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Between Jejuri and the Railway Station by Arun Kolatkar

You leave the little temple town
With its sixty three priests inside their sixty three houses
Huddled at the foot of the hill
With its three hundred pillars, five hundred steps and eighteen arches.
You pass the sixty fourth house of the temple dancer
Who owes her prosperity to another skill.
A skill the priest’s son would rather not talk about.
A house he has never stepped inside
And hopes he never will.
You pass by the ruin of the temple but the resident bitch is nowhere around
You pass by the Gorakshanath Hair Cutting Saloon.
You pass by the Mhalasakant Café
And the flour mill.
And that’s it.
The end.
You’ve left the town behind
With a coconut in your hand,
A priest’s visiting card in your pocket
And a few questions knocking about in your head
You stop halfway between
Jejuri on the one and the railway station on the other hand.
You stop dead
And stand still like a needle in a trance.
Like a needle that has struck a perfect balance between equal scales
With nothing left to add or shed.
What has stopped you in your tracks
And taken your breath away
Is the sight
Of a dozen cocks and hens in a field of jowar
In a kind of a harvest dance. The craziest you’ve ever seen
Where seven jump straight up to at least four times their height
As five come down with grain in their beaks.
And there you stand forgetting how silly you must look
With a priest on your left shoulder as it were
And a station master on your right.

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