PAPA / Poem by Lily Swarn



Poem by Lily Swarn





Happy birthday papa !

Is there another like you in the whole wide world dear papa ?

Waking nights to switch off my bedside lamp as I read late into the wee hours

Pulling my ears for those miserable marks in arithmetic

How you hauled me on to the terrace and hammered home the basics of Profit and loss , Compound interest

Still awful at numbers dad,I am


The long conversations as I rode pillion on your scooter in primary school

Hey you could even tie my hair into a neat high pony tail

The dedication with which you stood near the service window and explained how a dal must be made

You know once when mama was ill ,


Your sacrificing nature

draws awe from me

How you left us in Shimla for long breaks

Only to join us at Christmas

All the while saying .”i am to put food on the table ”

How well you did that dear papa

Peeling musk melons and slicing mangoes


I loved tagging along

when you went to the “lalaari “, the dyer in sector 9

He coloured your turbans a vivid Maroon

A colour you loyally wear till today


The fun rides in your bumbling ambassador

to Delhi for vacations

Stopping mid way at karnal lake

The days were sunny

And you were my rock

The pole  star who let me puncture my bike

So that I could ride a rickshaw to school


The chanting of paathh in your deep voice

As you recited the kirtan Sohila

The last Sikh prayer of the day


You bowled me over with your photogenic memory then and now

As you shot out nazm after nazm

Sher after Sher of chaste Urdu poetry

It was like home schooling dear dad


How proud I am of all that you taught me

The English word ” bombastic” is my favourite word

that I inherited from you

I hardly ever use it for I think it’s only yours !


The walks to sector 17 a treat just because

I could hop and skip to keep pace with you

There were hardly any cars on the road then

Besides you always bought me a softy cone


Your stride is laborious now

You drag your feet papa

You barely hear what I say

But ah I love you so

Even when you repeatedly ask me

“Do you know people just vanish beta Ji

They burnt your mother’s body to ashes ?”

I know dad they vanish


Your memory takes you to college days

When you courted  arrest for issues

It takes you across the border

To your home in Sargodha

Your Wattan you still remember

With each minute detail.

Your eyes are rheumy though inquisitive

You insist on only one roti for dinner

You are my father in every way


A Baap you are for sure

You are gritty and determined

You love with all you have

But what takes the cake is your repeated


“What will you guys do when I am gone ?

I might ” pop off “any day “”

What.a strange man you are

You worry still for us

Live to be a hundred

My precious popsi

Happy birthday !!!


copyright Lily Swarn 7.10.2016



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