Portrait of a Lady

She was a small person in a big house

stacked with objects d'art and other curiosities.

She fancied herself a collector

and, when coaxed to disclose her sources,

never failed to mention

her brushes with ex-royalty.


The drawing room had two large bongo-drums--

"Go ahead," she breezed, "they're for sitting"--

and two or three raucous and gaudy parakeets

in cages.  There must have been

other noteworthy items that I did not notice.

Adjacent to the drawing room was a hot house

where exotic plants luxuriated in ultra violet light.

I didn't see much point in it:

it was warm enough outside.

That brought the tour to an end,

the kitchen and the bedrooms upstairs,

being off limits.


At lunch she praised the ruling party

and mentioned, in passing,

that her cutlery was British

and, yes, her crystal Belgian.


On the way out through the porch,

we stopped to admire the imported Cadillac.

At the gate, just beneath "Beware of Dogs,"

a copper-plated signboard announced

three charitable trusts named after her:

"That's just for tax purposes," she said carelessly,

as she waved me goodbye with a flying kiss.


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  Copyright © 2005 - Makarand Paranjape