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YOU’D LAUGH BEHIND MY BACK, WOULD YOU? by Nissar Ahmed
(Translated from the Kannada by Roopa Pai.)

So you’d laugh behind my back, would you?
Laugh, guys, all you will
But I worked for the degree that follows my name
Yup, boys, I did the drill.

For three long years, each morning,
I bathed the Professor’s mutt
On the velvet rug that I commandeered
His brat had his first haircut.

Film music for his brother-in-law
‘Afghan Snow’ for his missus
I delivered them like clockwork, man,
This job’s not for wusses.

So you’d laugh behind my back, would you?
Laugh, guys, all you will
But I worked for the degree that follows my name
Yup, boys, I did the drill.

Woo! That Prof’s got a savage temper
You don’t know that, but I do
I forgot the bananas that ONE time
And goodness—what a to-do!

‘Scanty!’ his wife yelled, re: my brains
‘Aunty,’ I mumbled, contrite—
To make amends, that dark-skinned shrew
I chauffeured for half the night.

So you’d laugh behind my back, would you?
Laugh, guys, all you will
But I worked for the degree that follows my name
Yup, boys, I did the drill.

My woes didn’t end with the degree, no!
More indignities lay in wait
I bore them all, lest I swelled the ranks
Of the jobless degenerate.

Fell at MLA Ramappa’s feet, and poured
Pots of Khoday’s down the hatch
The peon got a pair of Bata’s; to the clerk
Biryani with parota was despatched.

The typist I ‘entertained’ in a taxi one night
The officer got…umm…it’s unmentionable
Why the shock? You think this job came and fell in my lap?
Hey, my personal exertions are unquestionable!

And you’d still laugh behind my back, would you?
Then laugh, guys, all you will.
Let me share what my guru taught me
I’m not embarrassed about it—
‘Your job?,’ he snickered, copping me one
‘It’s politics, you silly idiot.’

‘Each day at work is war—put away
Your brains and knowledge and suchlike
Leave shame and sweetness behind at home,
Bring on the surgical strike!’

‘About colleagues you dislike, smart-assed peers
Make up the juiciest scandals
That’s the secret of success, my bakra
That’s how you turn their handles.’

Yup, that’s the wisdom my guru passed on
And that’s why I did the drill
But if you still want to laugh behind my back
Laugh, guys, all you will.

 

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