Of Memories, Birthdays and Genes

— Sandip Bhattacharya

I remember your house, the big house that
Would fill with summer-children’s laughter;
A house of books and nooks and many a cat:
So alive in my mind so long after.
News on the radio would start the day,
Then to the gardens we would tend,
And through the hot hours of the month of May
We would tinker and tamper and mend.
Grandmotherly lunches I can still recall:
We used to sit at the large round table,
And grandfatherly advice would be meted to all
Eked out by a tall story or a fable.
As I sit and patiently carve
My memories on this page,
The wet ink fades and this paper too
Starts to yellow with age.
I take your gift from the hand
Of your daughter – my mother;
In synaptic clarity I understand
What really binds us together:
It is a chain of tenderness
And continuity, implicit;
A chain forged not in suddenness,
But through time, bit by bit.
This chain is that which holds
The wide globe in its bind:
A helical chain that enfolds
The whole of living-kind.
But to you that which I owe,
Escapes a definition yet—
Memories, a way of life—
It’s more than a genetic debt.

One thought on “Of Memories, Birthdays and Genes

  1. WOW! What a remarkable and powerful poem. Not only is it beautiful in imagery and nostalgia, but it probes the meaning of family. It starts in personal memory and goes deeper and deeper to define genetics as memory that is passed along through one’s heritage. When you read this, I was moved emotionally and intellectually. It is only in perfect poetry that the heart and the head are engaged at the same time!

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