Deepak Sawhney (10 Dec 50 / DehraDun, India)
A tap on the shoulder
It was a dark and dreary night,
Starless, with wisps of mist
Absent shadows for company
As I trudged up the mountain track
Heading back home with my rucksack.
Yesterday I had followed the same path down
To look up a dear Joey’s mom
From childhood with whom I had grown.
Knowing her end was close, she had called my name once
As I entered, I knew she was aware of my presence
She opened her eyes, smiled wistfully
Looked towards me without seeing, feebly
Raised an arm as if to bless
But she could barely whisper a caress.
In today’s twilight, I am returning, heading home
Peering, looking for the next break in the mist
I know on the left is a sheer drop
On the right the steep mountain crop.
I feel a gentle tap on my shoulder
An eerie moment, involuntarily I shudder
Then shrugging it off I increase my pace
Then moments later, another tap
I hesitatingly turn around & there is a gnarled face
Looking into my eyes intensely
Gingerly she places her hand on my back
The mist clears momentarily
And, am surprised to find myself next to a shack.
I knock at the door - tack…tack, repeatedly
I feel a draft and a chill runs down my spine
A little apprehensive, but I do feel fine.
It opens and an old man peeps out suspiciously
I tell him I am cold, could I have a cup of tea
He smiles, looks knowingly and says I know you
You are the guy who lives on the hilltop, aren’t you Dee?
He quickly rustles up some broth more like a stew
As I settle down, suddenly I am shaken out of my skin
The crack of thunder so loud - as if it is from within?
Moments later, heavens explode - a cloud burst?
I feel fortunate to be in the hut, dry and unhurt
The rain continues endlessly…as if it’s now or never
I have little choice but to wait, what seems like forever.
Morning comes and I step out
Am dumbfounded by the sheer devastation around
Fallen boulders, uprooted trees, abound
What if I had been out in the storm I wonder
Would surely have been torn asunder
My mind in a tizzy, I am unable to grasp
Who was the one who did on my shoulder tap?
All I know is…
That a few hours after I had left the hospice
Joey’s mom passed away in peace.
Comments about this poem (A tap on the shoulder by Deepak Sawhney )
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