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Buddha’s Last Meal 

A Poem by Anand Haridas

Wisdom, like a river,

Will not let you in

For a second time.


Dust returns to Light,

Realised Siddhartha

Before he woke up as Buddha.

By then, he had lost the crown

And won an empire.


Even then, the piece

Of rotten pork

Did not give him 


A second chance.


The Bird



Spread over the sky

Like a blood-stained cloth.

Siddhartha, standing by the river,

Looked up.


Just sad.

He did not know why. 


A flapping noise startled him.

An ominous black bat

Across the sky.

Then silence.

The young prince stood there

Listening to the silence.

Dust has settled down, long

After the cattle returned home.

This hour too will pass, thought the Prince.

Night will reign soon.

The night of sadness.


Young Siddhartha stood thus

Looking at the horizon.

Behind him, the woods waited

For the dark night to settle down.


Suddenly, from nowhere

A bird darted across his view.

Just another life

That missed the hour of return

And hurrying back home.

We all do that, he thought.

But no!

The bird did not fly.

It fell out of the sky.

Just like that. 


Siddhartha turned around

To face Devadutta, grinning.

‘Nice shot, was it not?’


It took a while for the Prince to understand

That it was not life, but death

That flew across the sky overhead.

That dash life makes before the night catches up. 


The princes rushed to the bird together.

‘Its mine. I saved it.’

‘Its mine. I hit it.’

‘The bird is a free life.’

‘Only till my arrow struck. My arrow made it mine.’ 


Siddhartha learnt,

For the first time,

That weapons decided owners. 


‘Then, the light went out of his eyes,’

His charioteer would tell the world later. 


The Battle


The screech of the vulture

Jolted the Emperor out of his daze.

He looked around.

Heaps and heaps of men in arms.

Some dead.

Some still alive,


Some crawled.

Some cried.

He tried to keep walking.

Something stopped him.

A soldier was clinging to his foot.

My soldier? His soldier?

The man has lost his armour.

There were no signs on him

To tell who he was.

He just clung on to life.

His feet.


The sound of swords

Swishing through raw flesh.

Whizzing arrows.

Neighs of wounded horses.

Cries of death.

Oh! The war sticks to your soul

Like a deep red stain.


The Emperor must learn to ignore

The living and walk with the dead. 


The Emperor kept walking.

Before him, stretched out

The kingdom of dead.

Names in the State Registry.

Faces unmarked.

Limbs severed from bodies.

Once bled, who is who

No one knew.

Insignias do not matter.

When death reigns,

Names, registers, labels, marks –

Nothing matters. 


The Emperor kept walking.

Like all battles,

This too will end.

Flag will fly high.

Musicians will sing.

Dead will be dead. 


The Emperor kept walking

Till the end of the battlefield.

Beyond the last dead body

Was the parched land.

Further ahead,

A mount.

On which stood the Monk.

A bird in his hand.

An arrow in its heart. 


The Emperor stopped walking.

He gasped.

As he crumbled on his knees,

Dusk fluttered behind the Monk

Like a blood-stained cloth.


The charioteer remembered later

That his master cried all the way back to the Palace. 


The Meal


‘Who’s it now?’

‘A monk,’ said the boy.

‘Tell him, the lunch hour is long past.

‘Tell him, come by late evening.’

‘I told him.’


‘He stood there. Smiling.’


She rose from the bed,

Wet from her sweat.

The sultry afternoon

Hung to her heaving breasts

Like her misplaced dress.

She walked past the boy,

Who giggled at her muffled swearing.


It was a long night yesterday.

The lover had left just a while ago.

She could still feel his breath

On her nape.

She had only closed her eyes,

A smile on her lips,

When the boy knocked.


Angry, she stomped to the kitchen.

There was nothing.

A fly buzzed.

Slanting rays from the window

Splashed across the floor.


She stepped outside.

The stench hit her first, then she saw,

A bowl of pork from last night’s feast.

She turned away, stopped, turned back.


Holding the bowl at arm’s length,

She rushed across the house.

The boy ran, as far as he could

From the smell.


Holding her breath, she emptied

The bowl into the wooden plate

The Monk had stretched towards her.


Before she closed the door,

She looked back at the Monk.

He was still smiling.

An arrow pierced through her heart.

His smile owned her life. 


The Chariot


The chariot gathered speed.

He felt like throwing up,

As he felt the warmth

Of fresh blood in his palm.

The last throb of life.

Hunters own the hunted. Always.

Nothing remains.

It’s all empty. 


He trembled.

From inside the speeding chariot,

The trees looked

Like dancers of death.

The smell of blood stuck to him,

Like the attire to a woman’s body

On a sultry afternoon, soon after

Her lover left her,

Thirsting for more love.

He cried. 


He sat down by the roadside.

He was tired.

He was hungry.

He put the wooden plate down.

He then picked one bit of the rotten meat

And started chewing. 


A chariot sped past him. 

Anand Haridas is a Kochi-based media professional. He has worked with different news dailies including Kaumudi Online and The Hindu. He has also translated Kaali Natakam, a play by Sajitha Madathil. He is currently writing scripts for different web-series and mainstream film industry.