Fiction   Essays   Poetry  The Ten On Baseball Chapbooks In Memory

Ashok Gupta

Don't Make Mistakes

When you alight from the train
look for Ramdhun, the rickshaw-wala
Tell him you want to go to chowk and
pay him two rupees no more

When you come to the stream
take your shoes in your hands
hold the rope on the log bridge
or you will get wet

A small walk along the cowpath
and you will reach the village chowk
Ask for Vaidji. Everyone knows him
as he gives them medicines

The village boys will follow you
as you will be dressed strangely
in city clothes
Let them

If you see me playing with other girls
or doing some chores
don't stare or call me by name
They will be shocked

Just lower your gaze
and walk past briskly
towards the house
I will follow later

When you meet Baba
talk about other things
not about us
Or he will think you are brash

When he talks about
the days of the British Raj
look impressed
And ask him to tell you more

If you do all this
and don't make mistakes
he will give you my hand
in marriage


Streetlights fill in the fading space,
between the porch and memories
of Mama and my village, far away.

I am burning and delirious,
Mama plucks chillies and bananas
from the backyard.

She returns from the market
with just a few Rupiah
not enough for the village doctor.

When lamps go out
there is the silence of crickets
and our sobbing.

©2003 by Ashok Gupta

Ashok Gupta is an Indian who works in Jakarta, Indonesia, as a chemical engineer, and started writing poetry at the age of fifty. A few poems have been published in e-zines like FZQuarterly, and in print in Reflections and Times of India.

  Home Contributors Past Issues Search   Links  Guidelines About Us


Subscribe to the Slow Trains newsletter