a poem by P.K.N. Panicker, India

All around
a strong wall and stronger gates,
a palace of a sort with gardens around,
open space and lighted lavishly,
all facilities provided within the walled space
of unmatched architectural beauty,
houses someone who I am yet to befriend.

The inmate gets all attention,
every visitor falling at his feet in reverence,
paying tributes always in superlatives,
offers presents in cash and kind,
every one according to his or her mite
or may be
based on some simple arithmetic of profit and loss,
contributes to his riches
making him richer by the day
making his attendants fatter and fatter.

Yet he is under duress
not free to open his mind
not free to act anymore as he preached
not free to move around as he would perhaps love to,
no more words of consolation
no more healing touches
no more sermons on rights and wrongs;
The poor fellow,
won’t he be suffocating in the freedom-less freedom
thrust on him to be the omnipresent,
won’t he be strangulated in the power-less powers
thrust on him to be the omnipotent?

I feel sorry
that I could not as yet cultivate a relationship with him
who seemingly submits to the infirmities
thrust on him by my very kith and kin.

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