by Parminder Singh

We are often bound to choices and options available to us on the basis of priorities at certain points in our lives. But what if the priorities change and scales weigh down our side a few years down the line? This poem by Parminder Singh ponders and seeks an answer.

Twenty years, six months,
and sixteen days later,

I see you here, in front of me
in this sleepy town, yet again.

Strands of grey have
enhanced the quotient of grace,
if not something else.
The glittering eyes behind
that pair of spectacles prove
that you have returned
after earning experiences in surfeit.

It’s not that I was unaware
all these years.
I knew when you succumbed to
the chains of wedlock
albeit to persuasion, of course.
You didn’t know
but your sighs had reached
before the only postcard
you snail-mailed a year later,
stamped in that country
you mentioned as ‘black waters’,
an unknown land to me, hitherto.

I even knew when you were
left alone soon after.

I look back to see myself
sitting with you,
hand in hand, crying
like a child inconsolable
convincing you not to leave.
“I will be lonely in the crowd,
a lamb lost in the woods.”
But which way would
the scales weigh
when one side has
the probability of certainty,
on the other, none knows what?

“I shall wait,” were my last words.
You had left half-convinced.

I stand, bemused, like a novice
just out of his teens.
My pulse races,
your pupils contract
as your sight falls upon me,
registering the moment
in the context of the bygones.
“So, are you back?”
Could there be another question
as the first in years?

“I am sorry,” you mumble
in a broken voice
as you burst into tears,
falling into my embrace.

Parminder Singh, an IT professional, is pursuing Ph.D. in English. He teaches English and also writes poetry and short fiction in English, Punjabi, Urdu and Hindi. His poems have featured in books Harbinger Asylum, Shout it Out and Verbal Art. He is a regular contributor to Spark the Magazine and his stories and poems have been published in magazines and journals such as Spark, Criterion, Galaxy, Langlit, South Asian Ensemble, Setu, the blog of Out of Print Magazine, Hans India, Indian Ruminations and Muse India. He also features regularly on World Sikh News.
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