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Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Cement Bench

We called it the cement bench
may be because it was not of wood
like the usual ones people have at home.
Park benches were not part of our world.
We had vast grass lands stretched out
before us in vibrant green and huge trees, shrubs, bushes,
and all kinds of plants with proper names
and those we didn’t know what to call
just like the bench in front of our house.

Papa made the mason erect the bench
when a few of the concrete slabs
moulded for shelves in the house
turned out to be extra.
We had a stone quarry in the compound.
Stone bricks were around and the workers built
the bench according to papa’s directions.

Three broad stone pillars in a row,
high enough for a convenient chair,
four slabs mounted on them so that they joined
in the middle on the central pillar.
Cement plastering
and a coat of paint completed the bench.
Mom’s garden behind the bench shaded it off from the dust road
We sat on and around the bench and had the best moments.
Papa would sit close to the bench in his arm chair
Mama would lie on her side on it
we would sit at her foot or head as space let us
with our feet raised on the long arms of papa’s chair.
In those days it was unthinkable, children putting their feet up
on their father’s chair, that too when it was occupied
but we were special and didn’t care.
Papa always kept his feet up on one of the long arms
leaving the other arm free for our feet
we talked nonstop till we were sleepy
watched over by our faithful dog.

The bench was moved off to the north side
when papa’s brother came back to settle down
in the village with his family.
They built their house in our neighbourhood too close
Papa moved the bench for protecting our privacy
he did not want any eves dropping
but little did we know then that it
marked the end of a family tradition.

The new location did not work well
the dog died tragically, bitten by a snake,
in his attempts to save a man tilling the yard.
My parents grew older and we children were never home.
It was not quite safe to be outdoors after sunset,
as the dog too was not there.
Potted plants were kept on the bench for a while
until I demolished it
after the death of my parents.
The new location did not work well.
We hardly had a good time there.


Aswin Jose said...

Excellent description. Very touching too. Here I find poetic sensibility at its best.

Minu said...

Thank you very much. Comments are really very important to me as I can learn a lot from them.