AN OLDISH upcountry man tall and lean,
with shaven shrunken cheeks like wilted fruits,
jogging along the road to the market town
in his patched up pair of country-made shoes
and a short tunic made of printed chintz,
a frayed umbrella tilted over his head,
a bamboo stick under his armpit.
It is a sultry morning of August,
the light is vague filtering through thin white clouds.
The last night seemed smothered
under a damp black blanket:
and today a sluggish wind
is fitfully stirring a dubious response
among amlaki leaves.
The stranger passed by the hazy skyline of my mind,
a mere person,
with no definition, no care that may trouble him,
no needs for any the least thing.
And I appeared to him for a moment
at the farthest limit of the unclaimed land of his life,
in the grey mist that separates one
from all relations.
I imagine he has his cow in his stall,
a parrot in the cage,
his wife with bangles round her arms,
the washerman for his neighbour,
the grocer's shop across the lane,
a harassing debt to the man from Peshawar,
and somewhere my own indistinct self
only as a passing person.