Image credit: thegrownetwork.com

This poem was written in memory of my grandmother who passed away 25 years ago. As a child I spent a lot of time with her at her home in Sungai Petani where she reared chickens. This poem will walk the reader through the simple joys of small town life.

 

From the darkness of the room
I see the glare of the fluorescent light
Stealing through the louvers
Setting the stage for the rays of daylight.

A scuttle,
A rush,
The sound of ruffled feathers,
The crowing of the rooster,
The ever faithful newsbearer,
Of the arrival of morning.
“The sun is here, the sun is here”
He loudly proclaims,
Beckoning mortals and beasts to rise.
And there she stands,
Scattering grains with her hands,
Scatter, scatter, scatter,scatter.
Her stocky figure,
The strongest feature,
Painted on that beautiful canvas of quiet,calm serenity called dawn.

Pillai inge“*, she asks,
As I climb down from her wooden 4 post bed,
Reeling in uncontrollable excitement over the impending adventures of the day ahead.

Breakfast!
Of 2 slices of bread,
Introduces the star of the show,
An unassuming looking tin,
With rough jagged edges at the top,
Cut and bent open to allow,
Sinfully sweet, thick and creamy condensed milk,
To trickle down,
On my 2 slices of benggali roti*.
So sweet that the stickiness hardens the edges of the slices,
And as I pick up a morsel of bread bathed luxuriously in this creamy delight,
It drips all over my fingers,
Just before it reaches my mouth!
An experience she knew she should never deny a child,
No matter what its mother says!

Jump on the bed,
Jump out of the window,
Walk through the front door,
Repeat!

The days spent with her are hazy, Dreamlike,
For even Time takes a leisurely stroll,
Its shackles and chains loosened,
Allowing itself to be carefree,
In contrast with the buzz in the kitchen,
Where the clanging of pots and pans,
Engage my auditory senses,
And the fragrance of spicy curries,
Permeate the air,
As the lull of the day continues,
On and on and on and on…

Evening walks are met with glee,
Exploring a labyrinth of little lanes she knows from memory easily,
Hand in hand we explore,
Making cheerful pitstops to chat with friends who are outdoors.

Daylight quickly starts shying away now,
As Time pays penance for its folly.
Time runs fast to catch up with Time,
And hurriedly pulls down the backdrop of night.

Bedtime stories,
Plots and characters unchanged,
Though years passed,
Her stories remained the same,
Stories without endings,
Perhaps an allusion to life itself,
As it continues to exist,
From generation to generation,
For where one generation leaves off,
The next one continues.

Apparently we stand on the shoulders of giants,
Giants.
Strong warriors,
But she,
Was so tiny.
I suppose the giant here is not measured by height,
But by spirit, willpower and love.

And there she stands,
Scattering grains with her hands,
Scatter,scatter,scatter,scatter.

*”Pillai inge”- Colloquial Tamil for where is the child.
*Benggali roti- soft loaf of bread sold mainly by Indians and Indian Muslims.
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