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>Vanaprastha 2009 – a Poem


“Vanaprastha 2009”

Lenin’s angular profile studies the ceiling’s corner
Raised stiff, suitably elegant and intellectual
Photo-framed on the freedom-sky-blue wall

Lacquer bowls, Russian, with puckered faces not
Able to see their own paint-smeared smooth bellies
In a melee of scores of seashells nestling in them
Short changes from long-ago family holidays

An office union calendar, don’t know who got it
Hangs urgent and fluttery in the semi-spring breeze
Mondays, Sundays, paydays, all days organized well
As in a spreadsheet, boxy dates to enable scribbles
About meetings, reviews and occasional lockouts

My parents did not have the heart to change the TV
The color tube’s a bit busted, spills green more
But the screen beams in Nat Geo & History they watch
In a silent slump from re-painted couches of Assam cane

The brass xorai is not for praying. “True is it, your dad’s a
Red?” A neighborhood uncle had asked me, “doesn’t pray.”
Do I know? I also know dad waited with us for prasad
From mom’s puja evenings of camphor, Lakshmi’s calm

That’s her favorite chair, those his books, cobweb
Under curtains long unwashed, my embroidered
Dancers, brother’s rickety racket, the portly phone
Awaiting the ring of our brawls. Where will it all go?

We all laughed, sang, ate and told each other stories here

One of those about this house of memories now on sale.

Images from my computer: “The House of Twining Roses” where I spent my teenage years

9 comments on “>Vanaprastha 2009 – a Poem

  1. anu
    October 23, 2009


  2. Tim Buck
    October 24, 2009

    >Nabina, this is superb. I was entranced, just lost in the rhythm and images. And how the subtle melancholy built gradually. I love the "bit busted, spills green" TV. That's the kind of "electric image" that lights up the bulbs in my head. :)Oh, I must ask you…about something I seem to notice generally. Something I find quite odd. Atheists seem to be automatically thought of as Reds over yonder. WTH? Can't a non-praying person just be a non-praying person? Why the knee-jerk political angle?

  3. Rumjhum Biswas
    October 25, 2009

    >Very beautiful and evocative poem Nabina. Loved the way it came to a halt in the last two lines. Also made me miss my old home.@Tim – It's a cultural thing; in India most atheists are left oriented or leftists (leftists/reds are often more well read and intellectual, philosophical as well!). The two go side by side; and the leftist/atheist family member and/or friend will happily accommodate the pious members and friends, often participating in the religious celebrations without praying/being involved in the puja. We are so used to it here, that it never stuck me as odd. So thanks for this perspective. 🙂

  4. Tim Buck
    October 25, 2009

    >Thank you for the insight, Rumjhum. After considering your remarks, I realize that my "quite odd" is quite odd. Even in the States, most atheists are leftist, left-leaning, or liberal. I suppose I wish that weren't the case. I wish that metaphysical considerations were approached on the intrinsic merits, rather than as an outgrowth of or tangent to political orientation.I guess the word "Reds" still does strike me as odd, though. "Socialist" maybe, but "Reds"? That hits me as a bit humorous, almost anachronistic. 🙂

  5. priti aisola
    October 25, 2009

    >I loved each bit of this home and each object that you describe here with affection and an understated sense of loss. The sadness of having to give up a home that has meant the world surfaces towards the end and leaves the reader full of a subdued pain.

  6. priyabrata das
    October 31, 2009

    >This could be one of the best poems I have read. My personal involvement is hardly a factor. The poet herself has rendered ordinary things and events into extraordinary by her easy effort. As for scraps of metaphysical or political things appearing in the appraisal of the poem I can only refer to Paul Lafargue's biography of Marx where you find Marx joking and talking with his small granddaughter like any grand fater of the world.

  7. tikulicious
    November 12, 2009

    >It brought tears to my eyes Nabina. It filled me with echos. My Grandma's home in Pune. The beautiful memories. excellent poem.

  8. Anonymous
    November 16, 2009

    >Wanderful poem. I think only Nabina can write such a poem. Made me nostalgic too.

  9. Rhett
    November 26, 2009

    >Delightful… The primary difference between others and you is that….you know how to write!

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This entry was posted on October 22, 2009 by in home, House of Twining Roses, Nabina Das, parents, poetry, teenage, Vanaprastha 2009.
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