At the Apartment’s Gate – Rupam Goswami

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An Indian soldier stands guard on his side of the Line of Control near Jammu, Kashmir.

The night drinks its last

breath of warmth.

He whistles his best-

some parodies he wishes

to scribble,

but the chill…

It permits him not

to jot down a few lines:

his fingers captives of

his waistcoat’s scrubby pockets.

 

Cats at nights are distractions;

old superstitions, sayings:

men avoid these

these days.

He tries.

He fears not.

But his mind falls prey

to a cat’s crying call:

young women being

strangled to deathbeds!

 

Pretty ladies are serious too.

Late night shifts

and extra moments of business

are cruel.

Gentle minds so criminal now-

pleasant men do crimes

on heels and skirts.

The country is falling.

But his will isn’t.

 

And there are the drunk brats.

Claim that they belong

to this century’s Renaissance,

luxurious and ultra,

where cakes are rubbed

on unclothed legs

and chocolates on

covered breasts.

The country is falling.

But his will is not.

 

A torch and a stick,

a notebook and a radio,

and his night’s tiffin

once warm, now sick,

are his friends tonight…

Two hundred a night

must weaken not his diet

nor his soul to be honest.

There’re no toffees of fame

To gobble up in hundreds.

This isn’t a work to enjoy-

to stay alert in an idle night.

 

But…

there is an unsaid promise,

an oath of pride;

His fame is treasured

in people’s faith…

faith that he is present at the gateā€¦

faith that his whistles are still awake!

(Dedicated to the brave security guards)

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