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Of Shadows

 

Of shadows, the ones left behind
which later became nameless nomads, reciting
stories to each pavement they rested over
allowing themselves to be dented, reformed
by each surface that made love to their passing
occasionally hiding in unlikely places
each time a sunrise attempted an ambush.
Pursued by cats and the occasional lunatic,
escaping from one conniving space to another
learning the art of bending, spreading, shielding
they finally gave offsprings one summer night, since then
a city once coloured by a single mood
found moments of grey to balance itself out

Sunrise

 

Sunrise, know that you are alone
the gull that carries you on its wing is a thief
the sea that lets you spread uses you to cleanse its face
the flower that breaks into a bloom uses you as an alarm
and you, slowly emerging from the mountain’s forehead
send luminous gifts to cities who in return
cloud you with smog and the gossip of cars
Sunrise, know that tomorrow will be the same
somewhere someone craves for you to be replaced with rain
somewhere someone craves for you to be the same each day
and while there is no land you haven’t touched
in one distant dark village an old woman knows
that your arrival means
one day less, and one day more

Village

I come back to you guilty of having slept with distant cities
With eyes carrying signs of urban affairs shamed by the sea breeze
Before me you drop the sunset into the ocean and let it spread
The coast painted by its endemic orange glow sends back
The tides it moments ago tried to contain but could never catch

Old fishermen walk past me with monsoons full of cancelled tears
‘return before you mature into a foreigner’, you said
before slurring an ancestral chant to cleanse my forehead
You released me sagely like the hill releases a sea eagle
But I revisit you with eyes polluted by dark circles
Asexual and cold like a lover who has divorced desire

The coast scarred by my rugged feet is peppered by crab holes
Coconut trees bend over the long line of my preserved sorrow
Eventually at dusk, four hundred years ago, a ship comes in with spices
A man with my surname recites a story about a future city
Where more like me are lonely and without a language

(translated from Marathi)

Strolling Through My Old Neighbourhood Without Expecting Anything

Air was dense as the soda maker
deposited trays, bottles calibrated, dates missing
expired like my mom’s old embraces, signalling onwards
a protected cow controlling traffic, mostly mismanaging
mosque and temple collided
mutterings, quotes, chants, sayings, histories
the pouring of layered tea absolutely promising
a quiet two and a half minutes, bettered
by buttered bread and the incoming of fried eggs
a lady from nowhere with the voice of an old radio
releasing a flurry of preserved rants, madmen
laughing looking at alcoholics trying to pour
unfiltered water into a glass unwashed, traffic
lights becoming abstract videos over its curved face

Venturing on a nomad sans memory of puberty, matchstick
realised as a flaming excuse for killing a cigarette, bokeh
enhanced by moonlight and glow of oil lamps,
miscarriage of a meat seller’s bargain, a displayed brain,
liver, lungs, intestines and chops at the one eyed butcher,
lanterns hanging over a closing market contemplating
the night through barks and meows and bats flapping
figs dropping, overall

at winter’s death
old city
washed by noise

as

woke footsteps
print the street
– old traveller

while

a cockroach’s glance
carried by red sewers
meets a rat

elsewhere

phones scrolled
trap sad eyes
fingers cancelled

unaware the soda maker shuts shop, the Parsi restaurant
ageing alone into extinction releases a food blogger
I see my schoolteacher cross the street, but like last time
I digress and miss the chance to converse, ‘what a strange boy,
this loner,
he was always so
bad at being nice’

At Times

At times a man leaves his bedroom as it is
climbs down a flight of stairs wearing yesterday’s shirt
smelling of indecisiveness he ventures across a beaten street
his ears passively attend to the temple’s ruckuss while
a memoir flies in like a newspaper and catches his attention
it dances around his gaze like a dragonfly, 
then
turns towards him suddenly, a rickshaw cuts
the distance between them in half
on either side, the longing to reunite

At times a man wakes up in a new city
his arms furry like earth’s skin in a faraway grassland
he wears the new season and throws his glance out of the window
hoping to find a flock of ideas circling the sky forming a graffiti
wishing they’d follow him to the local train station on a Monday morning
he steps into a human mess of hands and legs and sweat and bags

wishes and rants and silences and gags
adjusts himself to stay ironed for the rest of day’s first half
silently wriggling out his phone he scrolls across the world’s debates
and while focussed, his shoulder is tapped by a sudden breeze,
scared, he turns around, and witnesses his entire youth pass by

Night

chinese lanterns – popcorn – photographs
old records – mozzarella – sweatpants
heat – bollywood clinging – seabreeze
stench of rum on a collar
untimely teardrop of a cloud
a window curtained by
shadows contemplating union

culminating in a linen cove
a script – generous parentheses
suggesting a future lunge
confirmed by fingers hinging
a rain percussions for the ceiling fan
to take bass, while a duet
swells the air, repaints walls,
deafens the city for the time being