He sits next to me, the silhouette
Disapprovingly, reproachfully, he watches me
Perennially he is the ‘other’ me,
The one who could have been the real me
Not the imposter or pretender, but the genuine one
Whose palms were read, destiny foretold.
But wrong turns at crucial junctures
Doors slammed shut, calls unanswered;
Empty platitudes, hollow words
Broken promises, opportunities denied.
The bland choices, the facile, easy option
The lure of steady money, the wayward distraction.
The ‘other’ one chastises me, like my father
Take a challenge, he’d say; be an innovator;
I became a follower.
Years and decades pass
The silhouette is still there, pointing a finger
Muttering, the lazy charm of shuffling paper.
Arriving in the town of failure
By the quirk of a detour
I am overcome by suffocating claustrophobia;
Nothing starts or stirs here.
In the central square
Refuseniks, bohemians and the disillusioned gather
Exchanging stories of hanging in there
Of thwarted hopes and former fabled splendour;
Moments that passed, the wilderness years
The thrill of the capture, a sense of wonder.
For this collective, their stab at glory is over.