Miss Gobble

The unkempt municipal garden

between the college and the railway station

provides the setting for our action.

In a secluded corner, shaded by the old neem

squats a bench once probably green,

now carved with sundry profanities.

There once a week, we keep our tryst.

At night if there are no drunks prowling, or cops

on the beat, the park is your territory.

Then carrying my awkward burden, of necessity,

in you I seek release.  Better your deal, I think

than descending to base extremes; besides

I am told, by shunning intercourse, one can

prevent disease.  But even if that's not

true and I'm equally susceptible with you,

I'd come--because, how shall I put it?--

you have a way with such things.  Also,

you always perform single-handedly

and I hate go-betweens, or solicitings.

Last, but not the least, you charge

only ten rupees.


                  Once the money is paid

and my knees are conveniently splayed,

you consider it unprofessional to delay.

So whether I am at my best or worst,

I usually succumb, because you have me

quite literally, under your thumb.

Then in the crook of your palm,

you give me a quick run-down

of all the skills at your command;

no wonder I prefer you to my right hand.

But, by now I am ready to stand on my own,

so you promote me to the preferred location.


Sometimes I wonder at our situation.  I don't

know your name, or from where you come;

we hardly speak the same language and, indeed,

have so little in common; then how do we manage

to get so much done?  When my thoughts take such

a turn, my position undergoes a drastic alteration.

Suddenly, I become assailed by unwelcome sensations--

the open noisome gutter, is just one example;

then, your own not too pleasant odour, bothers.

With our chronic water shortage, such inconveniences,

I know, cannot be helped; but they add to the squalor

of your already sullied vocation.  In this manner,

while you are busy plying your intention

and in the dark, your face betrays no emotion,

I lapse into these depressing cogitations:

how do you, with only a mouthful or two for supper

go to bed each night on an empty stomach?  And

despite my precautions, I get deeply involved

in the poverty of your lot.


                            But on this point

I get unsettled:  you deftly twist your tongue

and without knowing it, I emit a deep groan.

You grab the advantage, perk up operations;

I retreat a bit from too much stimulation--

at this critical juncture, I suddenly lose

control over the situation:  unable to prolong

the transaction, heedless of repercussions,

I acquit myself to my utmost satisfaction.


But by this time the issue has staled,

and, your dues being already settled,

I feel disinclined to extend this session.

Walking off, I leave you on the bench tidying-up.

Incidentally, your next client happens to be someone

I know; his room is opposite mine on the same floor.

Perhaps he'll drop in afterwards to compare notes.


Back to Selected Poems from The Used Book

  Copyright © 2005 - Makarand Paranjape