Are You Away From God’s Own Land?

Are You Away From Gods Own Land? long poem

Listen, it’s New Year, Keralite man.

The lamp is lit with the
oil of sesame seeds
sweet a melody moves in me
music that says I am far away, far it says.

The flowers, yellow blossoms of gold,
placed on a platter of brass and so
cold and polished, the deity stood, He looked
at the jackfruit, cut.
cucumber, melon, grain of rice, chain of gold and pennies old
lit incense, made some sense to
steal a smell of home.
closed my eyes, ready for the light
shushed my wretched mind
that said

Away from the land and yet

lurched into the living room
ruminated there a divine Lord
His history linked to the land of God.
opened coffers of gold, brilliant bright
Vishu kani is a startling sight!
at dawn, the deity looked alive, he cried:
fly me to my land of gold, I want to go.

Bowed, ignored his plea and so
morning came, he stood again, silent and shy
behind the lamp of light.

Fumes of fragrance —
smell of home, a smell that smelled
of the setting sun,
simple lives, mangoes fleshy and ripe
fell from the branches of tall giants
that mature near our home.

We dwelled in a shell that quelled the sun
with shade from palms
and tiles of clay
clanging of pots and pans is heard a bit more on this day
this day of the New Year, Vishu, we say
a happy day today
as the sacred state celebrates
I was part of it till yesterday.

Uncles unknown and aunts a bore but we
showed a smile and false delight
procured a prize for patience,
pouches with money in them!
then ran to our rooms to count the amount
aloud, we counted out.

Olan, kaalan, aviyal and rice, sambar and curry
we ordered thrice
the crunch of pappadums and pickled delights
Vishu’s feast is quite a sight.

Nice new clothes we wore and were
welcomed by a wealth of warmth in
the homes of those we loved.
lovely way to a great new year!

Away from the land and the glitter of leaves
coconuts lying in heaps,
the squint-eyed squirrel, the massive snake
in the lake it lay where elephants bathe
where idle men meet to speak
on strikes and other politics.
some stare at the silken glow of attire
women wear to set hearts on fire
white and gold it shone in the light, the colours of Malayali pride.

We wear no gold and gifts no more
no uncles, aunts, the joy won’t last
like robots controlled by remotes, we succumb
to a self that fails to listen to
a throb that threatens to gather clout
and shout
you are away from the land of God.

Good luck to you and if you too
are not in God’s own land,
lay a leaf and have some rice, rest on nostalgia
pay the price
of progress, prosperity on foreign soil.

Celebrate, rejoice, New Year’s for all
although a little less for those who left

The land of God. That’s all.

Poet’s Note-
April 15th is the day when south Indian state of Kerala — termed God’s own land for its beauty — celebrates its New Year. This poem is for all those who do not live in Kerala anymore.

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An Indian national, Sushi works as a teacher in Singapore. She dabbles in fiction frequently and one of her short stories appeared in "From the Depths" -- a literary journal published by Haunted Waters Press, USA. Her travel essay on Maldives was recently published in Jaggery, a literature journal that promotes South Asian writers.
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4 Comments on "Are You Away From God’s Own Land?"

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Shamala Chandran

Happy belated Oman! Staying away from home is so tough…especially during festival times… very nicely written

Shamala Chandran

oops…got confused between onam and vishu…Vishu is the New year! Noted and corrected 🙂


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