Johannes Manjrekar




My young girl friend is about seven. I never actually asked her. Normally I initiate our conversations, while she watches me expectantly, waiting for me to make the first move. But today there is a matter too urgent to be subordinated to the demands of protocol. “Hello Uncle,” she calls out from her cycle the moment she sees me. “Look at me!”

It’s been a long day at work, and I’m not at my observant best. I scan her for signs of something different – new hair clips, hair band, shoes maybe? – but detect nothing unusual.

“See my cycle, no!’ she urges.

Finally I notice it – she’s on a spanking new cycle, the handlebars still with the polythene wrapping on them. “Whoa, that’s a fine cycle! And red is my Favourite Colour. What is it, birthday present?”

She laughs at me indulgently. “Don’t you know my birthday got over long ago?”

“Yes, of course, how silly of me”, I say, though I have no idea when her birthday is.

“It’s because my old cycle became too small”, she explains. “Mummy says I’m growing so fast that she’ll have to get me new clothes every month.”

“Hey Sweetie, time to come ho-ome”, my young friend’s mother sings out from the second floor balcony.

“I have to go now, Uncle. You can try out my cycle tomorrow if you want.”

“Thank you”, I reply, “but I think my legs have grown too long even for your new cycle.”

“Maybe if you’re really careful…”, she says, and runs off up the stairs.

large moon today
I fumble in my pocket
for the house key



The ponderous grey of the day sky has begun to deepen into the blackness of night. The rain is steady, neither letting up nor becoming heavier, yet in the gathering darkness it seems to be growing louder. The trilling of bee-eaters that usually marks dusk is striking by its absence. There are few sounds other than the rain and the wind; at times it’s difficult to tell them apart. It is as if all life were lying low, waiting… 

 There are multiple words for most emotions and states of mind – love, hate, anger, compassion. But for loneliness there is only one word. Perhaps there was no need for more.

deep dusk
the sky tied to earth
by threads of rain


Johannes Manjrekar grew up mostly in Mysore, Karnataka. His education consisted largely of insect collecting, bird-watching and swimming, supplemented eventually by a Ph.D. in molecular biology from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai. Since 1989 he’s been teaching M.Sc. students in Microbiology and Biotechnology at Baroda’s M.S. University. Apart from haikai, he is very enthusiastic about photography.