Monday, December 27, 2010

Spring

In this sun-weary city
December is spring
When we like to shiver
In the cold air,
Find use for the sweater
Buried under the pile of summer wear,
For once in the year
Not complaining
About the weather,
Sitting up at night
Listening to the silence
Like to an unearthly song
When even the dog's barking
Seems like singing,
Then wishing one could sleep longer
Letting the dream run some more
Keeping the day waiting at the door,
Looking with pleasure
At the noiseless shower
Coming from somewhere
And trying to make things disappear.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Racist

The skin colour
Is what
You are born with
It is not something
You can choose
Off the rack
Like a shirt,
The lighter
Your complexion is
The vainer you are
You crow
"I'm so fair
That everyone
Thinks I'm high-caste"
Making the dark-skinned
Blanch as if they have sinned
No wonder they want
To skin you alive.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Moon, kite and wind

The wind
Loosens
The moon
Trapped
In the tree
Watching this
The boy
Wonders
Why it cannot
Free his kite;
Only the wind knows
It is tired
Of the sky
And other kites.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Hunger

It is something
That throws a tantrum
Every few hours
Like a child
So angry
Because he is so hungry
That he cannot wait
Cries and kicks the air
Before the bottle can be sterilised
Before it can be filled
And he can be fed;
I cannot howl
My head off
Like him
As I break into a sweat
And fall
Upon my food
Like an animal,
Taking bigger and bigger morsels
Literally fighting
With this unseen beast
Bucking me around like a bull
High on arrack,
Before the fire is finally fought
I can feel my heart thud
Like during a fever ---
I know why the poet
Seeing the empty pot
Wanted to set
Something on fire.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mother

I was afraid,
The eyes were
Like someone else's
The band came off
Leaving the hair
Like that of the ghosts
In the stories she told
The vermilion
Was wiped off the forehead
The voice turned harsh
Like a man's
Or like someone
Who's caught a bad cold
It was as if the weather
Had suddenly turned stormy
Just inside our house
A local phenomenon
Like the Met office would say ---
The little girl in pigtails
Left me that day

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Witch-hunting

I thought the witches
Were all dead
That they had been dismembered
And buried so far apart
That they wouldn't
Resurrect themselves.
It seems they vanished
Only to reappear,
As the daughter-in-law
Who worked her magic
To make the son quit smoking,
As the doctor
Who drove the devil away
From the neighbour
With just a month of medication,
As the single woman
Who showed she could live
Happily without a man,
As the teacher
Who taught the students
To question God's existence,
As the actor
Who advocated love with protection
Knowing the young no longer
Wait till the wedding night,
As the poet
Who spoke of the tug of lust
Instead of a longing for the divine,
As the dissident
Who cried foul
When her country
Waged a war
On its poor ---
How I wish I could say
They have cast such a spell on the world
That they are not
Tortured, exiled or torched anymore.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Rain kills 17 in city

When you have to step out
Of the house
Trousers rolled up
It means
The rain has been heavy,
On the high road
Your street joins
The honking is hysterical
As traffic piles up,
The military hotel
At the intersection
Is as usual for this season flooded
Chairs wait upturned on tables
Which wonder why this guest
Can't be kept out,
Our weekend indulgence
The egg paratha
Will have to wait
Till the sun is out,
I turn left
Wading through water
Darkening with sewage ---
We have run out of vegetables,
As I enter the self-service shop
Bracing for the monsoon prices
I hope the skies will hold
Till I go home safe
Without stepping on a live wire
And raising the death toll.
 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New arrival

Every time I wake up
When he howls with hunger
I cannot believe
I have at last a child
To take care of
Not born to me
Not my blood,
Where his parents are
I do not know
I silently thank them
For giving me this gift
But I can hardly wait for the day
When he will call out to me
And I will be reborn.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Democracy

The leader's darshan
Is not easily had
You must learn to wait
Before you enter
The shrine
You must remind yourself
Not to meet the eye
Supplicants cannot do that
Better you tie your shawl
Around your waist
Cross your arms
Keep one hand across your mouth
Lest you talk out of turn
If you do not mind it
Do not swear by self-respect
You can fall at the feet
Those who surrender
Are those who are saved.