She got a lot done by doing so little;
She said, 'I love you,' and left the rest to him.
She fed him, nursed him, and slaved for him;
She was no feminist but, when the time came, she left him.
He wandered, beast-like, ash-smeared, covered with hides,
Until she reclaimed him and made him a human being.
As the moth entered, the flame shone even more brightly;
He realized that such deaths don't come so easily.
He boasted, blustered, threatened to leave her forever;
Instead, he fell unconscious until her touch revived him.
During the day she was flamboyant, bold, quick;
But at night she pleaded, darling please turn out the lights.
When she went to Kathmandu, he went to Kanyakumari
Only to discover that the continent wasn't large enough to divide them.
When the veil dropped, the incense became camphor, not musk;
Chastened, he prayed, O Mother, please forgive my profanities.
He thought he could teach her a lesson or two in celibacy
But he found a child asleep beside him who'd forgotten her sex completely.
After years of abnegation, recovering his wits he looked at her appealingly
But she wasn't a switch to be turned on or off at will.
Obsessed with performance he wished to go on and on;
Relax, she said, this isn't 'publish or perish.'
Insecure to the extreme, he tried to steal her friends
Until, one by one his friends said that they preferred her to him.
He proposed to a hundred women and became a laughing stock;
When she accepted him, they weren't more astonished than him.
Our love is so ordinary, he thought, looking at their lives;
But she never complained: he lacked imagination, not she.
[From The Serene Flame]
Makarand Paranjape's Other Poems
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(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
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