Oct/Nov 2019 Poetry Special Feature

Early Mourning

by Sanjyokta Deshmukh

Early Mourning

I dream often enough, but this one was different.
This one felt real, like I just saw the future...

I wake up
in my bed
on the top floor of my family home.
The one that was kind enough to house us for so many years.
I feel a cold draft sweep over me.
The same breeze that softly rolled grains of sand across the beach where, if you listen carefully,
the tiny laughter of my youth can still be heard being carried along the coastal path.
As I lay, I hear the blowing of a Shankha followed by the faint sound of bells.
I step down the stairs like I have so many times in my life, and at once
I wonder why my clothes suddenly feel too small for me.
I peer over the railing,
aware of how tall I have become and
in the living room,
I see people.
In indigo cloth, freshly dyed, straight from the flower.
They look beautiful.
Outside the living room I hear drums played by the same outfits.
They look so strange to me,
existing between the grey sky
and the terrace houses and
the road on which I practised my driving.
It looks so out of place,
but I suppose that we did too.
My eyes pan back to the living room.
I notice on the same striped carpet where
I packed my bags for university,
and below the lights my brother broke as a child,
lays my father.
in white.
His eyes are closed and
his hands look softer than I have ever seen them.
It feels strange to see him without all the weight
on his shoulders.
In my eyes I feel the brew of tears dribble down.
They ripple across my paper existence,
aging it as they wrinkle the path on my face.

When I wake up, I wake up sobbing.
And go to my Ma and Baba at the crack of dawn.
My father puts his arm around me and
tells me that one day he will have to leave
and that death is inevitable.
Doctors are good at explaining the morbid.
Suddenly I feel like a baby being cradled again.

That morning I came to realise two things:
Firstly, that I will never deserve the goodness that is my father.
And secondly,
that I know nothing about funerals.


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