Monday, December 19, 2016

Cat

A year on, it seems
Father is only away
On another impulsive journey
And might return anytime
But the priest's chant
Before the sacred flame
He has raised in the hall
And the garlanded photo
Tell us it cannot be
A black cat has arrived
From somewhere
Since he left;
My brother I can see
Has grown fond of him
Puts up with his tantrums
Keeps talking to him
Like to a child
His face lights up
When he recalls his antics
"There are shades of appa
In this little fellow," he marvels
"Just as obstinate," he says,
Now, without a trace of anger

Friday, December 16, 2016

Cyclone

The trees cannot flee
Like the birds
When the monster
With the misnomer rose
Falls upon them ---
It has been long
Since we've heard the wind
Howl like this
Like a demented being
Calling for sacrifice, of any kind ---
The trees whirl their tops
Like women their heads
When the spirit is upon them ---
It's not long before some of the rooted
Are routed by the rootless one 
Neither of the sea nor land
Yet wanting both
It can have neither ---
And must run out of breath and disappear
The green warriors have stood and fought
Many have fallen, some have lost their limbs
And as they count their losses
They worry for the birds
Hope they will all be back

Friday, November 18, 2016

Chinar

In autumn, the chinar can turn
Death away for a while
With its spring colours
Where there can be no blossoms
It turns its leaves into shades
That flowers would die for ---
To watch the chinar in fall
Is to catch a tree dreaming
Of a season that has fled too soon
A setting sun remembering its rise
Of what was and what could be ---
In this promised land
Now bleeding, burning and mourning
The chinar stands crying
Shedding tears of blood ---
For what was and what could never be




Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Destination

The one who slept
Was not the one
Who woke up
With a dream
That did not
Look like one
Fabricated like the others
In the fever of the night
This was a destination
Yet to get its name
A place, a hill rather
That had to be found
Climbed and conquered
A vision that signaled
A turnaround in the journey
Frenetic, restless, ritualistic, so far
On the beaten path
Under a merciless sun
This would be made all alone
But for the one, beside one
Scattering the darkness, before one
Till there was none, or just one

Friday, April 8, 2016

Demons

Myths flow perennially
In this once-roaring river
Said to have sprung
From the locks of a god
To quench a demon's thirst;
Once the god himself came down
To shore up its banks
Threatened by floods
Offering his labor for food
Before lifting the veil off the world
To liberate an old woman
Even as he slept;
Now the sand from its bed
Flows everywhere, crosses borders
Welcomed even by those
Who cannot share their rivers;
Now demons have proliferated
Their monstrous appetites
No gods can satiate.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Talking to the dead

In the dreams
The dead are resurrected
Seem none the worse for dying
Seem younger, happier
Laugh more, speak more
Sitting in the same chair
When they visit
Carrying on a conversation
As if it never ended
Offering sage counsel
Like they used to
To do what is required now
Without wringing your hands
Over what is past
Seem to have no complaints
Answer questions of where
They have gone
With a cryptic
'On the other side
Of this dream'
As if sensing your unasked question
Of why he went away
Without a goodbye
To his pet daughter
Father asks where is the need
For a farewell when
There is never any leaving

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Love dishonoured

Think of the times
I may have been shadowed by death
In the womb, as a newborn,
Growing up half-fed,
Worrying, the school doors
Could be shut anytime
If I was stalked,
Always under watch
Lest my heart
Gave me wings
A whiff of the sky
Till one day, like the first woman
Listening to the whispers of life,
I did eat the forbidden fruit
Crossing a blood bar
That abhorred miscegenation
And brought their wrath
Upon our heads;
This time those fell wings
Flapped so close
When they dishonoured my love
Bloodied my own garden
I lost all fear of death
Or father, or family or God.












Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Maze

In this house
Nothing is lost
But little can be found;
Those who have died
And disappeared
Refuse to leave
Seem to be present everywhere
As unseen guests;
Even in these few hundred feet
Mother loses her way
To the prayer room,
Says either the gods are
Playing hide and seek
Or the things
Which cannot sleep
Move from room to room
Hoping for shut-eye somewhere
Leaving behind a labyrinth;
I know the maze is elsewhere
Made when things became 
Thicker than blood
The distances were allowed to grow
Till the trails went cold
And there was no way to tell
Where home was








Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Blossoms

Dead neem leaves
Lie like crescents
On my path
Gusts of wind
Bring down a shower
Of more as I pass
I know this yellow rain
Intent on stripping
The trees bare
Won't last long
The green leaves
Will spring back
And the blossoms will be ready
In time for the new year soup 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

A presence

The tooth brush he had used
Is still lying in its place
On the shelf
The half-used soap
Rests in its case
The walking stick
He hated to take out
Reclines against the wall
The steel cot
He had painted last year
Looks good for another decade
As I turn I knock down
His tin of talcum powder
The empty room
Fills with a familiar fragrance