An Ode to Belgaum(now Belagavi) by Mala Nair
Where the Laburnums line the roads And the Gulmohar swings the breeze,
The old church bell tolls, There’s where my heart roams.
The train tracks that run through Tilakwadi
And the sprawling bungalows of Hindwadi
The sugarcane juice at Pop Inn
Shared over gossips untold
The ancient mandir of Mahadeo
Where wishes were traded and sold.
The Ganpat Galli and Ramdev Galli
Filling treasures in its troves.
Walk through Camp and a stopover at Swamys is foretold,
The plum cake sandwiches and pink coconut squares,
The billiard room across
Where naughty boys roamed.
The mounds of Kunda and peda
At the Purohit store.
The little small shop
With its dark musty space,
Where Mama sat with his wizened face,
Single line, double line, triple line books he sold,
Along with mysterious nectars untold.
St. Joseph School the Prima Donna of all,
With its sea of blue and white surging and ebbing tide,
The chapel where furtive prayers were chanted,
The playgrounds where the freedom spirit roamed,
Langdi, Kho Kho, Mary lost a letter,
The grounds held within it so many triumphs and laughter.
The tamarind tree that stood like a sentinel
The school gongs tenor
The little nooks and corner
Held secrets up its little nose
The St. Paul’s boys across the dividing road
Fascinated by the colour of our abode
Peeped over walls and squinted in our keyhole.
The lazy summer days
The misty winter nights
The soothing monsoon rains
They all made us sigh.
Long walks and longer cycle rides,
Picnics with baskets at Rakescope heights,
The Laxmi Tek hillock
Our own Wuthering Heights,
In it nestled our Tempest and Hamlet nights.
The library right near Gun shop in Camp,
Where Billy Bunter found the Famous Five,
Archie and Jughead waltzed with Betty and Veronica
And the dragons slayed the monsters upright.
Navbharat book store filled with tomes of words,
Hours spent shifting through antics of the manuscripts old.
Imperial ice cream the creamiest ice cream
Served in little glass bowls
The pink vanilla and green pista
In the family room O behold!
The fluffy New Grand Hotel idlis
To the Mitra Samaj Misal
And the first Bhel Puri
At the Bogarves corner stall.
Jallihal at Shahapur dyed wool it sold
The Universal luggage store,
Traveled the world alone.
Gun Shop and Gunboris
Though no guns were sold
Charming little stores along the Camp market we strode.
Sir Lorry who taught us numbers
Fatty Teacher who taught grammar
And hit hard on knuckles for errors
All legends of the town bearers.
The commando squad
The aroma of the mud
The green green grass of home.
First Published in 2016.