Ambitious, I left Guntakal1 in 1974
guided by Muses
in search of knowledge
and grow more like pine and be self-reliant.
Now it has called me back
like a medieval lover to see the changes after 37 years
where I had my schooling.
Sleeping town then, now slowly awakened to the fast changes
and like a lost child
I retrace my footprints in the memory of lanes and by-lanes.
My train hauled by diesel engine
trundled and screeched on the platform.
It was my old friend, the modified railway station
that beckoned me every evening to stroll leisurely.
Now the mummified images in my subconscious
awake and move and dance.
The afternoon summer does not dampen me
as I alight on the platform
with faint-like images fleeting.
Here I wandered and sauntered aimlessly
watching the passengers strutting and ambling with loaded bags
criss-crossing the face to face, back to back platforms to board the link trains.
Here I sat and watched
the steam engines shuttling, shunting and hooting despite foreboding
the incoming and outgoing trains making noise.
Back to the bustling town
I see the same slightly modified shops on either sides of the long unwinding road,
the market place, the small hotels making small business
with no buildings rising to melt into the blue sky.
There still stands the old jatka2 stand defying changes,
the town all the more sits like an art piece in a museum.
I go round to amuse myself in wafer-thin changes
and watch houses built here and there on the rising land
nestle together like pairs of pigeons,
the simple joy I felt I had
the smell of the black soil in my memory
I pause at the mound of earth on which a newly built temple rests
the church dome looming like St. Peter’s Cathedral
the minarets holding the blue sky
exemplifying the supreme harmony in this little town.
Back to Railway hospital, the only jewel of the town
where I had frequent treatment for my small ailments,
now stands as mute witness to the small changes,
the huge peepal tree in the premises stands unwearied and unaffected,
home for the birds making their evening escape with their deafening cacophony
home for thousands of birds since beginning that lived and perished
yet sits as Buddha.
Back to Railway high school
where I had my schooling.
There I sat and studied in the room in the south of the building
the noise, the play, the pranks with mates and teachers
all reverberate in my ears and eyes and pass like nimbus clouds
that rain pristine joy in my heart.
Back to the Railway station
I board the train
the whistle blows
and this time it is fantastic and romantic
with no regrets and parting pain.
My eyeballs roll with joy filled
My heart swells with fulfillment and satisfaction
as I kiss the dainty town in air.
Standing at the doorway, I wave
I carry the bucket full of living memories of silent town soaked in poetry.
The train chugs and the platform smiles
I enter into the compartment dragging my loneliness
through the darkened window
I watch the sagging frame of the station
suddenly becoming electric and effulgent.
And this time it is real, my intercourse with this romantic town complete.