My grand father is a Banyan tree
that has lost all its green leaves.
He spreads the shadows of his limbs and body
that spreads across the front and backyards
as he squats smugly.

With suppurating wounds, with unfledged wings,
some on the branches and some in twigs
little birds groan in agony.

From the branches that could easily provide
funeral pyre for three pregnant women
the swings of panchami light up their peacock smiles
as they sway and screech.
When he laughs like the inscrutable fate
the foolish child mumbles putting its finger
on its nose in wonder. He is the fence
that allows no insect unless
it metamorphoses into a bee!

Yes, I know – I have performed
his death anniversary long ago,
offered his soul the releasing water.
I have encountered him in some Old Kannada work
or in some tomes of an encyclopedia.
Which is why, if I enter my house-
imagining him to inhabit a land
that I can never reach,
or perhaps never ought to reach–
Oh God! I find the old well
in the backyard bristle with ancient roots
and the water filled with the reflection of green!

Hirsute, but not a monkey
black, but not a bear
it was literally like a human form,
yet not like you or me,
I have brought such a beast
and let it loose at him,
spat at him and laughed
like a villain. I have filled
the mouths of innocent babes
with bomb-slogans, made them shout,
like the string of crackers and I have exploded
in my laughter. Why should I lie?
I have even dug a model grave
in the house, bedecked it with
all sorts of colourful shirts,
and set myself in it
in all kinds of poses
(including his own)
and laughed at him. And yet,

not even once,
not even by mistake
did the old fellow, at least, cry
nor did he alter his posture,
or…

1967