It was one of those old wooden desks he probably inherited from his father, who being a “Science” man, could never have imagined his son a poet. Through the passing of so many years, I can still feel the grain of the desk, smell the wood, touch the paper, and inhale the dust. I can visualize all of it, from my writing desk in a different country. The man, silhouetted now, behind the old desk is my father. I see him clearly – bespectacled, sitting calmly behind all that clutter. Repeated offers to clean and organize all the poems, written on lined and plain paper, that lay and floated in random piles everywhere, were vehemently declined. We were strictly forbidden to touch anything. I suppose there was ‘a method in his madness.’ The old manual typewriter that sat resolutely in the middle, surrounded by dusty but meaningful creativity, cried out for a change of ribbon from time to time. There were open-paged books too, autographed by poets from every country, where he had been invited to read his poems. For a bookmark, in one of the books he was reading, was an outdated cheque, now long expired! Some passports, new and old showed their faces, peeping out among the papers, a tortoise-shaped coin box for loose change, which my daughter inherited as a gift from him, and some rupee notes between poems. The dust seemed to love his poetry, and was permanently settled in generous amounts on words and lines. The light from the window captured the dust particles as if a Fairy Godmother had sprinkled stardust from her magic wand.
His bed, beside his desk, wore a similar appearance, except for the handkerchiefs he used to cover his eyes when he lay down as he waited for the words to come. Sitting here at my desk, which is nothing like his, I wonder why a man is judged by the way he keeps his desk. I heard so many comments about his desk, from fellow writers and critics, about the clutter and the dust. It reminds me of the old adage, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover.’
The feel of old grain
The desk writes its words and lines
Here sat a poet
~Kavita Ezekiel Mendonca