College Days

In the grilled window overhead
Before ringing the bell
I see your face.
It is only love, nothing else.

You rush down the stairs
You hold my hand,
Your cheeks flushed with excitement.
It is only love, nothing else.

We sit on the lawn
In cushioned wicker chairs.
The night queen exudes its scent.
It is only love, nothing else.

You smile at me,
I lean over,
The world blurs out of focus again.
It is only love, nothing else.

At the sound of the car
We hastily disengage,
You rearrange your hair.
It is only love, nothing else.

* * *

Then, your parents suspect.
They inspect your mail,
They take counter measures.
It is only love, nothing else.

We meet elsewhere
Whispering in dingy cafes,
Under the waiter's suspicious gaze.
It is only love, nothing else.

Or else outside your college,
Or on a park bench,
Or in a shopping centre on a weekend.
It is only love, nothing else.

On your birthday, before the final exam,
You lie you're at a friend's place,
We meet in an expensive restaurant.
It is only love, nothing else.

In the dim light you say
We can't go on like this.
In silence I stare ahead.
It is only love, nothing else.

* * *

At last it is time to graduate.
You hold my last letter,
Now smudged, tightly to your chest.
It is only love, nothing else.

What will become of me, you wail,
My throat catches too,
The sari slips off your heaving breasts.
It is only love, nothing else.

In a flash, all the memories--
Letters, phone calls, innumerable meetings--
Dart by as we watch, helpless.
It is only love, nothing else.

You resist my caress, at first
But suddenly yield, with vehemence.
It is to be our last embrace.
It is only love, nothing else.

I leave town.
You settle down,
Marrying somebody else.
It is only love, nothing else.


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  Copyright © 2005 - Makarand Paranjape