India !

Johannes Manjrekar


As always, dusk is a rich medley of sounds. The trilling of bee-eaters crisscrossing the sky like arrowheads released from immobility in a scientific illustration. The yelling and laughter of children from the migrant workers' hutment colony. The gratingly off-key voice of a marriage band singer alternately singing in a man's voice and a "woman's” falsetto, broadcast over a distorting loudspeaker. The rumbling of trucks and buses and the sputtering of the little tempos with their motorcycle engines. The recorded bhajans from the temple, more monotonous than the rhythmic hammering of the carpenter working in my neighbour's house.

Suddenly this cacophonic symphony is broken into by a deep booming, hooting sound. Even before I can identify the source in my mind, the tree in my neighbours' compound is shaking, followed by a thump on the roof. I twist around in my chair just in time to see a big langur, stretched out in flight, sail across the twentyfive-foot gap between my neighbours' house and ours. It lands with a thud, and I fancy that I can see a trickle of dust descending from the little tiled roof over my back porch.

growing darkness
the sharp-sweet smell of flowers
whose name I don't know


Copyright Johannes Manjrekar, 2009