Walking Alone

by Dilip Mohapatra (February 2015)

I try hard to decipher

the silverfish infested

brittle page from

that perhaps held

the sepia toned picture

of the first ever

steps that I had taken

but cannot make out

if someone was

holding my hands

to steady me up.


But I distinctly remember

the faces of my friends

though not the names any more

on the narrow streets

of my ancestral city Cuttack

who walked with me to my school

on river Kathjori

and walked on its embankment

to take plunges in turn

into its water in spate

only to be caught

by our stern headmaster

standing on the banks

with his shining and well oiled cane.


I remember too

when I walked the aisles with you

under the crossed swords

and over the clouds

and amongst the cheering crowds.

I recall when I walked

under the shadow of your smiles

in harmony with your

gasps and groans

and those solitary strolls

in the park

under the fronds of the

midget date palms.


I remember when we

walked our children to

the kindergarten

and when we walked them

turn by turn

to the waiting cars

bedecked with flowers

and displaying the board

Just Married

and how we walked back

to our empty homes

to a vacuum that hounded us

for many a days.


I remember when the

walks became ambles

and continued to

become gallops

and faces that I passed by

became blurred a

nd indistinct without any identity

of their own

and I carried on.


The grass burnt under my toes

and with many a fallen trees

in my wake

I moved on relentlessly

climbing up

sliding down

again climbing

trying to reach the stars.


Now we got corns under

our tired and blistered feet

our arthritic joints squeak and cringe

our shoulders are frozen

but our spirits still soar

and so our faiths and hopes.


We got to cover

miles and miles of tracts

ahead of us

both walked and un-walked

for we were born to walk

to walk along our lonely roads

leading to our graves

unaided unguided

on our own.






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