THE POSTS IN THIS BLOG HAVE been rather infrequent ever since the first post was published on August 14, 2013. Since four years, I have also been exploring various forms of writing (including a novel) and have now reached the conclusion that I am at home with poetry. There will therefore be only poems posted on this blog. Hope the poetry will be relevant for you just as it has been for me.
Here is the first poem :
When life deserted you
it appeared as if
you had just fallen asleep
never to wake up again
to face the routines that
reminded you relentlessly
of your helplessness:
sponge baths and peg feeds
– not to speak of mouth rinses
with sterilized gauzes and
adult diapers changed time and again.
From my early waking moments
until it was time to retire for the day,
proof of life is what I had always sought in you:
a heart beating, a pulse that could be felt,
eyelashes that winked often, and fingers
that infrequently entwined and disengaged –
not to speak of extreme gentleness in a voice
which very rarely sought for help
and which often wanted to know “Who’s there?”
when the doorbell rang.
On the night of January 31, a little past nine thirty,
when all your senses
went numb and still,
all that one wondered was
why you have left us guessing
if you had any unfulfilled wish
or complaints about how you lived
and one mused for the first time
what exactly is life when
a moment is all that it takes
to rob the body of what animates it
and yet how mindlessly we squander
most of our lives doing things
entirely devoid of meaning
in the apparent pursuit of happiness.
Only recently was the telly
in your room switched off
from standby mode:
no longer does your room
brim with voices from
the serials that you binge-watched
to ward off the ennui and loneliness
that we weren’t entirely successful
in banishing even as you lived in our midst.
The Mathrubhumi accompanied by your morning cuppa
is not something that we will now daily see.
Your walker, wheelchair and air bed
have already been bundled off to Goonj
and the immaculately white sixty-three sarees
are now draped on other mothers
in an old age home.
What once seemed a constant presence
is now a bundle of indelible memories
that surface now and then
when one nibbles a piece of your favourite cup cake
or when the flesh is separated from the bones
of fried white pomfrets at lunch –
and equally when one peels the foil off
from a curd bowl
or the skin from an elaichi kela.
By bringing your children forth into this world
you had already performed a life-affirming act
and the ninety-six odd years of life -enhancing habits
had kept death away from your door
many of which, we, as your children
still lazily forget to emulate.
Your example was a constant reminder
that we just have one life to live
and so it must be lived well.
In flesh and blood you had inhabited our world
all these days and, nowadays,
as one glances at your last available portrait
that captured your all-knowing smile,
you appear to say :
“I’m still watching you.
So don’t cheat yourself on
the necessary habits
that may help you
defy death, perhaps
longer that I did.”
(c) pradeep gopalan