Flashbacks Of Ata

March 19, 2019

We were hunting for a poem about storytelling, and not unexpectedly,  Prarthana came up with this beautiful and touching poem. Many of us have grown up listening to our grandparents tell us the most fantastical and magical stories, filled with wondrous characters. These stories make up a large part of our childhood. But then life catches up, and our grandparents move on, but the stories they’ve shared live on even after them. In this poem, Prarthana relates her experiences listening to her Ata’s stories (Ata means grandfather in Assamese), and if you’ve been lucky enough to grow up with your grandparents, it will surely resonate with you.  

Empty matchboxes and scented sticks,
we picked them up
from the most unlikely of places.
Raising them up like prized trophies,
we watched his smile reach his eyes
while his hand slid into a side pocket—
pulling out candies rolled in orange wraps,
each placed on tiny bare palms.

Morning glories, they shared sunshine,
as they danced gaily outside your window;
crouched beside the flower bed, you dug
it’s soil, planting seeds for more to bloom.
Here, you told us tales of friendly squirrels
and sometimes of the cat with the black
eye patch— how he squinted his eyes
every time you called out “Pirate” to him.

Today, you tell us no stories, neither
do you hand over the orange flavoured
candies— the taste of soft winter sunshine.
Instead, you lie above wooden logs
and sticks sharp enough to prick your back
and hurt your soft creased skin.
Here, you lie as quietly as one can be
while they set you on flames, until all
that remain are ashes and our silhouettes
draped in smoke, on a cold winter evening.

Prarthana Banikya

Prarthana Banikya

Prarthana Banikya is a graduate in Sociology from Miranda House with a certificate in poetry. She spent her formative years in the valleys of Northeastern India from where she draws inspiration for most of her writing. Her work has been featured in several journals including Aaduna, Asia Writes, Aerogram, Danse Macabre, Poetry Super Highway, Namnai, and Pratilipi. In 2016, she was nominated for the Pushcart Prize for poetry and in 2018, was the recipient of the Orange Flower Award for poetry. She blogs at prarthanabanikya.blogspot.in.

You can read her articles here