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Dilip Chitre – A Poet Remembers


For me these poems are closures
They sort of conclude me
Though some of them like suicide bombers
May explode in your vicinity

Dilip Chitre September 17, 1938 – December 10, 2009

your poems
can never be closures
nor even you
your words have crept slowly
on a stranger noon
when the mind slept
of indian summers
you left the doors open
hot wind blew in
you shaped the sky broken from collisions
you shaped the traffic jam at longnightend
you shaped the maddening rain to errant disclosures
they exploded
when a smile
strayed to many a horizon
to many a death threat
of a sudden

Poem and Drawing by Amitabh Mitra

Dilip Chitre passed away on 10 December 2009. One of the greatest of all Indo- English poets, I knew him as Chitre Sahab. He hated the word ‘sahab’ but Dilip Chitre undoubtedly remains the sahab of Indo-English Poetry.

One of Dilip Chitre’s poem

Father Returning Home

My father travels on the late evening train
Standing among silent commuters in the yellow light
Suburbs slide past his unseeing eyes
His shirt and pants are soggy and his black raincoat
Stained with mud and his bag stuffed with books
Is falling apart. His eyes dimmed by age
fade homeward through the humid monsoon night.
Now I can see him getting off the train
Like a word dropped from a long sentence.
He hurries across the length of the grey platform,
Crosses the railway line, enters the lane,
His chappals are sticky with mud, but he hurries onward.

Home again, I see him drinking weak tea,
Eating a stale chapati, reading a book.
He goes into the toilet to contemplate
Man’s estrangement from a man-made world.
Coming out he trembles at the sink,
The cold water running over his brown hands,
A few droplets cling to the greying hairs on his wrists.
His sullen children have often refused to share
Jokes and secrets with him. He will now go to sleep
Listening to the static on the radio, dreaming
Of his ancestors and grandchildren, thinking
Of nomads entering a subcontinent through a narrow pass.


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Liesl</a>
    December 14th, 2009 @09:35 #

    Thanks for introducing this poet to me, Amitabh, and for honouring his life. I regret to say that I didn't know about him. Has he published a collection of poems?

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Amitabh</a>
    December 14th, 2009 @12:21 #

    Thanks a lot Liesl
    He was published in PIW, representing India
    U will find his work in the PIW archives

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Amitabh</a>
    December 16th, 2009 @08:24 #
  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Liesl</a>
    December 16th, 2009 @20:32 #

    Splendid, Amitabh. Thanks for linking.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    December 19th, 2009 @10:28 #

    And thanks for posting Chitre's poem, too. Extremely moving.


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