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Makarand Paranjape

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Makarand R Paranjape

Green Bee-eater, Basai Wetlands. Photo by Nitoo Das




She entered his life looking for a book.

Just for her

he brought two out copies from the dusty storeroom.

Actually, she wanted three—

one for her mentor-

(lover?), who’d

mentioned the title to her, one for her boss, so erudite

on all topics, even obscure ones such as this, and the last one,

thankfully, for herself.

Though preoccupied

he’d made a special effort to meet and greet: whoever

chased down books with such ardour these days? Curious,

she must be special, even unique, he concluded.


She walked in with a dancer’s bearing, paused at his desk,

then sat down with equal poise as they began to talk—

of books, what else? To show her an especially interesting

tome by an author both them knew personally, now

sadly dead, he dived into the antechamber. Instead,

not finding it, he stumbled on a steel trunk crammed

with hundreds of dull answer scripts that he must grade—

reminding him of a life drab compared to more exciting prospects

before him. Sensing his discomfiture, she said kindly, let it be.…


Time to leave:

he started walking her to the stairs, but suddenly swung

back, interrupting his courtesy, with an impulsive turn:

he dashed in to fish out a little gift, a book of poems,

his own, published so long ago that he was almost

unrecognizable in the author’s mug shot.

                                                He couldn’t

make out what her bright-eyed and widening smile meant

—was she a reader, even lover, of poetry, rarer today

than poets themselves, who chirruped dime a dozen

in the blogsphere?

To his room

he returned

unsure, and the waiting pile of dusty answer sheets—


only to notice

he had nicked

his ankle on the sharp edge of the metal trunk.



its colour so fresh, so unmistakeable etched words

                                                with pain:

“I’ve actually

drawn blood on first encountering her”—or better,

“She’s wounded me, spilling blood….” Anyhow,

the day of their meeting now was marked—there’d

a scab, possibly even a little scar.

                                                Shedding blood

over words, over verses, what did it mean, he mused—

Oh, Muse—was she one of them, who’d stepped through

his door not to take, but give?

                                                He stopped,

not wishing to kill it—after all, poetry emerges from

a space not of certainty but possibility.

As for now,

at least the blood was real;

he hadn’t made that up.

She exited from his life giving him

                                                if not a book,

                                                at least this

one poem.


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