Take Me Home

K Radhakumar

I was born in the country
And city life was my childhood dream.
I lived in the country
Where dogs barked at night
And cocks crowed early in the morning.
Every day I woke to the dawn chorus
And saw black drongos playing games with crows
By pulling the latter’s hair.
We flew kites of different sizes and colours
And I had a friend
With her long hair flying in the wind.
She died during the summer vacation
And I felt numb with shock for days
When my sun was rising in the east.
There was an old man
Who loved to entertain us
By narrating folk tales.
There was the tale of one
Who was a man by day
And a tiger by night.
On that fateful day in his life
He was sent to fetch water
With a bamboo container;
He did not know
The container had no solid base
At the other end.
Oh, the poor old thing!
The charm of the country!
The image of life as flowing water
Haunted me at night.
I tried to fetch the water of life
And hold it in my cupped hands.
It vanished without a trace
And I felt my life was a hopeless mess.
I could not count on the proverbial bamboo container.
My wife and children
Born and bred in the city
Showed no interest in my childhood memories.
The haunting image came back
And I saw the sun below the horizon.
Or was I seeing things in my second childhood?
I tried to fetch the water of life
Here in this place, the very heart of the city
But it vanished without a trace.