Jewel Box

You were the stingiest girlfriend I had.

Whenever we went out, you said,

almost as if you were doing me a favour,

"Next time, it's my treat."

Needless to say, the next time never came.

So now, I’m not surprised

when someone told me that you use your husband's money

and save up all your salary!

Then you used to be hard up;

today you must be rich.


When we first met,

you were both child and woman:

like a child, you staked your claim on me

and maintained it like a woman.

I had such faith in you:

I believed that you could do anything.

Remember, how we produced that issue of our magazine,

getting it bound on a Sunday?

We roamed all over the back lanes of Karol Bagh,

looking for binders who'd work on a holiday.

Another day, when we went fund-raising in Golf Links,

you paused to admire a white Mercedes.

I said:  "If we become partners,

we could get two of those--

a white one for you, and a blue one for me."

One hot day, at your place

you gave me some homemade watermelon juice,

which tasted like ambrosia.

Just as you were shutting the door of the fridge,

I kissed you (you called it “kizz”).

You looked surprised at first, then so smug!

Immediately, you thought I was to marry you.

"You have to work my parents round to it,"

you said haughtily,

with a strange mixture of pride and possessiveness.


You cried four or five hours the afternoon we parted.

“Tell me right now if you want me or let’s split….!”

“Can’t you wait for some time?

I’m going to the States, you know.”

“No, I must know right now.

Aren’t you supposed to love me or no?”

"How can you insist that I love you?

This is something purely voluntary,

not a question of your wishes or needs” I protested.


Refusing to accept that

your wanting something

wasn't sufficient reason for getting it,

you behaved worse than a child whose toy’s been snatched.

In the end, it was you who stormed out.


When I met you ten years later,

of all places, again at the University,

where both of us came to see the same friend,

I was so overwhelmed with memories

that I hugged you, smothering your face with kisses.

All our friends stood gaping at this display,

and reminded us that we were both married

but to different people!

After letting me embrace you so effusively,

you said, "There's something I've wished to do for a long time:

give me your spectacles—I’ve always wanted to break them."

You were as kiddish as ever,

but, fortunately, didn't carry out the threat

when the glasses were meekly proffered.

Back to Selected Poems from Partial Disclosure

  Copyright © 2005 - Makarand Paranjape