Principal Witness

You always wore white khadi

salwar-kameezes, starched dupattas,

and canvas shoes.  Your

hair well-oiled and tightly

knotted in a bun adorned

your bright, oval face,

marked by high cheek bones

and above all a forehead,

broad and strong—

you weren't at all pretty,

but there was something striking

about your whole personality,

so supple, strong and dynamic. 

Even when it was warm,

a brown sweater covered your chest. 

They said you were already

Head Mistress of a primary school

but I thought that slightly at odds with

a gravelly voice, loudly

affecting jovial chatter

or fellowship even with people

you barely knew.  But then

you were as often withdrawn,

pensive or haughty:  professionally,

you'd gone quite far, but perhaps

your emotional growth was blocked?

I was trying quickly to size you up

when you came and sat right next to me

with an unsettling familiarity,

as if we might have been old friends.

I had no idea that you had

take an instant liking for me

on the very first day of the camp.


In days that followed,

you faithfully attended all my talks,

without saying a word.

Then, suddenly, one night

you appeared in a dream

in a luminous body.

Smiling, you nestled against

my chest.  Your offering

felt like an act of grace.

The next day I confronted you

affecting a light-hearted manner:

"What do you mean by barging

into other people's dreams, 

that too without permission or

warning?"  You looked up at me

frightened, even alarmed, then

quickly feigning disapproval,

denied knowing what I was talking

about.  Later, more gently, even

indirectly, I told you how I'd

seen you as a figure of light

and now I regretted mentioning

the dream:  they said talking

about vision prevents their recurrence.

You nodded your head silently,

as if saying, "Well, who asked

you to go and blabber about it?

Then, that night, as if just

to disprove my qualms,

again you invaded my dreams

flooding my whole being with

such sheer delight.

Later, when

I tried to give you a gift,

you refused:  "Don't you understand,

you said quite roughly,

“I want to resist all attachments."

Afterwards, you studiously ignored

me till our departure.

Throughout the trip

you sat next to me, but said nothing.

When you alighted

I stood up to let you pass.

You brushed past me,

not even turning back and got

off, without saying goodbye.

Back to Selected Poems from Partial Disclosure

  Copyright © 2005 - Makarand Paranjape