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 :


In Memoriam


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







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