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April 2019 Vol. 15 No. 1

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Shobha Rao

Tender Feelings

I would walk through the bamboo thicket every day, listening to the gurgling streams as I guided the tourists to see my beautiful village across the river. I never failed to notice her picking flowers to offer to Krishna at a nearby temple. One day I reached the temple with my tourist group just after she had completed her pooja. She smiled and placed the hibiscus in my hand as prasad. I smiled back at her and later when I reached home I placed the hibiscus with great care in my diary.

will she tremble
when she hears my breath
waft from the shakuhachi
carrying melodies of passion
that rise deep from my heart

Years later, she married a Japanese tourist and taught me the Japanese word for flute.

Notes: pooja: worship; prasad: offerings (fruits, flowers, sweets) that are first made to God and then distributed to his devotees.)