Muktar was his name – his tongue
still white with his mother’s milk,
and he sucked his thumb in the classroom.
Monsoon music drowned the light of day.
Our Lakeside School was surrounded by black waters.
Water-hyacinth, rice-grass and lotus covered the lake.
Tiffin time. Playground muddy.
We had nowhere to go at break, but watched
how the rain-mist dusted our eyes – a white darkness.
He led me to the back of our school.
We stood at the water’s edge.
He took his fleshy shoot out of his pouch.
It was small as a young gherkin,
a yellow flower still attached to its head.
I laughed. He took my hand, pulled it
and asked me to touch, as if to take the flower
with the ant that hid in its pollen.
I snatched my hand away.
He wanted to slide mine out of my blue shorts,
measure it against his.
I refused. He insisted again,
said it was tiny and soft as a leech.
I reached out into the darkness of my pants.
His eyes sparkled as if he’d just seen a spikenard bloom.
© Mir Mahfuz Ali