A crowded dusty Bangalore Evening

Posted on August 10, 2006

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I stood there, by the side of a busy road
Mulling over the unfairness of life.
I complained and my friend listened.
I shed tears and he watched.
Inconsolable I was, bogged down,
Convinced that the universe was conspiring against me.
This crowded, dusty Bangalore evening
Found me feeling cheated and victim-like.

It was then that I saw him,
The shaggy old man,
With the shaggy old bag,
With a shaggy white beard,
He approached us, and I was sure,
He had a shaggy old story.

Please buy my papads, he said.
I was annoyed, I didn’t pay attention.
Please buy my papads, he implored.
I was shaken, I didn’t respond.
Please buy my papads, he insisted.
I was helpless, I didn’t move.

I stood expressionless
as my friend bought the papads.
The shaggy old man was grateful.
The shaggy old man was gone.
His shaggy old story unspoken.
My friend and I didn’t talk about it.
I went back to my complaining,
And he went back to consoling.

But my complaining was half-hearted,
I couldn’t stop though, Lest my friend should know I was shaken,
Lest he should know I felt helpless…
I left the papads I don’t know where,
But the shaggy old man, he will stay,
Right here with me, immortalized
In my image of me and my friend
On a crowded, dusty Bangalore evening.

–Henri (September 22nd 2005, 12.07 A.M)
Dedicated to the Shaggy Old Men in this World

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