Thursday, March 13, 2008


:To Sradha:

the small tea-point and stores nearby the libraray-lawns was filling with people. the sun was again close to the edge of the clouds, and one half of the sky was bright blue. a black couple got out of the shop, with a carry bag stuffed with little nothings, and went striding efficiently away. the young male indonesian who just squeezed out of the library doors stopped, thought for a while, looked puzzled and went back to the library. the two elderly ladies, clerks possibly, sat on, though their coffee cups, empty now, toppled in the late afternoon wind and their paper plates flew down to the lawn.

the dog lay with its chin on the grass and watched an ant hurrying within inches of him.

the baby sparrow that was strutting around came nearer to us and craned its neck to give her a 'hello-how-do-you-do' look.

'look, it's coming our way,' she said, full of tenderness. 'it's a baby.'

'how do you know?'

'can't you see it is?'

'they all look alike to me.'

she said nothing, but began pushing herself inch by inch slowly nearer and nearer towards it so that it would be intersted but not frightened.

the bird was hopping in an experimental way, now. it fluttered cheekily towards her one moment and chirped away the other.

her face was so intent and lit up. moist but warm puffs of wind lifted the curls off her neck and dropped them back. her eyes were closely stuck on the little hopping body on the ground. she would never know that her lips made a curious parting to smile but went together again in caution lest the bird know her joy and power-over her in the game.

suddenly she turned towards me, as if my eyes touched her out of their frolic. the sparrow flew away, the charm that tied it willingly broke.

for the first time since we sat down that afternoon, i broke outside my selfish prisons, and really saw her: the skewed sunlight drenching half her face.

and i saw her not only as she was now, but at some dream-slip second in my past and at the throbbing power-hours of the future. as a feathery promise of light and air, a memory that was ... a thousand memories that shall be...

'it's a nice little bird', i said, and she smiled full at me.

'oh it's so wonderful,' she said, vibrant with pleasure. 'i love this place. i love ...'

And indeed the sun had come out, filling the green garden with summer, making people's faces shine and smile.