I can’t bear to move far from my roots
the place where I was born
the streets where my mother held my hand
and walked me down the years
as I quivered with fear of things
that never happened to me.
I believe I was spared because she gave a hard look at the world
challenging it to hurt me.
I linger at the crossroads near my childhood home
gaze down the road that goes south
at the world that I inhabited.
Whispers reach me across the loud noise of traffic.
A familiar face carries secrets of the past,
faces of people populate my memory.
My grand mother flitted across like a little beatle
in her yards of saree,
whose warmth I sank into
after playing in the yard
feet red with soil from her garden.
My mother bunched me into bus
walking a few steps after the bus moved
to see if I sat safely.
The face lined with concern
I invoke many times
as I sit looking at the night sky lit by a moon
lost for a time behind a surge of clouds.
I pause by the school she taught
glance at the doors, widows and the wide corridors,
the rain trees that shared space with her.
She had walked tirelessly through every single square area.
Passed through the lives of so many young souls,
facilitated young spirits soar.
My heart aches with memory
when I see the pale undersides of neem leaves
tossed by a gentle breeze.
Tall coconut trees, their leaves tangled on telephone wires
burn the years that have passed by.
I carry the baggage of memories
loiter on the roads that always take me home.
The bag weighs heavier than a dead man
a possession that I loathe to carry far from home
lest it disappears
and leaves me poorer.