Tuesday poem

Just There

We have not given up hope
though we know
in the end
we will live in the place
we do not wish to.

At the beginning
we will be unhappy
even restless,
we will not like –
the peepul tree opposite,
the ever-coughing neighbour,
children yelling out film songs
hordes of pariah dogs barking
throughout the night,
the unseasonal weather too.

Then we will reassure ourselves
what have we to do with all this –
a few days more
and we move on.

As time passes
in the evenings
we too will sit on the platform
under the peepul tree,
greet, with folded hands,
the old man passing by,
scatter grains in the courtyard
for birds to peck at.

We will then hedge
our small piece of land,
musing one afternoon
that we need to do something
since we have to live just here.

There will be hope
but like an old garment
its colours will fade
with time,
then we will hang it
over a peg.

We will stop then
going for walks
beyond the bend
and like a word
from an old song
forget there was a place beyond
where we hoped to live.

Neither here, nor there
neither in hope
nor in despair
we will remain just there
where we do not want to.

by Ashok Vajpeyi
from: Kahin Nahin Vahin
publisher: Rajkamal Prakashan, New Delhi, 1990

translation: 2004, Vijay Munshi
from: Nowhere But There
publisher: Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi