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We, the Memories by SATYAPAL ANAND

We, the Memories
Alone, forlorn and forgotten
Stand we all in a group with downcast eyes
We, the memories of the past that never turns back
Once it’s gone.
Once it is gone, it never looks back
Its shadows lengthen; its substance dissipates
Then a mere outline remains
And finally that also liquefies in the foggy cauldron
Memories sort themselves out
One by one.
One by one they sort themselves out.
A teeny-weeny girlish boy plays on the bank
of Kabul river in Nowshehra.
His ball goes into the water – and splash
He goes after it; rises and sinks and rises again.
Throaty waves shriek like ghouls in agony
He gulps, rises, looks up in the sky
An early evening half moon stares back at him
The russet moon sways, lowers a long arm
Lifts him up – and throws him – ball and all
Back on the bank. Saved he was then –
Says the memory.
Says the memory.
Another timid and bashful sliver of a tale
Told not by an idiot nor by a philosopher
But by the mere slip of memory.
Stripped to the bone was the poor man
The loan-shark, the memory’s grandpa
Swindled the man of his land, house and livestock.
Left alone he was with three kids to borrow more or starve.
Says the memory – the grandpa died of cancer
Tobacco-hookah had this in store for him.
“The upright shall dwell in the land
But the years of the wicked shall be shortened,”
Says the memory with a smirk.
Says she with a smirk
Another lovelorn lass of a memory recalls
How carefully cultivated love for a lad
Turned into hatred; her parents wouldn’t let her
Marry the boy. She turned her heart into a rock.
Grew poison ivy instead of clematis in her garden
No healing fragrances, she said
Only stench and stink of disease and death.
And finally, as the memory recalls, she died a virgin.
She died a virgin – says another, but not the lad
Who was gored to death by her parents
As honor-killing was the tribal law,
And thereby hangs a tail, says the memory.
A tail, it hangs behind a cow
A cow reminds her of a cowboy
A cowboy of a herd and a horse
A horse of the Derby – and
Where would the chain stop?
Back to the tail or
Properly spelled a “tale”.

We, the memories know all the tales
Stories and fables, rumors and fibs
Timid we are, old and forgetful – but
Ask us and we’ll weave a night-long yarn


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