Saturday, 16 August 2014

How long? A poem by Ramabai C. Trikannad

Ramabai C. Trikannad, my late grandmother, was a writer, columnist, poet, and a deeply spiritual woman. She read a lot. Classics were her favourite. She wrote about family life and parenting in newspapers in the mid-20th century. One of her columns was called Cat 'N' Bells. She also published a book of short stories called Victory of Faith and Other Stories, 1935. I have most of her published and unpublished writings including a hardback of her short story collection. Once in a while I read her poems and stories and what she said more than half a century ago resonates with me even today. How Long? is one of her poems that I like very much. 

Inconsistent, changing — weary yet restless —
We dance to the rhythm of nature.
Hoping, fearful — lest we lose them —
We try to hold and keep the things
Our fancy rests upon.
We strive and strive — not towards the Eternal —
But for the empty shows of life.
Thus, while in silence Mother smiles and watches over us,
We jostle and struggle on.

In some quiet hour
The heart draws back from all the world.
Whence — to where? To what purpose
This fruitless, aimless hurry and rush?
How long before delusion is destroyed and freedom gained?
For a moment, for a single moment,
Before the mind drops again
Into the ever intricating web of fancies and desires,
From the solitude of the heart
Comes the cry: “O Mother! How long?”


© Ramabai C. Trikannad

22 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing Prashant - wonderful to be be able to keep up with her through the poetry.

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    1. Sergio, you are welcome. I keep up with her every week through her scrapbook of writings which was gifted to me a long time ago.

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  2. That is very nice. A crying out against the darkness. I like this a lot.

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    1. Charles, thank you. I thought the poet in you would like this. There is simplicity and depth in her writings.

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  3. Reminds me of Wordsworth: The world is too much with us late and soon, getting and spending we lay waste our powers, there is little we see in nature that is ours..we have given our hearts away, a sordid boom.

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    1. Patti, I never thought of Wordsworth. That is a very generous comparison. It's funny how reading a poem or two makes you want to read more poems.

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  4. Patti beat me to Wordsworth, so I'll say this: What a gift to have the thoughts and feelings of your grandmother to carry with you and ponder. I would find such a kindred spirit in the words she recorded. Any of my predecessors may have had thoughts like mine, but I will never know, as none were keepers of such things. We forget to remember how literacy links generations.

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    1. Ron, thank you. I never saw my grandmother as she died of consumption several years before I was born. She was a very kind and compassionate person and I learned a lot about her from my family and her writings.

      Literacy does link generations as there are four generations of writers on my father's side.

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  5. I like that description... "We jostle and struggle on." How lucky you are to have these writings to keep her memory fresh.

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    1. Tracy, thank you. One of my uncles sent me her scrapbook of published and unpublished poems and stories for posterity.

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  6. Look forward to seeing more in future posts, cheers.

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    1. Col, I'll probably post a few from time to time. Glad you liked it.

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  7. This is so wonderful, and even though you never knew her, in some ways you know her better than many of us know the grandparents we did get to meet. Not everyone can share of themselves so well. You're so lucky to have this writing.

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    1. Kelly, thank you. I appreciate your sentiment. I learned some wonderful things about my grandmother from my father and his siblings. In fact, my father never stopped telling me about her as a devoted wife, a caring mother, and a wonderful human being. Her life was a glorious example.

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  8. You are indeed fortunate to have this treasure, Prashant. I have little of my grandmother except a very vague memory (and most of that is gone) and a couple of tiny snapshots. Kelly is so right to say that 'in some ways you know her better than many of us know the grandparents we did get to meet.' She sounds as if she was a wonderful woman, both personally and professionally. Loved the poem too. Especially the line: '...the empty shows of life.' This is a woman who knew what was what.

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    1. Yvette, thank you for the kind words. I agree, Kelly put that very well. It does seem like I knew her intimately. I can see from her writings, especially her poems, that she was ahead of her times. You were right about that. She blended the traditional and the modern with equal ease. She was also very protective of her family.

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  9. That is beautiful and insightful poetry, Prashant. What a gift your grandmother has given her family, words that still linger and are meaningful after all these years.

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    1. David, thank you. I appreciate it. I thought you'd like it given your own love for poetry. I'm glad her eldest son, and my uncle, handed over all the clippings of her writings to me. They occupy pride of place in my entire collection of books. Sometimes I feel I should compile all her writings into a small book or ebook.

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  10. A lovely poem Prashant and how lovely as well that you can keep in touch with her through her poetry in this way. I wonder though if when she wrote it, if she ever knew it would make it into the World Wide Web.

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    1. Rebecca, thank you. I think my grandmother would have made a smooth transition from writing with pen and paper to a PC. I also think she'd have been happy to know that her poem is being read by many people on the internet.

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  11. Very nice images and questions in the poem, and how lucky you are to have this to remember her by.

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    1. Moira, thank you. I know what you mean. Apart from her writings I actually have some of her pictures too. Where would families be without some wonderful memories and legacies?

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