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Saturday Dinner Party
poetry [ ]

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
by [kksrivastava ]

2011-12-13  |     | 




Before reading this poem pl read the note at the bottom.


Saturday Dinner Party


It is a Saturday. It is seven o’ clock.
Next day is a Sunday, the day of rest.
Cars after cars, small ones, big ones,
Old ones, new ones,
Arrive in succession, at their best.
They walk towards the garden.
Well done up.
The Pussy mews, the white Pussy,
The darling of the young ladies.
The comers are of all stuff, tall and hefty,
Small and wiry, men and women.
No kids.
Nuisance creators.
Talking women, giggling women, shy women,
Silent men, serious men, stupid men.
They all walk together in rhythmic tandem,
Almost.
Bespectacled men, lens-wearing women,
Bearded men, clean shaved women,
Dominating in-laws, dominated sons-in-law,
They all walk together in rhythmic tandem,
Almost.
For, it is a Saturday dinner party.
Next day is a holiday.
To be a Sunday.

“Bhain, Bhain”
Murmurs she in a corner.
Hackneyed expressions.
They wait for the party to settle down.
Quickly.
The smell of roasted liver spreading slowly,
The smell of barbecued fish enlivening the wind.
The cool cocktail starts doing the rounds.
First one.
Only a few takers.
It is a wintry, chilly evening.
Scotch, wine, rum, gin, vodka, kirsch, soda, water,
All have their fair share to serve the men and women.
Life has dawned,
Suddenly.
Men start murmuring.
Women start tolerating.
Men start behaving manly.
Women start behaving unmanly.
After all, it is a Saturday dinner party.
Fathers-in-law.
Mousy.
Start behaving differently.
Exuding confidence.
Indeed a rarity.
Mothers-in-law become less agile.
Physically, at least.
And less infernal too.
Sons-in-law start having initial shame.
Wives start praising their husbands,
Husbands stop praising others’ wives.
It is all surcharged atmosphere.
All in one
They are of all hues.
Some are white. Some black.
Some are swarthy. Some grayish.
But they all dance together, in rhythmic tandem,
Almost.
They all listen to the western music.
Undecipherable to many, yet they enjoy it.
They have nothing but all praise for it.
The Pussy mews, the white Pussy,
The darling of the young ladies.
“Bhain, Bhain”
Murmurs she in a corner.
Hackneyed expressions.

Watch, in particular, the behaviour of that lady,
Fair,
Babelicious,
Touching her turquoise,
Once,
Twice,
Several times.
And the courtesies bestowed on her by the bearded man.
That brusque, shameless, rheumy eyed, lout,
Guzzling gratuitously the intoxicating kirsch,
And then benignly ignores the scornful look,
She gives to him, for she is discussing Villon,
Ballade of Dead Ladies, to be precise.
Her twinkling eyes enslave many,
For, they have not even heard of Villon.
That tall lady, the wife of that prosperous chap,
Has already despaired many,
For, he is good for nothing,
Though he has enormous wealth,
Bequeathed to him by his paralytic father-in-law.
He has no mother-in-law.
So is it believed.
But he can talk English, that none of his ilk can.
The waiters, dressed in milky white suits,
Having unloaded their trays,
Spot the glaringly drained gentlemen.
Talking silently through their eyes,
They laugh.
For, they have seen thousands of such drained men.
And draining women.
Having discussed Villon,
The fair lady,
Gives a scornful look to all excepting women.
Whom does she expect, then to understand Villon?
Exciting moments of the party not far off.
In tones too hushed up, the poker-faced thinker, urbane, mouthed,
In the ears of the one accompanying him.
Rumour has it.
A kittenish.

What?
Perhaps about the lonely chap standing alone,
In a crowd that ruins it’s own beauty.
He must have spoken of immoral deeds,
The lonely chap is suspected to have indulged in.
The hapless ocholophobic.
So they say.
A misogynist.
An unpopular uncouth.
No friends.
Abundant foes.
No well-wishers.
Never mind.
All in the game.
Suspicion.
Suspicion.
Suspicion.
All pervading.
Nothing perhaps allures him.
Not even the curse of the hell.
Polished men they are, for, the English they speak,
Has neither the substance not the gravity.
Like the toothy lady’s fiancé.
Her fiancé.
His fiancée.
Love at first sight.
Or
First night.
Or many more like him.
Still when they use that,
Liberally,
Every one listens,
Trying to decipher deeper meanings,
All are iffy about,
Remember that afternoon of February,
Her fiancé dubbed him
As promiscuous.
So many glares then.
A few stares too.
What the word stood for?
A compliment.

Then laughed wholeheartedly,
The red jacket wearing six and half footer.
His small face.
And big head.
Jerking lightly.
But not a hydrocephalic man,
I bet.
But where the fiancé from?
Place, you mean.
The college, the University, I mean.
Must be from some big one.
So verbose.
Promiscuous.
The fair lady.
Touching her turquoise,
Once,
Twice,
Several times,
And infecting more suave and rabid gentlemen,
Praising her of having talked of Villon.
Scornful look she gives to them,
For, she knows of the quality of life flowing in them.
Still a spinster.
Hence, pulls the crowd.
The crowd untroubled by her existence.
The Pussy mews, the white Pussy,
The darling of the young ladies.

