Urna Bose – WE Sci-Fi Prize ’20

Rafu Chacha

I have always known him as Rafu Chacha. 
The signboard above his hole-in-the-wall 
Hill Road shop is in desperate need of repairs.
The Mumbai rains spare no signboards. None.
Not even those of hardworking, respectable 
tailors, 'masters' and 'darzis', 
who repair and mend anything 
that needs a little love to carry 
the burden of our 'Maximum City' lives, 
a little longer.

Our Rafu Chacha has been busy darning
and mending shirts, kurtas, 
bedsheets, curtains, quilts.
When I remind him about his shop signboard
needing a fresh coat of paint,
Rafu Chacha laughs, “Not everything 
can be brought back, to what it was once”.

Today I run to Rafu Chacha with my 
grandmother’s patchwork quilt.
Rafu Chacha tries to calm me down. 
“Chai piyogi beta?”
I stammer and stutter, “It’s all that I have left of 
my grandma, Rafu Chacha”.

As Rafu Chacha mends my grandma’s quilt, 
I ask, swayed by a stray gust 
of wind on Hill Road.
“Rafu Chacha will you rafu 
my torn heart, someday?”
Rafu Chacha’s hands tremble. 
Deft fingers grow unsteady.

I sit on my desperate haunches, in his messy shop. 
Rafu Chacha wants to say something.
My rawness picks up the scent of his rawness. 
“Life is not meant to be lived like 
a perfectly stitched one-piece garment, beta.
But in bits and pieces, like your 
grandma’s patchwork quilt.”
I convince my hollow heart. 
He must be right. “Not everything 
can be brought back, to what it was once.”

Rafu Chacha’s hands work hard on darning 
my Grandma’s patchwork quilt, 
with frayed edges 
and loose, hanging threads.
My heart now clutches tighter. 
Holding onto bits and pieces. 
Fragments and shreds. Remnants and scraps. 

Not even our dear old Rafu Chacha can 
bring back my heart, to what it was once. 
The signboard above 
shudders a little, 
in quiet agreement.
(PROMPT: #CeWoPoWriMoWE 2019 Prompt-'Refu chacha became all frantic'
From Amit's Shankar Saha's poem 'The Hind Shawl Repairing Shop'
, #CeWoPoWriMoWE '19)

Urna Bose is an advertising professional, writer, widely published poet and editor. Her poems have gone viral, globally.

She won the ‘Enchanting Editor Award 2019’, from the Telangana Poetry Forum, and Special Mention as Scintillating Creative Impactful – Feminine Power Inspiration 2020’ (SCI-FI) at the Women Empowered India Awards ‘20. As the Deputy Editor for Different Truths, she also devotes her time to the ‘Poet 2 Poet’ column.

Urna started her career in advertising as a copywriter, and has worked her way up through the ranks. Having worked with advertising giants in India like R K Swamy/BBDO, McCann Erickson, Mudra, Lowe Lintas and others, Urna went on to become a Creative Director and an Executive Creative Director, thereafter.

Urna’s clutter-breaking, iconic advertising campaigns and brand work have won both Indian and global creativity awards, and some are even industry case-studies.

Urna believes that soulful poetry and gooey chocolate cake can pretty much fix everything.