The newsroom was in a mess,
Images of a sludge eroding
The plains of Okinawa in urgency,
The rice bowl tilting slowly
As if this smiling Buddha,
Wanted to laugh some more.
One death, 200 killed
Was the last toll.
Wailing newsroom telephones,
Mothers buzz soft whimpers,
Scattered brothers with flags
White, silent scrolls,
I headed for Vishnu’s stall.
Ata! Did you meet the Japanese souls tonight?
How did they handle their apocalyptic deaths Ata?
And how did you predict your own last week?
Tiniali, where three roads merged
By your shoulder, heard your footfalls Ata.
You walked past the naamghar slowly, alone,
Crossing Muhammad Ali’s mansion,
As I write this pithy little verse.
The stories you told us Ata,
Of the cigarette ghost from Bangkok,
Was true indeed, and I am him.
You clocked 50 panamas,
I smoked 10 smalls today Ata!
But then you saw Ganges embracing the sea,
Now we shed our tears over Narmada.
I missed your funeral Ata!
And Scriptures forbid me to leave
Your dwelling before the 12th night.
My newsroom spares six days of penance,
And I am 2000 miles away from
The Basil where you prayed for us,
Reciting verses from Vishnu Puran.
May your soul rest in peace Ata!
I will remember this day,
When you went along with the Japanese.