My “occupation”? ? ? - Poem by AtreyaSarma Uppaluri
Against the column “Occupation”
Earlier I used to say with gumption:
“Bank officer” in the Indian Nation!
I felt elated when they said this:
“You’ve done us service
Of an extra of forty years.
So here we relieve you - be all ears! -
Yes, yes, two full score of years ahead.
Now be a man! We set you free! Live it, head
Held high - your second innings, out spread! ”
So I came out into the wide world
Where earlier for decades
I had missed the sunrise and sunset
For I was simply
Waking into my office
And sleeping into my home.
With my chest expanded
And wings to my body
I surveyed the world in frisson
As I strutted along and forward
As a toddler in my second lease
With a spate of expectations
Confident of my ‘abilities’.
I was by some fellows accosted
Who’d carp again and again:
“You’re a person retired! ”
Hearing that crap I grew bone tired.
Stung then the blokes cold:
“You’re now out and old! ”
Those damned thugs, how bold!
They din and drum into my ear:
“You’re a citizen senior! ”
Senior though in life
Am I not quite junior in this lease?
Being on a ministerial quest
They, the hoi-polloi, made a request:
“You’re free and at your second best.
Why not hold for a term the president’s
Post of the association of residents? ”
“I don’t have the strength or sinews
Or the suavity, big lungs or nerves
For the great coveted golden crown”
Though they wished my voice to drown
I immediately so excused myself
Tough as it was to manage their pelf
Prejudices, politics, and pettiness.
On the card ration
Or on the paper of any description
What honourable thing I should mention -
I brood, as I concoct my coffee decoction.
“You silly dog! Don’t you know your leeway?
With words and phrases don’t you have some way?
Be it musing
At once bang, hit it
Be a poet to the hilt! ”
“Who’d admit me, a poetic pariah? ”
I rued. Then the Oracle called me: “Zechariah! ”…
Close on the heels, a friend suggested:
“Join the wonderful Muse India”
Then on, would flow in some silly idea
To test the patience of friends so dear.
Oh, now I am a poet they say
So I’ve made my clear day
And it should certainly pay
And surely show a bright ray.
I write, and write,
Write off, and rewrite
So wrong or wee right
All the day and night
Biting a bit of sundae.
Ideas down I scrawl
Thro’ lexicon I crawl
Pen on with a drawl
With words at brawl.
To be with ‘with’ or ‘by’ – I sigh!
To be for ‘for’ or ‘to’ – I say fie!
To be in with ‘in’ or ‘on’ – I do die!
Then for a full hour down I lie
And make between them a tie
And on the dice I rely
To finally cast the die.
All their poems and write-ups I read
Now the Muse with responses I feed
Then I scroll up and down with greed
To know how many have Okayed my creed.
Seeing that the cheers for me are not that bad
I then see that the jeers and sneers make me sad.
Not to be let down, I never turn a crass cad.
I go on my writing-spree with as much fad.
I rapaciously wrest my writing pad or the mouse pad;
Rack my brains again; and hither and thither gad
And like a buoyant and unruly impish lad
Hold my pen or mouse and scribble like mad.
At the cost of full cuppas five plus four
And bread or idli, vada or dosa just before
Brunch, lunch and munch…ohh..hah…thereafter
Followed by nuts strong, dinner and fruits softer.
All the while fully cooperates my wife with grudge
Knowing that despite her demurs I wouldn’t budge;
I wouldn’t ever stop my Muse India site-ward trudge;
That on any other chore I would frown like a drudge.
She and I know that my urge
Is like an undammed surge.
So hers and my views merge
With no scope for any dirge.
Then she yelled in joy, too sudden, as if off-guard:
“My dear bard, flinch no longer; grin and leap like a pard!
Against ‘Occupation, ’ say: ‘Fulltime Poet! ’ How’s my card?
Add ‘Office at Muse India’ be it a fact hard or a canard”!
That relieved me of my occupational hazard
No longer am I awkward, laggard or haggard
But have since then felt like a professor to Harvard
Out on an invited visit from Muse India’s orchard.
[Dec 11,2009: : Lincoln, NE, USA]
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