THE GRANDMOTHER’S LAMENT

*****

A solitary Om circled her ablutions,
holding the pain of those post war years in her ribs,
when she was young and on her way to the bed chamber,
praying for lesser contractions of torment,
consummating a war-torn union with her eyes to the ceiling.

Broken bangles, shattered pots,
leaking vessels of the Shergill women,
severed heads of cows and crows
and approaching stilts of vultures upon the river’s bank.
She escaped all that with her wedding procession,
for countryside’s doomsday was two weeks later.

Telegraphs of the carnage reach her,
from those zigzagging pole wires and squinting birds in the balcony,
her memory drawing palms towards the heads of brides and grooms,
now asking for eternal peace and her elderly wisdom.
Another marital procession seeking her ancient presence,
in the arterial vista of generations.

**

She was young once,
when her tongue limned the outline of his shoulders
and his fingers caressed the very essence of her body.
The idea of existence,
of sandalwood aromas reeling with sweat and smells of new beginnings,
all garnered few towns away from her own place,
where intimacy took beastly garbs to snap hymens
and midnight guards broke their sacred words,
to ransack humanity.

“Blessed be the union of these two souls,
prosper and progress as pilgrims on this eternal road,
in faith and in fidelity,
draw strength and make amends the first time around in brewing conflict’s way, ”
Her words comforting a small town that always lay outside the epicenter of her heyday.

**

Her town burned,
looted and pillaged,
sacked to become refuge of wandering ghosts
and a blot on nostalgia’s subtle arc.

She remembers swings swaying past the rainbow,
the fairs bedecked with children’s hoots
and parental vigils of joy
and the day before a prognosis of bloodshed doused the fire of youth.

She remembers.
The lament of her ‘long agos’ gone
with the last smoke of the past,
her failing memory
and the joy of the town congregating for a couple’s future.

She remembers.

*****

NOTE : This poem is inspired by narratives of the Indian subcontinent’s Partition in 1947. It’s a reality still haunting enough.