Now that we are together

Alone

In our silence

I might as well ask.

What was it, Dad, to be

A man, like you?

How did you cope with it

From the inside?

What was it, Dad, to be burdened

when young? To be responsible

for a family,

relationships as expectations,

children’s fees, clothes, and tantrums!

What was it, Dad, to be bound

to duties?

even your pleasures and little joys, framed

within them —

was it ever freeing and relaxed?

What was it, Dad,

in your post-office passbook,

that you peered into several times a day?

Did it live up to its reputation for you?

What was it, Dad,

before you went under, when you looked at me

earnestly, that you wanted

to say?


Were you

disappointed in me

Dad?

Did you experience joy?

I seem to see toil

as far back as I can stretch

and then the pains,

of partings, silences

and then more pain these last many years

of wanting to talk but

no words,

of needing help but

no stick could take the weight.

What is it, Dad

in this shared silence

you are asking of me?

Dad half-smiled, with his eyes covered

still. Just for a moment

he tightened the eyelids

a water drop trickled from the right eye.

Then with a sigh

he was gone.

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I entered the holy doors.

Merged into the crowd

with others. Shoved,

jostled for a glimpse of

the deity. Waiting

in line to be awestruck

with splendour and glory.

I saw people, devotees

pulled and pushed,

imbalanced on the feet

of their devotion.

Before I could reach there

I slipped out of the left door

into a much thinner crowd

pale morning just beginning,

fresh mountain air.

I felt welcome and goodbye

simultaneously settling

in the sanctum

a ragged sadhu smiled

waiting for others.


- Aanand




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Appetite, lost

over a plateful lunch

of lovers' talk.


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