Zaidi House, and my summers in Lucknow

it is silent now, this home
gone are the streams of laughter
trickling in, from every corner

elders and their endless cups of tea
scolding us, like there was no tomorrow

my Dada, and the walking stick
his steps were slow, feet dragging
just one more time, that steady drone
a man of great discipline, princely
voice, commanding even then
so much love, in every note

Dadi, regal in her ways
a calm presence, but firm
soda or water, drinking only 
from an ancient silver cup

I never got to say goodbye
vivid bits and pieces
are all I have

the collection
of a lifetime

a time, long ago
when there was no room
that full was this house

we stood in line for the shower
nine towels and Dettol soap
adults somehow managing
without four baths a day

running water, a two-hour blessing
morning and sundown

and now
plenty of water
no lineups, no laughter

the death of my grandparents
blowing away everything
in its wake

like a card pyramid
assembled strenuously

electricity too, was such a pain
those hot humid days of summer
monsoon, right around the corner
jute-woven charpayees were our escape
the night breeze cooling each body
a giant veranda, and hand fans

we have inverters now
that store electricity for power cuts
the charpayees, all rotted away

and one hand fan,
a reminder from yesteryears
collecting dust on the top shelf
of a forgotten attic cabinet

stripped of its soul, this home
walls ringing with memories
no laughter, never any screaming
ripped band-aids or scraped knees

monsoon will start when I leave

all got wet in the rain
under an afternoon sky
throwing care to the wind
summer vacation, the world was ours

dirty water, jean cutoffs
thread-bare shirts and open palms
an archaic stereo system
loud music blaring

crazy kids, backs turned
to the distance lying in wait
one that would take over
every relationship

I am trying to hold on
piece together everything
collect all that has been lost
repair, restore, remember

please God

1 comment :

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