Poem: Reading Obituaries

First thing in the morning, they
read the obituaries. She recites
them out to her grandmother.

The Hindu, apart from making
excellent shelf cover for the
almirahs, has a comprehensive
list of all the people in Madras
and surrounding areas who died.

Remembered by surviving family,
and some sadly, without issues.

In an exercise of memory, the
grandmother struggles to recall,
which of these people, she knew.

Mr J. Vivekasundaram, she chants,
dutiful son of Mr K. Jayaraman,
went to his heavenly abode, in
his sleep yesterday. Survived
by his distraught wife, two sons,
one daughter and their children.

The old woman giggles, “He really
did have two daughters. One of
them ran away with her lover
at the tender age of nineteen”.

PS – I like the idea of this poem, but not the execution. But that’s okay.

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10 Responses to Poem: Reading Obituaries

  1. Kshama says:

    This is a beautiful. Reminds me of my past..


  2. Deepika says:

    I liked the idea as well the execution.


  3. You forgot those wonderful people
    mourned by their employees, and
    co-“service”men, and shady well-
    wishers. My aunt once told me that
    one of the well-wishers was actually
    DKT Suryanarayana Raman’s mistress!


  4. Vasuki says:

    Haha…nice poem 🙂


  5. Nilu says:

    Back to form-a?


  6. guruprasad says:

    naughty granny 🙂

    who says poems need to be executed like dictators? maybe some of the obituaries are actually well-kept secrets of state executions!

    and maybe my sleep-deprived brain is finally curdled and seeping out through my ears!


  7. jillumadrasi says:

    Romba nalla errukku.

    it is true most old folks in Chennai read the The Hindu obit first thing in the morning. But not every single day

    And some get seriously offended if friends don’t show up for the dhukkam-vechiruppu despite the announcement. But seriously it is possible to miss a few.


  8. jillumadrasi says:

    Wait — i think the problem is with this line:

    1. “Mr J. Vivekasundaram, *she* chants,”

    In the previous line, the *she* was the grandmother. Now it is the girl. perhaps you should say the girl instead of she just to make the distinction.

    2. also perhaps no comma:
    which of these people, she knew.


  9. Kshama: Thanks.

    Deepika: That is kind – but the poem feels somewhat raw. I can’t put my finger on it..

    aandthirtyeights: It’s sort of sad really. Right after I wrote this poem, the next day, I was told that an elderly great aunt had passed away. And I felt guilty for writing this poem. Perhaps it treats death too callously.

    Vasuki: Thanks.

    Nilu: Not really.

    Guruprasad: Yes, you do appear to need some sleep. 🙂

    jillumadrasi: Yes, I think you got it! The word grandmother was too long, so I lazily used “she”. And it creates too much of a dissonance. There’s more to it – but at least there’s thing to pick on now..

    I think it’s slightly sad actually – this poem.


  10. Sometimes, I think we take death too seriously. Sure, it has an irreversibility that makes it a serious business, but it is something that each one of us goes through – as observers or sufferers! I think it is when we’re able to see the lighter side of death (it isn’t much of a side, really, but I think it exists), that we are able to understand its seriousness.

    Dumbledore said, ‘After all, to the well-organised mind, death is but the next great adventure.’ And that is what the obituary page does – give the person a send-off on his next great adventure…


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