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Caveated (Haibun)

Yesha Shah

A shiny gibbous moon with some wiry silver strands is how his head looks like. He has a striking resemblance to Albert Einstein. An old neighbour, I call him “uncle”. Most of his day is spent tending to the bonsais, roses, palms, flowering cacti, money plants and God-knows-what that grow in the hundred odd clay pots in his terrace garden. Odour of cigar smoke, geriatric medications, talcum powder, wet soil, insect repellent spray...his home is an eclectic mix of these smells. The time when he is not gardening he reads on his mahogany rocking chair and falls asleep there itself, reading glasses on his nose and an open book on his chest. The wall across his chair stained with the seepage of the years, bears a life-size framed photograph. That’s his son, Jay, my childhood playmate. Born to his first wife, Jay was the third progeny after two stillborn boys. Wife died during third child birth. Uncle re-married. New wife was a classic stepmom till she bore a son. A cherubic boy, the child had a hole in his heart’s ventricular septum and survived a year and half with umpteen hospital trips. They were blessed with another son, a few years down the line. Uncle’s visits to the crematorium seemed to have stopped. Addicted to TV video games Jay flunked his class 10 exams. Reprimanded, he gulped a bottle of concentrated acid. Jay was fifteen then.

Behind the bedroom door with peeling paint, a calendar hangs on the rusty nail. It is marked in red with birth and death anniversaries. A new potted plant makes its way into Uncle’s garden on each. “These don’t perish easily,” he tells me.

welder’s spark...
the dark gets darker
after each flash

 

 

 

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