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Ashes at Ram Kunj

My dearest Ajoba
It’s been a long time since you’ve gone
Your touch has become a ghost,
your smile a memory
Aji misses you,
Your ashtray and your chair misses you too

It’s been years Ajoba
Since the doctors asked you to stop smoking cigarettes
And you started smoking beedees instead
Years since I visited your death.

I look at your picture with Aji
You are somewhere in the South of India
Your face devoid of smile,
the steel watch glimmering in the sun
Aji standing behind you, shyness concealing her smile.
I tell you so that you know.

I hope your pain doesn’t eat you as it used to Ajoba
I hope you are happy
Though Aji is not
She cooks and she reads
She laughs and she smiles
And then at an unexpected moment
Her eyes become moist
When she hugs me,
she holds on a bit longer.
I tell you so that you know.

She has grown a little older than you remember
With much grey hair and wrinkles under her eyes
She still sways when she walks
But she walks a little straighter
Her knees pain but she doesn’t moan at night
She still talks in her sleep and she draws better than ever
She still sings the songs you loved
And reads the poems you adored.
She lived Ajoba while you died
I cried your absence sitting at my school desk
While you were turned into ashes
And I tell you so that you know.

The night has grown quiet and sleep has conquered eyes
Minds are wandering in dreams conversing with the distance
As far as the end of the world
As far as the other world
And I tell you this - your life
I tell you so that you know.
While I am
Yours forever Ammu.