In Loving Memory


statesman like

high backed chair

frayed woven seat

the books lined shelf

visitors stopped by

as he sat

at the entrance

fastidious about the angle

the chair faced the street

almost durbar like

turban starched stiff

though crumpled

never to miss his routine

as he had done everyday

before 1947

before he knew

he would be one

among the 12 million

to be on another side of the boundary

the other side

when he walked his estate

swinging his walking cane

when his gait was straight

in his khaki riding breeches

and his voice invoked respect

some fear too

The Sardar

for his sphere of influence

or so he believed he was

and the community let him

it served both well!

The countenance radiated pride then


Now, however

he was bent over

an ache on his face

and his voice did crumble

as he narrated his many stories

anecdotes, we loved to listen

his faraway eyes had

our rapt attention

transformed into a movie like arena

memorizing words, pauses, moments

we shuddered sometimes

yet wanting more

as we grew up, and the stories repeated

we probed further

what was it like

for a young daughter to escape

for a young woman to know her house was being abandoned

maybe forever

for young boys to be refugees

The grand old man always dismissed those questions

abruptly ending the session

shuffling his way to his bed, under the open sky

in the central courtyard of the house

the night is an easy place

to mourn and wonder why

The stories held in them


And the questions were various

what led to the transition?

from the untiring man with the back of steel?

to the old man in the chair by the dusty lane?

what was even more compelling

and curious though

how did his four sons and five daughter’s

carry forward?

with so much faith and such resilience?

what was their perennial source?

who ingrained the constants in them?

each one had a fierce protection about education

for themselves and each other

they argued loudly

loved unconditionally

protected selfishly

each dramatic

somewhat eccentric

catalogs of the Sardar’s legacy

in their own way

reflecting tall – like him

debating loud as they knew he did

pretending he never lost his thunder

creating communities, as if there was never a “Separation”

heads held high

sometimes inspiring, sometimes odd, always trademark

Never diminutive

Life altering events are also DNA disrupting events

the catastrophic change in the Sardar’s life

atomized his persona into the world

Perpetuated by

children, grandchildren

and the many other’s

undeniably influenced

this today is in tribute –

What a masterpiece you were

they don’t make them like you anymore!

this, Pitaji , is in remembrance

and lots and lots of love

you left behind much more than you know

least of all

the routine of the butter biscuits with tea

and the napkin beside the dining plate

and the obvious

trademark swagger!

*Sardar – Leader, often used as a title or form of address

*Pitaji – Father, *ji – denotes respect for elders.

Pitaji is a respectful way of addressing father. 

*Durbar – referred to the kings’ court or a formal meeting where all discussions were held

Published by Kashiana

I am a management professional by job classification and a work practitioner by personal preference. One poetry collection - Shelling Peanuts and Stringing Words and a chapbook, Crushed Anthills. Always gathering poems, and letting them marinate and change shape and form.

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