By the Roadside

As he waits for his turn
at a dingy barber’s shop
called ‘Lovely Saloon’,
he watches the road,
people moving up
and down:

An attractive girl, her left hand on her left ear,
looks directly at him
and exclaims, ‘Shut up!’

A young man, his left
hand holding his left ear:
smiles and smiles at no one.

A lone woman, her right hand on her left ear,
her face to the sky, asks, ‘But where?’

Another woman, her left hand on her left ear,
suddenly thumps the air: ‘Yahoo!’

A girl with long hair, her left hand on her left ear,
briskly nods at the ground.

A middle-aged man, his left hand clutching his left ear,
raises a finger,
and with eyes blazing,
twists his lips agitatedly.

Seeing these people,
he recalls two old
Khasi* sayings:
‘Do not talk to yourself
like a lunatic’
‘Do not mumble all alone like a sorcerer’.

He thinks,
either the maxims
have lost their relevance,
this is an age
of ear-clutching lunatics.

* Khasi tribe from Meghalaya, Northeast India.

Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih