May 2, 2019

An English chembarathi

Last night
I was surprised
to see
amid a potted jungle
at M&S
the sharp
est green
and rusty red:
our very own
chembarathi.

Hello,
who do we have here?
I said.
So many miles
away from home,
all alone,
are you too,
waiting
with a droopy head?

Were you born
here in England?
Or did they
pluck you
from your family
when
you were little?

Do you remember
the earth at home
the smell
on misty mornings
the sound of bells
the marble floors
the incense
the fingers that gently picked
your full, flowy flowers
for the glowing
elephant-head?

How can you bear
to be away?
Barely wrapped
in this weather
so cold
a plastic pot of soil
not Indian, I’m sure
well-fertilised,
and a fancy lined
gunny sack
just to display
your exoticity.

So thinking,
I sadly caressed
a leaf or two, a bud
asleepanother
stirring, open,
almost.
It bobbed at my touch
and lifted
its curious head.

Ah, at last,
a brown face
familiar,
the voice said.
I am not alone,
why do you think so?

Look around me
the bonsai, the palm,
the orchid, and more
everyone here
is an outsider
as much as me,
as much as you
.

Don’t you remember
the rich, red mud,
the songs from home?
They remind me
of who I am.
Wafting
memories, 
they
help keep me
alive too.

I hugged
the plant
jute bag and all.
Then,
let me take you,
I said,
I’ll look after you,
and you, me.

Together, alone,
let me
give us both
a home
away
from home.




February 4, 2018

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