Wednesday Poem

Reverence : Nuisance
Meena Kandaswamy

On walls of reception counters
and staircases of offices, hospitals, firms
and other ‘secular’ institutions –
pictures of Hindu Gods are painted…
so that casual people walking in (or up or down)
fear to spit on the adorned walls.

But still looking around or climbing:
you can always find the work done
an irregular red border underlining the walls
owing so much to betel juice and spit.

And on cheap roadside compound walls
that don’t bear ‘Stick No Bills’ messages or
cinema and political posters — the Gods once again
are advertised. And captioned with legends that read
‘Do Not Urinate’. And yet, the Gods are covered with
layers of smelly urine – they don’t retaliate.

Tolerance is a very holy concept.

Or like someone said,
the Caste Gods deserve
the treatment they get.

from: Touch; Peacock Books, Mumbai 2006