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The Sound of Distant Ankle Bells

by Afzal Moolla

Memories of those delicate, tinkling bells
casually fastened around calloused feet
take hold of my waking moments
and fling my thoughts back to a distant time
when folk songs were heartily sung,
joyful, yet hopelessly out of rhyme.

I barely saw her, a construction labourer perhaps,
hauling bricks, cement, anything
on a scorching Delhi day,
while in the semi-shade of a Gulmohar tree
her infant silently lay.

A cacophony of thoughts such as these swirl around,
yanking me away from the now,
to my cow-dung littered childhood playground.

Now, a lifetime of displacement has hushed
the jangling chorus of the past
to a faint trickle of sounds
as distant as an ocean heard inside tiny sea-shells.

And I know that the orchestral nostalgic crescendo
rises, dips, and swells
as tantalisingly near yet a world of time away
as were the tinkling of her ankle bells.

Copyright © 2013 by Afzal Moolla

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