The lonely chap.
Deeply ensconcing himself,
In thoughts.
Nocturnal thoughts,
Visiting upon him intermittently.
But regularly.
Unable to ejaculate his jeweled ignominies,
He moves towards the corner.
Once, not too long back,
The Pussy mews, the white Pussy,
The darling of the young ladies. Coldly,
But not rudely,
The poker-faced thinker,
Continues working the characters out.
Filthy uprising of seized but carefully stored wishes,
Reinforced by the kicks of heavy doses,
Escalate the curses so writ large on their faces.
Propounded whisperings waning fast,
Into the vacuum of uncertainties, not defined as yet.
Prerogatives of the sycophants.
Should I say so, Sir?
Out of twenty, the promised one,
How many Chaucer got?
The fair lady now querying the poker-faced thinker
About Chaucer.
And how many he would have got now?
Over the last round, possibly, of the drinks.

See, see, there that old pianist.
Invalidities moving with remarkable élan,
Towards a society,
The men and women,
Woozy ones,
Think of,
To save humanity from further fall.
Sounds,
Mild ones.
Someone is playing on Piano.
The Pianist.
You mean.
Indeed a lucky chap.
Luck always stays unexplored.
For having done what?
None knows.
None dares to know.
Who would bell the cat?
Or let the cat out of the bag?
Chicken and egg relationship.
See the motley crowd around him.
Too busy in playing on the Piano.
Unblemished is his image.
So is believed.
Writer of an unwritten magnum opus.
But what the chap is singing?
“In a port…….Like something.”
I can’t understand more.
Sorry.
Never mind.
Bumpkin.
That I am.
A terrible amoral.
Still, so eulogized,
So well misunderstood.
A shrewd character.
In a modern parlance.
The poker-faced thinker confronting,
That young girl.
Figuring out what she thinks of the party.
Disproportionate.
Iniquitous growth.
Uneven growth.
As economists call it.
After all, it is a Saturday party.
It is a party, attended by men,
With womanly qualities.
And women,
With inhumanly qualities.
There on a small table,
The finicky woman,
Biting into a piece of crowdie,
And telling the host,
“I have no time to talk to you.”
That amoral old chap.
The poker-faced thinker.
Sliding his right hand,
In right pocket.
The toothy lady.
Sticky ones.
Protuberant teeth.
The fiancée.
Dark colour.
White colour.
And vice versa.
Figure and background relationship.
Experimental psychology
Names these that way.
Contrast and compare.
In parlance, simple and naïve.
“Not much to imagine.”
Once murmured that tall, red jacket wearing,
Friend of the loner.
But where is he?
At least must come to this party.
Frustrated.
Call the loner.
Where is he?
Must be drinking somewhere.
But is he a lunatic?
Don’t know.
Some one painted him that way long back.
One night he chased someone.
Near a honky-tonk.
One in night.
Too late.
Mercifully, a man.
All stories.
You know.
The poker-faced thinker,
Prying unsuccessfully,
Into the life of wives and mistresses.
A champion of honest intensions,
With dishonest motives.
Asking questions.
Too meaningful.
The conspirators.
The transparent clothes,
Shamelessly revealing non-transparent traits.
All monomaniacs.

“Bhain,Bhain”
Murmurs she in a corner.
Hackneyed expressions.
Liquids falling from her eyes.
Of late, has suffered from anxiety.
Simple?
No, existential.
I see.
Family tensions.
Broken affairs.
Never values love’s labour,
That is lost now.
Jeering Shakespeare
Too late.
And who is that thin, short fellow?
Remember those famous words of Caesar.
The chap “has a lean and hungry look”.
But does the fellow, “thinks too much”.
Or,
Is he, “a great observer”.
An excellent pussyfooter.
His thin moustache fitly matching his thinner lips,
Like those of a healthy lizard,
Catching an insect.
Suck up. Suck up.
A wizard on investigations.
Linking A to X, without knowing either A or X.
Or de-linking Z from B or C from M.
And then drawing improbable conclusions.
Not so easy to disbelieve.
You mean differential calculus.
Exact name of the methodology, I miss.
Good heavens.
I miss these when needed.
Don’t you remember who told you?
Yeah. Yeah.
That loner, perhaps?
Let us ask him.
The thin chap.
Laughing now.
“Seldom he smiles”.
But laughs when his boss laughs.
Proportionate laughter.
But is the chap not a case of echopraxia?
Perhaps.
Symptoms say so.
So skilled.
From a juggler’s family.
I suppose.
A vainglorious character.
Of first water.
His laughing lips.
He owns not.
The words he mouths,
He owns not.
No drinks, no eggs, not to talk of beef.
Still so many controversies.
And, my dear, “such men are dangerous.”
The party advances, it matures.
The Pianist going totally haywire,
Revealing his true individuality.
Remember Mark Twain and his,
Lies,
Greater lies,
And
Statistics.
Can I say?
Statistical highlights,
Statistical insights
And
Statistical delights.
The poker-faced thinker idling away his casualties,
That thin, slimy chap, a vegetarian, thinking of
What?
Let it be anybody’s guess.

