My Father and R K Narayan (Poem from Conversations with Children, 2005)


My father’s neither the postmaster,

Nor the village schoolmaster,

But just an inspector of police.

He died a few days before R.K. Narayan did,

He just slept through his sleep

And left us mortals forever awake,

To the free fall of words

When the meaning is gently laid aside

When the ashes part in loud silence

And quiet.

Like R.K.Narayan.


The monsoon dawns

Shuffle and shiver like black feathers

Against the gray hills. The sun

Hides his face for shame.

The voice of the cuckoo

Breaks over rain-wet plantain leaves.

Only the crows dare

To tell the truth:

Two men have departed:

N. Sivaramakrishnan,


Two more for Rudraloka

On boats made of sugarcane

Southward bound.




No words can fill that absence

With meaning.

What words can refill the meaning

in absence?

With what can the drummer drum?

With what can the piper pipe?

Where’s the space within?

Where’s the honey?

Where’s the fire?

Where is that Carpenter of Malgudi?

All sounds are dead.

My father’s no more.

Does Malgudi have a Policeman?

One that fills days and nights

With songs and sounds,

Breaking the stillness and dream,

With laughter and tears?

With courage to dare

The unconcern of the gods?

Father, by far, was the richer of the two—

In experience. And Narayan, in words.


Father never met Narayan

Nor did Narayan know him

In flesh or in fiction.

 And yet in me they ford side by side

The river full of stars—sit

And chat in familiar ease

Of men, machines and metaphysics.

With the living

The immortals are chained.

Nor are they out of it.

The fiction of fiction

That constantly eludes

Detection or dominion.

When we are in it we think

Wonders never cease—all is eternal.


Life’s designs are too obscure from below.

Perhaps the manes can read

Upwards from the primal seeds of unrest,

Desire, tragedy, all that is this life.

Like the shattering of the first drop of rain

Over the stench of burning bodies

Side by side;

Like the fumes that rise up afterwards

After the mud pot is shattered.

And the space at last becomes one.

The fire, the deed.


A writer’s nightmare

The manes’ desire

The wonder

The design


The moon rises slow

And heavy in the evening sky.

The rains are over.

Once more the fire, the air.

I tell the truth. I tell it right.

Remembering what is done.


Conversations with Children 2005


4 thoughts on “My Father and R K Narayan (Poem from Conversations with Children, 2005)

  1. Respected Sir,
    Just I am visiting your website in the midst of the night.You are a great poet and a writer.I am lucky to come to your contact in Pondicherry through the legend Manoj Das.May God bless you with all the prosperity.Hope I will be fortunate to meet you in near future.
    Thanking you Sir
    ,Samir Ranjan Das,

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