Toda Passing - Poem by Geoffrey Fafard
In the southern lands of Tamil Nadu in India
I met a man from a rare and diminishing culture.
A high priest of the Todas
who reside high in the Nilgiri hills,
hidden up and behind Ootacamund
in lost misty cool places
In munds or little igloo shaped huts
With only one small door
To stave off Tiger or Leopard entry.
He was a humble and gentle man
Who spoke in a DravidianTongue
Which of course I couldn't decipher
But he smiled at me and sat with me
And reached out for my hand.
Well.. its me we are talking about here..
ruff as rough Geoffrey.
I was enthralled, gobsmacked
And quietened beyond my reasoning.
So affected was I that I came away
And never forgot the experience.
My lovely sister is lucky enough to be there now
She climbed to the Todamund
Only to be told that he has gone on
He no longer graces these hills.
She emailed me the news a few days ago.
So I bet on the day all of your cats and dogs
Sat on the walls of the village
And they sang and barked a tribute
To you old priest in the moonlight.
Vale little man of big spirit.
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