Saturday, January 29, 2011

Parade

As windows look out on windows here
They have to be kept closed often
Even if the sun and zephyr cannot enter,
When I'm tired of the walls
The television, the kitchen and the humdrum
I throw them open,
Catching eyes or movement,
On the other side
Now hurriedly shutting me out,
It's difficult to make friends ---
No tenant stays for long
Next door or at the opposite window,
Perhaps driven to the suburbs
By the rent
Or opting for a city
With fewer desires ---
I've seen a slow parade of faces
Like the infertile clouds
In the sky
Before they pass out of sight
Leaving no trace
Of their flight.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Crows

It's when you hear
The neighbour's child
Calling out to the crows
To partake of
The offering to the dead
You realise how far you are from
Those childhood companions
You had shared meals with
And once never grew tired of watching.
When was it last
You woke up with joy
At their cawing?
When was it last
You heard them
At your window
And took them
Like your elders did
To be harbinger of guests?
When was it last
You looked at their stealthy steps
And oblique glances
With a smile
And shooed them away
From the rice
Left to dry?
Did you abandon them
To their textbooks,
Teaching the alphabet,
Getting a drink,
Falling for flattery,
After someone teased you
That you looked like one?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Father

Do you know
Who'll you see
Tonight when you sleep?
Those you do not visit,
Those who do not visit you,
Those you cannot
As they have passed on ---
The last look better
Than they were here ---
Father appears
With clear glowing skin
No trace of the white patches
He was identified by
Wearing fine clothes he always fancied
Metal frame spectacles
Glittering like gold
His face beaming
Like when he had guests
He seems happy to see me
Me too, happy
That he is well off
For someone who is dead.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Half-human

They will not let you forget
What you do not have
When you did not have a child
Despite being married for several years
They bragged
About the travails
Of a young mother
Then pointed out
With a gleeful smile
"You will not understand!"
They did not invite you
To functions felicitating
Expectant mothers
What will they say
Now that I've adopted one
"It's not the same as bearing a child,
You're only a half-mother?"

Monday, January 10, 2011

Coloured

We didn't want
Our deities black,
The skin colour
Of our subjects,
Preferred them
To be green or blue
When we had
To adopt them
As avatars
Or consorts
Or sisters
Or devotees
Invented
Mind-boggling
Family trees for them;
How nice it would be
If we could change complexion
With the seasons
Or age,
Or day and night
Or with moods
So that we can know
When we are young
When we are growing old
When we are happy
Take a flight
Go back in time
Catch the day
Or shade elsewhere

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Endless

Where did this vein begin?
Was it after watching
The leaf
Shaped like a swordfish
And yellow with death
Swirl and fall
Without a cry?
Maybe you cannot hear it ---
You have seen fall images
Of trees dying
With their leaves
Looking like flowers
Like fires
Turning into embers
You looked at the banyan leaf
Falling softly at your feet
Comforting it with
The little mythology
You have learnt
"It is still not time."

Friday, January 7, 2011

Birthday

It was your mother
Who never forgot
Your birthday,
Prepared something sweet,
For you to eat,
Though it was the deficit
End of the month,
Offered prayers,
Took care
Not to
Scold you
Seemed genuinely pleased
That you were born ---
Though not many people
Shared her enthusiasm ---
Made much of you that day
Told everyone around
That you were headed for great things
That it was only a matter of time
Before the world started
Noticing your genius ---
Someone else has taken her place
Celebrating the day as much
Though making others believe
You grow younger every year
And freezing her age like her peer.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Tales with a twist

The story-teller
Tells you such wild stories
When you are asleep
That you wake up wondering
Where they came from --
Your best friend
You trusted your secret with
Sharing it with the television audience
And then saying
See we have no secrets,
The hero rushing to rescue
A woman in distress
Changing his mind
Standing aside to watch
Saying what will happen will happen,
The cries of the elephant
Caught in the crocodile's jaws
Going unheeded
With a thundering voiceover
Explaining
"We cannot interfere
In a market economy
This is what we call
A level playing field!"