Gifts from India

A daughter brought her mother

gifts from India:

silk scarves and saris,

a batch of bindhis,

a jangly ankle bracelet

and a bangle around which

a frieze of camels processed.


The mother put them on

and felt like a princess,

surrounded by incense,

the smell of spices,

exotic sweetmeats,

the click and the thrum

of the tabla,

the whine and the twang

of the sitar

and the taste of hot, sweet chai.


Later, back in her t-shirt and jeans,

she fell fast asleep on her sofa

and dreamed a Bollywood dream.

A mustachioed villain

had gathered her up

and galloped her off

to his fort in the hills.

And it took all the cunning and courage

of a dashing and handsome prince

to ride her away on his fine white horse

through friendly villages

where smiling peasants

waved and cheered their support.


Duly she woke

to a soft English rain

on a plain, grey day

where the rumble of a bus

drifted away

past the pub at the end of her road.


It was then that she noticed

the jangly bracelet

dangling still from her languid ankle,

hinting of India

and all the sounds and smells

of faraway places.