Dr Tapan Kumar Pradhan (October 22,1972 / Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India)
Wind in the Afternoon
An assault of cabbage leaves on the pavement
Tries vainly to cover up the manholes;
Splattered egg yolk on the serrated kerb:
Two men look from the window. Wind blows.
A young girl throws a loose bundle
Of waste material from the upper balcony -
The red one is an empty tea carton;
And anything spongy white, thin and long
Could be a woman's sanitary napkin.
I said, maybe!
More winds; howlings; frightened cows scurrying.
Unseasonal winds might lead to Sandstorm.
SAND STORM! You must close that window now, dear friends!
The empty tea carton rises in the air.
The two men watch it pass by, silently -
Shall it reach the balcony? the gable? roof top?
They are n-o-w closing the window.
They have shut it at last! Never mind!
The tea carton fails to reach the roof top.
The wind smells of cabbage soup.
No howling. No face in the window.
They must've had a glimpse of the stray dog
Nibbling nervously at the stained sanitary napkin.
Poet's Notes about The Poem
The two men behind the window represent the majority of mankind who are afraid of taking part in the world's affairs, and are unsure of their own manhood. Instead of looking directly at the lovely young girl on the balcony, they vaguely follow the movements of the empty tea carton. The tea carton symbolizes 'vague hope' that has no direction.
The balcony, gable and rooftop symbolically represent the three higher Chakras (spiritual energy centres) Anahata, Vishuddha and Ajna in the human body as per Yoga philosophy. Instead of the sexual desire or spiritual aspirations of the two men getting sublimated at Ajna or Sahasrara Chakra, it peters out into worldly distractions.
Winds and 'howlings' represent public opinion and peer pressure, cabbage leaves represent old decadent ideas (sub-conscious mind) and man-hole represents one's own consciousness. The young girl represents noble human aspiration or a desire for Samādhi, while the sanitary napkin represents base sexual desire, which draws away human aspiration from sublime goals.
In the final stanza of the poem, the two men have abandoned their aspirations, as base desires have taken over in the form of vicarious pleasure of other people (stray dogs) .
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