Dr Tapan Kumar Pradhan (October 22,1972 / Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India)
My Friend, Plagiarist
I would gladly spare my Sunday Villa, my friend
for you, I can spare my girlfriend for a night
for you, gladly. You flatter me so much indeed!
I'll do anything to have you always by my side
to have breakfast with me, stroll in the gardens
with me, share a smoke, a drink, a chat, a joke
with me. You always sing my praise, humour me
with my own humour, rephrase my own old jokes
in a such a way, they appear always new to me.
You recycle me, reinvent me, re-energise me, re-discover me
without you I would have been long long dead, my friend
it is because of you alone that I am alive still
in bookshelves, coffee houses, recycled PhD theses.
You are the only one in the world
who reads all my poems, all my works.
People buy my books, read
and forget me; but you
You never forget me
You never forsake me.
Can I ever repay even one-hundredth of your debt?
But I am afraid, my friend, that even after death
you will follow me. No, I am not afraid of death, no -
You remember how many nights we spent quietly together
in lonely corridors – talking of Rousseau, Virgil, Dante
how many nights strolled together in deserted cafetarias
invoking memories of Shakespeare and all the other Bards
how many nights spent together in those quiet cemeteries
talking to the ghosts of Neruda, Nabokov and Lolita?
No, I am not afraid of you, I am afraid
of your ghost - after death. You may stalk
my books, my epitaphs, my biographies.
I wonder how you never got tired
of it all, of my friendship
of my constant companionship,
I am the same old man – what
can an old man offer to you -
you who spent your entire life
with me without gaining anything?
You became my shadow, remained a shadow only
never caring to achieve anything on your own,
neglecting your body, soul, your everything
always thinking of me, you became just Me
you followed my works
propagated my words
never creating a word, a work, a dream of your own –
neither my son, nor wife, nor mother, nor father
can ever hope do what you did for
me, to me, without being asked -
I feel so embarrassed the way
you have obliged me for ever.
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