for Ganga Ba
I knew that they had come
To watch me die, slow in bed,
From the more than four corners
For the earth realm is far vaster
Than a square.
Is this how a matriarch goes out?
Cooped up in a little room
And barely able to move, fed
Fresh coconut water through a straw,
By my 2nd to youngest child?
Food means little less than memory
Recalled from the films I saw,
Exact quotes and dramas unfurled
On hi-tech screens where long before
I saw monochrome.
I sweltered in the heat of India,
Of Kenya’s high street, high above
Ground zero, rolling rotis, making tea,
8 children and countless visitors
In my social scene.
Those children all grew up and went
On to have kids of their own, being
Brought up by me and love from community,
Soaring into success, joint and separately,
Old now, supporting me.
I have seen them become old themselves,
My kids who were so defenceless,
So very, very pure and precious,
A story told across 4 generations,
A last station…
They crowd in about me, now too many
For me to remember properly, faces
That I can scarce recall for heavy
Weigh the years on my soft skin, body
Ravaged by age.
The closest I remember, the rest are
Vague, ephemeral faces so like mine
Yet different, separate and so, so fine,
All come to care for me, to see me
Just before I die.
Thank you for being a mother, a Ba, to all of us. It will be very sad when you leave us. x