My Son’s Father Confessor
About the Author
Mohan Ramanan was born in Kolkata in 1949 and was educated there, in Bangalore and in Chennai. He obtained a Ph.D. in modern poetry from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, in 1978 and started teaching English at the University of Hyderabad the following year. He retired from the university in 2014. Professor Ramanan has published widely and on modern poetry in particular. He has held fellowships at Amherst College, Barcelona University, Missouri Southern University and Merton College, Oxford. This is his second collection of poetry; his first volume, Grills and Other Poems, was published in 2014 by Writers Workshop, India.
When one goes what does one go with?
A bed of sandalwood
To suppress the smell
Of guts, intestines and flesh—
Next day your heir
Makes up an ashy image of yourself—
Of what you once were—
You have graduated from gross to subtle body;
Water is sprinkled and
The ashes find their way to the nearest river, tank or pond
Or perhaps the sea;
Then comes the slow but inexorable observance
Of a thirteen-day regime—
It helps your survivors to sublimate their grief;
Your subtle body is now ready for
The manes and is released—while your
Inheritors parcel out your belongings
Painstakingly put together
To remind posterity
Of what you did not achieve—
Of love frittered away
Of passions which did not last
A summer’s day—
Why then, son, should you grieve?
The body has dissolved in the elements,
Your soul lives to fight another day.