How Mother Was
It strikes me now
how small she’s always been –
not even five feet tall, but the touch of her presence
everywhere, in everything –
curled up with her thick volumes of Urdu classics,
a lidless Piano ballpoint pen, a yellow legal pad,
and reams of A4-size recycled newsprint
in unobtrusive corners of the house,
loose sheets of half-finished songs strewn around her.
She felt bigger, with her slightly nasal, sonorous humming
as she sounded out the weight of a verse.
Or the way she looked squarely at me
with her beady black eyes, and said simply, artlessly,
“Go upstairs!” A customary dismissal of her headstrong first-born,
three laden discordant syllables.
Or the way she breezed into my room most afternoons
in her starched cotton kurta,
her hair piled in a perfect spiral,
and jumped on my bed, startling me with a tickle fight.
My cacophonous howls of laughter and complaint,
a buoyant melody rolling off her tongue, and her intent look,
dense and ripe and miraculous, like in that contained ripple,
she witnessed me fluidly within the vortex of time,
traversing its current, its vertiginous downdraft.