Poem For Subarata


    Sometimes I still come across
    these old photos of you,
    moments from a life, salvaged
    from the blur of time,
    here sepia brown, grumpy-faced at six
    on your first pony ride, anxious mother in tow
    and here in sharper tones, with a schoolgirl pal
    dolled up and blazing with rebellion,
    poised on the brink of your first glorious
    expulsion from school.
    Look, now I've turned up and we're jammed
    hilariously into a photo booth, wreathed
    in smoke and smiles, hamming it up
    for the cheap snaps.
    And here's a poignant one, waving gaily
    at the camera, arms aloft,
    goodbye, goodbye, a last unwitting valediction.
    They somehow bring into a momentary focus
    the blurred incomprehension of a life
    and with it too that unrelenting pathos,
    aching like a toothache at the sadness of it all.
    Yes, retrospect brings such pathos, knowing as we glance
    from snap to snap what's coming next
    like a film whose end you know before it starts
    and how everything that seemed so sure –
    parents, dogs, uncles, school pals, life itself – all
    of it, gone away, gone.
    And now you've vanished also into myth and story,
    resculpted by memory into something
    much simpler than you were,
    leaving us rummaging through these old pics
    and brooding over the big existential questions
    and marvelling at you, as you actually were,
    alive in that present, so bright with life and expectation,
    so real and true, that you could step
    out of this glossy, full-color shot in your red jeans
    and yellow hair and end my disbelief
    with your smile.
    Today the flowers on your shrine have withered.
    The race trophies are laid out like memorials,
    your clothes hang limply on the rack.
    Even your toy pandas seem forlorn.
    Nothing lasts, no, not love, hope, despair,
    no nor memory either.

        – Jogyata.