Sunday, 9 September 2012

Autumn, back home

Roasted groundnuts in their shells;
busy, panicking squirrels
running up and down the old banyan tree;
far away, behind the temple
drummers beat a tattoo to signal
the coming worship of Durga and Navaratri.

The wind’s a shade more poignant
the light takes a different slant
the grasses wear white feathers in their caps
in the sky the first migrant
cranes fly in from some distant
lands with their unerring route-maps.

All day long the scythes
in rhythmic fall and rise
harvest the kharif crops in the fields
the sheaves and bales are tied
and stacked up on the side
and the farmer comes to measure up the yields.


The smell of charcoal smoke
from the chulas of simple folk
hangs a pall over the city and the slum.
Young girls’ dupattas evoke
the colours of dried leaf stalks
the fiesta of detachment that is autumn.


And then one moonless night
the golden flicker of lamplight
throws soft shadows on courtyards and doorsills
fireworks burn bright
and pop to children’s delight
over the banyans, around the sacred basils.


Seasons come and pass each year
and I may be sitting here
far away from my land, somewhat homesick,
but the images remain clear
the whole sharp atmosphere
the fun and the pain both sweetly nostalgic.

Quick explanation of Indian terms used
Navaratri – a major Hindu festival celebrated in autumn

Kharif – means autumn in Arabic, refers to the second cropping season

Chula – stove, usually a clay stove burning wood, coal, or animal dung

Dupatta – a shawl type garment used by women

The Indian festival of lamps, Diwali, is also celebrated on a moonless autumn night

Linked to Poetics@dVerse
, where the poems are about the coming of autumn


  1. Appeals to all our senses ~ lovely

  2. this is evoke fall but in a cultural context that is fresh and appealing....really enjoyed the peek in at another land how fall affects its change do touch all the senses really letting us experience it...i take it this is from memory and you are not there now...which is very cool as you can tell the impact on you...though a bit homesick...

    1. Thank you, Brian. Indeed have not spent autumn at "home" for many years is from memory, though there's no telling whether the images reflect current realities, probably not...

  3. beautiful.

    Thanks for your visit comments.

    Follow each other.

  4. The autumn memories you shared were strong ones, written rich with feeling. The ending seems so true of so many memories we have: "the fun and the pain both sweetly nostalgic." I enjoyed your poem.

    1. Thank you for the visit and the feedback, much appreciated. I find it more and more impossible to disentangle the pain from the fun in memories..

  5. Your words speak of your longing to be where your roots lie, beautifully expressed.

    1. And the tug of roots is strongest at the festival season! :) Thanks for coming by, Sulekha.

  6. Massterful job of painting a vivid picture for the reader to see. Beautiful writing!

  7. the inclusion of the indian it a very special feel...oh i can feel the homesickness in your verse...beautifully penned

    1. Thank you, Claudia..appreciate the feedback....certain images can't be expressed w/o using the indian words....

  8. I love your poem you can feel the atmosphere of what you describe and it draws you in. Thank you.

    1. Thank you for the visit and your warm words. Glad you enjoyed the poem

  9. Seems like NB you are missing Autumn back home or Home itself :D come down soon, you have beautifully described :D again :D loved it!!!

    1. I always miss home at "Diwali/Durgapuja" time...but the monsoons are also good...that's when I get to connect :)Glad you liked the poem :)

  10. Ahh!!...what a beautiful description of Autumn!...Lovely poetry!

  11. This is fascinating. Truly.
    I loved reading about the different terms.

    1. Thank you for coming by and the comment. Autumn is such a perfect time.