My maternal uncle from Kerala
Was full of ghost stories
He turned out to be an expert on ghosts
Especially of the female variety
He ran into them quite frequently
When coming home from late-night film shows
Like a male ghost asking for light
These white-clad loose-haired dark-eyed creatures
Confronted you for betel lime
Then vanished if you brandished anything made of iron
He particularly praised their wardrobe
'Nothing human can wear such dazzling white! '
My mother pitched in with her own anecdote - -
The night when Lord Hanuman manifested himself
'I suddenly woke up and found this huge dazzling green monkey!
It was so tall its head was hitting the ceiling!
It lowered its head and then darted out the door! '
Uncle intervened: 'Immediately it came to my room
Placed its huge green paw on my head and blessed me! '
The two went on and on
About how no one else saw it;
The god's appearance sparked a furore
Neighbours poured in to touch the spot where he was seen
Priests were called in to perform special poojas;
After my uncle left
Mother started seeing things
Which we couldn't see
Often spoke to them
Shouted at them
Fought with them
We stopped believing in ghosts or gods.
Prabhakar Subramaniam's Other Poems
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