On losing a father

First published The Asian Age, 19 March 1995

They came

and sat around

In a circle, or in groups

They talked

and cluck-clucked

and made sympathetic noises

over endless cups of tea

A stifling, oppressive gloom

hung over the house

While my father lay dead on the ground.


My mother keened

his mother keened

the relatives came in a steady stream

Some were like village yokels

first time in a city

They thought of the latest movie

the goodies in the shops

and mouthed platitudes

The women eyed my mother’s jewellery

While my father lay dead on the ground.


I stayed at my grandmother’s

my mother was too wrapped

in her grief

To be able to deal with mine

A good lady said


You were special

he loved you very much

An uncle said


He has gone among the angels

to look after you better

A girl at school said


How awful it must be to lose a father

How I hated it

How right she was

And still – my father lay dead on the ground.

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