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T (no first name) Wignesan


Am I the Assassin Or The Undertaker


For Palani

I

He stopped coming our way again
He was no where in sight at school
Then, after a long absence
In the pit of the Chan Ah Tong padang
He came and stood at one corner of the field

He looked resigned grave
A stoic smile hovering over his lips
Over his virgin gossamer moustache

His voice a calm breeze
Of vowels constrained by crisp consonants
We saw less of his teeth
He was dressed in silk shirts
Well-ironed without creases
Trouser pleats showing strictness
Shoes shiny and sleek
The sheen of his hair obedient under cream
His gait measured strained
As though grim hands clawed at him
Through gaps in the ground

At first, we didn't know
What to make of him
His new tutored appearance
And detached forbearing looks

He watched us play
Close on hours
Aloof far away
He never so much as waved
We turned to look
He was gone
Leaving the dusk to fall behind him


I called to see anyway at his place
His father frowned at me
Gruff undertones accompanied him inside
I saw a curtain ever so slightly tremble
After a while his mother
Came out to say
He had gone for good

I wasn't sure what she meant
I stood there looking dazed
Then tears licked her cheeks
Her drained and stricken face

She went in dabbing her eyes
With the loose end of her sari

I never called on them again
I just couldn't understand
The father's anger and pain
At this world on which we stand

I was just a playing pal of his son's
He was older than I was then
Yet he came just once
Out of who knows what inner command
Just to talk or stroll around

Now I am older and his elder

But is it I who laid him low


II

A date with fate
He came one morning to my place
All decked in his glad rags
Fingering a shiny white billiard ball
Twirling it between bony fingers
Like the natural leg-spinner he was
Just for fun he would let it lick the dust
And it swished near ninety-degree turns

I said: What about some quick nets
The day aged in labour and with forceps
He hesitated but on the spur
Said: Yes, why not

The rest of the morning I batted
Saw the wickets tumble uprooted

His spirits surged
Sweat sweet and sour
Sprinkled his shirt
And ran down his collar and spine

We laughed at every googly
Which missed the wickets by inches
We were back in olden Ali Baba times
Truants lost in a cave of our own
Diamonds refracted from his eyes

He said: We should do this more often

His heart must have caved in that very night
Or was it when he barely made it home


© T. Wignesan - Paris, February 3-4,2013

Submitted: Monday, February 04, 2013

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