The one who has to come will come

the one who has to leave will go away.

I cannot choose, they say. It

has all been written, they say.

The words chosen, the path mapped.

The time of arrival, the time of departure

and you must wait on the platform

not knowing when the train will arrive or depart.

Or where it’ll take you.

There will be no announcements

true or false

about its arrival or its departure

but nothing will stop you either, from

supping a leisurely cup of tea. Or

one so hasty that it scalds your tongue. Stop you

from sharing a joke with the stranger who perches on her trunk

or from browsing at the book stall

poring over titles. Turning

a desultory eye on the pictures that illustrate a tome,

even imbibing some fleeting textbook wisdom.

Or from

buying a book you’ll leave behind on your seat

when you disembark. For the next traveller to enjoy or deride,

perhaps. Or for the beggar

who’ll enter the vacant train in search

of the scraps that remain

mute testaments of your last meal. The

empty water bottles that will fetch a few coins.

The book might be sold for scrap

or its pages lovingly turned.

What difference does it make?

The words were not your own. As

you thought when you read it.

Someone else had chosen them.

So what if they seeped into your mind and became yours.

The words were the writer’s. The

one who writes all our lives

Not yours, hopeful reader.

And perhaps

when the train stops and it’s time to disembark

knowledge will streak through your mind

like lightning illuminating the evening sky

and you will realize they were always there,

floating in the wind

unseen microbes, biding their time.

waiting for the fogged microscope of your eye

to clear and find them.

While countless trains came and went

describing endless journeys to God knows where.

Then you will learn

it matters not who the writer is or who

the reader. It is enough that words exist

those golden grains gleaned out of the mind’s dust

to nourish a famished moment.

And when this knowledge confronts you

as you step off the train

you have everything and yet have nothing.

The words and the book

the music and the song

you have them and you leave them

with no regret

or sense of loss.

Because they will not be orphaned

as you once feared.

Another will claim them, nurture them.

Another who paces the platform

waiting to mount the train.

Not knowing the time of its arrival or departure

not knowing its final destination

yet eager for the journey which promises

everything and nothing.



  1. Deepa, this is an extraordinary poem. In fact, it’s one of the best poems I’ve read, lately. Your writing is so beautiful and the subject matter resonates so deeply with me. I’m going to read and re-read this. What a gift! You have an amazing mind and a delicate touch. And thank you so much for visiting my blog. I cherish your visits 🙂

    • Thanks Michele, for your comments! I’m really happy to know you liked my poem. As you know appreciation is what keeps us writers going and I really value your opinion:)

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