The poem "Obituary" by A.K. Ramanujan is a literary work that has the author, in the poem, waxing nostalgic about a father's life and death. It is a vivid, emotional, and intense poem that looks back on the life and times of a dear loved family member. The author relates that the father left behind a legacy that will live on for him:
left debts and daughters,
a bedwetting grandson
named by the toss
of a coin after him,
The author reflects that this man was cremated and disappeared all too easily from this physical existence. He alludes to the transience of life and the pain those left behind experience in a patriarch's absence. The author muses about the physical remnants left behind from the father's cremation: eye coins in the ashes and
several spinal discs. This is the only tangible evidence of the man left behind and this is painful to the family.
Essentially the poem deals with our brief time on this planet and what we accomplish and ultimately leave to posterity. The poem also reflects on the dignified way the family is encouraged to honor the deceased family member as they are to throw his remains to the east where there are three rivers that congregate by a railroad station.
The poem is vivid as it reflects on the father's past life in a Brahmin ghetto and his death due to heart failure. The reader learns that the man died suddenly while at a fruit market. The author reflects on how the father's life has been reduced to a two line snippet in an obituary and how the death of the man changed the mother significantly and how each year they have the ritual of honoring and remembering this beloved man.