I find strength in my husband, like a tree from its roots. He is my home, my love. I owe him my everyday happiness. The thought of him can bring a smile, even on days when nothing goes my way.

Here’s a poem I wrote for him: Joy Ride

spin-top tree
The spin-top tree/illustration by Lekha Murali

Redemption I

The spin-top tree –
The wisest of trees
That bore perfectly spherical flowers
That was also its fruit.

As timeless as the hills that bore him
He stood on his roots,
On the banks of the whispering brook
Like a solitary hermit on his lonely leg –

cherry-blossoms

Fall

The last leaf of autumn yellowed, curled brown blew in the wind and rustled on a driveway in suburban Virginia. Ramesh stared at the fickle leaf absently for a few interminable seconds. Then he deliberately stepped on it, crunched it under the sneakers before going for a run around the neighborhood.

The trees stood bare, with skinny arms raised up to the skies in lament. The sun yawned lazily at the beginning of a crisp Sunday in early November. The neighborhood was slowly stirring to life. As he jogged through the sub-division he wondered, how many couple would be staying in bed, having breakfast as they made lazy conversation.

That was how it was for him until the final Sunday in summer, waking up lazily next to his wife, with the morning sun streaming through the bedroom windows. Right in the middle of that week, she announced that she was leaving him.

Ramesh was stunned by the bolt from the clear blue sky.

Stumbling over my loneliness
When all of you lit,
Countless candles for me
The wax has melted,
The light has faded,
Yet, the dying gleam
And the smoky fragrance lingers on,

hh/Shelly Paul
Image by Shelly Paul

That morning, Kannamma felt the weight of seventy years of life on her thin, frail body. She made a final check on the contents in the large bamboo basket. The green bananas to one side, small, tall and fat yellow bananas spread round the rest of the basket. Between the green and yellow, there was one dozen red-bananas. Those were special delivery for the bungalow-lady. Even the thought of the bungalow-lady brought no smile to her face that morning.

After inspection, she pulled the long, free end of the old, frayed cotton saree, rolled it into a bun and placed it on her head. Habitually she reached for the basket, when her hands caught her attention. She stood back staring at them. She examined the open palms closely then turned over her hands as she ran her eyes ruminatively over the sinewy veins through the infinite creases on the withered brown skin.

Memories flickered through her mind and reflected on her face. She clasped her hands together, tightly, unable to let go. Finally she released her hands, sighed heavily as she bent down carefully to pick up the heavy basket. She lifted it with all the might of an ant,