Poem Review: The days after

I looked at the grey cloudy skies . It was one of the last days of December.

I don’t remember the date. I don’t need to.

I have been counting days since I immersed my mother’s ashes in the endless ocean.

The usual magic happened.

The grey clouds decided to cry with salt-less tears and holler through thunder rolls. They sobbed and sobbed, for almost six hours, as it turned out.

Were they crying their heart out? Good for them.

I have cried too. Even though it was the end of the rainy season, such a cloud burst was not expected. But these rains were different- the first rains during the days after.

For the first time, I felt my mother’s tears from heaven.

The year 2021 would be recorded in memories as the year I lost my mother. We thought she would pull through till new year, but given what she underwent, we felt that her passing away was the best thing that happened to her. Less pain in living and freedom in death.

My mother : — 2021. Photo taken in 2019.

Today, it is a month since, yet I feel that she lives on like the images of a shattered glass, in my memories and pictures that we come across. Of course, she has a special permanent home in our hearts, and out there, in the heavens.

The days after her passing away have not been easy. We still hear her voice and feel the wrinkles of her soft, loosened flesh, which I had set fire with teary eyes.

I dedicate this article to my mother. Now to the days after

As I venture with trembling fingers and heavy heart to type this poetry review — the last for the year 2021, I choose two young poets, Sakshi Arora and Bishal Dey, both of whom I adore to capture the essence of my ‘days after’.

The person that we mourn or pine for is not around anymore, but the memories, feelings and ache — they are all there.

The first poem is the loss of a lover and her heart. The pain is imminent and inevitable, yet the expression of anguish is still relevant, because the words of longing and languishing will be immortal.

The days after the love is lost, are longer and lonely.

Love is not only between two lovers, but it can also be with a family. A family is built on blood relationships — sanguinary — but also on love. Love is the fulcrum of the family, and when a family member goes to forever-land, the surviving members have to pick up the pieces.

Poem 1: Take me Along

Picture by ReneEstok of Pixabay

You left my world and this world left me.

In this journey of life, you got a new destination

And my heart lost its way.

Take me along with you, darling;

I’m lost alone without you.

You gave this heart such a pang of pain,

I’m breathing with a dead soul.

I don’t want to live in this heartless ruthless world

These silent teary eyes are calling you.

Come back, love! Take me along with you.

There is dark emptiness in my heart

Hold my hand! I will drown in my stream of sorrow.

Merciless Pitiless world is playing with my ripped heart

Look around! There is nothing but a ravaged ruined world.

I am still yours! Take me along with you.

Poem 1: Commentary

The poet laments about her missing lover. Fate played spoilsport in their lives. She yearns to be with him, even if he has crossed over to another realm.

You left my world and this world left me.

In this journey of life, you got a new destination

And my heart lost its way.

Take me along with you, darling;

I’m lost alone without you.

Her world has crashed — she feels like floating in space without gravity, and nothing to hold on. His love was her life’s crutch.

When love flowers — her heart leaned on his, like how plants lean towards the sun. Love nourished her growth, and suddenly the lover was missing. Her lover is dead, but her love is not. She is seeking it back from him, and for that, she wants him to take her along.

Of course, he cannot take him with her. He is gone. Yet she implores him. She feels alone and lost. What to do next? They were so ensconced in their cozy love that a life with him is rudderless for her.

You gave this heart such a pang of pain,

I’m breathing with a dead soul.

I don’t want to live in this heartless ruthless world

These silent teary eyes are calling you.

Come back, love! Take me along with you.

Let us imagine that we are suddenly waking up from a dream, and the real world rushes into our senses and minds. The feeling is overwhelming and our heart aches and head throbs. May be, there are palpitations even.

His sudden leaving opened her up to reality. In the harsh, cold world, she just living with a dead soul. A soul without the emotions of the heart. She implores to take her away from this world and to their vicarious safety — a cozy, cocooned with the warmth of his love.

There is dark emptiness in my heart

Hold my hand! I will drown in my stream of sorrow.

Merciless Pitiless world is playing with my ripped heart

Look around! There is nothing but a ravaged ruined world.

I am still yours! Take me along with you.

His presence was real. His love was real. So her world was real AND caring. That real world ceased to exist, and brought the ‘real’ world — merciless, pitiless, ravaged and ruined, a world that does not put ‘love and care’ over everything else — back in.

She senses his presence, as if he has come back, or rather he has never gone away; It is a sense of denial, and her conversation with that imagery built on the sense of denial. She beseeches him to hold her hand and look around the cruel world around her. She reminds him that she was still his.

“It’s difficult for me to imagine the rest of my life without you. But I suppose I don’t have to imagine it… I just have to live it”
Ranata Suzuki

Then she says, ‘Take me along with you.’ That is more of a cry of anguish. The reality has already began to set in — where, the lonely, harsh world will be her living place, and his memories will be the balm on the wounds inflicted by her habitat.

The poet stitches the torn fabric with the sutures of loving memories, she also indicates the multi-dimensional nature of such an emotion. When love is lost and life moves forward, it is a journey that nobody would want to take.

That love also rips the life, heart and soul of a dependent — the mother and the wife. The second poem by Bishal Dey brings out the agony of a widow, who has spent her life running the household, taking care of the needs of her husband and son. The loss of her husband unhinges her bearings and the verses paint a poignant picture.

