Thursday 24 November 2022

Preeth Ganapathy, Poetry 2022 Shortlist


(For AB Nachaiah)

One afternoon, when the sun shone 

jasmine yellow on the vast cement courtyard,

and the cranes were moving white dots 

on green rows of paddy fields

and the rest of the household had trooped out

to dance to the laughter and bells,

chimes and beats of a wedding,

you stayed back, 

held my hand in your green-veined one 

helped me take baby steps 

into the land of mathematical 

wonders -

division and time,

where I learnt how  

a single bar of Cadbury Diary Milk 

can be divided into equal pieces 

between three cousins,

where I learnt how to read time 

on the little red bedside time-piece,

where I learnt how time divides 

everything it touches, into tiny squares of past.

I look back now and think –

I was actually learning how

the dividend of your days

was divided by the divisor of your passion 

and your profession tightly rolled into that single yarn

of teaching. 

I tripped over stone 

after milestone that afternoon.

The quotient was what twinkled 

in your voice as you steadied me, wiped by soiled knee,

clapped your encouragement

which stayed with me 

when I, years later, began to walk and then run

across that strange land 

of mathematical wonders,

calling it


negotiating the pitfalls of algebra 

and crossing over the potholes of many a parabola.


But, what you never taught me,

what you never taught me,

that afternoon,

was how to read the time 

of departure. 

And now I am left, 

with a constellation of memories

as the remainder.

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