She woke me up with her sobs.
She had been dreaming awake.
She saw her brother, the youngest
Of all the nine siblings – five
Brothers and four sisters – come
To her, in the dawn and bid her
A farewell. I tried to soothe her,
It’s after all a dream, I say. May be more
Than it, she said in between her sobs.
He was more like a son, even younger
Than your mother, she said, sobs
Chocking her voice.
The morning sun had just begun to
Bloom; its crimson red rays hit
The window sill and its reflection was
On the mirror at the top left corner
Of the bed – the dressing table mirror –
Her face was reflected in it. Grief-swelled.
I felt like giving her a toffee and asking
Her not to cry, much like what she
Does to me. Don’t cry, I will give
You a toffee, I say. Your brother’s
Going to be fine, I tried to comfort her.
She gave me a hug.
The door bell rung. She looked at me
And said, they have come to inform
Me of his departure. My mother
Answered the call. There at the door
Stood one of my granny’s five
Brothers, the one just elder to
The one, who visited granny
In dream. Stephen has left us,
He said as my mother threw
The gate open after unlocking it.
I knew, my granny said, tears still
Rolling down her eyes. Stephen
Came to bid me a farewell. I knew…
I knew… I knew something
Like this will happen, she mumbled.
The morning sun was all over the place.
The departed Stephen was standing at
One corner of the garden, looking at us,
At my granny, and I wanted to talk and
Then there was a gust of wind. He was
No more, nowhere, anywhere. I tried to
Run to the garden; my granny grabbed my
Hand. Go and wash, we have to go
And join the funeral. Across streets, across
Roads, across blocks, far in the South, somewhere,
Where Stephen lived with his wife and
Two children – a troubled marriage, full
Of conflicts and tears, heartbreak and
Sorrow and then there was that woman
To make the matters worse.
A gust of wind, a shiver down the spine,
Cooler than morning breeze. My mother
Was crying and I looked at the garden,
By the side of the marigold bush where
I found my ‘comrade’, as I used to call him
Stood. I saw him like I see everybody,
But then this gust of wind, this shiver
Down the spine, the sob of my mother,
My granny’s firm grip on my wrist.
Now we have to be ready for the funeral.
The morning breeze embalmed me as
I was putting paste on my toothbrush.
I looked at my granny – a face calmer
Than the morning sun, the red sunlight
Refracted from the mirror and had hid
All her sorrow somewhere, I know not
Where, as we readied ourselves for the
How did it happen, my granny asked
Barry, the brother, who had come
To inform. “He hung himself from the ceiling.”
There was a gust of wind in the marigold
Bush in the garden, a flower dropped
On the ground. And everything was as calm
As the morning sun, the water in the well.
Only there were ripples in my granny’s
Heart that escaped her body and created
Waves in the tub as I bathed, getting ready
For the funeral. I shivered once and tried
To look at the marigold bush in my mind
And then there was this flower that I picked
Up and stored inside my English copy book.
As I look back, I recall it was on October 30,
Years ago that the messenger arrived.
I don’t walk the pumpkin illuminated park
On that day, but I take a zombie walk in
October in memory of my comrade.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:
The poem is a somber celebration of the spirit that visited us years ago.
Pranab Ghosh is a journalist, poet, author and translator. He has three published books to his credit. Air and Age (co-author; published from Kolkata), Soul Searching and Other Poems (first solo book of poems, published from Toronto) and Bougainvillea And Other Stories (a book of short stories in English, translated from the Bengali original). His poems have been published in Tuck Magazine, Harbinger Asylum, Literature Studio Review, Scarlet Leaf Review, Leaves of Ink, Weasel Press, Dissident Voice and Hans India among others. He is married and at present is staying in Vijayawada, India.