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WHEN THE WIFE ISN’T HOME
In this four-room flat
When the wife isn’t home
One feels terribly lonely
One didn’t feel this way before marrying

I got up
There has to be some noise
I switched on the TV
The TV relieves the sense of loneliness
The TV is like a mistress substituting for the wife
Though some vital things can’t be done with it
When one needs something, it gives what one doesn’t want
When one doesn’t need a thing, it gives one what one wants
The TV makes one an asshole
I switched to Channel V; it makes a lot of noise

While brushing the teeth
I thought about
The number of my teeth and
The total time it takes to brush them all
One thinks too trivial thoughts
I stopped thinking
I kept milk and water on the gas ring to heat for making tea
I really wanted to have some coffee
But as I had started making tea, I said to myself
Let’s drink tea
Everything one wants is forever in-between choices
One doesn’t get it even when the wife is there

Let’s go to the potty
So I turned up the volume of Channel V
I opened the faucet in the toilet
One must have noise around, continuous noise
Otherwise one becomes disturbed
As I read the papers I went on passing stools
But didn’t completely empty the bowels in spite of the cigarette I smoked
I should have given some thought to shitting
Instead I thought of the world
While shitting
Maybe that’s why my bowels aren’t emptied yet

I was happy while I shaved
Because I like the smell of ‘Old Spice’
But bathing was irksome
Must ask someone
Whether like the hair on the head
The other hair could also be shampooed
It’s such rampant growth but I find no time to shave it off
And it itches when I am among people
Maybe the hair on my head suffers from dandruff
What about the hair there?

Placed a slice of bread in the toaster
While spreading cheese on the toast
I felt for no particular reason
That I was a slice of bread
And everybody rips me off everywhere
After generously buttering me
Had breakfast keeping an eye on the clock
Must catch the 8.05
Switched all the fans off, shut all the windows, doors, cupboards, drawers
Enclosed the feet, knotted the tie
Switched the TV off
Switched off myself
Locked the house

From home to the rickshaw-stand
Looking around
Didn’t find the next door Barve female
She comes out usually at this time
Got into the rickshaw, sat next to her warmth
Pushed my way into the train
On the train one feels nothing about anything
One enjoys it
The fuckin’ public is chattering away
About everything from politics to sundry stuff
It’s election time, Buddy,
Now Bal Thackeray’s going to speak even louder
This is an asshole government – while it’s in power
More asshole-like things will be done
Hey, take this – Ace of Clubs!
Hey, Stingy – your dame’s here!
Hey, did you see kal ka Andaz? Good soap on the TV!
What’ll be the price of Reliance stock today?

Two or three South Indians tittle-tattle
One can’t figure out what they’re saying
Lord knows!
One should just go on reading
Till one finds a place to sit down
It’d be nice if one found a seat early today
One feels like commuting in comfort
As usual – will the one here get up to go or will it be the one there –
Hard to tell
I begin to read Kal
Till my feet, my brain starts to ache
Kal – ‘The Ache’ – must be read
Once one finds a seat
All aches will be gone

After getting off at VT
I came through the crowd thinking about the day’s chores
Up to ‘The Capitol’ cinema
‘The Capitol’ shows such lousy fuckin’ flicks
Otherwise, it’d be nice and easy
To see a movie and then go back home
Then I decided to see the hoarding of the latest issue of Blitz at the Hutatma Chowk
Took a share-a-cab
Shit, I forgot to ogle at the sexy chicks near ‘The Eros’ cinema today
Stared too long at the lousy poster of Hindustani  
Reached – 126, Mittal Towers, Wing ‘B’
The cocksucker accountant is late today too
The assistant is ready with the list of jobs for the day
Since before my arrival
It’s boring
It should’ve been a custom to kiss one another in an office
Or
If one felt like it, a tight embrace

The programme for the day goes like this
11.00 staff meeting
11.30 onwards Amirati, Puris, Lintas
12.15 Trikaya
Have to smooth-talk someone into having lunch today
In the afternoon
Visit HTA, Triton, Adfactors
Without an appointment
The HTA bastards are too arrogant
The receptionist at Triton is Samantha Fox incarnate
One can’t decide whether one should just look at her or talk as well

On the way back in the evening
One doesn’t know
If one is tired or vexed
Let’s forget it now, the day bygone
One is just a domesticated animal kept by this city
The one that sniffs around the city the whole daylong
Day by day
One’s turning into a fuckin’
Unprinted roll of newsprint that’s found defective
Or, the key number in the material of an ad
A pimp, a pimp, a pimp

At night a couple of pegs
Then the packaged food
Then a cigarette
Take a look at the unimportant mail
Lie down in the unimportant bed
Read Milan Kundera
After getting bored, the poems of Dilip Chitre
The sheer joy of fucking Zebunnisa, the Magic
Is certainly not to be found in masturbating
I pace about all over the flat
Lie down and surf TV channels
Keep on the bed Ekoon Kavita  – 1
And then damn it I am doomed
I first flush out all masculinity, then my entire day,
Into the night of this four-room
  
 
 
 

Translator's Note: Channel V: a popular music channel on television Old Spice: name of a popular international brand of an aftershave lotion and allied men’s toiletries 8.05: the arrival time of a suburban train in Mumbai Barve: a Maharashtrian Brahmin family surname Bal Thackeray: name of Mumbai’s popular demagogue and founder of the right wing political party – the Shiv Sena – that ‘controls’ the city Andaz: a popular television soap opera; kal kaa refers to ‘yesterday’s episode’ Reliance: a well-known Indian multinational corporate conglomerate and brand Kal: name of a recent Marathi novel by the avant garde novelist Shyam Manohar VT: the Victoria Terminus; Mumbai’s gothic railway terminus originally named after Queen Victoria, since renamed Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus after Shivaji the Great, founder of the first Marathi kingdom in history, and now officially known as CST The Capitol Cinema: a Mumbai landmark just across the street from the Victoria Terminus Blitz: the name of a popular weekly tabloid published in Mumbai Hutatma Chowk: formerly the main square in downtown Mumbai knows as The Flora Fountain, because of its fountain at the centre with a statue of the Roman goddess, Flora; renamed Hutatma Chowk or Martyr’s Square in memory of protestors killed in a state-ordered police firing during the 1950s mass struggle for the state of Maharashtra with Mumbai as its capital The Eros: landmark building of a cinema house in front of the Church Gate terminus of the suburban Western Railway in downtown Mumbai Hindustani : The Indians; name of a patriotic popular Hindi movie Amirati, Puris, Lintas, Trikaya, HTA, Triton, Adfactors: names of advertising agencies in Mumbai Samantha Fox: pop star and sex goddess Milan Kundera: famous East European novelist living in France Dilip Chitre: name of a Marathi poet Zebunnisa: name of a Muslim woman in Dilip Chitre’s sequence of Marathi poems called Magic Muhalla