Life · Poetry & Shorts

The man from Afghanistan


I saw the man from Afghanistan,
halfway up the road to Delhi,
that same city where if you eat carelessly you get a queasy belly,
where the bus pulled over into the large lot of a dusty rest-stop on the edge of Rajasthan,
in a far corner stood the man from Afghanistan.

Towering more than a shade over six foot,
pointy leather shoes and a black vest-coat,
white shalwar kurta barely contained his substantial girth,
on his shoulders a shawl less dark more earth,
such was the man from Afghanistan.

Fairer than the masses that thronged the place,
displacement writ large on his face,
Jet black beard and a gaze flint sharp,
Skin hammered by years to a crumpled tarp,
Careworn but not despondent was the man from Afghanistan.

His turban stark white reflected brightly the Hindustani sun,
My glances furtive and curios revealed no trace of his occupation,
So fascinated I was by his manner and bearing,
and hoped a short conversation would reveal if he made carpets or grew pomegranates to earn a living,
that I trudged towards the corner where stood the man from Afghanistan.

“Ten minutes” the conductor yelled from behind as they always do on these trips,
Barely enough for a leak and purchase of an overpriced bag of chips,
All this while he ate pistachios calmly,
I imagine they were from mazar e sharif and reminded him of home warmly,
like the land he came from – too far for a chat or a photo was the man from Afghanistan.

The bus pulled away,
the man did stay,
Better than a camera is our mind – the ultimate memory maker, selectively fading away some, sweetening others.
I will never know for sure if he was alone or he had a big tribe of many brothers?
For that was the last I saw of the man from Afghanistan.

[Written earlier, submitted today in response to Elusive]

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