In Disguise

Poem By Khurshid Alam

They take shelter in the auto rickshaws
in the daylight and sit in much calm
in much commune with the police on patrol
and invite the passers-by at Laldarwaza.

They smile, lure and gesture
and wear red coloured garments
with tattoos on the arms and vermilion on the head
that spell an erotic design
if the marks can veil them?
Have much powder on the face, dark lipstick and well combed hair
the shampoo can be smelt.
People have a look at them
read the invitation and choose and smile back
with reserved lips and hypocrite brows—
they pride there is no red-light area in Ahmedabad.

From somewhere a man approaches Maya
and whispers some thing; and sets the deal
she keeps smiling and talking all the while
Her sharp nails and the polish bright
the vulgar curves, ebony skin and black eyes
lure the man; and he takes a rickshaw
off the sight, beating the heat of the summer.

Profession’s battering superimposed on her body
the oil on the head had caught the heat of the sun
the stench of the powder under her armpits, and the sweat
soaked panty spoiled his taste. He cried his wife’s name
while struggling between her legs and pushed her away
He quickly put on his clothes and ran away
in a madness, as if he swore never to come again.

Note: Publsihed in Muse India, Sep-Oct 2009.

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