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Showing posts from May, 2014

Shaving in Siliguri

There is, I suppose, a gruesome fascination
In watching blood spread across shaving foam:
Crimson, then red, then pink
And then a dull, gory grey
Washed off in hot water and a scar to remember.

There could be a different image, a wish even,
Of blood oozing from a wrist slit with the razor,
As it takes away the stasis of middle-classiyat
Eyes glued to the sight, the heart beating excitedly,
Till all sound stops and lights dim
In that cockroached lodge room.

No, it’s no romantic place to die.
Much better to plunge into the raped Teesta –
Virgin mountain stream now
Pregnant with mud and moving zombie-like
To her doom in the silt of the Brahmaputra.

The train rings its corporate deadline.
I have fifteen minutes to dress and pack:
The Kanchan Kanya Express leaves at nine-thirty sharp.

(Longlisted by the RaedLeafPoetry-India 2013 Awards)

From Chellammal to Bharathi

Dear poet-husband,
Do you know how to buy one hand of flowers,
Or roll a round chapati?
You who stand up for women
Can you cut up love and affection
And boil it up in the sambar
Like I do for you every day?
Well, don’t. Just plait our daughter’s hair
And plait in a hand-length of jasmine
And send her off to school.
Else just make pongal in the morning
And put it in a clean dabba before
Your daughter is awake and clamours
For her toothepaste, uniform.
No. Well, alright.
Can you bring rice to a boil,
So its aroma makes the house blossom?

Even simpler.
Can you show happiness, day after day,
While washing clothes and folding them,
Sweeping and mopping the house,
Washing dishes thick with congealed ghee
And never, ever complain
While your wife writes silly poems?
No? Not even for a day?
You can make the flowers bloom,
And the spring come early.
Just make a crying child smile.
You make words dance and sing,
Just put a child to sleep.
You paint pictures with words,
One kolam pattern outside …

You

it is still too early to say
what memories will crystallise around you
for now it is the bedpan not emptied from last use
and your room smells of ointments and pills
and your damning of the whole world

but once my tears have dried
and the puja flowers withered
perhaps you will freeze

i will put in the black and white photos
on a boat in a lake in a cheap hill station
when you first let me down

and the mundan of the first-born
where your mother made such a fuss

and that stupid photo from a middling age
of the reception of some cousin of yours

and yes the shaadi ka video and the cassette
guiding our kid reciting nursery rhymes

certainly all the unrecorded fights
for you never earned enough and drank too much
and never bought enough flowers

and that never do well son you gave me
who lamented loudly at the funeral
and your sisters
let us not talk about your sisters

no I will not make up a box of memories
because you know I would not myself be reduced
to an 8 by 10 frame with withered flow…