Theme: Apathy

The Unkempt Man

He was at it again, scribbling with a stolen pencil
On those blue-painted ancestral walls; his only son
Watched from a distance, taking in his unshaved face
His unkempt clothes, his overwhelming stink
He was scribbling nonsense again, stories
Of dead relatives, of living ones, swear words
Addresses he remembered, his school teacher's name
Intermittently he would break out in a volley of swear words
Cursing and accusing an elderly relative of sexual misconduct.

Then he would howl loudly, moaning in a black rhythm
His mother would hear the racket from the kitchen
And hurry outside; 'My fate is cursed' she would scream,
And snatch the pencil from her only son's hands.
All the walls in the house were filled
With the annoying scribbles; a new paint job was expensive
So the walls remained the way they were; his own private museum.

He would never sleep at nights, muttering his legacy
Into nonsense rhythms; pacing the halls of his father's home
Sometimes screaming hysterically,
Rendering the night air sinister with his insanity.
It was difficult to get him to bathe; he would howl
In sheer terror at the very touch of water
He would hold in his face till they became
Hard stones, he would explain to strangers all the time
How difficult it was for him.

When he could he would escape when the household
Was busy with something or the other
He would search dustbins; the excreta of cows and dogs
As if he could find in them what he was searching for
His affinity to waste paper; discarded paper was
A source of irritation to everyone
He would hoard it like others hoarded treasure
Sometimes he would go begging
And buy a coffee from his spoils
Sitting in the eatery so long, that he had to be kicked out.

There were people who pitied him and listened to his
Rambling or at least pretended to.
It was one of his favorite evening pastimes
He would sit on the threshold of his house
Looking at women, travelling home from work
Most of them were scared of him
Hurrying through the stretch of road where he was
He would hold an imaginary breast
And pretend to crush it, in way of teasing the women.

He was married once, to a dark girl from a poor family
She died in a road accident leaving a son to him.
There were times when he would touch his stomach
And complain of pain
At these times he would strike out at anyone in his reach
And hit them in the stomach
Then the men from the neighboring iron-welding shop
Would beat him and tie him up
He would be locked up in the shed with iron doors
It was originally built for cows
He would shout and shout
His son would throw buckets of cold water at him
With a malicious glint.

It would be days before he was calmed down
The shed would stink of his urine and excreta
Then he would be ready even to bathe and shave
After having done these seemingly sane rituals
He would sit in the veranda and mutter to anyone who could listen.


More By  :  Priyanka Sharma

Views: 1346     Comments: 1

Comments on this Poem

Comment Understandbly the sentiment if great, but can this be rated as a poem !

Ravinder Malhotra
29-Jul-2010 08:35 AM

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