Yes in Telugu

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.


~Saranyan BV

Bangalore, India

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