The woman at the tea shop at Kishmatpur
Was talking to someone at the threshold behind
Probably a guest or relative
Who had come visiting.
She handed me the brew in paper cup
And started directing her words at me
Instead of at the man seated.
She spoke in Telugu, which I don’t know
Her complaints sounded as if against lover or husband
She kept asking if I agree after every sentence
She wanted me to agree, kept asking if I do.
Her saree covered half her breasts
And the other half was on display
The child on her lap pouted lips,hid eyes under the saree fall,
It was not easy to tell he wanted food
Or avert eyes from sunlight
A housefly searched for a place to perch
It was easy to agree with a person like that
In that condition, therefore
I kept nodding, agreeable smile and all
Thinking of the right word in Telugu for saying yes.
I knew it was Haudu in Kannada, Hahn ji in Hindi
Aamam in Tamil, Athe in Mallu, Oui in French,
It didn’t matter what word I should use
As long as I nodded until she forgot
What she was saying
And I why I was listening.