By Geetha Ravichandran
The house that let us go
The goat would sneak in through the fence
and chew up a bunch of honeysuckle flowers.
But we had to open the gate
to show it the way out,
as it would bleat on — clueless.
The rose, just didn’t want to grow there,
and had to be given doses of strong coffee
till it was coaxed to put out a single bloom.
The brood of banana trees
thrived, although neglected
and would anyway end up on the plate,
as a boring meal.
The mangoes appeared every summer
but were so sour,
that they had to be pickled and put away,
even the fruit thieves would have none of it.
There were seven coconut trees,
planted at an auspicious hour
their great fronds, grim and ghostly
in the sticky, brooding night air.
It was the jasmine that climbed up a trellis
blooming every evening,
its fragrance –lilting like a melody,
that made the house special.
But still the house was a trap,
in which we were buried by expectations
of well-meaning parents.
The sharp-tongued women next-door,
peered over walls and ticked us off
for playing cricket on the streets.
Escape we did – vaulted to freedom,
fuelled by our whims, aided by liberal market winds.
Now, the old squat house, built on a shoestring,
has been gobbled up by a sleek building
and a cosmetic patch of periwinkle flowers —
graveyard flowers — as father would say,
is the only product of the soil.
The beauty, that we had barely acknowledged
now appears in streaks of memories.
We are gentler, when we breathe free.
What have you done to the room?
A row of silver and another of golden lights
glittering through a wooden panel,
in manic eagerness to welcome me,
shelves filled with a display of a fleet of ships,
as if to jolt my memory to the spells of sea-sickness.
Where are my plants by the window,
my low chair and the filigree silver peacock?
So many things I love,
have been swept into a mound of dust
and with it go my carefully crafted thoughts
of putting aside, the quarrels of the past.
Nothing has really changed,
it has only disintegrated into a bigger mess.
And then suddenly, springs the fragrance of white lilies,
stuck hurriedly in a vase, looking thoroughly sheepish.
There is promise in the morning air,
as I sit down to drown my thoughts
in calming breaths, when you come up
attempting to mask your boss -of –the- house stride
and as your first compromise,
to the worthy goal of joint-decision-making
ask helplessly- ‘This bottle of medicine is empty,
shall I throw it out?’
Geetha Ravichandran is a bureaucrat, presently posted in Mumbai. It is writing, that she most enjoys doing. She has written contemplative articles for Direct Path and middles for Deccan Herald. Her recent poems have appeared in Reading Hour and Mountain Path. One of her poems has been included in the recent anthology, Hibiscus published by Hawakal publishers.
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