Editor's Choice
Theme: Nostalgia

61 Clinic Road


I stood shivering, teeth chattering
In the bitter winter cold
Before the monstrous mall
That sucked men, women and kids in
Like Medusa with her tentacles fanning

It was my maiden visit to the city
Of my teenage dreams
Famed for its gardens
Spacious parks and spots of fun

My old flame once lived here
Her parents had ripped her
Off from me and my village
At a time we had thought
Nothing could ever make us part
Leaving me bleeding like a shrub
From which a red-rose had just been plucked

It was a December eve
Crowds braved the chill
To welcome New Year
My wife just went into the mall
Leaving me, her bodyguard,
On sentry’s job
Outside on the road
It would be eons
Before she returned
Lots of time to stand and yawn

It was then that I read
To the left where I stood
The name of the road
“Clinic Road” in bold
On a worn-out rust-eaten blue board

It took me on time-travel
Forty-five years into the past on a glider
To my village post office
Where I waited impatient
For the postman to sort the mail
And hand me precious letters from out of his heap
Arriving from this distant town
To be exact
House 61 on Clinic Road

The missives of passion
Always smelt of her sweat
Aroma of her breath
Carried her anxious sobs
Silken fabric of her dreams

Often soaked in tears
They mingled with my village winds
Summer rains and paddy fields
Waxing moon and starry skies
Drunken of her words then I walked
As though on the Milky Way
With the sweetest ache ever in my heart

Curious I moved towards the mall
To ask a vendor where 61 stood
I told him it was a house
Where a dear one of mine once homed

He looked at me in disbelief
“House!?” he exclaimed
“Uncle, look, this mall here
Is number 61 since the day I came
And that was thirty years into the past”

“Oh, yea, I had heard when I was a child
Some small houses had stood this side
Surrounded by shrubs and trees
They had roofs made of asbestos
On which crazy rains played crescendo”

“A group from Mumbai razed the place
To build here this magnificent arcade
The pride of the city the like of which
There are hardly two or three
Across the breadth and width of the country”

At some point coordinated by space and time
A girl here sat deep into the night
To pour her heart on paper
And that ‘here’ is not anymore
Forever it has disappeared

My heart sank at the news
As I realized with a shudder
All that remained was non-real
Which fools christen “here and there”.

Yet, in vain, my yearning heart
Longed again for the long-lost past
To feel at close the warmth of her breath
Starry eyes and deep-drawn sighs
As she paused and wrote her words
Filled with the passion of autumn nights

Perhaps a smiling waxing moon
Slanted over her little house
Imparting the scene the charm of a dream
Perhaps she saw a lonely star
Outside her window on a swaying palm
Smiled and prayed in supplication
To express in right words her emotions

That scene has vanished without a trace
Vandalized by space and time
Which have conspired in cahoots
To raise a mall in its place
Absurd, monstrous, out of place
Inert, wanton, concretized

The girl has disappeared into the folds of time
Yet, why are her old words and dreams
Left behind in endless streams
For a shivering heart to receive and ache
In a cold windless December night?
Tell me, please, wise bearded souls:
Why this ache and who aches?
What is it that aches?
And who is it that is ached?
And why doesn’t wisdom undo the ache?

Image © Madathil Rajendran Nair


More By  :  Madathil Rajendran Nair

Views: 1377     Comments: 12

Comments on this Poem

Comment Thanks a lot, Bharathi-ji, for your appreciation of the poem. You have always been a great source of encouragement in my poetic endeavours. God bless you.

24-Jun-2022 14:27 PM

Comment So moving and so beautiful poem !The heart ache was still there,and the sign board only triggered your longing to catch what had disappeared over time.

Bharati Nayak
21-Jun-2022 09:01 AM

Comment I dunno how to thank you all.

Chitta-ji, your words are a great honour, the great scholar that you are.

Padmaja-ji, Jo, Kulbir-ji, Ramalingam Sir, Balgopal-ji, Sasitharan-ji and Saleem-ji - I am humbled by your magnanimity. May your kindness empower me to write more.

29-Aug-2013 10:35 AM

"Absurd, monstrous, out of place
Inert, wanton, concretized ...."

One can understand poet's anger ...

...highly nostalgic .. really moving ...


Saleem TK
29-Aug-2013 08:58 AM

Comment What a beautiful and moving poem!

Nair-ji, isn't this ache that you sing of not a Divine Ache? Doesn't the heart yearn forever for that aching beauty which it has lost once in an ancient past and for which it seeks and seeks in this world, in this reflection of Reality?

There is something pure and vestal in that first love which comes into our lives and leaves an indelible mark within us - and your poem evoked it all so beautifully.


Chittaranjan Naik
28-Aug-2013 10:32 AM

Comment I like this poem very much. The poem consisting of many feelings with regard to many relationships. Thank for remembering me.


28-Aug-2013 03:32 AM

Comment >>And why doesn’t wisdom undo the ache?

- when it DOES, one moves from 'vyavahara' to 'paramarthika' - u have very poetically lit the path.

28-Aug-2013 02:47 AM

Comment "For a shivering heart to receive and ache"

It is told that "pain is the gift of GOD"

It is warning signal to take remedial action .

Similarly the heart forgets and forgives

Thanks to the nature

A beautiful tribute !

Well sung hero.


27-Aug-2013 21:44 PM

Comment Touching - longing for lost love lives for ever!

27-Aug-2013 15:09 PM

Comment Leaving me bleeding like a shrub
From which a red-rose had just been plucked

- eloquent and moving

27-Aug-2013 15:00 PM

Comment Now, that's what I call poetry!

27-Aug-2013 14:58 PM

Comment A story well told of nostalgia and visit down the memory lane. Thanks for sharing Mr. Nair.

Padmaja Iyengar
27-Aug-2013 13:27 PM

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