You have three wives and you are homeless.
On grim afternoon of pre-winter cold and crowds
rushing to catch a train home, you pronounced
a drunken death sentence on a friend who stole
your bag of paltry possessions, the blanket
you had never washed, your dubious money.
That night you forgave him and shared cold space
beside closed ticket counters and old residents
of a merciful railway station.
You welcomed me into a world of profound sorrows,
a secluded room of conditioned air, stone goddesses
on bookshelves, new testaments on desktops, sparse
files in drawers, your failing business, your schizophrenic
wife who couldn’t change your alcoholic ways. We prayed,
we disagreed, you emptied your pain upon the table
and found some more, you showed me your secret disease,
you told me about the woman you will not give up, the joy
you do not have.
We found you concealing lost hope behind a feeble smile
in the company of your fellow drunks, like one who wept
for a lost home and a squandered life one bleak morning
inside the home of the old woman without a conscience
and her bedridden husband who could not handle anymore
the perpetual traffic of tottering legs, hands, lips. Then you
went inside the river, then vanished into your muddy world
of middlemen and burglars, then gave up trying to be good.
The doctor said there is more water than blood in your swollen
body and I am not sure if I will see you again when I get home.
I forget how long ago I had sipped earthlike tea inside
your thatched bedroom, listening to stories about your
unfortunate life, your imaginary sickness, your father
who was against you, the high caste doctor who ensured
you felt less than human. The antidepressants he gave you
did not work, my prayers for you were not answered, your
hatred for me grew, and I walked far away from you, uncertain
if I should visit you again, worried you may not be alive
if I do.
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