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have been replaced by evil eyes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
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
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
desperately seeking the person
who has to be eliminated next.
p3 (c) pradeep gopalan