Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Artificial

You do not have
To water them
Hunt for manure
Keep them in the sun
Look out for the buds
Pluck the flowers
Before they fall
Before someone else gets them,
They will never grow, fade, wither or die
If you have to leave them in a hurry
You will not have to worry or feel sorry.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Estranged

The house is still there
If you want to go, you know where
It is where we came from
Where we huddled in
Against the wind
I go in and look at them
Reenact for me
What we've been
What we've seen
Some names I do not know
They may even have died
There is this scene
Of two children
Huddled inside warm blankets
Cosy on the cot,
Hearing the thunder crash
The wind shaking the doors
Like a wild beast
Yet they are hardly frightened
For mother is cooking something hot
And father is on his reclining chair.
There are four of us
In that scene
Now, only I am left
If you go there
Maybe, you'll find your way here
Then there will be two of us left.

Sibling

As I step out
Of the shop
Three carry bags
In either hand
I cannot but
Think of you
Three years elder
Now light years away...
Our shopping done
You used to say in jest then
Looking in either direction
Loud enough
For every one to hear
"Where's the driver?
He's never here
When you want him!"
I was helpless with laughter
As we did not have a car...
As I trudge to the bus-stop
I wonder if you have one now.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Survival

I cannot go out
Like I used to
On household chores
Or social visits
Swinging my hands
Taking just my wallet
Hopping from bus to bus
Travelling long distances
Just a coffee or two midway
With the past
A remembered song
And the passing scenes
For company.
Now I need a knapsack
With water, snacks or fruits
To nourish me on the way
The fear of hunger
Shadowing me like a pickpocket.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Last wish

You do not expect
The old to die suddenly
Or you would heed their words.
When you see what they have become
You know what you'll become
If you live that long,
You silently wish
You do not last that long
As if exits can be obtained
Like a bill from the waiter.
You did not expect her
To have any desire left
For someone who denied herself
Good clothes, flowers and jewellery
After her first child died.
During her rambling monologue
About people she only referred to
As he and she,
"I always wanted to wear that one
What she came to visit us in"
She suddenly said
To no one in particular
"Buy me a blue silk saree
With double-side border!"
She was not very insistent,
Though the saree was frequently mentioned.
There were other wishes
To be fulfilled
Of others who were not old
But who cannot be so told,
She finally had her wish
But only on her bier,
So, remember
The old can die suddenly
And it could be your mother.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The sky

Once you draw the curtains
You can shut out
The spotless road
The green lawns
The strange trees
The faces so dazzlingly pink
The hair the colour of hay,
You can still feel
You are in mom's place
In your country of birth
Looking at
The objets d'art
Brought from home
Or listening on ipod
To the rustic voice
That breathes of jasmine and neem
Something you can never grow out of
Though you have shed the city
You grew up on the other side of the earth
And shed friends,causes, icons, and passions
Along the way,
If you still feel alone
You can look up at the sky
And tell yourself
You are still on earth
Under the same sky.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Power

Like the child which goes to bed
With his new shoes on
I turned in for the night
With the day still switched on
All the suns I had seen
Kept rising and setting in my head
Seas I had never seen
Swelled and crashed on my shores
Colours like in a saree shop
Swirled like smoke before me
The hundreds of trees
I had swished by
Marched as if in a rally
The red soil stretching to the skyline
Looked hungry for more blood
Goats bleating yes, yes and yes
Stepped off the road
As our motorcade passed,
I slept with my shoes on
Smiling at the heads nodding.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Monologue

Am I talking to you?
If you understand
What I'm saying
You may be the one
I am talking to
Wherever you are
Though others may think
I am talking to myself
Because they are yet
To pass where I've passed,
If they have overheard a little
And remember what they have heard
When they arrive there
They'll know what I've said.
Those who've loved and been requited
Those who've loved and gone unloved
Those who've loved only gods and goddesses
Cry like only the betrayed can
Finding they've been abandoned
Like all others,
When they know, they wish
They had not learnt
Something as bitter as this
At the last breath.

2
When you wake up
In the strange place
The sun rises on the wrong side
The neem tree is not at the window
The wall colour is something else
The distance to the door is different.
When you were travelling
The trees, houses, places
Thoughts, images, kept coming
Closer, then receded
Then everything was swept out
As far as the skyline
And there was very little left of you.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Matrimony

What kind of boy
Does the girl want?
Handsome, fair-skinned
Highly paid professional
Owning house, car, property
Parents preferably dead
Single child
Knows to cook
Loves to do
Household chores
Respects in-laws
Doesn't mind hosting them
As long as they want
Asks no questions like
How much she spends
Why she turns in late
Let's her do as she pleases
And always says
My mate, right or wrong.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Walls

Walls can move
Come closer or recede
Fall in or keep away
Change sides
Go to sleep in front
Wake up in the back
Wail, smile, laugh
Listen, pout, stare back,
As they have not long seen paint
Reveal where you rest your head
Opposite the pin-up posters
Of your dream-girl, your dream-bat,
Tell you when they seep
How heavy the rain has been
When you come in
From the storm
Close the door
Look at their familiar faces
You are grateful to them
For what they keep out
As much as what they keep in.