Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Money

Green backs, saffron tinted
Blue tinged, mint fresh
Blood-stained, sweat-soaked
Soiled, crumpled, cello-taped
Sometimes bearing a lover's name
A phone number, even a doodle
Faithfully carrying images of national leaders
Whose ideals are no more in currency
Sometimes it is never seen
But as a row of tidy figures
Leaping from machine to machine
And wiping you out with a swipe
Sometimes the fake is never found
Move about like illegal aliens
Keeping to the byways and alleys
The black cousins prefer offshore havens
From where they run parallel universes
These days the notes disappear
From the wallet faster
Than they appear
And everyone from the bus conductor
To the landlord look like extortionists.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Counting the days

We used to count the days
Till the next vacation
When the hills wrapped us
In their white mists
And made us shiver delightedly
Despite the warm clothes,
Everywhere the smell of wet earth
A green outpouring,
A dam-burst of colours,
An undulating sweep of space
That was suddenly swept away
By something that kept drawing the curtain
Repeatedly drove away the sun
Till it gave up and left early
For the night that hummed in the ears
And made breathing heavy
As if we were still trekking,
We used to count the days
For the next big film, the next festival
Finally the nervous wedding at the temple town
Where the poetess fell in love with her god ---
The new arrivals, the beginning of classes
For the toddlers, a relentless looking forward to
The counting never stopping
Then suddenly turning back and looking at
How the days have fled, we stop counting
There is a slowing of the steps
There is more tarrying,
Lingering and wondering,
Wanting time to slow down
And move as leisurely
As when we have to go home
And do not want to go home.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Chasing the night

The day breaks
Early in my house
The lights come on
Long before it's dawn,
Turning in late
From the burglar-hour shift
I lie on the floor
Like a traffic island
Trying to sleep
Through rush hour,
Scurrying feet
Run around me
Leap across me
I even get a kick or two
Whether deliberately
Or inadvertently
I do not know,
Soon voices rise like
In road rage
With the lunch not packed
The laces missing
And the clock hands
Moving inexorably
The unmoving sleeper
Is somehow blamed
For the glitches,
Is roughly woken up
Forced to move
To another room
To chase his own night.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Home

Familiar walls,
The room as cosy as a womb,
The favourite spot,
The window view
Of pigeons circling
The temple tower
And landing deftly,
It's a coming back to
With the spirit unbroken
When there could well have been
An unseeing return on other feet,
The dusky goddess listens
With a glint of tears,
And a flash of fire,
The night hides the wounds,
Mother only asks
If you have eaten
Though she knows
You have been beaten
Knows too you can never be beaten.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Flies in the head

She keeps moving
The left hand
Rhythmically right to left
Shooing away flies
Which are not there
Her head suddenly shakes
Like saying no
To a frightening thought
Or a terrible temptation
The feet shuffle up and down
As if measuring the room
And getting it wrong every time
The eyes suddenly catch the mirror
She gets it off the wall
Takes it closer to the window
Where there is more sunlight
Peers at her reflection
Finds a smudge no one can see
Asks everyone in the house
If it is noticeable
Or makes her ugly
"See, that must be the reason
Why he left me, why else
Will he leave me."

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

One-man army

It's more like going to the temple
No, you can keep your footwear on
The shirt too, your beliefs, disbelief
Though you are required to
Willingly suspend the last,
As a security measure
The cookies too are confiscated,
As bandits are known to use them,
Along with the water and bag,
Do not worry, they will be
Returned to you intact
On your way out,
The hands will be free
To hold the dear in-house refreshments
You will require
To sit through the sound and fury
Of the one-man army.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Looking at legs

I keep looking at feet passing by
The drug-resistant pain in my right leg
Has slowed down my brisk gait;
The mother burdened with school bags
Drags along her son
Who wants to stop and stare
At the cat, stopping and staring at him
From atop a wayside wall
Covered with leggy film posters
Mocking the stick no bills fiat
The elderly man wills himself on
Though the knees won't bend or mend
Those barefoot seem to hardly care
For the stones or thorns or dirt or heat
Though they do not sing like the pilgrims
That they are like a bed of roses
I look at the rooted trees
That cannot flee or leave or change places
I wonder if they hurt
When the resting feet turn away

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sleepless

Do not let me sleep tonight
Let me keep hearing
Your dew-dipped voice
Fragrant like wet earth
Soft like gentle rain
Heartfelt like a grateful prayer;
I cannot sleep tonight,
As I stand alone
In the balcony
Smiling to myself
Your breath still
Seems to be
Blowing in my ear
Like a growing storm,
We rode it so well
Laughing all the while
And could not believe
It lasted so long,
I know why the treetops
Are dancing in the darkness
Like celebrating something;
I will not let you sleep tonight
Here I will sit by the door and scream
For the whole world to hear
And waking know whose sleep
You have killed so long.