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Café Conversations To the Backdrop Of a Rattling Keyboard

by Malcolm Carvalho

Malcolm Carvalho has found the setting of a café both intimidating and receptive as a writer. This poem is about one evening spent writing while still being a fly-on-the-wall.

My fingers run in a frenzy over the keyboard,
words frothing out like a can popped open.

Except this time, the flow goes on for longer.

The café’s filled with chatter
from voices I might never hear again,
or if chance permits I might.
Not that I prefer one way over the other.

For long, I have wondered if people hide novels in their daily lives.
Here in this café, I am more certain.
Seated on stone benches under artsy lamps,
People spill out words from their day,
unedited, not a word crafted with deliberation.

Back in my writing,
I leave enough space between lines,
who knows
some of the patrons here
might just walk in
onto a page
and ink it with their colours.

A female voice booms intermittently,
crushing the silence in the café.
She’s asking her friend if she’s in love,
or in love with being in love.

At the table to my right,
a man, his spectacles too old for him and ears like antennae,
is an attentive disciple to his companion
whose flowing discourse begins with economics and money,
then moves on to philosophy and theology and religion,
and settles for a while on Newtonian physics and time travel,
conjecturing how wrinkles age slower in space,
and whether a space traveller would look younger than his grandson
when he returns from a trip to Jupiter.
Next they discuss cultural invasions and the Chinese economy.

I return to the book oozing from my fingers.
A productive time it has been, I think,
as I sip the tea tinged with ginger and lemon and honey.
Fiction and fact, poised to merge earlier,
have stayed apart today.
My imagination has to work harder to do the job.

The intellectuals are now discussing history,
debating between Gandhi and Godse.
Talk strays to invaders: Ghazni, Ashoka, Alexander, and Hitler.
The discussion reaches higher decibels, voices impassioned.
I think it’s time to go home.

Malcolm Carvalho writes poetry and fiction when he is not occupied with his daytime job of a software engineer. His work has been featured in Spark, 365 Tomorrows, Reading Hour, Literary Yard and Muse India. He has attended the Bangalore Writers Workshop, and is a regular at weekly poetry meet-ups at Lahe in Bengaluru.
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