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Our lips acted like

bolted gates

that would never

let the words

‘stop puffing like an engine, Baba’,


My father’s luxury floated

in smoke rings.

Moradabadi* brass ashtray

would fill up.

He would chain smoke

the opponents of Indian cricket team

into pavilion.

Yet he would never sin

with any glowing tip

when Gavaskar, Tendulkar or Sourav

was batting.

The ashtray still remains.


*Moradabad is an Indian city famous for brass handicraft industry

Posted for Susan’s Midweek Motif ~ Smoking Tobacco @ Poets United


15 thoughts on “Ashtray

  1. Poignant, oh, so moving! I especially love “Our lips acted like / bolted gates” and “My father’s luxury floated / in smoke rings.” And, of course, the whole field of cricket. And what remains. Sigh.

  2. Thank heavens you are a poet so this vivid memory can be preserved. I loved the humour of ceasing to smoke when the star batsmen were at the crease. Beautifully written Sumana.

  3. ” lips acted like bolted gates”…. Reminds me of legendary film-maker, Satyajit Ray portrait….Ah, my husband was like your Baba, Sumana. Though he had to quit after he developed a heart condition.
    Cigarette for many is a friend with whom one wants to be alone when any human interaction is not welcome or at times of stress!!
    Lovely write…. 🙂

  4. Your poem brought back memories of my grandfather, a smoker for many years. I can still see how he held the cigarette between his fingers, flicking ashes into the ashtray. Thanks for stirring up the memories!

  5. A wonderful portrait, so economically yet vividly penned. Yes, it was a bygone era, but as a former smoker (though not quite chain-smoker) I understand it well.

Thank You :)

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