For Once

I think of you,
wearing a new sari –
a shade of orange,
a shade of green –
standing in your balcony
while the whole city
bursts crackers to rejoice
your existence.

I think of you,
lighting a lamp –
a thick cotton thread,
and a spoonful of oil –
to kill the darkness.

I think of you,
mixing flavours
in a hot pan –
a tablespoon of mustard oil,
a few cumin seeds,
a bit of turmeric,
a pinch of chilli powder,
a thick paste of ginger and garlic,
and everything else spicy –
to cook something
to feed your hungry guests
who have their eyes set on you;
eating is just an excuse.

I think of you
celebrating,
rejoicing,
living,
while I sit here
alone
in darkness,
cold,
hungry,
with a pen and paper
in my hand
to honour you with all that I can offer
with my words –
I am no scholar.

Won’t you wrap me
in your new sari –
a shade of orange,
a shade of green –
and drive the cold away?

Won’t you take a handful
of the food you made –
mixing flavours
in a hot pan –
a tablespoon of mustard oil,
a few cumin seeds,
a bit of turmeric,
a pinch of chilli powder,
a thick paste of ginger and garlic,
and everything else spicy –
and feed me with your
bare,
naked hands?
Spoons are just a waste of time.

And when I am full,
and can eat no more,
won’t you light a lamp –
take a thick cotton thread,
and a spoonful of oil –
and drive the darkness away
from the unvisited corner of
my heart?

When all of this is done,
and the sound of firecrackers
slowly fades away,
engulfed in the orange of dawn,
won’t you
take me in your arms,
in the comfort of your warm breasts,
and put me to sleep,
for once?

The Scarecrow, the Woman, and the Crows

The Scarecrow, the Woman, and the Crows

Last night, I lay quietly in my bed,
My face buried in the round pillow,
my body kissing the crumpled bedsheet –
of rough cotton which was made.

I read a book on the farewell to arms,
and how a soldier ran away from the war
with his newly found love in a young, caring nurse,
talking in whispers, oh, what loving charms!

My eyes closed like a sleeping flower,
and my mind drifted miles afar,
in thoughts of a woman whom I had left –
her thoughts engulfing me with every sleepless hour.

She would chirp and talk bravely, perching at her bench,
her hair left open, her nails well decorated –
each week with a different shade of colour
like a flourishing crop; her voice more melodious than French.

And for long hours I would sit quietly behind and gaze,
at the movement of her eyes and the swaying of her hands;
my fingers trembled when she would look behind,
and I would sit still, like a scarecrow in a field of maize.

Time passed by and she went away – in much of a haste,
doing her deeds – laughing, singing, living;
and, I stood alone in my abandoned, barren field,
while the crows under my straw-stuffed body built their nest.

The Art of Living

In Bihar,
staying in
the three-storeyed,
well-painted
house
with four wild cats,
two ever-hungry dogs,
a picture of your dead brother,
hanging,
and parents –
one on pills,
the other too loud
is like
staying in a cocoon –
rolling,
turning,
twisting,
knowing that you are
over-sized.

Here,
you eat good
food with fat –
lots of fat,
fruits – so much,
that you dream of it
when you sleep,
drink
clean water,
smoke
the warm air;
to drown in
wine,
to disappear in
cigarette smoke,
to talk about women with
warm breasts
especially the one with
short hair
and the one which
worries about your presence
only when you talk to her
would be blasphemy.

The garden outside of the
three-storeyed,
well-painted
house
with four wild cats,
two ever-hungry dogs,
a picture of your dead brother,
hanging,
and parents –
one on pills,
the other too loud
is withered
the plants are
dying,
the warm sunlight,
the cool moonlight,
the talking breeze,
make no difference to its
stillness.

The butterflies have flown away.

So,
you decide,
to stay inside
the cocoon –
rolling
turning,
twisting,
knowing that you are
over-sized.

You miss Bangalore,
the city with
its
wine,
its
women,
its
smoke,
its eagerness to
observe
your colourful wings.

And when you reach Bangalore,
the city –
the land where dreams are
weaved,
hearts are stolen,
and thoughts are inspired,
you realise:

the cook
with his mouth – full of tobacco,
the laundry man
with a wailing kid – always by his side,
the internet guy
with his red cap which he takes off
more often than he wears
are ready with their bills –
so much so,
that you are broke,
financially,
when all is paid.

So,
you have no choice,
but to fly back
to your cocoon –
Bihar;
the three-storeyed,
well-painted
house
with four wild cats,
two ever-hungry dogs,
a picture of your dead brother,
hanging,
and parents –
one on pills,
the other too loud.

The Lizard and the Poet

The green lizard on the cemented wall
crawls
near the bright yellow light
that fills the room
while the sunlight is away,

It sticks its tongues out,
traps a fly,
chews on it,
swallows it.

Stays.

The lizard wriggles its tail –
contented with the newly acquired food
and the bright, warm, yellow light.

*****

The poet twists and turns,
prays for sleep which is comforting
to come
and thoughts which make him feel lonely
to leave.

Nothing happens –
only
the fan in the room makes the only sound,
and the crickets outside buzz –
filling the lonely night
with all they can offer.

He gets up,
takes out a pen
and a sheet of paper,
writes a poem clumsily,
switches off the light –
partially contended with the newly created words,
tries to sleep.

But tonight,
it is different.

Loneliness creeps in like
a cat
following its prey –
its very own shadow.

 

Come Around the Corner of my Room

Come around the corner of my room.
It’s well decorated –
I have cleaned it, after long, with a broom.

I have let the cool breeze in
and trapped it inside,
and in the process, I was quite keen.

I have washed the curtains
and put on new bedsheets –
all looks good and I’m certain.

It’s dark inside
but bright enough
for us to reside.

We will latch the  front door
and not let anyone in;
just me and you – my Lenore;
you will soon be tired,
but I will keep on asking for more.