Dilip Chitre

(17 September 1938 – 10 December 2009 / Gujarat / India)

Frescoes - Poem by Dilip Chitre

Hidden in my skull are the caves where the endless

Reticular frescoes of my awesome childhood unroll.

Those are the spaces where the banyan trees of Vadodara

Vie with the neems and the mango gardens.

They were born ancient like me — those banyans

With their branch-like roots splayed in empty spaces,

With their huge population of ants and worms,

Bats hanging upside down.

And the public libraries where books printed

On what were once forests in Sweden

Gave me the world's unfathomable texts.

Baroda is what the British called Vadodara.

That's where my deaf and blind great-grandmother died

At the age of 101 — bald, wrinkled, and withered.

That's where we flew kites and learnt to finger

The pussies of eager and willing little girls

On summer afternoons and always upstairs.

That's where we secretly read manuals of black magic

And pornographic books in euphemistic Hindustani

In which it was invariably the dhobi's wife that got laid

After washing the whole town's dirty linen on the ghat.

Could I tell those stories now?

After sixty years of fermenting in my own vat?

Vadodara's vats are full of such sexy scent!

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, March 29, 2012

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