(12 February 1945 - / Kundapur, Udupi district, Karnataka / India)

She, He And Language - Poem by Vaidehi

She said, hunger, thirst.
He said, eat well, drink.
She wept.
He smiled.

The other day he said, window,
not door as she’d imagined.
Wall, he said.
She thought it was space –
was it because all is revealed
when a wall breaks?

She prepared his favourite payasam
What he ate was rayatham.

Why is everything so topsy-turvy?

Was there no air between them,
and so no waves either?
Heads down, words in water
send out a forlorn cry.

It was then that suicide was mentioned.
What did he say?
He found it funny, didn’t he?

It happens sometimes.
The sea isn’t the sea.
What one assumes to be the shore
is the mere hump of fish-back.

You say something
Another meaning unfolds.
The banter of words, you know.

She: Be honest and tell me,
Which one of us is more insane?
He: What did you say?
Which one wishes to die first?
She: It’s hot. Shall I open the window for some air?
He: What? Hunger, thirst?

[From: Parijatha
Publisher: Christ College Kannada Sangha, Bengaluru, 1999]

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, July 10, 2012

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