In the garden in Corniche
In the playground bound by a metal fence,
While the Arab teenage kicks the ball,
The feet of the Sudanese, sitting on the stone bench nearby
Start prickling;

Cries out that

For one who knows how to score goals,
The hunger to kick a ball
Is the ultimate one!

Me? I shall remain nameless!

The fisherman 
Whose whole body tingles

As he espies a shiver of gigantic sharks
Even while swimming for life, 
Having lost his boat and fishing net in the deluge,

The nun, whose breasts start secreting

As she watches a bawling baby,
Standing amidst toddlers of the nursery

The swimmer,
Who crawls through the desert
On camel-back

I do not ask for anything else
Just the ball and the opposition
Let a thousand, or, tens of thousands, come

Let the goal-mouth
Be miles distant,
I do not ask for anything else

Once, while carrying a load of cement

On the tenth floor,
For a moment,
A moment,
The sun tempted, as a huge ball.

The scar of the beating received
While dribbling the sun on the sky meadow
Remains on the back..

There are balls anyone can play with.

No, all surges ahead

Do not end in goals.
There are no games that do not have ‘foul’ -
Even in dreams.

There are no Arab children
In the playground now.

Jut the ball, ball, ball alone.

It scurries hither and thither

By itself,
Races outside,
Speeds towards the goal-mouth,
Sometimes ducks out of sight.

Very privately,

And even more secretly,
Ball smiled at me.
A shudder of incarnations
In my toes.

As soon as the ball and feet
Left the playground,
Two legs
Started dancing,
Betwixt twilight and night.

Translation / Anitha Varma


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