The Talking Graves

The newly elected Government decided to go ahead with
its  grand new four lane Highway project.

 An entire forest would be cleared;

it was a mega project that would cut through mountains.

 There would be  kilo metre long lit tunnels
  through, and through.

 It would be  state of the art in the country,
the first of its kind.

But would run through the revered city cemetery that laid
to rest a thousand people.

The church protested. 

The graves would have to be saved. So many kith and kin of
the city lay buried there...

since ages.

The town people took a march to the cemetery protesting
against the new move of the Government.

But change was inevitable, said the minister's spokesman.

Great changes  meant greater sacrifices of the self

by the people

for the development of the society.

The  people's march ended in the cemetery.

They sat upon the graves and decided the future course of

'The graves', the leader said, had to be saved at any cost.
' Let them build a fly over' over the grave....

Thus the  century old grave would even provide tourist
attraction for foreigners and bring in foreign exchange...

why cut and destroy the timeless graves?

Why disturb the peace of the dead for the living?

Evening fell.

The city people departed from the cemetery.

The night came on, and  it became dead of night.

And then it was that the rich man's grave spoke.

'How can they do this to me of all graves ?

My man was the richest, the most revered in town.

How can they level me just like that ?

Am I not the only one here to be inlaid with precious

And who else has a gold lining in his coffin like mine?

How can they cut across me or level me down ?

Then it was that the second grave spoke with a woman's

Was I not the city star singer? They all used to swoon and
croon every night in the bar

at my feet... Even the minister  used to be there who
passed this bill....drinking all night,

staring at me hoping I would give him a second glance...

Now he wants to lay his macadam all over me and wipe my
memory from the face of the city..

Is that not a cruel despicable  act?

Can they not bend the highway a little so  I can be

There was silence, followed by the cry of a werewolf.

And then the small grave spoke, that had not even so long
been recognized by the others as a full  grave,

as it was hardly a grave at all... and had no mound on it,
and even the grass upon it was dry.

'Let them', it said... let them do it... No one ever cared
for me... as in life, so  in death...

I never strove with any... for none was worth my
strife. Let it be, let it be,

let the world change... what does it matter that I am run

The other graves pretended not to hear. They felt it was
beneath their dignity

even to talk to one such who was hardly even a mound of

But another grave a little farther, felt pity for it,

and was compelled to speak.

Sure, it looked a very polite, sensitive and fresh grave.

Even in the middle of the night,

the grave had the fragrance of wet roses upon it.

It always had.

All the other graves in fact envied it for its abundance.

Surely, it  was the most most beautiful

and fragrant grave among the thousand odd graves there.

And as it spoke, it was clear that the words  almost
choked in gaining  sorrow.

'I don't really want to be here... I would not mind that
the road comes over me,

but it makes me cry when I think of her,

of what 'll be

You have all seen her daily, haven't you, 

ever since the day I was chiseled in stone,

this lady of this man  gone in me so long under,

she comes with seeds, she waters the grass tufts,

 and blooms upon his name on earth

all these fragrant roses... all for him, ever since the day

he was brought here...

though the long years have come and gone,

every evening she comes,

she waters the flowers, plucks the weeds,, keeps them
blooming with love

still so fresh and undying upon his name...

You would have noticed, how she even sits by my side,

telling him who no longer hears,

these daily  words  that comfort even me, you
are not alone... I'll not let you ever be gone,

as long as I am there, I'm there with you...'

I've been to her the mirror of love and time

her very  life  breathes here upon this 
cold marble.

tomorrow if they level me down, I shudder to think,

it'll break her sad heart..

I would rather crumble now or burn away...

This time in the silence that swept,

there was no werewolf song.

And then it was that  the tomb of the Holy man spoke.

'How do they dare say this when I am here?

Have they not seen how I was proclaimed a martyr and a

If they mow me down, there will be a revolution.

innocent blood will flow in the  streets

the rivers of this city will turn red....'

The moon  then went down,

in the low distance the werewolf slid back to his grave

and a sudden  darkness

 came upon the skies..

A strange towering wetness lashed upon the earth,

The tsunami swept the entire city back into the sea.

The Zong

Gopikrishnan Kottoor's picture

Born (1956), Trivandrum, Kerala, India., Winner, All India Poetry Prizes, Poetry Society, India-British Council Awards (96, 97, 98), and other leading poetry prizes. Poetry published in Ariel (Canada), Orbis (UK), Nth Position (UK), Bluefifth Review (UK), Toronto Review (Canada), The Illustrated Weekly of India, Kavya Bharati (India), Fulcrum (USA), Verse, Seattle, (USA), Indian Literature, Arabesque Review, Plaza (Japan), Chandrabhaga (India), and others. Founder editor, Poetry Chain. Participant, MFA, Texas state University, (2000) Poet in Residence, Augsburg University, Germany (2004). Important works : Poetry : Father, Wake Us In Passing, (German Translation, Wolfgang Heyder) A Buchenwald Diary, Mother Sonata, Victoria Terminus, Poems Selected and New (2010). The Coloured Yolk of Love (2012). Drama: Fire In The Soul The Mask of Death. Novel : A Bridge Over Karma (Novel). Poetry included in The Bloodaxe book of Contemporary Indian Poetry In English, The Golden Jubilee Anthology of Post Independence Indian poetry In English, and Poetry Society, India anthologies.

Last updated June 19, 2012