95


AN OLDISH upcountry man tall and lean,

with shaven shrunken cheeks like wilted fruits,

jogging along the road to the market town

in his patched up pair of country-made shoes

and a short tunic made of printed chintz,

a frayed umbrella tilted over his head,

a bamboo stick under his armpit.

It is a sultry morning of August,

the light is vague filtering through thin white clouds.

The last night seemed smothered

under a damp black blanket:

and today a sluggish wind

is fitfully stirring a dubious response

among amlaki leaves.

The stranger passed by the hazy skyline of my mind,

a mere person,

with no definition, no care that may trouble him,

no needs for any the least thing.

And I appeared to him for a moment

at the farthest limit of the unclaimed land of his life,

in the grey mist that separates one

from all relations.

I imagine he has his cow in his stall,

a parrot in the cage,

his wife with bangles round her arms,

grinding wheat,

the washerman for his neighbour,

the grocer's shop across the lane,

a harassing debt to the man from Peshawar,

and somewhere my own indistinct self

only as a passing person.

 

 

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