Back Stage

by Siva Ramanathan
The Writer's Block
Second Place, February 2022
Judged by Carol Graser

For a child dropped in Sabhas
going backstage was the other part of life.

What seemed heavy was light
as card board, gold was foiled paper
the Raja Ranis wore silk or velvet.

In Kerala, backstage was grandiose.
I sat on the compound wall of Ammuma’s house
the masked Gods diminished to mere men.
The story continued from midnight to dawn.

They said TSK had pebbles under his tongue
when he was Auvaiyar.

As a kid I watched Shivaji Ganesan saunter
in his ‘Enga Mama’ car
as I brushed my teeth
with Colgate tooth powder at the gate.

At work, his makeup man might dust pink on his skin.
The face albeit, he would give none.
Who could name the nerve that twitched
or the eye-brow that arched in surprise,
but he himself?

An enjoyable poem from a child's perspective on 'backstage' with lovely layers. --Carol Graser