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
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:
Two more for Rudraloka
On boats made of sugarcane
No words can fill that absence
What words can refill the meaning
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 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.