On the roof, it has red, sun-baked tiles.
The doors are light wood, with large copper rings,
A young custard-apple tree in its old courtyard.
Yes, I have a home of my own.
I don’t quite know where.
Be it where it is.
But, verily, it is not a fortress.
It does not have deep trenches all around and flooded and full
It has no drawbridges with ropes and pulleys and wide flooded trenches with crocodiles.
O the one who has just pulled the ropes and lifted
The bridge like a cannon
Between my two thick thighs
Is a stranger Musalmaan and I
Am his old fortress.
The one which is my home, though,
Has a nice smooth pathway of red earth sprinkled with pure water.
The lane leads to other lanes and streets and roads and on those roads
There are many cottages and houses and halls
And we are good neighbours all and exchange
Cooked rice and sweets on copper plates.
If you lower the draw bridge, now,
the Rajputs, Marathas and Firangees are likely to attack;
If you do not lower the draw bridge, however,
The granaries in the fort are likely to be exhausted and our Sipahies
Might lose their virile strength to attack.
I have a home of my own, though,
And it has an earthen stove.
She, with those soft-red cheeks, seems to have cooked this evening
The thin soup with cardamom, cinnamon, cloves.
I come back home via the main market place, buying for her
Some soft sweets she cares for, and as I enter our soft clay lane,
My breath becomes the same fragrance as her clove and cardamom soup.
Our spies have brought back the news that the kafirs would attack this Friday night
The postman brings some letters, leaves them near the doors.
I read them aloud.
The young ones of the family are coming home tomorrow evening, it says.
She hears that and there is a dimpled smile on her cheeks.
I notice that the tree has some large fruits now on its upper branches.
If they are ripe, children would love to eat them, I say aloud.
I go to the front yard and reach out to a large fruit with deep green scales.
Is it ripe yet, I press it and the grenade bursts in my palm.
My eyes are singed with its fire but I hear a copper ring bounce on stone floor of the fort.
Then I try and yes perhaps I see it there,
Not too far from here, somewhere,
Home, may be,
Red and baked tiles on its roof
And, yes, see
The door with the copper ring.