By Namitha Varma
My Grandfather is a King
My grandfather is a King.
In the dusk of aristocracy,
he is a tottering monarch,
a dimming light of feudal dominance,
a fading star of regal prowess.
with no experience or training,
bow down in fake reverence,
carry swords they wouldn’t know how to lift;
a council of ministers
nods with deference,
an eye on the treasury,
and another on the power;
“subjects” fold their hands,
awed by the position,
unsure of how to react
to a feudal antiquity of which they know nothing.
My grandfather wobbles on his walking stick,
looks at palace and temple accounts with cataract eyes,
smiles the grandpa smile that has been greeting me every day for 29 years,
makes his tea and gobbles it down with vadas,
and reads Chimamanda under a blinking tubelight.
My grandfather is a King.
[Note: The royal families in Kerala – Varmas of Thiruvithamkoor, Trippunithura, Kannur, Kodungallur, Pandalam, etc. – still follow the custom of appointing a symbolic king/queen, generally the eldest living member of the family.]
The Revenge of the Dreams
stored in little containers
stacked high up in the larder
seeped out in bubbles and fumes and rays
returning with vengeance
to haunt the waking hours
of the shrivelled man
who now sits hunched in his hut
nursing his aches and hopelessness,
who let himself be carried away
to the land of dreamlessness,
who let the world frustrate him and
pull him away from dreams,
who cursed his fate and ploughed on
without another thought for his dreams –
The rotting dreams crawled up the skin
of the crumbling woman,
who now sits knitting
old torn socks and tablecloths,
no one to please her, no one for her to please,
who did not raise her voice
but suffered in silence the injustices of fate,
who allowed the world to make her bend and bow
and submit to regressing her dreams –
The parched dreams sought vengeance.
They crept up unawares,
forcing hallucinations to maraud
and stifled new dreams into submission
compelling them to take their putrid forms.
Insanity stood aside
watching the dreams wreak havoc.
Then it quietly took over
and finished the job.
Namitha Varma is a media professional based in Bengaluru, India. She is a voracious reader, a music enthusiast and an opinionated social observer. She has publishing credits in over 25 literary journals including Sahitya Akademi’s journal, Indian Literature (May/June 2014), The Bombay Review, The Literary Herald, 13th Floor Magazine, eFiction India, Hackwriters, MadSwirl, Gone Lawn, and FIVE Poetry. Her micropoem has been read out on NPR Radio as part of the National Poetry Month 2014, and her works have featured in two anthologies. She blogs on narcissistwrites.blogspot.com and tweets at: @namithavr.
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