95 (an oldish upcountry man)

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,

grinding wheat,

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.