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Issue #1830      July 11, 2018

A poem that could make a difference

Gabriel Rosenstock introduces and translates a poem from the Indian sub-continent.

“Pandu, the Masseur in Goa” by Abhay K is a previously unpublished poem that every tourist should read. I’d very much like to see it as a poster poem in airports around the world.

Its raw immediacy strikes home. Its message is unavoidable and unambiguous. I love the irony in the line “this time I’ve voted for the opposition.” As if that’s going to make one damn difference! But this is a poem that could make a difference, that could change our attitude – and the way we all behave when we take a holiday. How many poems today manage to do that? I suppose you could call this type of poetry “exposure poetry.” Well, then, we could do with a lot more of it.

Socialist Voice

Pandu, the Masseur in Goa

My name is Pandu,
I am a masseur from Kolhapur
in the state of Maharashtra

I can do foot massage, head massage
I can massage your genitals
I have been massaging since past twenty years,

Mostly Americans, English and Danes
but now the beach is full of Russians
and I don’t know much Russian sadly

My fellow masseur met a Swiss woman
they got married and went to Switzerland,
now he asks me give him a massage (chuckles)

I work here only six months in a year –
October to May, then I go back to Kolhapur
to work in the fields, to grow vegetables and fruits

Earlier I used to sell grass, opium and drugs
not any more, it has become too dangerous
but don’t worry, I still have got some contacts

I can get you whatever you want – drugs, women
please let me give you a massage,
please don’t tell anyone what I am telling you

The beach shack owner does not pay me
he does not give me food or any drinks
I pay extortion to the police every month

All I earn is from massages I do
so please let me massage you,
this time I’ve voted for the opposition

Look at my finger tip, the dot of Indian ink,
they will give licences for five years
to run the beach shacks

Government did nothing much in the past six years,
I am building a home here in Goa, I have taken a loan
and have to pay a huge sum as interest every month

Please let me give you a massage,
my family will die of hunger back in Kolhapur
be kind, take pity on me, let me give you a massage.

Next article – Bernie of Mexico

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