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Once I was a Prince - Part Two

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Once I was a Prince - Part Two

Once i was a prince in your eyes my every wish granted
        even before I could wish it
eevaa peerankal muuvaa maruntu
the hot kuul boiling complaining in the chessman earthenpot
your apparent fear that the nextdoor neighbour woman might begin her daily chant of your ancestors’ drawbacks failings mishaps for fear that my still sheltered ears might tire of your village ways tire of the lack of other comforts running water showers toilets for fear that your native untutored tongue might sound too outlandish to my ears
     your pain perpetually shrivelled between your brows notching your fine flanking nose

Once you touched me
         for I had not risen at the appointed hour for my ritual bath
the huge cauldron of water simmering on stacked bricks
   for you daren’t let me expose my yet-unscorched skin to the mild chill of early morning dew rising in the torrid heat your full palm cupped protectively across my forehead held a fleeting moment longer than necessary in the freshly carpented wooden cubicle you had had made for me where I slept within fresh crisp cotton and soothing silk torn no doubt from your bridal saree and again you brought it down after wiping off the cooking wet with one edge of your saree the consternation in your all-watching eyes you had no time to hide

i could hear you calling out to the boy passing down the pathway to the ricefields
  your urgent voice pressing instructions
       and the boy then setting the wickerbasket full of corn down on the finesand track and retracing his fleeting steps as the familiar swish swish of bare feet slurping sand fills my ears an urgent call to the Ayurvedic doctor husband now some nights bedded by his concubine
then as the boy returned with the message of the Vaithi’s arrival within the hour the yet other curative orders to have fresh palmyra toddy milked for me then you forbade me to leave the bed dabbed and cleaned me and served me for seven long days on the toddy that made my flesh swell and shine

how you never failed to precede me with the cut palmyra branch
   like a ferocious Saracen - I'd wager - with his scimitar before his advancing lord and master 
every time i took it upon myself to take that narrow footpath into the back compound overgrown with palmyra coco-palm sweet mango guava and papaya and the swordlike rasping grass trembling upright in the low crumbling wind and the thorny touch-me-not ground-hugging folding brush 

(Continued Part 3)

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