My father was strong, dark and tough,

Revered by people, young and old.

We called him “Achan”, our memories clear,

Some as “Appu”, the villagers Man.

He feared no heights, nor stinging wasps,

The summer was cool, tanning him dark.

His hairy chest and the colour-ridden shorts,

Shown out so bare to one and all.

Carrying along, a razor-sharp wedge,

Coloured in dark, except for the edge

A loop of coir, embraced his head

Sometimes in legs conjoined as one.

A towel in white, unchanged for years,

Coiled in loose, embracing his neck.

A serpents charm, this hanging white,

Ate up his sweat and the occasional dust.

Walking along the narrow lanes, three legged and firm,

Some slender, some rigged, some rugged and some twined,

Pointed towards the blueness above,

They swayed in dance to Appuannan’s moves.

He visits every house, once a month,

Picking up the wood with experienced eyes,

Some did escape his gentle axe,

Only to return, thirty days from now.

Children loved him, his cherubic smile,

Plenty of sweet and quenching thirst.

The elders eyed him with prospects galore,

With markets to tune and gossips to share.

Some days he used his pointed plough,

Dehusking the mane to reveal the shell.

With hundreds gone, and in pouring sweat,

He swivels his white, and around his tan.

Rice soup and salt, his favourite drink,

Buttermilk and ginger, with onions and leaves

They feed him well for money’s worth,

Many years for now and many to go.

Night was the time when villagers met,

Toddy in plenty at Kuttappan’s shop.

With blown-up eyes and see-saw moves,

He comes home tired, arrogant and foul.

He remembers our name, Kittu’s and mine,

And of Gomathy, our mother, his second wife.

Disillusioned as a rat, in a serpents nest,

We wait for the thrashings, for reasons petty.

Trembling in fear, our heartbeats roar,

Perhaps to wake the pigged-out snake.

Wound up in sheets, opposite to his snore,

We stay on till sleep and then to move.

Morning breaks out and we are kissed,

Serene and sublime, to start our day.

Gentle as he treats us, we nimble beings,

How bad we crave to see her smile.

Years moved on and Appuannan takes rest,

Leaving his fete for others to stride

Those symmetric footpaths and clapping leaves

Would remember his ways, in life and in death.

Kavitha by : Mahesh
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