Joydeep Sircar

Rookie (November 9,1947 / Calcutta)

Incident In Parbati Valley - Poem by Joydeep Sircar

Two marches back the whispers had begun
about a camper dead, mauled by a bear,
somewhere ahead. At Pandava Bridge at noon

under a small rock overhang we found
the body of an emaciated middle-aged man,
lying hunched up on the frozen ground.

Used syringes, ampoules of steroid and calmpose.
lay scattered about: the shallow facial wounds
were not by bear but by overdose.

Barring a Delhi bag, there was nothing
to tell us who he was, or why he chose
to travel so far merely to bring

his life to such a sad and painful end.
We left him, knowing that in the coming Spring
he would go into the river at the hands

of shepherds moving up from Manikaran
who used the cave. The porters were warned
that loose talk could draw police attention.

Thelu Ram, our high-altitude guide,
spent a little time scrounging around
for candles and stuff that we would need

more than the poor chap who was dead and gone.
Our next camp lay some three hours' march ahead.
We shouldered loads and pushed quickly on.

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Poem Edited: Sunday, November 6, 2005

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