Narayan In An Expo - Poem by Violetta Simatupang
Yamuna Vihar was sun-roasted
Smoking roofs and wailing asphalt everywhere
Delhi Pustak Parikrama sobbed on a yellow plank
long rows of alleys stretched between wooden poles
thousands of book titles lay down
thoughtfully on dusty cracked floor tiles
sitting alone amidst countless hectic legs that went
to and fro imbibing news stories experiences knowledge,
Little Narayan vanished into the fancy of
Tales of Syahran Rani, Four confused horses, tiny fairy houses
Winnie the Pooh, a Japanese samurai and a woman
hungry for books. Millions of questions
half to four in the afternoon
Narayan had to move away when a pair of shoes halted.
An unfriendly thick-mustached security guard said
The expo is closing, son. You must leave!
Narayan ran bare-footed; didn’t stop till he made it to the field
he made sure that the iron door of the Vihar building was locked
from his worn-out, grass-inlaid t-shirt
peeped out a small storybook, wrinkled, folded, body-odored
‘Holy Gautama’s answer to children’s prayer’
Little Narayan closed his eyes:
Venerable monk, descent of Saka
forgive me for I’ve committed a theft. This book,
are you going to retrieve it?
It’s morning. No answer from his holiness.
Yamuna Vihar: a place in New Delhi
Delhi Pustak Parikrama: a travelling book expo organized by
National Book Trust, India
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