An uproarious laughter,
Coming from nowhere,
Attracts almost all.
After interacting with aging persons,
He has come.
Who?
That brilliant, rumbustious quidnunc.
The philosophically minded another gentleman,
Who having laughed uproariously, as is his wont,
Talks of Stochastic Dominance,
That a few hours back,
He has exposed the aging persons to.
That, quidnunc, a laughing stock, by himself,
The so-called master on theories in that area,
So has he convinced others.
And a believer in relative risk aversion,
Has created a scene there.
Lo and behold.
While combing his hair,
Disheveled,
He takes Santayana by surprise.
The book on Santayana falls from his hands,
And comes out of it the quidnunc’s,
Blank photograph,
Signifying accumulated follies of generations.
Always carrying books he has never opened,
As is his wont.
One day Eliot, one day Yeats,
One day Byron, one day Keats.
Going garrulous,
Takes he by surprise all those including that lady,
Present there,
For, they think of him as the last word on Santayana.
Laughing again uproariously, as is his wont,
He takes the fair lady by further surprise,
By praising Santayana’s hatred for aestheticism.
And again laughing, this time, too absurdly,
He gulps the left over whiskey of his glass,
Preparing himself for next one,
As is his wont.

That lanky bespectacled gentleman smoking,
Too loquacious.
For the Occasion.
Raucous talks.
About how he has suffered,
In the hands of likes of persons like poker-faced thinkers.
Never, even for a moment, he allows others to muse,
For a while.
Momentary happiness through a muse,
Is what he denies to others.
No matter how shabbily he has been treated,
No matter how upset his tummy is,
He has no business to spit while talking.
And polluting others,
Through his penetrating weapon of spitting while mouthing.
He wavers his right hand several times over his tummy,
And pressed it slightly.
What for?
Must be acidity.
Upwardly mobile.
He continues talking and talking, too censorious, for nothing,
The Pianist, the invisible settler of the games,
Kisses the Piano, twice, thrice, and then last time.
Only yesterday.
Has delivered he a lecture on sagging investments in that sector.
To a group of more sagging intellectuals.
Now ready to talk on financial dilemmas.
Situations, conditions, terms of trade, all,
That he cherishes to exploit.
Ruthlessly.
Fishing in troubled waters.
Is it not?
Blank visions about the economy.
Has heard neither of Smith nor of Marshall.
Not to speak of Koopmans or Meade.
Still, raring to talk to the inhabitants,
Of the shell.
Cocooned.
What a pity?
Who cares?

You also have that chap,
Always ogling at the beauties.
Beauty lies in the eyes of the ogling gentlemen.
If we might call them so.
Beauty subsumes.
Do theirs?
Men of supreme intelligence think of him,
With reverence,
For, he can have young ladies in trouble,
Through those deadly weapons,
Of incessant, continuous attacks,
Of his unmanly stares.
How mortifying?
Not so.
Don’t you have a sense of history?

“Bhain, Bhain.”
Murmurs she in a corner.
Hackneyed expressions.
Hundreds and hundreds of the times,
They have heard these words.
She murmurs these everywhere.
While being on the dining table.
While jogging,
With gentlemen of glorious dimensions.
While talking to the blithering fellow,
When none lends his ears to him.
While saying good morning.
Or,
Good night.
While on the road.
Or in the corridors.
While in the company of men.
Or,
Women.
That quidnunc,
A man of great experience and learning.
A man who once choose to be courteous to her.
Of course.
At his own peril.
Offered a unique, inexplicable interpretation,
For her utterances.
“Musings, you know, she has no regular musings.”
And took all present by surprise,
As is his wont.
The lonely chap.
Lost in his thoughts.
Poe and his,
“Maison de Sante”.
Resemblances,
Then and there.
And now and here.

And then suddenly the party ends.
All leaving in tandem.
Almost.
Excepting the lonely chap.
Who has sleepless night,
In a room that has no windows.
But only doors.
That too he decides to keep ajar
For whom,
He never reveals, nor does he conceal.
Torrents of rudimentary,
Primitive images of living ghosts,
Are what he is afraid of as these come not during,
Day but during the dying hours of the day,
When the day is on the verge of death,
And night about to prosper, flourish.
Plurality, multiplicity of selfishness,
Glare him.
Tease him.
Suffocate him.
But encourage him to survive.
Despite many misconceptions, polluted scars,
He continues selecting tangible,
From those frightening, unnatural images,
That peep through the moon-lit door.
Outside sad calmness shivering at the melee,
That have evacuated.
Mercifully.
Slowly linking tangible with invisibles,
He looks outside.
And finds,
Melted fire, in the lawns outside, seeking,
Extra-ordinary inspiration from fading darkness.


PS- Saturday Dinner Party is a twenty page long poem from my first book of poems-Ineluctable Stillness. This poem I wrote in 2001-02 trying to depict “the shallowness” of such parties and socializing. And also the plight of the odd man out in such parties.

(Patience Requested)

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