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July 15, 2024

Reflections Upon Visiting the Old Cemetery in Roorkee

By Ankit Raj Ojha

Reflections Upon Visiting the Old Cemetery in Roorkee

I hold her by the waist
as she perches
precariously on the thin
brick protruding out
of the boundary wall,
grabbing the iron rails
with her life as she tries
to steal glimpses of the dead.
Can’t see a thing!
She heaves.
It’s my turn to investigate.

I use years of calculated
boyish recklessness
to hoist myself over the wall
onto the inner ledge,
much to her horror,
and can barely make out
crosses in the dusk
when she convinces my
frame back on the side
of the living.

It’s Sunday.
The Old Cemetery’s closed.
Even the dead need a day off
from the nosy living.

The graves, they say, date
back to the 1800s.
British colonisers, mostly.
Unable at last to unsettle
their unwilling hosts.

The sins they must have committed
to have been buried in an alien land,
doomed for the rest of eternity
to look up at a god
they may have mocked while alive!

She traces a trajectory in air,
her finger pointing to and fro
a temple and the graveyard
it overlooks.

Shiva, the destroyer of worlds,
sits proud in his monument
at the banks of the river
Ganga -- holy mother who
washes sins off the foulest
souls, they say.

See? How apt!
I show her
for the irredeemable.

Distance and daylight fail us.
We have a train to catch.
We’ll never know
the epitaphs locked
beyond the gates,
much like the stories of
the many colonised
silenced to oblivion.

I’m indecisive
for lack of information.

Article © Ankit Raj Ojha. All rights reserved.
Published on 2022-11-14
Image(s) are public domain.
1 Reader Comments
w v sutra
03:18:34 PM
Good piece, Ankit! I like seeing longer works.
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