A trip to an Indian village:
Grandchildren coalesce around a frail woman.
The burning embers,
And the biting winters,
Act like natural glue.
The Women of the House lost in the dark
Their shadows floating on the mud walls.
Men huddle together,
casting an occasional glance
to watch out for flying sparks.
The moon and the stars shine brighter
Than the dim lit bulb powered by a generator
Old bulbs with weak filaments -
a grave reminder of a village fallen off the power map.
Children sit quietly listening to the old woman
As if she cast a spell.
Everyone is amused,
Though only half-believing
Punctuated only by her incessant coughs.
She has the loudest voice of all.
But her grip is beginning to loosen
Even the younger folks see through her.
A matriarch in a highly patriarchal society
Her spirit is admirable.
Her stories hang around like angels
Above the thatched roof,
Guarding her from the evil,
As the night becomes intense.
In the mornings,
The menacing darkness
Gives away to a horizon
With fields upon fields
Stretching far and wide.
Cattle and kids alike
Roam the streets.
Water sputters out
Of a tubewell
Well-oiled after decades of use.
Photographs from the past
Lining the walls
Which people take for granted.
The political context comes alive
When someone narrates the events
Around the pictures.
Little boys flaunt
Their body language
Exuding a political culture
Of the region.
The courtyard frames the discourse
In this family, in this village.
One can think of it,
As the smallest unit
Or may be not.
Often, there is no negotiation,
Laws are made,
Despite the cast in stone rules
Steeped in tradition,
There is certain endearing warmth
And simplicity in this way of life,
Which stays with you,
Long after the
Village road becomes farther and farther
In the rear view mirror of a big vehicle
That drives away to town.
Nostalgia mutates our honest feelings.
We city folk are like that - manipulative.
We like everything in sepia,
but find it hard to accept things,
as they really are.