Mustard Flowers

by Ajmer Rode

If you see an old man sitting alone
at the bus stop and wonder who he is
I can tell you.
He is my father.
He is not waiting for a bus or a friend
nor is he taking a brief rest before
resuming his walk.
He doesn't intend to shop in the
nearby stores either
he is just sitting there on the bench.

Occasionally he smiles and talks.
No one listens.
No body is interested.
And he doesn't seem to care
if someone listens or not.

A stream of cars, buses, and people
flows on the road.
A river of images, metaphors and
similes flows through his head.
When everything stops
at the traffic lights it is midnight
back in his village. Morning starts
when lights turn green.
When someone honks his neighbor's
dog barks.

When a yellow car passes by
a thousand mustard flowers
bloom in his head.

A tall man passes with his shadow
vanishing behind him. My father
thinks of Pauli who left his village
for Malaya and
never came back. A smile appears
on his lips and disappears.

When nothing interesting seems to
happen he starts talking again:
where were you born, and where
have you come?
Shall you ever go back?
It is all destiny, yes a play of
destiny, you see.
He muses
and nods his head:
and where will you die my dear?

The thought of death is most
interesting and lingers on
He stops talking and thinks of the
Fraser Street chapel where he
has attended many funerals:
He thinks about the black
and red decorations and
imagines himself resting peacefully,
a line of people
passing by looking at him
for the last time.
His eyes are lit. Perhaps
this is the image he enjoys most
before it is demolished
with the rude arrival of a bus.

Passengers get down and
walk away briskly like ants.
The bus leaves.
He looks
at the traffic again to see
if a yellow car is passing by.

Poems At My Doorstep

Ajmer Rode's picture

Ajmer Rode has published books of poetry, drama, and translation in Punjabi and English. His works have been included in several anthologies in Canada and India. His 1000-page book Leela, co-authored with N Bharati, is included in outstanding works of the twentieth century Punjabi poetry. Ajmer is considered a founder of Canadian Punjabi drama. His poem “Stroll in a Particle” is among 8 international poems permanently inscribed on a public wall outside the new building of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, 2011

Last updated December 12, 2013