My father travels on the late evening train
Standing among silent commuters in the yellow light.
Suburbs slide past his unseeing eyes.
His shirt and pants are soggy, and his black raincoat
Is stained with mud, his bag stuffed with books
Is falling apart. His eyes dimmed by age
Fade homeward through the humid monsoon night.
Now I can see him getting off the train
Like a word dropped from a long sentence.
He hurries across the length of the grey platform,
Crosses the railway line and enters the lane.
His chappals are sticky with mud, but he hurries on.

Home again, I see him drinking weak tea,
Eating a stale chapati, reading a book.
He goes into the toilet to contemplate
Man's estrangement from a man-made world.
Coming out, he trembles at the sink,
The cold water running over his brown hands.
A few droplets cling to the greying hair on his wrists.
His sullen children have often refused to share
Jokes and secrets with him. He will now go to sleep
Listening to the static on the radio, dreaming
Of his ancestors and grandchildren, thinking
Of nomads entering a subcontinent through a narrow pass.

--- Dilip Chitre
From World Poetry

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