Friday, April 6, 2012

From ‘The Rupa book of travellers' tales’ Edited by Ruskin Bond

And how did you like India?

And when I go home
and the first, fond frenzy of welcome has quieted,
They’ll say “Well, and how did you like India?”
And I
too happy to think, will reply,
“Oh, it was all right” –
India, the Golden Peacock of the World was “all right!”
But later the wells of memory will flood
and I shall see again
a dawn breaking over the distant hills,
filtering sunlight on to a misty plain
where cattle move like legless ghosts.
Noontide in the bazaar
and a queer nostalgia for the sounds and smells,
Oxen carts and donkeys
and a motley of vendors.
And to round the day a sunset
over the Plains
an aching desert of sand and scrub
and far away a distant tree,
solitary against the sky.
The train surges on, gulping distance in days
where once the Moghuls trod in years.
Yes, each morning brings the same sight,
the plain and the distant tree.
Sunshine, heat; flies, desert, mountains
and lush green valleys
and though it all a thin wailing.
Memory holds the door
and I can leap an age and live again
with the Conquerors.

(The poet who chose to remain anonymous, was a Lance-Corporal in a wireless group. The poem was published in The Soldier’s Corner of The Statesman, January 3, 1943)

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