Narayan Gangaram Surve
…and, look here,
write this down too:
Say, that I am happy.
This body aches, but still,
say, things are better here than in the village.
The men come like looming rain-clouds,
and burst in torrents all over us;
but Babdi, who always holds a grudge
asks all of them:
how many others did you visit,
before coming to me?
My dear, they’re men, I tell her,
if they ask you to sit next to them, you sit.
And why should their wives let go of their rightful claim,
I ask you?
…now, write this down as well:
The money orders may be delayed,
but they are sent.
Say, that the new things that were bought
have been sent with Vishnu,
along with fifty rupees, less ten.
From this amount,
buy schoolbooks for Gangi
and chuddies for Namya.
Give the brat ten paise everyday
so that he will run happily to school.
And kiss them both for me.
things are getting costlier here, too.
Even water in the glass evaporates.
Every new customer demands a fresh bed-sheet.
It’s not enough to provide a soft shoulder,
you need a ceiling fan too.
No, no, don’t write that down,
I only mention this because
you have been listening patiently to me.
All this makes me laugh. I am in two minds,
whether to tell you this, but
just the other day a customer came to me
and asked if a woman could be with him
while he was there.
Now, am I not sitting here, right next to you, I said?
He stared back at me, looked surprised and shuddered
and at that moment I felt like laughing
at the entire male race.
This skin we wear is a terrible thing,
men claw at it like hungry beasts
and feel free to say whatever they want.
I feel like laughing at all men,
and weeping for them at the same time.
are drawn to our skin like cattle,
they just can’t help themselves.
You must be tired,
listening to me go on and on, like this.
What to do?
Everything is tiring these days, I know,
But, even so
visit me, from time to time,
come visit me,
whenever you have the time,
come up and visit me.
translated from the Marathi
Translation © Mustansir Dalvi, 2013, All rights reserved.