Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ghost

I feel like a ghost
If I could call it that
Looking with longing
At a house
I have lived in for years
And can no more enter
The eyes have to be
Plucked away
As the bus rolls past
The street which used
To be mine, though
Overflowing with sewerage
Every monsoon, and erupting
Into murderous rage
At the hint of a slight;
It is strange looking in at
Something looked out from,
Faces known but not known
Known to rarely smile
Seen more often frowning
Or barking into phones,
It was the drought
That briefly brought
Together the neighbours
Keeping a vigil
For nocturnal tankers
And sounding alerts
When the hand pump
Yielded water,
When the heavens opened up
And the reservoirs brimmed over
We went back
To our unseeing ways
Spinning away
In our desolate orbits,
It is difficult
Not to enter the old address
When filling out forms
Though the pen
Pauses as always
At the permanent address column
Wondering if anyone ever had one.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Rooftop prayers

I keep waiting
For the buzzer
That never rings,
For the call
That never comes,
For the footsteps
Climbing the two floors
To my door,
Instead a patter
Of feet goes past
On to the rooftop
To pray to the one
Betrayed, tortured
Crucified, forsaken
And left to die

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pigeon

After a long time
The sun looks
Into my house again
Through the window facing east
Reminding me of a birth
That can only follow death,
There is more sky to look at
With no tall buildings
Standing in the way,
Clouds seem to pass
Just outside the open sitout
More stars seem to be out
This night just to see me move in
I'm startled by the strange groaning
Coming from the sun shade,
I find it is only a pigeon
Complaining of a storm coming.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cup and saucer

This stainless steel
Cup and saucer
Once a novelty
Is older than me
It has travelled
Thousands of kilometres
Seen as many houses
As we have lived in
Offered tea
Ice cream
Sweets and savouries
To countless guests
Who have now bowed out
As I look at the survivor
Of our wanderings
Still sitting in our kitchen
I want to ask
If it will survive us too.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Unfulfilled

In a dream
Within a dream
Ghosts chase
Haunting faces
Those who barely
Touch them
Feel triumphant
For a while
Soon find more
Tantalising ones
To run after
Those thwarted
Sit down and weep
Conduct ritual sacrifices
Undertake rigorous vows
Say stone-melting prayers
Not knowing what is wanted
Is not what is wanted
For when the dream ends
There is no waking to.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A new house

We're strangers still
The feet remember
Only the old place
Out of habit
They go and stand
Before a blank wall
Where a mirror used to be
In the other house
The hands reach out for things
That are not there
Search for switches
At old corners
The eyes keep looking
For the abandoned plants
Wonder who's watering them now
Miss the coconut palm
Outside the balcony
Where the night always
Came to sit with you
Like a confidant
The smell of paint
Hangs in the air
Like a dead man's scent

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Relative

As spacious as
An empty house
As crowded as
An agitated mind
As lovely as
A happy flower
As ugly as
An unhappy moon
As wide as
A city road
In the early hours
As cramped as
A journalist's notes
On the run
As generous as
A politician
With public money
As miserly as
A lover with her kisses
As real as
A wish fulfilment dream
As unreal as sudden death
As desirable as death
When the listener is the song.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Devotee

Down the office corridor
Facing a passage
Intersecting another
Hangs the image
Of the elephant god
Wearing different flowers
On different days
And an inscrutable smile
Always I have something to say to him
On a bad day I put him down
"What are you there for?"
When I am happy
I give him a pat
"You are doing well!"
Just like me he's more often
Pilloried than praised