Treasure Island

Aniruddha Pathak

(25.05.1941 / Godhra - Gujarat)

Timbher1 tree


To tune into good times of my childhood—
To re-live gone-by years, the days of yore,
To discard dust-laden baggage, gross tare
Of wisdom; to unburden mind’s deadwood!
To fast-forward dusky days, to rewind,
To pick up ‘gain life’s leaf now withered brown
To see if it could look green once again,
Rather than leaving it lost— to decay,
Discarded as bad dream, to let it die one day.

So, let me leap back all of six decades
On my mind’s time-travel machine
To arrive at the childhood that was.
Let not my old age misunderstand me,
Nor my fate feel ill against me,
But let me once, just once, take a re-look,
To heed hidden hints here, a hard guess there,
To reinvest in childhood’s restive days,
The right age all life to be in—
Be it the first childhood, or the second,
For when the ‘first’ is far beyond my reach,
‘Tis wise to enjoy the second itch!

So, here am I, school days unwrapped from warts—
All them fleeting past raw event-filled years—
The coolest time of life that warms all hearts;
And I remember three schools and three cheers,
Three times three harmless mirth, and heedless rule,
And I recall my second change of school—

Far off a sleepy town, a princely state
Nestled ‘tween two hills, on a dusty road
Patched up and tarred to cover up pot-holes,
The town, a State capital of some mark,
The school retaining still her princely charm,
If devoid of any distinct landmark,
The hilly twain, a tad tempting challenge
To us— adventure seeking boys and girls—
Who, I recall, cared for joys without lulls,

And yes, those tempting trees when beckoned us
With Timbher1 fruits, in season and copious,
But more inviting than fruits was challenge
To complete the task in limited time
Of school recess, with bare hands whatso clime,
But there was something in it that was strange—
Perhaps, coming tops was no lesser bet,
And the raw fruits, once plucked, must be buried
To ripen, for, ripe ones were hard to get;
It mattered least, markets flooded them flush,
Were priced cheap, yet lacked venture and gush.

I was one of the ace climbers of sorts—
One, going ‘gainst scriptures2, foxing for fruits3,
I wish returning to such old resorts,
Forgetting fruits and flowers for the roots
While weary still of what-if of the life,
A track-less venture strewn with stumbles rife;
Yea, men feel cosy with what they ere were,
Forgetting to live with now that’s nowhere there,
The today is still a pathless wonder
To which past and morrows should surrender!

I’d any day love climbing verdant hills
Wooded with lush trees all so inviting,
Fruits or not, let there be rainbows and frills
Of looking back at things left in making;
If men manage to be like child all age,
Let all the rest do its worst of damage.
_____________________________________________ _________
This poem is set largely in Blank Verse. Save that
each stanza ends with a rhyming couplet. The lines
measure iambic pentameter with occasional exceptions.
Care is taken to see that it does not degenerate
into a prosaic verse. The school that the poem talks
about is S.K. High School and the town, Lunawada,
an erstwhile princely state, which acquired some
notoriety during the 2002 communal tension in Gujarat.
1. Timbher trees/fruits: No, it is not timber trees
and their fruits. Timbher is the local fruit of the
region— greenish hard husk when raw, getting a
brownie tinge when ripe with juicy sweet pulp
inside, bearing a tomato-like greenish crest as
if it be the king of fruits. Yea, to us students
it was.
_____________________________________________ _________
- Reminiscing | 11.10.08 |

Submitted: Friday, December 20, 2013
Edited: Friday, December 20, 2013

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