– Nira Sharma

Translated by Mahesh Paudyal


Enough have I read

The tales of my mother’s woes

But never did I read the oblique lines of plight

Meandering over my father’s palms

Poets have written prodigally

Eulogies about their mothers

Have crooned songs and melodies in praise for them

Those who called their mothers ‘the earth’, however

Seldom called their fathers ‘the sky’

Which, always, back-grounded Father

Father never stood idle like a tree

That stands straight

On one edge of the farm;

He never sat still like the resting mound

Built somewhere the wayward pass

Instead, he burnt himself bit by bit

To wipe darkness off our lives

And plied like a monorail to harvest joy for us

He kept rushing all his life, incessantly

Without sighing even once a sigh of exhaustion

This is why, a mountain of loneliness

Surges high from Father’s heart

At the moment, listless life lies supine

In front of Father

His directionless life glares

From its deep Kumbhakarna-like sleep

But then, father is gathering leftovers of joy

On the base of his eyelashes

After sleep has been forsaken from his eyes

Filled by tears to their brims

Like beads of water on arum leaves

Father’s voice shrinks even as he speaks

I instantly infer: his throat is smothered

Yet, with all his woes subdued

He smiles, seemingly happy

I can instantly tell the fake smile

It’s not my father’s original mirth.

Flowers, listless with lost hues

Have blossomed all over my father’s face

There is nowhere a shred of contentment

On his wrinkled cheeks that appear like curved graphs

On his head bald with fallen hair

The scorching sun of responsibility

Pecks from daybreak to the end of dusk

Somewhere inside his mind

Mountains of worry, of both past and future

Loom all the time

Father stands atop the same mountain

And acts to have won the entire world

And distributes among us

Joys that have been borrowed

But the truth is, every single second

Father opts to lose every stake

For me, for you and for all of us

Father is that loser

That always chooses to lose

Solely for his progenies