From B.A. (Hons) until his end
he walked a bitch around the park,
not stooping once to bag her waste,
and always home before the dark.
He held her on a shortish lead,
looked out for cars and feral strays,
kept her from licking doggy spoor,
then schooled her in a virgin’s ways.
Her colour changed from blonde to black
as his head went from black to white,
the shat-by postbox stayed the same,
red even in the dying light.
Along their route tall houses rose,
and waters sank and hedges died,
things might have come apart but for
his walk, his dog, his measured stride.
He walked his way through breaking news,
where others rushed to succour Sikhs;
she peed on pogroms on her way
past Orwell’s hell then Kubrick’s.
His steps spelt out what did not change
despite old age and metal hips;
the Labradors were props for his
denial of apocalypse.
Mukul Kesavan is a professor of social history at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, and author of The Ugliness of the Indian Male and Other Propositions.
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