Thursday 24 November 2022

Chandrama Deshmukh, Poetry 2022 Shortlist


My grandmother –
She lived a full life they say!
‘What is a full life?’ I wonder.
Does it mean being nice to people so they keep checking boxes in their good books?
Does it mean filling spaces left by others, mending broken hearts, 
making constant sacrifices to survive?
Does it mean waiting for something to move you, to rattle you,
to make you feel alive?

Or does it mean letting yourself loose, 
so the invisible puppet strings give an impression 
that you are doing a happy dance?

What is a full life after-all?
She was always brimming with spontaneity
that she curbed without hesitation,
because it was a norm.

She hated schedules, routines and repetitions, 
but unknowingly learnt the grid method
to draw perfect pictures,
focusing on one square at a time.

It’s ironic how she reminds me of rainbows 
and old brown blankets at the same time.
I still picture her soaking in the scorching sun 
looking at her hands like they were magic wands.

I still see her, eyes focused on the sewing machine, 
trying to darn her torn wings, 
patching it with pieces of ordinariness, so she doesn’t stand out.

This is my grandmother, who lived for 83 years 
but always made it look like 83 days.

Unlike me, her math was impeccable,
but she never bothered to delve into the inverse ratios life threw at her.

She kept knitting crochet shawls 
because even the sense of warmth comforted her.

My grandmother was without a past or future. 
All she had was present.
She scrubbed her feet rigorously
and never walked barefoot.
She always believed she’s not meant to walk,
she’s meant to fly.

Finally, she did fly!
No, I haven’t lost her. I never will.
She was a phoenix 
and I dread that imaginary bird for what it has to go through.

Everyone thought she was perfect. 
She hated perfection.

Rest in peace Aai. 
Or rather, dance in peace.

That suits you better!

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