Monday, 2 May 2011



It is a warm evening and a motley group has gathered at a small private hall for a ‘session of poetry and interaction’. The poet is a stocky lady; she has just published a collection of her poems which she wants to share with the “discerning members of the media” and her friends.

The poet picks up her newly-released book from a chair on the dais. Sitting in the front row of the chairs for audience, I grab my pen and pad to note down the poetic moments.

“Poems are not just for recitation. They need to be understood by you all,” the lady says. “And you will understand it better by joining in performing the poem,” she adds. “So let’s begin...”

Suddenly a baby cries loudly somewhere. A young nanny, with a baby in her arm, enters the hall from behind the curtains and walks up to the poet.

Will the baby recite too? You never know... today’s kids are very smart.

“He’s refusing to eat,” the nanny informs helplessly pointing at the baby.
The poet takes the baby and begins to sing: What is your mobile number? chook chook... what is your mobile number? chook chook...

Chook chook? Is that the music?

The baby enjoys the rendition, and goes quiet and yawns. The nanny takes him back into her arms.

The relieved poet begins to speak again: “Sorry about that. Okay then... let’s get on with the performance...”

We look at her curiously again.

“This is my new poem, called My Apathy,” the poet informs.
She then holds up her book like the Statue of Liberty and begins to sway like a pendulum.
The recitation begins: “I am the melancholy of the underground. Like a potato, I exist to be consumed by the greed of boredom...”
She kisses the book and waves her hands like a bird.

Why is she kissing the book? What does it all mean?

“So in apathy I dance like a turbulent bubble of simmering hope... ahhhh... ahhhh...”

Potato’s hope? What sort of hope?

The poet now moves forward and stands right in front of me, and continues her ‘pendulum act’.
I look around, feeling a little awed. Everyone seems to be watching me.

“So I dance in violation of the rule... I dance for you and me, and for the world...”

Violation? Is she referring to banned dance bars of Mumbai?

The poet holds up the book again, waves it and then lifts one of her legs like a Bharatnatyam danseuse. She then moves her hand as if she is touching someone... from head to toe. She kisses the book again and looks at me with a suspicious smile.

I consider moving out of my seat.
But before I can implement that thought, the poet lifts a veil from her shoulder and brushes it on my face.
I make a disapproving noise.
She then moves past me while trying to shake her hip like a Salsa dancer.
And she continues to recite: “Feel me, and fill me with your happiness... lubricate me...”

Is there a double meaning to it?

She lifts her veil again and brushes it against the face of a balding American guy. He is thrilled, I suppose.

“Listen to the sound of silence...” the poet suddenly shouts out as if she’s scolding us.

The baby cries again and the nanny enters the hall.
The recitation-cum-performance stops immediately.

“What is it now?” the poet asks impatiently, throwing the book on chair.
“I need to change his diaper, but he won’t let me open it,” the nanny says in a tired voice.
The poet turns to us.
“Sorry about it... but I will be back in a while. You can read the book in the meantime,” the poet announces.
I waste no time in getting out of the hall.

This piece has been published as Reporter's Diary
in Sakàl Times, Pune, India, on May 1, 2011.