A Plea to Kin

Posted: February 28, 2013 by Ankur in Writes...
Tags: , , ,

Unnoticed, he had walked
Into the depths of the polis.

Unobserved, he stared as would a pebble
At the river’s roiling current.

Unmarked, he stood still
Fiddle in hand, snared by rime and rue.

Grant me a moment of limpidity, prayed he
Ere I let the strings blaze.

Let me ponder on futility a while
For futility never goes senile.

In an instant then, he felt
His limbs relax, his shoulders sag.

The gift of enervation, finally,
A rest before everlasting reprieve.

Eyes half closed, he heard the echo
Of life seething back and forth.

Permitting himself a smile
Only now he wondered at those lives.

Few would lock gazes with their fellows
Did crowds so demand wilful anonymity?

Their fears, their struggles,
They were much the same.

Yet each believed themselves unique
And bore their burdens alone.

There were those, he knew
Who spoke of compassion. For kin, and others.

But what know we, of compassion?
For it is not a human emotion.

A free embrace to encompass all
And yet, we guard the giving of it.

Speak not to me of compassion
For the only such promise is death.

Futility, then, the master of men
Roamed free still, with a spring in its step.

The storm in his head grew back
And brought up the fiddle yet again.

Time then, to do as commanded
Time for the gods to make merry.

The bow talked to the fiddle
And the strings cried out a summons to all.

Every soul on the cobbled path
Struck by the wail, looked to him.

We hear your call, said they.
What do you seek, they asked.

I seek nothing, friends,
A gift I hold, for all who would receive.

What gift do you hide, they asked, while he played on
Give us the gift, they clamoured, unanswered.

I endow you now, brothers and sisters,
With a blessing from your gods.

For you have been loyal, and faithful,
And they are pleased with you all.

The tune grew higher, and faster,
His bow a blur against his fiddle.

Do they grant us riches, then?
Do they grant us bountiful food?

Do they promise rains for our fields?
What manner of fortune do our blessed lords give us?

The bow suddenly halted, the fiddle moaned
And the fiddler smiled a smile not his own.

Not riches, not food, for they are easily spent;
Not rains, for they oft lash out with spite.

Fortunes, yes, but not of a nature you seek.
What they gift you, sirs, is compassion.

The bow rose yet again, and landed on the strings
With a grace unmatched.

The song grew into solemn woe
Touching all who heard it.

They hung on to every note
Even as the flesh erupted from their bodies.

Like a man possessed, the fiddler played on
As the aspected song gently tore through all

Soon, there was left no one standing
They all slept with a peace well earned.

The mist of blood settled on him
As the morning dew on a leaf.

I only wished for people to listen,
I wished to show them bold truths.

Instead, I am now doomed to glisten,
With the blood of my kin.

With my hair standing on end.
With the fear of playing again.

O friends, let us mourn together,
For fate crushes the brave.

Varun Udupa

NITK Surathkal


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