Emden

The year of First World War grandfather bought a house
draining his savings, with no inkling if the property was war worthy.

There were rehearsals of black outs – blankets draped on windows,
lights turned off, vegetable oil lamps flickered with frayed hopes.

The night Emden rained projectiles, for half hour Madras held its breath –
breeze carried smell of kerosene from Burma ships into my mother’s sleep.

Grandfather packed his family into a train bound to Mayavaram,
thence to his village. No he would not join them, who will guard the house?

In the village grandmother pulled out the aerial, tuned the radio everyday.
A month later the static crackled with noise, filled the room with glad tidings.

She rejoiced, snapping her knuckles in celebratory anger –
finally that son of a bitch ship has sunk in some distant shore.

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