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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 51, New Delhi, December 5, 2020

Only on a Sunday | L K Sharma

Saturday 5 December 2020

by L K Sharma

The poet teaches English
literature, speaks at
conferences, performs
at literary festivals,
restrains his daughter
and takes his wife for
a film after a scene.

Wearing a rehearsed smile
and gold-rimmed glasses,
guides a comely PhD girl
who loves poems and poets.
During the hour, he plays
with thoughts that stay
unsaid and gestures that
are never made.

When time permits at night,
he eyes the silvery full moon
that quickly hides behind his
large cost-benefit sheet.

He keeps asking himself,
do I dare to eat a peach;
take her on a lonely beach?

He likes form, not feeling.
He partakes cosmic grief
in just the right measure
that sharpens his sensibility
but keeps him sane and fit
to evade haunting passion
and to pursue publishers.

Famously eloquent, he
teaches the late romantic
poets. In his lecture, he
throws in a line on love
by George Herbert who
wrote in the 17th century.
He mystifies giggling girl
students by reciting
“Love bade me welcome;
yet my soul drew back.”

A sensitive soul among them
knows a poem that he, out of
guilt, would never even refer to.
The poem is If I Wanted A Boat.
The poet says: “What kind of
life is it always to plan and do,
to promise and finish, to wish
for the near and the safe?”

And yet ‘Love’ is the favourite
word repeated in his lectures.
He never tires of saying that
poetry is the language of love.

On Sunday, he composes a
poem on destructive love but
leads a bank clerk’s routine
prosaic life through the week.
Feels no pangs of separation,
suffers no fits of madness.

Never defaults on any chore.
So what if he cannot be a real
Poet. He lives a perfect life
as a normal human being.

Masquerades as an exile but
inevitably returns home.
He never goes astray.
Is tempted to, but always
hesitates to hurt his wife
and mess up his own life.

Thus he wins the respect
of friends and neighbours
among whom he is known
as a nice human being, not
a mad poet or a roving-eyed
absent-minded professor.

At the given time in the night,
goods trains whistle past his
window, his wife snores and
his flight of fancy crash lands.

He is fully awake, aware
of the world around him.
Tracks the stock market,
checks bills for grocery,
water, gas and electricity
and files bank statements.
And if not sleepy, visits
exciting sites littered with
shiny faces seeking on-line
payment for on-line kisses;
promising more off-line.

He has invested wisely in
mutual funds and covered
himself with an LIC policy
and a pension scheme
that guarantees rising
inflation-proof returns.

He proceeds as per his
schedule and the to-do
list written meticulously
at night. Never misses an
appointment, increment
or a promotion.

He teaches literature. Also
writes poetry but never
does things that poets do.

He is used to seeing his
Night Thoughts vanish
in the morning sunlight.
He goes on, semester to
semester, not walking
the talk. Feels satisfied.

Has planned an orderly end,
by ditching the dream of
walking naked into the sea.

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