One can’t call mine a bad life.
My master and his wife
are good to me. I eat the food
they eat, except for curds
Once a week I watch T.V.
The work is light.
I cook and wash. I sweep each room.
They watch me as I ply my broom
with thoughtful eyes.
They realise my situation.
There’s no doubt they sympathise.
They like to have me well turned-out.
“Keep this shirt!” he often says,
tossing me one across the room.
“Terycot, as good as new!”
She doesn’t say, or even think
“Far too good for the likes of you!”
To wash away my beedi stink
she gives me soap.
Down the drain goes memory
of my eighth class pass ‘degree’
and every hope
Hang my picture on your wall.
That’s all you have to do.
I’ll do the rest.
I know what’s best
For you. This misery
You’re going through
Feel free to pass on to me.
I’m not like you.
I’m wise. I’m strong.
I’ll rid you of all your furies,
Torments, and guilty memories.
Make over to me your brain’s keys
Along with the usual small change
At today’s rate of Faustian exchange.
Hang my picture on your wall!
I’ll pest-control your mind, and fumigate
Its every cubbyhole and shelf.
Don’t hesitate. Take this opportunity
To opt out of all responsibility.
I guarantee to find, and eliminate
Your fleeing, feeling self.
Body, you tell me truths
no lover comes close enough to whisper.
A spouse can only take so much.
Kin don’t have the heart to break a heart
already far from sound.
Friends drift in and out of touch.
Someone usually is around
to give advice on diet, exercise, and medication,
to chant a mantra meant to aid in meditation
to chat on bio-feedback, reiki and all that.
Yet no conversation really soothes
Like your truths, body.
No healing hand extends as far
as you are,
body, leading me.
Angle of Ascent
When did this train of thought
Watching the shadows of wheeled hours, hearing them
hurtling down habit’s grooves, I missed
the moment of leave-taking, the garlanded farewell, the angle
Flights of parrots sweep with green
the threshold of the day, preparing it for the sun’s
Riding in his chariot, I have left
all time-tables and maps
Below, the landscape falls at last
into obedient shapes.
Rivers assume a manageable size, and roads
are seen to reach their destinations.
The horizon respectfully
As a well-known poet, translator, journalist and children’s writer in India, Vasantha Surya has been observing the dynamics of cultural and linguistic changes in modern India over the past four decades, specifically in Tamil Nadu.