By Swastika Jajoo
Official Jaipur Literature Festival Blogger
Grandfather, we will build paper towns
of the memories left in the glass bowl,
and we will breathe the syllables of stories
you told me each night, whisper
by whisper, into its fortifications.
It is as if you can recreate a past
I never had, through simple retelling.
I hold fast to these fragments of realities,
shadows thrown against a dying light:
still, it is light, in some manner, shape, colour.
Grandfather, our fingertips are covered with
the paints of winds, fires, earths, seas and skies
and everything we touch assumes elemental forms:
there is freedom in the knowing of it.
And when you reach out for the wooden stick
that carries the weight of your seventy-nine years,
I will give you my hand instead, and hold tight,
and hold still, as if journeying with you through
all your years in that moment.
You carry corridors of history in your step.
You are the resonant echo that passes through
you are the yearning distance that pirouettes
inside a celestial stomach,
you are leaning towers of bone and skin,
swimming through the mornings and the evenings
of a life that sits within.
You, gatherer of stars, herder of time,
cultivator of light and darkness alike, you
are learning how to walk through storms, you
are learning how to casually greet
the shadows you meet in the street, and you
are learning how to love your ghosts.
You are now an inch closer and an inch farther.
Trace a new letter in the dust
that cases the covers
of your old notebooks, let the aroma
of coffee beans waft to you
and sit cross-legged on the floor
as the colored pieces of vague reflections
arrange themselves in familiar pictures.
Not all has been in vain:
you can still will your stars to shine.
They are not so far away.