Five poems on children

 

Yawning Effect

  

When little Vishal asked me,

“Mama, why do we have tears

when we yawn,”

I did not have an anwser.

Then or now.

 

But

come to think of it

a yawn

like the stone dropped on water

produces ripples

till its effect extends

to the last person in the room.

 

14 November 2011

 

***

What’s it that has four legs but can’t walk?

 

What’s it that has four legs

but can’t walk?

The Telugu teacher asked.

Pat came the child’s reply—

“Vishal.”

 

The teacher became

speechless.

 

Little did she realize

she should have thought

not twice,

but a hundred times,

before asking this question

of a child

who had been disabled

suddenly by a stroke of ill luck.

 

Perthes struck at 6

the child who had just the previous day

won the second prize in running race in school

was told of this disease,

to walk on crutches,

till nature rebuilt his hip bone.

 

Crippled in his mind

the child awaits

each quarterly review

for the day when

his doctor will say

that he too like his friends

can take a jolly ride on the camel’s back.

 

Nobody understands me—

Cries Vishal—

not parents,

not sister,

not teachers,

not friends,

not even doctors.

Only Thatha

who is no more.

 

09 April 2014.

* * *

Summer School

 

I’m so thrilled

the school has ended.

Vacation has at last begun.

A break from the boredom

of class work and homework.

 

I want to go on playing…

Uninterruptedly.

I come home

with great expectations.

High hopes.

 

When I reach home

I find my parents busy.

Very busy.

They find time

where there is normally none

to fill in applications.

for my admission.

 

Now

from regular school

to summer camp.

This ad from

the neighbouring school says—

Let’s say goodbye to school.

Let’s have fun.

 

 

A happy coalition

of parents who don’t know

how to keep me at home

when they are at work,

and schools who want to make some extra money

even during vacation.

 

A different school.

But the same drudgery.

Perhaps

More co-curricular activities

than the regular school.

But they have thrown in

Quick Mathematics and

Spoken English

to assure parents

they don’t have to work too hard

on hard subjects

when I am back in school.

 

Summer camp

Or a school in summer!

 

When will you give me a break?

A real break.

 

29th April 2014

 

***

  Young Siblings

 

They can’t stand

not seeing each other

even for a single day.

 

What’s more

they can’t stand

being together

without fighting

for a minute either.

 

Older sister riles him no end

younger brother keeps

punching her in turn.

*

Neighbour Narasimha

Yesterday

Vishal explained to me what beat-boxing means
demonstrating several sounds

as well as strange configurations of the mouth.

Together
for some time we practised the sounds as kids would
imitating the bus, the car and the aeroplane.

All on a sudden

from the depths of my memory
welled up the childhood experience of
sitting like a driver

on the first of a flight of steps

imagining the staircase to be a bus
with one of us
making the bus sound,
seating our passengers on the
higher steps

announcing Mopur,
Padmanabhasatram,
Kodavalur, Rajupalem and so on,

letting the passengers get down and taking on new ones.
Competition amongst us children
as to who would drive fast.
Etched in my memory still is
neighbour Narasimha remaining unconquered each time
his indicating the speed of the bus
with the lengthiest sound he made.

Perhaps Time who was hiding behind was envious of him!
About twenty years later
Narasimha’s being crushed under the wheels of a bus
is the ironic morality that governs His ways!

August 22, 2019.

 

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Sridhar M

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