It was early morning
but still, the old man and his aged wife
Had not been told yet,
That their son had died, in a faraway land, amidst aliens.
In stones no words were written grey
The morning sun peeped through the curtains
And set streaks of light,
as the cleaning woman stirred the dust with her broom. And
the two, looking like two sacrificial goats, still roamed about the house
as if nothing had happened. They could never guess what fate awaited them.
Their world had shrunk, like a dried walnut
Though nothing was amiss
Yet, in a remote, far away place,
Something had happened, barely ten hours ago, that would affect them:
……erase memories of a childhood they had seen,
as it blossomed into youth and thence into
adulthood and cynicism.
A story book that had finished
and had to be shut up
And kept away!
And then, someone said, they must be told.
What would happen if they came to know
Wasn’t that why we had come ? To tell them
that their son had died mysteriously
The body had lain unattended for a day till
the neighbor noticed that no one came out or went in through
the door. Then someone called the police and found him
Discolored and dead, two days old.
It is a sin to hide the news of death
And so all the details had to be given.
Death, like life, is after all an act of God.
All that one is supposed to do in such circumstances
is to recite verses and hymns embedded in the holy scriptures. Life has to carry on
With its endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth.
As I lay in my bed,
On that cold November morning
I wondered when the news would be broken.
The stillness of the morning air was pierced
By howls and cries.
I knew what had happened and jumped out of the bed.
The old woman hung her head, dejectedly. As she stared into vacant space she just mumbled, ‘what shall we do now ? what shall we do ?’
Her voice had a ring of the collective:
That she was not alone
and if we all acted together, in unison
the situation could somehow be salvaged.
Poet’s Bio: Jamil Urfi studied at Aligarh Muslim University, University of Delhi, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and in England. During his student days, as a campus correspondent for Youth Times—a youth magazine published by the Times of India group, he reported on social and political events from Aligarh university. Some of his poems were published in Skylark—a poetry journal for Indian English poets. He lives and works in Delhi.