17th February, 2001 | 16:55 – 17:20


It was present
when I first ope’d my eyes –
strong, shining –
a symbol spreading strength
in my frail, fair body.

I was bedazzled by it –
like others stupefied –
by the mush, hairy growth
that provided his face
the charismatic magnetism
making all believe
he was in the army. He was a marine.

A lot of effort had been put
into giving them the majestic, flamboyant look.
Liters of oil, kilos of onions,
bottles of shampoo – and most importantly,
many manual hours of labor and skill
to give it the tip-pointed skywards look.

In fact, to him it seemed strong enough
as if some child could
hang by them, enjoying the ecstasy,
delight, and comfort of
a swinging Birch branch.

It’s been twenty-four summers
that I have looked at them,
observing, and feeling the impact
it has on others.

There’s only one difference
that I notice today –
the color has changed from
shining, lustrous black to silver streaks –
yet commanding its due respect.


Written in train between the stations Hazratbal and Bhopal while going to Lucknow, after returning from my first job interview at IMI, Hyderabad.