Tuesday, October 04, 2005

When the heart smiles ...

A jubilant kid in Ettimadai Village

Once upon a time, my child
they used to laugh with their hearts
and laugh with their eyes.

I have learned to wear many faces
like dresses— homeface,
officeface, streetface, hostface,
coctailface, with all their conforming smiles
like a fixed portrait smile.

And I have learned, too,
to laugh with only my teeth
and shake hands without my heart.

I want to be what I used to be
when I was like you, I want
to unlearn all these muting things.
Most of all, I want to relearn
how to laugh, for my laugh in the mirror
shows only my teeth like a snake’s bare fangs!

So show me, my child,
how to laugh; show me how
I used to laugh and smile
once upon a time when I was like you.

( This is an excerpt from the poem "Once Upon a Time" by Gabriel Okara a Nigerian Poet. With due apologies, i have taken the liberty to plug in 2 words ' my child' in place of the word 'son' )