Poems | Meera Sitaraman

1. Long Overdue but I love you

It was February 20 something,
The night had been rough on you,
There had been three men, you cried,
A bridge? Your eyes fear-stricken,
You couldn’t say it out aloud,
Paper, and a blue pen,
Your hands trembled as you wrote,
But never completed the sentence.

I came back from school,
Appa was sitting on Dadi’s sofa,
His eyes were yours,
I knew something was wrong,
He had been crying,
Or so I thought.

I went to the bedroom,
Left my shoes, and the routine,
I heard you and came to see you,
You didn’t recognise me,
You didn’t recognise anything.

Your eyes were filled with more fear,
Were there more men? I wanted to hold you,

And be where you were,
Shoo those men away who were scaring you,
Save you and bring you back,
But you were violent.

 You had hit Appa,
When he tried to hold you,
And do the same.
That’s why he looked white,
You had never raised your hand,

The ambulance was called,
I remember the chaos,
We couldn’t calm you,
But they wanted to take you,
On a white stretcher.

 Athai was called,
Had she flown for the first time?
I had gone to receive her,
With Sheila Aunty,
She hadn’t slept,
No one had.

We came to see you,
I was strangely excited,
Showing you off to her,
I was naive,
And I still am.

They ran tests,
Lots of them,
But no one knew what was wrong,
You were normal,
But in another world,

A world we were trying to reach,
But we couldn’t get in,
And you couldn’t come out.

We brought you home,
To hell with the doctors,
Except Bunty Bhaiya,
Who came to care for you,
Like he had when I was a ball.

I was scared of you,
And trod to that corner bedroom,
With great hesitation.

Bunty Bhaiya had to go,
And he never took anything,
His envelope is still there,
In the Godrej Almirah,That I decorated with stickers.

The summer brought Vincy and Athai,
We took turns to feed you,
Sometimes fought over it,
The kids that we were,
Babu was too young to do it,
And we took advantage of that.

We sang the same songs,
That we used to,
When you sat on the rocking chair,
It annoyed you so much,
But we loved to do that.

Our hearts used to flutter,
When you winked,
At the news being read,

The random chatter,
And the cricket scores.

 It was the biological reflex,
But we found meaning in it.

I remember diluting your feed,
Because I had no patience left,
To stand for ten minutes,
And wait for that green trickle,
Or cream,
That Amma prepared every morning.

I wish I could get those minutes back,
Lots of them.

I remember the time you cut the call,
Because I had been talking for too long,
The time I told you I dreamt of Herschelle Gibbs,
And you laughed at my nightmare,
The time you taught me Mark Antony’s speech,
Which I still can’t render like you,
No one will ever match your narration.

Those nights when I made your bed,
Tucked you in and kissed your forehead,
Helped you cut that giant toe nail,
That we weaved stories around.

Those afternoons when you sat,
On your quintessential seat,
With that briefcase opened with papers,
Your head tilting till it dozed,
Till I brought you tea,
Over the booming voice of Dadi.

Your Chiragundan tale,
Accompanied with background music,
As I sat at your feet in awe,
Once, twice, thrice and more.

Your gentle swinging to an old song,
That played on the radio,
That lies dusted now.
The time we watched tennis,
And supported Pete over Agassi,
You Martina and me Steffi.

The times you blinked at me,
When the noise in the house was deafening,
The words spoken were harsh and rude,
I miss that blink.

I miss making your glass of Rasna,
After your long evening walks.

The shine in your eyes,
At the sight of the Nayyiappan.
The Chedai rolling competitions,
And reading out of passages from books.

Your quiet mourning at the loss of siblings,
Being stoic about things that shook innards,
Your gentle wishes on birthdays,
Your constant presence.

I wish I could tell you what I do,
What I have done since November 2,
And the uncertainty that lies ahead.

I wish I could have been there,
On that Sunday and held your hand.

I love you.


2. Stoned

She sat on the bench,
that had been dedicated,
to a Mrs. Grace, aged 85.

Her lap was full of stones,
and in front lay Wear.

She clasped a stone,
touched it to her heart,
and sent it into the water.

A beat.

The ripples swam afar,
lub-dub, lub—dub,


3. To and Fro


Fog the window
Leave the trace
Of your breath
So another nomad
Can feel warm
In your past.


All my windows fogged by my past
I feel warm in the trace of my previous breath
I am the nomad.

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