A Quarter Rupee and a Cookie
( O Pavala O Laddu)


With a kind heart, with a sweet hand
You brought a jar full of laddus and love
Once, you had fondly asked me to sing
At the local Krishna festival
I sang using a heavy muffled mike with sweat on my hands
For that amateur nervous audition
You gave me a pavala – spent carefreely on a fruit snack.

Then, your hand still in mine
You just left without a word
I lost you, lost forever
Lost everything in life that is sweet

I cried the whole lonely night
With the moon as my only soul mate
Paler and paler the moon went by every hour

I searched for you everywhere
Looked in the garden, looked in front of the sacred basil
Looked in the prayer room
Looked in the face of lotuses
Wandered aimlessly from Godavari to Ganges
I never saw you again

But once when I went in to the abandoned garden
I looked at the double rose-colored hibiscus shrub
Tenderly planted and nurtured by you
That was a few days after you had gone
The whole tree was full of rosy blooms
There, I saw you as adorned with your brocaded Banarasi silk saree
Saw you as though smiling and showering affection
Affection on a lad, hardly prepared to face the world

In the tumultuous arid life
I was lost rudderless for many days, many years
I had thought I lost the gifts you gave me…
When I see myself in mirror
When I hold the soft delicate hibiscus flower
And when I sing a Telugu song
With correct tune, voice, and precise shade of emotion
With all my heart
I always feel – you’re with me
In deed, you never left me
Only I forgot you for a while
Lost in the crowded life, in its ‘tapa-traya’.

A mother’s debt is never repaid
If I ever meet you again
In some gardens of Heaven
Of departed souls and angels
What I would I say unto thee?
Will only seek your blessing, your benediction
For all the children, orphaned.

( A belated eulogy for a kindred spirit)