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  Feeding the Fire  

  Looking Back
  Vol II : issue 2

  Amit Chaudhuri
  Cass Sunstein
  Dibyendu Palit
  Vinay Lal
  Only in Print

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When we were young
Mother splayed some dung
On the wall
Called it upla

And we
Put faces on,
Eyes, ears
A nose
The upla with a turban
A cap
My upla
Your upla
We named them as we pleased
Chosen after our hearts


Acrylic on canvas by

The playful sun
Spread its warmth each day
On our uple
And when the chulha was lit that night
We gathered around it and waited

Whose turn was it going to be tonight?
Who would burn to ashes?
There goes Pandit
That was Munna
This was Dhashrath

Years later
I'm at the crematorium
Tonight, I watch
As another friend is lost to the burning chulha
One more upla reduced to ashes

p. 1
p. 2

Translated from the Hindi by Devina Dutt 

poet, filmmaker and lyricist, Gulzar is celebrated as much for his contribution to Urdu and Hindi literature as to Indian cinema. He lives in Bombay