Pilgrimage

This time it happened on the train—

to Amritsar.  I'd followed my usual habit

of checking out the reservation chart

for names of interesting co-passengers,

but didn't remember noticing any females.

So, when you walked in, I was taken aback:

tall, almost stately, with full hips

and ample bosom, you looked squarely

at me, even smiled.  How did I miss you

in the chart?  Of course, you were a sardarni

with a unisex name.  Your dad had come to see

you off; his erect bearing, waxed moustache

suggested a military past.  Formal by habit,

all he could say to his grown-up child was,

"Have a good trip and take care," in a slight

Punjabi accent.  You smiled at him and,

when the train started, settled down.  I sat

opposite, scarcely daring to look up,

so stirred was I by every movement of yours.

Though fully clothed it was as if you had

suddenly thought it fit secretly to unwrap

your inner self to a stranger on a moving

train.  I hid behind a fashionable book

but was totally unnerved:  from somewhere

between those crossed thighs, an undercurrent

seemed to surge in expanding waves or tides,

vibrating subtly like an overpowered engine

with a deceptively low hum; helpless, I felt

sucked into a whirlpool of swirling passions.

Just then I stole a furtive glance at you:

if nothing else, I thought a second look

would put an end to the illusion.  Instead,

much to my confusion and discomfiture,

two stunning dark eyes, a straight long nose

and full red mouth, calmly returned my gaze.

You ate your dinner from a sandwich box brought

from home, then sucking delicately on a mint,

wiped your mouth carefully with a napkin.

The only thing I remember saying was,

"Do you want to sleep now or a little later?"

You smiled and indicated that you

too were tired.  I clambered up to my perch,

but prepared myself for a long and restless night.

Throughout, I felt distracted, rocked by some

strong animal magnetism, rising up like steam

from the opposite berth underneath.  From top,

when I spied you in the gray dawn I saw

a sleeping beauty, so unconsciously seductive,

so carelessly unaware of her oozing charms,

clothes half in disarray, bits of tantalizing

flesh, uncovered here and there, so available

to my lingering look, but so unattainable.

I laughed at my infatuation, celebrating its

nuanced uselessness:  knowing this was all

I'd see of you, never getting any closer.

But at the very last moment, just before

the train pulled into the station, something

compelled you to strike up a conversation.

Soon, you'd discovered all that was worth

knowing about me, without, of course, giving

anything away, not even your name, in return.

When I explained that I'd come to see the

Golden Temple, you gave me a curious look,

then released me with these parting words:

"Have a good visit. I hope to see you again."

Back to Selected Poems from Partial Disclosure

 
  Copyright © 2005 - Makarand Paranjape