Friday, November 12, 2021

Lakshman Bulusu -------------- I See You

 

I SEE YOU

 

          To my brother who passed away at age 25 in 1996

 

by Lakshman Bulusu

 

I. THE BEGINNING OF THE END

 

It was a sunny Tuesday morning on July 2nd

with the usual rush hour traffic.

Your day began with a cup of Assam tea and a crispy toast.

You put on your business casual work attire,

a black Raymond trouser and a checked Arrow shirt;

but there was a change of plan that day.

You had to see father in hospital for fracturing his hand

when he fell from his bed the night before.

You prepared filter coffee, our father’s favorite,

thinking fresh coffee would cheer him up.

You placed the lower steel decoction container on the countertop,

positioned the steel mesh separater on top of it,

placed the top steel container over it,

put ground coffee powder into it followed by boiling water,

and let it settle for twenty minutes.

To finish it all, you added boiled milk and sugar to the decoction

and mixed it for a frothy coffee.

You filled the insulated mug with filter coffee

and started off on your motorbike taking Cantonment Road

hoping that everything would turn out right for father to return home.

 

II. THE MOMENT OF THE END

 

Twenty minutes into your ride--halfway--

in the din and bustle of traffic,

a white Maruti van collided with you head on.

You were thrown to the corner of the road;

your motorbike tilted sideways

with its wheels whirring one last time;

your office backpack lying a couple of feet away from you.

Our father’s favorite coffee dripped from the mug

as your heartbeats faded into silence.

No wails, no groans from anyone,

not even from the lady who drove the van.

She got down, saw you unresponsive, got back in, and drove away.

Moments later, police in a van passing by noticed you

and took you to the hospital emergency room.

The doctor in charge there pronounced you dead.

The police located your school badge,

contacted the administrator who gave our home address.

They informed our mother by phone who rushed to the hospital

in a state of shock and took your body home.

Our father still waited for your arrival.

 

III. MY REMINISCENCES OF YOU

 

I still see you through the lens of tears

that wet my eyes as I remember you.

I remember the many rides

you took me on your motorbike without saying ‘no’ even once.

Your whistle rendered a lilt to the breeze as we rode along.

I see you in triumph as you made it

through the interview for a graduate teacher.

You shine in the highlight as I reflect on our past:

the jokes we shared at teatime;

the rules of play you stressed,

no matter who won or lost;

the ideas you put forth as we discussed poetry;

the encouragement you gave

to turn Sundays into leisure days and take it easy.

The last smile of yours

twenty-five years ago as you waved goodbye,

still floats in my memory.

The flame of your life continues to glow,

its warmth comforting my heart;

reminding me, you are as near to me as you were,

twenty-five years ago—

your image apparent as a metaphor.

My grief of your sudden end no longer stands out.

 

IV. YOUR END IS NO PRIDE FOR DEATH

 

You have done your part and made your mark,

as a teacher in a Christian middle school,

fair and good in your profession,

though for a short-and-not-too-short three years.

Your effort rewarded through the words

of the Bishop who later visited our house,

He was good, honest, and well respected.

And it was God who gave the wound,

So He Himself would heal the wound.

To me it seems like the role of death

is like darkness chased by day.

Footprints of many generations outlive it.

Its very identity turns into a dimming light.

Dear brother, from a tombstone,

you rise like a tower in pride

epitomized by your meteoric talent.

And then there is afterlife

that welcomes you into a new world—

who knows what wonders it holds.

A reality that opens gates to the infinite?

I no longer question, “Where did you go?”

For, ever you live on—

And I still see you!

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