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  Bon appetit  

  The wall
  Vol II : issue 4

  Jean-Luc Nancy
  Arun Kolatkar
  Victor Rangel-Ribeiro
  New writing
  Only in Print

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Watercolour, acrylic and marble dust on canvas by ATUL DODIYA

Arun Kolatkar

I wish bon appetit

to the frail old fisherwoman


she is no more than just

an armload of bones

grown weightless over the years

and caught

in a net of wrinkles)

who, on her way to the market,

has stopped

to have a quick breakfast

in a hole-in-the-wall teashop,

and is sitting hunched

over a plate of chickpeas

her favourite dish

on a shaky table,

tearing a piece of bread

with her sharp claws

to soak it in the thin gravy

flecked with red chilli peppers;

and whose mouth is watering

at this very moment, I bet,

for I can almost taste

her saliva

in my mouth.


And I wish bon appetit

to that scrawny little

motheaten kitten

(so famished it can barely stand;

stringy tail,

bald patch on grungey back,

white skin showing through sparse fur)

that, having emerged

from a small pile of rubbish nearby,

and slipped once

on a bit of onion skin,

has been making its way,

slowly but unerringly,

towards the shallow basket

full of shrimps

left outside on the pavement by the fisherwoman

has finally managed

to get there,

raised itself on its hindlegs,

put its dirty paws

on the edge of the basket,

and kissed

its first shrimp.


Arun Kolatkar won the Commonwealth Prize for Poetry in the late Seventies. Decidedly reclusive, he writes in Marathi and English and lives, without benefit of a telephone, in Bombay