A Hundred Gourds 5:2 March 2016

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page 9  

Rochelle Potkar – India


Victor D’Costa would have chosen priesthood. But that would open another door. He would have to pray night and day, and conduct sermons. So he just tells everybody, he isn’t cut out for responsibility.

He becomes godfather at christenings and a Man Friday during Christmas and New Year in exchange for sumptuous meals.

His mother dies of heartache. She doesn’t have a daughter-in-law to gossip to or about. No one to taunt, complain, or accompany to the Sunday bazaar.

genocide –
I flip TV channels to
blackfish eating salmon roe

When Walter D’cruz married, he didn’t know who he was. His mother asked him to, and girls were willing. He had a government job, and there was nothing wrong with Teresa. They had children: Beth and Asha. But Walter couldn’t feel his fatherhood or husband-hood.

As Beth and Asha grew, all he felt was his singlehood.

His family thinks of him to be a patient man. Some call him a dreamy fool.

marine birds
wing over waves
nature’s optical illusion -

Walter and Victor both wake up with bottles of country liquor. They watch clouds sheep by over their verandahs, one floor above the other. They both observe the sun’s rise and fall as they dole off their slumber.

But the building society cites Victor not Walter, when they speak of useless men. At dusk, they both wind their way to a dingy den of cheap alcohol called ‘Watering Hole.’

The other men in St. Joseph’s Colony have used their sperm efficiently, like Walter. They go to work by trains to faraway cities, toil in offices and factories, and come back home like ravaged dogs, broken and torn. By night, their flickering dreams are always of their children in college, daughters married, sons as doctors, engineers, and sahebs. They donate heavily to church collection boxes.

But every once in a while on their hurried trips up and down, they stop to watch Victor and Walter’s shadows hanging on the weary curtain of ‘Watering Hole’.

These shadows never fade, nor do they hurry to go away.

spiritual retreat -
melting the gods
for their gold

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