Picture taken in Kannur Railway Station, Kerala.
Old age and poverty: uneasy bedfellows.
Picture taken in Fort Cochin
Woman with grandchild
Picture taken on the Cochin – Trivandrum Road, Kerala
Yesterday I visited my aunt in Kottayam.
My arrival coincided with that of a charming cardiologist from the USA.
“Auntie” was delighted with his attentions,
especially as this courtesy visit was combined with an unofficial cardiological assessment.
Something her daughter had skilfully brought about.
Auntie has been feeling tired, which is perhaps understandable for a woman in her late eighties.
But what struck me was that her favourite and most trusted member of staff was absent.
The young woman, who usually sleeps in the house with her, is taking a holiday.
When Anu, my house-boy, takes time off to be with his family
– a well-deserved break –
my home suddenly seems enormous,
the hours of darkness almost interminable,
and sleep strangely illusive.
My solution is simple.
Now, whenever Anu takes his holidays,
I go away on tour with a good friend.
An option that physical infirmity has made sadly impossible for my aunt..
Picture of Lake Vembanad taken at dusk on the road back from Kottayam.
Hope, like colour,
Can fade over time.
Picture taken in Cochin.
An ever-dwindling asset.
Pictures taken in Cochin.
I pass this chapel several times a week
And have done so for almost three years.
But only recently has it struck me that invariably people sit silently beside its entrance,
Something not seen outside of other chapels.
Those who usually pass their hours here are women of a certain age.
Women wearing white saris:
The statement of widowhood.
Occasionally elderly men will join them,
At a distance.
The chapel is dedicated to St Jude, patron saint of lost causes.
Boldly written across its façade are the words:
“In confidence we invoke thee
Helper in difficult cases”
St Jude’s provides sanctuary perhaps,
To those who fear the utter loneliness of despair.
From the hesitancy of youth…
To the reflections of age.
Pictures taken during my travels in Karnataka
From time to time several coaches draw up along the beach road.
From them emerge men of a certain age.
The Indian Navy Southern Command is based here and the men are ex-navy.
They have come for the perk of their pension:
Regular rum rations and a little camaraderie.
The men’s behaviour remains exemplary throughout these trips,
Though they appear perhaps a little sleepy by the time their coaches are ready to leave.
“I am weary of days and hours,
Blown buds of barren flowers,
Desires and dreams and powers
And everything but sleep.”
Photograph taken on the streets of Fort Cochin. The man was begging for alms in the heat of the midday sun.