Requiem for an unknown Tigress Cub


still the climbing green lianoid lass
her tender tendrils torn  
massive metal lying like a cutlass
in her lap forlorn
                       finger on trigger                                                                       
 
                           still the wetness    thighs   eyes
      the breasts peaking
                                       the quick quelling blushing frenzy
            the slightly forwardthrusting awkward turgidness of the torso 
                                                       the stalk-neck craning 
a young pallid green palmyra on the thrust
               the dusky knuckly fingers strict and bony   quivering
            the gangly gait now stiffening
                                                              and within alert grasp
an AK-47
                rounds of bandolier bullets
          nipping her nipples  
  fatigues for jungle sarees   loose silk anklelength skirts
       over rough cotton jodhpurs
           rubbery canvas shoes for Ali Baba leather sandals  
 sandalwood clogs
 
      the loin-length sesame-oiled tresses severed at the shoulders
           the rationed tampax crushed in the back jodhpur pocket
    the drilled march still aching in the pelvic girdle
                                                              the shoulder blades   
too  tendon-strained streaky shark’s fins
 
her mind on her mother’s diurnal diabetic needle
           and the relief    the dowry promised to the boy next door    
      the lightly tripping fiesta truant feeling         
 a matinee show  
    the classes  well the classes   but for the maths teacher   
        she was just then getting on the mend 
           
her mind shutting out the homely odour of steaming    
                                                              puttu and cambal
                                                                    itiyappam and coti
                                                                             rasam and rice
 
     the rat-a-tat of sudden staccato fire    
the screaming blinding flash of shells
   the dirgeful thudthud of bursting bombs    
the grating crackling of armoured car chains  
             and the distant muffled blasts    
     droning planes swooping
the bark and shriek of schrapnel…
 
  then the raspy clipped yelp of the platoon commander  
                ends her reverie
   
    her face crushed against a mound of freshturned sod  
             her right knee twisted   trapped in the hunched cavern of her       
        pubertally pulpy belly
the breath expelled in an urgent wheezing crushed moan 
                                     the last stifled desperate cry  
for her long distraught mother  
 
 
(© T.Wignesan – Paris, May 1st., 1997 ; rev. 2012 ; from the collection : Words for a Lost Sub-Continent, 1999.)

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