MOTHER

Harekrishna Deka


Every time I came home on vacation
You used to say,
Did you eat enough? You have become quite thin, my son.
I could not tell you, I have gained weight, Mother.
And I heard that indistinct sigh
Passing through your breath.
My meal there was good
Only that it did not have the flavour of love
Seasoned by your graceful hand.
Those days you were the most beautiful woman.
But every time I forgot to tell you, Mother, you were thinning too.
A few more grey hairs, a few more wrinkles
Every time I failed to notice.
Those days, Mother, you were the most beautiful woman.
I did not ask you, did you eat well,
Did you have enough sleep?
Those days I felt so hungry,
And you made it so tempting,
I ate everything from the serving bowl.
I never thought you were also hungry
And never noticed you were scrapping
Your food from the bottom of the bowl.
You were the most beautiful woman, and you looked
So happy! But your smile vanished
When my vacation ended.
Through a stream of teardrops you blessed me
And said, take care my son.

I could not say bye when fire consumed you
I simply noticed, you became so thin, only bones!
And fire lapped you up so quickly! 

The play has ended.
But I want to ask you,
Mother, have you eaten well,
Could you sleep well?
Why have you become so thin?

I want to play it in reverse.
Are you only behind a veil?
In my memory I still hear your voice
Like a record played again and again.
Or maybe, you have become so thin,
My corporeal eyes cannot see you.

Or have you been transformed into the pronoun
She, never to be the one
I know and did not know
You, mother.

About the author: Harekrishna Deka is one of the most prominent poet-critics of his generation. He started writing poems and short stories since his student days. He was one of the most prolific writers of Assam's Ramdhenu Era. He was awarded the Sahitya Academy Award for his poetic contribution in ‘Ann Ejan’ in 1987 and the ‘Katha Award’ for his short story, Bandiyar (Prisoner) in 1995. After retiring as the Director General of Police, Assam, Shri Deka was Editor of the English daily, The Sentinel for a brief period before serving as Editor of the Assamese literary monthly, Gariyasi He won the Assam Valley Literary Award in 2010 which was instituted by the Williamson Magor Trust to honour the writers of Assam once a year. His translated Assamese poetry is being taught in English Major courses in Bangalore University, India.

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