Poem 2: The Thing No One Asks

Picture by cocoparisienne of Pixabay

He lay on his bed
When suddenly a sharp shrill voice reaches his ear.
He sat silently in a room.
When he again heard the sharp shrill voice.

The voice was that of a broken heart.
The voice was of someone who has found her love and then lost him.
Time went by but tears remained.
Someone cried with a hollow chest.
Repeating the same lines

Maybe someone stitched her feelings within her.
Not able to say it all.
And whatever she would say not most could get it.
Rolling with pain she wishes for death.
She keeps speaking about her mistakes
That she never made.

Her eyes have swollen.
She watches the night turn day
She has forgotten what a day looks like
Fear has got her in between it’s hand.
She is vulnerable her tears wet her son’s vest.

An unknown future of uncertainty now waits.
As she and her family now lives with fear, anxiety, vulnerability and uncertainty.
Let them hope it’s all good for them ahead.

Poem 2: Commentary

The visuals that this poem presents is what I noticed first.

The visuals start with the son and moves on to the mother. From the mother, the camera moves towards a setting sun. I took my time to understand the poem so that I don’t miss the vitality of the imagery, while holding brimming emotions.

He lay on his bed
When suddenly a sharp shrill voice reaches his ear.
He sat silently in a room.
When he again heard the sharp shrill voice.

The father is gone. The son lit the pyre at the cremation site, while far away, her mother was still sobbing in the agony of her husband’s loss. Everyone who had come for the last rites have left.

The quiet descended in the house — a house without the father. The son and the mother now stay unable to reconcile with the fact that the bread winner and on who they were dependent is not there anymore.

The weight of silence is unbearable. He lies there, and hears a ‘sharp shrill voice’ — the voice of his mother pierces the silence and into his ears. The silence is a intermission in their lives, but now, the reality has started sinking in — which is announced by the ‘sharp shrill voice’.

The voice was that of a broken heart.
The voice was of someone who has found her love and then lost him.
Time went by but tears remained.
Someone cried with a hollow chest.
Repeating the same lines

The shrill voice brings open the wounds of ‘the days after’. His mother loved his father but not in a typical way. She was the quiet young girl who married to an stranger and was asked to go to her husband’s house filled with strangers who she called in-laws. She had to serve him, and all of them, without a word. From cooking and cleaning to massaging his tired limbs when he returned work.

In that insipid life, there was a special connection between them, for he took care of her needs, remembering her beyond his tired day’s work and the patriarchy that prevailed in and around. Such a love is quiet, because there are no poets to write about; yet the love finds its dwelling in the heart of a demure woman and a quiet man.

There was no fire between them, but the love itself was like the embers of a bonfire, quiet yet crackling. This was the sort of love she had found.

The patriarchy withered away, the previous generations gone, her generations have left since, yet they lived and loved in their home. She bore a son, a symbol of their quiet love.

Now, her love was gone. A sudden twist of fate, she lost him to the embers of flames. Only his memories remain.

The memories kindle her fear and anguish, and she cries and hollers, in her shrill voice, till her chest has become empty. She repeats the same words, lamenting and painful, and tears wash over them. Time, for now, did not appeal its proverbial balm.

Her eyes have swollen.
She watches the night turn day
She has forgotten what a day looks like
Fear has got her in between it’s hand.
She is vulnerable her tears wet her son’s vest

Her eyes swells like a tearful rose, red and all; Through the curtain of tears she sees the cycle of time turn between day and night. Given that she has been sitting at the corner, impervious to the time that passed, her mind paralyzed in the aftermath of her husband’s demise.

Her son who stayed away, giving her space for mourning and recovery, goes to her. She leans on him, her son, the outcome of their love. Her tears now wet his vest — the weather is humid, and the men wear vests at homes. His chest gives her the cushion to soak her tears, and the bulwark of her life from there on.

An unknown future of uncertainty now waits.
As she and her family now lives with fear, anxiety, vulnerability and uncertainty.
Let them hope it’s all good for them ahead.

The family — she and her son, now grown up, still will have to live with uncertain future. The poet wishes the family well.

The Days After

“Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.”
Kahlil Gibran

When the phone call came from my brother, I wish that I had not picked up the phone. He said ‘Amma…’

‘I am starting right away.’ I said and kept the phone down.

During her days at the hospital, she had made me play songs that would squeeze our hearts with ache. She would call me everyday, just to ask me if I ate.

After that call, I told myself it was not real; but I knew it was. I saw her serene and peaceful face, eyes closed, forever. For first time, I realize that I was an orphan. I was an adult, had my own family, seen success all over, yet I was an orphan.

My brother and I did our usual thing — we went out a long walk in the small hours of that morning, while she slept forever, at our home, in an icebox. We talked about our childhood and her, and tears flowed. We realized that our love for each other, as brothers, parent and children, and as family.

The poems bring out the pain of that forever loss, and the days thereafter. It is an ending that nobody wants, but as they say, life goes on. A page turns. In that page, a story would be written without the loved one, whose life hit a full stop in the previous page.

~Ashok Subramanian

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Poet and Author. Poetry and Book Reviews. Investment Banker. IIM C Alumni. Engineering Graduate.

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Ashok Subramanian

Ashok Subramanian

Poet and Author. Poetry and Book Reviews. Investment Banker. IIM C Alumni. Engineering Graduate.

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