Miss Gobble - Poem by Makarand Paranjape
The unkempt municipal garden
between the college and the railway station
provides the setting for our action.
In a secluded corner, shaded by the old neem
squats a bench once probably green,
now carved with sundry profanities.
There once a week, we keep our tryst.
At night if there are no drunks prowling, or cops
on the beat, the park is your territory.
Then carrying my awkward burden, of necessity,
in you I seek release. Better your deal, I think
than descending to base extremes; besides
I am told, by shunning intercourse, one can
prevent disease. But even if that's not
true and I'm equally susceptible with you,
I'd come-because, how shall I put it?-
you have a way with such things. Also,
you always perform single-handedly
and I hate go-betweens, or solicitings.
Last, but not the least, you charge
only ten rupees.
Once the money is paid
and my knees are conveniently splayed,
you consider it unprofessional to delay.
So whether I am at my best or worst,
I usually succumb, because you have me
quite literally, under your thumb.
Then in the crook of your palm,
you give me a quick run-down
of all the skills at your command;
no wonder I prefer you to my right hand.
But, by now I am ready to stand on my own,
so you promote me to the preferred location.
Sometimes I wonder at our situation. I don't
know your name, or from where you come;
we hardly speak the same language and, indeed,
have so little in common; then how do we manage
to get so much done? When my thoughts take such
a turn, my position undergoes a drastic alteration.
Suddenly, I become assailed by unwelcome sensations-
the open noisome gutter, is just one example;
then, your own not too pleasant odour, bothers.
With our chronic water shortage, such inconveniences,
I know, cannot be helped; but they add to the squalor
of your already sullied vocation. In this manner,
while you are busy plying your intention
and in the dark, your face betrays no emotion,
I lapse into these depressing cogitations:
how do you, with only a mouthful or two for supper
go to bed each night on an empty stomach? And
despite my precautions, I get deeply involved
in the poverty of your lot.
But on this point
I get unsettled: you deftly twist your tongue
and without knowing it, I emit a deep groan.
You grab the advantage, perk up operations;
I retreat a bit from too much stimulation-
at this critical juncture, I suddenly lose
control over the situation: unable to prolong
the transaction, heedless of repercussions,
I acquit myself to my utmost satisfaction.
But by this time the issue has staled,
and, your dues being already settled,
I feel disinclined to extend this session.
Walking off, I leave you on the bench tidying-up.
Incidentally, your next client happens to be someone
I know; his room is opposite mine on the same floor.
Perhaps he'll dropp in afterwards to compare notes.
[From The Used Book]
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