I get in the train towards Connaught Place.
Fishing in my pockets, I only find
a fifty rupee note
and a moldy ten.
Its the same seat as yesterday
and I face the question I pose to myself -
What will it be today?
A quarter of whisky
or a haircut?
I look up, look around at
glassy eyes, pot bellies and
I look down, I push my nose around
like I can adjust it.
Of course, I can't so
I get up, get off and get out.
The sun's going down,
the sky is orange
and I walk.
They're selling televisions in the first block I pass,
All of them are tuned to
the same channel;
the police have been busting
little children's birthday parties.
I cross familiar haunts
but nothing calls me back.
Suddenly I am happy to see
the best abandoned fire exit in the world
(Rusty little thing under this flyover,
I tell everyone about it)
Men I've seen everywhere
are throwing cards
and insults at each other,
all in the circle.
They've been drinking and I
break into a happy little half-jig.
Spirits raised, I make my way across
in two seconds flat. I make short work of
two streets and a park, this is my territory
and those unsuspecting men
had solved my dilemma.
I meet Babloo, a real man of about forty I think
who likes me, he calls me Sher Khan.
I smile at him, this guy gets me
even when he isn't trying to sell me pot.
I bum thirty more off him
and go to the cheapest bar I know.
Lads in black and white are talking at one table
I walk up, I wonder if they are the waiters.
Three hours after I left home, I am drinking.
Students are singing, Seedy men are watching them.
I am scratching a bent head,
looking for the word.
Man I hope you never have to choose between
a quarter of whisky
and a haircut.
Tuesday,3 am - to my troubled friend N
Here’s the scene,
I’m going to tell it to you like it is
one time and one time only,
the secret of how cities fall,
and civilisations meet their doom.
And I am aware,
sometimes you ask yourself
Irritated, at your wit’s end
“What was I thinking? ”
You weren’t thinking.
Now what you’ve got to do
Is look closer at what you were doing
Where you were doing it before
And I suppose for all of you all together,
That is, society and civilisation
The same applies.
Because the only thing worth knowing
About history is
That it repeats itself
And everything as it gets moderner
is progressively more ironic.
Think about it
But smile, you son of a bitch.
Salil Singh's Other Poems
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