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Ananya S Guha

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Ananya Guha

Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush Male, Landour. Photo by Nitoo Das

Grandmother and Her Two Sons

I have taken this weight off,
the proverbial burden of responsibility
or irresponsibility, we call it whatever we will.

Once upon a time I sat on grandmother's lap
to listen to stories of ghosts, catcalls and her two sons
climbing up the wind, soaring skies after dying of poisonous
fumes of the stomach. The narrative, unreal, surreal blended
into my apostasy, my image of myth maker, teller of fables and lies!

The weight suddenly lessened, slowly in life, when I realized
that truths told were untold (lies!)
Grandmother, her fabulous world were lies, until she died
at a ripe old age of hundred and two. I looked at her frail self,
and wondered how this frailty could cause a string of lies!

Fabulous, untold stories, of her two sons, flying across
when space crafts did not exist. Now I know.

I know, unexplored terrains, I know grandmother as a psychic
teller of tales. Fantasy.

I know, she is still climbing across untenanted skies.
Grandmother's ghost is real. The house in Guwahati
shackled with ominous ruins is as true, or false as
Grandmother's tales. Her rickety fingers still point
at me. Her narratives give me a lull, and then
sleepless nights. Her two sons, dying of cholera
are my dying assets. I still live. Grandmother, her two sons...
They were twins.


The sun today reminds.
Simply reminds.
Are there limits to reminiscences?
So it simply reminds
a bit of past but more of the present.
But it reminds, its callow face hideous
in heat.
But what are these reminiscences?
The sun is a metabolic future, just as it
is an arcane path. Draw myths around it- please.
Then you will know what reminders are.
Reminders of the sun pierce like the arrow
in a bow string, shooting pain.

The future will tell us its history
wrung into several loops of explosion.
Then we will wish away its past.
Concentrate on its present
day by day, how its array of hope
disfigures its reality, its grotesque nature
of fireball in livid fury.


And I will never leave these hills
where else will I hide in catacombs
where else will whispering forests
leaven thoughts? where else
will I shut out machines
in staccato silence?
Yes they know me
swear, proffer love.
I accept in resignation
salutations from the wind
as by lanes swerve into untenanted
territory and the wine heaves sighs
of disillusion. A passer by mutters half
said hello, and I simply whisper
with a runaway smile which
is reflection in a child's glassy face.
Mirages are these hills.
And in their emptiness is void.


That was a time when summer houses
were painted. Fresh smells of the paint
the grease and smattering dust
gave aroma of hopes. Me and you
played in outhouses and trumpeted
a heralding wind. We sang songs
of red cherries and green plums.
We scorched the sun in winter's
play fields. We drank wine from
cascading golden cups. We drowned
in Hispanic winters. We were.

That was the time when corridors
were cluttered with howling dogs,
mesmeric children. Traumatized teachers
writing on black boards, wearing white.
The penurious were right. The naughty, crafty.
Examinations were a long wait in an endless tunnel.
Breaking bounds was chasing the hound.

That was the time of floods, in monsoon's wrath.
That was a time we could never get angry.
There was plenty to do running around.
There were a lot of tears crying around.

Laughter drowned, in sockets of sorrow.

And Roads...

There is a way to traverse roads.
Roads are uncanny. They lead you
to paths strewn with rice, paddy fields
and mud. This is in India. But home is here
and roads reckon that and take you to abyss
of myths: mosques and temples.
Forts and minarets. Somewhere the mast flies.
Somewhere it does not, but roads are omniscient with children
as playthings and hutments as barriers.
Roads then, are forbidden.
They become loquacious and prattle.
The noise is incessant. Only when there is a storm
are silent. And penurious.
Have you heard their lament or the snipers which assail them,
in Iraq, Afghanistan and Egypt?
Mortgage these roads, but don't banish them into crusades (of war).
You will understand plenitude, volatile war, love and what takes
to make a land, a country, a nation.

And Roads.


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