Saturday, April 21, 2012


Constraint: 600 words and a character must leave the town and a character must enter the town.

“What are you sifting mom?” I had asked amidst the bustling activity in my maternal grandfather’s, nana’s, house. Dad was moving about groceries for the post-twelfth day ceremony, called baaramu, of passing away of nana. The whole village was to be fed. I myself had been fed many times that summer as death seemed to be the only recurring event that year.

But nana, well I never thought that he would give in. Not that he was not old enough. He was 95 and his frail body seemed to have wanted him out. As if it was tired of carrying him all these years and just wanted to rest. But his soul never seemed ready. He has been ‘mukhia’, the village head, for 40 years and has seen it through the times of prosperity, decay, battles, crimes you name it. I still remember the heated debates between him and my dad who was hell bent on the urbanization of modern India and where it is to take us versus nana who was as much hell bent on the ‘tree is as strong as its roots and the villages are India’s roots’. His soul seemed more attached to this village he has served all these years than his own body. May be that’s why his body had felt neglected and wanted to desert him.

“Well I am just sifting to get a very fine sand in the plate. It is said that if a soul is reborn as a human, an infant’s soft footprint will appear on the sand on the twelfth day and we will know that his soul is not astray anymore”

I still remember that moment vividly. For an eight year old’s mind that was a swell of an idea. I was excited. I followed mom to the little temple we had inside the house where she lay the plate among small oil lamps and scented incense. I sat next to it.

Mom reprimanded me “now don’t just sit there”.

But I didn’t listen. The idea of small footprints appearing out of nowhere was refuting everything that modern science was trying to teach us. Possibility of this miracle, an open ended challenge to science was more exciting than anything.

So... well.. I sat there. Just waiting for the miracle to happen. Half an hour.. hour.. hour and half.. the restlessness of a kid’s mind was unsettling me and I was running out of patience. Science seemed to be laughing in the face of lamps and scented incense in the house of god. Finally I got tired and went to dad who was busy arranging things for the cook.

“Dad when will the footprints appear?”

He didn’t seem to know what I was talking about. To stop me from pestering him he said
“Just go and make sure lamps are not running out of oil”

I stood there for half a minute hoping for an answer but when none came I went back to the temple to check on the lamps. And there.. and there, there were two little soft footprints on the sand. My heart was racing. Dhak.. dhak... dhak.. I couldn’t believe my eyes. “mom mom mom” not finding her in the house I ran out looking for her. “mom”

And there she was holding a newborn baby of our neighbor. There was a smile on mom’s face and tears rolling down her eyes and I remember what nana always insisted during the debates with my dad,

“I can never leave this village and if I ever did I will come back right away”

Friday, April 13, 2012

A fallen leaf

Fell a green leaf of the branch
on a sultry winter morning
Blew a dry breeze and it fell
miles away from the tree

Came the days and went the nights
And stolen was the moisture
Flushed were veins and dried was leaf
as severed it felt from the tree

Blew another breeze and away it took
in the distant that longing leaf
in it alive were still the memories
of the veins broken from the root

calls the tree sometimes with whisper
the distant aloof fallen leaf
but prevails drought in the dried veins
As it waits to drench in rain