Friday, December 5, 2014

Basement musings

Freshly cleaned cars
in the basement parking area
with wipers upstanding:
the antennae of strange beasts
our present day steeds

And this car,
our post-retirement baby
registered with a number
oldly, oddly familiar:
my childhood
telephone number!

I vividly remember
that first telephone,
trying to dial our own number
and my father rarely speaking,
but listening to the phone,
endless conversations
interspersed with his 'hmmms'
Sis and I trying to count them
but giving up too soon.

He couldn't remember, of course,
when I asked him, decades later
To whom the 'hmmmms '
had been directed, a lifetime ago...

I see him chuckle, wherever he may be
at how his memories seem to pervade
things he's never seen, and how, for me,
he will always be a part of this car!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Till next year, then.

It seems unreal, now.
The feel and weight of her.
Her chortles and gurgles,
yells and raspberries,
all manifested, suddenly
in her last few days with us.....
Our solemn, observant,
quiet little infant
now crawling around
at top speed
with sound effects
and bum wiggles,
trying to copy her mother's
yoga poses
and nearly tumbling over,
while sitting
with arms outstretched,
our resident clown!
Little hands,feet and knees
(and clothes) grubby
as she crawls and crawls
as long as she's awake.

Each meal ends up
with a face decorated by her
attempts to feed herself,
little hands grabbing the spoon
An independent spirit
at all of seven months

A dining table jugalbandi
with her father,
both of them drumming the table
and yodelling away
with her taking an occasional chomp
at the table's edge.

At the airport, after an endless drive,
she sits in her stroller, looking around
nonchalantly holding her toes,
Too small to wave goodbye....

The furniture is all back
where it belongs,
her high chair dismantled
and put away till next year,
The rattles and teething rings
lying in her wardrobe
with the tiny clothes
she has now outgrown,
all to be given away
A phone full of photographs
and movie clips
A house back to 'normal'
the television on once again

And now we see her,
at the other end
in a royal blue jacket
and a new stroller
under the brilliant auburn
and golden leaves
of an American fall.
Once more in two dimensions
untill we meet again.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Brother's birthday

You would have been seventy today.

I can imagine the fun,
the secret plans,
the surprise party, perhaps,
And your delight at your impending
if only you'd been around.....

Where are you, I wonder?
Do you know how much
you are missed?
Will you, can you come back
as your own grandchild?

Questions with no answers,
questions that all spring from
the original question,
the unanswerable why.

Why did you have to go
so young,
(well, relatively so)
so suddenly?
So permanently?

I think your prayers were answered,
but much, much too soon.
You hated the thought
of being old and helpless,
incapacitated the way
our father was.

(But you know,
he wasn't so badly off
when you saw him last-
you missed the hardest part,
watching him die slowly,
over days and weeks,
the life slowly leaching out of him).

God listened to you, I guess:
No illness, no incapacity:
A departure so sudden
that it left us all reeling.......

Several years have passed now,
but how I wish you'd been here
for your seventieth birthday.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I wonder how they do this!

I've often wondered how they manage to cut these even-sized pieces of coconut! 
I suppose there is a certain technique and technology involved, definitely more sophisticated than my smashing the coconut on the kitchen balcony floor, with a bowl at hand to save the coconut water in!
After which I struggle with the broken pieces and a sharp knife.

One of the myriad things I do not understand...........

Friday, October 10, 2014

On being grandparents

One little infant,
not so long in this world of ours
is the reason for us, 
two more or less salient beings
to turn into puddles of mush.

Technology adds to our obsession,
we drool over her latest pictures
that our phones compel us to take
whenever we meet her.
We may have left her just minutes ago
and then we pore over her latest photo. 

If we're somewhere near their home,
we call to ask if the baby is awake:
only then shall we deign to come!!!
Just to meet that baby.
Which is not to say, of course,
that we don't have great conversations
minus the Little One, but..........

And now, and now, time rushes past
it will soon be time to say goodbye
The thought of living on mere memories
is enough to make one cry.

That delectable softness,
those sturdy little limbs
the start-and-stop crawling
her small baby whims
her grumpy expression
that makes us all laugh
her gurgles and coos
her cries and her yells:
we find ourselves copying her every sound!
What does that tell you about us,
Crazy grandparents?

Each moment so precious
each day with this child
of our child, someone so special
such magic she has wrought.....
We were not like this just some months ago,
but a permanent change has now come about:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Dussehra Vacation

The little girl,
perhaps seven, or eight,
accompanies her father
and even smaller, silent sister
to the vegetable shop
in our gated community,
a place of almost
hallowed silence,
with sotto voce
requests for paneer
which is cut off the block
and weighed by one of the shop boys.

(People rarely speak to strangers
or newcomers
in these communities.
Smiles are rare, each person
in a parallel orbit ignored.
What would you lose
if you smiled at a 'stranger'
I have always wondered,
as I walk along the road
skirting our seventeen towers)?

The little girl
with her enthusiastic,
chirping little voice
excited by the bhindi
and the small eggplants,
showing her father
a mummy, a daddy and a baby baingan
brings back memories of my father and I,
going on his bicycle,
(me perched on the cross bar)
to the local mandi.
I'd come home and arrange
all the produce in the fridge
and relevant baskets,
being a sabziwallah all the while.

Schools will open now,
no more chattering children
in the vegetable shop,
only at the bus stop, at the gate,
a place I no longer need to frequent......



Saturday, September 27, 2014

In eternal orbit (No, not Mangalyaan)

In eternal orbit
are the strange gifts you receive
from people who don't care enough
to know what you like
but who insist, nevertheless,
on giving you some strange
unwanted item that
you know you cannot give away
to anyone you really know:
basically because you wouldn't
be seen dead giving a gift
so crass or tasteless.

(And your children also give to you
to keep/store or redistribute
strange gifts that they've received).

You also get given gifts
recycled so gracelessly,
that they have the original recipient's
name on a card inside,
or a fifteen year old newspaper as
the inside wrapping of a set of glasses.
And then you give them away
to charity, for raffles, to your maid,
hoping that someone, somewhere,
will be happy to win
the strange objets d'art
or the umpteenth lemon set
or glass bowl,
or casserole
or impractical stuff given
for the child who lives abroad.

I pray that I may
continue to receive 
these unwanted gifts
with grace, in a spirit of love,
as, I presume, they are given.

And then I pray that givers everywhere,
including me, of course,
be more enlightened in their giving.

And finally, that these
eternally orbiting unwanted objects
find Nirvana: a place, any place,
where they are loved and cherished
and finally used,
away from my home and my life.