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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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A Poem for Naipaul

 

 

India, Sir Vidia,

is the little gem in the cap of your pen.

The perfect crease of your coat.

The little dose of horror you draw for your books

looking out of your hotel room in Delhi.

 

The blood of your ancestors

lies buried deep within.

Our sorrows your bridge to cross over.

The little joys of our lives—

your writer’s block.

 

When did you last give us a full look, Sir?

 

Our land, we’ve seen, rise up from the embers

of dying hollow hippie cigarette ash.

Or forest fires grazing on the slopes

climb our backs, then etch her map; and spread.

Or a mere man go up to the west

on a tourist Visa, kick its butt; and come.

We’ve seen India clap-clap when you stand.

We’ve seen India give a damn to what you write.

 

Just the simple arithmetic of things

staying in the background/because they wish to—

 

Like the souls sitting in the queues when the pens write—

When the nickels, the pounds, the presses come to the front—

Like the India we’ve known like the count of fingers on our hands

staying off your tongue; farther and farther from your lips

than the little fur growing on your chin

so vaguely reminding

of our grand old mountains without a future.

 

              —Samartha Vashishtha