My accent and ancestry

can be easily traced to this town

which is, alas, no longer

famous for its handlooms or beedis.

The verdant fields on either side

of the narrow strip that led to

Vadakkanvalapil have all disappeared.

The fields are  now hosts to large homes

with forbidding gates – the voices  of

frogs and crickets at nightfall are

now only memories.

The scarecrows in the mid-fields

have been replaced by evil eyes

poorly drawn on earthern pots

hung aloft houses that are still

being built.


I barely managed to

salvage Grandma’s old

portrait just in time

before the ancestral home

was let out: family partition

spawned even more houses-

a necessity perhaps, both

cultural and economic.


I make my annual trip

only to be with persons who

are my own.  I have my

own little home too but there is

little else that I feel good

about this town nowadays

which has perfected

a kind of violence that

puts Kerala’s famed literacy rate

to shame.


The sickle not just cuts grass here

but also severes heads with whom

one disagrees with.

Actors, or more correctly puppets, in violence

proudly proclaim that soon

there wont be rust on the knives

yet to be used – only blood.

Education is a joke here

because no one thinks for himself.

Party leaderships who call the shots

only maintain a death tally.


The new badge of honour is to be

called a Party Worker and, regardless

of whether the badge one wears

is red or orange, both are tainted

with only blood.

The lure of the Party is unmistakable

as it is a password for quick fixes,

for ascent to power, and to settle scores.


The quiet town has clearly lost its charm.

Perhaps when the town

gets its new airport

folks in town  will think

more about commerce

than politics; about

how to earn a decent living

instead of

desperately seeking the person

who has to be eliminated next.


p3  (c) pradeep gopalan

2 thoughts on “ON MY PLACE OF BIRTH

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