With half my life gone it occurs to me
In a maudlin moment that
I’m nature’s Hippocratic oath,
Primum non nocere.
More decorative than decorated,
Like the epaulettes on my jacket
That bear no rank, nor insignia
For I won no wars.
Just bright and inconsequential bits of Haberdashery picked up
From Colaba Causeway
Which is the chill moniker for
The road named after the
Overachieving young adult Bhagat Singh
Who had martyred
Himself at an age when
I thought independence was
Wearing a pair of shorts to a pub
Or a disc, as they were known then.
See no one’s fighting to name
Any street, flyover, city after me,
No Mumbai v/s Bombay
In fact no one will remember my name (Students of history, that’s my contribution, saving you the misery of remembering one more name).
Who remembers the wife of
Genius inventor chemist scientist Louis Pasteur?
Him of the Germ Theory, Pasteurisation, Vaccinations,
She raised his 8 children and was
Witness to the world being made
A better place by her husband.
My world is even smaller.
Friends mock me for the ABCs of
Autorickshaws,Bais and Chembur station
Which forms the outer limit of
The street vendor who sells me
My greens said he’d had an
Inkling I would come today;
He hands me 5 bunches of
Lemongrass for fifty rupees and
Shyly throws in an extra one
Because it’s Happy Diwali.
I grin back, the fragrance of Lemongrass
Envelopes us in a time bubble.
I stop to buy diyas from a mavshi
In a nauvari, because I know
I’ll get to practice my Marathi.
I worry about dementia, it runs
In the family.
And it’s been proven that if you
Speak several tongues, you can
Stave off losing your mind.
I imagine my children arguing
About arranging hospices and
Diapers for me,
And secretly hope for my
And when I’m finally gone,
There’s going to be no stateside
Funeral on logs of
No beating of breasts nor any
Vows of Revenge made at my
They’ll bung me into an electric
Oven and dust their hands off
And be done.
I wonder if I could have them
Stick a sprig of lemongrass into
The furnace with me.
©Hema Gopinathan Sah 2018