Contemplating red blossoms over the tree tops, my mother sits in her balcony. It’s not the first time.
My father takes a picture of her doing this, for the very first time, of both their lives. It’s his birthday. But no one will want to ask how old he’s gotten. His every birthday is a gift to whoever is still around.


Below: A poem by my father, Kirubhakaran, whom we call Appa:


My mind wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, a riot of orange and vermilion flowers  

In full bloom of our Flame of the Forest

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.


More continuous than the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched on never-ending sky floor beneath me

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.


Birds beside them danced; but they

Out-did the fluttering birds in glee:

A contemplative mood could not but become gay,

In such jocund company:

I gazed–and gazed–but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:


For oft, when on my couch I lie

Fondly thinking of my five lovely grandchildren,

The flames flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss and blessing of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And swims in soundaryalahari.*


* a flood of grace and beauty.

Adishankara wrote a Hymn under that name.