In the land of my forefathers

In the land of my forefathers
I wrote this poem on Father's day but couldn't post it then as I was traveling. Returning to my hometown after three years and three deaths, wasn't easy. I wasn't even sure why I was going there except as a mark of respect for the people who were responsible for the person I am today. But, then I saw my aunt, standing at the door, waiting for us and I knew why we had been sent here. I saw the community that supported her and helped her survive through the pandemic. She was alone and yet, she wasn't. But whatever lay between the two - being alone and yet not, had helped her get through. This poem talks of that between. It needs edits but I am posting it anyway. 

On Father's day today

I'm here
in the land of my forefathers
I had forgotten how my hometown
and how it felt -

sitting around
the rickety dining table and feasting
on grandma's creations while she
hobbled around, smiling as she dried the dishes
or the sound of laughter that echoed in the halls
as the family gathered- every thing
was a point of discussion;heightened voices,
reddened cheeks, sides taken,
the right to expression allowed for all-
I listened as a child- sometimes shocked
and fearful
But, most often in awe and admiration

The memories
that had brought me home once
had gotten laden with layers of silent dust
and cobwebs of misunderstandings
A mold of ill-feeling had taken the place
of basking in the sunlit porch where
we once sat watching neighbours,
buses and rickshaws go by.
Often a person would wave and pause to
ask how we were doing and we would yell
from where we sat
and wish them well.

Three years of unspoken grief,
the death of roots that ran deep-
Had left us wilted, yellowing
All that remained was the
stump of a house- or so, I thought

I had forgotten how my hometown looked
and felt
until yesterday
when I returned
and heard my children
gush over the blushing mud,
the houses in peach, pink
and red made to match
the ocean of green all around
With specks of concrete structures
And the clear blue skies
Which they looked up at without having to squint their eyes

To see the tips of swaying coconut palms,
Crosses,crescent moons, spires and domes
'Ooh your town is beautiful,' my children said
amazement in their voices- as we crossed bridges
Over rivers - the horizon line clear.
I had forgotten how my hometown looked-
or how it felt- the scent
Home was now a shadow of the lives lived there.
I heard my uncle welcome us- years of conditioning makes the imagination run wild
The neighbours broke my reverie-
smiling warmly; they asked the children how they were and cooed excitedly over their resemblance to my mother.

The children said, 'We love it here,Mamma. They remember us.'
It made me smile - being remembered- isn't that what everyone wants?
I had forgotten how my hometown looked
and how good it felt
to be home.

Driving through Mangalore city

This post is part of SoCS. Dan has provided the prompt for this week. He says, “Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “cent/scent/sent.” Use it as a noun or a verb. Have fun!”

14 responses to “In the land of my forefathers”

  1. Very nostalgic. I have also felt the way you do which I have tried to reflect in my writings also. Your prose poem is a very genuine outpouring of an yearning to recapture those innocent and happy times and transfer that joy to the generation now. . The photographs as usual recreate the magic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for reading this post and sharing your thoughts here. Knowing that you understand how I felt and knowing that you have gone through the same feelings makes me less critical of myself. Thank you for writing back. It’s always a pleasure to read your comments on my posts. Warm regards.


  2. My father has been gone a long time, I will always miss him. As the years go by, it is a yearning that grows less painful. Our roots are important, and there are many ways to tap into them. A trip to the hometown, looking at the images of the old home on google, and for me recently, just watching movies that are in the exact dialect spoken by my grandmother and seeing in the faces of those actors the fleeting features of family members living and dead. I am so glad your daughters enjoyed the experience of visiting home with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know what you mean, Jo…when I suddenly found myself unwell, I decided I would not look back as there was so much to look forward to. I think that was a wakeup call to stop crying for what was not there.
      You’re right- there are so many ways to find our roots. Like you once said to me, I could find it in my children. Thank you for sharing with me how you dealt with your father’s loss and how there is no real need to go to a place to find one’s roots. I was in dread of losing my roots but not anymore. Much love to you for sharing your wisdom with me❤️


  3. This is beautiful, Smitha. I remember going home after my father died. Things I thought I wanted to forget reminded me of him. Reminded me of a different time. It is good to be remembered, and it is important to remember those you love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Dan, for your kind appreciation. Your words resonated exactly how I felt…I wasn’t sure at all about how I’d feel and if I really wanted to go back. But, thankfully, I had a pleasant stay. It makes me think that it must have made my dad happy.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s nice Smitha,touchy too,reflects the way u r going thru..unleashes and helps me to link the a different plane, different state though… sitting at soul of India

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad I went Amrita. It was lovely returning. Thank you for reading…I can imagine you reading this on the banks of the Ganges. Sounds idyllic.


  5. I enjoyed the video, it reminds me of the island (Trinidad) where I grew up in the Caribbean. Your poem speaks of the joy of coming home again. A blessing to get the chance to do. Lovely share. Thanks 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you,Suzette for your warm words🙂. I’m glad the video brought back memories of your home. The tropical climate in Trinidad would make it similar to the landscape in the South of India. I hope you get to visit soon too…there’s magic in being home. Thank you again so much for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Shoot. Something weird going on with your comment thing. Anyway, thanks for writing it. I couldn’t bring myself to write anything about my father yet–he passed two weeks ago tomorrow. I know you know what that’s like. Still wondering if I’ll write again. I hope so…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Lynn, I am extremely sorry to hear about your father. May his soul rest in peace. You know you did everything you could for him. I wish you strength. Your words will come back to you…take your time. It took me a month to write. Art saved me. Do what helps you heal. Sending you love and prayers 💐.

      Liked by 1 person

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