I remember her at every wedding, birth, death,
ritually marked with gold, and sandal and tact,
and earthen pots of water, grasses woven into pallets
the warmth of fire and the staunchness of faith;
just a made-up memory, a figment, nothing exact
for I wasn’t present, young and raw then, in any of it.
I heard it later, from the ones who were there
how composed she was in that dimly lit
room, on the shabby death-bed, sounds of gully-cricket
played by slum children hung like flies in the air.
All her offspring around her, but her eldest;
they sat weeping, silent. The eldest beyond the wires,
the ken of postal men and Morse codes, the rest
had gathered. She made her last bequests -
this brooch to my grandkid. As per her last desires
I hold it now, it has my grandfather’s likenessa romantic token he told me later; and I their last witness.