A Song for Mattur and Hosehalli
Two almost-forgotten villages
stretch on either side of the Tunga.
Here, centuries of exile have created a lineage
that speaks remnants of a faraway tongue,
borrowed vocabulary from others,
made the land’s syllables her own
and invented a dialect that sings
even as she speaks. She owns no poetry —
perhaps that is why verses seep
into everyday conversations.
But it is the kitchens you must visit
if you really want to know her soul
for this is where she wins strangers
over with just the warmth of coffee.
Today, her children live across continents
and send back picture postcards of their new families.
Under a 150 year old roof,
the older generation places
the smile of the new-born
on a wooden cradle as old,
and recites her name over and over again:
Unlearning in Mattur
This is where decades of urban intelligence
comes to a slow, silence.
Statistics stumble, science falters
and even chosen adjectives pause
before wisdom that sparkles
in the eyes of a ten year old—
calm, restrained, like the Tunga
All Mattur asks for in return
is more than just a tourist’s agenda,
the willingness to step back
into several centuries, muse
at all that we might have missed
in our eagerness to conquer
a much smaller world.
Metaphysics is broken down here
in the mangroves, cattle that feast
in abandon, the young, ensconced
with the old, the old with young.
When I leave all the rote
slips beneath the coracle
and I emerge like a clean slate
in the city.