In our oblong garden there is a lawn
bordered with trees, shrubs, flowers,
roses and vegetables nicely drawn,
our Papaji’s labour measured in hours.
The vampires flee, scared off by the garlic,
being chased away by the runner beans,
onions, coriander, fenugreek; so aromatic,
plants dotted about; tiny pods of chickpeas.
Applemint and peppermint everywhere,
green leafy spinach and firm mustard,
white flowered radish pods waving in the air,
burgundy rhubarb; so tasty with custard.
Pumpkins’ vigorous vines sprawl and creep,
streaked courgettes’ golden flowers gleam,
his passion shows when he digs soil deep,
Papaji is lost in his world of earthly dream.
Doesn’t have knowledge of the flowers’ names,
he calls them by character, colour, shapes,
“Laal, peela, neela, hara,”* Punjabi fun’n’games,
nurtured, enveloping mesh. Nothing escapes.
But the kids want to play football and cricket,
furious Papaji bellows his often repeated call
to the birds, fat pigeons, kids running for a wicket:
“My plants! Don’t kill them or I’ll kill you all!”
Month of May Kuli Kohli