Growing up in a beautiful idyllic place,
my dear friends and I wandered
freely in the wilderness.
Each day we came back from school,
we ran outside into the woods,
exploring every little nook,
for silly little things, curious
inquisitive and adventurous-
fear never came about with us.
Jamaal was a part of this
childhood that we friends
each one of us cherish.
Who he was we knew not
where he came from, a big mystery
In our eyes she (he) a born naturalist
and a Braveheart…A transvestite
he was- who led a simple secluded life,
talking to people passing by
and herding goats in the day.
His goats went hither and thither
on many gorgeous golden days,
She (he) sat on the velvety grass
under a Babul tree, not far from
my bedroom’s window view
He called on them with his
loud gruffly maternal voice, they
flocked back when they heard him
With his paan stained teeth he gave
the most charming grin, his somewhat
white stubble, glistened in the sun,
“Baby, did you come back from Ischool” ?
His voice with full of affection would say,
“Don’t walk past there, there are
hissing big hooded snakes”, One,
he said he captured and threw
him in a jar and invited us all,
to get one glimpse of it by his den.
His den was small with several
exotic things tucked every where.
He would have shells and colored stones,
healing powers in peacock feathers,
he said he bestowed upon them:
willing to generously part with them
when one of us pestered our whims on him!
Every thing he collected had a story to tell,
we would each settle every now and then,
to hear about his spine chilling adventures,
with our eyes wide open and minds still
as the goats slowed down to eat,
when the fireflies were almost about
to glow, he would look at the sky and yell
“Baby time to go home now, the mongoose
will come seeking the slithery hooded ones”.
We would wistfully look around,
thinking about how dreadful it will be
to go home and get our homework done.
Our pockets loaded with sacred treasures,
we walked back home thinking about
the stories we would tell our friends
the next day back at school.
He would walk us back each to
our homes, telling our moms
what a pleasure we are each day!
Our mothers mighty pleased with him
gave him some spicy chutneys and curries
he would say he was looking forward
to having some delicious supper that day
before he walked away into the dark woods,
he would giggle with a twinkle in his eyes,
he would charmingly ask our mothers:
“Amma, winter is going to be very chill,
may I have some saris to be warm and still”
they always obliged and gave one away
this was our friend and wilderness guide: Jamal
who took us around each day, until we were older,
and stopped wandering yonder- because
fear set up a sturdy tent outside our homes,
staring at us with its googly eyes.
Midnighthues Poetry by Aparna Reddy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.