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The Traitor by Vinda Karandikar

The Traitor
Not even a handful of green will grow
if you pour
on a heap as big as the Himalayas
as much as the Indian Ocean
- a crank still swears by this,
and lives somewhere in a by-lane of Bombay.
He trembles with a nameless fear
and makes water
when he hears the street-dogs bark.
Call him coward rather than crank.

He gulps down his daily ration of liquid fire
served by the morning papers,
and then
to expiate the sin
fingers the love-locks of children;
reads the Gita and warns himself,
'Don't you touch a weapon. Beware.'
Opens his umbrella only to remember
the nuclear mushroom,
and places his hand on just anybody's shoulder
to regain his balance.
He cries like a neuter, effeminately,
when he hears the war songs in khakhi uniforms.
Call him traitor rather than neuter.

Chewing his nut of nemesis,
he raves, though awake,
'How I would love to live, and see
Picasso's dove flying in the sky!'

- Vinda Karandhikar

Translated from the Marathi by Vinda Karandhikar and A. K. Ramanujan

Found it in New Writings in India (1974) by Adil Jussawalla

Govind Vinayak Karandikar (born August 1918), pen-name Vinda Karandikar: Marathi poet, essayist, critic and translator.


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