Monday 20 February 2012

Going home

Railway toilets plastered with washing soda,
The rasping of nylon streamers against fly racquets,
Chinese toys beating about before the vendor quickly bundles up and flees,
Jasmine garlands and incense-stick boxes
Sharing space with severed goats' heads
Their eyes staring glassily at you to match your startled glance,
The smell of fried flour and potatoes,
And of withering cabbage stalks,
Taxi smoke, gasoline and soot,
Sweat - anxious sweat - whiffing by on hurried steps,
And a quickly muttered apology on pushing you out of the way,
Mysore masala dosas frying on a street griddle
All beetroot and carrot and tomato flakes,
A promise of naked women in usb drives,
And hard-bodied nude males promising fairer skin from giant billboards,
Death of course, lurking everywhere, sometimes peering from a bier,
Suburban lifeforms in their TV-equipped habitats not peering out of lit windows;

And I - I just go home, as everyday.

Halfnesses

Somewhere between the truth,
And our world of comforting lies,
Is the world we seek to live in,
Half earth, half fantasy;
Happiness is what we call it,
Though a stagnating lack
Of worry would do as well,
Maybe it's a race we're running
Against our own aging selves
Chasing a childhood memory
Always a step ahead of us:
A visible phantasm, a mirage
Concocted from our own imagined pasts
With guilt conveniently buried
In the shroud of forgetfulness
And yet - there's always a yet -
There is a listlessness, ennui,
That we never got what we wanted
And the regret, unmessianic,
Of not knowing what that was
Till the commas of life stop abruptly.

Published in Whispers, April 2016 as Commas

Sunday 19 February 2012

Dark

Thoughts chatter
in silence
Awake in the dark

Tuesday 14 February 2012

Standing Guard to Kamakhya

They've seen much, these statues
Standing guard to Kamakhya's
Dark, mystic sanctum;

There's a nose lopped off here,
An ear eroded there,
By wind, by time, by swords.

They've been nested on by doves:
Love-making, chick-rearing
Guano-shedding doves.

They've seen cows amble around
Bestowing sacred dung
While bulls bestow sacred blood.

They still stand, these statues,
Their medieval silence further
stifled with vermilion and ash.

They see the pilgrims wilt
— lined in their rag-covered faith —
shivering in morning drizzle

Like oleander petals and
mango leaves; temple offerings
to an invisible goddess.

They see the pandas in red
bearings; unbearability
writ large on their pouchy faces,

Against the tall, thin trees
Banana, papaya, margosa,
shading a sacrificial goat.

They see the Brahmaputra
which is always a presence —
a brooding, looming presence.

And they see me, eager tourist
encaging them in camera stills:
Another spectacle to see.

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