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Forgetting the mother inside 

I think of mothers 
Robust Russian women wearing aprons
Matronly peasants 
Women of the soil in our farmlands as well 

The subject of Renaissance paintings
Women surrounded by their children
Making dough 
Feeding children 
Peeling apples 
As they nibble on a bit of the apple skin, themselves

I think of all of them
All at once
My mother does not resemble any of them
My mother does not admonish me
My muddy hands before a meal
Don’t catch her attention 
She doesn’t ask me why I am out late 
Or up, unusually early 

I keep a bevy of attendants 
Fussing around her occasionally 
Helping her negotiate 
To differentiate 
A sunrise from a sunset 

The dead are clearly demarcated 
As dead
But in my town
The living have also started to fade

The mother 
Inside my mother
Is becoming a distant reminiscence 

The suitcases go back into the loft

Jetlagged bones
Ache for some black coffee
I sit in a little corner
Two duffel bags and
An extra-large suitcase
That spells foreign travel
Occupy most of the bed

The aircraft freebies come in handy
I hand over a pair of headphones 
To the maid
She thanks me profusely 
On her daughter’s behalf

She fills me in 
Failed crops
Excess rains
Another loan in the village
To pay off last year’s debts 

How was your holiday? She casually asks 

My travels suddenly shrink 
Everything seems diminutive 
How my acrophobia kept me from the ‘London Eye’
The daunting queues inside the Louvre
My desire to write cool lyrics there 
To create another famous ‘Mona Lisa’ song 

“At leisure 
Some other day
Let’s first get the laundry
Out of the way” 

My domestic help 
Winces in sympathy
Unpacking deflates all the
Travel reminiscences

(Vandana Kumar is a French teacher, translator, Indie film producer and poet residing in New Delhi.)