The Love Song of Mugoo and Gugoo
Mugoo was a sweeper boy and the cleanest
by Daljit Nagra
of the sweeper caste. He would leap at the blush
of dawn to clean the paths and the steps spotless.
Gugoo was a bootmaker girl who made boots.
Gugoo was higher caste than Mugoo. By rights
he was the floor and she was the foot that trod.
Yet after work, while the boys and girls played
at tug of war, wrestling, or archery, shy boy Mugoo
and shy girl Gugoo would draw the boys and girls.
The children smiling at the shining visions would hug
Mugoo and Gugoo. Then that couple would bury
the drawings for fear their elders feel scandalized.
In manhood for Mugoo and womanhood for Gugoo,
how hard that Gugoo thread boots for her father
when she had no golden stitch for the gaping hole
in her soul. How hard that Mugoo scrub the lanes!
Who dare be swept away from the law of caste
by the foul stamp and passport of besotted love?
Yet the hairs at their ears, their nipples, bomped
by a mere sultana breeze. Then the swirling night
when they'd escape for Arabia than stay near-far ...
In Mugoo and Gugoo Love was a rabbit leaping on
a radish when they became runaway lovers! Like hares
under the sketched moon they bobbed in the grunch
wind before the tossed river. Timorous Gugoo
to timorous Mugoo, "Is it not said the pure of heart
are able to turn water into solid crystal orbs?"
"I have heard it Gugoo. Let us swim till the waters
turn dot by dot into crystal orbs, slowly mounting
up for us a solid path so we can bobble across."
That cub-like couple held on a first-ever daredevil
cuddle. Then snuck a parched kiss! And fell into
their dive across Punjab's muggur of an ogre — the
river Ravi! They were soon to learn the blunderous
water was bigger than they; they were dabbing onwards
on the spot; directionless comical pups; pawdawdling ...
Only Death was woken by their swallowed screams.
At the sight of a cutesome pair brinked for his maw
Death's thin lips aah'd and coo'd. To tickle himself
Death tipped a witching shriek in the eardrums
of the ferryman, Charan, who was rank in a dream.
Charan swore at Death, "What bastard panchod
is unheroing my dream? I was the River God
riding the turmeric sea when the fisher king's
red bill fished me up a buxom masala mermaid!"
Death hushed Charan. Bundled him into the boat.
Charan, still swearing, fished for a scream-trail,
for bunny-like feet in the sudden dead-stop river ...
Next morning, by the prophecy of the snake-priest,
the villagers arrived at the shame-faced riverbank.
Charan, in his guzzy saffron turban, was blaring
at the crowd about a passion crime. Huffing too
had arrived the muscly cobbler and sweeper fathers.
All heard Charan, "I am my own King of the Sticks!
I row two weeks that way to the flowers of Kashmir
the gold-haired men with their bloated bags of honey,
and one week that way for the spices of Samarkand
with the red-fingered sellers of kalonji, saffron, jeera.
Today I catch by the feet a fresh parable of a kutcha-
pucka business. I sing it for only one rupee each!"
All looked down by Charan's sandal'd feet.
Dared to be rolled in the same shivering blanket
(like a chapati rolled around saag paneer)
yet fearing to be parted, yet tenuously panting were
Mugoo and Gugoo! The frail couple like shy red
squirrels, "O father, we love you. But. Most we are ...
loving this: this that is my soul's mirror. Mugoo is
my Gugoo: Gugoo is my Mugoo." The bony youths
clung sauced together. Stiffed for the glooping apart.
The bootmaker father been crunching his own fists,
the sweeper father been hurling daggers from his eyes,
as the crowd fell silent, the fathers spoke as one,
"What draws them out of caste, their underhand
idle drawings. Such fancy is inking good for nothing."
Gugoo and Mugoo raised their necks, "If all hearts
were good for nothing, could love from each for each
blow as one?" The apricot breeze blew a soft cadence
but could it push the dominion of the communal mind
past its bound and daily utility? Could sweet nothings
clear the world free of blood fear? Of sweet-faced
Mugoo and Gugoo in a threadbare pleading, "Do not
part us." From their mild rhetoric and politic of Love
the hills and valleys had swooned into blossoms of
heaven, and had set the scene with gaudiest cheeks.
So who dare part them? O Love, be roused, take arms
and wound for the cause of love! Or at least shackle
the shadows that deepened into that tinsy couple.