Wednesday, November 5, 2008



In Delhi’s cold
I recall my mother,
the first warmth
that had enveloped me.

I could not take mother to Kasi,
not even her lullaby.
That remorse has a compartment
in every train that shuttles
between Delhi and Benares.

Standing on the banks
of Ganga with my lifemate
I thought: could have brought
at least mother’s ashes for Ganga.

There was no shortage of ashes,
nor of dead bodies;
but mother had lived
and died in Malayalam.
‘Ram nam sach hei’ would have
turned her an alien.

Yet the Lord knew her
with her coolness.
Didn’t she hide in that
unoiled matted hair?*
Here, she flows in front of me.
Let me wash my feet in her.
It may not expiate my sins;
but is cool like affection, soiled.

Reaching home in Delhi
I turn on the water-tap:
Here comes Ganga, purified.
How did mother manage
to pass through this pipe?

“O, I took a magic potion: Death.
Now I can take any shape,
can go anywhere.”

I scooped her up in my hands:
And got cooled,
In Delhi’s heat.

(Translated from the Malayalam by the poet)

*Remember Siva hiding Ganga in his tangled hair.

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