Hidden in my skull are the caves where the endless
Reticular frescoes of my awesome childhood
Those are the spaces where the banyan trees of Vadodara
Vie with the neems and the mango gardens.
They were born ancient like me — those banyans
With their branch-like roots splayed in empty spaces,
With their huge population of ants and worms,
Bats hanging upside down.
And the public libraries where books printed
On what were once forests in Sweden
Gave me the world’s unfathomable texts.
Baroda is what the British called Vadodara.
That’s where my deaf and blind great-grandmother died
At the age of 101 — bald, wrinkled, and withered.
That’s where we flew kites and learnt to finger
The pussies of eager and willing little girls
On summer afternoons and always upstairs.
That’s where we secretly read manuals of black magic
And pornographic books in euphemistic Hindustani
In which it was invariably the dhobi’s wife that got laid
After washing the whole town’s dirty linen on the ghat.
Could I tell those stories now?
After sixty years of fermenting in my own vat?
Vadodara’s vats are full of such sexy scent!
Dilip Chitre is a poet, fiction writer, playwright, painter and filmmaker. Honoured by the Sahitya Akademi Award, he lives in Pune and writes in Marathi and English.
This is a part of his new long work, 'Postclimactic Love Poem 1'