Madathil Rajendran Nair

Gold Star - 27,657 Points (3rd December 1946 / Bombay, India)

Orphanage - Poem by Madathil Rajendran Nair

Across the river
Along my way
Between home and school
There was an orphanage

Children used to frolic
There in sheer abandon
Of their parentless misfortune

Some among them were blind
Others deaf
Some handicapped
Yet they were happy
As though on a merry-go-round
Filled to the brim with joy

The warden then had said
With moist eyes
Look boy, this is a temple
Bapu once sat
Right under that mango tree
Looking at the children play
With a toothless smile
This is no orphanage
The kids have the nation’s parentage

More than fifty years thence
I crossed the same river
Now totally desecrated
In every sense
It no more had
The sugary sand beds
Of the past
To boast about

She lay weeping
In rationed tears
Bunded at every place
By greedy farmers
Abandoned by the rains
Sacrileged by stinking drains

The orphanage had gone
And there was a bar
Of four or five stars
With glittering lights
Right at its place

I asked a passerby
What happened
To the nest of the past
That sheltered
The wingless birds

He sneered
Well, look, that place
Belongs to our leader
A socialist to the hilt
A philanthropist right to core
Whose father
Was a freedom fighter

Yonder across the street
He built that magnificent temple
For Mother Durga
Where we prostrate
Morning and evening
Blessed is he
Would have built the shrine
Right here close to the bar
Hadn’t stupid laws of the land
Wanted a distance
Between prayer and bar

He is great
Of secular mind
Employs several hands
Of every faith
The CM of the State
Dines at his house
When in town
Don’t waste your time
Over the ones
That vanished
With an orphanage

I looked around in vain
No care center was found
On the ancient land of mine
That instilled in the mind
A sense of national parentage

If there were any
By the name
They were labeled
By faith and creed
Where no Indians frolicked
No mango-tree to sight
With a Bapu under it

And as I looked around
I saw only orphans abound
Orphaned of parentage
Orphaned of virtues
Orphaned of values
And orphaned at last of God
By whom all of them swore

Orphaned of love for their land
Orphaned of their motherland
Though they all swore
By Durga divine
Loudly by the Virgin
Or by some other saint
Utterly fossilized
In sectarian concrete

Oh, how much I wish
Bapu was there
And sat in the shade
Of a spreading tree
Smiling his toothless smile
At this teeming orphanage
That shames a nation’s name

Then comes a passerby
Who says he saw
The statue of Bapu weep
At the city square
In the wee hours

An orphan rejoined
No, that was no tears
But the setting moon
Shining on morning dew
Upon granite stone

He was a rationalist
Votary of progress
That is make-believe
Who swore by science
And reasoning
But forsook his heart
To languish in
A self-made orphanage
And missed the spirit
That made nations click

Topic(s) of this poem: nation

Form: Prose Poem

Poet's Notes about The Poem

Written January 2013 on the eve of India's Republic Day

Comments about Orphanage by Madathil Rajendran Nair

  • (9/20/2016 10:21:00 PM)


    In a society where materialism reigns, the sacred memories of Bapu are reined in and money rules the day. FANTASTIC TRIBUTE to the great man who founded a nation out of extreme chaos.10
    (Report) Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • (3/23/2015 3:18:00 AM)

    You took us to an never-ending exquisite ride to the life of the Mahatma. I like the way you write, subtle, simple and calm like the flow of a distant river. A fantastic write. (Report) Reply

  • Valsa George (3/21/2015 8:57:00 AM)

    In a world where everyone thinks only of mercenary gains, what importance does an orphanage have? If shopping complexes are built, that will fetch money! If places of worship are set up, you can win the support of some people and you will be deemed very religious! Besides they are a source of revenue! In our society there is no dearth for places of worship of all religions! But I wonder if God can remain in them, where love and compassion for fellow beings are absent! The river gone dry in the poem, I feel is symbolic of the barren hearts devoid of the well springs of compassion and love! As ever, a great write! (Report) Reply

  • Amitava Sur (3/21/2015 1:07:00 AM)

    Selfishness, cruelty and vandalism have surfaced so rampant,
    To think good, to do good is now, a distant proposition.
    Evils have overpowered all the virtues....... Thanks for sharing this eye opener.
    (Report) Reply

  • (3/21/2015 1:05:00 AM)

    Bapu once sat
    Right under that mango tree
    Looking at the children play
    With a toothless smile
    This is no orphanage
    The kids have the nation’s parentage

    A poem written in a lovable style for kids
    (Report) Reply

  • Rajesh Thankappan (3/20/2015 11:39:00 AM)

    We all should remember that service to man is the only service to God. We can render service to God in no other way since everything originates from God and He does not need anything from us. Still I would not discourage prayer and puja if it gives spiritual sustenance and balance to a person' and guides him in the right direction. A wonderful poem with a great moral. (Report) Reply

  • Tirupathi Chandrupatla (3/20/2015 10:28:00 AM)

    Sense of service is missing in society. Selfish who build their political careers exploiting the innocent public are respected and encouraged. Values keep disappearing with time. A great poem with an epic thought provoking theme. Beautifully presented. Thank you. (Report) Reply

Read all 7 comments »

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

Poem Submitted: Friday, March 20, 2015

Poem Edited: Friday, March 20, 2015

[Report Error]