Composed by Ihlwha Choi from South Korea, while visiting a mango grove in Santiniketan, where Tagore started his unique experiment with learning.
In the mango groves* where children were playing,
I was reading of Jesus’ first miracle.
At that moment, two fledgling-like men came to me.
Hesitating and smiling an affable smile, mixed with playfulness and delinquency,
Gabbling about one hundred rupees and one thousand rupees in an unfamiliar language.
The only words I understood were one hundred rupees and one thousand rupees.
One hundred maybe meant he had no money for lunch.
One thousand maybe he knew nice girls somewhere.
Their fingers told me something about that.
I thought Santiniketan, city of the great poet, was a holy city,
Though there were also some crimes, irrationality and evils.
The two appeared to me like the devil approaching the Son of Man, promising wealth, rank and splendours.
Finding the circumstances strange,
I escaped slowly from the spot and looked around after a few minutes.
They were looking at me like dogs having missed chasing the chickens.
The two, wearing rags, seemed starved for food.
Only for the reason of hunger,
Perhaps they might have thought of me as a traveller from a rich country.
So, they approached me for help.
That was maybe the last expression they could show — hospitality.
Maybe they approached me with the only universal language they knew.
Ihlwha Choi is a South Korean poet. He has published multiple poetry collections, such as Until the Time When Our Love will Flourish, The Color of Time, His Song and The Last Rehearsal.
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