Tuesday, May 1, 2007


(for Rose)

I remember
The first time I met you -
Brown overcoat, pink cheeks
The cold winds against your face
At Earl’s Court
In the London winter
Mrs Price, the housekeeper
Flustered, dishevelled
Diminished by your radiance,
Scampered hurriedly up the stairs,
Showing you the apartment
While I retreated to my room
I was drawn, reluctantly
Into your brood:
Picnics in the parks,
Packed sandwiches, noodles
Tea in the flasks
And culinary bouts on week-ends
At Lee Ho Fook;
Till one by one the brood dispersed
As all things must

Slowly, less reluctantly
You moved into my crowd:
Boisterous curry week-ends,
Agitated debates;
How gradually you learnt to unravel,
The strange twang of my concerns.
I remember especially
The quiet nights by the fireside,
The gentle chats, brewed coffee,
The gentle purr of your voice,
The evening strolls at Chelsea,
Trips to Brighton, Bath, Cambridge;
The petty tiffs we had
How gradually
This familiar proximity grew and enlarged
Into an accommodated love.
Through long, summer days
And cold winter nights
Your wild exuberance mellowed
My hesitation dissipated
More than all this
I remember the separation,
My lonely sojourn in Paris:
The daily notes
Of breezy greetings and love,
The emotional tears of our embrace
The gentle walks along the Seine,
The moon over Sacré Coeur
When for me,
Love was consummated.

Leaving London in June,
Drizzling as usual --
No tearful farewell this;
Several friends dropped by
Some phoned to say goodbye
The coach headed south for Dover
Crossed the channel to Calais
Then away to Brussels, Paris;
Summer followed us on most occasions,
Sudden showers over Salzburg.
We gasped at the majesty of the Alps,
Journeyed through Yugoslavia to the Mediterranean
Before arriving at fabled Istanbul;
We cruised the Bosphorus, took a respite,
Endured rising dusts, miles of sand dunes,
Through Teheran, Esfahan, Kabul, Srinagar -
Until our aching limbs prostrated
Before the towering Himalayas
And yearned for home.

Twenty five years hence,
We returned once again to Kathmandu,
On the anniversary of our love;
Restless, I touched
The gentle rise and ebb,
Of your inhalation;
Drowsily oblivious,
You dreamt perhaps of home -
May, Jake and Boon.
The morning light leaned softly
On your silken hair,
And straying strands of grey.
Where are the growing Kumaris now ?

Kumaris, or Child Goddesses, are worshipped in Nepal. Following selection, she is taken
away from her parents, specially looked after and cared for, and then paraded and worshipped
during the Festival of the Goddess held annually; however, her tenure is very short, and
terminates as soon as she attains puberty, after which she is returned to her original home and
lives her life as a normal girl.

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