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Poetic License

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APR 12 - The fountain

In Dhobighat, near the peepal tree,

stands a fountain dated ‘unknown’.

It’s a fountain of life, for those

who cannot afford to buy water from ‘various sources’.

Two hours before midnight,

we visit the fountain with two huge drums.

We walk happily towards it,

knowing the water’s clean and free.

Walking down the night-lit stairs

I feel a girl squeaking in my ear.

Our jars lined up behind others—a sort of

queue, you know.

Everything needs time, and there’s time for everything.

Time to fill up, time to empty.

As soon as the jars get filled,

a woman, who claims she was born in the area

and has lived her whole life in the place,

begins speaking zealously, of an incident

in which newcomers tried to rob her, but failed.

Thanks to her intuition and life-long experience.

Then, like an asteroid, she turns towards us

and asks for 10 rupees,

I think perhaps she’s a drunkard. Who else would be crazy enough to ask for such

a low amount?

And I carry the jar on my shaky shoulder

walking upward, away from the blackening fountains,

I meet a wrinkled woman. She has stark white hair.

The woman hands over a ten-rupee-note

and tells the asteroid,   

“Go home, immediately.”

I don’t understand much.

The weight of the jar is painful

upon my shoulder.

Upon the whole body, eventually.

As we move towards our cosy home

I realise...

the woman was a protector, the protector of the fountain.

And her actions,

they were the real fountain of life.

I place the two jars—side by side—in my kitchen

thinking of the two women:

one who gives life, every night

and another, who tastes life.

The Japanese book

In your hands, those ten-fingered

cramped muscles perfectly massaged,

in a coffee shop in Basantapur,

lies a book (English) by a Japanese author.

I can’t differentiate between

your smile and the sadness

that grips your flawed heart.

Thrice you smoked

and affected my heart’s throbbing.

This city is killing me too.

Like you are.

We’ve no destination

No sort of common heritage

We share no lineage and no characteristics

Yet you come to me for translations.

“Shall I translate you?” you say,

smiling. And whatever the reason,

your weirdness baffles me

Yet, captivates, magically.

Who are you?

A Japanese book?

First rain

It rains again.

Upon fingertips where suns shine

and palms in which stars roll over, gently.

I walk, to and fro

Hoping to amass immense wealth in short-time,

“Batti gayo! Batti gayo!”

The neighbourhood kid shouts

and darkness, dawns upon me.

Is my life similar? I ask.

No light, no prosperity around

And then I look at poor people and rich people

for consolation and inspiration.

But the graveyard keeps popping out

like an annoying, unwanted advertisement in a daily newspaper.

I try to close the ad and move my life’s cursor towards its crossed button.

But the crossed button keeps moving away, further

Farther out of my mortal reach.

I give up, and then someone screams

“Battiy aayo! Batti aayo!”

Hope dawns on me, and I think,

Before I die, I’ll do something to generate light

on others’ darkened life.

—Arun Budhathoki

Posted on: 2013-04-13 08:23


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