The affair began at Puri
in a cramped cycle-rickshaw.
The evening was stiflingly muggy.
As we crouched under the low hood,
I asked, "Do you want this off?"
The tarpaulin was stretched over bamboo slats
and fastened to the frame with a steel clasp.
"Do you know how to work it?" you asked.
I twisted the clasp, releasing the frame—
the hood folded down gently behind us
and gave us the starlit sky.
You looked at me, smiled: "Are you
always so skilled at undoing things?"
You leaned on me and clasped my hand,
not caring if anyone saw us.
The happiness that bubbled out of you
made me feel strangely quiet:
was this thing starting up again?
From Calcutta you wrote:
"You reawakened feelings which
I had thought were dead."
I sent you a Valentine's Day card
with the message “I can’t give you
what already belongs to another,”
but somewhere there may be a place for
just both of us….”
Was it any surprise that later
we couldn’t meet in Bombay though there was a room
reserved? Or that when you came
to Hyderabad, every time you set out to see me
you had some minor accident or mishap?
What was your unconscious trying to tell you?
When you finally came home,
you lost your way
and had to be picked up from an ice-cream parlour
near the women's college.
I found you there buying cards,
(one of which you would later send me).
In a shocking pink dress, matching scarf,
and dark-glasses, you looked like a movie star.
That day we almost became husband-and-wife.
Your love-making was unhurried and restful;
you hung over me, your hair covering my face,
your hands stroking my bare chest,
your lips softly brushing against mine.
I’m glad I didn’t ask, "Hey, where did you learn to do that?"
When you left, your eyes looked heavy,
You smiled, teasing me with proficient ease:
"Will I ever see you again?
Will you write? Or will you forget me
when I go back,
just as all of you do in the end?”
|Copyright © 2005 - Makarand Paranjape|