The Wristwatch

by M. Mohankumar

A wristwatch from childhood, bought under rather strange circumstances, continues to hold a special place, even though many costlier and flashier watches make their way into the narrator’s life. M. Mohankumar’s poem is a tribute to that wristwatch.

‘I want to see our son wearing a watch
before I die,’ said my mother to my father,
and smiled at me a smile I‘ll never forget.
Ill with arthritis and violent bouts of asthma,
she believed that death was close at hand.
I had just finished school, and was at a loose end.
My father, an austere man, wouldn’t listen.
But when the pressure mounted, he yielded;
and I got it: a West End wristwatch –
white dial, Arabic numerals, grey strap.
No complications. It sat pretty on my wrist.
I wore it wherever I went; wore it to college
and, later, from one tight spot to another,
never coming a cropper. A run of good luck,
said my siblings, brought by the watch.
Slowly, it acquired the status of a mascot.
Meanwhile, other watches came, costlier,
flashier ones, but never as dear to me.
And one night they all disappeared, stolen
by a hooded thief. This one still remains,
now on my desk top, inside a glass case,
where It lies like the reclining Buddha.

Mohankumar has published seven volumes of poetry in English. His poems have appeared in almost all reputed literary magazines in print in India. His first collection of short stories in English, ‘The Turning Point and Other Stories’ has been published by Authorspress, Delhi . Mohankumar retired as Chief secretary to Government of Kerala.


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