India, a poetry blog.

With the fireworks haiku, Sethu was heralding New Year 2009, some two days in advance. Ashahi Shimbun, Japan, published it on 16th January in the New year


Walking forms the subject of the following four haikus

1. So many
steps to temple

2. temple steps
lined with seekers 
of alms
3. seashore
white carpet welcomes     
bare feet
4. wearing snowflakes
black and white penguin


Haikus number 2, 3 and 4 were created in 2007, of which, number 3 was for Muse India journal. Number 1 was published by Ashahi Shimbun in February 2009.


Movements, quite different from walking, were described in three lovely haikus by Sethu.


1. Ah! the ocean


of life and death


tides forever


2. between me

and the mountain range

a train passes


3. transparent lift —

 sadhu in yellow robes


The third of these got an honourable mention in the Mainichi haiku contest 2009!

You will notice that the second and third haikus relate to mechanical motion, while the first talks of the philosophical movement of life and of death, not unlike tides in ocean waves. There is suddenness in the appearance of a moving mechanism between man and nature in the second haiku, and of a man in bright robes descending from a moving mechanism that has just stopped in the third haiku. Sethu thinks that the piece number 1 is not characteristically haiku, but several of his friends acclaimed the depth of meaning in it.


Avani, Sethu’s granddaughter, hogs Sethu’s attention in the following haikus and haiku-like verses. Watch the flow or flow along with it. Most of these were published by Muse India over the past 3 years.



The Bond  (Museindia)

Bangalore, 2008)
In anguish
two tears roll 
down the cheeks 
halfway, waiting…
And the mother
embraces the bundle
of inseparable


First birthday (Museindia)


Bangalore 2009


Avani  pulls

and throws

the spectacles…

I collect

the twisted frame

glasses intact

as the baby smiles

in innocent triumph…


I hold her again

and itching for action

she bites

with two teeth



With bent frame

I am ready

for yet another round

of  child play




Bangalore, 2010


Playing hide and seek

showing tata*

his place!


Asking for more sweet

and every time

it is the last time


Giving the doll


for the nasty bite


Helping tata

to the floor

of animal world


Thumb in mouth

demanding mamma

the ‘parrot’ story


Bowing again and again

at Toddlers’ school

in welcome


Wondrous tiny steps

of one child

every child


* Grandfather

And Grandfather must have anticipated 2008, even in 2007. He writes already in 2007

wrapped in time
for birthday


Was Grandfather himself the present, waiting for Avani’s birth-day?


We have talked of Sethu’s daughter’s daughter, Avani, but what of Ishaan, Sethu’s son’s son?

We do not have a haiku on this person yet, because only last week this baby, less than two months old, got named Ishaan in a properly vaidik Namakarana ceremony. And your Partha Desikan attended and blessed the child.


May both Avani and Ishaan inspire Grandfather to keep writing haikus about them and in turn learn to write haikus themselves!


As most of you would know, Avani means the Earth. She means the earth and more to her grandfather. Ishaana has the same meaning as Isha, Ishvara, names referring to the Lord of everything, namely Bhagavan. These names are however used more popularly to refer to Shiva than to Vishnu, though Vishnu Sahasranama has both Ishaana and and Ishvara as names of Vishnu present in it. The aishvaryas of Bhagavan, of which we read in my blog on the giant figs of India are called aishvaryas only because they are the vishesha gunas of Ishvara, namely Bhagavan. So grandson Ishaan should mean something divine to his grandfather, a divine gift, should he not?



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